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Need advice regarding amp/DAC (HD600, SRH840 + ??? in the future)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi, guys,


I‘m very new here and I‘m also new to headphone world.


I‘ve always loved good sound: I used to participate in car audio (EMMA – European Mobile Media Association) shows/competitions with my car, once was 2nd in my class in my country (not bad, huh? normal_smile%20.gif), helped my parents to build a decent home theater/audio system at their house (higher range DENON cd/dvd player, DENON receiver, Triangle speakers, Pioneer and Panasonic Plasma TVs, etc.), however, I have never had a good audio/video system myself. I surely will, but now I live in a flat which sound isolation is so poor, that my neighbours wake me up or annoy/tease me every time they have sex (2-3 times per day, LOL), that is why I don’t want to spend much on hi-end home audio/video system, especially keeping in mind that I live here temporarily. That is the reason I decided to go with a decent headphone ‘system’ first.


I have just bought Etymotic Research HF3, Shure SRH840 and FiiO E07K for portable use. Thought, it would be enough for an entry-level kit. However, after reading this forum for about a week I decided to get good home-use headphones – Sennheiser HD600 (ordered yesterday). I can afford almost any of the flagship headphones, but I don‘t think this would be a wise decision to buy best of the best right away. You don‘t buy a Ferrari or Bugatti, when you haven‘t driven a car yet. On the other hand, I have many hobbies (traveling, photography, collecting vintage and modern watches, cars, motosport, etc.) so I do have where to spend my money. normal_smile%20.gif


To make a long story short, I need an amp/DAC to power my headphones. The more I read here, the more confused I get (I‘ve been reading this forum for almost a week before I decided to go with HD600), that is why I do need and advice regarding amp/DAC.


Some relevant info:

  • I listen to all kinds of music, but mostly pop/r&b/hip hop (~40%), chillout/lounge (~30%), instrumental/vocal (20%), other (rock, house, classic, etc.; 10%). Percentage changes from time to time.
  • I do love bass.
  • I always buy gear that I can keep for a long time.
  • My current music sources are Samsung 9-series Notebook, iPad 2 and iPhone 5 (FLAC and 320kbps Mp3) - I know, lame... However, I‘m planning to get a good source this year (I have quite a collection of music CDs and Blu-rays).
  • I live in Europe (different voltage).
  • Aesthetics is very important to me, I love  the looks of the tube amps.
  • I think I will get some more headphones in the future (bass heavy closed for portable use, home use ‘flagship’ one’s), so the amp/DAC should be suitable not just for HD600.
  • I haven‘t decided on a budget yet as I have no clue how much I should spend in order to get a good amp/DAC, that I can use many years. I guess it should be at least 500$.
  • I‘m not familiar with the pros and cons of having separate units (amp and DAC).


Your suggestions/thoughts are welcome based on the provided info.



Thanks in advance!




P.S. Sorry for my English – I totally lost it..

post #2 of 9

Depending on your decided budget, we can help you further. Amps and DACs scale quite well, so the more you spend.. the better sound quality you will get. Also the HD600 is a great headphone that scales well with gear so that is a plus. I wanted to point out, you mentioned you like bass, well depending on how much bass you like.. the HD600 is not bass heavy or emphasized at all. So you might want to check that out, you might be better suited with say the HD650 that has a warmer signature compared to the HD 600.


Another question that you didn't address is whether or not you want a solid-state amplifier or a tube amplifier? You mentioned in the future you plan to get a few more headphones, do you know what impedance they might be? Typically, if you have a wide range of headphones that all have different impedance/sensitivity you might it would be better to get a solid-state amplifier or a hybrid, to usually match better. Tube amplifier sound wonderful (to my ears), but they are picky with their headphones. Low impedance cans, or highly sensitive ones might have audible displeasures.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.


Well, I love base, that is why I wrote I was planning to get another pair of haeadphones which are bass heavy. But I wanted to get neutral sounding headphones at first.


Sorry, I don't know much about impedance or sensitivity... :( If I buy another pair of headphones, most likely it will be on of these: HE-500, LCD-2/3, HE-6. Portable bass heavy - probably PRO900, but haven't decided yet.


Is there a tube amp/DAC that would sound good with all of these options?

I love the looks of the tube amps... WA7 looks sweet.


Speaking about the budget, lets say up to 1k USD. Will this be enough to get a good amp/DAC that would work well with all the listed headphones and look good? If not, I might raise the budget :)

post #4 of 9

Hmm well, if you are looking for a tube amplifier.. you won't be able to get a combo unit with a AMP/DAC that will be able to drive those headphones so I would be looking for dedicated units. Finding an amp that can drive the HE-6 properly has been a huge question here on Head-Fi, and the general consensus is that if you are on a budget.. the cheapest way to properly drive them is to buy a speaker amp. But for your other choices there are plenty of options. I will start out by recommending the WA6 and WA6-SE from Woo. They are wonderful amps that can drive a wide variety of headphones and isn't to picky when it comes to impedance and sensitivity. You also might want to look at the Bottlehead Crack + Speedball, or the Decware amps. As for DACs, I'm not sure how much you will have left after buying an amp, but an easy recommendation is a Schiit Bifrost or JDS Labs ODAC. I've also had personal experience with the Yulong DACs and they are absolutely great. Good Luck

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks, for your reply! I will check the suggested apms.

Sorry for the lame question, but do I get ir right: there aren't tube amps with DAC (2 in 1)? What about solid-state amplifiers?

post #6 of 9

You know there is a few Tube AMP/DAC combos that I am aware of... The Pan Amp by ALO Audio and The New WA7 by Woo Audio. I have heard great things about the WA7 with initial impressions. You might want to check that out as a possibility. I'm not sure what people think of the pairing with those particular headphones that you were interested in the future, but I'm sure it will sound good.. it is Woo we are talking about!


As far as solid-state goes, there a lots of options when you are in the market for a combo unit. The one that comes to mind right now that will fit your bill is the Burson Soloist. It is a great amp and a good DAC.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks! Will check these options.

post #8 of 9
Burson Soloist is just an amp/pre amp. If you want you can check Burson Conductor witch is amp/dac/pre amp
post #9 of 9
Originally Posted by ladea View Post

Burson Soloist is just an amp/pre amp. If you want you can check Burson Conductor witch is amp/dac/pre amp

Ah, good catch. Then ya Conductor or HA-160D should fit your bill.

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