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Battle Of The Flagships (58 Headphones Compared) UPDATE: AUDEZ'E LCD-2 Revision 2 (6/4/13) - Page 274

post #4096 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post

 

All knobs set to normal for AD2000x, -2 steps on the treble knob for the HD800. -20 db switch engaged.


Thanks!  Nothing against vintage audio, I have a vintage Kenwood KT-917 tuner (heavily modded) and a Nakamichi LX-5 cassette deck.   But don't you think the HD800 would sound better with a moderately priced dedicated HP amp?  I really like the Lyr - it can be had for just a few hundred dollars.  Amazing sound for the money.  You have a pretty good SACD player.


Edited by rb2013 - 7/5/13 at 10:44am
post #4097 of 4981

I have tried a number of headphone amplifiers around the $1000-$1500 price range, but they generally have not felt like they are worth the price (the Burson Soloist was a huge disappointment, another was a $1000 Teac HA-501 that felt like a $99 beginner amp and the Cary HH-1, which was about on par with the onboard amp from the Marantz, maybe a touch more treble). All of them sounded very flat, very 2D, very unimpressive. The KR-9400 simply has outdone everything I have tried. I remember sampling headphones through a McIntosh preamp (same place I bought my HD800) and it had a huge, massive 3D soundstage even on my SR-80, so my experience with that is what I have been using for reference.

 

I was thinking about auditioning the Lyr because of Schiit's policy. I may still in the future because it is one of the more affordable amps with tubes.

 

My impression with amps so far is that most around the $1000-$1500 range aren't really worth bothering with. The Kenwood ran me about $300 with shipping.

post #4098 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post

I have tried a number of headphone amplifiers around the $1000-$1500 price range, but they generally have not felt like they are worth the price (the Burson Soloist was a huge disappointment, another was a $1000 Teac HA-501 that felt like a $99 beginner amp and the Cary HH-1, which was about on par with the onboard amp from the Marantz, maybe a touch more treble). All of them sounded very flat, very 2D, very unimpressive. The KR-9400 simply has outdone everything I have tried. I remember sampling headphones through a McIntosh preamp (same place I bought my HD800) and it had a huge, massive 3D soundstage even on my SR-80, so my experience with that is what I have been using for reference.

 

I was thinking about auditioning the Lyr because of Schiit's policy. I may still in the future because it is one of the more affordable amps with tubes.

 

My impression with amps so far is that most around the $1000-$1500 range aren't really worth bothering with. The Kenwood ran me about $300 with shipping.

Well I did have one of the older Burson amps and was not impressed.  But in the $1000-$1500 range there are some wonderful amps - the Woo WA6-SE for example - with an investment in some decent NOS tubes it really shines! 

 

I am a vintage audio fan (love the look of those silver beasts from the 1970s) even had a Pioneer SX1250 for awhile - fun to look at but the problem is old aging electrolytic caps, crappy wiring, ic jacks, power cord, etc...  The other issue is their output transistors are biased class A/B, where as true class A offer a much more musical, less harsh sound (due to switching distortion).  As a headamp the top of the line Pioneer really wasn't very good.

 

I do own a Kenwood KT-917 tuner that I had completely recapped by Radio X, Vampire RCAs installed, IEC power connector, SOTA opamps installed, silver wiring, etc.  It sounded ok stock, now it's really good.

 

Tone controls are not the way to better audio - they induce all kinds of issues, like phase shift, noise, channel in balances, etc..  That's why you rarely see them on good audio integrateds and pre-amps these days.

 

I would give the Lyr a try - just ditch those stock GEs for a decent pair of NOS tubes.

 

Good luck!


Edited by rb2013 - 7/5/13 at 11:50am
post #4099 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post

I have tried a number of headphone amplifiers around the $1000-$1500 price range, but they generally have not felt like they are worth the price (the Burson Soloist was a huge disappointment, another was a $1000 Teac HA-501 that felt like a $99 beginner amp and the Cary HH-1, which was about on par with the onboard amp from the Marantz, maybe a touch more treble). All of them sounded very flat, very 2D, very unimpressive. The KR-9400 simply has outdone everything I have tried. I remember sampling headphones through a McIntosh preamp (same place I bought my HD800) and it had a huge, massive 3D soundstage even on my SR-80, so my experience with that is what I have been using for reference.

I was thinking about auditioning the Lyr because of Schiit's policy. I may still in the future because it is one of the more affordable amps with tubes.

My impression with amps so far is that most around the $1000-$1500 range aren't really worth bothering with. The Kenwood ran me about $300 with shipping.

To my ears, Soloist is a transparent amp. It will depend on the source, particularly with hd800. Once, I used soloist to compare a few different dac, audio research dac8, audio-gd ref7 and master8 side by side, and all their difference in sound signature were easily heard to my ear and my friend. I even used to have a few different spdif converter.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/650510/the-new-hd800-appreciation-thread/3525#post_9578918

So we can say that either the amp is transparent (my vote) or there's no synergy with the source that you tried before...
At the end, we all hear differently, and music preference also a factor (mine varied from female vocal, rock, live performance, and 20% other stuff).
Edited by jsgraha - 7/5/13 at 3:43pm
post #4100 of 4981

Does transparency have to do with a smaller soundstage? Really, that was my gripe with those amps I listed...They never quite got to anything resembling a large soundstage and everything sounded flat. IIRC, the Soloist put a bit more air between the instruments, but the improvement was minimal and not worth dropping $1000 on. For $500, maybe, even then I'd have to think about it. My vintage amp I keep gushing over absolutely obliterates it and the one on the front of the Marantz is better.

 

I tried it on 3 different CD players at the shop, none of which I remember (all were pretty high end though). I went in with the intention of buying one, but left with a very sour taste. It was better than the Teac one, at least.

 

Sorry, not a Burson fan after that experience.

 

rb2013, points well taken. I know vintage amps/receivers aren't perfect as high end headphone amps and mine needs recapping and cleaning, but my ears tell me I have a good combo (as Phil Collins says, the "invisible touch"). My wallet is also happy, as I can try another 4-5 different pieces (or more) of vintage gear for the price of an entry level headphone amp. One things for sure, they definitely aren't lacking in power.

 

Jw, did you use the -20db switch on the SX-1250 for headphone usage when you had it? That one switch made the world of different for me, that would be the first thing I'd hit if I had the chance to test any other vintage receiver.


Edited by GoldfishX - 7/5/13 at 5:59pm
post #4101 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post

Does transparency have to do with a smaller soundstage? Really, that was my gripe with those amps I listed...They never quite got to anything resembling a large soundstage and everything sounded flat. IIRC, the Soloist put a bit more air between the instruments, but the improvement was minimal and not worth dropping $1000 on. For $500, maybe, even then I'd have to think about it. My vintage amp I keep gushing over absolutely obliterates it and the one on the front of the Marantz is better.

 

I tried it on 3 different CD players at the shop, none of which I remember (all were pretty high end though). I went in with the intention of buying one, but left with a very sour taste. It was better than the Teac one, at least.

 

Sorry, not a Burson fan after that experience.

 

rb2013, points well taken. I know vintage amps/receivers aren't perfect as high end headphone amps and mine needs recapping and cleaning, but my ears tell me I have a good combo (as Phil Collins says, the "invisible touch"). My wallet is also happy, as I can try another 4-5 different pieces (or more) of vintage gear for the price of an entry level headphone amp. One things for sure, they definitely aren't lacking in power.

 

Jw, did you use the -20db switch on the SX-1250 for headphone usage when you had it? That one switch made the world of different for me, that would be the first thing I'd hit if I had the chance to test any other vintage receiver.


That was me that had the SX-1250, yes I tried everything.  It was a losing proposition.  What I really wanted was a great tuner - so I sold it and bought the Kenwood KT-917. 

 

If you want to keep the Kenwood you have, I would recommend getting it modded (well really just modernized), Radio X does an amazing job.

 

If you are a sound stage fan (as I am - hence the HD800s), I have had great success with the Lyr and some NOS tubes (check out my comments on the Lyr tube thread (even more pages then this one!)). Simply side wall to side wall sound staging and 20 ft deep!  It is now better then my Woo WA6-SE when it come to that aspect.

 

And (not to be-labor the point) try some better cables for the HD800!

post #4102 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post

Does transparency have to do with a smaller soundstage? Really, that was my gripe with those amps I listed...They never quite got to anything resembling a large soundstage and everything sounded flat. IIRC, the Soloist put a bit more air between the instruments, but the improvement was minimal and not worth dropping $1000 on. For $500, maybe, even then I'd have to think about it. My vintage amp I keep gushing over absolutely obliterates it and the one on the front of the Marantz is better.

I tried it on 3 different CD players at the shop, none of which I remember (all were pretty high end though). I went in with the intention of buying one, but left with a very sour taste. It was better than the Teac one, at least.

Sorry, not a Burson fan after that experience.

rb2013, points well taken. I know vintage amps/receivers aren't perfect as high end headphone amps and mine needs recapping and cleaning, but my ears tell me I have a good combo (as Phil Collins says, the "invisible touch"). My wallet is also happy, as I can try another 4-5 different pieces (or more) of vintage gear for the price of an entry level headphone amp. One things for sure, they definitely aren't lacking in power.

Jw, did you use the -20db switch on the SX-1250 for headphone usage when you had it? That one switch made the world of different for me, that would be the first thing I'd hit if I had the chance to test any other vintage receiver.
Imo, transparency include soundstage from the source. My ref 7 have a bigger soundstage than my past dac, rega and ref5. Granted that i heard bigger soundstage than my soloist from an amp, but I wouldn't say that soloist soundstage small either. It certainly have a slightly better soundstage than my 6SE though.

I surely need to hear some vintage amp now ...
post #4103 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post

When I want to hear everything in a rock recording, the HD800 is the clear choice. It has a much larger soundstage and better imaging, and some female vocals, it does better. But rarely do I get the "one more time" syndrome from it.

 

Your thoughts about your HD800 vs. your AD2000x echo mine regarding my T1 vs. my HD-500... The T1 is clearer and has better imagine, but the HE-500 is two tons of fun and oftentimes induces that "one more time" syndrome, as you put it.  happy_face1.gif

post #4104 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by jonathanvaljean View Post

Your thoughts about your HD800 vs. your AD2000x echo mine regarding my T1 vs. my HD-500... The T1 is clearer and has better imagine, but the HE-500 is two tons of fun and oftentimes induces that "one more time" syndrome, as you put it.  happy_face1.gif

 

i find the T1 clearer and funner than HE-500. but that's only with a WA2 + some nice tubes.

 

HE-500 is better for electronic though, as well as for vocals with the right amp/tubes.

 

also +1 on either soloist or WA6-SE, great amps. both are really good. 

post #4105 of 4981

Actually, I have somewhat the same problem as David regarding tinnitus. Don't know why or how, but I do know, that I listen a bit loud. Probably around 75-85dB on average.

 

I hear a very high-pitched noise, I would say it is around some 18 kHz. I hear it quite on-off it differs a lot, but often I hear it in environments that aren't noisy, say with ambient noise below some 50-60dB, but it is worse in silence.

I don't suffer from hyperacusis in the sense that noise is painful, but my ears tend to distort slightly (can't find a proper word in English) from loud voices and especially noise at around 2-4 kHz. It is not nice, and doesn't feel right, but it isn't painful.

 

EDIT: What is the mechanism that protects us from loud sound by tensing the ear drum called?

EDIT 2: Found out it is the tensor tympani muscle.


Edited by davidsh - 7/6/13 at 3:35am
post #4106 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

EDIT: What is the mechanism that protects us from loud sound by tensing the ear drum called?

EDIT 2: Found out it is the tensor tympani muscle.

 

 The action is carried out by the tensor tympani but it is called the stapedius reflex

post #4107 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldfishX View Post

Does transparency have to do with a smaller soundstage? Really, that was my gripe with those amps I listed...They never quite got to anything resembling a large soundstage and everything sounded flat. IIRC, the Soloist put a bit more air between the instruments, but the improvement was minimal and not worth dropping $1000 on. For $500, maybe, even then I'd have to think about it. My vintage amp I keep gushing over absolutely obliterates it and the one on the front of the Marantz is better.

 

I tried it on 3 different CD players at the shop, none of which I remember (all were pretty high end though). I went in with the intention of buying one, but left with a very sour taste. It was better than the Teac one, at least.

 

Sorry, not a Burson fan after that experience.

 

rb2013, points well taken. I know vintage amps/receivers aren't perfect as high end headphone amps and mine needs recapping and cleaning, but my ears tell me I have a good combo (as Phil Collins says, the "invisible touch"). My wallet is also happy, as I can try another 4-5 different pieces (or more) of vintage gear for the price of an entry level headphone amp. One things for sure, they definitely aren't lacking in power.

 

Jw, did you use the -20db switch on the SX-1250 for headphone usage when you had it? That one switch made the world of different for me, that would be the first thing I'd hit if I had the chance to test any other vintage receiver.

About detail, transparency and sound staging:

 

Funny thing about detail, you don't know what your missing.  In other words, it's not what your hearing, but what's left out.  Until you experience the 'missing' information, you're really unaware it exists.  The 'air' people speak about is the ambient clues that the lowest level of detail transmits.  That is why the power supply (linear, regulated, choke filtering, etc...) in audio equipment is so important, it removes the grunge that masks the detail.

 

This detail shows itself in obvious ways, like the light cymbal taps in the background, guitar string overtones, etc...  In somewhat obvious ways, like being able to clearly hear individual instruments in the mix, etc.   But after years of listening to good audio equipment, it's the non-obvious things, like the subtle ambient clues that project the holographic natural sound stage.  The projection from each instrument into a three dimensional space, not just the obvious front wave (which is loudest) but the reflected back and side waves.  This is what produces that incredible realistic effect.

 

The other big thing for me is dynamics, not the obvious macro variety (loudest to softest volume).  But the micro kind, how quickly can the waveform be created and still have a natural decay.  You hear this on guitars and piano really well. 

 

These things are what define great audio, and lead to that captivating effect.  I've found they are really important regarding headphone listening, especially in recreating the sound field.

 

I should also mention tone.  Natural, rich tone is also so critical.  Thin, weak sounding tone robs the other information - the natural reverberation and overtones that make for pleasing audio.  Tubes excel here, IMHO, but in the solid state world MOSFET transistors (running in class A) come really close, with many other positive attributes, like deep, tight bass, etc...

 

Once you hear it, there is no going back.


Edited by rb2013 - 7/6/13 at 10:07am
post #4108 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by rb2013 View Post

About detail, transparency and sound staging:

Funny thing about detail, you don't know what your missing.  In other words, it's not what your hearing, but what's left out.  Until you experience the 'missing' information, you're really unaware it exists.  The 'air' people speak about is the ambient clues that the lowest level of detail transmits.  That is why the power supply (linear, regulated, choke filtering, etc...) in audio equipment is so important, it removes the grunge that masks the detail.

This detail shows itself in obvious ways, like the light cymbal taps in the background, guitar string overtones, etc...  In somewhat obvious ways, like being able to clearly hear individual instruments in the mix, etc.   But after years of listening to good audio equipment, it's the non-obvious things, like the subtle ambient clues that project the holographic natural sound stage.  The projection from each instrument into a three dimensional space, not just the obvious front wave (which is loudest) but the reflected back and side waves.  This is what produces that incredible realistic effect.

The other big thing for me is dynamics, not the obvious macro variety (loudest to softest volume).  But the micro kind, how quickly can the waveform be created and still have a natural decay.  You hear this on guitars and piano really well. 

These things are what define great audio, and lead to that captivating effect.  I've found they are really important regarding headphone listening, especially in recreating the sound field.

I should also mention tone.  Natural, rich tone is also so critical.  Thin, weak sounding tone robs the other information - the natural reverberation and overtones that make for pleasing audio.  Tubes excel here, IMHO, but in the solid state world MOSFET transistors (running in class A) come really close, with many other positive attributes, like deep, tight bass, etc...

Once you hear it, there is no going back.
+1

IMO, source play important role in this too.
I wonder whether analog setup (under $1k-$1.5k include phono stage) can create all those better than digital front...
But finding music material would be expensive though =)
post #4109 of 4981
Quote:
Originally Posted by rb2013 View Post


An objectivist who uses 'custom silver cables' :-)
Lost my original cable in HK. No audible difference besides that as a result of the new gel ear guides (additional tension towards my ear canal). wink.gif

I'm still really glad this is a battle of the headphone flagships instead of some whacky, dubious battle of the amps or battle of the DACs thread.
post #4110 of 4981
Thread Starter 
Wow I really fell behind with this thread. When I get home to it, I'll respond:)
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