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HE-6 powered by a.... (need help!) - Page 4

post #46 of 54

I was responding to both your point (on imaging), and that of Misterrogers (he commented on the bass).


For starters, I completely agree with you about the LCD-2s, which don't strike me as anything special considering their price.


But I couldn't disagree more about the HD800s. I find their resolution, purity of tone, sound cohesion and imaging to be 2nd to none. But everyone looks for different things in their music. I think the HE-500s and HE-6s come close on resolution and purity of tone, and surpass the HD800s on bass impact. But I much prefer the way sound "hangs together" (i.e., cohesiveness) on the HD800s and their imaging sends chills down my spine every time I hear them. That said, I can completely understand if someone were to prefer the HE-500s, the HE-6s or even the LCD-2s and D7000s, which have their own unique attributes (warmth, roundness, laid-back presentation for the LCD-2s; bass, lush presentation, impact and comfort for the D7000s). But it's a bit like arguing whether chocolate or vanilla is objectively "better".


post #47 of 54


Originally Posted by amcananey View Post

Thanks for the feedback. Has anyone heard the HE-6s out of a Woo Audi WA6-SE or a Bottlehead S.E.X.?


As I've noted previously... I found the WA6 SEm did not drive the HE500's well... let alone the HE6's, which are more demanding.  As other's have suggested... get yourself a high powered speaker amp to drive them.  

post #48 of 54

"That's all well and good in practice, Mr. McAnaney, but how does it hold up in theory?"




Prior to receiving my HE-6s, I was concerned about my ability to drive them adequately with my current gear, given all the hype on Head-Fi about how hard they are to drive [Side note #1: Why does everyone on Head-Fi feel compelled these days to brag about how hard their headphones are to drive, like it's some sort of macho status symbol? It's like watching a bunch of adolescent boys arguing about the size of their....oh, nevermind], hype that I now consider largely misplaced.


Anyway, I happened to remember that in the 6 Moons review of the HE-6*, Srajan Ebaen mentioned driving the HE-6s with a Dayens Ampino speaker amp with good results. The Dayens Ampino is a 25/40 wpc speaker amp that won a 6 Moons Realsization award. Unfortunately, from personal experience I know that the price of the Ampino skyrocketed after it received the award and it was therefore out of my budget for this little experiment. I did, however, recall another little amp that won also won a Realsization award, the Trends TA-10.2 (see the 6 Moons review here). The TA-10.2 is even smaller and cheaper (only $189!) than the Ampino, but is only 15W into 4 Ohm, and 10W into 8 Ohm. Being a naive little boy unschooled in the ways of the world, I assumed that anything that can drive full size speakers can drive a pair of headphones, so I went ahead and ordered the SE version from KAB Electro Acoustics. After placing my order, it was pointed out to me that 10W into 8 Ohms implies something like 1.25W (maybe a little more) into 50 Ohm, if you assume that W halves as impedance doubles.


Now, we all know that the HE-6 requires, nay DEMANDS something like 6W (preferably more) to show it's TRUE character, right? I mean, sure, you might get it loud enough with some plebian amp, but to reveal the HE-6's dynamics, its detail, it's impact, it's full load of fairy pixie dust goodness, it needs >5W, right? [Side note #2: Where does this 5W number come from? I see there is an uncredited reference to it in the 6 Moons review of the HE-6, but does anybody know the original source of that number? Has anybody actually TESTED it to see if it's true?] And preferably you should be hooking your HE-6's up to some sort of 250 or even 500 wpc behemoth of a Class A speaker amp, right?


Having edjumicated myself by reading the HE-6 threads on Head-Fi over the weekend, I realized what a colossal mistake I had made. Not only was my Audio-Gd NFB-10SE (which puts 6W into 50 Ohms) insufficient to drive the HE-6s to their TRUE potential, but my little Trends amp had absolutely zero chance of driving the HE-6s with it's implied ~1.25W. I was going to have to eat the shipping charges and the restocking fee when the TA-10.2SE arrived, which it did yesterday.


I briefly considered not even opening the box and just returning it in its original carton to avoid any kind of claim that I was returning used goods. But curiosity killed the cat Adam, so I had to open it and take a look. The TA-10.2 is about the size of 3 ipod Classics stacked on top of eachother, or roughly 1/200th the size of my Vincent SV-236 Mk. This thing can drive full-size speakers? I decided to see if it could power my HE-500s, since they should need far less power than the HE-6s. So I grabbed my speaker tap to 4-pin XLR adapter and wired it to the TA-10.2 outputs. My HE-500s had the TRS cable attached to them, and I was feeling lazy, given that I was about to pack this thing up and send it back to KAB, so I decided to just give it a shot with the HE-6s, which had a balanced cable attached. I plugged the RCA interconnects from the NFB-10SE into the TA-10.2 and, starting with the volume turned all the way down, began to listen.


Miraculously, there was sound. And at about 12 o'clock on the Trends' volume pot, it was bordering on being uncomfortably loud.


Even weirder....it sounded good. Really good. Exceptionally good. Really, truly, honest-to-goodness flat-out excellent. Impossible! Suddenly, the earth shook, the skies opened up, hailstones barraged my house, lightning flashed, a pig flew by and Satan wheeled by selling ice cream.


At that point, I noticed that my NFB-10SE was set to low gain (don't ask me why, but even when set to fixed output through the RCA outputs, although the volume control itself is disabled, the volume still changes with the gain setting). So I pushed the button to switch to high gain. My head split open, I was thrown across the room and --- ears ringing --- I jabbed at the gain setting to go back to low gain. What thug had clocked me upside the head, and had he taken any valuables? After checking my wallet and waiting for my skull to stop vibrating, I considered the situation. One of three things was necessarily true:


A: The HE-6s do not, in fact, need 6W.

B: The output of the TA-10.2 doesn't drop linearly as impedance rises, so that it is actually putting much more into 50 Ohms than just 1.25W.

C: My house sits in the middle of a tear in the space-time continuum where the laws of Head-Fi don't apply.


Given the impossibility of A and B, I immediately called NASA to investigate C.




OK, look. The HE-6s sound really, really good with the TA-10.2. Dynamics, detail, control, power, frequency extension, you name it, it's there. Pixie dust by the boatload. It's not just volume. I know what underpowered headphones sound like, and this isn't it. Not even close. The HE-6s sing out of the TA-10.2. Don't believe me? Fine. Think I don't know what good gear sounds like? Erm, try again - check my profile. I'm just trying to do everyone a favor here and debunk some of the giant misconceptions that are being perpetuated. You don't have to go out and buy an EF-6 or a Dark Star to drive the HE-6s phenomenally well. If you want to, then by all means, go ahead, but there are other options that don't require you to rummage around garage sales for 200 pound amps and receivers from the 1970s. Here is an amp, available new, for under $200, that hardly takes up any space, that can be delivered to you in 2 days, and that will drive your HE-6s into bliss-inducing territory. Try it, you won't be disappointed.


*Please, don't complain to me about 6 Moons reviews. I know, all their reviews are over-hyped, they claim everything is better than whatever they reviewed last, everything is a giant-killer that slays gear costing 10x as much, etc. etc. I get it. I don't care about the 6 Moons review. I care about what I hear. And I'm telling you that the TA-10.2 sounds great with the HE-6s because I actually tried it, instead of just relying on theory or taking someone else's word for what the HE-6s "really" need based on some Internet myth and a set of technical specifications.

post #49 of 54
Has anyone tried driving their HE-6s using an Onkyo M-282 stereo power amp? It's widely available from authorized dealers for $200 and it's rated at 100wpc into 8 ohms so it should have more than enough juice to drive the HE-6s to insane levels. Onkyo gear generally has a pretty big bang for the buck so for $200 this amp might be worth a shot.
Edited by kfscoll - 4/25/12 at 7:01pm
post #50 of 54

The Trends is a Tripath chip based amp. BTW I read somewhere that Tripath as a company is now defunct. I also have a Tripath chip based amp, a Dayton DTA-100 that I also used with my HE-6. It uses a different Tripath chip than the Trends. I read somewhere that the Trends sounds slightly better than the Dayton's. I posted before that Tripath based amps can power the HE-6 adequately, by that I meant power wise, and can be good enough, unless you can compare it with a higher SQ amp. Now I just happened to have also an Audio Research D70 MkII all tube speaker amp, 60wpc amp that I use with my HE-6 (some of you may already know this). This amp was made in the early 80's and has been compared favorably with amps like Rowland.


So I compared the two, DTA-100 vs. ARC. Well, highs on the ARC is a lot more extended and airier. Others have mentioned this deficiency with Tripath based amps from other forums. Instrument separation is much better with the ARC also. With the ARC amp, images have more dimensions, deeper soundstage, bigger bass. Also, with the Dayton, as I crank the volume up, the sound takes on a harder edge, not with the ARC. With the ARC, as you crank it up, it just gets louder but still clean sounding. With bass, the ARC's is deeper and has more dimension. The Tripath sounds flatter in all areas.


I know that this is not a fair comparison. What I'm getting at is Tripath chip based amps CAN power the HE-6. BUT as you go up the ladder it gets better.

post #51 of 54

Without hearing it myself, it's hard to say. I've now found at least three amps that seem to do an excellent job with my HE-6s:


1. The Trends TA-10.2SE

2. My Audio-Gd NFB-10SE

3. My Eddie Current Laconic EC-01


The EC-01 was the big surprise here. I would have expected the HE-6s to perform better with solid state amps (unless using something like your behemoth vintage speaker amp). With the EC-01, the HE-6s get loud enough around 9, maybe 10 o'clock on the volume pot. The biggest difference between the EC-01 and the TA-10.2SE and NFB-10SE was exactly what you would expect: the solid state amps were slightly cleaner, brighter, more detailed and with a little bit of edge to them. The EC-01 was a touch warmer and more rounded. Overall sound quality was excellent, but it didn't try to hide the fact that it is a tube-based amp. I generally prefer tube-based amps, but I also recognize that this is a personal preference. I wouldn't say that the HE-6s sounded "better" out of the EC-01, but they did sound different and more laid back. I'll have to do more testing before I can proclaim which I prefer in this instance.


Two further notes:


First, I don't claim that the TA-10.2SE is the ultimate amp for the HE-6s. Until I have actually heard better myself, I'll remain sceptical that other amps are not merely different, but also objectively better. But I acknowledge the possibility. Then again, I don't claim that my WA6 or MPX3 are the ultimate in headphone amps for less demanding dynamic headphones. A Liquid Fire or WA5 (or Beta 22 or Dark Star) or similar amp may be better. But there is a question as to how much better and at what cost. Whatever improvements a Liquid Fire or WA5 may bring, I don't think anyone would argue that I haven't experienced the true nature of my HD800s or HD600s when I use them with my WA6 or MPX3. What I'm struggling against is the constant repetition of the notion that HE-6s cannot sound good or reveal their "true" nature unless you use a rare or expensive amp. Even used, the D70 you reference above seems to cost $1,000, if you can find one. My point is that the HE-6s can sound amazing with some readily available and inexpensive amps. The fact that some other, much more expensive amp may or may not be better by some small degree doesn't detract from my basic point.


Second, as my comments about the EC-01 (and countless other examples from different fields) demonstrate, we should be very, very careful about assuming that what holds true for one amp necessarily applies to other amps using a similar technology. The desire to do is understandable, especially in an age where we need a way to make sense of countless products that aren't readily available for in-person testing, but this usually leads to overbroad and inaccurate generalizations, and the perpetuation of misinformation. Your Dayton amp may or may not sound similar to my Trends amp. Your ARC amp may or may not be comparable to other tube-based amps from the 1980s. But I wouldn't assume that either is the case. How a technology is implemented is frequently more important than the underlying technology itself.


Finally, I think we do ourselves (and the HE-6s) a disservice when we perpetuate the notion that others shouldn't bother trying HE-6s unless they are willing to lay out at least as much for their amp as they spend on the HE-6s themselves.


Best regards,



P.S. There is also a lot to say for gear that has a small footprint. I finally gave up on using the combo of the NFB-10SE (as my DAC) and the MPX3 in my office. The two units ate up most of my available desk space. So I move them to another room and now use a Matrix mini-i feeding a WA6 in my office. The TA-10.2SE is really exceptionally small (about half the size of my hand - the pictures I've seen online do a terrible job of indicating how small it really is) for its performance. The ability to add one to any setup without requiring another rack or another 3-4 square feet of desk space is a major win in my view.


P.P.S. While I don't know much about how these things work, it has been noted that the 6N6P tubes in the EC-01 generate remarkably high current, which may well be the reason that they perform well with planar headphones. I note that the EC-01 is also one of my favorite amps for my LCD-2s. Again, this is odd, since it is an OTL amp and the LCD-2s and HE-6s are not particularly high impedance headphones, but still....

post #52 of 54

I should note that I have another amp (solid state) on its way to me, and I have high expectations for this amp. Unfortunately, it is taking a very circuitous route to me. I'll report back when it (finally) arrives. I also haven't spent more than 30 seconds listing to the HE-6s out of my M^3. I know that others have reported that the M^3 wasn't ideal, but the proof is in the pudding and I prefer to test for myself.


Best regards,


post #53 of 54

The HE-6 is so transparent, I changed my tube amplifier's pre-stage tubes from Amperex Bugle Boy's 6DJ8 to Electro Harmonix 6922EH, Russian, the difference is very discernable.

The BBs are softer but noisier. The EH is dead quiet, more transparent and accurate, leaner, but cheaper price wise.

post #54 of 54
Here's the ultimate power, enough even for the power hungry HE6:
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