Computer-based headphone system

Amandela77 -- Fri, 12/03/2010 - 10:18

Hey everyone:
I heard a superb computer-based headphone system over the Thanksgiving break at my cousin's house. My cousin uses a humble 250GB Dell laptop as a dedicated music server, employing the very nicely designed Windows Media Player/Media Center operating system as his server architecture, with all CD downloads encoded as lossless files. The music files (roughly 550 CDs) are backed-up on a $60/500 GB external hardrive. Windows Media Center is configured to run at 24/192.
The hard-drive stored files are routed to a superb USB DAC, the widely celebrated HRT Music Streamer II ($149.00), an asynchronous device that slaves the digital data stream from the Dell hard drive to the DAC's internal clock, greatly reducing jitter. His headphone amp is a beautifully built Citypulse DAC DA7, a Chinese headphone/DAC combo available in a couple of iterations from Augio Headphones are the celebrated but now discontinued Sennheiser 580s. I don't know what USB cable he uses, but the interconnect running from the HRT DAC to the Citypulse amp is from Audioquest.
The sound, at least to my ears, was a revelation, coherent, full of detail, dynamically brisk, and also a touch dry. While I won't say that the sound I heard rivalled a mega-buck CD playback system, what greatly impressed me was the perceived increase in musical flow and naturalness. Everything just sounded incredibly coherent, as if cut from single cloth so to speak. I didn't have to struggle to hear deep into the recordings (a deftly assemble collection of classical, jazz and pop classics).    
Ease of system operation proved another plus. I had nearly instant access to his stored library of 500+ CDs, but without the worry of loading and unloading disc drawers, or discovering that I have a stack of empty jewel boxes with the CDs nowhere in sight, likely double-stuffed in some jewel box I will never open again. 
In my mind, this is the future of our hobby, at least for digital files. 
I am now putting together my own headphone-based system, albeit one that will feature tubes in the electronics. I will report my findings soon.
Good listening.....

Amandela77 -- Fri, 12/03/2010 - 10:18

Headphone system


Steven Stone -- Fri, 12/03/2010 - 13:19

 Too bad you missed CANJAM at RMAF. They had almost every top-flight headphone and headphone amp on the planet there.
Also check out the Head-fi site. Some folks have been traveling down this road for a while...

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

Amandela77 -- Fri, 12/31/2010 - 19:47


I'm hooked on all things "cans". You and my cousin are to blame. Curses!!!!

Here is the system thusfar:

Dell 640GB laptop (using the very nice Windows Media Center architecture);

HRT Music Streamer II DAC (Monster Cable USB cable);

Audioquest Black Mamba II interconnect;

PS Audio GCHA (with PS Audio PerfectWave AC-3 power cable plugged into a Monster Cable power strip);

BeyerDynamic DT 990/600 ohm and Sennheiser 580 cans...

No end in sight....

Happy holidays


Amandela77 -- Mon, 12/06/2010 - 18:44

Thansk for the comment, SS. I would love to attend next year's RMAF. Good listening....


All content, design, and layout are Copyright © 1999 - 2011 NextScreen. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part in any form or medium without specific written permission is prohibited.