Jan 26, 2019164 views

Where should I start if I want to get into audio?

I'm looking for inexpensive options. Mainly headphones.
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Dj1nn and rastus
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My first DAC/amp combo was the FiiO E10K. If i was coming into this hobby now, I would look at FiiO’s recent successor to that entry-level device, the K3. That can drive more mainstream headphones like the AT M50x, Koss Porta Pro. Status Audio CB-1, or Sony MDR-7506. And it’s a good inexpensive starting point. If you end up getting something nicer, like the Sennheiser HD58X for a first audiophile headphone, and you want something more powerful to drive it, I’d look at dedicated components, like the grace SDAC and the Monolith Cavalli Liquid Spark amp.
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Yes
Around 15-20 USD the Koss KSC75 (the classic, not the Massdrop KSC75X) is your best option by far. Possibly the best price/performance ratio in all of headphonedom. (Newer driver than the PortaPro, titanium-coated, producing smoother treble, so you can hear more detail instead of having gaps in the frequency range. Overall a more even representation of all the frequencies despite the lower price.) Going up from that the next thing might be the Superlux HD662-Evo with some simple mods described by Solderdude at DIY Audio Heaven. Not an open headphone, but plenty detailed and close-to-neutral for its 50 USD, and with much better sub-bass extension than the KSC75. Also, if you have the music file quality covered like VRacer111 said, the remaining issue is: if you can afford an extra 15-20-50 USD on top of the headphone you could spend that on getting away from listening to the music via smartphone or computer audio jack. Get a dedicated DAC/amplifier, because you're likely to miss out on a lot of stereo performance (soundstage size, imaging accuracy) by plugging headphones directly into generic computing devices. Something like a 15-USD MPOW 4.1 bluetooth receiver can do a lot for stereo performance when listening from your phone, without much loss of quality (if your phone has aptX codec support the loss might even be inaudible), or for 50/70 USD you can get a FiiO BTR1K or BTR3, which can be used wired to your computer or wireless with your phone to get better audio performance at home or on the go.
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abm0
Thank you very much.
First, make sure you have good quality music, that is the foundation of EVERYTHING. Won't matter how good your gear is if the music quality isn't quite up to what it could be. As long as you have good quality 320kbps MP3 or at least 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC, or anything equivalent, you have a good foundation level of music content for your audio experience as long as the recording/mastering is well done. If you have CD's you can rip them to 16bit/44.1kHz FLAC with a free program, Exact Audio Copy (http://www.exactaudiocopy.de). A good program to play your library of files from laptop/computer is also available free, Foobar2000 (http://www.foobar2000.org). For digital files online, Bandcamp is a great way to discover new artist and music and purchase/download good quality files (https://bandcamp.com). Here's a few tracks of music I enjoy which are examples of quality music: https://beibeishawnlee.bandcamp.com/track/year-of-the-funky

https://luckychops.bandcamp.com/track/these-tears

https://music.rozen.audio/track/sins-of-hyrule

https://celldweller.bandcamp.com/track/new-elysium-3

https://0101.bandcamp.com/track/remembrance

https://inumachine.bandcamp.com/track/illumination

https://radicaldreamland.bandcamp.com/track/old-site-black-moonrise-mix

https://allindiaradio.bandcamp.com/track/monsters-feat-leona-gray As for headphones I have two recommendations for you, at different levels, which are both available on here. They both don't require any additional DAC/amp beyond a phone or tablet/laptop/computer, though you will get more out of them with better gear down the road: (1) Koss Porta Pro (X) with Yaxi pads - simply one of the most musical headphones I've ever heard, with most impressive subbass impact, midbass punch, very forward and full vocals, and laid back but detailed highs. One of the most non-fatiguing headphones as well. The absolute best bargain in audio at under $50 total and I prefer to listen to it over the HD58X most of the time. The absolute best $50 you will ever spend on audio gear, ~$37 for Porta Pro X and ~$12 for the Yaxi pads (https://www.yaxi.jp/product-gallery/porta-pro/).
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(2) Sennheiser HD58X - absolutely great neutralish headphone with slightly elevated bass that will be a great foundation/starting point benchmark for higher end gear. Does everything well and sounds great doing it, scales well with better gear too. Can't really think of any headphone under $150 that is technically better than it, including the Koss Porta Pros with Yaxi pads.
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The above will get you started in a great position for a very good audio experience.
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I agree wholeheartedly with this review of the Yaxi pads for the Porta Pro which is linked on the Yaxi site: https://theheadphonelist.com/yaxi-ear-pads-for-koss-porta-pro-review/ I'm in the US and purchased them directly off the Yaxi site, free shipping anywhere - scroll to the bottom of the page: https://www.yaxi.jp/product-gallery/porta-pro/
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VRacer111
Thx all!