I had an earlier post last week where I was asking about tube amps for an HD800. But I have been thinking a bit more broadly about it and considering also solid state or hybrid amplifiers as well. The thought for a tube amp was because so many experienced HD800 users preferred them, and it would also be a contrasting sound signature to Grace Design m903.
Another route would be to go to a higher resolution/quality SS amp that was better than the m903. I have listed a number of hybrid amps because some folks find them to be a good mixture of tube benefits together with solid state beneficial attributes.
This is the broad list of amps that I have identified. There may be others, so please suggest them.
Donald North Audio Sonett 2 $1,300
Donald North Audio Stratus $2,500
Eddie Current Super 7 $1,830
Eddie Current Zana Deux SE $2,200
Ray Samuels Audio Stealth /Pre-amp Headphone Amp $2,495
Woo Audio WA6 SE $1,050-$1,320
Woo Audio WA22 $1,900-$2,480
Apex Hifi Peak and Volcano $2,145
Fosgate Signature Headphone Amplifier $1,499
Red Wine Audio Corvina $1,000
Solid State Amps:
AMB Audio Sigma/Beta 22 $2,550
Bryston BHA-1 $1,295
HeadAmp GS-X $2,495
HeadRoom Balanced Ultra Desktop Amp (BUDA) $1,699
Here is a list of popular high performance amps that I am aware of, but they are more than I want to spend. Some look affordable until you begin to look at tube costs etc.
Apex Hifi Pinnacle $10,000
Cavalli Audio Liquid Fire $3,250
Cavalli Audio Liquid Glass $ 3,250/$3,750
Eddie Current 2A3 $2,800 +
Eddie Current Balancing Act $3,750+
Luxman P1-u ~$3,000
Woo Audio WA5 SE $2,500 +
Woo Audio WA5 $3,150 +
So please do not suggest these. While I realize I might find one used at a lower price, I am hesitant to go this route on this type of gear. Lastly, if I were to focus in on three areas where I would be happy to see a perceivable step up in HD800 performance it would be:
Bass Performance: Not bloated, but solid, detailed bass with more "slam" than the m903 provides. I am not sure whether this is driven by amp slew rate, power or voltage performance?
Sonic Detail: One thing that I enjoyed with the m903 was the level of sonic detail that I could hear (I compared them to my K702s and some loaner LCD-2s). Do any amps excel in presenting micro details? I realize that this can be a double edged sword with respect to poorly recorded albums.
Sound Stage/Imaging: It is already quite good on my m903, but an amp that both translates the recorded space supremely in terms of depth and width and instrument location within the image would be welcome.
Edited by iim7V7IM7 - 9/29/12 at 6:41am