Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
About ur statement about speaker amp or bust..well..i think a few decware, woo audio, bakoon, burson, darkvoice, lafigaro, blue circle audio and lots more owners of other premium brands of headphone amps can tell ya: speaker route is not the only way.
First: Its the least easy way (caution with connection to speaker units!) and
Secondly: u have to strip cable (or buy dedicated cables) to connect..
only possible advantage over those premium (most of them expensive) headphone amps is that they are cheaper by a huge margin in what they deliver in watts...
Am not saying they are worse, but for 2000usd u get a whole lot of headphone amping.
A 2000usd worth of speakeramp wont be better with a he500 (with the he6 situation could be different) maybe only stronger (more bass??)
The he500 doesnt need huge amount of watts. what he does need is control and quality of sound and in so components to deliver that and that costs money, sometimes lots of money.
but as one smart person on headfi said: at a certain price point its not about quality of sound anymore..its about design and reputation..
At that point i say: stop..no further..but hey..if i was rich i would say..give me 2 of them (a black and silver)..wrap them up and put them on the passengers seat in my bugatti veyron up front
I'm running my HE-500 off a $20 Lepai 2020a+, and it is leaps and bounds better than any headphone amp I've tried under $1,000. $20 is extremely cheap.
It is actually better than the $129 200W Lepai amp I have. I can't get that to work with the HE-500 yet, despite the stronger than Emotiva Mini-X power.