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Hifiman HE-6 vs Audeze LCD-3 - Page 7

Poll Results: Which one is better?

 
  • 48% (129)
    Hifiman HE-6
  • 51% (138)
    Audeze LCD-3
267 Total Votes  
post #91 of 405

It's been repeatedly reported by owners of various t-amps, such as those by Virtue Audio and Trends, that they can do a nice job powering the HE6s and are a cost effective solution. It's also been repeatedly reported that folks have gotten very nice results running them off of modestly priced amps and receivers. It'd be interesting to hear reports about using them with more highly refined speaker amps (though HE6 prototypes were shown at national meets by Fang driving them with a Threshold amp). At can jam san jose there was a k1000 room and the hit of this subspeciality area was, iirc, a $7k Zanden tube amp running the K1000s to performance levels never heard before by devotees of that can.

 

A few folks have contemplated the following amp as a compact, inexpensive solution to driving the HE6s, and it indeed looks intriguing. It's amongst the lowest cost amps yet cited for this application, is currently on sale, and comes with a 30 day trial so there seems little risk here if someone wants to give it a try:

http://shop.emotiva.com/collections/amplifiers/products/a100


Edited by daveDerek - 7/8/12 at 12:06pm
post #92 of 405

elwappo is already ahead of you :)

http://www.head-fi.org/t/529873/amps-that-can-drive-the-hifiman-he-6-planar-headphones/480#post_8510527

 

I did a shootout of the Trends vs J2 with a friend yesterday with a pretty wide range of music.  The Trends is better than the headamps I've heard (SS and tube) with the HE-6, but the J2 blew the Trends out of the water.  Decay, bass, resolution, separation, natural resonance with notes (particularly with cymbals, horns, and harpsichord) were incomparably better on the J2.  Really good soprano vocals also sounded far more linear with the J2, as well as bass across all genres, while the Trends had a markedly etched and artificial sound.  Given how resolving the HE-6s are, I have a hunch the mini-X will face the same limitations as the Trends.

 

Source was a Wavelink + Berkeley over Ultraviolet, Belden, Gotham, and Mogami cables.  Still need to get a better solution for attenuation, which'll be fixed in a week or two.

 

Keep in mind that my reference rig is Stax, and I'm being extremely critical about performance.  For non-high-end speaker guys or non-Stax guys (or girls), the Trends+HE-6 is at an amazing price-performance mark.  The Stax has been my daily rig for awhile now so I'm much better at picking things out that I wouldn't have when I lived with Grados.  I still like the HE-6 and Trends more than any LCD-2 or LCD-3 combo I've heard, but I also prefer Hifiman's house sound over Audeze.

 

Paired with the HE-6, I'd liken the Trends to a nice Camaro, and the J2 to a Z06 or NSX.  All great cars, and plenty of guys don't need, notice, or care for the additional level of resolution.  If classical, jazz, acoustic music, and vocals are your thing, though, the difference between the amps aren't subtle.  I'm still looking to compare a Dark Star vs the J2.


Edited by Elysian - 7/8/12 at 12:23pm
post #93 of 405
post #94 of 405

My Placette Active is coming in a few days, but there are a lot of great passive units worth considering on the market now (Axiom, Bent, Placette, Promethius, etc.).

post #95 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

 

I did a shootout of the Trends vs J2 with a friend yesterday with a pretty wide range of music.  The Trends is better than the headamps I've heard (SS and tube) with the HE-6, but the J2 blew the Trends out of the water.  Decay, bass, resolution, separation, natural resonance with notes (particularly with cymbals, horns, and harpsichord) were incomparably better on the J2.  Really good soprano vocals also sounded far more linear with the J2, as well as bass across all genres, while the Trends had a markedly etched and artificial sound. 

 

Paired with the HE-6, I'd liken the Trends to a nice Camaro, and the J2 to a Z06 or NSX.  All great cars, and plenty of guys don't need, notice, or care for the additional level of resolution.  If classical, jazz, acoustic music, and vocals are your thing, though, the difference between the amps aren't subtle.  I'm still looking to compare a Dark Star vs the J2.

 

what is the J2 amp and who makes it? is it another tripath amp? i wonder how the virtue audio units stack up to either of these other amps.

post #96 of 405
post #97 of 405

6moons has reviews on almost every First Watt unit.  It's Srajan so YMMV, but I got interested in First Watt after reading the link Loevhagen provided, the manual at the bottom of that page, and Srajan's reviews of the various First Watt units.  The J2, M2, and F5 are all around $2k used.  The M2s seem to be quite popular in Japan, and the models all have small but appreciably different signatures.

 

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/firstwatt10/j2.html

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/firstwatt11/m2.html

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/firstwatt7/f5.html

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/firstwatt14/1.html

 

http://firstwatt.com/

Quote:
Dick Olsher famously remarked that “The first watt is the most important watt.” This sentiment has also been expressed by others as “Who cares what an amplifier sounds like at 500 watts if it sounds like crap at one watt?” With this in mind, I created First Watt in 1998 as a "kitchen-table" effort, exploring unusual low power amplifiers with an emphasis on sound quality.

Small amplifiers have a number of advantages over “big iron” in that very high quality can be achieved with simple Class A circuits using little or no feedback.
 
...
 
With oddball characteristics and output power ratings of 25 watts or less, First Watt is not for most people. If you have efficient loudspeakers, listen at reasonable levels and are obsessed about subjective performance, then you probably have come to the right place.

If you want reliable audio product, then you really have come to the right place. For twelve years First Watt has had a near-zero failure rate.

First Watt amplifiers are routinely compared with tube amplifiers, although I make a point that they are not designed to mimic tubes as such. These amplifiers share some of the characteristics of the better tube products in that they have simple circuits with minimal or no feedback and emphasize performance of individual gain devices. In some ways they are better than tubes, in other ways perhaps not.

 

Basically, if you don't want tubes, don't have significant power requirements, and want the cleanest sounding SS amp you can possibly get, you owe it to yourself to check out First Watt.  A lot of people reportedly sold their 45 SET amps after getting their J2, and whenever I look through the vents, I still expect to see tubes in there.

 

Also, it's Nelson Pass.


Edited by Elysian - 7/8/12 at 1:09pm
post #98 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Loevhagen View Post

http://www.firstwatt.com/j2.html

 

thanks for clarifying that. at $4k i'd hope it's a really nice sounding unit! but then again a dark star is $3.5k.....

post #99 of 405

You can get a demo J2 for $2.8k, and used units go between $2-2.4k.  First Watt has a virtually perfect reliability rate.

 

I have nothing to say about the Dark Star, but Nelson Pass' reputation is about as legendary as it gets in the DIY community for his SS designs which eschew fluff and needless complication.

post #100 of 405

i've been familiar with his work for many years now - just didn't pick up on the 'j2' shorthand. it'd be interesting to see Nelson's efforts at dedicated can amps, especially something intended/purported to be able drive virtually any (ortho)dynamic can out there. something to compete with units such as the hifiman ef2 and dna stratus.

post #101 of 405

I'd love if you got the Dark Star for a comparison, but either way $2-4k is steep to drive just one headphone really, really well.


Edited by paradoxper - 7/8/12 at 1:38pm
post #102 of 405

I'm sure he could design a fantastic headamp, but looking at his history of work, it seems unlikely that he'll head in that direction.  The HE-6 works great driven off the headphone taps and there are a lot of relatively cheap commercial passive attenuators and DIY designs, so I'm not sure what the benefit of a headamp is other than to drive headphones that don't support balanced operation unless hum is a concern.

 

The HE-6 isn't the only headphone that sounds good off speaker taps.  The HD800 was not too shabby, though it's very susceptible to hum (which could come from a lot of places such as noisy preamp tubes).  There are a lot of Audeze fans who use speaker taps, so it's not really fair to say that the amp is only useful for one headphone.  Maybe just the headphone 1%.

 

Hopefully we'll get someone in Northern California with a Dark Star, but it seems like Eddie Current is the preferred headamp of California.


Edited by Elysian - 7/8/12 at 2:03pm
post #103 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by paradoxper View Post

I'd love if you got the Dark Star for a comparison, but either way $2-4k is steep to drive just one headphone really, really well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

The HE-6 isn't the only headphone that sounds good off speaker taps.  The HD800 was not too shabby, though it's very susceptible to hum (which could come from a lot of places such as noisy preamp tubes).  There are a lot of Audeze fans who use speaker taps, so it's not really fair to say that the amp is only useful for one headphone.  Maybe just the headphone 1%.

 

Patrick, Cory was discussing the Dark Star and not the First Watt. I don't doubt that the FW is great with many cans, which is why I'd love to se him adapt such a design, perhaps along the lines of the Hifiman EF2, such that it'd be easy to use with any (ortho)dynamic can. It probably wouldn't require an inordinate amount of effort by Mr Pass as he's already done the heavy lifting.


Edited by daveDerek - 7/9/12 at 2:15pm
post #104 of 405

I'm pretty sure paradox was referring to the Dark Star, as he's referring to the J2 price range, not the Dark Star's (which has a $3495 MSRP).

 

A lot of the reworked designs are available over on Mr. Pass' forums, and I'm sure there are people who'd be happy to help remix a F-series into a headamp.

post #105 of 405
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

I'm pretty sure paradox was referring to the Dark Star, as he's referring to the J2 price range, not the Dark Star's (which has a $3495 MSRP).

 

A lot of the reworked designs are available over on Mr. Pass' forums, and I'm sure there are people who'd be happy to help remix a F-series into a headamp.

No, Dave was correct. I actually have heard the Dark Star and think it's really only spectacular with 1 headphone (HE-6).

The confusion may have come with my generalization of the Dark Star's MSRP...I like to round up. biggrin.gif But I thought the fact of me never hearing the J2 was apparently clear.

How can I be of the opinion it only sounds good with 1 headphone...never ever even hearing it. 

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