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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Over-Ear Headphones)
Last edited: 11/28/14
- Head-Fi Buying Guide (Ultra-High-End Headphones (Summit-Fi))Last edited: 12/8/14
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- Head-Fi Buying Guide (Ultra-High-End Headphones (Summit-Fi))
The (new) HD800 Impressions Thread - Page 616
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Let do some math guys:
$750 + $750 + $750 + $750 = $3000 / $750 x 4 = $3000
Stay in school
I wonder why the Amp has an output of 30 volts in bal but only 1 watt. To bad it might of been a good one for the HE6 .
Initial impressions of the CMA800R coming in a half hour ish. Taking pictures and retrying out the amp dac-less to finish up initial thoughts.
Edited by dleblanc343 - 3/16/14 at 8:21pm
Well here are my initial imressions after ~30 hours of burn-in with the CMA800R. It's the best SS amp I've heard with the HD800's; the most effortless and transparent yet. But I'm kind of disappointed . I was expecting it to be absolutely incredible, but it's definitely not perfect for me. I think it's safe for me to say no SS amp will ever do it for me with my current inventory for the HD800; probably not even the GSX MKII.
So here's what I used: Asus N56vj with Jriver 19, Audioquest Diamond USB, audioquest NRG-1000 power cable, NAD M51 w/ firmware 1.39, DHC nucleotide xlr interconnects, audioquest victoria RCA interconnects (sounded better with this vs balanced with the DHC), Questyle CMA800R, HD800 w/ Q-cable as well as user @PretentiousFood's custom built SPUD amp to A/B with the CMA800 while my McIntosh is gone.
Well, here goes. When I got the CMA800R in at work for testing, I noticed it sounded very lively and made poor headphones like the HD650 sound so much more transparent. After trying it with the HE500 and Alpha Dogs, I kind of diagnosed the amp as neutral with maybe slight brightness.
Now that the amp has burned in for almost two days straight at home, and is being fed much better, I am ready to give a first take on it (after 4 hours of listening to my test playlist). It is indeed very impressive on a technical level, it is the most transparent amp I've heard so far, and tonally gets everything very well. The amp brings a lot of slam and prat to the HD800's, coherent staging without exaggeration of width (sounds more closed in than expected, which is good). I understand the smoothness people speak of, it simply sounds like the amp is a windowless frame in front of the HD800. It's so transparent that it sounds natural in a way. But that's where unfortunately, as good as it is, for me it's not the greatest all-arounder/ musically enjoyable amp for the HD800. Everything sounds really good, exceptional recordings sound exceptionally better.
Problem is? Well, the HD800's are HD800's. The treble spike and quantity of highs is untouched, making the highs fully resolved, and sharp sometimes; something I've managed to avoid with my main amp (which is not as transparent or resolving, but more enjoyable). I do not have the Anax mod on my HD800's. I've compared the HD800/ Questyle with the dac and straight from my laptop to compare the over all FR. Running with the DAC, it sounds a tad smoother, so I confirm the NAD M51 is relatively linear and well-rounded, as is the Questyle. So I've got what I'd call relatively neutral dac, amp, and a headphone which is neutral bright. Mashed up together what do I hear? Uber resolution and transparency, everything sounds scarily neutral; except for the HD800's brightness standing out. Bass through mids everything sounds right, the HD800 have richness and body to them which is uncharacteristic of the headphone for most people with SS amps. Everything is conveyed as it should be in my opinion, and well, the HD800's just so happen to have a bit more treble than neutral, making everything sound just a bit too bright on occasion.
I've been through the mjolnir, the phonitor and the BHA-1. Everything listed is exceptionally bad when compared to the CMA800R, so I'm impressed in that regard. This is the best SS I've heard yet, and possibly the best I ever will as I don't think SS is the way to go for me. Is this one of the better amps for the HD800? Yes, if you want reference-like sound, which there is a high probability if you own this headphone. And yes if you absolutely do not want tubes. If you want to get rid of the edginess, you absolutely need a very warm dac or maybe the Anax mod can do wonders, who knows. The NAD M51 is according to many, either slightly warm and analog or neutral/forward; to me it's just in between this, it's pretty darn natural. I know that if I used, for example: the BDA-2, CMA800R and non-anax HD800, I would have my ears shredded by hi-hats.
So, I love the CMA800R. I love its build, its size, its looks, and especially its sound! I do not love it with the HD800 though. I like it very very much, but I can't see myself living with this unless I changed dacs (which is out of the question). I am, over all, very impressed with the amp, even though it may not seem that way; but I was not exceedingly impressed either.
I'm a detail freak, I love resolution, and I love well extended highs; but I am sensitive to uneven treble or harshness/ grain. The HD800 is the headphone for me, but the sharpness must be kept under control just a tad. My system (with questyle) lets it do its thing without holding it back, the highs just ooze out without effort. It is fatiguing after a while. Maybe I should do the Anax mod, but I'm not keen on it.
The Questyle CMA800R is the amp the extracts the most out of the HD800's that I've tried. It's eerily similar to the Stax 009 + Woo WES, but sounds better and much cheaper. It's just too much though.
Tomorrow night, I'll have my McIntosh back, and will take time to try the HE6 with the Questyle as well. I'm firm on my observations, but maybe after comparing the CMA800R to the wonderfully musical McIntosh I will be compelled to buy the Questyle as an alternate amp for more finesse, technicality and pure resolution.
I'll write the follow up on the official Questyle thread, as I'm thinking I should have for this, but didn't because the main topic is indeed the HD800
Edited by dleblanc343 - 3/16/14 at 10:50pm
Edited by Maxvla - 3/16/14 at 10:57pm
^ As many have noted because this amp is so transparent, and the HD800 as well, the DAC plays a bigger role with this combo. I'm using the Emotiva DC-1 and I personally do not find the treble to be a problem. But I'm also pretty sure I'm not very sensitive to the 6 kHz range. I'm more so to 2-3 kHz.
Great and thorough review btw!
Edited by Sonido - 3/16/14 at 11:02pm
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