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Tube amp for HD650 and HE-5 LE, under $700 used

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 


I was pretty set on getting me a used WA6 (with PDPS and sophia upgrades if possible), and sadly just missed out on a great deal by a hair :(
This gives me some time to go back rethink my needs for amping, now that I am in the process of adding a HE-5 LE to my headphone collection. 
That collection includes: HD650, AD2000, D7000, MS1 and K701 roughly in that order of imporatnce, driven by PPX3 with no upgrades. Not so sure about how long I am going to hold onto D7000, and for AD2000 I already have some alright SS amp to use. So the main focus with the new amp will be on HD650 and HE-5 LE.
I don't really have any qualms with my PPX3 with HD650, but still kinda wanted to try out something new. When it comes to HE-5 LE though, I have no idea tbh. All I know is it seems to have a good synergy with EF5 and tends to mate better with SS amps. Does it even like WA6 at all?
Last time I have done a similar query, I concluded to wait for upgraded MPX3, extreme, WA6 or RKV (yeah right, wishful thinking), whichever happens to turn up first with some heavy discount and right upgrades. Now that I have another phone in the mix, there might be a better option. Besides, I have been away from the scene for nearly a year, so I am quite ignorant to whatever newcomers to the market that might be an attractive alternative (feel free to suggest something new as well).
My budget is.. say, $700 tops and the lower the merrier of course. The ability to handle other low impedance cans on my list well would be an added bonus, but not a must. It doesn't even have to be a tube amp really, so long as it has the typical tube-like character - lush, organic, forgiving and so on. Ideally, it should be something that would make both the senn and the hifiman sing equally well.
Would I be just better off by just throwing in EF5 for HE-5 LE and calling it a day? One thing to consider is I am not entirely sure what to expect from HE-5 LE (just guessing from what I have read) and how it will affect my priorities. Who knows, I may even part with my beloved HD650s :)
post #2 of 22

I see you've gota DIY Zen, so you might want to think about DIY here. For your budget you could build a very nice "spud" amp based on high quality output transformers. I have an HE-5. You're going to need something with a little "grunt" to drive it properly.

post #3 of 22
I just received my Woo WA6 last week to power the HD800. I am very pleased, very pleased with it. It has plenty of power for the HD800s so I believe that it would be just fine for the 650s. I feel like the music has just smoothed out. Harshness has faded and my cds and AAC files sound like music. Don't interpret this to mean the amp is overly polite - it has plenty of punch and it's aggressive when the music demands it.

I had the experience of wanting to play snippets of many cds to try out the new amp, but kept getting drawn in and listening to whole cds. That was a surprise for me, as I thought I was beyond that kind of "wow."

So, add my recommendation for the Woo WA6 - even at base level it's a wonderful amp.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by FrankCooter View Post

I see you've gota DIY Zen, so you might want to think about DIY here. For your budget you could build a very nice "spud" amp based on high quality output transformers. I have an HE-5. You're going to need something with a little "grunt" to drive it properly.

Well that Zen was built by another DIYer. I have built some CMOYs and done basic mods here and there, but a complex design might be a bit too much atm :(

post #5 of 22

I bought a used WA6 to try with the Audeze LCD-2, and it works very well with them for an amp in that price range.  Also works well with the HE-5LE.  I can't speak for how it is with the HD650, though.

post #6 of 22



did you try the WA6 with your 600ohm beyers?  I'd love some impressions or mini reviews of how it handles high impedance beyers. Since this is pretty much going to be my next amp, but with beyer needing high voltage swings and what not, I was thinking of going with the OTL route.

post #7 of 22

I tried it briefly and thought that it worked reasonably well, but I did not buy the WA6 for use with the T1 - although it seemed to work fine.

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

skylab, reading your LCD-2 review made me wanna get one too, but then I know I can't afford it so HE-5 LE it is for now :)

I also notice you have KX-100 in your sig, I figure it is sonically similar to the Fisher 400? Have you tried either HD650 or HE-5 LE on it? If so, how would you compare that experience to WA6? Thanks a bunch! 


While you at it, could you spare a few words on how CSP2 works with HE-5 LE in comparison? I have already seen enough posts on CSP-2 vs WA6 with HD650 :)

Edited by MikoLayer - 7/15/10 at 3:43pm
post #9 of 22

The CSP-2, while it's a great amp, with LOTS of gain, and so it can drive pretty much anything OK, wasn't ideal with the HE-5LE.  It was pretty good, actually, but it does have a high-ish output impedance (being an OTL design).  It would not be my first choice with the HE-5LE.

post #10 of 22
Hello guys, I have tried 2 WA 6 with my HD-650 which I love. The first one I got from audiogon, it was a 2 year old model as stock as could be. The second one I also got from audiogon and it is a 3 years old unit with the pdps. I think that both needed more power to drive my 650 . The second one with the pdps sounds better, much more open better imaging and soundstage , but I has even less volume than the first one I had . Even when I am using it with a Sophia that I am borrowing from seamster. They both sound great but I think they need to have a little more power for the hd-650.
post #11 of 22

How about taking advantage of the balanced cord on the HE-5LE? Maybe a Little Dot VI or VI+?

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

I even have balanced cords for my AD2000 and HD650. A new balanced source would make my wallet bleed profusely though :(

post #13 of 22

I would suggest an Elekit TU-882AS tube amplifier that you can purchase a pcb populated kit from vkung over on audiogon.  Some assembly is required, but doesn't require too much more than a screwdriver.  I've been really happy with it with my low impedance headphones, and it's been very capable of driving the used HD650's I purchased recently, and it sounds beautiful to my untrained ears. 



post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

Got my HE-5 LE today, tried it on for a few minutes.. From the get go it is obvious the PPX3 is not up to the task here, sounds very grainy on the low notes. 


I guess the gist of my dilemma is to either make the already good better (a better OTL design like WA2 or mpx3 for HD650), or improve on less than stellar (another topology better suited for current hungry low impedance phones - WA6 maybe). Other than the general sp reputation being on the very tubey side and having forward mids among their family, where does PPX3 (with 6GU7 or 6CG7) stand in the OTL land today? Mediocre? Good value for money? 

post #15 of 22

Low impedance and OTL is just not a good match regardless of price.  Doesn't mean it won't sound good though ;)

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