The Hobby: An Unexpected Journey

Few years ago, when I was still a student, but already had a job, few responsibilities an few expenses, I found myself with some spare money for myself.

I am little tech freak even since 5th grade when my parents bought me my first PC. In 7th grade I overclocked my computer without knowing that what I did was called overclocking  I was looking into the motherboards’ manual and I’ve seen that you could change the settings (fsb, clock and voltage). I said to myself….what a wonderful world… :)), and I thought that I could brake the half ghz “barrier” ( had a 450 mhz amd k6 II ). Changed the clock from 4.5 (x100) to 5 x 100. I received a blue screen after a while. Hmm…for being faster it may need more voltage, and so, without my father knowing I found the stable version. Since then I was obsessed about getting the most of my computer, and having good components.

Ok, enough about that. Where were we?

Ah… So I had some spare money to buy myself a toy 😀 . I already upgraded my computers a few months earlier, already had a “good” Technics SH-580 Sound System, but my “expensive” Sennheiser cx300 (40$) broke. I kept seeing adds with 7.1 Logitech headphones and I was thinking of buying a pair of those.

One night I contacted a good friend of mine, George Dinca, on messenger. We got into gadget talk as usual, and, at one point, I tolled him of my decision of buying a new pair of 7.1 headphones. It was then, I found that he was into this hobby that i knew nothing about. He convinced me that those 7.1 headphones are good for nothing and he made me look at the Sennheiser HD595. I was shocked. 200$ for a pair of headphones?? What could they do to deserve so much money?? Was he nuts?

He then told me he intended to buy a pair of Sennheiser HD800 and a Meier Symphony 2 (dac/amp ) from meier audio, in total of a little over 2k$. My jaw dropped. I was like : “Dude….are you crazy?”.

Then I started reading reviews on hd595 and HD555. I read that the differences were not so big between the 2, and the 555 was half the price.

I decided to go with the 555.

Looked for the  Sennheiser dealer from Bucharest and went the next day directly to the store. They did not have the 555. I was sad…I wanted my new toy :)) . They said they had the 545 and 595 and that I can listen both. I was thinking… ok …i will listen to both, but will not get the 595 ( what can it do for the money ).

They plugged the headphones into a laptop and started listening to 545. I was like….ok…interesting, let’s see the 595. I put them on and was amazed. The differences were huge to my ears. Much bigger soundstage, mode details (but at that time, I think the soundstage impressed me the most). I looked at the salesman and said :

Shut up and take my money

That was the first time in my life I have heard sound of such good quality. It trumped every computer system I heard, my technics sound system, and any headphone I heard to that date ( I think my most expensive headphone I listened to until then was 20$).

I was really happy with my new toy, even though i was not planning to spend so much money on it.

Went home and plugged them in my Creative Extreme Audio sound card and started listening to my mp3s. I rediscovered all my music.

Every day I started appreciating the sound better and better.

Went on messenger again and started speaking with George again. Told him about my new pair of headphones and how happy I was with them.

After a while he started to explain to me that even though the headphones only had 50 ohms, they will still benefit from a headphone amplifier. I was then again shocked. “What? An amplifier just for the headphones? What is this madness? “.

“Dude trust me! They will take the sound to another level!”.

I started looking for headphone amplifiers. That is when I wrote my first post on headfi .

The first response I got was “Welcome to headfi and we are sorry for your wallet!“.

I was a little bit surprised. “What was this guy talking about?” . It didn’t take long for me to find out. At that time, in Romania I did not find anything on the market that would interest me. I was thinking of spending a maximum amount of 200$. After a month of reading reviews and posts on headfi and talking with George, I found out about Meiers’ amplifiers.

I ended up spending 500$ on a Meier Cantate 2 amplifier (and dac).


I was really impressed of its’ looks, built quality and  sound improvements. I started to notice a deeper  and more controlled bass, better details, and from what I remember a wider soundstage.

I was already hooked up into reading reviews and posts on headfi about headphones and amplifiers, so I kept at it. I found out quickly that my headphones did not bring the most out of my new amplifier. Guess what? I started looking for other headphones, ones that would be a better match for my new Cantate 2. This is how I met Darku (Sandu Vitalie), and actually became good friends :D, but this is another story, for another post .