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The HD650 as maybe you haven't heard it yet.

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

A few thoughts about the 650, just in case you haven't read enough about it already.  :)

 

Just to explain where I'm coming from, I have no interest in dedicated headphone amps. I don't think they're worth the money and trouble; none of those I've heard has impressed me. However, whatever type of amp you use it's important to choose one with opposite characteristics to the 650, and since the 650 is slightly on the soft, fat and rolled-off side of things we want an amp with a lean, rather bright character, with plenty of treble extension. I recently set out to find such an amp and, after reading many reviews, decided on the Cambridge Audio 340 SE. This turned out to be a spot-on, true synergistic match and had a further benefit in tone controls that only affect the frequency extremes. So, not only is the 650 brightened and sharpened up by the characteristics of the amp, it's possible to use the tone controls to add extension to the frequency extremes without in any way affecting the midrange. Thus at around three O'Clock on the treble control (which Cambridge list as being +7db at 20khz--very unusual characteristics), the 650 lacks for nothing in the treble department; there's no hint of a veil, yet the sound remains beautifully smooth. Similarly with the bass control (+7db at 50hz) at the same setting the 650 gains a low bass slam you would not suspect it of possessing, and there's no hint of "fatness". In fact, driven like this, I can't see that the 650 lacks for anything. I've not heard the HD800, and I'm sure it's wonderful on great sounding CDs, but the consensus seems to be that there is a slightly fatiguing element about it on less than great CDs. This is not the case with the 650 as I'm using it here, yet I never feel I'm missing any detail in any area, especially treble.

 

Maybe I'm not perfectionist enough, but I feel with this combination I've come to the end of my (rather long--40 years!) headphone journey. With a half-decent CD the 650 can present me with a believable illusion of a symphony orchestra without a hint of fatigue even at realistic levels. And even not-so-decent CDs sound better than I've ever heard them. Plus the 650 is incredibly comfortable once the initial clamping effect wears off (only takes a few weeks). I'd urge anyone looking for a balanced, neutral sound, without false brightness or thumping bass, to check out this combination. For not that many $s I think you might be surprised at how much you get.    

  


Edited by pp312 - 8/26/10 at 4:10am
post #2 of 32

Thanks for this. I've just purchased my 650s...I enjoyed the read.

post #3 of 32

Hmmmm....I wonder why there isn't more headphone amps with by-passable bass and treble controls...and a remote control.  Are you using the cambridge to drive speakers as well?  I've done the rounds in retailers, poking my HD650 into all sorts of integrateds and CD players with headamps - all fell short of my then head-amp XcanV3 (I wanted a solid state sound)...eventually settling for the BCL (not cheap).

 

If you didn't drive speakers, Amps like the Asgard are $250 US....or a BCL clone for $300 us.  If you think the bass is tight out of an integrated...I wonder what your definition of bass control is, compared to mine?

post #4 of 32

So, wait, the moral of the story is that you like headphone amps now?


Edited by kingtz - 8/26/10 at 2:30am
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by SP Wild View Post

 

Hmmmm....I wonder why there isn't more headphone amps with by-passable bass and treble controls...and a remote control.  Are you using the cambridge to drive speakers as well?  I've done the rounds in retailers, poking my HD650 into all sorts of integrateds and CD players with headamps - all fell short of my then head-amp XcanV3 (I wanted a solid state sound)...eventually settling for the BCL (not cheap).

 

If you didn't drive speakers, Amps like the Asgard are $250 US....or a BCL clone for $300 us.  If you think the bass is tight out of an integrated...I wonder what your definition of bass control is, compared to mine?


When a can obviously lacks something in the extremities, the answer should be tone controls, but most tone controls are much too gross for the sort of limited bandwidth correction needed. Here the Cambridge is the exception, which I why I thought it worth mentioning. Those using computers can of course apply correction easily, but many of us want a balanced setup away from our computers. We might love a certain can but reject it on the grounds it's "veiled' or lacks impact in the deep bass; it's useful then to know that there are amps that can correct for those failings without affecting the rest of the frequency range; in fact it can save a lot of money. The Cambridge is unique in this regard; I don't know of another budget amp whose tone controls operate over such a limited bandwidth.

 

I'm not using the amp to drive speakers. As for your experience with integrateds, maybe you just haven't stuck your jack into the right hole yet (oops, didn't mean it like that  ). I've listened to a few dedicated amps and not been impressed; they've offered nothing over a good integrated. If you like MF X-Can 3 that's fine, but it's pretty expensive for what you're getting (compared to a good integrated), and I can't see that it would in any way compensate for the innate characteristics of a 650 as I've described them. As for my definition of bass control, I don't listen to rock or rap or anything so bass is not as important to me, but after 40 years of listening I'm pretty sensitive to bloated or wallowing bass.  


Edited by pp312 - 8/26/10 at 4:05am
post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post




When a can obviously lacks something in the extremities, the answer should be tone controls, but most tone controls are much too gross for the sort of limited bandwidth correction needed. Here the Cambridge is the exception, which I why I thought it worth mentioning. Those using computers can of course apply correction easily, but many of us want a balanced setup away from our computers. We might love a certain can but reject it on the grounds it's "veiled' or lacks impact in the deep bass; it's useful then to know that there are amps that can correct for those failings without affecting the rest of the frequency range; in fact it can save a lot of money. The Cambridge is unique in this regard; I don't know of another budget amp whose tone controls operate over such a limited bandwidth.

 

I'm not using the amp to drive speakers. As for your experience with integrateds, maybe you just haven't stuck your jack into the right hole yet (oops, didn't mean it like that  ). I've listened to a few dedicated amps and not been impressed; they've offered nothing over a good integrated. If you like MF X-Can 3 that's fine, but it's pretty expensive for what you're getting (compared to a good integrated), and I can't see that it would in any way compensate for the innate characteristics of a 650 as I've described them. As for my definition of bass control, I don't listen to rock or rap or anything so bass is not as important to me, but after 40 years of listening I'm pretty sensitive to bloated or wallowing bass.  

 

Glad it's working out for you.  I went through the same dilemma you did a a little while ago.  I remember when I first got my HD650, my first truly hi-end can - I was mesmerised with them coming out of a Yamaha receiver and when I did get an amp, the Xcan it took me probably about a month to work out the fine control that the Xcan has over the entry level Yamaha.  I particularly liked the Denon CD players headphone output, and their integrated headout - I would quite happily live with one of those if headamps weren't available.  Enjoy your HD650's relaxed sound signature,  Cheers.
 

post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingtz View Post

So, wait, the moral of the story is that you like headphone amps now?


rofl

 

this post is so much win.

post #8 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David.M View Post




rofl

 

this post is so much win.



Win? I don't get it.

post #9 of 32

Headphone amps make a huge difference.

post #10 of 32

It would be curious to know if the Cambridge Audio 340 SE amp powers the headphone jack with its own headphone amp or if it powers the headphones with a resistor network off the speaker amp.  I believe some of the Cambridge Audio integrated amps power the headphone jack off the speaker amp, and others use a dedicated headphone amp.  You'd need to find a schematic of the amp to find out, or ask their customer support.

 

A high ohm headphone like the HD650 can do well being powered off the speaker amp with a resistor network.  Lower ohm headphones though may not do as well in that setup.

post #11 of 32

Would 650 owners say that a headphone amp is a must? Wouldnt they also be decently powered by an audio reciever with a phono jack?


Edited by KarlAgathon - 8/28/10 at 6:15pm
post #12 of 32

At max volume on my iPod Touch 3g, the HD 650 was loud enough to make me go deaf.

 

So yes, they would be decently powered by an audio receiver with a phono jack. A headphone amp just makes everything sound better.

post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlAgathon View Post

1. Would 650 owners say that a headphone amp is a must?

 

2. Wouldnt they also be decently powered by an audio reciever with a phono jack?


1. Yes.

2. Possibly.

post #14 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ham Sandwich View Post

It would be curious to know if the Cambridge Audio 340 SE amp powers the headphone jack with its own headphone amp or if it powers the headphones with a resistor network off the speaker amp.  I believe some of the Cambridge Audio integrated amps power the headphone jack off the speaker amp, and others use a dedicated headphone amp.  You'd need to find a schematic of the amp to find out, or ask their customer support.

 

A high ohm headphone like the HD650 can do well being powered off the speaker amp with a resistor network.  Lower ohm headphones though may not do as well in that setup.



Hi, Ham Sandwich. You sound delicious.

 

The 340 SE headphone jack is driven from the speaker amp; I have a schematic. The more expensive Cambridges use a dedicated Class A HP amp. I specifically wanted the 340 for that reason; I want the sound the designer intended, not something else. The 340A is actually a gainclone amp; it uses a National Semiconductor IC power amp, which however sounds great (and is probably more reliable than a discreet section). I was listening last night and couldn't get over how smooth and silky yet detailed this combination is. Best sound I've had yet, and that's in 40 years! 

post #15 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carledwards View Post




1. Yes.

2. Possibly.


 

If the second is true, wouldn't that throw the first in doubt?
 

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