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March 13th, 2012

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07:28 am
(x-post with G+)

And now a bit of audio geekery...
Since I spend the better part of 8+ hours a day with my headphones on I figured it was about time I took my audio sources a bit more seriously.
Awhile back I scored a good deal on a set of Grado SR125 headphones. LOVE them. Best sounding audio purchase I've ever made.

I built a headphone amp to drive them (a gainclone) which worked well but ate 9v batteries like candy. Once I realized I was even burning through rechargeable 9v's at an unsustainable rate I decided to just get a desktop headphone amp instead. Enter Fiio E9 amp, which sounds 99.9% as good as my gainclone did, (I think it has a hair less bass oomph but that could be listener bias; hard to A/B them) and doesn't burn batteries. yay!

This config really made it apparent how lossy even Pandora's "high quality" option sounds. The compression they put on it for streaming really became apparent. I still use it for music discovery but I'm moving more and more towards listening to high quality source files. (Thank $DIETY most online services are offering 320kbps mp3 or lossless files these days... bandcamp wins with FLAC.)

The last hardware step would be a standalone DAC to do my digital->analog conversion, but I haven't been able to justify the $100ish it would run for a worthwhile one.

Anyway, on to the point of this ramble.

I just A/Bed a new piece of software against Winamp, my longtime friend. And winamp lost, handily.
JRiver (who I stumbled across randomly this morning) makes a very audiogeek friendly media center which does everything and the kitchen sink. (WAN streaming? sure. DVD archive and playback? Why not.) It's $50. Bleh. BUT! They also make a free product for audio only with all the core functionality for playback. WIN!
Supports direct hardware playback if you don't mind locking up your audio hardware (no system beeps will make it through), but even just through the DirectSound conduit it still sounds better than my old warhorse Winamp.

Thus I can happily recommend JRiver Jukebox ( http://www.jriver.com/mj/ ) for all your audio playback needs.
It really whips the llama's ass.
mood: calmcalm

(6 bits of drivel | babble incoherently)


[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2012 12:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the review!

Right now I'm using a set of Kilpsch S4 earbuds at work, mostly because I couldn't see plunking down yet another $15 for filters for my Etymotics. I'm finding out that I really need a set of cans, though... the earbuds, while effective, are too isolating.

....aaaaaand if I'm going to get cans, then I clearly have to look at amps, too. :)

A recommendation for portable headphones: Koss Porta-Pros. They're $35, ridiculously small and foldable, and you'll wonder where the bass response comes from.
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2012 01:13 pm (UTC)
Indeed, I love my porta-pros for their sound quality, but I find them annoying to deal with (and I rarely need portable cans anyway). My Grados stay at work, so I'm happy with full sized there.
There are also some Koss over-ear phones which use the same drivers as the porta-pros but cost about $15. They're my go-to cheapies. (KSC75's, here.) I don't mind lending them out, and I don't cry if I lose them or break them in a bag. :)
[User Picture]
Date:March 13th, 2012 01:26 pm (UTC)
Oh, Man. I covet a pair of Grados so bad.

That is the only substantive (barely) thing I have to say about that.
[User Picture]
Date:March 14th, 2012 01:59 am (UTC)
"whips the llama's ass"
That is the first time I've ever heard that expression. It amuses me greatly.

While on headphones and their kin, any thoughts on headsets for phones? I prefer wired (I'm weird that way) and would like something with quality so I could hear the music stored on my phone while I'm at work.
[User Picture]
Date:March 14th, 2012 01:51 pm (UTC)
Context: The audio file that ships with winamp (or did for a decade) was "Winamp!.... it really whips the llama's ass. *baaaah*"

As for phones, no I don't, sorry.
But what you CAN do is get a cable that has the mic on it and lets you use any standard headphones as the ear-pieces of a headset...
Like so. (amazon link)
[User Picture]
Date:March 15th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
I have the Fiio E5 for my earbuds.. Have Etymotic ER6's, since i broke my Er4-P's, but nowadays I'm using Noizfree inductive earhooks (http://www.noizfree.com/ViewShopProduct.aspx?Id=281046)
(x-post with G+) And now a bit of audio geekery... Since I spend… - another LJ. or: how i learned to stop worrying and love this life-thingy — LiveJournal

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