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Apogee Duet: HD-600 or 650s?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Hi all,
I love my current setup with the Apogee Duet, and my HD-595s sound great through the headphone stage. I know this is a powerful professional little unit, and it's certainly driving my 50-ohm headphones to their max potential.

While I love the 595s, I'd love to get a bit more refinement and clarity with blacker spaces between the notes and less graininess in the highs. I do like the slightly forward presentation of these cans, but I've heard that the "new" version of the 600s and 650s are brighter and less veiled than the old (pre-2006?) units. If the Duet can drive either of the upper-echelon dynamic Senns well, I might be willing to splurge on either.

Has anyone used 600s or 650s straight outta the Duet? Just wondering if upgraded cans would get me any improvements over the current setup. A dedicated amp can come in later, but I'm not willing to spend my money on amplification before the cans considering my source is quite good (that wonderful apogee DAC) and the 595s are being driven rather authoritatively. I know new Senns will scale up if I add an amp to the Duet's DAC and the 595s won't, but right now, ampless, would I get any benefits from new cans or would harder-to-drive Senns sound worse than the 595s from the Duet's headphone out?

[Note: if the benefits from upgrading headphones are marginal, I'm considering upgrading my SE-310s to SE-530s for portable use/use through the Duet. Lately, portability and isolation have been important to me (it's noisy in downtown LA when you're studying for the Cal. Bar exam), so new IEMs might be a more rational way to spend my money. After the damned bar exam, that is.]
post #2 of 41
The Duet is such an awesome interface... I bought it solely for recording and fell in love with it for listening the moment I plugged in the HD650.

HD650 sounds great to me and I can't stop listening to it... probably the best I had ever heard out of those phones. The bass is tight and controlled and the highs sound crisp while not being too 'shrill'. Seems like the Duet drives the HD650 quite well based on comparing the sound to my Audigy output on my PC or some of my portable amps.

Unfortunately, I don't have a 595 here to compare, but here's my notes on my set up (iTunes -> Duet -> HD650) based off of your questions:

- sounds refined to my ears
- blackness spaces are definitely black
- no graininess on high notes from what I can tell (listening to mostly mp3s and m4as)

Never thought of adding an amp to the string and I might try it if I can find a way to get a line level out of the Duet. Got to look through all those settings when I get a moment.

You do get a lot of bleed through noise still on the 650's, so if your windows are open, you'll probably hear something outside regardless of how loud you are rocking out on the phones (I live in downtown NYC so I can sympathize with your situation).

Haven't tried e500 on Duet, but thanks for reminding me to do that sometime.
post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks for that, j. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of portable amps do you use with the 650s?

Crap, I've avoided the upgrade bug for a while; looks like that party's over. I'm thrilled with my speakers and my source, at least.
post #4 of 41
Been running the HD650 lately exclusively with the iBasso P2 when I want to be able to walk around the condo and not have to take the headphones off. I keep the P2 on High Gain

It does a decent job for sure (I mean, it sounds good to me) and not having a desktop amp keeps me blissfully unaware if it could be better.

When using the HD650, the Duet makes the sound much more neutral and not as warm as with the P2, but that's what the EQ in iTunes is for then Also, the impact of the music is better with the Duet.

Still have not had a chance to try e500 through the Duet, nor haven't had time to attempt a line level output from the Duet either to attempt to string an amp to the chain....
post #5 of 41
I don't currently have a single ended senn cable, so I can't try the 650 with the duet, but the 600 and 580 both sounded terrific directly out of the duet.
post #6 of 41
I can't comment on the 600s, but the 650s sound just fine out of the Duet. Personally, I like some tubes in the chain as well, but to each their own.

PS: How do you like the A5s? Love my A2s, but could stand a little more bass.
post #7 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone. Sounds like the 600s or 650s would suit me pretty well right out of the Duet. Might be a better long-term investment than some new IEMs, after all.

Hopstretch: I wish I could take my A5s everywhere with me. Part of the reason I've been so slow to upgrade the headphones is because I'm having too much fun with the speakers. I like the presentation right across the spectrum on 'em from the Duet and the bass is pretty well extended and tight. Mind you, my ears are trained on HD-595s. Hah.
post #8 of 41
Found the setting today to turn the Duet into a line level out. Hooked that into P2 amp and am rightfully impressed on the HD650s.

Now considering buying a proper desktop amp for this set up.

Loving this device more and more each day...
post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by _j_ View Post
Found the setting today to turn the Duet into a line level out. Hooked that into P2 amp and am rightfully impressed on the HD650s.

Now considering buying a proper desktop amp for this set up.

Loving this device more and more each day...
Is that the "instrument amp" output setting?
post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ingwe View Post
Is that the "instrument amp" output setting?
Yar!

Question for you ingwe if you own a Duet (or Ensamble?)... when you create Maestro save files, then double click on them, does your Maestro software launch?

When I double click on a Maestro save file... nothing happens, unless Maestro is open. IE; clicking the save file will not launch the software and will not change the settings. This only works if Maestro is already open.
post #11 of 41
I don't use maestro save files personally. I also found that I got better performance by using the line out and not instrument out setting, and just setting the volume at max on the duet.
post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by _j_ View Post
Yar!

Question for you ingwe if you own a Duet (or Ensamble?)... when you create Maestro save files, then double click on them, does your Maestro software launch?

When I double click on a Maestro save file... nothing happens, unless Maestro is open. IE; clicking the save file will not launch the software and will not change the settings. This only works if Maestro is already open.
I just tried this with same result. Since I'm three days into working with a Mac I'm afraid I can't tell you how to map file types to applications.
Quote:
Originally Posted by grawk View Post
I don't use maestro save files personally. I also found that I got better performance by using the line out and not instrument out setting, and just setting the volume at max on the duet.
Interesting...yesterday at our mini-meet I tried it with both settings with a variety of amplifiers and I prefer instrument amp output setting when feeding into a separate amp. I'm not going to elaborate now because thats just an initial impression.

EDIT: Change "prefer" to "at that time I preferred".
I'll elaborate slightly: After level matching as best as I could, the instrument amp setting seems more neutral--less "hotness" or glare in the treble. This was most apparent with my Bryston.

Bleh, I hate these types of descriptions, especially when it is I who makes them.

I would like to know exactly what the difference is between the two modes: does one involve additional processing and of what type.
post #13 of 41
I think instrument amp just lowers the output to be more in line with what an electric guitar puts out (less than 1v)
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by ingwe View Post
I would like to know exactly what the difference is between the two modes: does one involve additional processing and of what type.
Quote:
Originally Posted by grawk View Post
I think instrument amp just lowers the output to be more in line with what an electric guitar puts out (less than 1v)
This is all I could find on the difference between the modes:

"Line out – level is variable between 0 and -64 dB of attenuation, at a
nominal output level of –10 dBV.

Instrument Amp – The output level is fixed at a nominal level of –20 dBV,suitable for connection to an instrument amplifier."

Maybe a more powerful fixed line out could be accomplished somehow through the breakout cable? I really don't like having multiple volume controls in my chain... regardless, the 'Instrument Amp' setting still sounds better than any of my other gear to me so I am a blissfully happy camper.
post #15 of 41
I bought a Apogee Duet a couple of weeks ago mainly for playback on a Mac Mini in my stereo system, but not having time to set it up used the headphone amp to drive my low end Sennheiser HD-477 and Etymotic ER-6i. I was delighted with the sound compared to my Macbook Pro and even my G4 1.67 Powerbook (which i feel has superior sound to the MBP) and after reading a more than a few Head-Fi threads decided to buy the HD-600s.

I am reasonably happy with sound of the Duet and the HD-600s (the bass is a little heavy at times and the soundstage does seem a bit narrow), but am curious to know if the Duet's 30 ohm output rating is sufficient to power the HD-600s to their fullest potential or is a dedicated headphone amp with 300 ohm output necessary?
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