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Assistance with Amp/Dac Related Questions HD650

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi There!

 

I am the recently proud owner of a pair of HD650's. 

 

I have an Asus Xonar STX Sound Card and I am enjoying the combination. 

 

I am questioning whether I can do better with an External Dac/Amp. I don't require portability, I am looking for a reasonable improvement in sound quality. I'd consider a portable solution if I could get the same sound quality.

 

I have been considering the purchase the following combinations: 

 

1) O2 + ODAC, either as a combo (Convenience) or as separates (Flexibility). I think I'm leaning to seperate so I can see how the Amp/Dac Compares to other combinations. 

 

2) Schiit. BiFrost is the obvious choice I think as a Dac, hard to know how it compares to the DAC on the STX, anyone able to shed light? In terms of Amplifier I guess three choices are Asgard, Valhalla, and Lyr. I am wondering if the Lyr is a waste, with too much power? I am also not sure if I should be concentrating on Tube or SS.

 

Using the HD650 with no STX or other Amp Combo, as a Factor of 1, and 10 being the best the HD650 could produce in sound in every way, how would say the STX, O2 Combo and BiFrost with varying Amps rate, would anyone have an indication?

 

I did consider the O2 AND a combination of Schiit gear, but I think the O2 would be redundant, but I like to experiment and I'd sell the combo I didn't prefer. 

 

I paid $350US for the headphones, I am feeling a little anxious spending $500-700 on an amp combo, but would do so if the result was justifiable. If ultimately spending $300 with the O2 would result in 95% of the same sound quality, I wouldn't spend more for a percent or two. 

 

Sorry for the rambly post, I am really struggling. 

 

I am listening to mostly pop, no super heavy metal, trace, electronic music or anything like that. I am fairly maintstream in my music taste.

 

I do find the HD650's aren't that exciting, and bass appears to be lacking, especially in drums, etc.

 

Thanks in advance for any advice. 

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

Interestingly I also found the Crack Amp seems to be very heavily favoured for the HD650. There is a speedball upgrade, is that a DAC for it? Or would I need a DAC too?

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Wow not a single response? Was it a dumb question?

post #4 of 8

Read through this.  You'll be surprised at the information already contained on these forums. 

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/197776/sennheiser-hd650-appreciation-thread
 

post #5 of 8
From what I've read, it seems the Sennheiser HD650 has a good scalability, with better source and amplification.
For an amp, you might want to look for an Apex Butte (500$) and use it from the RCA outs of your STX, if possible.
Good things are said about the Bottlehead Crack but it has a huge output impedance so high Ohm headphones only.
Generally, amps have more sonic influence than Dacs.

These days, however, it seems to be much easier to find a good Dac for cheap than an amp.
If then you feel that a Dac upgrade is worth it, the ODAC seems good enough... although I don't really know if it will really give a worth sonic improvement. I don't know the STX sound to be honest...
post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkl10 View Post

From what I've read, it seems the Sennheiser HD650 has a good scalability, with better source and amplification.
For an amp, you might want to look for an Apex Butte (500$) and use it from the RCA outs of your STX, if possible.
Good things are said about the Bottlehead Crack but it has a huge output impedance so high Ohm headphones only.
Generally, amps have more sonic influence than Dacs.
These days, however, it seems to be much easier to find a good Dac for cheap than an amp.
If then you feel that a Dac upgrade is worth it, the ODAC seems good enough... although I don't really know if it will really give a worth sonic improvement. I don't know the STX sound to be honest...

 

Mmm I don't know if I agree about that last part, to be honest.

 

A Little Dot mk3 could be had for 250, which includes shipping. Now first of all, I don't know many stories of people who weren't happy with that amp. And with the tubes, there's also the option of tweaking the sound to your liking. Is it a big improvement over the STX? I don't know about that; I own both the Little Dot MK IV and the STX and they sound pretty similar to me (in a good way). But you do get a tube amp as compared to your current solid state one, you get another amp to which to compare things to, and you will still have the Essence as a very capable dac. In that sense, if you feel the need to "find out" (which the OP clearly does), and you have only the option to buy things blindly, I think it doesn't matter whether you choose the LD3, an Asgard, or maybe a Bottlehead Crack - it's probably going to be the best way to spend your money in that situation.

Not to mention you get a valuable answer as to how good your STX is. I don't think you can get that kind of interesting purchase if you were to spend that same 250 bucks on another DAC; in fact, I don't know of any DAC in that priceclass that is known to generally be found better than the STX.

 

Not to mention, companies such as Schiit and Little Dot offer you a 30 day return policy, which you could definitely make use of if you found that warranted. Ofcourse, this is also true when buying a DAC.

 

This is just my perspective on things ofcourse and as always, YMMV.

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by networkn View Post

Wow not a single response? Was it a dumb question?

Some things you can try for a lot less cash (or even free), I'm assuming the audio improvement is mostly for music?

Have you turned off the motherboard's built in audio? (disabled in bios)

 

Have you tried installing the "Unified Xonar Drivers" from the website Brainbit?

 

Try using the program Foobar2000 for playing your music files.

 

Replace the three op-amps (operational amplifiers) in the Essence STX.

The following are the ones I know of that have good feedback for use with the Essence STX

Technically you only need to replace 2 op-amps (for headphones), but I just like everything matching.

 

AD797BR, $37.50 for three

LME49990, $60 for three

TI THS4032CD, $46.50 for three

 

Feel free in read up on all these op-amps

 

Use this thread for questions about the Essence STX

http://www.head-fi.org/t/421890/the-xonar-essence-stx-q-a-tweaking-impressions-thread

 

Here is a thread dedicated to op-amps.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/432749/the-opamp-thread


Edited by PurpleAngel - 11/29/12 at 9:33am
post #8 of 8
Nirvana Woman, I think we agree more than disagree. :P
Spend money on an amp upgrade first, more noticeable sonic improvement.
Dac upgrade is less guarranted, less sonic worthwhile improvement...
I probably didn't express myself as coherently as I should...
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