Hi. Being a rookie headphone enthusiast, i need some guidance taking my next steps into this expensive, somewhat pretentious - but oh so satisfying hobby. Here’s a short rundown of my endeavours so far:
After being 100 % convinced that surely nothing could beat the Bose QC2 ANC Bluetooth headphones, I invested in a quite simple, “affordable” ($800-900) setup stack consisting of with an SMSL m100 DAC, an SMSL sp200 amp (THX 888) and a set of Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO’s. Surely this had to be a waste of money, and finally i could have my anti-audiophile claims backed up by some bonafide experience. We’ve all tasted snakeoil at some point in our lives, and surely this had to be the worst investment of my life.
I hereby redact all my toxic, trollish behavior towards audiophiles. Fuckin wow! …
That’s being said, let’s move on. Here’s my question:
Where do i go from here?
Here’s my elaboration/opinions (and you may disagree or make fun of me as much as you like): DAC - I am convinced that investing in anything more expensive here won’t really add to my listening experience, at least within a sensible budget. Even reducing sample/bit rate down from 192/24 to 48/16 or whatever, i cannot hear the difference. Also, DAC’s - meh. Amp - While I agree that much can be done here… I mean a THX 888 for 300 $… The treble from the beyers will tear my eardrums to shreads long before i can hear any form of distortion at least. Headphones - This is where the cookie crumbles, yes? So what do you reckon? I’ve been eyeing out the Sundara’s and the LCD 2C’s, as i would love to own a planar. Also, my repertoire consists mainly of RNB and bass-heavy genre’s, which I’ve understood is right up LCD2C’s alley - but there are so many alternatives. I’m lost.
What am i looking for you ask? More wow. Just more wow. And different wow. Wow i haven’t heard yet. But also, within a “sensible” budget, or let’s say, “next step”.
You’re looking for opinions? Your writing is entertaining.
If you don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, quit now while you’re ahead.
Headphones are not the best way to differentiate between DACs especially since you’re a the price point with the amp/dac combination where your amp is probably your bottleneck.
The LCD2C is a great place to add to your collection of headphones and it will benefit a lot from a better amp and DAC down the road when you upgrade that.
I’ll stay out of the way of the recommendations because there are better people here than me (more patient) but one bit of advice, enjoy the ride and enjoy the upgrade path because you’ll learn a lot about what you like and don’t like in sound signature.
The next level of equipment from a wow factor standpoint is the $600 to $700 dollar range for a DAC and a bunch of great amps for around $500. All said with the Audeze LCD2c you’re looking at $2000 and you’ll be able to resell is all.
If you buy used, you can get everything above for under $1400 I’m sure.
you can definitely get a noticeable improvement off of a better and more importantly balanced dac. the amp is pretty good for neutral but you can get a lot more power and lower noise floor from other amps and dacs which doesn’t seem like a big deal but definitely is once you have it.
are you willing to eq?
i personally have found tons of better sounding headphones than the lcd2 and i honestly dont really like them all that much. now that i think of it i have never liked a single pair of audeze headphones…maybe thats just me though.
This is one of those hobbies that if you’ve got money, go ahead and chase the fairy.
But if the ticket cost would burn you, don’t bother IMHO. Set a limit, stick to it. Personally, if you can’t buy 5 of the same item and burn 4 of them without remorse, I say you’re spending too much.
What I recommend: Go for something different. DT1990s not to taste? Find a headphone at or below the same price that’s different. Softer, more warm, ect… Amps, maybe try a tube amp. Or hell, start getting into IEMs and speakers. Having a variety of sets helps you curve trying to climb the ladder too much.
The headphones will make the largest difference in your experience, of course.
Expounding on how you feel about them would help. Also, do you EQ?
It sounds like you may need a relatively bass-rich can.
I see Sundara mentioned, I wonder if that would leave you wanting on the low-end, along with a lot of options.
Helping you discover the wow is contingent on gauging more about how you feel about your current sound. I’d see the current setup as maybe a bit on the analytic/cool side of things throughout the chain.
Simply delving into OTL tubes could be a whole world here. DT1990 is 250Ω, yeah?
Yeah, I would try eqing the DT1990’s if the treble is too much. If you want a neutral eq here is a link to some AutoEq results(not familiar with you headphone so here are both of the results for the two types of ear pads):
I AutoEq based settings made my m1060c’s and m570’s much better. You might be treble sensitive so finding/making one that deals with treble rather than being neutral might be a good bet.
Seems like you’re treble-sensitive like me and would probably enjoy a smoother amp. The Schiit Asgard 3 will (apparently) smooth out everything (warmer sound, diminished treble), and is really impressive for its price according to a lot of people here, and would be a great addition to your “analytical/bright” SP200 amp.