Audiophile headphone rig?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by JW8725, May 24, 2008.

  1. JW8725 macrumors 6502a

    May 8, 2005
    Hi looking to setup an audiophile headphone rig around the imac. Was looking for recommendations and suggestions please?

    Headphone amp?

  2. kilian macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2008
    I´m using an iMac with my Apogee Duet for recording guitars etc. For recording and miking I used a iGrado headphone. The best headphone I had but it´s too small for my head. After 2 hours my ears hurted me. My head is too big for the iGrado. I sold it to a friend and look for a Grado SR 125. These headphones are neutral and don´t overpower the bass. A good choice for recording and mixing. These headphones are open. For recording vocals I ordered a MoreMe headphone (closed), very cheap. Hope this helps.
  3. geeman macrumors regular

    Nov 27, 2001
    At My Mac
    Depends on your budget, your taste in sound - as well as your taste in music.

    The 'upfront' sound typified by Grado headphones, for example, is great for rock, metal, blues, live recordings, etc. Conversely classical or jazz music may sound 'better' on headphones from Sennheiser, AKG or Beyer.

    Headphone amps can be bought for $50 all the way up to $5000. They be portable, plugging into the Line Out of an iPod, for example, or they can run off mains power. They can be solid state or tube-based. However, like many things in audiophile-land, there's a law of diminishing returns once you spend more than about $500.

    To get you started, look for names such as Ray Samuels, Meier Audio or Headroom. Meier Audio, for example, have amps with built-in DACs than run off the USB port of your iMac.

    Regardless, any 'audiophile' based rig needs (IMO) top-quality input to get top-quality output - especially if you're going as far as to buy a DAC. That means ripping to high bitrate MP3 or AAC or, even better, Apple Lossless.

  4. ejack24 macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2008
    I'm in a similar situation but plan to start with speakers and add a headphone amp later. I've been looking at the HeadRoom Micro DAC and thinking of pairing it with some Audioengine A5s. Then I could add HeadRoom's matching headphone amp down the road.
  5. lord patton macrumors 65816

    lord patton

    Jun 6, 2005
    While I didn't buy it for headphone listening, I'll second the Apogee Duet. The Duet's output was an *enormous* improvement over the built-in line-out. The difference, as revealed by my B&W/Bryston rig, was dramatic. Sounds good with my Grado SR-125s as well, and has a 1/4" jack.
  6. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    I'd concur with the above. The good pro soundcards easily rival midrange headphone amps in terms of general results - whatever magic source the amp maker may claim that they've put in - and they not only give you the ability to listen to music, but also the flexibility to make it too.
  7. peapody macrumors 68040


    Oct 7, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    Sounds like a job for

    I'd say go with a DAC, like a head-amp pico or ray samuels predator. I have heard very good things about them, and the versatility is a definite plus.
  8. ejack24 macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2008
    That Predator sure does get stellar reviews. I don't really need the portability it offers, but it might be a good option anyway.
  9. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    I've had a Predator and have a Pico. Unless I needed the portability (certainly not with the iMac) I'd take the Duet over both for the flexibility.
  10. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2007
    My first endeavor into audio got me a CMOY altoids amp, some ue triple fi's, and Sennheiser HD 497's. Now I've got some freq's, custom 10's, and a pico.
    Damn head-fi. Anyway.

    Are you looking for IEM's or closed/open style cans?

    IMO it's always best to start simple. Your ears will be amazed at even the massive improvement from, say, iPod with earbuds, to portable cheap pocket amp from DLO and some decent cans. Then work your way up from there, once you figure out what you prefer.
  11. Guntis macrumors member


    Apr 29, 2004
    Riga, Latvia

    I got for my MacBook Pro 17" Apogee Duet for occasional lecture and music recordings, and Sennheiser HD650 headphones for music listening. This is fantastic "duet"! Senn's bass ir amazingly musical (really deep, but not boomy), and I've always had a feeling that trebles could be better. Well, HD650 in tandem with Duet has so transparent sound that I don't need that anymore! It just sounds natural and trebles have their little sparkle. And Apogee Duet really sounds great. It has firewire connection and it gets power over the same firewire wire, so no extra power supply block needed. I think this could be perfect for you. You could also make some recordings, if needed. I have very very good results with Shure KSM-137 condenser mic. Although it's not marketed as the primary voice recording mic, it's just perfect for my voice. Rode K2 had ess-sound problem, not with Shure. Imagine - good voice recording without any hiss or noise in the background! At +44dB amplification I still have noise floor at about -70dB and with the Gate filter I can get -85dB. Regarding music listening - Duet's self noise is zero - turn volume up to the max and still Duet is dead silent. So-called "blackground".

    As an alternative I could suggest separate DAC and headphone amp, but then you'd have to pay way more, to get something better than Duet. For example, really good headphone amp will cost you about $1100 or so (Ray Samuels Raptor), and the DAC about the same money. Is it worth, and will you be ready to pay so much, if you can get Duet for $500?
  12. stormyuklondon1 macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2006
  13. quasinormal macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2007
    Sydney, Australia.

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