Well, there are now two three obvious options:
- Mod my HD 800 headphones. This seems to be a standard mod ('Anax 3'). It involves some deconstruction of the headphone and insertion of rugliner or similar material for damping. I've not looked into it too much yet. In part I'm waiting for the DAC upgrade below first.
- Getting a DAC upgrade. I currently have the Schiit Gungnir, a 'good' delta-sigma DAC. Schiit is coming out with 'better' ladder or R2R dac in the near future. The word-of-mouth marketing is very good...it should be easily resellable if I get an early version, so I'm going to give it a look. The HD 800 mod can wait until then. I'm not sure at all what I'm getting into here, but the monetary loss if I flip this DAC should be zero to minimal (< $200). So worth the entertainment. And I do have my hopes up. I do have credibility on reselling now with my family, having sold my previous two amps and one DAC USB input power supply. Pricing was fine, but not great, in part since the market reflects judgement I share. I actually did better than I expected.
- A subwoofer...this would be at the quality level of my other audio stuff, no not a base level version. Looks like I'll go with a 12 inch closed servo subwoofer from Rythmik, with a 370 Watt Class A/B amp. I'll be using line level inputs (since this is not a home theater setup with LFE -- low frequency effects -- output) on a XLR version. I've been reading about subwoofer integration, but I'll know more once I actually try to set up the subwoofer. Down the line this will probably mean getting a calibration microphone and some room correction software (REW is free, Dirac Live is the standard paid software, there are others out there as well, you can get quite fancy if you do active crossovers as well, with either DSP or line level active crossovers -- I'm not there yet). One realization is that my bookshelf speakers actually measure quite well, a bit in term of having quite variable impedance by frequency, making my amps job harder. So the Sierra-2 speakers, though small with a ribbon tweeter and a 6 inch woofer, only 20 lbs each, do go have a frequency range of 46Hz to 38kHz ± 3dB anechoic, 41Hz - 27kHz ± 3dB 'typical' in room. So -3dB at 41 Hz isn't bad...I'll probably get to cross-over the subs at 50Hz. But I'll need to do some measurements. What this does, hopefully, mean is that I can get away with one subwoofer and not have any directionality issues with the subwoofer. I will go under my desk. 15x15x18.5 inches.
As for other upgrades, I could sell and buy headphones...but I'll wait for that. The other big issue is my noise background, which is pretty high (ventilation/heating, plumbing noise: bathrooms, clothes and dish washers) and the social aspect that other family members dislike my music even though it is the office. They think it is loud. So as part of a warm up for some calibrated measurement, I put a sound meter on my phone...so not all that exact. Still, it measures my typical music loudness at 75-82 db, so totally in the normal range. This is easily beat by the printer noise level when printing or my wife berating her computer...my car measures 85 db without radio, typical car noise level. One kid getting her jacket in my coffee while driving to tennis measured 102 dB. A normal non-yelly conversation hits 85 dB peaks.
Mostly this is the problem that other people's music is much more annoying than your music. I experience this as well. I could play it more quietly, but then the background noise becomes bothersome...and that noise is an issue now too. And speakers are more fun than headphones. So I'm frustrated by three kids each taking 30 min showers just when I have time to listen to music.
The Tidal 16/44 format streaming service works fine on off hours, but not during peak hours. Annoying, since I need it to work during peak hours (like now, 8 pm on Sunday). A bit weird, since they use Amazon cloud services to steam, you'd think they'd have the capacity. Somebody needs to pay to get this service to work or I'll need to move on (though the obvious competitor, Qobuz isnt' yet available in the US).
No running today, due to freezing rain that started at 9 am. I should have gotten out earlier. I'll try tomorrow morning, which might work due to a warm night. A kid is now showering. Maybe time to do some indoor cycling
I do plan to get back to 9 miles of running per day, but in increments. By sometime in May? The weather doesn't help and indoor cycling isn't at all a substitute.
I did just put in an order for cheap XLR line level cables, 5 ft of Canare Quad L-4E6S for a subwoofer.
And I should get sand to put in my speaker stands. Could be messy. And get/make a headphone stand to declutter a bit. I did clean up the office a lot today, so there is some progress. Lots of crap to toss out and box. Feels good. Also intended to make space for the camera gear that needs to move for the subwoofer to have space.
I just gave up on running tomorrow. It looks too cold for the ice to thaw. Time to go cycling indoors.
I also ordered a bright light bulb -- 45 W and 2600 lumen at 5500K -- for the office. My wife may not like it but I like being able to see. Hm, supposedly some hum for these bulbs as well as color cast issues...consider this an experiment. Hum can vary my mains noise. On the other side, just the thing to mess up my audio set up by contaminating my power. The light bulb may be overkill, the current bulb is a three-way bulb that partially failed and is too dim.
Ah, the flute playing has started...def. time to go cycle. From 4 ft away the flute is around 85 dB, up to 95 dB on the loud spikes. So her average dynamics are above my loud spikes. But yes, you can hear the flute everywhere in the house.
Other annoyances of the weekend: kid #2 has eaten trough my supply of canned tuna (at some point more than 40 cans, due to having an Amazon subscription). And kid #1 beat me to decluttering, using all the boxes I set aside for this purpose. So I need to find more boxes (yes, looking to Amazon here).
There is the interesting issue of how bass is supposed to sound. Most people are used to muddy undefined bass, while I'm trying to get realistic bass. The Sierra-2 speakers sounded thin to me initially, but I'm now used to that. I'm also concerned the LCD-X headphones are a bit bass heavy, at least in terms of having uncontrolled muddy bass. There is a big difference between the HD 800s and the LCD-X that I don't quite understand yet. This isn't the 'all amps/Dacs' sound the same world. And I don't think it is just coloration either, though that is the obvious place to look if you're guessing.
Some more noise measurement: office with heat and computer on: 50 dB, with heat off and computer on 45 dB, with both heat and computer off: 37 dB. Computer noise isn't minor...not sure how to handle that. The usual approach is fanless servers for music, but that's not an office. I already have pretty quit fans and it is a high performance machine that needs fans. Main noise are the CPU fans. Turning down the fan speed at this point makes the fans louder, they are pretty much already a min noise speed.
Cycling may fail because kid #3, who has no laptop, is using the laptop I use for cycling for school work. Stationary cycling without video and feedback on power doesn't work.