by, 02-11-2013 at 10:15 PM (1544 Views)
As mentioned in my last post I needed to reduce the size of my hi-fi to make my home office into, well an office. After careful consideration I decided to go with a head-fi setup. Trying to demo gear turned out to be much harder than I anticipated. At least where I live there are not a lot of places that carry high-end headphone setups. A lot of time was spent online researching options and trying to narrow down my choices. I was fortunate to find nice people that were willing to help me. In particular, Paul Clark at Hi-Fi Lounge in the UK proved to be a great resource. He has a lot of experience with both hi-fi and head-fi and could provide a lot of informed insight. I also received timely support from Moon Audio and ALO Audio.
I had narrowed my choices of audio components down to three companies, Bryston, Auralic, and Schiit. All three companies offered some flavor of an async DAC and separate headphone amps in fully balanced configurations. The biggest initial differentiator is that Schitt was less than half of the other two options. The other thing all three had in common was that there were no local dealers that stocked them and it was going to be an online only search. While doing my research I emailed Robert Neiil who is the North American distributor of Auralic and he made me a great offer that I couldn't refuse. So I didn't and ordered the ARK MX+ DAC and Taurus head pre / amp.
With headphones I did have a little more luck finding local dealers that carried upper end brands. I really liked the Beyerdynamic T1's. One of my initial concerns was the the Beyer cable is hardwired in, and therefore finding aftermarket cables is very restricted This is where Moon Audio comes into the picture. They make their own line of cables including headphone. They also will hardwire their aftermarket cable into the Beyer's. Based on some input from Drew at Moon I ordered a pair of T1's with their Black Dragon V2 cord and balanced connector.
I have always been curious about the concept of cable synergy, meaning all cables in a system come from same brand / line. When I ordered the Beyer's from Moon, I also picked up a pair of their in house Blue Dragon XLR interconnects, and Blue Dragon USB. This was an impulse purchase as I had already ordered a set of HiDiamond interconnects and USB from Robert, who is also a distributor for the HiDiamond brand.
Right now the Auralic's, Beyer, and Moon Audio cables are all breaking in. I should hopefully be getting the HiDiamond cables some time this week. I will swap them in and give them some break in time and do a comparison down the road.
For now I am happy that the research time is over and I can once again listen to music. And who knows, maybe this head-fi thing really is the way to go. It is 9:15 PM right now and I am rocking out while my kids are sleeping.