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Sennheiser HDVD800 Headphone Amplifier - Page 9

post #121 of 2240
Quote:
Originally Posted by dleblanc343 View Post

How good is the imaging options with the crossfeed switches for the phonitor? I've added it to my radar since I'm looking for a amp under 2000$. What other amps have you compared it to and how does it stack up? One head-fier told me it produced much better results and had better synergy than a WA22 with HD 800's. That's what's really tempting me to buy it.

Wow, I have the Auditor and today I went to the Audio shop and auditioned the M-Dac > Auditor > HD800

and then the M-Dac > HD800 and most certainly preferred the M-Dac > HD800.

The auditor has a tighter bass and more prominent, I find that it masks some of the presentation,

there was less separation and a narrower soundstage on the auditor..

I find that surprising, I really do.

post #122 of 2240

I haven't even finished telling you about the lean German sound signature and we have a confirmation!

post #123 of 2240

A few concepts for some of you. Unlike the big hifi in the living room, a headphone amplifier is a completely different business. It's not about power, the myth of tens of volts to drive a dynamic headphone are most of the time bollocks. What the headphone amplifier actually does is condition (equalise if you want) the sound for a comfortable, pleasant, listen. Generally it's a warm, wide, lyrical affair (valves come to mind). Otherwise, especially with headphones like HD800, the ear fatigue kicks in within minutes. A DAC output might have that immediate vow factor but will you be able to audition at the same level, a whole album and relax/enjoy it?  It's very important to understand that everyday usage is completely different from the 5 minutes test in the dealer showroom. 

 

Dieblanc, I don't find the Phonitor a particularly synergistic option for HD800. The combo doesn't irritate my ears but it doesn't impress me either. It's a soft, lean, relaxed tandem which does little to bring forth HD800's qualities or to mask its weaknesses. And because of HD800's massive soundstage the crossfeed is almost imperceptible. Side by side with my Weiss DAC202, I can hardly find any benefits at all to listening through the Phonitor compared to the headphone output from the DAC. Phonitor is just a tad smoother but also less transparent. 

 

HD800 certainly benefits from valves - I also had Ray Samuels The Raptor for a couple of years (Jude's favourite amp for HD800)  and it was a more enjoyable overall experience. But SPL is more correct, more "hifi" and, as mentioned, very forgiving to my eardrums. You really have to try a few alternatives yourself to make up your mind. 

 

I also had Meyer Corda's Symphony for a while, a detail/soundstage monster but leaner and brighter (slightly) than SPL, a Violectric 200 with the 24/96 DAC board, a very pleasant and competent sound but nothing special and in my opinion not as good as the Phonitor  and a Headroom Desktop Portable, in a lesser league than the others, plus various smaller fishes.

 

If I would have been you I would have started with a good source because HD800 is not as power hungry as some other headphones I have. And chances are, unless you invest really big money in a headphone amplifier, you would be served very well by a DAC headphone output. A Benchmark, a Lavry would have dropped the amplifier bar a little but would have more than made up for it in terms of resolution, speed etc.

 

My advice: wait until Senn release the silver knight, then try it. Then test a few proper DAC's. Then make up your mind.     


Edited by revenge - 8/1/12 at 2:21am
post #124 of 2240
Quote:
Originally Posted by revenge View Post

A few concepts for some of you. Unlike the big hifi in the living room, a headphone amplifier is a completely different business. It's not about power, the myth of tens of volts to drive a dynamic headphone are most of the time bollocks. What the headphone amplifier actually does is condition (equalise if you want) the sound for a comfortable, pleasant, listen. Generally it's a warm, wide, lyrical affair (valves come to mind). Otherwise, especially with headphones like HD800, the ear fatigue kicks in within minutes. A DAC output might have that immediate vow factor but will you be able to audition at the same level, a whole album and relax/enjoy it?  It's very important to understand that everyday usage is completely different from the 5 minutes test in the dealer showroom. 

 

Dieblanc, I don't find the Phonitor a particularly synergistic option for HD800. The combo doesn't irritate my ears but it doesn't impress me either. It's a soft, lean, relaxed tandem which does little to bring forth HD800's qualities or to mask its weaknesses. And because of HD800's massive soundstage the crossfeed is almost imperceptible. Side by side with my Weiss DAC202, I can hardly find any benefits at all to listening through the Phonitor compared to the headphone output from the DAC. Phonitor is just a tad smoother but also less transparent. 

 

HD800 certainly benefits from valves - I also had Ray Samuels The Raptor for a couple of years (Jude's favourite amp for HD800)  and it was a more enjoyable overall experience. But SPL is more correct, more "hifi" and, as mentioned, very forgiving to my eardrums. You really have to try a few alternatives yourself to make up your mind. 

 

I also had Meyer Corda's Symphony for a while, a detail/soundstage monster but leaner and brighter (slightly) than SPL and Headroom's Desktop Portable, in a lesser league than the others, plus various smaller fishes.

 

If I would have been you I would have started with a good source because HD800 is not as power hungry as some other headphones I have. And chances are, unless you invest really big money in a headphone amplifier, you would be served very well by a DAC headphone output. A Benchmark, a Lavry would have dropped the amplifier bar a little but it would have more than made up for it in terms of resolution, speed etc.

 

My advice: wait until Senn release the silver knight, then try it. Then test a few proper DAC's. Then make up your mind.     

+1

post #125 of 2240

I would go further and tell you: the headphone / source combo is the most important part of the equation (excluding, of course, the true power hungry monsters, like K1000, planars etc). Once you find the right balance between these two components, think of the amplifier as a way of fine tuning the sound, adding that little something for your ultimate enjoyment. The extra bass retrieval, the wider soundstage, the fluffy white puppies dancing around your ears are not delivered by the extra power on offer but by clever and subtle equalizing / phase shifting / valve-ification /snake oiling of the basic sound. But whatever processing is involved, the source is still the single most important component because it provides the foundation upon you build your rig. I would personally go for the best source I can afford (in my case a Weiss DAC202) and my favourite headphone (being in this thread, we'll name the HD800). I can live with these two, they are an entirely satisfying combo, there is very little an amp can add to the equation and more often than not the amp actually degrades the performance for slightly rounder edges here and there. The only reason why I still hold on to my Phonitor is because my ears are very sensitive and somehow the SPL manages to keep them fatigue free for hours, while trading very little in terms of sound quality. On a pure SQ evaluation basis SPL is almost non-existant, a ghost, adding nothing to the headphone output of my Weiss. It's dead on neutral, as it should be considering its studio monitoring pedigree. There are however a couple of variables, cables (especially the wrong ones) can make a difference, input output matching (voltage, impedance) between the source and amplifier can make a difference, balanced vs unbalanced can make a difference. The gain switch can make a difference (most headphone amps I know work best with the volume pot around 12 so adjust the gain accordingly) and of course the crossfeed can make a difference although for HD800 it is very subtle.

 

If you are not happy with your HD800 / Auditor rig you are not happy either with the headphone or with the source. Distortion and processing will neither take your source to the next level, nor will it turn a HD800 into a D7000.             

post #126 of 2240

Inside is 192KHz 24Bit X-MOS Solution

 

http://www.hiamplifier.com/download/DACs/XMOS.JPG

 

700

 

Now going 192KHz - 32Bit ................

post #127 of 2240
Quote:
Originally Posted by revenge View Post

Dieblanc, I don't find the Phonitor a particularly synergistic option for HD800. The combo doesn't irritate my ears but it doesn't impress me either. It's a soft, lean, relaxed tandem which does little to bring forth HD800's qualities or to mask its weaknesses. And because of HD800's massive soundstage the crossfeed is almost imperceptible. Side by side with my Weiss DAC202, I can hardly find any benefits at all to listening through the Phonitor compared to the headphone output from the DAC. Phonitor is just a tad smoother but also less transparent. 

 

I too own the Phonitor, and despite being touted as an exceptional match with the HD800, I found the pairing to be synergistically underwhelming. However for me the crossfeed controls were fairly perceptible: I preferred them OFF, actually.

post #128 of 2240

The Raptor's gain is way too high to be used comfortably with a decent source on most headphones and it is not substantially better than something like WA6. 

Also the advantages of HD800 is its transparence, naturalness and sound stage, and the way the HD800 sound is very different when it is driven from a solid state amp or an tube amp.

I think it is a very strong statement to say one way is better than the other.  When driven with Phonitor and V200, the HD800 is much faster and more natural.  When driven with a tube amp like WA6 and the Raptor the HD800 is sweeter and warmer, and some would say more relaxing and laid back.  Out of these two options which one does someone perfer is highly personal and there is no right or wrong answer. To me at this stage I perfer the HD800 with a Phonitor, I think they are exceptional together.

post #129 of 2240

I think HD800 is an exceptional headphone and at the same time an exceptional failure. I only use it for comparisons and late movie watching and even then I don't enjoy it much. It is, as I said, an exceptional headphone in a perfect world but my ears are not perfect, my brain is not tuned for this perfect teutonic performance, which reminds me a lot of white coats, sterility, microsurgery, mathematical models as opposed to the real breathing and pulsating life.

 

Unless you have a very warm source (and I see in your inventory a Havana, not only a NOS but also a valve DAC, which is as warm, non-transparent and non-neutral as it gets and explains a lot of your findings) I have no idea how you can label Phonitor and HD800 an "exceptional" combo. My tastes in sources are quite different, I prefer an open, transparent and revealing DAC and with such a source the Phonitor - HD800 tandem is lean, relaxed, uninvolving, dead boring. As mentioned above, the Phonitor is very neutral and transparent so what you are actually enjoying is the voicing (warmth and bloom) of your Havana.

 

Also your comments regarding my opinions are very interesting considering I see no Raptor in your inventory but a Woo WA6 which you actually mention in your post. Assuming based on specifications or a quick audition in a showroom with unfamiliar music played from an unfamiliar source is never a safe bet in audio. Of course, if you do have or have had a Raptor in your collection or if you have better sources than that MHDT I apologise for my assumptions ;). 

post #130 of 2240
Quote:
Originally Posted by revenge View Post

 

If you are not happy with your HD800 / Auditor rig you are not happy either with the headphone or with the source. Distortion and processing will neither take your source to the next level, nor will it turn a HD800 into a D7000.             

 

That's a bit over the top and gives too much credit to SPL.  I wouldn't be happy w/ either connected to my PWD and HD800 compared to what I have now and some other options either.  The SPL amps are okay.

 

Those expecting the HDVD800 to be the perfect solution for the HD800 should perhaps temper their expectations.


Edited by Anaxilus - 8/5/12 at 10:52am
post #131 of 2240
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaxilus View Post

 

That's a bit over the top and gives too much credit to SPL.  I wouldn't be happy w/ either connected to my PWD and HD800 compared to what I have now and some other options either.  The SPL amps are okay.

 

Those expecting the HDVD800 to be the perfect solution for the HD800 should perhaps temper their expectations.

I have an M-dac that I like alot, especially when I consider the upcoming Mpax.

Although I feel like I need to update to something else rr  than the SPL Auditor, it is a good amp but I'm looking for something better.

I'm looking for something refreshing, interesting with alittle bit of warmth, I'm considering the DNA Stratus and if the reviews favour the HDVD 800 I'll consider that too.

post #132 of 2240

I didn't suggest that the Phonitor would be the Holy Grail of headphone listening, on the contrary I said that for me it's quite often either completely unnecessary or just a matter of taste. However the Phonitor is one of the more neutral amplifiers I have heard, certainly more neutral than V200 which I have had for a couple of months, so if you feed it from a valve based NOS DAC that's exactly the kind of sound you are going to get. It is a good idea to have some valves in a HD800 rig, I'm just not convinced about having them in a source. A Raptor added to a Havana would certainly be too much.  

 

A source made for HD800 doesn't have to be perfect, doesn't need to be Zana Deux. HD800 needs a DAC as good as possible and an amplifier tuned (equalised) to control that 6KHz peak and to add some presence in the lower register. But even so HD800 suffers from a major problem: it doesn't reproduce timbres realistically. The voices, the orchestra, everything's there, in the mix, surrounding you, in every little detail, you are right in the middle of the performance, the headphone disappears, however the piano doesn't sound like a piano, a voice doesn't sound like a voice, a guitar doesn't sound like a guitar. It has a sightly digital, metallic, cold, unexciting, artificial quality which is very difficult to minimise.   

post #133 of 2240
Quote:
Originally Posted by revenge View Post

I think HD800 is an exceptional headphone and at the same time an exceptional failure. I only use it for comparisons and late movie watching and even then I don't enjoy it much. It is, as I said, an exceptional headphone in a perfect world but my ears are not perfect, my brain is not tuned for this perfect teutonic performance, which reminds me a lot of white coats, sterility, microsurgery, mathematical models as opposed to the real breathing and pulsating life.

 

Unless you have a very warm source (and I see in your inventory a Havana, not only a NOS but also a valve DAC, which is as warm, non-transparent and non-neutral as it gets and explains a lot of your findings) I have no idea how you can label Phonitor and HD800 an "exceptional" combo. My tastes in sources are quite different, I prefer an open, transparent and revealing DAC and with such a source the Phonitor - HD800 tandem is lean, relaxed, uninvolving, dead boring. As mentioned above, the Phonitor is very neutral and transparent so what you are actually enjoying is the voicing (warmth and bloom) of your Havana.

 

Also your comments regarding my opinions are very interesting considering I see no Raptor in your inventory but a Woo WA6 which you actually mention in your post. Assuming based on specifications or a quick audition in a showroom with unfamiliar music played from an unfamiliar source is never a safe bet in audio. Of course, if you do have or have had a Raptor in your collection or if you have better sources than that MHDT I apologise for my assumptions ;). 

 

I have heard the Raptor and decided to not purchased it, my local store allows me to bring in large amount of my gear to test it, I am still not happy with the Raptor.  Also I also take issues with the way RS deal with his customer, but that is another story which I will not get into here. 

 

I have a range of source including the Hanava, MDAC and Bladelius USB DAC. I use them to listen to all my gears.  With the Phonitor I mainly uses the MDAC as it got a balance output.

 

It sounds like you just don't like the HD800, and is trying to twist it to your perference.  Isn't it better to find another headphones if you don't like the way it sounds, rather than trying to essentially eq it into something that you want and it will never sound like.  If I am looking for something that is more warm, then I will go for my collection of woodies with the Yamamoto which is the direct opposite in signature to that of the HD800 and Phonitor combo.  To simply rule out a combo because you don't like it is a bit harsh in my opinion.

post #134 of 2240

Unfortunately a lot of educated ears on this forum acknowledge HD800's excellence, however they steer clear of it. That Yamamoto is a nice amp by the way, I've tested it once with my D7000 and I found it a great, although very unlikely, match. It wasn't as great (although still quite good) with my GS1000 and rubbish with my Ed. 8. 

 

I have tried a lot of headphones but I found them all, sooner or later, disappointing. Each has strengths, each has unforgivable weaknesses. HD800 is no exception. It's a step forward in a right direction, and one of the better attempts currently available, but by no means exceptional or perfect. Mind you, I have always been a loudspeaker man and always will be. Which is why I don't use my headphones very often.

 

Every few years I buy and test the best new flavours of the month, more often then not I find the same old under a different name. HD800 is, in my opinion, Sennheiser's reaction to a new ultra-analitical headphone trend, set years ago by K701 and before it by K1000, equally amazing headphones (I'm sure plenty of you will disagree) offering amazing value for money. HD800 takes this trend further and refines it in most aspects. But essentially it doesn't betray its roots so it is slightly bright, slightly lacking in body, with an expansive soundstage which works great with some music and recordings and not as great with plenty of others. It is however, in my opinion, the best dynamic headphone in production, although not the most enjoyable, and in this quality it is stored on a Woo stand in my lounge for movie watching, whenever my speakers upset my neighbours. I only wish AKG would wake up, put their expertise to some good use and join the 1000£ bandwagon because I have no doubt that it would be something remarkable. But Harman seems to have killed all innovation at AKG, instead the Austrians reissuing, over and over again, until the end of time, the same K701 under different colours, endorsed by different stars.             


Edited by revenge - 8/5/12 at 2:39pm
post #135 of 2240
Quote:
Originally Posted by rx79ez08 View Post

 

I have heard the Raptor and decided to not purchased it, my local store allows me to bring in large amount of my gear to test it, I am still not happy with the Raptor.  Also I also take issues with the way RS deal with his customer, but that is another story which I will not get into here. 

 

I have a range of source including the Hanava, MDAC and Bladelius USB DAC. I use them to listen to all my gears.  With the Phonitor I mainly uses the MDAC as it got a balance output.

 

It sounds like you just don't like the HD800, and is trying to twist it to your perference.  Isn't it better to find another headphones if you don't like the way it sounds, rather than trying to essentially eq it into something that you want and it will never sound like.  If I am looking for something that is more warm, then I will go for my collection of woodies with the Yamamoto which is the direct opposite in signature to that of the HD800 and Phonitor combo.  To simply rule out a combo because you don't like it is a bit harsh in my opinion.

As I suggested above, a quick test is seldom relevant. Also, with all due respect I think your sources are not up to scratch for some of those headphones you have in your collection. It is my personal opinion that a source of any relevance starts at about 1000$, the kind of money that can buy you a Benchmark or a Lavry and I think that one of these DAC's should never miss from an educated man's collection. They are studio tools meant to convert as accurately and be as uncoloured as possible. Of course neutrality is just a dream but any of these DAC's will get you as close to it as you can ever get. Above this level there are no significant differences, no further revelations, the king is already naked and exposed. You can add refinement, nuances, layers, but the basic sound, in all its glory, is there. I would start with a Lavry because it's the slightly more musical of the two, although the Benchmark is as good and, maybe, just a tad more detailed. If you try one of these DAC's with a Raptor, you might come to a different conclusion. After all it's Jude's favourite rig for HD800. Of course, a bit of tube rolling is in order as well. Even if you start with a Lavry alone, without the Phonitor, you might have a surprise.  

 

It is also my opinion, as mentioned above, that the source, together with the headphone itself, is the most important part of the equation. If you start with a fuzzy and warm sound no amplifier will compensate for it. HD800 are craving for detail, for transparency, for the best source you can afford. And for this reason I am sceptical myself about this soon to be released Sennheiser toy. It's not expensive enough to accommodate a great DAC and a good balanced amplifier. There are benefits to going balanced (generally more body which HD800 is certainly lacking) but I'm not sure a mediocre DAC will do it and I don't think, considering Sennheiser's (over)pricing policy, that this HDVD800 will accommodate anything better.  I hope I am wrong and we will finally have an affordable little magic box to wake up the sleeping beauty. 


Edited by revenge - 8/6/12 at 1:09am
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