And sometimes just crappy ears
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Over-Ear Headphones)
Last edited: 11/28/14
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The (new) HD800 Impressions Thread - Page 489
Gear mentioned in this thread:
I am copying the the post that I made on the Sennheiser amp thread. Since I tested with my HD 800, I thought some might be interested in my impressions. The bottom line is that Auralic Taurus II matches very well with the HD 800 while the HDVA 600 (did not test the HDVD 800, not interested in the DAC) was actually not that great to my ears.
Post starts below
Thought I would add my experience with an HDVA 600. I have not read through the entire thread so it is possible somebody has already posted a similar experience/comparison.
It is not a positive one.
I first heard the HDVA in April 2013 when we had the Head-fi get together in London. Sennheiser was one of the sponsors and they introduced the HDVA amps. Axel Grell, the chief designer of the HDVA 600/HDVD 800, flew in from Germany which was nice. Sennheiser also had a real Orpheus with them and that was something!
I brought my Graham Slee Solo Ultralinear (with external PSU) and compared it with the HDVD on my own HD 800. The first impressions were not bad, but frankly the Sennheiser did not seem to outperform the Graham Slee at half the price. I used Sennheiser's music and and source (forget which one).
Not much later in May I went to Munich High End Show (by far the best show in Europe, been going there for years) and once again was acquainted with the Sennheiser amps. I also tried others such as Bakoon, SPL, Auralic Taurus et al (only the Bakoon for the first time). Show conditions with other people's music are not always ideal. But again I was not fully impressed by Sennheiser. And I really wanted to like the Sennheiser - it is great looking and theoretically made for measure for my headphones.
After listening to the Sennheiser and the Auralic again on separate occasions I decided I could not commit to buying the Sennheiser without auditioning against the c. 20% more expensive Auralic Taurus.
I was lucky enough that a dealer in London around the corner from my flat which carries Sennheiser was kind enough to willingly arrange for a Taurus vs Sennheiser head to head in their premises. The source was an expensive Nagra CD - so that was never going to be the weakest link.
Extended time with my music allowed me to quickly come to the conclusion that I wanted to avoid. The Auralic simply smoked the Sennheiser. Not only that, but clearly (to my ears of course), the Sennheiser was simply not good enough. It is not just that the tone, soundstage et al of Auralic was better. The Sennheiser actually seemed a tad incompetent. Shocking for someone like me who has been buying Sennheiser products (albeit headphones) for so many years. One of the albums that I recall listening was Pink Floyd's well known Dark Side of the Moon. The Sennheiser actually struggles with separation and detail when the chorus of tracks such as Us and Them or Brain Damage kicks in.
I bought the Auralic. Are there better amps for the HD 800 that the Taurus? Probably. But it is not the HDVA 600. Is the HDVA 600 a good amp? I don't think so at the price.
The HDVA 600 has the brand and the looks. But not the performance.
For those who bought the HDVA 600 (I did not test the DAC in the HDVD 800 since I only use quality DACs for listening) I think you are NOT listening to anything close to HD 800's potential. Not by a long shot. For those thinking about buying one, I would recommend listening to other amps. I recommend the Taurus, other recommend valves.
For the record, the Auralic Taurus is more powerful than the Sennheiser HDVA 600. I did not level match them scientifically. But I raised the volume on the Sennheiser to HDVA 600 sufficiently to be pleased that it was not just a question of difference in volume. In fact, raising the volume just highlighted just how less capable the Sennheiser HDVA 600 was with regards to the Auralic Taurus. It is not all about power, but the Auralic in balanced mode (which is how I run it) pumps an impressive 2000mW into the 300 ohm HD 800. The Sennheiser was nowhere near as powerful.
Edited by Speedy Pedro - 1/7/14 at 2:31pm
Wow.. gouging from the M100 to the HD800 will mess with anyone's brain. They are extremes.. I ended up selling my M100's.
This is the most accurate diagnostic of the "HD800 sounds like crap problem".
Last night, my remedy was putting on some DSDs. Suddenly, everything was back in perspective.
As I said - "it is not all about power". The first key point is that the Auralic was much more powerful than the HDVA 600 and I tried to level match them as best as I could. Having said that, the Auralic seemed to effortlessly control the HD 800 (also much better than my Graham Slee) and I did not feel the same with the HDVA 600. As I said, when the choruses of the aforementioned tracks kicked in and the energy levels rose, the HDVA did struggle in a rather incompetent fashion when compared with the Auralic. It was shocking.
HD800 even sounds decent and very enjoyable on my $100 Fiio E17 DAC/Amp. Running the HD800 when at home from a WA22 is definitely not 25X better.
Really? I have.
In this case, the "shocking" label applied in the following context: (1) the price (2) and that it was specifically designed with the HD 800 in mind.
Then, this could be true in its own context.
I actually have tried quite a few other amps and found the HDVA600/HDVD800 beat them for the HD800 hands down - both single ended and balanced;
This includes the Burson Conductor and Bryston BHA-1 - each to their own; you may not like the sound - doesn't mean it is bad :P
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