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$600 (£400ish) to spend on Headphones and Sound card

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I'm a music producer in need of some new headphones!

I'm looking for flat, responsive, clear headphones to will allow me to mix well.

I'd also like a new sound card to boot. External/internal doesn't bother me. As long as it can handle 24bit/96kHz sound and add to gaming experience (if possible) that's cool with me.

The kind of music I produce varies from classical to dubstep so range and clarity is essential for these headphones.

I have about $600ish to spend but this is flexible and can be adjusted if need be.


Thanks for reading.
post #2 of 22
For a good soundcard, look into anything by HT|Omega. They make some really good stuff.

For headphones, the Denon AH-D5000 sounds like just what the doctor ordered. They are easily (well, at least in my opinion) one of the best reference headphones under $500.
post #3 of 22
edit: updated DAC recommendation after reading up on the OCN consensus on the UDAC2.

That's the exact price point that my ideal setup costs!

Beyerdynamic DT-880s:

First of all, these are reference headphones (made for mixing) with a very flat frequency response. The bass is deep, but not bloated, the highs are audible, but not sibilant, etc. I also have to add that the sound separation on these headphones is 10/10, the soundstage is extremely wide which really helps you pick out instruments in different locations. I love my DT880s and wouldn't trade them for any headphone under $500.

Keep in mind this is the 600ohm version. If properly amped, these will have better low frequencies than the 250 ohm version, but do not expect to drive these headphones from an Ipod, or even a portable amp. These headphones need to be backed with a quality amp or the bass will greatly suffer.

http://www.amazon.com/Beyer-Dynamic-Premium-600-Headphones/dp/B0024NK35S/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1330999883&sr=1-1

HRT-MS2:

Solid DAC for the price, and it supports 24/92.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0038O4UFQ/ref=s9_simh_gw_p147_d0_g147_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0JJ5GJB240Z7Y10PMRAN&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

+$100 Schiit Asgard DAC is a good option (and has a 5 year warranty):

http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=1

O2 Amp:

This simple but very powerful DIY design has the power to properly drive 600 ohm headphones. Other amp options in the price range like the Fiio e9 are much weaker and won't give the DT880-600s the juice they need.

The O2 is a widely reviewed design that is very popular in the price range :http://www.head-fi.org/t/568705/review-nwavguys-o2-diy-amplifier

Component cost alone is around $100, so expect most builders to charge $150 or so for an assembled O2.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Objective2-O2-Custom-built-headphone-amp-Customize-yours-/280838048612?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4163408b64#ht_2391wt_1396

The standard 3x gain on this O2 build is apparently fine for the DT880/600, at least according to a couple testimonials of people who own both.

JDS Labs also sells them prebuilt: http://www.jdslabs.com/item.php?fetchitem=O2Full

Misc: Pick up a 3.5 male to male cord to connect the DAC to the Amp. The ebay amp seller I linked will throw one in for $5.

What you will get is a very analytical reference headphone setup. If there are flaws in the recording, you will hear it. The extra bass power from the 600ohm version should be fun too! If you go with this make sure and post a review of the setup!

Total cost: $565+S&H
Edited by mechtech - 3/6/12 at 1:17am
VIP3R
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 750 @ 4.0GHz 1.35v EVGA P55 LE GTX 480 @ 850/2155 8GB Corsair XMS3 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
2x 500GB F3s RAID0, 1x 7200.11 1.5TB, 1x 500GB Win7 64-bit 27'' Dell 2707WTP + 2x HP LP2465 IBM Model M mini 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
OCZ ProXStream 1000w CM Storm Scout DeathAdder 3.5g Artisan Shiden-Kai mid 
AudioAudio
Xonar D2X Beyerdynamic DT880 '03 
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VIP3R
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 750 @ 4.0GHz 1.35v EVGA P55 LE GTX 480 @ 850/2155 8GB Corsair XMS3 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
2x 500GB F3s RAID0, 1x 7200.11 1.5TB, 1x 500GB Win7 64-bit 27'' Dell 2707WTP + 2x HP LP2465 IBM Model M mini 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
OCZ ProXStream 1000w CM Storm Scout DeathAdder 3.5g Artisan Shiden-Kai mid 
AudioAudio
Xonar D2X Beyerdynamic DT880 '03 
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post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by voice View Post

Hi,
I'm a music producer in need of some new headphones!
I'm looking for flat, responsive, clear headphones to will allow me to mix well.
I'd also like a new sound card to boot. External/internal doesn't bother me. As long as it can handle 24bit/96kHz sound and add to gaming experience (if possible) that's cool with me.
The kind of music I produce varies from classical to dubstep so range and clarity is essential for these headphones.
I have about $600ish to spend but this is flexible and can be adjusted if need be.
Thanks for reading.

I'm guessing you already have a mixboard, am I right thus no need for an external sound device?
Also since you are a music producer, with input and output connections do you need on the card / device?

I highly recommend not getting the uDAC2.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post

I highly recommend not getting the uDAC2.

I'll second that. While the uDAC2 isn't a bad piece of hardware, it tends to color the sound quite a bit, and while not too bad for listening, could cause you some problems if you are looking for pure sound reproduction.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick2253 View Post

I'll second that. While the uDAC2 isn't a bad piece of hardware, it tends to color the sound quite a bit, and while not too bad for listening, could cause you some problems if you are looking for pure sound reproduction.

mmm..yeah...

It's a bad piece of hardware
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post

mmm..yeah...
It's a bad piece of hardware

That's fascinating. I've personally never listened to the uDAC-2, but from the reviews online about it that I've read, the consensus seems to be that it's not a bad piece of hardware considering its price. The only complaint that I've seen is that it has a tendency to over-color the source. Now I really want to find someone with a uDAC-2 and run those tests myself.
post #8 of 22
Unless you got a few thousand dollars handy to buy that sort of measurement equipment / you work or study in the electrical engineering field and have access to that sort of measuring equiipment and have the expertise to correctly interpret those results...you ain't gonna replicate them.
the uDac2 is total crap. I only ever recommend proven, objectively measured stuff in our OCN most recommended audio products sticky.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post

Unless you got a few thousand dollars handy to buy that sort of measurement equipment / you work or study in the electrical engineering field and have access to that sort of measuring equiipment and have the expertise to correctly interpret those results...you ain't gonna replicate them.
the uDac2 is total crap. I only ever recommend proven, objectively measured stuff in our OCN most recommended audio products sticky.

I'm in the latter category biggrin.gif, though I definitely am in no way an expert on the subject, I know enough about sound engineering to be dangerous. As an engineer (electrical, by trade), I'm not that partial to just taking someone else's numbers at face value. Unless I know the exact setup for an experiment, I'm not wont to believe what I read, especially given the problems with audio data analysis. Down with electrical noise!

BTW, thanks for the link to that blog. I hadn't known about it before, and it's nice to see someone use a highly technical and measured approach to audio analysis as opposed to the normally subjective approach most places use.
post #10 of 22
I think "total crap" is a bit of a stretch, given that some parts of the performance were pretty decent, but it's kind of a matter of "why would you even bother" particularly when you look at the price.

I'd also be cautious of taking somebody else's numbers at face value, but the numbers are generated in an automated fashion, so with screenshots it seems difficult for there to be much human error other than mis-tagging some curves on some of the plots (which has happened before). As for whether the test setup is valid, it seems likely, especially considering that he's used it to develop the O2 and has been working on a DAC as well. I tried testing the O2 with my cheap sound card, but even when loaded with 32 ohms, the performance is still better than the line in of the sound card, so I can't exactly begin to measure what's actually happening.

He has an entry on his bench setup btw:
http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/testing-methods.html


As for a suggestion to the OP: Beyerdynamic DT 880, AKG K701 (K702, Q701) may be a little bright. Nothing's perfectly flat, but maybe Sennheiser HD 600 is a better option? It may be useful to have a "standard" reference set that is widely known and used. All those mentioned above should qualify for that.
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