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HD800 Owners only: Need some answers on AMP's that do and don't work

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

I am the proud new owner of some HD800's and would like to find an amp (or combination of all factors) that works well with these headphones. 

 

I'd really like to limit the input in this thread to current HD800 owner who are truly satisfied with their setup. Not simply satisfied in the sense of it sounding "good enough".  I mean you have a system that you will likely never upgrade, you have some longevity with your setup, and you love it.

 

Reason I want this thread to be very specific, is that when researching "opinion" on this forum, there is an awful lot of strong opinion on things from people who love an item this week, this month.....next week its been sold. It amazes me how often this happens. If you really look through older threads, you will see what I mean. People's signatures no longer match the gear that once was the absolute best thing EVER, just last month or a year ago even, now it no longer is??

 

So if you really love your setup with your HD800's, I'd like to know the answer to a few questions:

 

1) What is your source material, lossless digital files, CD's and or vinyl?

2) What is your source, a CD player, a PC etc.?

2) What is you DAC?

3) What is your AMP and how long have you had it?

4) What AMP or AMPS have you tried with the HD800's that you did not like?

 

 

 

My answers to the above:

 

1) Source is a Sonos, 100% lossless Flac Files

2) Beresford Caiman Dac, heavily modified

3) Burson HA-160 AMP, 1 month

4) The HA-160 is the only AMP I have ever owned. It's a fine sounding AMP.

 

My setup sounds good but I don't have the same sense of satisfaction that I have with my B&W 703's speakers and Rotel pre amp and amp, my only point of reference for satisfaction.

 

The sounds appears veiled slightly in my current headphone setup. Would I get closer to what I am looking for with a tube amp or something else?"

 

What I after, a timeless setup, regardless of cost, either high or low, one that really has been proven to work.

 

Any help would be appreciated!

 


Edited by fmzip - 8/21/10 at 8:55pm
post #2 of 43

You might want to try looking through this thread first. It may answer a couple of your questions or give you some ideas.

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/427946/best-hd800-amp

post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 

Read it before my post.....
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingStyles View Post

You might want to try looking through this thread first. It may answer a couple of your questions or give you some ideas.

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/427946/best-hd800-amp

post #4 of 43


1: all of the above. CD, MP3 (generally high rates, although Im not a good enough listener to turn my nose up at the good music I only have at low bitrates) and real losless vinyl. Ooh, I have been known to play analog tape too.

 

2: Source:

MP3 files are stored on my iRiver IHP-120

CD files are stored on my CD discs

Vinyl files are stored on my Vinyl discs

Tape files are stored on analog tape.

 

3:DAC

Digital:

Behringer SRC2496 up sampling everything to 2496 except for DACs that cant handle the heat.

Behringer DEQ2496 appliying custom EQ in digital domain. Frequently used as DAC

beresford clone

zhalou 2.5 with output transformers.

Adcom gda-600

 

My analog system is:

Technics SL-1015 TT with EPA500 arm and Denon DL-s1 needle

I designed the phono stage based on the input stage of the 47-labs phono stage, followed by a simple passive RIAA phono (note! Not split RIAA, classic single stage RIAA). Feedback RIAA is for people who cant afford 2 more op amps. Sorry to be so blunt.

From the Phono stage this goes into the SRC2496's ADC at 2496 native so that I can apply my EQ to the sound.

 

4: Amps that are nice with HD800

Balanced OTL tube amp: pwned for 2 years. 

Balanced single ended Jfet amp.

 

5: amps that suck with the HD800

Melos SHA-gold. Sorry, sucks with HD800.

The amp built into the SRC2496 also sucks. It is good for driving speakers to background noise levels when I dont want to turn the rest of my system on though.

The amp in the Beresford clone. You expected quality from a guy who had arguments between his multiple accounts on head-fi?

Balanced Mahogany Cmoy Clone with JRC4556 opamps. sucks with HD800, pwns with Grados.

post #5 of 43


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikongod View Post


1: all of the above. CD, MP3 (generally high rates, although Im not a good enough listener to turn my nose up at the good music I only have at low bitrates) and real losless vinyl. Ooh, I have been known to play analog tape too.

 

2: Source:

MP3 files are stored on my iRiver IHP-120

CD files are stored on my CD discs

Vinyl files are stored on my Vinyl discs

Tape files are stored on analog tape.

 

3:DAC

Digital:

Behringer SRC2496 up sampling everything to 2496 except for DACs that cant handle the heat.

Behringer DEQ2496 appliying custom EQ in digital domain. Frequently used as DAC

beresford clone

zhalou 2.5 with output transformers.

Adcom gda-600

 

My analog system is:

Technics SL-1015 TT with EPA500 arm and Denon DL-s1 needle

I designed the phono stage based on the input stage of the 47-labs phono stage, followed by a simple passive RIAA phono (note! Not split RIAA, classic single stage RIAA). Feedback RIAA is for people who cant afford 2 more op amps. Sorry to be so blunt.

From the Phono stage this goes into the SRC2496's ADC at 2496 native so that I can apply my EQ to the sound.

 

4: Amps that are nice with HD800

Balanced OTL tube amp: pwned for 2 years. 

Balanced single ended Jfet amp.

 

5: amps that suck with the HD800

Melos SHA-gold. Sorry, sucks with HD800.

The amp built into the SRC2496 also sucks. It is good for driving speakers to background noise levels when I dont want to turn the rest of my system on though.

The amp in the Beresford clone. You expected quality from a guy who had arguments between his multiple accounts on head-fi?

Balanced Mahogany Cmoy Clone with JRC4556 opamps. sucks with HD800, pwns with Grados.


I heard baka Hd800 with the Gilmore Lite, Matrix M Stage and Decware CSP2 all three worked well. The tubes sounded very nice as did the two ss amps. It depends on your budget for a amp.

post #6 of 43

To the OP, what you need to understand is that no matter how satisfied people are and regardless of what they say, they will upgrade at some point. This is Head-Fi after all. That said, I'm currently using my HD800's with my Onkyo DX-7555 CDP and the GS-1 as my amp. I'm completely satisfied. For now.

post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by zotjen View Post

To the OP, what you need to understand is that no matter how satisfied people are and regardless of what they say, they will upgrade at some point. This is Head-Fi after all. That said, I'm currently using my HD800's with my Onkyo DX-7555 CDP and the GS-1 as my amp. I'm completely satisfied. For now.


good call. 

 

Head-fi is really better described as:

upgrade-fi

Once you reach a certain level, it changes to sidegrade-fi.

 

There is also the dont-really-care-fi subforum, where upgrades (or even sidegrades) dont happen.

post #8 of 43
Sources: J.A. Michell Orbe, SME IV arm, Fi Yph, Cinemag step-ups, Denon DL103; Marantz SA8001 (SACD), Scott 350B FM tuner (all tube, multiplex), the Sony HD radio tuner (can't remember model), Icom 756ProII multiband transceiver. In the works are a restoration of a Hammarlund HQ129X multiband receiver (ca. 1946, very cool) and I need to get my poop together to case and finish the power supply on a Nelson Pass D1 DAC clone. Oh, and I've had most of this stuff a good three years.

The amps go back and forth between an Eddie Current Zana Deux and a Moth Si2A3. I've had the Zana for about three years and the Moth two. I'll get a few more amps online when I move into my new place in a few weeks. Lots of unfinished projects there.

My source material is vinyl, CD, SACD, DVD-A, CD, several radio frequencies, and - soon - FLAC off the Linux box.

My answer about amps depends on my strong bias towards tubes. The HD-800 really responds well to them - especially those 2A3 tubes - and the mids (my strong preference) have never sounded better. The Moth softens the low end a little, so I usually use it with acoustic and vocal material. For rock and bottom-heavy work, I use the Zana because it's tight down low, almost like solid state. My recommendation is to find a quality tube amp. You'll want a really good power supply, because if AC ripple or other gremlins get through, the HD-800 is merciless.
post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the post.

 

I have my eye on a Woo Audio 22. Good choice?

post #10 of 43
I will let you know in two weeks.
post #11 of 43
DNA Sonett balanced with NOS GZ34 and DR supertube is extremely well with HD800.
post #12 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zotjen View Post

To the OP, what you need to understand is that no matter how satisfied people are and regardless of what they say, they will upgrade at some point. This is Head-Fi after all. That said, I'm currently using my HD800's with my Onkyo DX-7555 CDP and the GS-1 as my amp. I'm completely satisfied. For now.


I totally understand this which is why I am trying to weed out the preachers and the keepers.

 

A lot of people want to believe that what they have is awesome either because they bought certain items they believed to be awesome or they've spent a certain amount money. The real useful info lies with the keepers.

 

People who don't upgrade year after year truly like what they have, or they are broke.

 

I take from your post for instance that if you are satisfied for now, something is still slightly off or missing?


Edited by fmzip - 8/22/10 at 1:49pm
post #13 of 43

1) What is your source material, lossless digital files, CD's and or vinyl?

-Lossless files.

 

2) What is your source, a CD player, a PC etc.?

-PC

 

3) What is you DAC?

-PS Audio PWD

 

4) What is your AMP and how long have you had it?

-Luxman P-1u (bought it about six months ago)

 

Before deciding on the P-1u, I had a chance to spent an entire afternoon A/B-ing a well-built B22 with a P-1 (the source was a Wadia CD player, it was the 381 I believe). While they have different sound signatures, I wouldn't say that the B22 sounded better than the P-1. So, after some self-deliberating, I decided to go after a P-1u (my budget was $5k for the amp, so money wasn't an issue). Am I satisfied with my rig? Yes, for the time being...


Edited by jenneth - 8/22/10 at 5:55pm
post #14 of 43

B52 + EMM cdp + HD800 = Awesome.

Even better: upgraded tubes for B52, Complement cables for Senns, Stealth ICs, Hydra 8 for power... (do this and upgrading is over).

post #15 of 43

I'm playing lossless files through Amarra Mini on my MacBook Pro to an Audio-gd Reference 1 DAC (via a Reference 3 multi-function thing -- don't ask) to the Audio-gd Phoenix and other amps at various other times.  My HD-800s are re-cabled with the Apuresound V3 cable, as I don't like the sound with the stock cable.

 

Quick summaries with various amps in the above set-up:

Audio-gd Phoenix: No harshness at all, but balanced and produces a very wide headstage (and soundstage as a pre to a speaker amp). Being designed to be dead-neutral, it's not a "wow" amp, but lets the music through as it is. Not to everyone's tastes, including mine on some days.

Luxman P-1: Relative to neutral, it sounds like the colour of the front panel is relative to silver. Slightly more body in the bass and not quite as good treble as the Phoenix has, even SE, but a better amp SE, if not as good as the Phoenix is capable balanced.

Audiovalve RVK Mark II (with compensated OPA627 OPAMPS): "Warmer" than the Luxman tonally, with a strong and punchy bass and softer treble, but loads of detail and a good wide soundstage, even, though it's SE, almost rivaling the Phoenix balanced. Needs at least a power noise filter for best results IMO, but was my favorite combo.

Elekit TU882R kit amp: Very sweet-sounding amp. Someone else described the sound as "organic".  I didn't test it side-by-side with any of the other amps and I've been long meaning to build one to see how far it can go.  Definitely a worthy bargain HD-800 amp. Undoubtedly a little cheap tweaking would turn it into a killer amp.

Yamamoto HA-02: Totally unsuited to the HD-800s. Has a 40-Ohm output impedance which works best, IMO, with Audio Technicas.  Didn't last 30 seconds before I knew it was a bad match.

HeadRoom Portable Desktop: If it were a $300 amp, it'd be ok, but at the asking price it doesn't compete IMO.

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