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Tube Amp - Lack Of Bass.. Suggestions?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hi all. I was informed at work that the entire floor was sick of hearing my music and that I had to kill it (damn the touchy engineers hating Bach followed by the Beastie Boys). So being the optimist that I am I figured it was a perfect time to spend money again. I picked up a pair of Sennheiser hd650s and the DAC_1 and MK III tube amp (5654 tubes) from little dot after reading reviews here. I also picked up a audio-gd DI-V3 w/PSU. I use my Macbook Air as a source.

 

When I got every thing in I listened for a moment and then threw the HD650s in a drawer and turn the amp up to 40% and proceeded to let it all burn the 10-11 hours a day I have been working lately. I am well over 100 hours of burn in on all the components now.

 

I started listening yesterday and I have to tell you the sound is crystal clear. One problem though they highs are so aggressive I cannot listen to more than a few songs before I have to give up. I bought Amarra so I could EQ the sound and it's still really, really bright. I bout a pair of Mullard M8100\CV4010 to see if they helped and it is worse. Granted I didn't let them burn in long.

 

I purchased the HD650s because I read over and over again that they very laid back, mellow and I ordered a tube amp because they are supposed to have a warmer tone. I hate, hate, hate having the highs be aggressive and the lows no existent. So my question is this, do I need to try more tubes? Dropping $30 or more dollars a pop with no clue how they actually sound is a hard proposition to swallow. Do I need to buy a different amp? a differnt dac? do I need to switch to solid state? I am not rich so what ever I try has to be somewhat on the cheap side.

 

One thing I want to say is that I am not trying to bash little tube at all. They have been great through the sale process its just that I have spent over a grand so far so I have something to listen to at work and I can't listen to it. Help?

post #2 of 34

The macbook pro/air have a really good built in DAC and line output, and even a toslink optical if you want to go that route.  Although I don't think you really need to go the external DAC route, because it really doesn't sound like you are after that elusive/unobtainable last ~5% clarity/resolution.  I am not familiar with Amara, but I use the iTunes EQ and I can get some CRAZY levels of bass form my K701/580/grados if I boost-cut stuff excessively.  I can very easily dial in a beats-audio session if I so desire.

 

So with the iTunes EQ and amara you have have potentially two EQs in the bitstream.  Holy moly, that should by all means be more than sufficient levels of cut/boost on the EQ front.  Are you sure the two are playing together "nicely"?  Have you tried de-activating one or the other?  You should let stuff burn in more, cans and tubes in particular.  The differences can be noticeable depending on the individual.

 

On paper that should be one of the most pleasant, smooth sounding rigs on headfi... even with the OEM tubes.


Edited by kramer5150 - 2/16/13 at 10:31am
post #3 of 34

What is this your "reference system" which in comparison the HD650 sounds bright and bass-lean? I'm just curious :P

post #4 of 34

Oh also, In the words of the great Tyll Hertsens, your source player or DAC volume output level should be set to MAX.  Or a couple clicks down from there  before audible clipping.  It should be a relatively "hot" signal feeding the downstream amp.  I am not sure exactly why, something to do with supplying signal current to the amplification stage.


Edited by kramer5150 - 2/16/13 at 12:06pm
post #5 of 34

You should try bottlehead crack. Search around the forum and you'll see why..

post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headzone View Post

What is this your "reference system" which in comparison the HD650 sounds bright and bass-lean? I'm just curious :P

 

Sorry, I am not sure what you mean by that. If you are asking what I normally use away from work, I use an iPod Classic feeding a Headstage Arrow amp into custom IEMs. I also have an algorhythm-solo I sometimes through in to the mix. All my music is ripped into apple lossless (alac) files. The sound is outstanding. Very full & well balanced.

 

I try not to use this as a comparison though. To me it seems reasonable that over the ear headphones would sound different than custom IEMs jammed into your ears.

post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 

Kramer, the macbook air, unlike the macbook pro, does not have optical out. The only way for me to get that is if I use an airport express which I did try but the wireless in my office leaves much to be desired. The airport kept dropping signal which is really annoying. Because of this I bought the audio GD DI-V3 which is a USB to coax adapter in the vain of a V-Link 192 or HiFace 2.

 

I have tried the HD650 straight out of the Macbook air and it was underwhelming. Thats why I went down this road of dac & amp. Although iTunes has an EQ the sound is lack luster. I started using Audirvana then Fidelia and settled on Amarra because of it's EQ. When using these programs they take control of the sound output, iTunes is basically file management. The EQ no longer functions so I have control of the EQ in Amarra only.

post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 

I just realized this is a pointless thread. I am sorry. I 99% certain the problem isn't the HD650s so I am going to order a Schiit Magni & Modi just for comparison. It's only a couple hundred bucks so its a cheap test. I have spent more money on cables than that.

post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 

j123my, that looks cool but I am certain that I would cause myself grievous bodily harm trying to put it together.

post #10 of 34

the hd 650s have rolled off highs, almost impossible for them to be considered aggresive, they have the smoothest highs out of almost any headphone i've heard.

post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erieg View Post

I just realized this is a pointless thread. I am sorry. I 99% certain the problem isn't the HD650s so I am going to order a Schiit Magni & Modi just for comparison. It's only a couple hundred bucks so its a cheap test. I have spent more money on cables than that.

I'd be surprised if an amp change to the Magni makes that much of a difference.  The MKIII is an OTL circuit (high voltage, moderate current) reputed to have good synergy with the high impedance Senn cans.  Its spec'd at 350mW at 300 Ohms.

 

The Magni power output drops with higher impedance loads, 260mW at 300 ohms.  Its also not reputed to be a bass heavy amp.

 

At least thats on paper per the specs.  Synergy is a funny thing though... you never know until you get it all plugged in.

 

Good Luck though.  If you're still not getting the bass response you want, it might be time to start thinking about a different headphone all together.  The headphone itself is still the primary influence in how a rig sounds, sufficient amp-ing can help but it won't transform the HD650 into something its not.


Edited by kramer5150 - 2/16/13 at 3:49pm
post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post

I'd be surprised if an amp change to the Magni makes that much of a difference.  The MKIII is an OTL circuit (high voltage, moderate current) reputed to have good synergy with the high impedance Senn cans.  Its spec'd at 350mW at 300 Ohms.

 

The Magni power output drops with higher impedance loads, 260mW at 300 ohms.  Its also not reputed to be a bass heavy amp.

 

At least thats on paper per the specs.  Synergy is a funny thing though... you never know until you get it all plugged in.

 

Good Luck though.  If you're still not getting the bass response you want, it might be time to start thinking about a different headphone all together.  The headphone itself is still the primary influence in how a rig sounds, sufficient amp-ing can help but it won't transform the HD650 into something its not.

 

 

+1

post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erieg View Post

I purchased the HD650s because I read over and over again that they very laid back, mellow and I ordered a tube amp because they are supposed to have a warmer tone. I hate, hate, hate having the highs be aggressive and the lows no existent. So my question is this, do I need to try more tubes? Dropping $30 or more dollars a pop with no clue how they actually sound is a hard proposition to swallow. Do I need to buy a different amp? a differnt dac? do I need to switch to solid state? I am not rich so what ever I try has to be somewhat on the cheap side.

 

 

You're using a computer as a source: why don't you use the player software's EQ to increase the bass and eg filter out highs over 15khz???  Or some people prefer this version of "warm" (because it's a very, very subjective term):

 

 

 

Quote:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=73636&mode=linear

 

My recipe for a "warm" sound with the help of a good EQ would be: Leave the bass alone (unless it sound horrible). Attentuate frequencies around 2.000 to 3.500 Hz for around -0.5 to -2 dB. Consider doing the same to the frequency area from 5.000 to 9.000 Hz (depends on the material). If there is less "air" consider boosting frequencies around 11.000 to 14.000 Hz. For a bit of "bigger" or more "mellow" (how imprecise words are) sound consider boosting the lower mids at 350 to 600 Hz. Finally, apply a low pass filter starting at 1.000 Hz which reaches -0.5 to -2.0 dB at 20.000 Hz (however, this "flattens" out the material). As always with processing, less is more. That´s what I´d describe as "warmth" or, in my opinion, "charming"

 

 

And if you're really into the Warm Sound, use a player that's a VST host and buy a  plug-in that generates "warm" harmonics with nice tweakable parameters - ie do the stuff that works and the a professional would do while recording to add warmth, instead of the voodoo stuff.

 

Oh - and selling the overpriced valve amp and buying something cheaper and at least as effective like an O2 would at least get back some of your money.

 

 

Quote:

 

I purchased the HD650s because I read over and over again that they very laid back, mellow and I ordered a tube amp because they are supposed to have a warmer tone.

 

This is one problem with people using emotive but ill-defined terms like "warm" and "dark": they're extremely subjective.

post #14 of 34

one thing to consider are the stock tubes in your little dot. i have the mkIII as well and in the process of playing with some tube rolling, i found that switching the stock power tubes for electro-harmonix gold pin tubes did make an audible difference in both the quantity and quality of bass.

 

of course, the driver tubes are where the majority of the change lives. perhaps a set of russian "groove tubes" would be in order. they're punchy and great for rock.

 

something to consider.....

post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input guys. Dubstep Girl, when I say aggressive I might be using the term incorrectly. Classical and Jazz sound great. I was listening to a Bach cello piece on friday that took my breath away but with rock music mostly I hear is guitar and vocals. Bass guitar and drums sound like they were recorded one room over.

 

Scuttle, I can't add VSTs (as far as I know) to either Amarra or Audirvana. I can in Fidelia though so I will keep messing around with it.

 

Kramer, I hear you about the headphones but I am having a really hard time believing they are the cause. I am often wrong. I thought of buying the Schiit boxes simply because I have nothing to use as a comparison to what I have. I want a different amp and dac so I can mix and match pieces and see what sounds like what. Since I don't know any one who is in to this stuff I have to buy it and those wee amp/dacs are cheap (and if they aren't needed would make a great Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary present for my wife! soon to be followed by divorce papers).

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