A year or so ago, I stumbled into a world that I had friends warned me about. Audiophilia would lead me into a search for perfection resulting in empty pockets. I have managed to avoid that end, but the way I listen to music has evolved.
My first buy was a set of AKG K 240 MKII headphones. These were almost the most expensive set of headphones/earbuds I had ever purchased. A set of Shure E2s, wasted on 128kbps MP3s, still hold the most expensive tag. Those Shures were the best thing I had ever heard up to that point, even with bad sound sources. That said the AKG's blew me away once again, at less than half the cost. This anachronism has pushed me to realize that damned good sound doesn't need to cost crazy money.
As it stands right now, my base office setup is pretty reasonable:
At under $200, I am not 100% sure this qualifies as an audiophile setup. What it does do, is deliver on sound I still love for my in office listening pleasure. The DAC appears to handle TIDAL's highest quality pretty well. The SMSL amp, works well also. I love the little ping that it produces as the tubes come up to tempterature. The only issue I have had with it is that one of the blue LED underlights seem to have a short.
The HD280PRO headphones deserve their own paragraph. These headphones are sublime. You can find many reviews online raving about them. For clean, clear, flat sound, I don't own a better set. If you are used to more mainstream, i.e. non-studio type headphones, you may find the sound profile a bit flat. I think you would be hard pressed to find this quality sound at their price, $99 at the time I am writing this.
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