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Amps for HD 600: Bottlehead Crack vs. Audio-GD NFB 15.32

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, I'm new to this forum, so please bear with me.

 

I just got my HD600 recently and now I am looking for a suitable amp to make them really shine. I listen mostly to pop, country, jazz, rock music (with lots of vocals), but currently I don't have any source/file higher than CD quality. Also, I have been playing them straight from my laptop/desktop on-board sound card, with no amps or dedicated DAC (I know, don't kill me...)

 

I'm trying to decide between Bottlehead Crack and NFB 15.32.. I don't have preference over tubes or SS. More precisely, I never own either type so I don't really know the difference except from what people say in forums (e.g. tube is warmer, SS has more solid bass, etc). Currently I'm leaning towards NFB 15.32 as it will give me a decent DAC for about the same price as Crack. However, I read many times that Crack is considered to be one of the best amps for HD600/650, outperforming many others in the price range..

 

So, what do you guys think? Will I benefit from the DAC in NFB, or should I just go with the tested-and-proven Crack? Can anyone with first hand experience tell me how does the NFB 15.32 pair up with HD600? Would really love to hear if someone has done direct comparison with Crack too..

 

NFB 15.32 seems to be the newer version of NFB 15.1 listed on Audio-GD website. Kingwa told me 15.32 uses USB32 instead of TE8802 found in older 15.1, although I don't know what does that mean...

 

Thanks and cheers,

post #2 of 12

I haven't tried the 15.32, but I can tell you that the Crack+ HD600 combo was nothing short of breathtaking.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I know tons of other people out there who would say the same.. And that's why I'm not sure if I want the 15.32.. :( Do you think I will benefit from a DAC? Or will it be something like: on-board soundcard + Crack >> DAC + Amp on NFB 15?

 

The 15.32 seems to be new (or even not yet launched).. Kingwa mentioned it to me when inquring about the 15.1.. I suspect they aren't really different in sound quality..

post #4 of 12

You can start out with something affordable. There's a Sabre DAC on ebay for around $52 shipped in the US, and that will be more than adequate. Onboard sound is kinda crappy in most cases, so I would save until you can get it in one fell swoop (easier said than done, I know :P)

 

Also for the Crack, it was one of the most enjoyable DIY builds I've done. They made it absolutely effortless for me as a beginner to learn. And you will also know the amazingness (see:money pit) that is tube rolling ;)

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply, Mosshorn!

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hifimediy-Sabre-USB-DAC-ES9023-Tenor-TE7022-96khz-24bit-96-24-/140847495065?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20cb2a3799

Is this the Sabre DAC you're talking about? Do you have first hand experience with it? If it does the job decently, I am considering to take Crack and save a little more to get this DAC.

 

On somewhat unrelated side, I just got a reply from Kingwa explaining the difference of NFB 15.1 and NFB 15.32: "Their specs is same except the USB can accept up to 32 bit."

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by j123my View Post

Thanks for your reply, Mosshorn!

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hifimediy-Sabre-USB-DAC-ES9023-Tenor-TE7022-96khz-24bit-96-24-/140847495065?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20cb2a3799

Is this the Sabre DAC you're talking about? Do you have first hand experience with it? If it does the job decently, I am considering to take Crack and save a little more to get this DAC.

 

On somewhat unrelated side, I just got a reply from Kingwa explaining the difference of NFB 15.1 and NFB 15.32: "Their specs is same except the USB can accept up to 32 bit."

That is the one. http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/digital-line-level/219140-hifimediy-es9023-te7022-24-96-usb-dac-4.html Review on the first post. Its 90% of a ODAC from JDS Labs. I was going to get one today but decided against it and just got a ODAC.

post #7 of 12

I've never heard the Audio-GD.. I will say that they don't publish any measurements of their products, and I suspect they have garnered fans here because they are a sponsor. Their "NFB" stands for Non-FeedBack, which is a sort of a snake oily circuit design philosophy that will result in more distortion (and thus less transparency). 

The Crack is a single ended triode tube amp, which is an antiquated design and will of course have increased amounts of distortion. It is a cool design and is good sounding for what it is, but I wouldn't use it as my main amplifier.

 

So, in my opinion, neither of these choices are good. You've purchased an accurate, detailed, and transparent set of headphones. It doesn't make any sense pairing them with amps that will have high amounts of distortion. I recommend something like the headroom micro amp http://www.headphone.com/headphone-amps/headroom-micro-amp.php or something like it. If you want a DAC too, something like the CEntrance DACport or HRT headstreamer would be good choices.


Edited by Eisenhower - 11/14/12 at 7:16am
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Anyone compared NFB 12 or NFB 15 with Crack on HD600?

post #9 of 12

I did with the NFB12. No contest for me IMO, the Crack destroyed it. But then again I personally didn't care for the sound of the NFB-12.

post #10 of 12

I'm with mosshorn - despite its modest price, the crack is basically an end game amp for high impedance sennheisers (600/650/800's), particularly once you start to experiment with nos tubes, film caps, and other tweaks.  It is really gratifying to build, more gratifying to mod and totally doable for novices (like me) with the aid of the great community on the BH boards and in the crack thread here.  (I might also add that the "speedball" constant current upgrade kit is hardly an antiquated circuit.)  See the reviews on innerfidelity, headphonia, audiophiliac etc.  The only measurements I know of are posted in this thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/503622/review-of-my-5-diy-amplifiers-2012-03-21-bottlehead-smack-and-new-analyses/45

 

I haven't heard the headroom amps with the hd600's, but I found the headroom max to be a total disappointment when paired with hd800's.  As always, YMMV.


Edited by skeptic - 11/13/12 at 11:53pm
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosshorn View Post

I haven't tried the 15.32, but I can tell you that the Crack+ HD600 combo was nothing short of breathtaking.


Yup! Pairs amazing with HD650 too

post #12 of 12

I too am interested in this combo ... any more opinions?

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