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Best AMP to get for HD650 ($1000 dollar budget) + some other questions

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey,

I've been doing a bit of internet browsing on what type of amp to get for these(most threads have a budget under 1k so i figured id make a new thread). I kinda bought these headphones on the spur of the moment, and have been using them for quite some time just be hooking them up to my computer. Yesterday i was reading a thread about headphones on another forum, someone recommended the HD650s and said "amp/dac required". Those were foreign words to me. I may be asking some noob questions here, but i do appreciate any feedback.

How much is the sound quality improved with a good amp?

Whats the difference between 'desktop amps' and 'portable amps' i.e. if i buy a desktop amp will i be able to use it with a laptop.

Are the higher end amps worth the extra money? i.e. the Zana Deux?

Doesn't my computer already have a DAC?

So, whats the best amp for me to get?
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weee View Post
Hey,

I've been doing a bit of internet browsing on what type of amp to get for these(most threads have a budget under 1k so i figured id make a new thread). I kinda bought these headphones on the spur of the moment, and have been using them for quite some time just be hooking them up to my computer. Yesterday i was reading a thread about headphones on another forum, someone recommended the HD650s and said "amp/dac required". Those were foreign words to me. I may be asking some noob questions here, but i do appreciate any feedback.

Welcome to head-fi, you still have a chance to save your wallet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weee View Post
How much is the sound quality improved with a good amp?
Out of all headphones, HD650 (and 580/600) improve a lot with proper amplification, so a decent amp is required. Otherwise its better to go with HD-555 or 595, if you want to go ampless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weee View Post
Whats the difference between 'desktop amps' and 'portable amps' i.e. if i buy a desktop amp will i be able to use it with a laptop.
Size and power source. A portable amp is usually smaller than a desktop amp and uses batteries for power (some have both, batteries and DC). Portable amps are the ones you can use on the go (train, walk, etc). So yes, you can use any of them with a laptop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weee View Post
Are the higher end amps worth the extra money? i.e. the Zana Deux?
Only for highly demanding audiophiles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weee View Post
Doesn't my computer already have a DAC?
Most likely, but unless you have something like a pro-audio sound card, its performance is quite bad even for budget audiophiles. Your HD-650s deserve a much better DAC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weee View Post
So, whats the best amp for me to get?
Only you can tell. Since you're new to hifi, I don't recommend jumping into high-end gear right away since there is almost no difference between highend and midrange equipment for non-audiophiles. Think of hifi as a journey and training for your audio nirvana. Start with a budget or midrange equipment and get familiar with it. Over time your audiophile "hearing" will improve and develop, and you will be more prepared to realize the possible benefits that the highend gear provide (sometimes called the last 1% of sound quality). Maybe it will be worth it to you, maybe not. Once again, only you can tell.

As a start, I recommend Audio-gd Compass, which is a big bang for your buck midrange dac/amp combo. Its one of the few gear that is safe to try without auditioning first. Whatever you choose to start with, you should get familiar with it, rediscover you music with it, improve your audiophile "hearing" with it, and only then go look for (and audition before buying) highend gear.

Enjoy!
post #3 of 12
Or you can go for it all like me with no worrying on how this higher quality component may sound....
My future rig will be a Dell Laptop feeding via USB a Benchmark DAC1 HDR feeding a RSA B52 headphone amplifier feeding a pair of Sennheiser HD800. One of the best headphone rigs right there....Should have that all by the end of this year.
post #4 of 12
The Darkvoice 337 drives the HD650 exceedingly well, IMHE.
post #5 of 12
Whatever you decide, keep your equipment for a while. Give it all a chance to burn-in, get acquainted with its various nuances, learn what you like and don't like and then and only then begin carefully exploring other possibilities.

Many of us have a tendency to upgrade, switch components, sell/trade (myself sometimes included) before giving our gear a chance to settle in and feel at home. With new stuff, what you hear today may not be what you hear tomorrow and probably nothing like what you will hear a month or two from now.

Just take your time and enjoy your music.
post #6 of 12
I have a HeadRoom Desktop Balanced driving my 650s, feed by ALAC files from the USB of my iMac. Effortless, detailed sound. You might find one used in your price range.
post #7 of 12
LISA 3
post #8 of 12
Beta 22 if you're into DIY or would be happy with someone else's B22. They seem to go on sale somewhat regularly. I actually just sold my 3-channel version although I'm building another balanced one. Or if you want a custom one, ask one of the builders on amb's site or see if someone would be willing to make you one with your specifications.

I don't have a ton of experience with amps, but I will say that my Beta was significantly better than my minimax and m3 with the Senns. Not as big a difference with the Grados, but like folks have said, the Senns seem to scale well with better amps.
post #9 of 12
OTL dude, OTL !
post #10 of 12
I'd go for the Gilmore Lite personally. It's a very nice amp and won't break the bank at $400. Granted there are better amps out there but the gains are marginal at best to me when taking the price difference into account.
post #11 of 12
WA6SE or WA2
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weee View Post
How much is the sound quality improved with a good amp?

Whats the difference between 'desktop amps' and 'portable amps' i.e. if i buy a desktop amp will i be able to use it with a laptop.

Are the higher end amps worth the extra money? i.e. the Zana Deux?

Doesn't my computer already have a DAC?

So, whats the best amp for me to get?
Sound quality will improve quite a bit with a good amp. There will be better control over the driver, giving you tighter bass and a crisper sound.

A desktop amp runs off power coming from an outlet while portables run off a battery. Since you get a great deal more power from the mains, you can run vacuum tubes or solid state biased into class A.

Some high end amps are worth the money. The Zana is one of those - it transforms the HD-650 into a very different headphone.

You computer has a DAC, but quality varies.

Best amp for $1,000? If you don't DIY, then commission a Beta22. They're wonderful.
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