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Best HD800 Amp  

post #1 of 654
Thread Starter 
I am sorry if this has already been discussed elsewhere, but I haven't seen it. I am curious about the best fit for the HD800 (single-ended or balanced).

I've always been a solid state guy (although I've owned the MPX3 and the ES-1), but am interested in trying a good tube amp. Here are the ones I'm looking at, but I've been away for a couple years and am not sure if I'm looking at the right things:

EAR HP4
TTVJ 307A
EC ZD
RSA B52

Are those the top players in the tube game?
post #2 of 654
the senns have always shined on the B52. i doubt there is much better. i would like to try the 307A and Balancing Act. that would be good for comparison purposes.
post #3 of 654
Well Eddie Current also has the Balancing Act and the ZDT, Woo audio has the Woo5 and Woo22. I personally would go for the Balancing Act (If I EVER have that much cash) based on extrapolation of impressions on the ZD.
post #4 of 654
I have discussed this in the HD800 appreciation thread as well as others. I spent most of CanJam trying out approximately 40 amps with these phones. The HD800 balanced are in a different league than single ended. There were very few I felt excelled with this headphone and they are as follows in the order of preference:

1) Donald North Audio Sonett (single ended or balanced version) Tube Amp: $1200 (or $1000 for all CanJam attendees). I only heard the single ended version of this amp and I felt the single ended version was on par with the balanced versions of other amps below, so you can only imagine how good the balanced Sonett must sound. Incredible bass control and smooth extended treble. Very large left to right soundstage. (Hooked up to Naim CD5x or CD5i, not sure which one)

2) Ray Samuels Audio B-52 Tube amp, balanced. Slightly warm presentation. $5500

3) Ray Samuels Audio Apache solid state, balanced. Slightly warm presentation. $2995

4) Woo Audio WA22, tube amp, balanced (but I think I only listened to single ended). $1800. Very nice soundstage left to right and front to back. Excels in the midrange.

5) Woo Audio WA 6 SE tube amp, single ended. Excels in the midrange. $1050

6/7 Tied) Rudistor RPX-300 solid state, balanced (but I only listened single ended. This amp has a very smooth and laid back presentation, very different from the other amps. $2500

6/7 Tied) ALO Audio Amphora, solid state, single ended. Very neutral presentation, no particular area stood out more than any other. $995


I know a lot of people are mentioning the Eddie Current line up. I did not get to hear the Balancing Act, but I did hear the Zana Deux and HD-2 and I did not care for either with the HD800.

All sources were different and yes, that will factor into it, but all were high end sources. I've listened to the same amp with various high-end sources and the differences are not as great as the variations in amps with the HD800. I would say it's split somewhere between a 20%-35% source / 80%-65% amp factor, so long as your source is in the $1,300+ range.
post #5 of 654
I don't understand how you can rank the amps like this when all the sources are vastly different...

Quote:
Originally Posted by IPodPJ View Post
I have discussed this in the HD800 appreciation thread as well as others. I spent most of CanJam trying out approximately 40 amps with these phones. The HD800 balanced are in a different league than single ended. There were very few I felt excelled with this headphone and they are as follows in the order of preference:

1) Donald North Audio Sonett (single ended or balanced version) Tube Amp: $1200 (or $1000 for all CanJam attendees). I only heard the single ended version of this amp and I felt the single ended version was on par with the balanced versions of other amps below, so you can only imagine how good the balanced Sonett must sound. Incredible bass control and smooth extended treble. Very large left to right soundstage.

2) Ray Samuels Audio B-52 Tube amp, balanced. Slightly warm presentation. $5500

3) Ray Samuels Audio Apache solid state, balanced. Slightly warm presentation. $2995

4) Woo Audio WA22, tube amp, balanced (but I think I only listened to single ended). $1800. Very nice soundstage left to right and front to back. Excels in the midrange.

5) Woo Audio WA 6 SE tube amp, single ended. Excels in the midrange. $1050

6/7 Tied) Rudistor RPX-300 solid state, balanced (but I only listened single ended. This amp has a very smooth and laid back presentation, very different from the other amps. $2500

6/7 Tied) ALO Audio Amphora, solid state, single ended. Very neutral presentation, no particular area stood out more than any other. $995
post #6 of 654
You did not wait for me to finish editing my post. Please see my post again.
post #7 of 654
Quote:
Originally Posted by IPodPJ View Post
I have discussed this in the HD800 appreciation thread as well as others. I spent most of CanJam trying out approximately 40 amps with these phones. The HD800 balanced are in a different league than single ended. There were very few I felt excelled with this headphone and they are as follows in the order of preference:

1) Donald North Audio Sonett (single ended or balanced version) Tube Amp: $1200 (or $1000 for all CanJam attendees). I only heard the single ended version of this amp and I felt the single ended version was on par with the balanced versions of other amps below, so you can only imagine how good the balanced Sonett must sound. Incredible bass control and smooth extended treble. Very large left to right soundstage.

2) Ray Samuels Audio B-52 Tube amp, balanced. Slightly warm presentation. $5500

3) Ray Samuels Audio Apache solid state, balanced. Slightly warm presentation. $2995

4) Woo Audio WA22, tube amp, balanced (but I think I only listened to single ended). $1800. Very nice soundstage left to right and front to back. Excels in the midrange.

5) Woo Audio WA 6 SE tube amp, single ended. Excels in the midrange. $1050

6/7 Tied) Rudistor RPX-300 solid state, balanced (but I only listened single ended. This amp has a very smooth and laid back presentation, very different from the other amps. $2500

6/7 Tied) ALO Audio Amphora, solid state, single ended. Very neutral presentation, no particular area stood out more than any other. $995


I know a lot of people are mentioning the Eddie Current line up. I did not get to hear the Balancing Act, but I did hear the Zana Deux and HD-2 and I did not care for either with the HD800.

All sources were different and yes, that will factor into it, but all were high end sources. I've listened to the same amp with various high-end sources and the differences are not as great as the variations in amps with the HD800. I would say it's split somewhere between a 20%-35% source / 80%-65% amp factor, so long as your source is in the $1,300+ range.

I've never been to a meet, but I've heard it is not the best place to really evaluate amps/cans due to noise and other factors. How much time did you spend with the ZD an the meet? I'm not sure if it is the best amp for the 800's (I would argue that it is for the 650's), but it sounds pretty damn good with mine.
post #8 of 654
I have spent a day in musical bliss with an 800/Luxman P-1 combo.

Amazing output.
post #9 of 654
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by immtbiker View Post
I have spent a day in musical bliss with an 800/Luxman P-1 combo.

Amazing output.
I've heard good things about the Luxman, but given that it is no longer in production, probably better to put it out of my mind altogether.
post #10 of 654
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinR70 View Post
I've never been to a meet, but I've heard it is not the best place to really evaluate amps/cans due to noise and other factors. How much time did you spend with the ZD an the meet? I'm not sure if it is the best amp for the 800's (I would argue that it is for the 650's), but it sounds pretty damn good with mine.
I spent between 10 - 60 minutes with each amp. I made sure (on most amps) I had enough time to listen to tracks I am familiar with.

We all have different ears so we will all have different preferences. Those are the ones that sounded the best to me and had the most detailed and realistic presentation of the music. All other amps I listened to seemed to lack enough bass control and sparkly treble for my taste.

I am going to buy a Sonett without a doubt (but am waiting for Donald to custom order me a black case since I'm not crazy about the blue one. Blue is his favorite color which is why the amp looks the way it does.) But first I have already pre-ordered an Audio-gd Phoenix and I am hoping that it sounds superb with the HD800. I want two excellent amps, one SS and one Tube. If the Phoenix falls short of my expectations or doesn't equal or surpass the quality of the Sonett with the HD800, up for sale it goes. I have to order the Phoenix first because I want to order it before the price goes up $330.
post #11 of 654
There is going to be a Denver head-fi meet soon. Look it up should have lots of amps to try...HPA has the HD800 too. too bad i can't make it.
post #12 of 654
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post
I've heard good things about the Luxman, but given that it is no longer in production, probably better to put it out of my mind altogether.
I heard the P-200 and it didn't impress me, neither did the TTVJ 307A or any of the other amps he had in there. That's not to say they don't sound great with other headphones, they just didn't do it for me with the HD800. This is one of the reasons why CanJam was so vital for me to attend (and Todd made sure we had our HD800 before the meet) -- where else can you go and try your headphones on such a wide range of equipment? Without CanJam, I'd be shooting in the breeze guessing at which amp is best for these phones, discontent with the way they sound with my current amp (which is no longer mine, I just sold it) and most likely wanting to return them. (They don't sound too bad with the Opera, I just know how much better they sound with the right amp.)
post #13 of 654
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tako_tsubo View Post
There is going to be a Denver head-fi meet soon. Look it up should have lots of amps to try...HPA has the HD800 too. too bad i can't make it.
I know, I've talked to Larry about it, but I will probably be in LA at that time. Right now, I'm splitting time between Denver and LA and unfortunately I missed CanJam and will probably miss the Denver meet as well.

Anybody in LA that has some of these amps for audition?
post #14 of 654
You should do a review on Donald North Audio Sonett.
post #15 of 654
I will as soon as I have one in my possession. Donald is out until Sunday of next week and then he will come over and leave the amp with me for awhile. I plan on doing a review of it. I don't want to write a review based on only spending one hour with it at CanJam. I need to take the time to listen to lots of music I'm familiar with on my own DAC. Also, when I get it in my home I will be trying different high-end power cords with it to see how much improvement the amp gains with them.

I will also write a review of the Audio-gd Phoenix a few days after I receive it. I was the first or second to order one so I should have it shortly after they start shipping. I have a lot of hope for it.
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