Hi, a question from a HD800 newcomer, if you'd humor me. Recently, I listened to the HD800 after auditioning the T1, LCD-2, and the HE-500. I went into s shop that sold them and listened with the modest source of iPod Nano 6G plugged into a JDS Labs C421 portable amp via a Fiio LOD. As soon as I began listening—within minutes—I knew these were the cans for me. The soundstage was cavernous, the detail breathtaking; the sound, for the first time with headphones, seemed to be floating outside my head. I stood listening for an hour, slack-jawed. Oh boy, thought I. So I bought the Senns, thinking that I would simply improve the amp and get even better sound.
Not so fast, it turned out. I had a CTH (Cavalli Tube Hybrid) at home, which worked terrifically with the LCD-2, but with the Senns it sounded tubby and coarse and the airy soundstage had collapsed. So I went onto Head-Fi and bought a Bottlehead Crack, having heard about its great synergy with the HD6xx and HD800. To my surprise, I found the sound to be rather slow, bottom-heavy and undetailed. And again, that enormous soundstage was condensed into a ball inside the skull, making the HD800 sound like any other headphone. The rich sound complimented the Senns, but also played against their strengths. So I preferred the humble C421.
Now let me say that I'm a tube guy. I've always listened to tubes, finding them to be tonally rich, present, resolving and weighty when done right, and I have hated solid state for its typically bleached, gray sound. But I consider the HD800 out-of-the-head soundstage to be amazing—and moving—and I'd love to find an amp that has the airy, detailed, and articulate sound that would highlight their strength. Any suggestions? Oh, and it would be awesome if it could come in under $1K.