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The (new) HD800 Impressions Thread - Page 102

post #1516 of 13999
Quote:
Originally Posted by rgs9200m View Post

The implication here is that headphone listening is not as worthy of better upstream equipment as speaker listening. (At least that is how I read the skeptical nature of the question, but of course it is understandable, as anyone outside the community

would think the cost or value of audiophile equipment is basically insane, but would certainly relate to the cost of a $75,000 car.)

 

Specifically, the HD800 is capable of achieving natural tonality of all musical objects (including vocals) that sinks deep into the pleasure centers of your brain, and does the same with spatial information allowing you to perceive the 

a believable size, shape, and placement of each of these objects, adding to the enjoyment (for me at least).

And the better input you feed it, the closer to this holy grail you come. Conversely, distortion in the digital or amplification realm will be fatiguing, as in piercing highs, clipped bass, or digital artifice.

 

Headphones probably need more, not less, help than speakers because of the intimate relationship you have with a transducer so close to your ear.

 

I hear the goodness and all the characteristics of my high end tube amps and high end CD player and cables in all their glory with the HD800s, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love these phones, and if you love music and high end sound, the cost of upstream equipment is worth whatever you can reasonably afford.

 

(And of course there will be a lot of arguments about the placebo affect, etc., but I know what I hear.)

 

 

 

Very nice. Well said.

post #1517 of 13999
Quote:
Originally Posted by rgs9200m View Post

The implication here is that headphone listening is not as worthy of better upstream equipment as speaker listening. (At least that is how I read the skeptical nature of the question, but of course it is understandable, as anyone outside the community

would think the cost or value of audiophile equipment is basically insane, but would certainly relate to the cost of a $75,000 car.)

 

Specifically, the HD800 is capable of achieving natural tonality of all musical objects (including vocals) that sinks deep into the pleasure centers of your brain, and does the same with spatial information allowing you to perceive the 

a believable size, shape, and placement of each of these objects, adding to the enjoyment (for me at least).

And the better input you feed it, the closer to this holy grail you come. Conversely, distortion in the digital or amplification realm will be fatiguing, as in piercing highs, clipped bass, or digital artifice.

 

Headphones probably need more, not less, help than speakers because of the intimate relationship you have with a transducer so close to your ear.

 

I hear the goodness and all the characteristics of my high end tube amps and high end CD player and cables in all their glory with the HD800s, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love these phones, and if you love music and high end sound, the cost of upstream equipment is worth whatever you can reasonably afford.

 

(And of course there will be a lot of arguments about the placebo affect, etc., but I know what I hear.)

Having not had any experience with summit-fi amps/dacs I hope you can understand my skepticism. But I am skeptical in a good way just trying to gauge how good can it really get. For me its pretty good right now. Thanks for your detailed answer. 

post #1518 of 13999
Quote:
Originally Posted by zigy626 View Post

Having not had any experience with summit-fi amps/dacs I hope you can understand my skepticism. But I am skeptical in a good way just trying to gauge how good can it really get. For me its pretty good right now. Thanks for your detailed answer. 

Sure, thanks for the kind words and best of luck sir. And thanks to Cired above also. I appreciate it.


Edited by rgs9200m - 3/31/13 at 12:22pm
post #1519 of 13999
To actually answer the question, the major differences between mid-fi and high end amps tend to be mostly refinement. Things like layering, micro-dynamics, and texture are improved from just good to 'is this real?'. Things the mid-fi gear does well like clarity, impact, control, macro-dynamics are bumped up that last notch. The first group I mentioned really helps you make the transition from a good music experience to feeling like you are there in person. They are often overlooked in quick auditions unless you know exactly what you are listening for. The second group is what most people assume are the main differences between mid-fi and high end, and while those are important and do improve, it's the overlooked aspects that steal the show.
post #1520 of 13999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

To actually answer the question, the major differences between mid-fi and high end amps tend to be mostly refinement. Things like layering, micro-dynamics, and texture are improved from just good to 'is this real?'. Things the mid-fi gear does well like clarity, impact, control, macro-dynamics are bumped up that last notch. The first group I mentioned really helps you make the transition from a good music experience to feeling like you are there in person. They are often overlooked in quick auditions unless you know exactly what you are listening for. The second group is what most people assume are the main differences between mid-fi and high end, and while those are important and do improve, it's the overlooked aspects that steal the show.

You said it! A hall of fame comment here I think.

post #1521 of 13999
Quote:
Originally Posted by zigy626 View Post

Personally I have spent about $3500 getting to a point where I am now. Never thought in my life I would spend that kind of money on a headphone setup. But I really do enjoy music more from headphones than I would ever from a speaker system. Plus I love the portable factor of the whole thing so appealing.

 

Not a lot of choice in UK when it comes to summit-fi headphone amps (except maybe for the SPL Phonitor that is around $1700). Easy to get german brands but I would not class a Lehmann BCL as summit-fi.  

I've never heard the Lehmann BLC so I wouldn't know.  I still use possibly what would be considered a midfi amp at times though esp with lower inpedance headphones and it is German, the violectric v200.  I even plug the hd800 into it when I am lazy or don't want to fire up the tube amp.  It still sound good to me.

post #1522 of 13999

This is where the struggle to define what is "Summit Fi" gear? Price is perhaps a starting point or a consideration but some of the newer gear is really bringing the performance without having to spend $5000.

post #1523 of 13999
After my positive experience with the Matrix X-Sabre and having known about the M-Stage being a popular inexpensive amp for HD800s, I began to recommend it to a few people in this thread and elsewhere who were trying to build a amp/DAC combo for HD800s for $1000 or less. I recommended the $600 Concero and the $260 M-Stage. A week or so later I decided to get one for myself so that I wasn't just recommending blindly. I got it Thursday and got it plugged in and playing on Friday and it's been going nearly 24 hours a day since then, only taking breaks when I was comparing with the BHA-1. I got the M-Stage with USB DAC for an extra $30 because why the hell not, and initially listened through the built in DAC.

At first I was pleasantly surprised at the performance, it wasn't super detailed, but it seemed clean with a wide though thin sound. I honestly didn't expect much from this DAC since it was so cheap, and after listening for a while longer I began encountering some showstopping harshness on some tracks. I would say this DAC could be a decent stand in DAC if you had to be without, but you'd want to keep the volume below live. The sound was dynamic and punchy, but not overly clear or well textured. The harshness became regular as I began to recognize it everywhere, but most of the time it was ignored easily enough.

Having given a few hours to the onboard DAC, I was ready to move up to a real DAC and hooked up the X-Sabre to the M-Stage and gave it a listen. The difference was as expected given the $1070 price difference in the DACs, but I was also relieved to know most of the negative bits about the M-Stage was from the DAC, and not the amp. With the X-Sabre the M-Stage opened right up with very good clarity and without any of the previous harshness. After listening for a few hours and noting that the performance was really special, I knew the next step was to compare to the BHA-1. I was reasonably sure before making the switch that I knew what I was going to hear in the difference, but after having listened to the built in DAC, the X-Sabre -> M-Stage combo was worryingly good.

With the X-Sabre and BHA-1 in balanced mode and balanced connection to the HD800s, I listened to a dozen or so specific tracks I thought would highlight differences easiest between the M-Stage and BHA-1. Despite the balanced connection and the price difference, the performance was really not as much better as one might expect. I was right, though, in what I did find. As I described in my post above about mid-fi vs high end, the main aspects people focus on were better, but not a lot better. The big strides for the BHA-1 were in the refinement areas, textures, layering and the sort. There is certainly a distinct difference in performance between these 2 amps, but in the core aspects, it is remarkably close.

I am glad to say my faith in the reviews of the M-Stage/HD800 combo was not unfounded. I will certainly recommend this combo to anyone wanting to step into high end with the headphone first. It is the most important part, by far, but not spending a truckload on the amp right away takes careful consideration. The M-Stage is a great stepping stone for the HD800s, such that you could even make a DAC upgrade before worrying about the amp. Listening to the X-Sabre -> M-Stage -> HD800, is truly a high end experience, though just barely. There is plenty of room to improve, but it is mostly in the refinement areas that take good to magical.
post #1524 of 13999

Enjoyed reading that Maxvla. Yeah I've been pleasantly surprised with the M-stage, it doesn't seem to be lacking anything for me. I can't compare it to any high- enders as yet though. I'm even thinking about getting another one for my living room rig instead of my Audio gd.  

post #1525 of 13999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post

After my positive experience with the Matrix X-Sabre and having known about the M-Stage being a popular inexpensive amp for HD800s, I began to recommend it to a few people in this thread and elsewhere who were trying to build a amp/DAC combo for HD800s for $1000 or less. I recommended the $600 Concero and the $260 M-Stage. A week or so later I decided to get one for myself so that I wasn't just recommending blindly. I got it Thursday and got it plugged in and playing on Friday and it's been going nearly 24 hours a day since then, only taking breaks when I was comparing with the BHA-1. I got the M-Stage with USB DAC for an extra $30 because why the hell not, and initially listened through the built in DAC.

At first I was pleasantly surprised at the performance, it wasn't super detailed, but it seemed clean with a wide though thin sound. I honestly didn't expect much from this DAC since it was so cheap, and after listening for a while longer I began encountering some showstopping harshness on some tracks. I would say this DAC could be a decent stand in DAC if you had to be without, but you'd want to keep the volume below live. The sound was dynamic and punchy, but not overly clear or well textured. The harshness became regular as I began to recognize it everywhere, but most of the time it was ignored easily enough.

Having given a few hours to the onboard DAC, I was ready to move up to a real DAC and hooked up the X-Sabre to the M-Stage and gave it a listen. The difference was as expected given the $1070 price difference in the DACs, but I was also relieved to know most of the negative bits about the M-Stage was from the DAC, and not the amp. With the X-Sabre the M-Stage opened right up with very good clarity and without any of the previous harshness. After listening for a few hours and noting that the performance was really special, I knew the next step was to compare to the BHA-1. I was reasonably sure before making the switch that I knew what I was going to hear in the difference, but after having listened to the built in DAC, the X-Sabre -> M-Stage combo was worryingly good.

With the X-Sabre and BHA-1 in balanced mode and balanced connection to the HD800s, I listened to a dozen or so specific tracks I thought would highlight differences easiest between the M-Stage and BHA-1. Despite the balanced connection and the price difference, the performance was really not as much better as one might expect. I was right, though, in what I did find. As I described in my post above about mid-fi vs high end, the main aspects people focus on were better, but not a lot better. The big strides for the BHA-1 were in the refinement areas, textures, layering and the sort. There is certainly a distinct difference in performance between these 2 amps, but in the core aspects, it is remarkably close.

I am glad to say my faith in the reviews of the M-Stage/HD800 combo was not unfounded. I will certainly recommend this combo to anyone wanting to step into high end with the headphone first. It is the most important part, by far, but not spending a truckload on the amp right away takes careful consideration. The M-Stage is a great stepping stone for the HD800s, such that you could even make a DAC upgrade before worrying about the amp. Listening to the X-Sabre -> M-Stage -> HD800, is truly a high end experience, though just barely. There is plenty of room to improve, but it is mostly in the refinement areas that take good to magical.

+1 Excellent read. With some real world examples. An excellent DAC seems to be the key i guess.


Edited by zigy626 - 3/31/13 at 3:01pm
post #1526 of 13999
I just picked up my new amp today, HD800s sound so much better now than they did with the Schiit Lyr. So much improvement I don't even know where to start. I keep thinking it can't get any better and then I hear new details, instruments I never heard before and even a singer's breath.

I can only imagine what this sounds like with a proper DAC, but the Bifrost isn't half bad. I can't imagine ever needing a new amp either, and I mean ever.
Edited by toschek - 3/31/13 at 8:27pm
post #1527 of 13999
Quote:
Originally Posted by toschek View Post

I just picked up my new amp today, HD800s sound so much better now than they did with the Schiit Lyr. So much improvement I don't even know where to start. I keep thinking it can't get any better and then I hear new details, instruments I never heard before and even a singer's breath.

I can only imagine what this sounds like with a proper DAC, but the Bifrost isn't half bad. I can't imagine ever needing a new amp either, and I mean ever.

What amp did you get?

post #1528 of 13999

Going to take a wild guess and say Cary SLI 80 Signature based on the sig

post #1529 of 13999
Quote:Toschek posted:
I can't imagine ever needing a new amp either, and I mean ever.

That's just your wallet talking... Ignore it.   Ignore it, I say.

 

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GS-1 Headphone Amp/Pre-Amp

 

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GS-X Headphone Amp/Pre-Amp

 

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The GS-X is out top level amplifier for headphones and pre-amp use.  It will also power balanced headphones.  It's a true dual mono amplifier with dual power supplies in a separate enclosure and offers many features not found in the GS-1.

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post #1530 of 13999

All your amp examples are still cheap compared to the "EAR 509 Power Amps"  ( that was stolen  to a popular seller , according to front page news).

I guess the top bar is fixed at 15000$ for the source, unless I missed more hefty examples ? 

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