There Can Be Only One- The Reckoning

This is for the “END of all END GAME”.

Pick only one item each in an end-point listening chain.

This is the “brass tacks” version of this thread:

Participation in both is suggested.


This is such a difficult thread because I’m so new in this corner of musical reproduction.

But I started the thread, so…

Chord HugoTT/M scaler- Phonitor X- Audeze LCD-5 (:laughing:)

I think.


If it’s literally just one chain and headphone, then:

  • Source: Blu Mk2 CD-Transport/M-Scaler
  • DAC: Chord DAVE
  • Amp: Chord Étude Power Amplifier
  • Headphone: SR1a

You could swap out the Étude for a Jotunheim R - the Étude was chosen here as it matches the Chord stack.

Now, if I can have one component for each class of source, DAC, amp, headphone amp, open-back headphone, closed-back headphone, DAP and IEM, then it’d look like this:

  • Source: Blu Mk2 CD-Transport/M-Scaler
  • DAC: Chord DAVE
  • Amp: Chord Étude Power Amplifier (for the SR1a)
  • Headphone Amplifier: Woo WA234 MKII Mono
  • Open Headphone: SR1a
  • Closed Headphone: Vérité Closed
  • DAP: Cayin N8
  • IEM: tia Fourté

The above setup gives me both solid-state (DAVE’s direct output) and tube-headphone drive options.

And if I couldn’t have BOTH a power-amplifier and a headphone amplifier, I’d swap out the Étude/SR1a combination for the MySphere 3.2.


End of End for me would be this:

  • DAC: Chord Dave - I heard this some time ago with the Focal Utopia and I’m still thinking about it.
  • Amps: Not sure at the moment but so far the Phonitor X seems pretty good
  • Headphones: Audeze LCD4 with a full magnesium chassis (I think that’s actually doable).

Other options:

  • DAC: Fidelice Precision RNDAC
  • Amp: Glenn OTL or Ampsandsound Kenzie Encore (Glenn isn’t necessarily available)
  • Dynamic Driver Headphones: ZMF Verite (open or closed)

Annnd I really miss the HEDDphone now…


I’ll just leave this here…

…and, I’m out :wink:



Zune? I feel like I was just Rick rolled.


To be fair… this is the Zune HD… way ahead of its time…


this is the updated Zune, which was mentioned in a Marvel movie! we are not worthy!


Zune + Koss Porta Pro = Ultimate hipster carry.

Did this just turn into a Zune thread?


Sadly, I have two of these things. They sounded good, and their ecosystem was a very good concept.

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I agree, this came out before the iPod touch as I recall… in a much smaller size with one of the best screens to date… I’ve been playing with it all day yesterday and damn… it easily fits in with the technology of today…plus it had one of my all time favorite music games on it!


Man now that I know how many great sounding pairs of headphones there are, how can I just choose one!? I’m not sure I have heard enough headphones to say it could be my one and only. Right now my current lineup each pair does something better than the other. Ultimately I would need to find a pair that did what they all do combined lol. The same would be said for the other components in the chain. I will revisit this topic in a year Or two and see if I can answer this!


Iirc, they had a Wolfson dac chip (874?), and the sound was better than anything from Apple or Creative. There was a dock available to use it as a transport with an optical out to an outboard dac, and had wifi, allowing music to be downloaded without limit with a $10.00/month subscription. All lossy, of course, but definitely a sign of things to come. I still have a 32g and 64g. Think they cost abt. $300 per (ouch), in 20-25 year-old dollars. Blast from the past.


I have found that the ZMF Aeolus is my favorite all-around headphone for enjoyment… it is a Goldilocks of headphones. B-stock is usually a good deal just email ZMF and see if they have any in stock… I let @raindownthunda listen to mine and he has, based on this post Here not been able to put down his own set since receiving them :metal:t2:


I was at Microsoft when the Zune launched.

As I recall, it was only about a year later that they had big piles of them stacked up in the company store on sale for significantly less than the at-the-time quite generous employee discount.

It never quite worked right; more the software than the hardware - which for the disk-based version was just a re-branded Toshiba Gigabeat with different software.

I still remember the pictures from another group there that took a bunch of them out and used them instead of clays for some skeet shooting.


Thanks brother! I have been eyeballing ZMF threads watching the discussions. B stock would have to be the case for me :joy: I am sure they sound incredible, but damn $$$.


I was at Best Buy back then in my previous life, and I would agree we got lots returned. I enjoyed it however, the IPod kinda changed the game.

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VL: Touche’ !

Indeed, the “End Game” term is nothing but illusory -and impractical. Or, as you say (correctly) : “…it’s a fools errand.”



This is the equipment that I consider End Game:

Roon on an Alienware Aurora R8 (watercooled i7 and PS) storing and feeding .dsf and .flac files from ripped SACD and Redbook CD.
I also use the internet radio stations on the platform. Spotify for more casual listening.

PS Audio DirectStream because I like the way DSD sounds (Redbook also upscaled and analog ish sound) and I get a new DAC with free reflash 2x year. Unlike selling old and buying new tech, I can quickly go back to any version if I don’t like the current one. Some major improvements have been made by Ted Smith and he is responsive to users comments/requests on the PS Audio forum.

Rob Watts will be happy to sell you a new DAVE when he improves his software. Even then, it may be 6-8 years wait for improvements. I love Chord gear, but will likely not buy their high end DACs.

Focal Utopia

Phonitor XE

From the above mentioned list, I currently own everything except the amp. I am using a Lyr 3 and Massdrop THX 789. Also in the endgame would be complete fiber cabling for entire network with audiophile quality switches. Also Corning 3.Optical USB cables to the DAC for USB input.