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Small Amp for HD650's - Page 2

post #16 of 91

Just a Suggestion

Hi Apocalypse_HD650,

I have been in your shoes. It appears from your post, that now that you have a very nice set of headphones, you may want to do more with them than watching TV or playing on the computer. At least, that is what I infer, from your list of Amp candidates.

This is the route I took in order to learn what the "reviewers" were talking about when using terms like: warm, cool, bright, detailed, liquid, soundstage, depth, blackness, coloration, etc.. I purchased several flavors of the C-Moy type, a couple of Head Room types, a custom Pimeta and a couple of tube types.

I can now read a review and begin to understand what the reviewer is trying to say. I can relate, so to speak.

Here is what I have learned: the Quality of Source (CD Player, Sound Card, MP3 Player, etc.) + cable/interconnect + Hd. Phone Amp + Head Phone = Quality of Sound that reaches your Ears. Judging this is a personal thing that only you can do. Also, only you can determine how much "Quality and Expense" is really needed to meet your goals for the moment (remember - Welcome to Head-Fi...Sorry about your wallet.).

I would recommend spending as little of that $400 as possible, just now, on a Headphone Amp and using what you have left as a downpayment on a good audio source within your means. Having said that, I think you could get 2 amplifiers for about $175 that would allow you to evaluate, for yourself, some of the different sounds that are possible. At least you will have an idea of where you want to go as far the type of sound that appeals to you and some experience to make the equipment reviews more understandable. The two I have in mind could be resold later on at minimal loss to finance something more suited to your needs and tastes. I know some will chime in with other types and brands but that's good too.

Were I you, I would forget Tube Amps for the moment. I love them and have them, but you need to be more seriously into this before jumping into tubes. Also, tubes a a bit more delicate and expensive to maintain and tune.

You can pick up a C-Moy for around $50. Pereferably one with a single 132/134 OpAmp. It's portable and battery powered ( some come with the ability to connect to a "wall wart" transformer for AC operation). Battery life should be 30 to 40 hours. 470uF caps minimum, 1000uA will get you more thump to the bass. With Senn-650's it will work fine . For about $95, you can also get a Maxi-Moy (http://www.shellbrooklab.com/) or similiarly built amp. This gives you two better OpAmps ( usually 227's) , one per channel ( left and right), better circuitry and buffers and will sound quite different than the cheaper C-Moy. Your 650's will sound much improved. The Maxi-Moy is both battery and AC powered.

I think what you will find is that the C-Moy has a nice bass thump but sounds a little rough compared to the Maxi-Moy. the Maxi-Moy will just flat out blow away the C-Moy all over due to its two OpAmps and other components.

Now you can follow the discussions here on other types of amps and understand the terminology used to describe the various qualities of different amps. Then if you decide to try another type, sell these two and you've got your downpayment. In the mean time, take the $225 left of your $400 budget and begin to look toward upgading your Source.

There are other OpAmp chips to explore too that may be a better match to your ears and the 650's than the Burr Brown type I've mentioned. Search out Tangent's excellent articles on this and the differences between the C-Moy, Mint, Pimeta and PPA type amplifiers.

Any of the Amps mentioned in your post will be a major improvement should you decide to just jump in and use all your budget. My opinion of how to spend your money is just that - an opinion. Hell, if I had the $400,i'd pobably blow it and a few more bucks on that beautiful Shanling SCD-T200 Tube SACD Player I just lost a bid on at Audigon LOL!

- Good Luck - Tom
post #17 of 91
Thread Starter 

Thanks so Far!

Wow! Thanks for the feedback. From the advise given thus far I've decided to re-adjust my budget to around $300 (save for a better source). However my elder brother has a linn hifi system (I can only use when he's not around!!!) which certainly does warrant a good amplifier with my 650's, and considering I won't be buying another amp for a long time this has to be the right purchase.

I'm leaning towards these:
•Headroom Little
•HeadRoom Coda Amp LE
•Headamp Gilmore Lite Dynamic Headphone Amp
•Emmeline SR-71 Portable Headphone Amp

However whenever I buy anything I consider ALL the options (I usually end up with what I liked first! but anyway.. )

I'm still more inclined towards AC power, but if you think it doen't make much difference then tell me. I want something small, sleek and well constructed and solid-state barring the X-can.

If you could eliminate the amps in the list first in terms of price and then whether or not there good, and I'll see what I'm left with:
•Creek Audio OBH-21/SE
•Musical Fidelity X-CANV3
•ATP Systems Xenos 3HA
•Xin SuperMacro Portable Headphone Amplifier
•JMTAudio PPA (PPL's Portable Amplifier) amp
•JMTAudio Home Headphone Amplifier
•Rega Ear Headphone Amplifier
•LaRocco LaRocco Home Edition
•LaRocco PPA (Phil's Portable Amplifier)
•LaRocco Pocket Reference
•Headroom Little
•HeadRoom Coda Amp LE
•Headamp Gilmore Lite Dynamic Headphone Amp
•Emmeline SR-71 Portable Headphone Amp
•PORTA CORDA MkII
•Portaphile V2
•Shellbrook Labs amps (which evers best)

By the way which is JMT audio's best amp since I can afford them all it seems? Also being based in the UK it next to impossible to try these amps out before buying-so I'm completely reliant on other opinions.

Once again thankyou very much!
post #18 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
...
• Perreaux SXH2 Headphone Amplifier...
What source do you have that lists these for $400? The only distributer I found is out of Canada and wants $580 with shipping? If you got another line, let a brother know.
post #19 of 91
I'm extremely satisfied with a PPA for my 650s. Mine was a little under 500 dollars but you can get one built with not as many features for a lot less. Make sure you ask for bass boost to be included to make your 650s sound like 12 inch woofers on your head.
post #20 of 91
Hi,

The amp alas is out of favour here, but I have a HeadRoom Little and a Perreaux SXH-1 and the Perreaux sounds fantastic with my HD-650s, lively and detailed and very musical. I don't miss the crossfeed with this amp -- you might be able to find of these used for around 175.00 and I think it belongs on your list.

o
post #21 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
I'm leaning towards these:

•Headroom Little
•HeadRoom Coda Amp LE
•Headamp Gilmore Lite Dynamic Headphone Amp
•Emmeline SR-71 Portable Headphone Amp
Apocalypse - alas, you can eliminate the HeadRoom Coda Amp LE from your list. It was a recent limited-edition run and no longer available.

Looks like you're on the right track and getting some good info. My guess is you're gonna love whatever amp you choose!

Best,
Beau
post #22 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by eastside504
Beauregard, he ask for an amp that will drive his hd650 at around $400. I used to own a headroom little with the upgraded powersupply. The Little new cost $459 and if you want the upgarded powersupply that will put it over $600. I offered him alternative amps that IMO are better sounding at a cheaper price level. I'm glad you are happy with your amp, but there are several different amps that drives the hd650 better IMO.
Actually, the base model Little is $259.

My complaint about your response is that it was ultimately uninformative; it sounded like group-think repetition of Head-Fi conventional wisdom that doesn't take into account what a newbie is looking for and didn't provide him with any information on which to base his decision.

Unlike others, Apocalypse took the time to do a lot of research and post a comprehensive thoughtful question. And *that* deserves consideration. You've been able to compare a couple of amps that he's considering but you simply say his phones "deserve" one over the other. Why?? What's the difference - soundstage, dynamics, tonal balance, something else? Especially if you're going to send someone off to the used market to meet their budget, you should provide something beyond "better" to justify the added trouble and the foregoing of a trial period and warranty.

Look to some of the other posts in this thread to see what thoughtful, helpful advice looks like...

Beau
post #23 of 91
If I were you I would lean more heavily in the direction of the Gilmore Lite vs. the SR-71 and dump the rest of your short list... Either will do I great job, my personal preference would be the SR-71 with the 650s.
post #24 of 91
Thread Starter 

Final Shortlist-Eliminate at will

If only all forums were this informative! Having taken into consideration all of the advise thus far and my budget; I have composed a final shortlist, based on extensive research. No matter what the Amp I go for will be one of these and nothing else. Please collectively eliminate the ones you consider 'no-hopers' and leave what is most recommend by-you the headphone elite!

Headamp Gilmore Lite Dynamic Headphone Amp (http://www.headamp.com/lite.shtml): This certainly seems to be my safest and probably best bet. However I have slight concerns about using the 230/115V Voltage Converter since I am in the UK. Could purchase the Gilmore Lite Dedicated Power Supply as well, but I think that may be a little too expensive (maybe 2nd hand). Are there any other Gilmore amps other than HeadAmp, and if so is headamp the best?
Rega Ear Headphone Amplifier (http://www.rega.co.uk/index2.htm): Nice commercial amp and at an excellent price with the added advantage of it being based in the UK. Same standard as the Gilmore?
Headroom Little (http://headroom.headphone.com/layout...tID=0010010010): Again well within budget, would have preferred the Coda amp but its not available. I’m not sure how it stacks up though especially against the Gilmore. Won’t upgrade it.
HeadRoom Total BitHead (http://headroom.headphone.com/layout...tID=0000010004): Seems good for computer, but is it even close to the SR-71 or Gilmore?
Ray Samuels Emmeline SR-71 (http://www.raysamuelsaudio.com/index2.html): This amp is over my budget. However I find the size and quality very attractive. Haven’t quite proven to myself yet that this is worth more than the alternatives, but I am tempted… lack of AC power is my only gripe.
Meier Audio PORTA CORDA MkII (http://home.t-online.de/home/meier-audio/index.htm): Not sure about this, aesthetically ugly and runs on batteries. Well within budget though and I’m not ruling it out.
Creek Audio OBH-21/SE (http://www.creekaudio.co.uk/main_pro...?prolook=obh21): British based so easily got hold of, not many ‘headfiers’ seem to recommend it. Should I rule it out?
Portaphile V2 (http://www.portaphile.com/ordering.html): Seems OK but don’t know much about it-lead time is going to be a problem. Is it as good as the competitors?
X-CANV3 Headphone Amplifier (http://www.musicalfidelity.com/mf/en...SmallX/SXCANV3): Am I correct that this is a hybrid? UK based advantage, looks nice, Sennheiser UK recommends it. But probably above my budget like the SR-71.
Prelude Audio - Symphony II (http://preludeaudio.com/products/aud...mphony-II.html): I know very little about this, good price but unsure as to how good it really is?
Channel Islands Audio VHP•1 Headphone Amplifier (http://www.ciaudio.com/): Looks very nice but again rather unheard of, could someone shed some light on it?
Heed Audio CanAmp (http://www.heedaudio.hu/en/prod_el.html#2) : Know nothing about this again any knowledge on it would be appreciated?
ATP Systems Xenos 3HA (http://www.aptecpro.com/index.html) : Looks like a bit of a cheapo product, not sure about it?
Shellbrook Labs Amps (http://www.shellbrooklab.com/index.html): I’m confused about this range which is there best? Nevertheless they look like good solid products.

If anyone recommends the Shellbrook range, then could you please specify there flagship amp?
Bear in mind that the X-CANV3 and SR-71 are over my $300 budget. However if they are genuinely worth the price increase over the competition then I shall consider them.
As a reminder I will be using these soley with Sennheiser HD650's and a range of sources in the future. Plus I would prefer AC power.

Please decide carefully, whilst I understand that one may think considering ALL the options may seem frivolous; I simply cannot help but do so. So whilst I know most of you will say "Gilmore Lite","SR-71" or "Rega Ear", please look into those that are perhaps unknown to you with your more experienced eyes.

Thank you very much in advance, and I apologise for my pedantic persistance!
post #25 of 91
Interesting. This thread is going to be of an interest for me...
I am also based in the UK, and looking for an amp. That said, my budget isn't quite as high as yours (about half). Personally, I am looking forward for reviews of the Portaphile V2. Its within my budget, and I remember reading somewhere that the beta version compares pretty well to even more expensive amps (not better, but possibly much better value - which is more important to me).

On a side note, how come the SuperMacro got eliminated in your final list? Not that I know anything, but I was under the impression that the SuperMacro is regarded as being nearly onpar as the SR-71, but at $100 less. That must say a lot considering how well regarded the SR-71 is...

Before I restricted my budget, I narrowed my choices down to SR-71, Supermacro, Gilmore, Portaphile V2 and the PocketAmp 2 (to save myself lots of money). Now I am just deciding between the Portaphile V2 and the PocketAmp 2 (still seems great value)... although I could also throw in the PortaCorda II just to have one more option.
post #26 of 91
I liked X-Can V3 together with XPSU and HD650. Very detailed, dynamic and warm. Without XPSU, not so much compared to some of the other amps in you list.

From personal experience Id have to say Corda! Prehead/hd650 sounds good!
post #27 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
Headamp Gilmore Lite Dynamic Headphone Amp (http://www.headamp.com/lite.shtml): This certainly seems to be my safest and probably best bet. However I have slight concerns about using the 230/115V Voltage Converter since I am in the UK. Could purchase the Gilmore Lite Dedicated Power Supply as well, but I think that may be a little too expensive (maybe 2nd hand). Are there any other Gilmore amps other than HeadAmp, and if so is headamp the best?
HeadAmp is the only one that builds that particular style of Gilmore at the moment. I thought that you could have Justin wire it for 230 to begin with and no adapter needed, but I haven't checked with the Ltie V2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
Headroom Little (http://headroom.headphone.com/layout...tID=0010010010): Again well within budget, would have preferred the Coda amp but its not available. I’m not sure how it stacks up though especially against the Gilmore. Won’t upgrade it.
Move along here, there's nothing to see...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
HeadRoom Total BitHead (http://headroom.headphone.com/layout...tID=0000010004): Seems good for computer, but is it even close to the SR-71 or Gilmore?
No, nowhere near being in the same league.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
Ray Samuels Emmeline SR-71 (http://www.raysamuelsaudio.com/index2.html): This amp is over my budget. However I find the size and quality very attractive. Haven’t quite proven to myself yet that this is worth more than the alternatives, but I am tempted… lack of AC power is my only gripe.
You might want to check out the XP-7 then. It's a bit more pricey, but you can get a power supply for it. I would double check they are available for the UK voltage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
Thank you very much in advance, and I apologise for my pedantic persistance!
Actually it's rather refreshing that you cared enough to compile and research that many amps.
post #28 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypse_HD650
As a reminder I will be using these soley with Sennheiser HD650's and a range of sources in the future. Plus I would prefer AC power.
Among the amps you mentioned, I only heard the HD650 with the Rega Ear and SR-71, driven by a Meridian G08 or Rega Planet. Both the Ear and the SR-71 drives the HD650 to my satisfaction. I prefer the SR-71 over the Ear by a hair; the SR-71 has a touch more detail than the Ear.

Given that you prefer AC power, have a $300 budget, in the EU, and will use the amp solely for the HD650 (this is important, the Ear is NOT as versatile as the SR-71 or Gilmore lite; it has too much gain (21 dB!) for Grados or IEMs) -- I highly recommend the Rega Ear. Go and audition one for yourself.

After getting the Ear, save your money for a Zu Mobius and you will enjoy the Ear/HD650 more!

Good luck and don't forget to enjoy the music.
post #29 of 91
If you consider Creek, go for the OBH-21SE, it is much better than the OBH-21. I know - I've designed these after all

Cheers

Alex
post #30 of 91
Good thread here.


Apocalypse_HD650
In the original post, you mentioned wanting to get an amp as the 650s sound "too quiet." I presume this is not volume as almost any headphone jack can get volume up (just not good sounding). This "too quiet" may be solved by an amp if the problem is one of the sound being smeared all over, creating a IMO a darker sound. It could also be the laid back Sennheiser sound.

When improperly amped, I do not consider my 650 to be quiet but I do find it recessed and darker than when decently powered.

Hopefully your amp does the trick for you.

BTW, I think any of your choices will probably give you a noticable improvement.
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