General purchase advice: Ask your questions/for advice here!

Hey there! Im new here so tell me if I screw up.

I’ve got some Samson SR850’s that absolutely blew me away when I first listened to them, so I got some more to see if I could get that same feeling of ‘wow’ when trying some Bosė NC700’s and some Mezė Neo 99’s. But nothing felt the same, does anyone have a recommendation?

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I have a clone of the Samson SR850. So, I know what you mean by “blew me away when I first listened to them.” The treble of the SR850 is pronounced and clear compared to most other sub $50 headphones. So, the reaction to many is in awe of the clearity that they are hearing for the first time. The nice thing about this phenomena is that it can be reproduced from pretty much any headphone output without the need for spending money on pricy dedicated headphone amplification.

Perhaps for another level of new, “Wow!” experience, you jump skip far ahead of mid ranged headphones and spend some serious money on some very expensive headphones. That increase the likelihood of creating a new blow you away experience. Perhaps investigate some popular big buck headphones here. Some examples such as high end ZMF headphones, or the Hifiman Susvara, or Focal Utopia. These are all above my budget but I would think that they might deliver what you are looking for since they are lauded by so many.

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Oh, and you did not screw up.
Yet.
Welcome to your headphone community!

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Welcome @Lucinerd. I looked up the headphones you have and it says that they have good midrange, some but not a lot of bass, and are kind of bright in the treble. It says that they are a semi-open design, which is a closed back, but the pads allow some sound to enter and escape.

What was it that “Blew You Away” about them when you first heard them? Are you still blown away?

@hottyson is right that if you like a <$50 headphone, and you spend 10 or 100 times as much, you should get blown away again.

But generally, we like to zero in on some things and find out what you like to listen to and what you are looking for. In the dirt cheap range, we have a whole topic on IEMs. For headphones, we generally like Koss products like the Porta-Pro. So not many of us have listened to the Samson SR850.

So, can you tell us what you like and dislike about the Samson? Do you listen to electronca, pop, jazz, classical, world, or what? Is it important to block out other sounds in the room? What about other people, do you need to block your sound from disturbing them?

Finally, where are you? US? Canada? UK? Somewhere else? It can make a difference.

Really finally - what do you use to power your headphones? A computer? Android or iPhone? Are you willing to buy something that provides more power for a better headphone, such as a headphone amplifier or DAC/AMP?

Good luck on your journey. I’ll wait for your answer before making any recommendation.

PS - OH Yeah, what’s your budget?

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Hello there! Thank you for the in-depth response! As for the questions, I perfer over-ear headphones as I listen to very complex music, such as Jazz, Indie Rock, Rock, and some EDM, so the sound stage helps.

The outside isnt much of a problem though, I usually spend time at home doing critical-listening. Sadly im stuck with an Android phone. BUT i am intrested in a Fiio product. (I promise Im not a DankPods stan)

As for what I liked about the Samsons, the bass wasn’t muddy, but it was definitely there, it was very tight and responsive, almost like Planar Mags. The thing that blew me away was the sheer clarity, as before, I was using Galaxy Buds Pros (BEANS) and they are quite a bit muddy.

Oh yeah! Im from the Nothern US and my budget would probably go up to the 700$ range. Thank you, again! Other forums have been quite rude to my plebian dirt cheap ways.

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If you’re plugging headphones straight into your phone, I would recommend putting at least $200 of that $700 into electronics. Lots of headphones (like my Senn 6XX from Drop) sound OK on the headphone jack of my computer, but improve considerably through a relatively inexpensive DAC and amp (Schiit Modi and JDS Labs EL AMP II in my case). The Senns are hardly alone in this.

Best wishes on your journey,
Lou

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I was waiting for some others to get into the discussion, and @Lou_Ford has thankfully started pointing in the direction I was planning to go. I think the DAP might be a good idea if you’re thinking of a Fiio DAP, as most of them have a bit more oomph than a phone.

I agree with the idea of budgeting something for “electronics” by which we mean DAC/AMP, either in combination or as separates. I note you say that you usually spend time at home doing critical listening. That would argue for something that is not that portable, such as the iFi ( ifi-audio.com) or Schiit www.schiit.com make. If you want something easily portable, consider the iFi Hip Dac, which includes both an amp and a DAC. If you are looking for tiny portable, like so small it becomes part of the phone cord, the Qudelix-5K Bluetooth USB DAC AMP, and the Audioquest Dragonfly Red come to mind.

I think that @Lou_Ford is right, in your price range, you should keep the electronic budget to $200 or less.

I’m not going to “recommend” any headphone. There are users who are more opinionated :wink: that will probably choose to do so. I will, however comment… First, one outlet that many use, other than the obvious headphones.com is DROP, formerly MassDrop. They are sort of a buying club, and often get models at very good prices. On Drop, the usual first suggestions are the Sennheiser HD-58x, which is Drop’s model of the HD-580, or the HD-6xx, which is the HD-650. I still listen to my 580 after 25 years. It’s clean and balanced, but won’t be WOW. The 6xx is an interesting animal, and gets into full WOW territory, but we all find that the better the electronics the better the sound. And $200 will give you semi-WOW coming from what you have. The advantage of the 6xx is that is very much a known quantity, and once you listen to that for a while, you will understand reviewers when the refer to it or the HD-650.

Here, I’m going to go off the reservation, but @Lothar_Wolf and several others will agree with me. Based on what you have said about your sound preference, you might try GRADO. I have a couple of them. Headphones.com sells them and they have some open-box deals. If you don’t like the foam pads - many don’t - Dekoni and Beautiful Sound have nice alternative pads. One of my faves is the RS1e with Beautiful Sound pads. If you try GRADO, then search “Tape Mod” …

Another reliable choice is the Hifiman Sundara. This is a Planar-Magnetic design, and is available from the source that owns this forum (nudge nudge, wink wink). Also they sometimes have open box discounts. This headphone will benefit from some electronics. And iFi offers a signature combination in your price range that is designed for the low-end Hifiman.

That’s all from me for now. I think there’s no excuse for those other Fora and Pharta that are rude to people on budgets. I’m a proponent of the 95% solution (which thread you may search here). Because that last few percent costs a bundle. And many of us have other things to do with our money.

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I’m about 2 months into the same journey you’re starting, and you’ve received very good advice from @pennstac and @Lou_Ford . I started with an IFI Zen Dac V2 and an HD6XX and Sundara. It actually gave me a very solid starting setup and provided a great way for me to determine what I liked from a comfort and sound signature for my specific music (and gaming). I think all three of these would fall under your $700 target and would let you experience different drivers and some of the gear options that people say punch way above their price point.

It certainly helped me hone in on the path I wanted to go down and recent upgrades to the Focal Clear (sent the Sundaras back) and an upgraded Dac/Amp (Fiio K9 Pro ESS). But I think I could happily have stayed where I was for quite some time. Everyone’s journey is a little different, but just wanted to chime in since I was just in the same boat as you recently.

The last thing I’ll say is don’t hesitate to ask questions in here. I’ve found this group to be so helpful in really considering what you are specifically looking for and giving their impressions of gear and options for you to consider. Good luck to you!

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Can anyone recommend a streaming DAC/amp with remote control which has a powerful and versatile headphone output that plays well with both high-impedance dynamics (specifically the Sennheiser HD 800S) and low-impedance planars (specifically the DCA Ether 2)?

The background to my question is that I had planned for my Technics SU-G700 M2, which has a dedicated Class A headphone amplifier, connected via coax to the most recent Bluesound Node, to do both two-channel and headfi duty in my living room. However, there’s something about the configuration of my two-channel space that means I just don’t feel like listening through headphones and, more tentatively (given my experience of sources being otherwise indistinguishable), the headphone amp is possibly a bit grainy and lifeless, especially with the Ether 2s.

I have a separate TV-watching nook at the back of my living room, and this - for whatever reason - feels a much better setting for headphone listening. My idea is therefore to set myself up with a DAC/amp/streamer there.

One option would be just to get a dedicated streamer like the iFI Zen Stream and pair this with my RME ADI 2 FS - I’ve always found its performance more than good enough with the 800S and Ether 2 - but I’m curious to know whether there are any one-box solutions out there, perhaps with a more ‘consumer’ and less ‘pro’ aesthetic.

Price isn’t really a consideration at this stage - I’m more interested to know what options are out there, and will then make a decision about how much I’m willing to spend.

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Have you taken a look at the Shanling EM7?

I have not tried it personally but it is something that has always interested me (including the previous model). The few people I know that have tried it, praise it quite a bit.

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That certainly ticks all the technical boxes. Now if only it looked like a Linn Klimax DSM

Just add $20.000 :wink:

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There is also the Rose RS250 that seemed very popular at High End Munich this year.

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If you already like the RME, I’d recommend getting the Zen Stream. I just had the opportunity to try one and liked it a lot. In addition to saving you some money, it also gives you flexibility if you ever want to upgrade your dac, because you won’t have to find a replacement dac with built in streaming.

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Adding totally not biased support of this combo here :slight_smile:

The house sound of iFi and RME actually mix very well, for something neutral-warm, but not too warm.

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Definitely under consideration.

Have the well-documented issues with Tidal Connect now been resolved?

Hey all!
Since all my gear is packed and shipping cross country for the next few weeks and I have a bit of travel planned, thought I’d find a portable system I can be happy with and use with my MacBook, iPhone, iPad and maybe convince me I need a DAP?
I haven’t used IEMs in years so really don’t know where to start.
Sound signature wise I’d love something similar to my Susvara with maybe more low end emphasis.
Budget I guess is around $1500 for entire buy but can flex that - IEMs, cables, DAP or portable DAC/AMP.

Saw some recommendations about the U6T? But I’m open to everything.

I would buy used if possible and available.

Thanks!

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Check out the Thieaudio Monarch II and, as you mentioned, the 64 Audio u6t; the Dunu Zen Pro might be another good option.

As for DAPs, iBasso and Hiby are pretty solid choices. Alternatively, your phone and an Apple dongle (lightening or USB-C) will probably get the job done.

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I have two Astell and Kern DAPs. (SE200 / Kann)

Some of the newer AKs are Roon Ready compatible.

They make good sound.