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Got HD650s need recommendations for a desktop DAC/AMP to replace NuForce Icon Integrated

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hey All,

 

I'm new to HeadPhones after being into audio/music for 30 years. I recently moved to a new home and I couldn't get my audio system to sound good in the available space, so I'm moving to HeadPhones as my primary music transducers. Got a pair of Sennheiser HD650s for Christmas and I really like them. I'm really enjoying the relaxed sound and find they do wonders for material that was a bit too strident on my old rig. 

 

Currently I'm using a NuForce Icon Integrated (the original Icon) as the Amp (for desktop monitors), Headphone amp (for HD650s) and as the USB DAC taking output from a MAC Mini running iTunes and internet radio. I've ripped lots of my CDs to iTunes using AIFF and I also listen to quite a bit of internet radio streams.

 

The Icon is fine, but I would like to upgrade to something that may drive the HD650s a little better and I wouldn't mind getting a bit better resolution across the bass, midrange and highs. I have limited real-estate on my desktop, so I need to keep the package pretty small.

 

So, what's a good upgrade for a USB DAC/Headphone amp? I wouldn't mind retaining the pre-amps outs that the Icon provides and if it also had a power amp built-in (like the Icon Integrated), even better. It would seem that the NuForce Icon HD or Icon HDP would be logical steps up. What do you think? Are their other options in the same $350-$450 price range that will give me the same features and good performance driving the HD650s? I don't mind spending a bit extra if the extra dollars translate into significantly better sound. But remember, I like the warm and relaxed sound of the stock HD650s and don't want to lose that aspect of the music I'm hearing from the HD650s now.

 

Thanks for the excellent forum!

post #2 of 18

For what it's worth I love my HDP.

 

Review: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/521283/review-nuforce-icon-hdp

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Syde, thanks for the link to your post/review. I now remember reading it a couple of weeks ago when I first starting thinking about upgrading. The HDP sounds like a great choice and I'll definitely put it on my list. I like the folks at NuForce. I've had very good support from them in the past.

 

Anyone else care to make a recommendation for the HDP or any other solution?

post #4 of 18
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

What about a Burson HA-160D? It's a lot more money and takes up more real estate, but is it significantly better sound? Not sure it will fit on my desk, but I would love to hear it...

post #6 of 18

I'm in the same boat as OP as well. Yesterday I auditioned the Icon HDP @ my local shop on the 650's. While it did sound FANTASTIC(!), and was a huge step up from my Xonar STX, I almost feel the 650's are lacking because of the The Icon HDP's 152mw @ 300 ohms. The real power supplied to the cans is like 140mw, which is only 60mw more than the Xonar STX when at high gain setting. I don't know weather buying a tube amp would be more beneficial for my relatively hard-to-drive 650's.. Or buying the legendary Burson HA-160 would be worth $700. Or option 3 which is the Nuforce Icon HDP..Personally, I travel alot and that makes the trancparency/size of the HDP invaluable, but as myself and OP are both looking to stretch our preferred 300-$450 budget, I'm hoping this thread takes off with modern bang for buck suggestions for the 650's.

 

Tbh, the Icon HDP is probably completely worth it my dollar, but it's always best to examine all the options.

 

ReallyBigair; The Icon HDP was balanced, transparent enough in its price range, and detailed. It certainly sounded satisfactory on the 650's. Other strong points are size and portability while traveling. (no tubes can break etc). It's a serious contender for my money especially as I can get it for $375 (rather than $450). from the dealer. Send me a p.m. about the Nuforce Icon HDP if you're interested in buying one too. If I buy two from the dealer,  I bet I can negotiate 350 or $360 per model. (I'm in Utah)

 

Thanks Headfiers!

post #7 of 18

probably over your budget, but the HeadRoom Desktop Amp/DAC is a beast. i have never turned the volume knob past the 12 o'clock position even on the quietest recordings when using it with my HD650's. it's got plenty of power, and then some. 

post #8 of 18

also lookin for a USB DAC/AMP for my HD650s and K702s. soo far im lookin at the NFB12 and then later on get a LD mkIVSE

post #9 of 18

yulong d100 or audio dg fun are some other options 

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonb View Post

probably over your budget, but the HeadRoom Desktop Amp/DAC is a beast. i have never turned the volume knob past the 12 o'clock position even on the quietest recordings when using it with my HD650's. it's got plenty of power, and then some. 


Jason, Which version of the HeadRoom Amp/Dac? I see they have one for $850 and a couple for $1600. The $850 is not out of question if it is a great unit for the HD650s. It's a lot less expensive than the Burson HA-160D and it looks like it takes up less real estate on my desk.

post #11 of 18

Quote:

Originally Posted by reallybigair View Post




Jason, Which version of the HeadRoom Amp/Dac? I see they have one for $850 and a couple for $1600. The $850 is not out of question if it is a great unit for the HD650s. It's a lot less expensive than the Burson HA-160D and it looks like it takes up less real estate on my desk.



this is the one i have: http://www.headphone.com/headphone-amps/headroom-desktop-amp.php

 

it looks like they raised the price by 50 bucks. when i got it back in november i paid 800. still worth it for the extra though in my opinion.

 

i had to have crossfeed, and the option to add some extra brightness sounded like it may be a good idea based on what everybody had been saying about the HD650's being dark. i bought both the amp and the HD650's at the same time, both un-auditioned. i ended up using both the crossfeed and the brightness switch right from day one.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonb View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by reallybigair View Post




Jason, Which version of the HeadRoom Amp/Dac? I see they have one for $850 and a couple for $1600. The $850 is not out of question if it is a great unit for the HD650s. It's a lot less expensive than the Burson HA-160D and it looks like it takes up less real estate on my desk.



this is the one i have: http://www.headphone.com/headphone-amps/headroom-desktop-amp.php

 

it looks like they raised the price by 50 bucks. when i got it back in november i paid 800. still worth it for the extra though in my opinion.

 

i had to have crossfeed, and the option to add some extra brightness sounded like it may be a good idea based on what everybody had been saying about the HD650's being dark. i bought both the amp and the HD650's at the same time, both un-auditioned. i ended up using both the crossfeed and the brightness switch right from day one.


Awesome! Thanks for the reply. The HeadRoom at $850 is not out of the question. So far, my choices in the various price ranges are NuForce Icon HDP @ $450, Headroom Amp/DAC @ $850 and Burson HA-160D @ $1100. I've still got about $3K worth of audio gear that I'm going to be selling (probably on AudiogoN). My success with those sales will help me decide on how much I invest in a headphone amp/DAC. If my recent sale of 4 pair of speakers on AudiogoN is any indication of the current market, then I'm in really good shape. I sold my 4 pair of speakers in 2 days!

post #13 of 18


Quote:

Originally Posted by reallybigair View Post

Awesome! Thanks for the reply. The HeadRoom at $850 is not out of the question. So far, my choices in the various price ranges are NuForce Icon HDP @ $450, Headroom Amp/DAC @ $850 and Burson HA-160D @ $1100. I've still got about $3K worth of audio gear that I'm going to be selling (probably on AudiogoN). My success with those sales will help me decide on how much I invest in a headphone amp/DAC. If my recent sale of 4 pair of speakers on AudiogoN is any indication of the current market, then I'm in really good shape. I sold my 4 pair of speakers in 2 days!

 

no problem man. i love my HeadRoom amp, but i have never heard any others amp in the same league as this one so i can't compare it to your other choices. the next best amp i have used was Gary's PA2V2. this is obviously a huge step up. i hear good things about the Burson as well, but i don't know if it's 250 dollars better. i just love the ability to add crossfeed and also add some brightness when needed. it makes it quite versatile.
 

post #14 of 18

i researched for the same goal couple of months ago 

 

i think the Beresford Caiman are also a good choices as well the designer (Stan) self use them with pair of hd800 with the released mod upgrade no problem so i think should be good with the 650 also

 

there are quite a few reviews out there for feedbacks

 

post #15 of 18

Related question: Is it ok to use an amp *normally* used to power bookshelf speakers (to drive the HD650s)?  The amp in question is an Arcam A38.  I realize an amp like this isn't portable, I'm only concerned about quality.  Thanks! 

 

(Sorry I have no suggestions for OPs question...I'm new to this.  If I can't use a normal amp, then I'm in the same boat as OP!)

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