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Sennheiser HD 600, do I need an Amp?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello I have spent a couple of days reading about headphones and amps. My old HD 595 is dying and I am looking for a replacement so I thought I could buy the HD 800 and "just plug it" into my pc. Then I realized that I was going to literally throw the money to the trash if I didn't pair them with a good amplifier.

 

After reconsidering my purchase and given that I just listen to music sporadically I have bought a HD 600. It seems that most people prefer it over the 650, it is cheaper and it seems that you can get good quality even if your source is not the best in town.

 

My PC has a Sound Blaster Recon3D with a suposed "premium" headphone amplifier rated for headphones up to 250 Ohm. I wonder if this is fine to drive the 300 Ohm HD 600. I don't like loud volumes at all, does this matter? Can someone tell me the if I am going to appreciate any difference if I get something like the NuForce Icon HDP? As I said I have no idea at all and I don't want to waste my money. Any other advices?

 

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 10
Quote:

Originally Posted by pisiiki View Post

 

My PC has a Sound Blaster Recon3D with a suposed "premium" headphone amplifier rated for headphones up to 250 Ohm. I wonder if this is fine to drive the 300 Ohm HD 600. I don't like loud volumes at all, does this matter? Can someone tell me the if I am going to appreciate any difference if I get something like the NuForce Icon HDP? As I said I have no idea at all and I don't want to waste my money. Any other advices?

 

The simplest solution is to actually try it yourself with the Sound Blaster. If you find it sounds great without any obvious problem that can be attributed to the sound card, is better than the HD595, and is plenty loud enough with headroom to spare (it can be too loud with still no audible distortion), then there is probably not that much room for significant improvement. If you do not want to waste money, then the NuForce, which costs more than the HD600 itself, is not the best choice, there are other amplifiers at a lower price that would work perfectly fine with your headphones.


Edited by stv014 - 11/21/12 at 2:33am
post #3 of 10

Definitely need an good amp still otherwise you are still throwing money away. The JDS Labs Objective2 Amp or Matrix M-Stage Amp is probably as cheap of an amp acceptable with the HD600.

 

Don't fall into this Fiio amp trap which I am sure somebody will try to convince you to get. They do not have the grunt for the HD600.

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by pisiiki View Post

 

My PC has a Sound Blaster Recon3D with a suposed "premium" headphone amplifier rated for headphones up to 250 Ohm. I wonder if this is fine to drive the 300 Ohm HD 600. I don't like loud volumes at all, does this matter? Can someone tell me the if I am going to appreciate any difference if I get something like the NuForce Icon HDP? As I said I have no idea at all and I don't want to waste my money. Any other advices?

 

The simplest solution is to actually try it yourself with the Sound Blaster. If you find it sounds great without any obvious problem that can be attributed to the sound card, is better than the HD595, and is plenty loud enough with headroom to spare (it can be too loud with still no audible distortion), then there is probably not that much room for significant improvement. If you do not want to waste money, then the NuForce, which costs more than the HD600 itself, is not the best choice, there are other amplifiers at a lower price that would work perfectly fine with your headphones.

 

That's really well said. The HD 650's sound really, really good directly from my computer's, late-model, on-board Realtek chipset. They're better with the ODAC+O2 but $300 worth?

 

The HD 600 is (apparently) a great pair. Like the HD 600, it's easy to drive, but it will reveal the flaws in recordings, DAC's, and amplifiers. There's no magic here and there are no demons to exorcise with "pairing" or "synergy" incantations.

 

Try it and see.

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjectDenz View Post

Don't fall into this Fiio amp trap which I am sure somebody will try to convince you to get. They do not have the grunt for the HD600.

 

What is "grunt"? It's not a standard engineering term or audiophile euphemism.

 

Even the FiiO E5 has the power, distortion, and output impedance to work perfectly well with the HD 650. I'm not a huge fan of FiiO's bigger models, but they'll significantly outperform the K-Mart-quality tube amps which are often recommended.

 

The M-Stage and ODAC+O2 are better the E5 with the advantage in performance, and a much bigger advantage in price, going to the ODAC+O2. I own all three and have used them with the HD 650 (but I don't have an HD 600.)

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by pisiiki View Post

Hello I have spent a couple of days reading about headphones and amps. My old HD 595 is dying and I am looking for a replacement so I thought I could buy the HD 800 and "just plug it" into my pc. Then I realized that I was going to literally throw the money to the trash if I didn't pair them with a good amplifier.

 

After reconsidering my purchase and given that I just listen to music sporadically I have bought a HD 600. It seems that most people prefer it over the 650, it is cheaper and it seems that you can get good quality even if your source is not the best in town.

 

My PC has a Sound Blaster Recon3D with a suposed "premium" headphone amplifier rated for headphones up to 250 Ohm. I wonder if this is fine to drive the 300 Ohm HD 600. I don't like loud volumes at all, does this matter? Can someone tell me the if I am going to appreciate any difference if I get something like the NuForce Icon HDP? As I said I have no idea at all and I don't want to waste my money. Any other advices?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

The sound card will be fine. Your'e going to find that the HD600 has a much more full rich sound compared to the HD595. Your sound card is not going to be "ideal" but it's still going to be pretty much fine. I would simply try it out and if you like what you hear, then stick with it and wait until much later if you think you want to invest in a high quality dedicated amplifier. It's efficient enough to work on your setup (the HD600), but it scales with equipment, but we're talking minutia in terms of gains, for some it's worth it, for some it's not. That's up to you.

 

I would not get the Icon HD. It's over-priced as far as I'm concerned. If you wanted a good amp for a low cost, I would look at the JDS Labs Objective 2 (O2) amplifier, or a tube amp like the Little Dot MK III, or if you wanted to step it up, things like the Schiit Valahalla or Schiit Lyr (I would take these over the Icon HD any day). Again, you don't need any of this. Your sound card is fine. This is for later if you want to get small gains for a big cost.

 

Very best,

post #7 of 10
You will need an amp.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your the answers. All my doubs have been disipated. I think I will test my hd 600s for a couple of weeks and then decide if I go for an amp or not.
 

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

After a couple of days I can tell for sure that the 600s sound slightly better than my old 595s (lasted 7!! years, now I hear more the left, probably because of the cable). I have tested them on the soundcore recon3d and on an old xfi elite pro. These headfones perform better on the xfi but I think there is a lot of room for improvement with a decent amp. So if you don't have the proper equipment to drive 300 ohms my advice is that you better should stick with something like the current 598.
 

With more money my guess is that one is well served if he invest his money into a 600/650 and a xonar essence stx. The main problem we face as newbies with hi-fi headphones is to get the best value out of a budget, specially we don't want to buy something expensive that doesn't even make a perceptible difference in quality or even makes things worse because of the lack of other equipment.

 

On my side I have seen a lot of positive feedback on the asus line of soundcards, specially on the usb xonar essence one external dac/amp, I think I will get one as soon as I can, they have just released a revision with better opamps and I will probably give it a go. Anyone can tell if they have tested the essence one with some HD 600/650 even 800?

 

Regards.


Edited by pisiiki - 11/22/12 at 4:12pm
post #10 of 10

Reminds me of when I bought my HD650's a coupla years ago....

 

 

 

I plugged 'em straight into my MACBOOK because I didn't know

any better. It took me a few weeks to realize "HEY, THIS SOUNDS

TERRIBLE. I WASTED MY MONEY ON THESE!"

 

 

Photo on 2010-11-05 at 18.57 #5.jpg

 

 

So I did some research and found out I had to get a dedicated 

HEADPHONE AMP. So I bought a headphone amp (WOO AUDIO)

and connected it to my MACBOOK. 

 

 

Again I thought "DAMN, THIS DOES NOT SOUND GOOD,

I WASTED MORE MONEY ON THIS HEADPHONE!!"

 

Well, to end the story I bought an actual DAC (instead of using the

macbook's headphone out) and then things started to finally sound good.

 

 

i love my woo2!

 

 

If I had known all that was involved I woulda never got started in

this hobby.... but, it's too late now <chuckle>

 

 

LA mitchell

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