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DAC and Amp for HD800 -- $2,500 Budget

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone!  Although I've been a longtime reader of head-fi, I rarely post...but before I drop some serious coin (at least for me) to improve my desktop setup, I thought I'd solicit some opinions from all of you experts out there first.

 

I have about $2,500 to spend (though this is somewhat flexible) and would like a DAC and amp (combo or separates) to drive the HD800s that I own; even better if the setup also plays well with my JH13 Pros.  I mostly listen to rock and pop, but dabble in nearly every genre -- so, in other words, I'm looking for something versatile.  The audio will be coming from a MacBook with USB, S/PDIF and minijack outputs. 

 

As for the decision, I am debating whether my dollars are best spent on:

 

(1) An amp only (in which case I would use the iBasso D10 from my portable rig as a DAC)

(2) A DAC and separate amp

(3) A DAC+amp combo

 

Any suggestions as to which of these options is best, as well as what DACs and/or amps might be a good fit given my needs?  I have been leaning towards picking up the WA6SE with Sophia Princess upgrade, but am pretty clueless when it comes to DACs.  Any advice would be much appreciated!

 

Thanks,

Jason


Edited by jaygot - 8/23/10 at 1:06am
post #2 of 17

HA-160 and Meier Concerto are supposed to be good with the HD800 and seem to be in your budget. I'd head to <http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/427946/best-hd800-amp> for more info on the amp section. As for a source, the PS Audio digital link seems good, perhaps the DacMagic too.

post #3 of 17

A few months ago I bought a pair of HD800's and was surprised how badly it sounded on an amp which matched my HD650's so well (Darkvoice 336) so I did a bit of looking around and purchased a Burson HA160 thinking that a solid state will help fill in the missing bass I experienced with the Darkvoice but I found the HA160 not to be a good match either. Music was very transparent and dynamic but not engaging for me at all so thinking my source was the issue I went ahead and bought a dacmagic (again based on recommendations here) This helped but music was still not overly enjoyable to me. In fact at this time I found myself going back to my HD650s which to my ears seemed to play music while the HD800's just analysed music.

 

Anyway in a last ditched effort to help make my HD800’s enjoyable I have just ordered an Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA. Based on what I have read it sounds like a perfect match for my taste and I really like some of the thinking around this product so look forward to hearing it. Also purchased a pair of DHC “clone” cables which should also be arriving shortly so again im hoping this with help tame the high frequencies a little an bring me closer to a great sounding setup.

 

Its been an expensive joyney so far but then again what was that Head-Fi slogan again? Something about “sorry about your wallet”.....lol

post #4 of 17

Exactly. I will be able to experience the DacMagic, HA160 and HD800 setup up later this week, another addition to that chain is the AB-160.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot for the replies, JIGF and Tubularbells!  I'll check out the items you mentioned...

post #6 of 17
Dacmagic or gamma2 for dac.
DNA Sonett, really kick ass with HD800 and JH13 (may need to look for NOS GZ34 and DR super tube down the road). You can probably use D10 as DAC for now.
post #7 of 17

I would get a Isabellina hpa. I had the older model with the hd800 and thought it sounded great. The newly released version is even better. Its a dac and integrated amp.

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingStyles View Post

I would get a Isabellina hpa. I had the older model with the hd800 and thought it sounded great. The newly released version is even better. Its a dac and integrated amp.


x2 on red wine audio isabellina hpa lfp-v EXCELLENT SYNERGY WITH HD-800 also the ability to tube roll and dial in your sound preference!

post #9 of 17

Phoenix with matching Ref-5. Within budget, too.

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by decur View Post




x2 on red wine audio isabellina hpa lfp-v EXCELLENT SYNERGY WITH HD-800 also the ability to tube roll and dial in your sound preference!

 

Thats good to hear as unlike a lot of other HI-Fi gear it is often difficult to actually hear the product in question befor making a commitment which makes places such as this so important for the hobby imo.

 

Now I just have to patiently wait for a few months for my isabellina hpa lfp-v to be built and shipped to me...
 

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tubularbells View Post

 

Thats good to hear as unlike a lot of other HI-Fi gear it is often difficult to actually hear the product in question befor making a commitment which makes places such as this so important for the hobby imo.

 

Now I just have to patiently wait for a few months for my isabellina hpa lfp-v to be built and shipped to me...
 

 

 

Still, everyone differs. Lately I take what I read about audio gear anywhere as a grain of sand (apart from build quality sections); it is just impossible to factor such grade of subjectiveness and translate it into words. Case in point <http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/burson3/burson_3.html>. 

 

 

In relation to what jaygot is after, the RWA source and amp component is in accordance. I am not sure if it works with the JH13 though.

post #12 of 17

Build your own B22 amp (or buy one from AMB). No amp under 2500$ can beat it IMO. And get any decent dac that fits the rest your budget as dac does not noticeably improve sound quality IMO.

post #13 of 17

Red Wine Audio's Isabellina HPA sounds like a possible match for you since you're using your Macbook as a digital source.

 

I've had this headphone amp/dac (SLA battery version) for a while now and just received my HD800s recently - they simply sound amazing with the music that I enjoy, which is quite eclectic!

 

imo, this combination is quite musical - in the sense that I feel like I am listening to the musicians play right inside my room.

 

There are currently 2 people on Audiogon selling this version of the HPA for $1k, which I think is a steal.

post #14 of 17

Hello, i have  the Hd-800 with the amb balanced beta-22

The hd-800 improves a lot(fantastic sound)

aldo

p.s.:... and a good cable


Edited by alota - 9/28/10 at 7:35am
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by alota View Post

Hello, i have  the Hd-800 with the amb balanced beta-22

The hd-800 improves a lot(fantastic sound)

aldo

p.s.:... and a good cable


Me too, my 4 boards balanced with Linn Akurate DS drive the HD800 sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooooooood.
 

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