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Hifiman HE-5LE, need Amp/DAC advice.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hello, first post for this long time lurker!

 

I'm about to buy a pair of new headphones since my Sennheiser HD-590's are getting worn out. The choice has been made and I'm going for a pair of  Hifiman HE-5LE, quite a big upgrade but I'm willing to spend some money for good quality.

 

So far I've been connecting my old phones to my computers soundcard. With the new phones that will not be a good idea since they require a bit more power than the old ones.

 

I've tried to do my homework and I've figured that I i can run the headphones from a DAC directly, or from a DAC + amp. I guess it depends alot on the equipments used, and the synergy between the phones and the equipment.

 

My question is: Shoud l go for a good DAC and let it drive the headphones or should I go for a DAC + Amp?

My budget is ~500 $, 300 euro. Help me out with some suggestions on good gear for the HE-5LE, good Amp+DAC combos and good standalone DACS.

 

The stuff I've been checking out so far: 

 

 

Amps:

 

Matrix M-stage

Schiit Asgard

Maverick Audio Tubemagic A1

 

Dacs:

 

Hlly SMK-III

Maverick Audio Tubemagic D1

Virtue Audio TWO.2

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lindahlj View Post

Hello, first post for this long time lurker!


No kidding!
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lindahlj View Post

I'm about to buy a pair of new headphones since my Sennheiser HD-590's are getting worn out. The choice has been made and I'm going for a pair of  Hifiman HE-5LE, quite a big upgrade but I'm willing to spend some money for good quality.

 

So far I've been connecting my old phones to my computers soundcard. With the new phones that will not be a good idea since they require a bit more power than the old ones.

 

I've tried to do my homework and I've figured that I i can run the headphones from a DAC directly, or from a DAC + amp. I guess it depends alot on the equipments used, and the synergy between the phones and the equipment.

 

My question is: Shoud l go for a good DAC and let it drive the headphones or should I go for a DAC + Amp?

My budget is ~500 $, 300 euro. Help me out with some suggestions on good gear for the HE-5LE, good Amp+DAC combos and good standalone DACS.

 

The stuff I've been checking out so far: 

 

 

Amps:

 

Matrix M-stage

Schiit Asgard

Maverick Audio Tubemagic A1

 

Dacs:

 

Hlly SMK-III

Maverick Audio Tubemagic D1

Virtue Audio TWO.2


None of the amps you listed except the Virtue Audio Two.2 is up for the task of driving the 5LEs.  The VA Two.2 isn't a DAC.

 

If I had your budget I would get one of the many sub-$500 well reputed single ended DACs and then pick up a speaker amp cheap.  You'll need a XLR-speaker leads adapter too.


Edited by sphinxvc - 5/23/11 at 6:48am
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

 

 

None of the amps you listed except the Virtue Audio Two.2 is up for the task of driving the 5LEs.  The VA Two.2 isn't a DAC.

 

If I had your budget I would get one of the many sub-$500 well reputed single ended DACs and then pick up a speaker amp cheap.

 

 

Thanks for the reply. 

 

Ok. Was unsure about the Virtue Audio since I read something about it working/not working as a DAC on their homepage. Let's say I buy a good DAC for ~500 $, then save up for a decent Amp that should work with the DAC + phones. Which DAC + Amp should I be aiming for? 

 

I'm a stranger in a strange land here, appreciating any help I can get. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

You'll need a XLR-speaker leads adapter too.

 

 

XLR to RCA i presume?

 

post #4 of 17

I'm in the same boat as you.  Inquiring about a DAC/AMP that can drive the HE5-LE.  Can the Yulong D100 handle them?  or am i way off....?

Thoughts?

post #5 of 17

L3000.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

If I had your budget I would get one of the many sub-$500 well reputed single ended DACs and then pick up a speaker amp cheap.  You'll need a XLR-speaker leads adapter too.

 

 

 

 

post #6 of 17

The HE-5LE are power-hungry orthodynamics.  Not to the extent of the HE-6, but still, they need to be powered adequately.

 

As far as amping goes, the Schiit Lyr has enough power to drive those, but a speaker amp would give them even more juice.  You can eBay up a vintage speaker amp for a couple of clams.

 

As far as the adapter goes, you're looking for four-pin XLR to speaker taps (bare wire, spades or banana plugs).  That is, if you're using a speaker amp (vintage or the Virtue TWO.2 you listed).

 

I agree with sphinxvc on a DAC selection.  There are a lot of options at the sub-$500 price point.  Audio-gd is a good place to start.

post #7 of 17

As far as headphone amps go your options are very limited.  There's the Schiit Lyr which retails for about $450.  It will provide the 5LEs with about 4-5Ws of power which is adequate, other head-amps can't put out this kind of power.  There's really nothing else in the market like it under a $1,000.  If your budget stretches beyond that then you may have some more options.

 

Of course, there is Hifiman's own EF5 amp but I really didn't like it with the 5LEs, I prefer the Lyr's sound.  YMMV.

 

With speaker amps you have a lot more options.  I recently picked up a vintage Pioneer SX-780 to try with my 5LEs for about $70 but that didn't work out too well.  That sound was too harsh.  It probably just needed recapping/biasing but I was unwilling to go that route.  I ended up selling that and picking up an Alesis-RA150 which is a modern speaker amp.  I can't comment on the sound as my speaker tap adapter hasn't come in yet, it'll probably be here today.

 

An XLR-speaker leads adapter isn't RCA, it's XLR (what your 5LEs are terminated in) to regular speaker wire terminated in whatever's most convenient for you - banana plugs / spades, etc.

 

The vintage receivers, preamps, integrated amps from the 70s and 80s are known for their exceptionally high power output, which is something the 5LEs need.  They can usually power the 5LEs right from their headphone out w/o the need of using the speaker terminals.  The only problem with them is that their caps are usually shot and need replacing, it's pretty easy if you're inclined to that sort of thing but I personally am not.

 

I haven't ever tried a Sansui but according Scottiebabie & Sluker in the vintage receiver's thread the AU-517 and AU-717 are good matches for the 5LEs.  

 

 

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

I'm in the same boat as you.  Inquiring about a DAC/AMP that can drive the HE5-LE.  Can the Yulong D100 handle them?  or am i way off....?

Thoughts?


No. Yulong is a nice combo, but the dac section is leaps and bounds better than the amp portion. If you are looking for a dac the Yulong in its price range is hard to beat. I use the Yulong with the Lyr to drive my Lcd 2's, and very happy with that combo.

 

post #9 of 17

Quote:

Originally Posted by barid View Post

I'm in the same boat as you.  Inquiring about a DAC/AMP that can drive the HE5-LE.  Can the Yulong D100 handle them?  or am i way off....?

Thoughts?


There's really no amp/DAC combo that can handle the 5LEs.  I'm thinking D100, HA160D, HDP, FUN - you'll be lacking power w/ all.  OP - when you say amp + DAC I'm assuming you mean separates as opposed to what Barid is asking about here.

 

The 5LEs are excellent phones guys, you're not making the wrong choice.  I've owned the K701s and HD650s and these are a step above both, they're a step below LCD2s, HD800s, HE500s, HE6 but not $500 lesser.  And amping can be accomplished pretty cheap if you go the speaker tap route.

 

Also, there's an inherent lack of resolution compared to the top of the line phones w/ the 5LEs so don't go crazy amping them, I personally wouldn't invest in anything more than a Lyr, and I've heard them out of an RSA Apache, Beta 22, etc.

 

As far as DACs go there are only so many options around $500, but $500 will get you to the top of the heap as far as SE DACs are concerned.  PS DL III, Stello DA100, NFB-2, NFB-3 are all well known.  There are lesser ones out there but I can't comment on them.  I've heard the uDAC and uDAC2 and they might tide you over for the time being if you decide to go the Lyr + budget DAC route for now.

 

 


Edited by sphinxvc - 5/23/11 at 8:44am
post #10 of 17

A magic box + speaker amp could drive any top cans, even stax. L3000.gif

 

DSC_0002.jpg

post #11 of 17


is this the transformer box similar to the WooWee? if so do they have normal headphone outs too? plus any further specs on it ie.output Z, output mv/power, etc & last but not least whats the damage ($$$$?)? thxs

 

O & to OP, its my personal opinion being a 5LE owner & all, that non of the DAC-AMPs list in the 1st post will do any justice to these cans. though not as bad as HE6, 5LEs do need quite a bit of juice or current rather. YMMV

Quote:
Originally Posted by MezzoBello View Post

A magic box + speaker amp could drive any top cans, even stax. L3000.gif

 


Edited by scottiebabie - 5/23/11 at 7:06pm
post #12 of 17

Hi, right! the concept is pretty much the same as Stax SRD7 MKII and/or Woo WEE, but this one has normal stereo headphone output as well as balance one.

For the damage and tech spec, let's wait for the originator to reply.

post #13 of 17

The HA-160D is capable of driving the HE-6's. No doubt it will make a nice job with the HE-5le's. 

 

Taken from their blog:

IMG_0638.jpg

post #14 of 17

I am currently using an inexpensive T-Amp that I got on EBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/SMSL-SA-S1-TA2020-High-grade-HIFI-Digital-Amplifier-S-/120707523600?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c1abaa410) and purchased an XLR pigtail to allow me to use the speaker taps (http://www.kvconnection.com/product-p/009-616.htm) to power my HE-5LE.  The whole setup cost me less than $100.  This should allow you to combine with a DAC and come well under $500.  I actually prefer the HE-5LE off the T-amp setup to using my Beta22.  YMMV.  very_evil_smiley.gif

post #15 of 17

Amazing what these posts drum up. I was just about the ask the same question. I'm about to buy the same headphones and I've currently got a Maverick Audio Tubemagic D1...

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