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HD650 and Maranatz, Fiio, or Schiit? Need Opinions

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hello fellow head-fiers! I've been lurking on this site for some time now and finally decided to join. I'm not entirely new to headphone audio and definitely not new to home audio, however I've never crossed over into the dedicated headphone amp level. This where I need help...I'm wanting to buy a headphone amp to compliment my setup. So if you could voice your opinions that would be awesome!


First, let me start by stating what my system consists of now:



Sennheiser HD650

Sennheiser HD 448

Bowers & Wilkins P5 (don't know if I'm keeping them, can't decide if they're a nay or yay yet)

Klipsch S4

PC w/ Creative Sound Blaster X-FI HD sounc card

Zune HD (32gb)


Second, I just treated myself and bought a nice little setup for my office. This equipment consists of:


Coming Today

Marantz PM5004 Amp

Marantz CD5004 CD Player

APC G5 Power Conditioner

Audioquest Cables...got them cheap :)

Paradigm Atom Monitor v6



So thats going to be my entire setup by the end of the day. What I need help with is deciding which headphone amp (if I even will need one now) I should buy. I think I have it narrowed down to the Fiio E7 + E9 combo (on Amazon for $180) or the Schiit Valhalla (for $362 shipped).


What are your all thoughts? Will one or the other be better for my situation? Also the office setup that I listed will be setup right next to my computer so I'll probably end up hooking that up as well. I just can't decide between the two. Someone help? :)


post #2 of 20

Try it straight out of the CD5004 and PM5004 first. Marantz gear typically has excellent headphone outputs. I own a SR7002 amp and the headphone amp sounds better than my dedicated headphone amps.



post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thats what I was thinking and half of why I bought the Marantz gear in the first place. It will be interesting to compare the Marantz to the Creative Sound Blaster that states its for high quality, 300ohm headphones.


The only thing is that Schiit amp looks so good haha.

post #4 of 20

Looks are nice, functionality is nicer...


Do not underestimate a good integrated amplifier.

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

Well just got the CD player and amp setup...now starting my test period. Without hearing anything though it looks pretty darn good!

post #6 of 20
Originally Posted by Masta Angler View Post

Well just got the CD player and amp setup...now starting my test period. Without hearing anything though it looks pretty darn good!

Nice. Let us know how it drives your 650's. 

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

Well I have to admit it is and isn't what I was expecting. Compared to my Creative Sound Blaster it's an improvement...but not by much. What I mean by that is it definitely drives my headphones effortlessly. I can't even turn the knob past a quarter. However the sound quality is not mind blowing like I thought pairing these quality products would produce. What the sound's missing is that musical magic...so far all the amp has done is make it louder and make the voices overpower the music. Don't get me wrong the sound is still amazing, but I thought it was going to be something else??


Is this going to get better when the amp burn's in a little bit? Or should I opt to try a dedicated headphone amp?

post #8 of 20

Chances are your Marantz is midrange oriented. 


When it comes to audio gear do not expect too much. Maybe burn in is effective? Who knows, that is for you to find out. If you do not mind a gamble a dedicated headphone amplifier can be considered but you can also consider a vintage amplifier from the pre-eighties era. 


For your consideration, a lot of mainstream music is produced to emphasise the vocals a bit. For testing the Marantz try instrumental music to find out if it the CD5004=PM5004+HD650-combo really does favour a certain part of the frequency range. Just use music you know by heart (as much as possible).

post #9 of 20

EDIT  I heard the Asgard not the Valhala so maybe that would work.  I have yet to hear a Fiio that sounded really good and the Schiit Asgardis a bit bright and not full.  So having owned the 650s, I would say not a good match.  If you are going to stay with the 650s I would look at a good tube amp or even a good portable like the upcoming JDS labs. As for tube amps and the 650, I  would look at something like the Linear Designs  Fournier amp




That is if the Marantz does not do the trick, it may!  EDIT :Opps looks like the marantz is not doing the trick.  Kind of like my situation with a cheap sony receiver I picked up, laughable headphone out.  Then again even the vintage Kenwood which I thought was really nice with my Shures got beat by a very good JDS CMoy.

Edited by bixby - 9/24/11 at 11:03am
post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by Masta Angler View Post

so far all the amp has done is make it louder

That's what a good amp is supposed to do beerchug.gif


If it's bringing vocals out more than everything else, it might be colored. Rolled off at the ends, maybe. I can't say for sure without seeing some specs. Alternatively, it might be the sound card you were using that was colored. Chances are neither have an output impedance that's going to harm the HD650's sound, but that's a possibility too.

post #11 of 20

that 5004 is a great CD player and the consensus seems to be that it punches above its weight considering the price (i got mine new for £99, deal of the century imho). mine is usually paired with a CA 650A integrated amp and i love it, i wouldn't describe it as midrangey at all, it's very detailed.

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input and suggestions everyone. The amp is going on 24hours of continuous use and I do believe it's starting to sound better. Maybe it's because I'm wanting it to sound better in my head...not sure. There's a lot of external noise going on in my place right now so I can't do any intensive listening with my HD 650's but I'll try what you said Deep Funk and use music I know by heart.


Next question though, suppose in the future I got a seperate headphone amp, is splitting the rca cables from the CD player to both headphone amp and Marantz amp the best option? Or is having the CD player going into the Marantz and too the headphone via the audio out the best?

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 

Also, this may be a dumb question but when I plug my Bowers & Wilkins and Klipsch headphones into the Marantz amp they sound like abosolute crap. Is that normal because they are really made to be amplified by mp3 players?

post #14 of 20

You can use the RCA-cable to connect the CD-player to a separate headphone amplifier. 

post #15 of 20

Congrats on the Paradigms. I just got a pair of the Minimonitors and love them.

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