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Just how much would a better amp improve my HD 650s?

post #1 of 156
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

I've got an iMac-> Music Streamer ii+-> E9.  How much improvement would I notice with a better amp?  And which amp would you recommend that could then upscale to better drive an electrostat?  I'm thinking about the Lyr, of course - but any other suggestions?

post #2 of 156

I would think quite a bit. From what I read (and I read these forums quite a bit) the HD 650 scales very well with gear and I also think the Lyr would be an awesome amp for it too. I haven't heard either one so don't take it as fact, but based on what I know I think that would be great.

post #3 of 156

My Burson HA-160 didn't make an iota of difference.  My 650s are in permanent storage.

post #4 of 156

A lot, I've used my HD650 on $2000-$6000 setups and the results are outstanding. The Lyr would be nice, although I liked the Valhalla, made my HD650's sing.

post #5 of 156
Just remember - it isnt just "buy a new amp" and voila! Better hd650!
Each step of the chain can be improved.
I owned the 650 for a while and found it to be astonishingly bad with the stock cable, out of run-of-the-mill components.

But, there is a reason it is considered a classic can.
The folks who sing its praises have paid attention to the entire rig.
power supplies, transport, interconnects, headphone cable, etc.

I hear improvements still on my rigs with subtle tweaks, and have not changed a component in months.
The hd650 is the kind of headphone to show you these things.
So... Best of luck in the journey...
post #6 of 156

+1 on quite a bit. The 650 scale up about as well as anything out there.

post #7 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWuss View Post

Just remember - it isnt just "buy a new amp" and voila! Better hd650!
Each step of the chain can be improved.
I owned the 650 for a while and found it to be astonishingly bad with the stock cable, out of run-of-the-mill components.
But, there is a reason it is considered a classic can.
The folks who sing its praises have paid attention to the entire rig.
power supplies, transport, interconnects, headphone cable, etc.
I hear improvements still on my rigs with subtle tweaks, and have not changed a component in months.
The hd650 is the kind of headphone to show you these things.
So... Best of luck in the journey...

 

This exactly, it responds to everything. Cables, amps, sources, type of music, everything.

post #8 of 156
I also own the hd650's, and am currently using a little dot mk3 tube amp, with a blue dragon v3 headphone cable, and CD player....and it sounds awesome! Upgrade to a tube amp, and after-market cables, and nothing less than CD quality music, and you'll have a very awesome setup! Trust me....but good luck, and I hope you'll take my advice....I'm in audio Nirvana at the moment....:-) good luck to you!
post #9 of 156

I really need to get to a headfi meet so I can hear what everyone means by "so much." I want to hear it too!

post #10 of 156

Yeah I would really like to go to one myself. Being in the Army makes it hard though. If it's not in the Nashville area you can pretty much count me out =(

post #11 of 156

I could probably drive five hours to catch one in Seattle! That's the best chance I have. At least Nashville is near other cities!

post #12 of 156
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWuss View Post

Just remember - it isnt just "buy a new amp" and voila! Better hd650!
Each step of the chain can be improved.
I owned the 650 for a while and found it to be astonishingly bad with the stock cable, out of run-of-the-mill components.
But, there is a reason it is considered a classic can.
The folks who sing its praises have paid attention to the entire rig.
power supplies, transport, interconnects, headphone cable, etc.
I hear improvements still on my rigs with subtle tweaks, and have not changed a component in months.
The hd650 is the kind of headphone to show you these things.
So... Best of luck in the journey...

 

I don't know if I believe in expensive magic cables, but I do have a Music Streamer ii+ and a high quality USB cable running to that.  I think the E9 is the weakest link and a tube amp would be great.

 

The Little Dot would be a good idea except that it's a DAC/Amp and I already have a DAC - a really good one, in fact.  I tried to get info on whether the RCA stereo (Red/White) inputs bypass the DAC, but couldn't find it.  Otherwise, yes, the Little Dot sounds like a great idea!  Unless I later upgrade to Orthostatics/Planars.  Hmm..

post #13 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

 

I don't know if I believe in expensive magic cables, but I do have a Music Streamer ii+ and a high quality USB cable running to that.  I think the E9 is the weakest link and a tube amp would be great.

 

The Little Dot would be a good idea except that it's a DAC/Amp and I already have a DAC - a really good one, in fact.  I tried to get info on whether the RCA stereo (Red/White) inputs bypass the DAC, but couldn't find it.  Otherwise, yes, the Little Dot sounds like a great idea!  Unless I later upgrade to Orthostatics/Planars.  Hmm..

 

What about the Bottlehead Crack? If I were to get a better amp than the E9, I'd consider that from what I've read. 

post #14 of 156

+3 to the above.  Quite a lot!  Like Austin and everyone has said, HD650 responds to every little change and upgrade very well.  Despite the praising of the resolution of some of the higher end cans, the 650 can easily out-resolve anything I ever intend to throw at it, including the rest of my gear! 

 

I've had my HD650s' 5.5 years or so.  Originally used a headroom Micro-Amp and an Onkyo SR-504 as the DAC.  It was ok.  I eventually discovered I didn't like the Headroom for the HD650s, but that wasn't until much later.  It's not just about "quality" of the amp but also the "synergy" of it (mostly in the form of the output impedance matching, plus allowing the subtle colorations of the amp to match well with the headphones.)   I'd improved on the sound with an EMU-0404 DAC and the Denon 2310CI AVR as the amp (one of the better AVR headamps out there, it uses the main amps.)

 

I played with a Cardas (gray) cable for them, and wasn't impressed, I heard no difference. 

 

However, when I plugged the HD650's into the Lyr, even with stock tubes I went "Wow!" the very first note (a plucked guitar string.)  I knew the sound of my Hd650's like the back of my hand, they had between 1,000-2,000 hours on them.  And the note I heard was unlike anything I'd heard from them before.  That doesn't mean it didn't sound like HD650, but the timbre, tone, and physical "dimension" (weight?) of the note was more alive than anything I'd heard from them before.  Senn likes tubes...

 

Then I added Bifrost.  Not as big a "wow" moment as the amp change, but it was still a "wow" moment that I noticed immediately (note this is after running several DACs that I did not notice much difference on, namely the AVRs and the 0404.), especially in complex layered passages.  There's nothing muddy about the headphones, the problem was the DAC that would jumble busy passages of music.  Electronic such as Enigma really fell victim to an inferior DAC since it's always busy. 

 

Then I plugged my Cardas cable back in (I'd switched back to stock for a while.)  This time I did notice a difference, subtle but there.  In fact I wasn't fond of the Cardas's tone combined with the already warm amp.  Then I bought a Silver Dragon, and I really love what it does with the sound.  Beware that cables are the absolute last item to consider in your chain.  The cost as much as hardware and provide a fraction of the difference.  They're the finishing touch to dial in the sound where you want it.  But after you've got the rest of your system in good shape, cables, at least for HD650, can make an important bit of final adjustment. Cables are expensive, and they're not magic, but they can make subtle EQ tweaks and other tweaks as the absolute last detail in the setup.  In a sensitive system those differences can be heard, but on less sensitive systems, they appear to make no difference. 

 

And finally (which should have been first) I upgraded my Lyr tubes. Another "wow" moment.

 

As long as you like the basic sound of the HD650 you can build upon it almost infinitely and continue refining it.  Where people tend to go wrong is they dislike the basic sound of HD650 and instead of buying different headphones, try to "fix" the thing they dislike about it which for them is the sound signature, not the performance.  I have other cans.  I like my other cans.  But no matter what direction I go, I always seem to come back to HD650 as my favorite.

 

I mention Lyr since that's what my experience in upgrading was, but I've heard great things about the Crack & Crack+Speedball, Valhalla, WA6, and many others. Go with what appeals to you, but do upgrade.  E9 is ok, but you can get a lot more out of those HD650s!

post #15 of 156

Quote:

Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

Beware that cables are the absolute last item to consider in your chain.  The cost as much as hardware and provide a fraction of the difference.  They're the finishing touch to dial in the sound where you want it.  But after you've got the rest of your system in good shape, cables, at least for HD650, can make an important bit of final adjustment. Cables are expensive, and they're not magic, but they can make subtle EQ tweaks and other tweaks as the absolute last detail in the setup.  In a sensitive system those differences can be heard, but on less sensitive systems, they appear to make no difference. 

very, very well put.  and i agree wholeheartedly.

 

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