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My impressions of HE-6 vs HD800 vs Stax SR-007 - Page 3

post #31 of 290

Note with the Benchmark DAC1 driving the HE-6, to get full output of the DAC1 you need to pull out the internal jumpers that reduce the gain on the headphone output, so you have 0dB on the output and not -10 (or -20). You can find the location of the jumpers in the manual online at their web site (I think the jumpers are different for the various models of DAC1).

 

I did this, and they sound pretty damn good with the volume at about 11:30 - 12:00, which is also very loud. However, I haven't compared to a higher powered amp yet, which I will do as soon as I get the chance. The DAC1 didn't work with the HE-6 when it was jumped to -10dB, and I did try a few "normal" headphone amps which also failed in the same way they would with K1000s, which is to say they were useless even though they rock other cans I own.

 

Currently (no pun intended), my K1000s are at a friend's over the hill, so I don't have access - but I've got an Audio Research VS-55 there which we used on the K1000s which sounded fantastic (prior to that I used a Portal Panache, a Red Wine Audio T Amp, and a Muse Model 100 MOSFET - the VS-55 was by far our favorite). I've also got a Schiit Lyr on preorder, and waiting for Hifiman to start selling the EF-6, and would love to try with a Decware amp (Either CSP-2/Taboo combo, or the Mini Torii), 

 

So many amps, so little time....

post #32 of 290
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gordie View Post

Note with the Benchmark DAC1 driving the HE-6, to get full output of the DAC1 you need to pull out the internal jumpers that reduce the gain on the headphone output, so you have 0dB on the output and not -10 (or -20). You can find the location of the jumpers in the manual online at their web site (I think the jumpers are different for the various models of DAC1).

 

I did this, and they sound pretty damn good with the volume at about 11:30 - 12:00, which is also very loud. However, I haven't compared to a higher powered amp yet, which I will do as soon as I get the chance. The DAC1 didn't work with the HE-6 when it was jumped to -10dB, and I did try a few "normal" headphone amps which also failed in the same way they would with K1000s, which is to say they were useless even though they rock other cans I own.

 

Currently (no pun intended), my K1000s are at a friend's over the hill, so I don't have access - but I've got an Audio Research VS-55 there which we used on the K1000s which sounded fantastic (prior to that I used a Portal Panache, a Red Wine Audio T Amp, and a Muse Model 100 MOSFET - the VS-55 was by far our favorite). I've also got a Schiit Lyr on preorder, and waiting for Hifiman to start selling the EF-6, and would love to try with a Decware amp (Either CSP-2/Taboo combo, or the Mini Torii), 

 

So many amps, so little time....



Indeed - I also set the DAC1 headphones amp section to 0db attenuation. It seems to drive the HE-6 fine that way - the sound is full, authoritative and loud even at 12 o'clock. It's a powerful amp capable of 1.25W into 60 ohms according to Benchmark.

 

I don't really understand all the negative comments about amping the HE-6 from the DAC1, particularly since these comments come from people who never heard that combination and don't know the specs of the DAC1 headphones amp.

post #33 of 290
Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post

 

I don't really understand all the negative comments about amping the HE-6 from the DAC1


 

It's simple really.  There are a lot of HE6 supporters who belong to the (incorrect) mindset that if you don't like the HE6 it must be a problem with your equipment.

post #34 of 290
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post




 

It's simple really.  There are a lot of HE6 supporters who belong to the (incorrect) mindset that if you don't like the HE6 it must be a problem with your equipment.



 

In my humble opinion and experience (please - no flames) amps don't make as much of a difference to the sound of headphones as you would think by reading comments on Head-Fi. I compared multiple good amps on multiple dynamic headphones in the past, and didn't hear much of a difference. The headphones (HD650 and SA5000) sounded pretty much the same on all the amps that I tried (DAC1, Meier Opera, Gilmore Lite). My M^3 sounded a little different, but it was a minor difference, not clearly better or worse, and it didn't change the sound characterisitics of the headphones relative to each other. Also, now my HD800 sound about the same on my GLite and DAC1.  

 

If the amp has the right specs, the design is good, and the implementation is good then you're fine in my experience and better off spending your money on other components (such as sources, headphones or speakers) rather than more amps.

 

I plan to try my headphones (HD800 and HE-6) on some higher-end amps (Beta 22 and GS-X) soon to hear once and for all if there's a noticeable difference, and also if running balanced sounds better in any way. I don't expect much, but I'm keeping an open mind.

 

As to the HE-6: I actually like them overall as I mentioned. They aren't perfect - not as detailed as the HD800 and SR-007, and they don't reproduce acoustic instruments quite as well as the other two, but they do sound sweet with a pleasant lushness and fullness/weight to the sound without compromising too much in detail and timbre.

post #35 of 290

visualguy: It's not so much about specs, but how well an amplifier can cope under the pressure of having to play complex music without running out of steam.  I know, from experience, all the amps I've used are good with, say, Chopin, but turn up the volume with a large, complex orchestral work or Shpongle, and things start to fall apart, with the music compressing and becoming a blur. 

 

Each of the three headphones you've compared are quite radically different in their optimum requirements. As well, the DAC 1 is, while a very good implementation, a compromise in design, squeezing both a DAC and headphone/pre amp in a small, half-rack box.  It's never going to give the optimum with any headphones. 

 

I look forward to reading your impressions with the bigger amps. It will be interesting to see how upgrading just the amp affects them.  IMO the optimum would be to upgrade the whole rig, not just the amp. smile.gif

post #36 of 290
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

I look forward to reading your impressions with the bigger amps.


Me too.

 

I stepped up from a Glite to a GS-1, and found the soundstage improvement substantial.

post #37 of 290
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

visualguy: It's not so much about specs, but how well an amplifier can cope under the pressure of having to play complex music without running out of steam.  I know, from experience, all the amps I've used are good with, say, Chopin, but turn up the volume with a large, complex orchestral work or Shpongle, and things start to fall apart, with the music compressing and becoming a blur. 

 

Each of the three headphones you've compared are quite radically different in their optimum requirements. As well, the DAC 1 is, while a very good implementation, a compromise in design, squeezing both a DAC and headphone/pre amp in a small, half-rack box.  It's never going to give the optimum with any headphones. 

 

I look forward to reading your impressions with the bigger amps. It will be interesting to see how upgrading just the amp affects them.  IMO the optimum would be to upgrade the whole rig, not just the amp. smile.gif



Well, I just finished listening to Dvorak's Symphony no. 7 on my HE-6 driven by the DAC1 and it was awesome. I find the DAC1 to be a superb headphones amp for the HE-6. There wasn't even the slightest hint of an amplification deficiency. The source was a Marantz SA-11S1 SACD player.

 

The DAC1 doesn't look like much inside or out, and I used to be skeptical about it. It doesn't quite feel like you're getting your money's worth in terms of parts or looks, and you ask yourself how it can do a good job compared to all the over-engineered and overkill equipment that we audiophiles are used to. But you know what, Benchmark really got this sucker right. I spent a lot of money trying to beat its DAC section and also its headphones section without success. I've given up on trying to beat the DAC section, but I'm going to give the headphones amp side a couple more attempts by comparing to the Beta 22 and GS-X.

 

The DAC1 taught me that excellent design and implementation are what really counts, and if you have that you don't need a zillion parts, or a discrete design, or expensive huge caps, or dual power supplies in an external chassis, etc.

post #38 of 290

I can't help wondering what other DACs you went through beforehand. I once tried listening with a friend's DAC 1 in my rig, and it was unlistenable after using what I have. Compared to prior DACs I owned, such as the Lavry and Northstar, it sounded good though.  It was a good match with an 02/717 rig, however.

post #39 of 290
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

I can't help wondering what other DACs you went through beforehand. I once tried listening with a friend's DAC 1 in my rig, and it was unlistenable after using what I have. Compared to prior DACs I owned, such as the Lavry and Northstar, it sounded good though.  It was a good match with an 02/717 rig, however.



DACs: Bel Canto DAC2.5, Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2, Slim Devices Transporter, internal DACs in Marantz SA-11S1, Marantz SA-7S1 and Oppo BDP-95. None of these beats the Benchmark DAC1 HDR in any significant way. There are some cases where the Marantz players (on Redbook) sound slightly better, but you really have to focus hard to tell the difference.

 

Headphone amps: Gilmore Lite, Meier Opera, M^3. None of these are better than the DAC1 headphones amp in my experience. Headphones I tried: Senn HD650, Senn HD800, Sony SA5000, Grado SR60, Shure SE530, Shure SE535, HiFiMAN HE-6. The DAC1 beats the Gilmore Lite with the HE-6 (most likely thanks to the higher current/power of the DAC1).

 

Both the HE-6 and the HD800 sound very well-amped by the DAC1 headphones amp, but I will try the balanced Beta 22 and GS-X with them soon.

post #40 of 290
Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post
DACs: Bel Canto DAC2.5, Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2, Slim Devices Transporter, internal DACs in Marantz SA-11S1, Marantz SA-7S1 and Oppo BDP-95. None of these beats the Benchmark DAC1 HDR in any significant way. There are some cases where the Marantz players (on Redbook) sound slightly better, but you really have to focus hard to tell the difference.

 

Headphone amps: Gilmore Lite, Meier Opera, M^3. None of these are better than the DAC1 headphones amp in my experience. Headphones I tried: Senn HD650, Senn HD800, Sony SA5000, Grado SR60, Shure SE530, Shure SE535, HiFiMAN HE-6. The DAC1 beats the Gilmore Lite with the HE-6 (most likely thanks to the higher current/power of the DAC1).

 

Both the HE-6 and the HD800 sound very well-amped by the DAC1 headphones amp, but I will try the balanced Beta 22 and GS-X with them soon.


Wait, you had the W4S DAC-2? What motivated you to get rid of it? And no offense but how do you plan on trying a balanced B22 and GS-X "soon"? Those amps aren't exactly easy to come by.

post #41 of 290
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post


Wait, you had the W4S DAC-2? What motivated you to get rid of it? And no offense but how do you plan on trying a balanced B22 and GS-X "soon"? Those amps aren't exactly easy to come by.



I still have the W4S DAC-2 as well as the Bel Canto DAC2.5. I use them as sources in different setups. A builder in my area will let me demo the B22, and a friend ordered the GS-X, so I'll get to listen to that as well.

 

I'm more curious about the B22 than the GS-X. The GS-X seems like a close relative of the Gilmore Lite (Dynalo), and it doesn't have more power single ended. It's double the power balanced. About 5 years ago I was very close to ordering a DynaMight (balanced Dynahi) which does have significantly more power, but ended up deciding against it because I wanted to focus more on speakers.

 

I still listen to speakers mostly. Headphones do offer a different perspective on the music, but the soundstage and perceived source of the music (from inside the head) are obviously wrong, and headphones can't do bass anywhere near as well as good speakers. A bigger problem for me is that I tend to listen to headphones too loud - I have to keep reminding myself to lower the volume. Unfortunately, headphones sound seems to degrade more at lower volume than speaker sound. I don't tend to crank up the volume on the speakers quite as much. I'm quite concerned about hearing damage when listening to headphones, but it feels like less of a problem when listening to speakers.

post #42 of 290
Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post

The GS-X seems like a close relative of the Gilmore Lite (Dynalo).


The Glite and GS-1 are even closer relatives, but the difference is anything but close.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by visualguy View Post

Headphones do offer a different perspective on the music, but the soundstage and perceived source of the music (from inside the head) are obviously wrong, and headphones can't do bass anywhere near as well as good speakers.

 

Instead of obviously wrong, you mean obviously different.  One person's wrong might be another persons right.  Reflect on this.

 

Also, you sound pretty demanding.  Don't waste much more time with the dynamic headphones unless you can find a Sony R10.  I was unhappy with the bass response of most dynamic headphones (and even some electrostatics).  Then I tried the Stax O2 Mk1 (not mk2) and found what I was looking for.  I'd recommend you give one an extended audition.

post #43 of 290

visualguy: Thanks for your review; it reflects some of my impressions comparing the HD800 to the HE-6. Although in my case, the HE-6 became my go-to phones, because they're more compatible with my listening preferences and home setup.

 

You should check out the discussion in milosz' A/B amp comparison thread if you haven't already, as it's informative and relevant to some of the things being discussed here.

post #44 of 290
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Towert7 View Post




The Glite and GS-1 are even closer relatives, but the difference is anything but close.

 

 

 

Instead of obviously wrong, you mean obviously different.  One person's wrong might be another persons right.  Reflect on this.

 

Also, you sound pretty demanding.  Don't waste much more time with the dynamic headphones unless you can find a Sony R10.  I was unhappy with the bass response of most dynamic headphones (and even some electrostatics).  Then I tried the Stax O2 Mk1 (not mk2) and found what I was looking for.  I'd recommend you give one an extended audition.



I guess I should have said "unnatural" instead of "wrong".

 

I agree with you on the Stax SR-007. I've owned one along with a KGSS amp for the last 3 years.

post #45 of 290

Thanks for the review :)

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