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Senn HD800 amp conundrum

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 

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.

 

Thank you!!

post #2 of 57

I've been really enjoying my Crack with the HD800, although the best I've ever heard the HD800 was with the Eddie Current ZDSE. But people have spoken highly of La Figaro 339, the Woo WA2 / WA6 / WA6SE, Decware, etc. Lots of choices out there.

post #3 of 57
The Crack + Speedball combo isn't too bad to my ears. It's not as good as others seem to think it is but I never thought it wasn't detailed. Do you have a bad tube? NFI
post #4 of 57

Looks like you want the forgiving, rich quality of tubes with the technical ability of SS. The closest amp I can think of with that signature is the Beta22 (for the HD800). Large, layered soundstage. Smooth, warm, bassy sound, but with good speed, clarity and extension.

post #5 of 57

You sound like you've been around the block but I'll remind you of the obvious. Make certain everything in the chain has a few hundred hours of break in before declaring a solid opinion. I'd bet the pair you auditioned had a lot of time on them.   Worst case you could try and re-create your original experience just to test the that you are in fact not on crack. Take your pair in and try it on the rig you first tested.

 

See my sig to see where I'm at. My rig/800s did not open up until at least the 150 hour mark. Sat them i their box with the lid shut and let it do its thing. It was really hard.  Put them on.... and check... next day the same thing. Again. Again. Again... and then the music showed up. Repeat for each new set of tubes. I'll bet you know that. :) I only mention it because some people don't believe in the 'break in'.  But spacial acoustics are the most difficult thing for any equipment to achieve. IMHO, the last layer. Everything has to come together for it to work.

 

But I'm picky.  I've been spoiled. Ruined by a monster of an audiophile. For years... Then, when I moved away on my own I refused to listen to music anymore.  I can't listen to crap. The 800s to me are... just headphones. They are allowing me to listen to music again. So far, just barely. 

 

Anyhow, my little rig is working out for me (maybe just a crutch). It's just the first stepping stone and I feel I'll be reaching for more soon. With the right tubes the Lyr can do tricks.  I'd like to hear more of what the 800's can do without bleeding cash to test, but I live in redneck land. I'd have to travel a bit to find somewhere to test.

 

I'm starting to ramble...

post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shahrose View Post

Looks like you want the forgiving, rich quality of tubes with the technical ability of SS. The closest amp I can think of with that signature is the Beta22 (for the HD800). Large, layered soundstage. Smooth, warm, bassy sound, but with good speed, clarity and extension.

 

That sounds very general to me. Wouldn't everyone want that?

post #7 of 57

The decware taboo sounds like what you want in your price range.

post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by NightFlight View Post

 

That sounds very general to me. Wouldn't everyone want that?

 

Not necessarily. There are many different amp sounds. I keep multiple amps for that reason, preferring one over the other at different times and for different genres.

 

For example, there are other amps out there that are focused on neutrality, transparency, speed and have a relatively forward/upfront soundstage. This isn't how I'd describe the Beta22.

Some amps are very revealing, others are super slow and forgiving, some sharply focused, others a bit fuzzy. There's lots of variation and I just recommended one combination of qualities the OP would probably like.

post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWIFOSP View Post

The decware taboo sounds like what you want in your price range.

 

Audio... Drugs would be cheaper.

 

Drugs aren't as fun. wink.gif

post #10 of 57
Or are they? confused_face_2.gif
post #11 of 57
Thread Starter 

Thanks, NightFlight and Momiji, I do believe in break-in, and tube rolling. Both the phones and the Crack have hundreds of hours on them. So far have tried various 12AU7s and 12BH7s in the Crack. I only have one driver tube, a Tung Sol 6080, so haven't rolled that, but I'm thinking of getting a Tung Sol 5998, as folks say it improves the soundstage. That's what I want with the HD800s—detail and soundstage. They never sounded harsh or wiry to me, so I don't need any softness up top. Then again, maybe my hearing is going... the treble range goes first.
 


Edited by mink70 - 3/14/13 at 10:50am
post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWIFOSP View Post

The decware taboo sounds like what you want in your price range.

The CSP2+ is also fantastic and it is quite a bit cheaper than the Taboo. Two good options and they can also be used together with the CSP2+ as Pre-amp to the Taboo Amp.

post #13 of 57
Thread Starter 

For those that have heard both, is the CSP2+ much better than the Crack? I'm particularly interested in soundstaging and detail differences.
 

post #14 of 57

I haven't heard both, but I'll bet as much money as you can afford to lose that the Decware CSP+ stomps all over the Crack.

 

~Mr. Tuberrific tongue.gif

post #15 of 57

What is it about the CSP circuit that you think is much better than the Crack circuit? (Sorry, I am not a tech guy, so maybe this is obvious.) Or are you basing the comment on the specs?

 

Mink: I have heard both, but I have no idea which one is better because I didn't hear them at the same time. From my memory of the CSP (in show conditions), I like the Crack much better, but presumably Nick has a good reason to believe that the CSP "stomps all over" it so I'd take his word over mine having compared them only months apart.

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