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Amp advice for a first-timer

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello everybody!


I have just recently joined Head-Fi community, although I have been reading the Forum for quite some time now.


I am currently waiting for my Sennheiser HD580 to arrive. Meanwhile I would like to gain some insight on a good amplification for those headphones.


At home I have Linn Majik DS-I integrated DS player/DAC/pre-amp and amp driving Linn Katan monitor speakers. My portable rig consists of Sansa Clip+ -> Fiio E5 -> Koss PortaPro.


I think I would be using HD580 mainly at the office, so Clip+ would be a source.


My budget for an amp is about 800USD. I have considered following:

Ortofon Hd-Q7 (heard that they don't drive high-impedance 'phones good)

Grado RA1

LittleDot Mk V

HiFiMan EF2

HeadRoom Micro Amp

NAIM Headline


Could someone share some thoughts about mentioned amps or add some models I may have missed that go well with HD580?

post #2 of 11

 Hi DoomHammer. Welcome to Head-fi. Sorry for your wallet.

I cannot comment on any of the amps you listed as I only have the CKKIII paired with my 580s, but enjoy the hell out it, even though it IS my first step into headfi. I have no complaints with the CKKIII and have enjoyed most everything I pump through it. I would like to upgrade though later this year as the first taste of good sound (over a simple computer audio system) makes you desire more sound goodness.

Happy researching!

Edited by Dojomoto - 6/27/10 at 12:43am
post #3 of 11

It depends, really. Do you want some kind of coloration that 'matches' the HD580, what others might call 'synergy'? Or do you just want neutrality and sufficient power? I haven't tested the HD580 with the Meier Concerto, for example, but I know it's a great neutral amp and capable when dealing with mid-fi. The Burson HA160 is good too, slightly warm. There's really a world of different amplifiers out there. 

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Well, neutrality would be nice and I would prefer it, but nice synergy is also OK. I would generally like something that will do justice to Senns, cause I heard that they are particularly hard to drive properly. I have heard friends' HD515 driven by my Fiio E5 and I think I prefer my Koss PortaPro or Grado SR60 with this amp.
post #5 of 11

Take a look at the Schiit Asgard, from it's FAQ section Schiit states "Asgard loves Sennheisers, for whatever weird reason."


Numerous early impressions pouring in on the Schiit threads (both the Asgard thread and the general Schiit thread). 

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

As my friend have stated some time ago: "With that crappy name it have to sound really good for somebody to buy them" :)


I am only afraid of the statement: "Its high-current design makes it uniquely suitable for low-impedance headphones".


Anyway, Price is sensible, look is quite cool, might be worth a try.

post #7 of 11


I am only afraid of the statement: "Its high-current design makes it uniquely suitable for low-impedance headphones".


Why are you afraid of this statement?

post #8 of 11
I'd look at the good solid state amps in your budget. The CK2III, M^3, Gilmore Lite, Dynalo (I think it's in production), and EC/SS all fit your budget with some left over. Those are all circuits from well-regarded designers around here (see the DIY Forum) and are very good amps. Other amps might be good, but look at the level of respect designers like Kevin Gilmore, Craig Uthus, AMB, Cavalli, Millett, and some I'm probably forgetting, get around here. I've tended to buy or build their amps because they're quite good and have been picked through by the people who really know electronics.

That isn't to say that other amps are bad (and some are probably excellent), but it's more of a "sure thing" to go with one of these well-known designs. Don't worry about them being out of date or not cutting edge. You don't want that, anyway. When you've got a design like a M^3 that's been built by hundreds of people over a few years, you know it's a good amp because any and all problems have been spotted and stamped out. If serious trouble or a performance issue comes up, someone will suggest a solution and it'll end up in the design. Also, amp technology doesn't change very fast. What was a good design 10, 20 or 50 years ago can still sound great today. This is why I take a long-term view of design, reputation and build quality.

Instead of spending $800 on an amp, I'd get one of these and look into spending the rest on a different pair of headphones. Or if you end up with $400-$500 left over, go to Audiogon and see if you can find a used Rega Planar 3/P3 in that price range. Instead of spending an extra $400-$500 on an amp just because you can, you'll get a lot more enjoyment out of a turntable or a different pair of headphones.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Roscoeiii View Post



Why are you afraid of this statement?

Because HD580 can't be said to be "low-impedance". Quite contrary.


Besides I started to think about NuForce Icon HDP.


So much choice, so little possibilities to compare.

post #10 of 11

That comment probably indicates that its output impedance is low, the people who think output impedance makes a difference think that a amplifier should have low output impedance for low-impedance phones (see dampening factor; plus not everyone agrees that this has an effect on headphones). Such an amplifier, if it has enough power, should be able to run high and low impedance headphones fine. 

post #11 of 11

The Grado RA1 would definitely not fit (characteristics wise) in with driving the 580. 

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