I think a different "flavor" doesn't mean better, since we all like different pairings. After all, all was based on my ears..what i like. Just a man's opinion.
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Over-Ear Headphones)
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- Head-Fi Buying Guide (Ultra-High-End Headphones (Summit-Fi))Last edited: 7/28/15
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Amp/dac for disappointed HD800 owner - Page 3
Gear mentioned in this thread:
I am not sure how many of you were at Can Jam this year in Denver, but you really couldn't walk 15 feet without bumping into a paid of HD800 headphones! That happened to be my first time getting to hear them, with plenty of different styles of music, e.g., classical, jazz, rock, etc., and plenty of different setups. I probably heard HD800s on at least 10 different set-ups, SS, tube, balanced, etc.
What I took home most from the experience was the ubiquity of the surprise that people had in how much they often did not enjoy the cans in one kind of an amp but liked them very much in an other. Often it seems that people will definitely hear a difference between amp/can pairings, but it doesn't necessarily outright change the listeners opinion of the headphones categorically, i.e. from "I don't like" to "I like." I'm not saying that this is without exception, of course.
Although I think you will often be encouraged to join the tube fan club, so to speak, on head-fi when posting requests for recommendations for amps, I can say that it seemed that it was very often the case that people who were not very happy with the HD800 headphones out of a SS amp were much more happy with them out of a tube amp, even if they weren't regular tube amp users.
This held true even within single manufactures of amps. For example, while getting a chance to listen to Ray Samuel Amps, several people (myself included) noted that his SS amps obviously sounded impressive with the HD800s, but the B-52 (a tube amp) often (but not always) won out as a favorite with the HD800s over something like the Apache. Both are high powered balanced amps from the same builder/designer, but people regularly said that there was something missing from the HD800s in SS amps, while the tube amps gave some life and filled out the sound a bit, without changing the HD800 signature much.
Ray's wife (I forget her name now) was telling me that after sitting at the table with Ray for a few days at Can Jam, people kept making observations just like that one with the HD800s when comparing the SS and tube RSA set-ups, that the tubes just gave the cans that extra "something" that was lacking in the SS set-ups.
I also got to hear the HD800s in Headroom SS amps, with and without the dedicated power supplies (which, if you haven't had a chance to "A/B", so to speak, with the DPS, can definitely make a surprising difference with many cans). I also listened to the HD800s in portable players, and almost every model of the Woo Amps. I have to say, myself and many people found that the tube amps were able to change the mind of many people not happy with the very "correct" tonal presentation of the HD800s out of SS setups.
Now, that is not to say that there aren't/weren't people happy with SS set-ups and the HD800s. But, it sounds like the HD800s signature might not be for you. And, you are not alone.
Before giving up on the cans or pulling the trigger on another amp without having ever heard it, I would suggest finding your way to a meet or finding a local head-fier with a decent tube set-up to see if that changes your mind about the "highs" of the HD800s. If that doesn't change your mind, you may want to check out another pair of cans. I think that the HD800s do have those "highs" in every amp, as it is just how those cans sound.
Hope this helps! And have fun tweaking your set-up....that's one of the most fun parts of this hobby/compulsion!
Not sure my WA22 qualify as quality tube amp but I just finished my 3 hours lesson and very please to what I heard. Actually, I still prefer WA22 over beta22 with HD800.
The HD800 is not just choosy about the amp, its choosy about the music. It cannot do anything to improve badly recorded music with narrow soundstage. You need a much more forward phone like the LCD-2 to play this well. It is excellent for classical and jazz but not for rock and definately not electronica.
Try a phone like the LCD-2, a Beyer, or a Sennhieser HD600/650. These are in general much more forward in presentation and much better recommendation for playing a wide variety of music because they will not ruin tracks with inherently narrow soundstage. I did extensive listening on my friends HD800 setup driven by a Rudistor RPX-35 before I made my decision to purchase the LCD-2. The HD800 is a dead end for rock/pop.
I have found out that with the right DAC, the brightness of the HD800 can be balance out. You just need to tune the source a little bit to make it sound "right" to you.
Now I am just looking for the right DAC that can make it happen.
You may correct what you don't like from the HD800 via different means, and I'm not sure going for tube amps is the only solution. I'd also look into difference sources, and that includes software as well. As an example, I've noticed quite an improvement in musicality when I started to use Amarra instead of iTunes to play back music, with my equipment. I don't know why, as there currently isn't any rational explanation for why bit-perfect softwares can sound at least different if not better than one another, but it seems to be the case.
As far as DACs go, I have very little knowledge about them, but I've read quite a bit, and some top-of-the-line DACs are described as being both accurate and musical, exempt from any "digitis", whatever that means to people. I've read that, for example, both the Lavry Gold and TOTALDAC A1 seem to correspond to that description. Again, I have no idea why, some theorise it's due to their R2R conversion, but I can't confirm or deny this on my own.
So my point is that going for tube isn't the only solution, there may be others around.
Some may also advise you to change cabling, including power cords, but that's a much (MUCH) more controversial point than changing amps or sources (and a sure way to derail a thread).
I recently bought the HD800 with a Nuforce Icon HDP dac/amp and I'm mostly disappointed.
The high notes sound too harsh to my ears and the bass is pretty much nonexistent, I find myself using my old and much cheaper Denon AH-D1001 instead..
Did anyone have a similar experience with the HD800? Is this something that can be fixed by a better amp? Or is this just the overall signature of these cans?
My budget for an amp/dac combo is probably around 1000-1500$. I listen mostly to classical/rock/electronic music.
I'm currently thinking about the Burson 160D/160DS. Will it fit my needs? Is the 160DS as good musically as the 160D?
Any other recommendations/advice?
I should also mention that I won't be able to try out an amp before buying it..
well, the hd is a very good pair of headphones, but it definitely needs good amping to sound its best. or else it'll sound anemic and harsh and lifeless.
try a WA2. i've heard the burson isn't very good on the HD 800. the hd 800 loves tubes.
Actually, the HD800 pair very well with Burson. The Burson is slightly on the warmer side and a little tube like amp. The HD800 does loves tubes, I like it with WA22 more than with beta22.
I am looking for a solution form the source side and do not have a big budget.
So might thinking about get a real DAC for my PC.
I am using RPX-35 right now and currently looked into the following dacs:
Benchmark DAC 1
CA DacMagic Plus
Music Hall DAC 25.3
PS Audio Dlink iii
I was looking for a warmer sound since the HD800 is a bit bright.
Anyone have good recons?
A properly designed/built Beta22 should not be bright or fatiguing in any way, shape, or form. It shows you what's there without chucking any part of it in your lap.
Edited by cAsE sEnSiTiVe - 1/19/12 at 9:42am
X2, I did not notice any fatiguing at all even I listen to it over 4 hours today.
you want a cambridge audio dac magic plus and a cambridge audio 840a amplifier...richer sounds is the best place to buy them from and if you are buying them both together you will get a good price on them..and in budget plus you could get some mezzo speakers if you wanted to go to the very end of your budget?..
A bit late responding on this thread, but my $.02 as an HD800 / Burson owner: Re-cable these 'phones.
Huge huge huge change in their sound.
I was very much unhappy with the stock cables (very bright, even after burn-in).
I gave them ~300 hours before I decided it had to be done.
- Amp/dac for disappointed HD800 owner
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