Thanks man, interesting post. What do you think of the WA3 and BottleHead Crack type hi-Z out OTL amps for the 800?
All 3 of the amps you have (or will have) are good. With the P/V, the Shuguang is my choice for the HD800 if you want a darker, bassier sound. Your other tubes aren't bad either, just not as dark.
Beta22 is the bassiest of the three, with the largest soundstage and fairly smooth sound. The Dynahi is my favourite amp, but with some sources it can easily sound the worst of the bunch.
When you get the HD800s, remember to carefully take off the stock cable and throw it in a composter. But don't feed your grass with it, it might become dry and etched.
Get any copper cable if you want a forgiving sound. Stay away from silver if you aren't willing to stomach everything upstream.
For the PWD, I know for a fact there's a FW in the works to make new units smoother (re: 2.0.2). Can't say more, but you're set for the source this time around.
I've heard the WA3 many a times, but never bothered to plug in the HD800 (didn't think it was worthy - sort of letting me drive Sebastian Vettel's F1 car - I'm simply not worthy). Or maybe I did plug the HD800 in and didn't think much of it.
Now the BottleHead Crack. I love that amp. Highly recommended for HD800 (roll appropriate tubes) and I think it's a steal if you can build one yourself. Add the Speedball upgrade, and you get something special.
FWIW, I don't necessarily feel the HD800 needs a +3db boost from high Z amp if one had a carefully assembled synergistic setup. Bass and warmth were never a problem for me with the HD800. And yes, I honestly do like the Cardas cable (sort of an inside joke) with the HD800 to tone down the highs.
+1. From experience, this modification to the stock HD800 cable really tamed the sparkly treble and extended the bass so low, my whole head would quake. Cable modifications FTW
I know you most likely won't be interested in this. However, SWA is currently comparing opamps to be rolled in M^3s of different configs. Myself along with a few other head fi'ers are participating in this. I asked him to match one up for the HD800s and my balanced M^3.
He came up with the AD8597 for me and the ADA4627-1 for the others. He did some pretty extensive comparisons over a couple weeks time. He said he may build a balanced M^3 for himself.
It would have to be a balanced one for sure since the AD caps out at ~4V and 14V/uS to the B22 15V and 198V/uS. But he is excited about it :D Can be bumped to 13V on higher rails but the slew stays slow :(
Sad but true. Hopefully between here and next winter the Dynahi SuSy will be a go. I actually think the Mjolnir is better but too lively for me personally. Course that was with the DAC-2 and LCD-3. I find the HD800 more withdrawn so it could be a great match.
I know exactly what you are talking about with the Mjolnir + HD800. The Dynahi may be your ticket, although it's possible it may be a wee too far in the other direction. The BHA1 may do the trick in terms of the balance you are looking for, but it did not scale (in terms of plankton retrieval) with either of my two balanced DACs when using the balanced outs (vs. SE out).
The way I see it the whole point, I'm told, of dropping the LCD-3 for the HD800 is for the increase in resolution and clarity. Purposely choosing an amp that can't at least keep up with the PWD2 would seem like a waste and likely lead to the LCD-3 coming out on top... again.
With the caveat that the amp also can't be sterile and dead.