Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Red Wine Audio Isabelline with Sennheiser Hd 800
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Red Wine Audio Isabelline with Sennheiser Hd 800

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition

I would appriciate the recommendations RWA Isabellina for Sennheiser HD800,

 

Actually i am thinking of upgrading my system with a more compact system if possible,

i came accros to a sale for RWA Isabellina, i have read some on web and match of this

system with hifiman or lcd2 headphones seem fantastic. Do you recomend this one

especially for Sennheiser HD 800 ? Waiting for your recommendations? Thanks..

post #2 of 12

I owned the balanced Isabellina HPA and the HD800 for a while. I thought it was a good combination. I never felt the HD800 was fatiguing or sharp on this setup. Soundstage was massive, imaging was precise and there was a solid bass response. I thought it was a good combination. (a little expensive, but good)

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much for detauled information, its enough for me to have an idea wink.gif
post #4 of 12

For the Sennheiser, my first recommendation is to stay away from solid-state amps in general. Even the best SS amps still have a hint of hardness, glare, edginess or whatever you call it that is exacerbated by the HD800 or it could be the other way around.  I never could listen to the HD800 on SS amps.  The best of them still become fatiguing in the long run, the worse of them are unlistenable through the HD800. Most of the tube amps work well with the HD800, with excellent mid-range focus and mellow/sweet highs.  The bass though may lack tightness on Single-ended tube amps. 

 

The HD800-Red Wine Audio tube amp is one of the best combinations to my ears.  The balanced output adds control and tautness to the bass.  The midrange is nearly holographic and  the treble is smooth yet finely detailed. Coupled with the huge soundstage, the HD800/RWA combination is magical. I am generally not a great fan of tube amps--you cannot just plug and play them--but I am positively ddicted to the HD800/RWA Corvina combo.

 

If you find the price of the RWA Isabellina (balanced) a bit hard to swallow--it's an expensive red wine--you could opt for the RWA Corvina, a smaller, stand-alone amp at $1500 with exactly the same balanced tube amp as the Isabellina.  You do give up the option of ever adding a NOS DAC and/or a Hi Res DAC in the same chassis--no room.  I actually look at this as an advantage because it gives me the flexibility of using other DACs--who knows what the new DAC technology might bring--without having to also give up the amp that does not go obsolute quickly. By the way, with the RWA products, do not expect the great look of the Woo WA22 or RSA Dark Star. While the RWA are pleasing enough to the eyes, you are paying for what is inside. 

 

Last observation:  the HD800 loves balanced tube amps, especially the RWA but it is still allergic to the silver in the cable but that's is another topic for another time.      

post #5 of 12

Justin_time, I'm pretty sure the headphone amp module in the corvina, isabellina, etc is solid state. they added a tube stage in the LFP-V edition but it's separate from the amp module.

 

From skylab's review of the HPA

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/572939/review-red-wine-audio-audeze-edition-balanced-headphone-amplifier-dac-combo

 

Quote:
The tube stage: is Class-A and is used after the dac (it is not part of the dac).  It is used to provide current gain (not voltage again) to the headphone stage.  So while it impacts the sound of the headphone amp, it is not used in the headphone amplification stage.

 

Quote:
The Amplifier:  the headphone amp itself is thus solid state.  It’s a balanced headphone output stage and is discrete FET (Class A / AB).

 

 

I'm using an Amphora right now as my main amp and it uses the same headphone amp module as the corvina, isabella and HPA but has no tube stage. It still sounds excellent and very similar to my memory of my old Isabellina HPA.

post #6 of 12

LCfiner,

 

You're quite correct.  I was not particulkarly careful in my description.  There is a tube stage with a single tube in the Corvina but that has enough impact on the sound of the HD800: nearly all the hardness in the sound is lifted but you still benefit from the tighness in the bass that many all-tube amps struggle with.  Changing this tube also impacts the final sound more than I expected. This hybrid approach has been used successfully in many other current top HPA as well. 

 

Interestingly, the Corvina/Isabellina also drove the Hifiman HE-6, a notoriously demanding headphone, extremely well while the all-tube, balanced Woo WA22 struggled at high volume.  This latter sounds wonderful though with the HE-6 at moderate volume.

 

JT

post #7 of 12

You bring up power and it’s a nice bonus of the batteries used in the RWA equipment.

 

The nice thing about those batteries is you don’t need heavy, bulky transformers to go from AC to clean DC. Of course, the batteries in the HPA or the Isabella are still fairly large but I’m a little amazed at how much power is in the Amphora with just a 9V battery. 

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin_Time View Post

For the Sennheiser, my first recommendation is to stay away from cheap and poorly designed solid-state amps in general.

 

Fixed it for you. smile.gif

 

Please go listen to the HD800s in a B22/GS-1/V200 first. Generalities like this can only serve to confuse others. smile.gif

post #9 of 12

I though that "cheap and poorly designed"  was quite specific, cheap here referring to the design quality, not the cost, of course. 

 

You're are not suggesting that the B22 belong to the group of "poorly designed" SS amps, are you?smile.gif

 

Now If I had said to stay away from all SS amps, that would be over-generalizing.  I simply recommended to stay away from the SS amps that are poorly designed. With SS amps, to remove the last remnant of hardness/glare in the sound--flaws that would be exacerbated or perhaps too faithfully reproduced by the HD800--is a difficult and often quite expensive task.

 

Right now, I can think of very few SS headphone amps that would not sound hard/bright with the HD800, which may be too accurate for its own good.  I will refrain from mentioning what those SS amps are lest people get offended because I failed to include their favorite SS amp in the group. And just to be fair, there are also a few tube amps that manage to make the HD800 sound flabby in the bass.

 

The Corvina is just one of the amps with tube stage that mates extremely well with the HD800.  

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin_Time View Post

I though that "cheap and poorly designed"  was quite specific, cheap here referring to the design quality, not the cost, of course. 

 

You're are not suggesting that the B22 belong to the group of "poorly designed" SS amps, are you?smile.gif

 

Now If I had said to stay away from all SS amps, that would be over-generalizing.  I simply recommended to stay away from the SS amps that are poorly designed. With SS amps, to remove the last remnant of hardness/glare in the sound--flaws that would be exacerbated or perhaps too faithfully reproduced by the HD800--is a difficult and often quite expensive task.

 

Right now, I can think of very few SS headphone amps that would not sound hard/bright with the HD800, which may be too accurate for its own good.  I will refrain from mentioning what those SS amps are lest people get offended because I failed to include their favorite SS amp in the group. And just to be fair, there are also a few tube amps that manage to make the HD800 sound flabby in the bass.

 

The Corvina is just one of the amps with tube stage that mates extremely well with the HD800.  

 

Please re-read my post...it referred you to go listen to those fantastic SS amps with the HD800s first before you make such a sweeping statement that the HD800s and SS amps don't pair to hear how great they work together. In fact they would be better than many tube amps with the HD800s I've heard in the past.

 

Those are just three fabulous SS amps that pair incredibly well with the HD800s....there are more too. smile.gif

 

Don't get me wrong though, the WA2, WA22 (used to own both) and Liquid Fire (hybrid....own now) are all fantastic options. Just sometimes generalizations don't serve the common good. beerchug.gif


Edited by MacedonianHero - 5/30/12 at 8:31pm
post #11 of 12

SIGH!

 No, I haven't listened to ALL SS HPA--and with all due respect, no one has--but I have listened to more than a few and so far most of them did not fare well with the HD800.  If based on that fairly extended experience my word of caution to Head-fi members about pairing SS amps with HD800 represents "...generalizations [that] don't serve the common good..." then you and I have very different ideas of what the common good is.

 

Let’s be clear, this is not about SS amp vs. tube amps--that battle, just like "vinyl vs. CD" battle is old and tired and best forgotten. The original question was about what amps the HD800 works best with. 

I have found based on listening to about half a dozen SS amps and a similar number of tube/hybrid amps that a general trend emerged.  The qualities of the HD800 (tight bass, huge soundstage, ultra-fast transient, extended treble) and its limitations (limited bass volume and impact, over-etched transient and tendency toward glare and sibilance) makes it easier to pair it with tube/hybrid amps, which tend to have weaknesses (bloated bass, dominant mid-range and rolled-off treble) and strength (sweet almost holographic midrange, detailed but feathery-soft highs) that complement the strength and compensate for the weakness of the HD800.

 

 No, I have not tried all the SS amps currently available but many of the ones that I have tried (the well-regarded Burson Audio HA 160D and Wadia 121, the portable RS SR-71B, the older Class A PS Audio GCHA, and a slew of smallish amps such as the NuForce HDP), performed well or adequately with the LCD2/3, the Grado PS1000 and, with some limitation, the Hifiman HE-500.  But with the HD800 these amps all showed, to different degrees for sure, a common weakness to my ears:  a remnant of hardness/glare in the midrange and a tendency toward stridency and sibilance that I personally found unpleasant and fatiguing in the long run.  On the plus side, with SS amps the bass tightness and impact varies from good to truly visceral.

 

Now, I haven't heard the B22, or tried all SS amps out there--perhaps the RS Dark Star would be the one--but this extended experience was enough for me to look elsewhere for a solution.  I tried different sources (laptop/USB with MP3, WAVE and FLAC files, CD with digital co-axial and SACD with RCA) and different DACs (Burson HA 160D, Wadia 121, Oppo 95).  I also tried different cables (OFC, UP-OCC Ohno copper, silver coated copper and pure silver). The degree of edginess in the sound changed but never went away.  Not until I switched to tube/hybrid HPA, to my great consternation.

 

 My home theater system uses all digital switching (class D) amps; my audio-system amplification is all SS balanced Class with two BAT mono tube amps collecting dust at the corners of the room.  So it was with great reluctance that I turned to tube HPAs because I prefer the simplicity of all SS equipment. Just plug and play.  But the results were eye (ear?) opening: with the different combinations and permutations of headphones, amps and cables, the best mates for the HD800 I have found were all tube/hybrid amps (Hifiman EF-5, RS Raptor, Cavalli Liquid Fire, RWA Corvina/Isabellina and even the venerable Melos SHA-Gold from 1996),

 

With different music and perhaps more tolerance to sibilant and edgy sound, someone may reach a different conclusion.  But to my ears, the many SS amps that I tried did not mate with the HD800 as well as the tube/hybrid amps. Now, some SS amps may perform admirably with the HD800 though I haven't found them--and I felt that the tube hybrid Hifiman EF-2 performed poorly with the HD800--but for someone looking for an amp to pair with the HD800, their chance of success is far greater with tube/hybrid amp than with SS amp. I stand by that conclusion (generalization if you like) and I believe that it is of some value to share my experience with other members of this forum.       

post #12 of 12

Those SS amps would fall into the category of non-ideal SS amps for the HD800s, so the generalization (or trend as you call it) wasn't very helpful...they rarely are in life. That's all.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Red Wine Audio Isabelline with Sennheiser Hd 800