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Amp to go with HD 650's

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Hello Head Fi

 

I am a complete noob, who finally has enough money to get into (relatively) high end audio. I've decided on getting the senn HD 650 headphones but am at a loss as to which amplifier to get. My budget ranges from I guess 200 to 300$ but I don't mind going slightly over that if it's worth it.

 

I've been reading through the later pages of the hd650 appreciation thread to find amps but it's a real pain to have to look up the price every time, and I don't understand half of what's being said so I figured why not make a thread.

 

Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 30
The HD-650 is one of those nice scalable headphones allowing the headphone to sound even better out of better gear. I prefer the HD-650 out of a slightly dark sounding amp or at least one that is not super neutral. The HD-650 is known for being easy to listen to an full of texture. Personally I think the WA6 tube amp is a must for any HD-650 owner, but that is way outside of your current budget. Owning a few headphone amps myself I really suggest going with a good tube amp and saving up for the WA6 will be well worth it. That said what DAC are you using if any?

Having a good DAC is going to be key to feeding any decent amp. If the signal is noisy going into a high end amp the signal will be noisy going out of it. Keep the DAC in mind as you go down this road.

The WA6 is around $620 and for an HD-650 owner who does not require a portable amp is a great sounding amp.
http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa6.html

Another options I suggest is the CENtrance DACport although I have not heard the unit myself it appears to sound good with the HD-650. Read here:
http://www.headphone.com/headphone-amps/centrance-dacport.php

The CENtrance DACport only has a USB in so be sure to fully understand how you plan on using it before making the purchase. This options runs $300, but you get a DAC and an amp in one.
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

First of all thanks for the suggestions!

 

I had decided on not getting a DAC (I guess what I'm using would be my onboard soundcard (Realtek ALC889)), from what I've read it's only if you have a high end amp that lack of a DAC becomes a real bottleneck. I guess considering my very limited knowledge on the subject I could be convinced otherwise pretty easily, but consider that I don't have a big budget so getting a DAC would basically mean getting a worse amp. Worth it?

 

I've read about the WA6 but it's simply too expensive. Also I wanted to go with a solid state amp because I don't like the thought of having to replace tubes regularly, but I guess if the difference is significant enough...


Edited by gs12 - 2/19/13 at 1:03pm
post #4 of 30

get a better amp first, if you're using a sound card, as long as it doesn't have any noise issues, you should be ok for a while.

 

the WA3 is also good for driving the HD 650s, and is cheaper than the WA6. its an OTL amp, so it works very well with high impedance headphones like the 300 ohm sennheisers.  You shouldn't have to worry about replacing tubes for a while, and they can always be upgraded in the future if you feel the need for it.

 

 

if you decide solid state instead, theres always the O2/ODAC or the Magni/Modi combo, you can also just purchase these dacs to get you started (the Odac is 150$ and the modi is 99$), and get a WA3 as the amp as well wink.gif


Edited by Dubstep Girl - 2/19/13 at 1:53pm
post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 

How do I find out if my soundcard has noise issues, since I don't have an amp yet?

post #6 of 30

There are plenty of reasonably priced amps that do the HD 650 justice. If you are not looking to spend much, I've read and heard a lot of people that are happy with their Little Dot amps. They are decent amps and are priced right. IMO OTL amps synergize the best with the Senns due to their relatively high impedance. So LD, Decware, Woo's, Bottlehead are all going to sound wonderful.

post #7 of 30

If you soundcard is noisy it may have:

 

1.)  At zero volume and no music playing you can hear static

2.)  At zero volume and no music playing you can hear noises when the mouse is moved or keys are pressed ( bleep-bloop )

3.)  At normal volumes the music you listen to has extra static in it or does not sound as it should

    Clarity, instruments separation, etc

3.)  Do you hear odd crackles in your music when listening at normal or just below normal volume levels?

 

These are all audible ways to tell if you DAC is noisy.  Of course it could mean that the amp section of the headphone jack is just noisy too, but those tests should get you started.

post #8 of 30

Schiit Modi and Bottlehead Crack. Soldering isn't terribly difficult to learn smily_headphones1.gif

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by calipilot227 View Post

Schiit Modi and Bottlehead Crack. Soldering isn't terribly difficult to learn smily_headphones1.gif

 +1

 

We both heard this setup this weekend at a local meet and IT WAS THE JAMS

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_Himself View Post

 +1

 

We both heard this setup this weekend at a local meet and IT WAS THE JAMS

 

Hearing the Bottlehead Crack is one of the top reasons I want to go to a headfi meet! 

post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 

I've read amazing things about the crack but putting it together, I honestly just can't be bothered. I'm no good at that stuff plus I don't have the tools.

 

I'll probably go with the WA3. It's more money than I was planning to spend but, what the hell. I decided I want a tube amp anyway, and this seems like the best "budget" option. Also, this may be a silly question but how do I connect the amp to my computer considering it has 2 inputs?


Edited by gs12 - 2/20/13 at 9:53am
post #12 of 30

IMO you will be much happier splitting the 650$ over a good amp and a good dac rather than spending it all on an amp and using your computer's line out.  For me, it is easy to tell the difference between the built-in dac of my Sony Vaio Z and my iPod Touch 2G, MF VDac and Metrum Octave.  It goes something like this:

 

($free) Vaio Z built-in sound:  ****ty, grainy... just terrible.

($free) iPod touch 2g:  decent, fine for on the go.

($200) VDac: decently good, weakness is the highs

($1000) Octave: awesome

 

This is through a CK2-III that I built, which is a pretty good DIY amp that probably would cost around 600$ retail.  My usual headphone rig is the VDAC+CK2-III (the octave is really for my full system).  And yes, I run HD650's.

 

Another question though is what kind of music do you listen to?

 

A good strategy that I wish I had followed when starting out in the high end audio world is to buy used stuff - only popular models so it's easy to flip it if you don't like it.  This allows you to discover what you like without breaking your bank account.  For example, I went through 3 or 4 iems before settling on the IE8's.


Edited by Zynec - 2/20/13 at 10:21am
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_Himself View Post

 +1

 

We both heard this setup this weekend at a local meet and IT WAS THE JAMS

 

+2, and I actually own the amp biggrin.gif

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by gs12 View Post

I've read amazing things about the crack but putting it together, I honestly just can't be bothered. I'm no good at that stuff plus I don't have the tools.

 

I'll probably go with the WA3. It's more money than I was planning to spend but, what the hell. I decided I want a tube amp anyway, and this seems like the best "budget" option. Also, this may be a silly question but how do I connect the amp to my computer considering it has 2 inputs?

You could spend a bit less and get a Schiit Vahalla, that way you can get a decent DAC.. maybe an ODAC from JDS or even the Modi. Never heard the Vahalla, but it is highly regarded for people on a budget.


Edited by Greed - 2/20/13 at 11:45am
post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure I need a DAC though. Multiple people have made the point that my soundcard has a relatively decent DAC, so I would end up with a better result if I spend that extra money on a better amp. You guys disagree?

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