When I first joined Head-Fi it was in search of information about my DR-Z6 headphones, and I've really enjoyed learning about other folks experiences.
Recently we published a review of the new Oppo HA-1 Headphone Amplifier/DAC, and for kicks I pulled my DR-Z6's out and tried them. it was quite the revelation. Especially in comparison to the Oppo PM-1.
What I wrote is below, the full review of the HA-1 is at: http://maceditionradio.com/node/6006
While I’ve always enjoyed Mumford and Sons’ album Babel, I’ve never thought it particularly well recorded. The various instruments should have their own distinct sonic signatures, but on most systems they blend to a bit of a morass. Even the HD Tracks high-resolution version of Babel didn't entirely eliminate that confusion, but in combination with the HA-1, and the PM-1, I finally felt as if the mix made sense, especially in lifting a bit of the murkiness. In the bonus track featuring Paul Simon and Jerry Douglas on The Boxer, Simon’s voice and Douglas’ Drobo guitar blend to a greater good, with a rich bass line supported without a hint of distortion. Just for fun, I pulled out my vintage Sony DR-Z6 headphones, with their palladium coated drivers. The DR-Z6 were famed almost one-off products built to showcase Sony's new line of then state-of-the-art television and audio line, and despite their cult status among audiophiles, I've always found them to sound like, well, like headphones. Accuarate, fast, and clean, but they always sounded like I had headphones on. Using them with the HA-1, and listening to Babel I can honestly say that for the first time, they didn't sound like headphones, instead the soundstage opened up, and the murky morass of the lower timbre of The Boxer suddenly cleared. When I tried the DR-Z6 with my collection of USB DACs, they were back to being fatiguing and uminpressive. Clearly, they needed the audio heft that the HA-1 provided, which I chalked up to that lovely Class A topology. The lesson is that you should dust off your old headphones and see what they can deliver when paired with the HA-1, you might be surprised, I certainly was.