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HD800 Sennheiser - Top SOLID STATE headphone amps

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

The HD800s are on my to-do list as replacements for my venerable 650s. As for an amp, I want to stay with solid state only. The 650s were powered, until recently, by my Graham Slee Solo with PSU-1 power supply. The Solo seemed to compress things when the source got too busy. (I don't listen at high volume, BTW). So it went, and now I want to get another headphone amp in lieu of the Slee unit.

 

The 650s have a slightly warm sound that, from what I've read on this site, they share with the HD800s. If I had a digital front end (I don't), then I would very definitely buy a tube amp to warm the sound (a bit of tube second harmonic to fill the void). However, I have a turntable based system. Except for the occasional (OK, more than occasional) crap sounding LP/12", the sound is great to begin with - no need to warm it or fill it out.

 

It would be terrific to hear from those who use records (Hey, there's a term! Here's another- LPs! 12s"!) as a regular source, though the input from the DAC, CDP and iPod gang is welcome too.

 

So, some contenders to get the ball rolling... (REVISED 22/06/10)

 

In The Race: Tier One

# Rudistor - These look like the ultimate in quality headphone amplification - but how do they sound? Upper models are quite (very?) expensive.

# Violectric - Designed more for the studio? How do they sound?

# HeadAmp models -  Look OK, some posters really dig them.

# Phonitor - The ultimate in features, good reviews for sound. Minus the features, are there better amps for the money?

 

 

In The Race: Tier Two

# Lehmann Black Cube (Sennheiser used this in demos... but they also used the Solo for 650 demos..) See review below.

# Luxman P-1u. Mixed reviews on this one. Slightly warm/coloured sound like their amps? Japanese reviewer didn't like it with the HD800s. Too expensive for the package?

 

Scratchings:

# King Rex HQ-1 - any word on this terror from Taiwan?

# Grace Design m902 - Popular. Is it a hard sounding, no-go semi-pro piece of kit? Or, would it feel at home as part of a good sounding rig? Could I also stick the digital-out from PS3 into this thing as well?? Some say not the best match with the HD800s.

# Luxman P-200 - at the price, it's doesn't seem to be in the same league as the other amps on offer.

 

What about headphone amps from Europe and the UK? What could you recommend from your neck 'o the woods in the way of a very good solid state headphone amp?


Edited by gogogasgas - 6/22/10 at 3:29am
post #2 of 36

Unless you're planning on going balanced, is there a reason you picked the GS-X over the GS-1?

post #3 of 36

In the context of this OP and the title of this thread, this statement, "I want to get another headphone amp in lieu of my HD800 purchase," confuses me.

 

You want to get another amp in place of the HD800? So you'll be using the new amp with your HD650?

 

Or you want to get another amp because you're purchasing the HD800?

 

Zotjen's question re balanced or SE is a good one.

post #4 of 36

We already have this thread and it's not yet dormant.

post #5 of 36

Phonitor or Apache is good choice as well on top of the amps you listed above. They were certainly better than M902 when I compared them a while ago.

post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 

"Unless you're planning on going balanced, is there a reason you picked the GS-X over the GS-1"

I was thinking balanced, but I'm not tied to the idea. Is the GS-1 the better amp?

 

"We already have this thread and it's not yet dormant"

The other thread was suppose to focus on tube amp options for the original poster; this one is solid state only...

 

And, my mistake, the solid state amp  is in lieu of/a replacement for the Slee Solo headphone amp.

 

Thanks Hifidk, I'll checkout those amps too.


Edited by gogogasgas - 6/20/10 at 2:48pm
post #7 of 36

I would add a Beta22 from Rockhopper or another builder to your list.  I would cross off the King Rex unless you are really trying to save $$$.  Blue Circle also makes really good transparent sounding solid state amps, although they are frowned on by some because they use op amps.

post #8 of 36

how come i dun see a BUDA on the list?

post #9 of 36

Cause HeadRoom's product tends to skew slightly off the radar around here. Don't know why.

post #10 of 36

I also find HD800 is not an improvement over GS-1000 on m902.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hifidk View Post

Phonitor or Apache is good choice as well on top of the amps you listed above. They were certainly better than M902 when I compared them a while ago.

post #11 of 36

If you can find one, the Gilmore Reference is a great amp to use with the HD800.  It is the same as the GS-1 but with much better parts such as blackgates, vishay dale resistors, and DACT stepped attenuator.

 

Purk


Edited by purk - 6/20/10 at 4:31pm
post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 

That Phonitor looks fantastic! Made in Germany, good finish. Could be a goer. However, how does it sound in a good hi-fi set-up? (I'll checkout the Head-Fi posts for more info on it too - I see you have one for one sale) Your unbiased opinion... is the Phonitor a great match for the HD800? Also, the SPL website states they use OP Amps. Gggrrr, not happy about that. AND, is all that pro-use, whizz-bang signal processing done digitally? If so, that's a no-no for gogo...

 

I looked at the Apache. Nice bit of kit, but I don't need a preamp. I would rather spend the extra coin on a better headphone amp. The other solid state offerings from Emmeline seem pitched at the desktop market. Shame, because their tube amps look pretty hot (no pun etc).

 

From the comments, I'll scratch the M902 and the King Rex from my list.

Thanks for the input.


Edited by gogogasgas - 6/21/10 at 6:53am
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 

Hi Purk,

I found a positive review on the Head Amp Gilmore Reference you mention. However, it looks like that model is withdrawn from sale as it's not mentioned on the Head Amp site. The Head Amp GS-1 looks OK, but not in the same league as some of the other contenders mentioned in this thread, yes?

Thanks, gogo.

post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 

 

 

Quote:
I would add a Beta22 from Rockhopper or another builder to your list.

Thanks for the tip. I should have added that DIY I am not. That's not saying that the two amps you mention are not some of the better amps on the market.

 

 

Quote:
how come i dun see a BUDA on the list? 

I can't speak for the other posters, but from their site, the Head Room offerings look like they are designed for the desktop market. I'm after something that fits between a turntable, preamp and a set of HD800s. That being said, there might be Head Room amps that could fit the bill. I'll look up the Buda model. Thanks.


Edited by gogogasgas - 6/21/10 at 5:51am
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 

Just found this review on the Lehmann Black Cube Linear. I don't want USB, but the rest of the review is still relevant methinks. A quote:

 

 

Quote:

In terms of sound quality, it’s the perfect partner for the Sennheiser HD800. It’s rugged, can drive to very high levels without distortion or complaint, it’s tonally neutral, dynamic, fast and very, very detailed. Take away the HD800 and replace them with more humble cans (Sony MDR-7506, Grado SR-60 mk II) and the same detailed and accurate presentation follows across. As does the ability to go really loud without complaint – in short, the Lehmann s the perfect headphone partner.

There are better headphone systems, but they cost a lot more. We’re talking Grace Design’s m902 Reference D/A headphone amplifier. The Grace has even more openness, expansiveness and clarity. However, it also has relatively low gain and you need to get close to the end of the dial to hear at anything approaching real-world listening levels. And that means we’re happy to proclaim the Lehmann Linear USB as the perfect HD800 partner, for those who don’t want to spend almost twice as much on the headphone amp as they did on the headphones.

Here is the link:

http://www.avguide.com/review/hi-fi-plus-lehmann-black-cube-linear-usb-headphone-amplifierdac

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