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Just how much would a better amp improve my HD 650s? - Page 6

post #76 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

 

Because the amp is probably going to be better than what the HD 650s need and nearly $1k for an amp is nearly $1k I can't then spend on the next step up from HD 650s.

 

 

I fully understand budget issues - no way around that, believe me I know.  However, the amp being better than what the HD 650 needs uumm..  I have to disagree here.  but to each is own.  

post #77 of 156
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Edited by carlchip78 - 4/4/14 at 1:03am
post #78 of 156

Good sources and amplifiers would deliver bigger sound stage, deeper and tighter bass, better detail and music would sound faster.  However they could cost several times more than HD650.  It's worth it if you intend on building your system around HD650.  I did that and was happy with the sound until HD800 came along.  

post #79 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by ardilla View Post

A well amped HD650 is a headphone experience you cannot get elsewere. Even if all headphones are unique, the HD650 have something (like the LCD's) that is hard to find elsewhere - most other higher end phones are treble tilted in comparison. As pointed out several times in this thread already ,though - many would prefer a decently amped HE-500, LCD-2 or whatever to a super-duper-amped HD650. If you love your HD650, it is a good excuse to try out a really great amp. But it will still be the HD650. Just a tad more of it. The magic little tad, that is. At least for me. If anyone is interested, I did a recent write up of the WA2/WA22 using the HD650.

Anyway - I think I made my standing clear. Anybody wanna discuss what amping can do to a HD650 instead wether or not it makes a difference?

 

Well, I'll have to disagree on Mike at Headphonia's reviews meaning much of anything.  biggrin.gif

 

I'd love to see you compare and contrast a Lyr with the Woo offerings as well.  I'm sure it's not up to WA22 caliber, but I'd like to think that it's a pretty good sampling of what HD650 can do... wink.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zombie_X View Post

Yo,

 

I always thought the HD650 sounded bad on tube amps. I heard it on both my WA3 and a friends WA2 and to me it sounds even worse. Could have been the tubes but the resulting sound was like mush.

 

I find the M-Stage, a budget amp, drives them very well. It's a cheaper amp and does them plenty of justice.

 

 

Preference.  Some people like the warm+warm combination for sort of a drippy smooth presentation.  Some tubes are just as analytical as SS though.  I'm not a fan of the SS sound on most headphones, and especially not HD650, but I can see how one could.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

 

Less than $1k, preferably less than $500.  My dilemma is that the amp is the weakest link in my chain right now, but buying an amp for more than twice what I spent on my headphones seems quixotic as well.


That puts you in Lyr territory, which at JUST under $500 is an excellent choice.  Some will cite that it would limit HD800, but others claim it really holds its own there as well.  If you're going to push up to the $1k mark, numerous possibilities that open up.  And yes, compared to what you heard, IMO, the Lyr would sound quite different.

 

I see the idea of the cost of the amp, but as others pointed out, the amp is the motor, the headphone is the passive load that lets you put however big a motor on it you'd like.  That's why the two pieces come separate outside the world of electrostats.  And a good headphone, like HD650, has a lot of headroom and performance potential that only comes out if you run it off a really nice motor.  It isn't about power, it's about control.

 

On the other hand, if you're looking toward HD800 then you won't have paid 2x for the amp...you'll have paid 75% as much for the amp.  And if you keep the HD650 and HD800 then the amp only costs half your headphone collection wink.gif  Remember you only need one "motor" to power all your headphones!  One thing you have to decide is if you really love HD650 and want to tweak and refine them to their full potential, or if you don't actually like HD650 and would prefer a brighter more "exciting" presentation in a headphone.  You can't turn HD650 into a different headphone.  You can only fine tune it so it does what it does even better.  Too many people think they like HD650 but don't and actually try to turn it into something else.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by disastermouse View Post

 

Because the amp is probably going to be better than what the HD 650s need and nearly $1k for an amp is nearly $1k I can't then spend on the next step up from HD 650s.

 

Needs?  If you're interested only in what HD650 needs, shove it into an iPod and be done with it.  It'll work just fine.  This is about what HD650 wants.  HD650 has needs and wants.  Don't you care about what HD650 wants? Are you that insensitive? Jerk. tongue_smile.gif

 

Seriously though, the idea is, like I said, it's not about the raw power of an amp, the headphone is rated only for so much anyway.  People always think "big amp = more power = headphone likes more power".   It's about the control of the amp.  The background noise, the places where it alters the signal ever so slightly, etc.  A better amp simply has more control, faster responses, etc.  If the headphone is capable of taking advantages of that control and response time, then the headphone will benefit.  The amp is the motor.  A good headphone doesn't mean the headphone is automatically controlled.  It means it will show the control the amp feeds into it.

 

If you think HD650 is known for being fussy about amps (and it is) just close your eyes when you look at HD800.  It's safer that way.  Equally fussy, and with more capability still....so it can take advantage of some of the available control of an amp even more, or so its reputation goes...HD650 veterans have no reason to doubt that repuation.

post #80 of 156

Purchased HD650s 9 months ago and while still looking for an amp for them.  In the mean time all I had to drive them is the E-MU 0404usb which I expected to be completely inadequate.  Was surprised to find that music sounded great through that combination and I only had to go to 1/4 way up on the dial to get adequate volume.

 

So then I was thinking maybe amps were over-rated.  On a whim though I routed the E-MU into the back of a 30 year old Panasonic system and then used the headphone jack on that for the HD650s.  What I heard was a completely new headphone!

 

It is not that the Panasonic could drive the headphones louder due to having more power that makes the difference though.  It just completely transforms the sound of the HD650's presentation of the music. Individual instruments and notes sound somehow bigger and fuller and more realistic - without actually being louder.  The Panasonic also smoothed out the sound signature of the overly-digital sounding E-MU giving the sound a more analog feel.  Everything is better.

 

So to answer the OP's original question; in my limited experience an amp will definitely make a difference.  As it happens I am now shopping for one myself because one of the input jacks is cutting out on my vintage Panasonic. frown.gif Thinking about something like a Schiit LYR or LD MK4 for the amp/pre-amp functionality, or maybe an all-in one unit such as the new Audiolab M-DACs...
 

post #81 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by runswithaliens View Post

Purchased HD650s 9 months ago and while still looking for an amp for them.  In the mean time all I had to drive them is the E-MU 0404usb which I expected to be completely inadequate.  Was surprised to find that music sounded great through that combination and I only had to go to 1/4 way up on the dial to get adequate volume.

 

So then I was thinking maybe amps were over-rated.  On a whim though I routed the E-MU into the back of a 30 year old Panasonic system and then used the headphone jack on that for the HD650s.  What I heard was a completely new headphone!

 

It is not that the Panasonic could drive the headphones louder due to having more power that makes the difference though.  It just completely transforms the sound of the HD650's presentation of the music. Individual instruments and notes sound somehow bigger and fuller and more realistic - without actually being louder.  The Panasonic also smoothed out the sound signature of the overly-digital sounding E-MU giving the sound a more analog feel.  Everything is better.

 

So to answer the OP's original question; in my limited experience an amp will definitely make a difference.  As it happens I am now shopping for one myself because one of the input jacks is cutting out on my vintage Panasonic. frown.gif Thinking about something like a Schiit LYR or LD MK4 for the amp/pre-amp functionality, or maybe an all-in one unit such as the new Audiolab M-DACs...
 

Yeah, the EMU-0404's biggest problem on the headphone jack is it has an absurd output impedance.  HD650 definitely dislikes that.  That's one of the cases where there's just a serious mismatch, electrically, between amp and headphone.  Sometimes its about more control, sometimes it's about better electrical matching.  Rarely is it about more actual power.  Very nice description of your upgrade chain progress :)

post #82 of 156
96.2%
post #83 of 156
Quote:
Originally Posted by runswithaliens View Post

So then I was thinking maybe amps were over-rated.  On a whim though I routed the E-MU into the back of a 30 year old Panasonic system and then used the headphone jack on that for the HD650s.  What I heard was a completely new headphone!

 

So to answer the OP's original question; in my limited experience an amp will definitely make a difference.

 

 

Your experience consists of going from a really, really terrible headphone output on the E-MU that can't possibly run the HD650's even near their full potential, to a decent headphone output.   OP already has a more than decent headphone amp, so if he wanted to see any worth mentioning improvements in sound quality, he would have to pay REALLY a lot of money.  Multiple times of what the price of HD650's is.  Despite what most people believe, amps like E9 can properly run the HD650's, in terms of powering them. Now, more expensive amps might be more transparent, give better soundstage, detail, etc...but we're talking about small improvements for large sums of money.


Edited by derbigpr - 7/3/12 at 11:17am
post #84 of 156
@runswithaliens - why don't you just get your vintage Pioneer fixed? Lots of headfiers prefer vintage recievers. You can spend a lot of time and money trying to find something better.

X2 to IEMcrazy in post #79
Edited by ardilla - 7/3/12 at 12:19pm
post #85 of 156

I've enjoyed this thread. What are some solid recommendations for $300 or so amps that really show the limitations of a budget amp, like the Fiio E9 or O2? Or do you need to move up to the $600 (Burson, Woo) level to start really improving upon those amps?

post #86 of 156

I think the M-Stage is at the upper tier of budget amps and it really pushes the HD650. It's not the best for the HD650 by any means but it does push them well.

post #87 of 156
I would use a tube amp....I currently own the hd650's, with my after market cable, and little dot mk3....and I just love the way my sennheisers sing! I would go with a tube amp....but the mk3 works miracles for me with my setup! Good luck! smily_headphones1.gif
post #88 of 156

Well, I tried the Fiio E6 just for kicks with the HD650s and it drove them fine enough. Even quite enjoyed the bass boost function on it and the pretty colored LED while changing the EQ. This was connected to my MBP running Fidelia.

 

I swapped back to my Burson HA-160DS and it was obvious that the better amp showcased what the HD650s could really do. Was it ~43x (MSRP of Burson $1000 vs $23 Fiio E6) better? Of course not. Was it worth it to spend on better amplification to enjoy the almost full potential of the Senns? Absolutely.

 

Hope this makes your decision THAT much harder. L3000.gif And welcome to audiophile nervosa. evil_smiley.gif

post #89 of 156
The mad have more fun ;D
Edited by ardilla - 7/4/12 at 1:18am
post #90 of 156
Thread Starter 
Okay - lemme redefine:

I want an amp that will improve my HD 650s and still work well with HD800, LCD-2, or HiFiMan PlanMags.

I was thinking Mjolnir because I could then have enough power and go balanced early before I sink a ton into SE chain components. But will it make HD800 too harsh (HD 650s are a tad too unengaging to be 'perfect' but still the best I've heard - Grados are painfully bright - UE10s are too V-shaped.)?

I wish I could hear this stuff first. Maybe I should look for a meet now that I've moved to a larger town.
Edited by disastermouse - 7/4/12 at 1:52am
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