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Best paring: DT880 / HD600 / HD650 with NuForce uDac / Maverick Audio Tube Magic D1

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've been parsing a ton of reviews and boards for information on the best way to go with these headphones / amps and I'm still not sure what the best option is.

 

I'm looking to go for either the DT880's, the HD600 or HD650s. I was really looking into the AKG k701s, but numerous reviews turned me away based on the poor comfort of the head band.

 

Now I'm trying to decide which amp I should get to power one of these. I jumped the gun (bad late night impulse decision) and ordered the NuForce uDac based on the recommendations with the AKG k701s, but since reading more I realize some people consider the paring of that amp to be poor with the phones I'm considering (I can still return the uDac).  Then, I discovered the Maverick D1 which looks great (although apparently the headphone out uses the solid state channel only which is a bummer). Now I'm so mixed up on which way to go.

 

The DT880's seem way more confortable than the HD600/650s, and that's an important factor, but I hear the DT880's can be harsh and fatiguing on the highs. I also read that the D1 pairs poorly with the DT880's and results in too harsh of a sound.  Then there's the question of which model of the DT880s to get - 32Ohm, 250Ohm or 600Ohm?  Could any of these amps handle the DTs after 32Ohm?  Would I really notice a difference on the 32 vs the 250 vs the 600Ohm models?  The universal chant seems to be "get the 600Ohm," but that sounds like I'd need to get a way more expensive amp option then the uDac or the D1.

 

Honestly I really want to get the DT880s based on looks and comfort, but don't want to make the wrong decision if I can't get them amped properly without spending too much money or if they'll ended up causing fatigue.  I really don't want to spend more than $200 on the DAC/Amp.

 

Any sage advice?


Edited by zachberry - 7/29/10 at 9:52pm
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 

I decided to go for the Senn HD600's with a NuForce uDac, eventually adding in a Little Dot MKIII amp.

 

The two concepts I gathered from google were the following:

 

1. If you get the DT880s get the 600 Ohm version.

2. If you have the DT880 600 Ohm cans, they need a good amp. (As in more than I'm willing to spend).

 

The HD600's (according to what I read) didn't seem to be as fussy as the DT880s. Now I will have a huge improvement over my current setup ($40 cheap-o headphones) with a cheap good upgrade path. 


Edited by zachberry - 7/30/10 at 10:07pm
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

So I got the NuForce uDAC and the HD600s in.  I went ahead and ordered the Little Dot MK III tube amp.  I know I said eventually, but you know how that goes. ;)

 

At very first, comparing my Panasonic RP-HTX7 headphones ( http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-RP-HTX7-W1-Monitor-Headphones-White/dp/B001AUGV98/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1280797460&sr=8-3 ) to the HD600s I really couldn't notice all that much of a difference. I suppose that's a high complement on the HTX7s. For a budget pair of headphones they look great, sound pretty good and are comfortable.

 

Anyway, as I'm continuing to listen the main thing that strikes me about the HD600s is "clarity."  It was especially apparent on the recent Beatles remasters.  It's hard to really put a finger on it, because switching between these and the Panasonics is not a night and day difference. But there is a feeling of muddiness with the cheap headphones that isn't present on the HD600s.

 

Secondly, these feel like very netural phones.  Clean, straightforward.  Comfort wise they feel great.  The finish on them isn't black, more of a dark blue marble look that honestly is pretty ugly.  But I didn't get them for looks.

 

I'll update when I get my Little Dot in.  I'm anxious to see how much that changes things.

 

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

By the way, for those wondering about the HD600s paired with the NuForce uDAC:

 

Having never owned a headphone amp I can't compare it to much, but the uDAC seems to drive the HD600s fine.  Turning it to full volume gets loud enough, but there are times when I'm going to want to push it further.  For the price of the uDAC it's fine, but I would be a little upset if I had paid more than $100 for it.

post #5 of 13

While the jump from your Pannys to the HD600s may not seem very apparent now, give the HD600s about a week of sole head time, to get accustomed to the sound and to burn the headphones. Then go back to your Panasonics. You'll hear a difference.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aflac View Post

While the jump from your Pannys to the HD600s may not seem very apparent now, give the HD600s about a week of sole head time, to get accustomed to the sound and to burn the headphones. Then go back to your Panasonics. You'll hear a difference.


Sounds like a good test, I'll do that.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

So I got my Little Dot MKIII in!  By the way, shipping from China was very quick - probably took about a week.

 

My initial impressions were disappointing.  While comparing the output of the MKIII to the NuForce uDac I was hard pressed to find a difference.  Later on, I ended up liking the uDac more - the bass was tighter and the sound was clearer.  The MKIII sounded muddy with weak lows, and cranking up the volume just spiked the highs.

 

My lesson: Mess with the gain settings!

 

I just put it into setting 10 - both DIP switches set to off.  A HUGE improvement - this setting matches so well with my HD600s.  The lows are stronger, and the sound is smoother - not as muddy.  Perhaps not as clear as the uDac output, but the MKIII has a more "silky" sound that's really good.

 

My next venture is to build a super-simple three input / one output RCA box to combine the audio from my music gear, TT and laptop into one output.  That way I can have all my music sources with having to futz with a switch.

 

I'll take some pictures of the setup when I get a chance and post 'em.


Edited by zachberry - 8/12/10 at 10:05pm
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

Another improvement: iTunes had a "Sound Enhancer" setting.  Turning this off increased the soundstage a bit.  

 

I'm just incredibly impressed about the MKIII overall.

post #9 of 13

another improvement:

ditch itunes. 

 

kidding aside, itunes sounds inferior to foobar2000.  which is also free.

foobar 2000 can output in bit-perfect modes, and sounds better.

 

give it a whirl.

post #10 of 13

Heck, I even think VLC is better than iTunes, despite being a "jack of all trades" player.  And I'm even a Mac fanboy, so that's saying something!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWuss View Post

another improvement:

ditch itunes. 

 

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
I hate iTunes and have tried tons of OS x alternatives, none of which seem to include the features I need. This includes Play, Banshee, DoubleTwist, Cog, Amarok, and Songbird.

I'll do some A/B comparisons and see if I can live with one of the alternatives. Still, can iTunes really have _that_ much of a difference?!
post #12 of 13

IMHO, yes.  iTunes clips some songs I like and also really compresses the heck out of the lower frequencies, making them a mud pie.  Try VLC.  It's worlds better.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zachberry View Post

 Still, can iTunes really have _that_ much of a difference?!
post #13 of 13

I remember reading about people using iTunes for their front-end and Foobar for their back end (i.e. running foobar through the iTunes interface/program). I haven't looked into it for a while but it might still work. If not, you can just use foobar with an iTunes skin (googling shows me at least a few exist). You may or may not have to jump through hoops to run foobar if you're on OSX, but I found a couple threads regarding that - http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/427992/simple-way-to-run-foobar2000-on-mac

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