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Just how much would a better amp improve my HD 650s? - Page 10

post #136 of 156

Good post Currawong.  DM, how much the above would improve your experience depends on how much you value what's outlined in CW's post.  It might be exactly what you're looking for, more than you hoped for, or completely pointless to you.  

 

Also...

 

 

Quote:
I'm only baffled because of the plethora of choices offered

 

What plethora do you refer to?  I can't think of too many amps that can do well with LCD-2, HD800, and HD650 under $500 let alone under $1K.  For commercial amps, a WA-6SE might fit the bill with some willingness (and money) to tweak (tubes, EQ).  A Mjolnir *might* fit but almost anything said about that amp is conjecture at this point.  A 2 ch. Beta would work.  A Dynahi would work but they're practically impossible to source.  My amp would work but it's not for sale.  =]

post #137 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

A Dynahi would work but they're practically impossible to source. 

 

 

What is meant by this?  I'm looking to build a Dynamite so what source should I consider?

post #138 of 156
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

Good post Currawong.  DM, how much the above would improve your experience depends on how much you value what's outlined in CW's post.  It might be exactly what you're looking for, more than you hoped for, or completely pointless to you.  

 

Also...

 

 

 

What plethora do you refer to?  I can't think of too many amps that can do well with LCD-2, HD800, and HD650 under $500 let alone under $1K.  For commercial amps, a WA-6SE might fit the bill with some willingness (and money) to tweak (tubes, EQ).  A Mjolnir *might* fit but almost anything said about that amp is conjecture at this point.  A 2 ch. Beta would work.  A Dynahi would work but they're practically impossible to source.  My amp would work but it's not for sale.  =]

 

Most of the options were for the HD650s - so yeah...that's also the problem.  What is the upgrade path?  I don't want to be stuck with a one headphone amplifier or get unique amps for each set of headphones.

post #139 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by preproman View Post

 

What is meant by this?  I'm looking to build a Dynamite so what source should I consider?

 

No, not "source."  I meant it would be difficult to find someone to build them, plus I don't think the OP is considering this option so it's impractical.  And even if, I think the wait would be long, because as far as I know there hasn't been a board run recently.  Am I wrong?  If you know of a board run coming up or still open, could you PM me?  I want to stash some away.

post #140 of 156

I really think all of the complexity of choices is a little overcooked. You see so many people discussing their experiences, and most of us have different experiences. The reality is that most well designed amplifiers should work very well with most headphones. For instance, I bought a Valhalla to use with 28ohm HF2s. On paper this should be a disaster and certainly around here you would be told often that you are nuts to use such a combination. However, before I did this, I actually spoke at length with Jason from Schiit about this. He agreed that on paper there could be issues, but these were issues that were measured by machines, not guaranteed to be these sonic crimes people say they will be. Jason in fact told me some of his customer base that were in the recording industry loved the Grado Valhalla combination. My experience was the same, I really liked my HF2s with the Valhalla.

 

I guess what I am trying to say is that I would doubt you could buy any amplifier that was well designed that would make some headphones sound great, and others suck. From my experience and from reading here I would say these differences are mostly of the minor and "highly subjective" variety. Electricity is electricity, and if the amp generates a quality signal I rather doubt two such well generated signals could be that much different. Of course there are differences, but your other sources are far more important (CD player, headphones, DAC). It sounds to me like you believe there are amps out there that will not sound like "themselves" with 98% of headphones (just using a number for illustrative purposes). I'll bet if we conducted blind testing here, many if not the vast majority of us couldn't tell apart a significant number of these amp/headphone combinations, even throwing in these impedance mismatches into the mix. I am not representing this as fact, but these are my opinions.

post #141 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by telecaster View Post

I don't want to seem pedantic or moronic by saying what follows but here we are talking about amp in the 300$-1000$ range. At the bottom end, most of the manufacturing cost is sinking into the company fixed cost (rent and wages), design, case work, workmanship time and very little is left to part cost, which is most likely in the budget area. Going upward the price range will in my opinion let more money share go to the cost of quality parts and workmanship expertise. It is true that most of the sonic characteristic is achieved through the circuit design, but the quality of the parts used are none the less important, as is the human control of quality.
 

+1, excellent post.  There are a few veteran designers of course that can make the most of parts that aren't expensive because they're experienced enough to know how to use and work around the limitations.  Those are the ones that offer the best values.  But as a rule you make an excellent point.  Schiit, Woo, etc are experienced enough to know how to get the best out of even their budget parts.  Not that upgrading doesn't improve things (as their own ladder of products shows), but they KNOW their hardware.  But generally, you're absolutely right.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post

you would probably have to add noise, series output Z to the GS-2 to get it to audibly match the WA22

 

for the low current needed by the 300 Ohm Senn I doubt the WA22 tube distortion would be audible with music - but that can be modeled, used to degrade the GS-1 for better matching if desired too

 

http://www.stereophile.com/content/carver-challenge

 

the take away for me is that it is highly likely the GS-1 can be modded to sound indistinguishable from the WA22 - by mods that many would consider being in the class of "adding defects"

 

And one would spend how much time, money, and experimentation to try to contort a GS-2 that sounds one way to sound "kind of sort of like" the WA22 that someone actually wanted it to sound like to begin with instead of just buying the WA22 up front?  It proves little beyond that with enough time and money one can make a dead-neutral SS amp sound almost kind of like whatever pleasing distortion a different amp may produce.  If I had that kind of time, money, and knowledge of sound shaping I'd just get a gig as a recording engineer or amp designer and be done with it biggrin.gif

My experience with the HD 650 follows the second path. Most, at least the ones I've liked, more expensive amps have only incrementally improved the dynamics. No amp I have ever tried has significantly made it sound "like a different animal". I do not doubt amps have different frequency responses, I only doubt people's ability to accurately describe the magnitude of those differences.

 

I agree & disagree.  No, a different amp won't make HD650 sound totally different, nor would I or any HD650 fan want it to.  I'm also not certain the OP is actually terribly fond of HD650 given the desire to try to change it so.  However the HD650s do play quite differently on my Lyr versus my O2, and both differently than my Headroom Micro & all the AVR's I've tried with it...all of those sound mostly the same.  And it is a non-subtle difference. It doesn't change the nature of HD650 at all. it just does more of what HD650 does.  But very obviously more.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ardilla View Post


The producer/technicians in the studio listen to the stuff they record with a specific source, a specific amplifier and a set of speakers/phones. What theoretically is onthe actual recording is just an abstract idea. What was played/sung in the studio itself - the live performance - does of course exist. But in the process of getting taped, the sound has to be transformed to electrical variables by a microphone, a microphone amplifier, a mixing board etc. etc. etc. 

 

The idea of neutral, transparent audio gear that "only plays what is on the recording" is just an abstract idea. Nobody ever heard what the recording sould sound like, because they need audio gear to listen to it. 

 

Of course the source matters, but it is not an argument against amplifiers. They all matter. But I have heard a lot of dacs and a amps and speakers/phones - and I really think that the amp-speaker/phone synergy is more important. Just as long as the source is abovea certain level of quality (which of course will vary with the setup). Briefly put, i'm saying amplifiers/phones matterswith regards to sound signature/coloration. A better source will add resolution. And - oh yes - in case I did not make myself clear:

 

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS UNCOLORED SOUND

 

Excellent points.  The neutrality-measurement crowd tends too often to forget that what's "on the recording" isn't the desired end point unless you're the studio engineer.  For a studio album what's on the recording is an attempted absence of the environment it was recorded in so the playback gear has a "blank canvas' to create a stage/venue.  Only binaural albums intend to capture the venue itself, and a handful of live recordings.  For those, yes, dead-neutral has it's place since "what's on the recording" is the venue too.

 

And everyone forgets that the recording processed already passed it through racks and racks of gear that already colored it by the time it got to the recording.  The microphone itself is made of moving diaphragm materials that work just like headphones but in reverse.  AKG K70x uses their "Varimotion" driver diaphragm which was a variant of their microphone diaphragm design for example.  Headphones are big mic's in reverse in that sense.  Contact Sennheiser's pro audio division and ask them if their microphones sound just like AKGs, Shures, Beyers, Samsons, etc.  Listen to them laugh.  Mic tech is just as colored and just as varied by brand and model as headphones.  Why would anyone think the resulting recording would lack any of that coloration?  "What's on the recording" is probably one of the most confusing audiophile rants out there. We're building our systems to try to recreate what was on the STAGE, not what was on the recording, which is generally not quite what was on the stage.  And that's why everyone "hears differently" as well.  Different emphasized or distorted aspects, trigger for our brains differently to hear that "magic" factor of what tells us it's like what's on a stage. 

 

Seeking an amp/can that produces that "magic" "damage" to the sound that fools our brains to equating it with a live stage is different for everyone.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

Back to your original question (and hopefully away from the religious discussion).

 

I'm sure I've seen measurements of amps which showed a decreased amount of stereo crosstalk when measured with HD650s connected.

 

As well, the perceived soundstage with better amps doesn't collapse as soon as the music becomes complex as it does with cheaper ones. This is what you pay for when you buy a good amp. Choosing an amp...well, that's a bit tough. They all sound subtly different, depending on the designer's intentions and ideas. I had to go through a few amps and learn the hard way about what mates well together, but I didn't end up spending a great deal to get very enjoyable results with the HD-600s. I suggest going to a meet if possible and trying out different combinations. I don't have enough experience with the HD-650s with a variety of equipment to suggest more than one amp and it isn't one that existed when I had HD-650s.

 

I can't remember if someone talked about electrostats at all. They require special amplification which is completely incompatible with normal headphone amps. However, there has been some mention of the Koss 'stats with driver (amp) going for as little as

$650, which is definitely worth considering.

 

And that just makes good old plain electrical sense!  Great post, +1.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

What plethora do you refer to?  I can't think of too many amps that can do well with LCD-2, HD800, and HD650 under $500 let alone under $1K.  For commercial amps, a WA-6SE might fit the bill with some willingness (and money) to tweak (tubes, EQ).  A Mjolnir *might* fit but almost anything said about that amp is conjecture at this point.  A 2 ch. Beta would work.  A Dynahi would work but they're practically impossible to source.  My amp would work but it's not for sale.  =]

 

If you're serious about looking at something under $500, Lyr should still be on that decision table.  It hits the price point, is good for all the headphones you mentioned (it was designed around LCD-2 and HE-5, and heavily tweaked around HD650 & K70x.   Some have found it adequate with HD800, but most of what I've heard is that something much more expensive and much more tubey may be preferable for HD800.  As in something outside your budget.  So in your budget it's still  fair choice.   And it's biggest strength is you can tweak the sound with tube rolling, and that it actually IS good for everything except high sensitivity phones, since you're not sure what direction you're going to next you're bases are covered whether you go high impedance or low impedance.   It's a heck of an amp and nicely tweakable (unlike Mjolnir which is the SS Lyr in a sense, and not customizable.) 

 

If you think your next step may be Denons or Fostex TH900...it would be a very poor choice however. 

 

There's also Schiit's statement gear that will be hybrid, probably balanced, and nobody knows what else...I'm guessing it'll sell for $1k or so (just a guess) but won't be available for a year or so.

post #142 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

 

Most of the options were for the HD650s - so yeah...that's also the problem.  What is the upgrade path?  I don't want to be stuck with a one headphone amplifier or get unique amps for each set of headphones.

Because all headphones sound different, with different power requirements, a super amp isn't out there my friend. Maybe one day, but that would spoil the fun of matching and finally finding synergy! That is part of the fun of this hobby right? If all of your phones are of the same or near impedance then you may be able to get by with one amp. But the chances of it synergising with all of them... In my experience a good amp, is only a good amp if it makes your headphones sound good. This may sound like a stupid and obvious statement, but it really does come down to that. And It may be the cheapest amp you have that works for you.

 

I think, regarding the 650's, that a lot of people feel they sound dull and rolled off (exaggeration) and they are not "getting" what other people love about them. So, they find synergy with a brightly lit, powerfull amp. Thats why my recommendation is still the XCan V3. That's synergy for me, and they sound sooperdooper!, otherwise the 650's can be dull and rolled off with some of my other amps.

post #143 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by LugBug1 View Post

Because all headphones sound different, with different power requirements, a super amp isn't out there my friend. Maybe one day, but that would spoil the fun of matching and finally finding synergy! That is part of the fun of this hobby right? If all of your phones are of the same or near impedance then you may be able to get by with one amp. But the chances of it synergising with all of them... In my experience a good amp, is only a good amp if it makes your headphones sound good. This may sound like a stupid and obvious statement, but it really does come down to that. And It may be the cheapest amp you have that works for you.

 

I think, regarding the 650's, that a lot of people feel they sound dull and rolled off (exaggeration) and they are not "getting" what other people love about them. So, they find synergy with a brightly lit, powerfull amp. Thats why my recommendation is still the XCan V3. That's synergy for me, and they sound sooperdooper!, otherwise the 650's can be dull and rolled off with some of my other amps.

 

There's truth to that.  Having used HD650 with Headroom Micro (old ver.) for years, and finding it similar to a few AVRs I was shocked to find that it actually sounded better to me out of a Fiio E11.  Much better in fact.  That's a $350 amp and a $700+ AVR, and the little $65 amp sounded better!  But then I got Lyr and that blew me away comparatively versus the other two, in part due to the tube effect.

 

You're right about a lot of people not "getting" what other people love about HD650.  The popularity of that headphone is one of it's weaknesses as well.   People get it because they're told they are an excellent headphone (and they are) ,but plenty of people want an exciting headphone that's bright and screams "detail accentuation!" and HD650 simply won't provide that which is why the people who love it really love it.   Sadly some people try to spend a lot of money to "fix" something that's not broken with HD650 to get that exciting edge they'll (thankfully) never provide.  Granted, I do have a silver cable, and I like the silver cable, and that little bit of oomph is a pleausre with HD650.  But I suspect for a lot of people that's still not the kind of exciting they're looking for. 

 

It's not the rolloff that bugged me with some amps like the micro so much as the "congested mids" effect.  I chalk that up to an impedance mismatch.

post #144 of 156
Listen, I have the hd650's, and I'm using a blue dragon v3 cable, and portable CD Walkman, with my little dot mk3 tube amp, and must point out that I've owned my hd650's for about a year now...and my little dot for a few Weeks now...tube rolled with the Jan5654W tubes, and I just love my setup! Spend $200 on a nice tube amp...not a crazy $1,000! I'm very impressed with my setup, and I'm in audio Nirvana! Hope I've helped you....but I would never give up my sennheiser hd650's smily_headphones1.gif
post #145 of 156
Thread Starter 
OP here:

For the record, I DON'T want to change the HD650. It's my fault for communicating less than clearly about this. For an UPGRADE (or even side-grade), I want a set that is more engaging, has more clarity, and has more space. What I want is an amp that gets the most from the HD650 that will also well serve said upgrade/sidegrade.

Repeat - I do not dislike the HD650s, I'm simply ALSO looking for something more engaging, with better soundstage and a tad more clarity. I don't expect an amp to do that.

Ideally, I'd like an amp recommendation and an upgraded headphone recommendation that fits those said differences. The amp would ideally work well with both cans.
post #146 of 156

OP... you could maybe aim for the wire with gain type of amp. The idea being the amp only amplifies and doesn't add or subtract anything from the signal. This means that the you're only listening to your headphones without any emphasis or de-emphasis on any frequency. Quite often people like amps that make up for the deficiencies in a headphone. This may work well for that headphone but if ever you change to a different headphone you may end up amplifying the new headphones faults. A wire with gain amp will just give you whatever your signal sends into it, nothing more nothing less. This makes it much more versatile than other amps. An affordable wire with gain amp is the O2 amp. From what I have read it measures very well and powers the HD650 without issue. I am waiting for the ODA model of the same amp as it's made for the desktop so I cannot give you a personal impression. Just do a search and you should find there are many happy HD650 owners using the O2.

 

EDIT: I just realized that you have a few headphones and you probably already know about the O2 amp and what a wire with gain amp is... so sorry if I come across as condescending.


Edited by muad - 7/11/12 at 10:52pm
post #147 of 156

I am a neophyte when it comes to amps, as I've mentioned. But the O2 and E9 can be spanked (imo). Not that the O2 doesn't have a nice clarity or the E9 raw power but...they seemed like one hit wonders compared to my first quality amp experience. I never would have believed it. I wanted to not believe it. It would have been cheaper if it were not true. There was glory in being ones who would never spend so and so an amount for such and such an amp. But now, I believe that amps are a really important part of the chain. I think I want a Burson HD160.. but I'd be happy to pay much less! Maybe I'll try the Agard, or even the Lyr... 

 

Maybe you should find out what your next target headphone is (either by reading on-line or at a meet) and find an amp that can tango with both the HD650 and the target headphone. That should keep you happy for several years, limit the number of recommendations, etc. You could also wander off of headfi.org and be happy for a while. For me, financially, the end of the line should probably be the HD650, at least for the next, oh lets say five years. I just need to worry about amping one headphone. You are trying to amp two...only one of which you own and the other you haven't decided on! 

 

Not having heard either, but knowing your appreciation for the HD650, go for a different signature in the HD800 and get the Burson Soloist now. If you ever hated the HD800, it looks like it has the range to power some of the other TOTL headphones. 


Edited by imackler - 7/11/12 at 10:28pm
post #148 of 156

imacker: He said he is happy with the HD650s. smile.gif

post #149 of 156

I'd also have a look at the HE500. It has a similar laid back character only with more clarity, exellent mids like the 650's but with better seperation. Slightly narrower soundstage but bigger sharper picture? if that makes sense.  I'd say it is a worthwhile upgrade from the 650's without breaking the bank too much and could be just what you are looking for.   

post #150 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

Repeat - I do not dislike the HD650s, I'm simply ALSO looking for something more engaging, with better soundstage and a tad more clarity. I don't expect an amp to do that.
Ideally, I'd like an amp recommendation and an upgraded headphone recommendation that fits those said differences. The amp would ideally work well with both cans.

 

Originally Posted by imackler View Post
 

Not having heard either, but knowing your appreciation for the HD650, go for a different signature in the HD800 and get the Burson Soloist now. If you ever hated the HD800, it looks like it has the range to power some of the other TOTL headphones.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post

imacker: He said he is happy with the HD650s. smile.gif

 

I know. I think the whole point of the thread is to buy an amp that will keep complimenting his HD650 and prevent him from having to buy another amp when he buys his next pair of headphones.

 

Could be wrong...


Edited by imackler - 7/11/12 at 11:42pm
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