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Smooth Sounding SS - V200 or A18?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

My current setup is as follows:

 

 iPod 160G > Arcam drDock (internal DAC used) > Pro-Ject Head Box S > Senn HD595

 

I am looking for a warmer, smoother sound as there is a brightness now in my current setup that is sometimes uncomfortable for me. I would probably really like tubes, but I am hesitant to get into all that goes with them. For the money I am looking to spend the Violectric V200 or the Yulong A18 seem to be the best options for a SS amp that is still warm and smooth yet powerful. I am interested in getting into some different headphones down the road as well (most interested in Hifiman and Beyerdynamics), so I would like to get into an amp that could accommodate exploring more upscale options.  

 

When moving up to a superior amp like one of these, will the internal DAC on my drDock going to be a total disservice or will it be good for now? Will I not notice it much until I get into other headphones?

 

Given the above, which amp should I be leaning towards?

post #2 of 10

Consider the Schiit Asgard 2.  Great amp.  Very smooth.  Can power pretty much anything you throw at it.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hodgjy View Post

Consider the Schiit Asgard 2.  Great amp.  Very smooth.  Can power pretty much anything you throw at it.

Will the Asgard 2 give me "room to grow" like the V200 or A18? I would also like to get into a dedicated DAC down the road too if there are significant gains to be made there as well as explore more headphones.

post #4 of 10

The Asgard 2 performs more like a $1000 amp than a $250 amp.  

post #5 of 10

I'm not super familiar with your current amplifier, so I'm not sure how "bright" it sounds. 

 

It's also somewhat tough to recommend an amplifier based on your current headphones, and what you 'might get' down the road. If that makes any sense. Did you have more specific models within beyerdynamic and hifiman that you were considering? 

 

An Asgard 2 as suggested might be a good purchase for you, but they are known to sound a little harsh, which may not mesh well with you. 

post #6 of 10

Where are you getting your information?  Have you listened to one?  I currently have one and it absoltely is not harsh at all.  It is smooth and musical.  It has a slight high frequency roll off, so I would call it the opposite of harsh.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

I'm not super familiar with your current amplifier, so I'm not sure how "bright" it sounds. 

 

It's also somewhat tough to recommend an amplifier based on your current headphones, and what you 'might get' down the road. If that makes any sense. Did you have more specific models within beyerdynamic and hifiman that you were considering? 

 

An Asgard 2 as suggested might be a good purchase for you, but they are known to sound a little harsh, which may not mesh well with you. 

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

I'm not super familiar with your current amplifier, so I'm not sure how "bright" it sounds. 

 

It's also somewhat tough to recommend an amplifier based on your current headphones, and what you 'might get' down the road. If that makes any sense. Did you have more specific models within beyerdynamic and hifiman that you were considering? 

 

An Asgard 2 as suggested might be a good purchase for you, but they are known to sound a little harsh, which may not mesh well with you. 

When it comes to headphones I am interested in planars like the HE-500 (or 400). I had to get rid of my Maggie MMG speakers, but I loved the way they sounded and I am curious to see how that technology translates into headphones. As for dynamic headphones, I have liked the sound of Beyerdynamics in the past (short listening in store DT990). The T1 sounds like an end game headphone like HD800s or LCD3s, but the pricetags of those are a little more than I would like to consider spending.

 

I picked up the Pro-Ject as an impulse purchase to see if my old Sen HD595s would sound better that out of my Onkyo receiver. It is definately a step up for a very modest price, so I am now curious how much better it can get. Between the receiver and the Pro-Ject, the most noticeable difference is the clarity of the dedicated amp. Acoustic guitar work and vocals being the most apparent, but that everything seems to be more separated and you can hear all the parts rather than just the wall of sound coming from the receiver output. The only thing I prefer about the presentation coming from the receiver is the warmer, less stringent presentation. Being that I can hear these differences with my HD595s, my thought was that the amp is the most crucial component when providing the characteristics I am loooking for (clarity and separation without sacrificing warmth and comfort.

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dermott View Post

When it comes to headphones I am interested in planars like the HE-500 (or 400). I had to get rid of my Maggie MMG speakers, but I loved the way they sounded and I am curious to see how that technology translates into headphones. As for dynamic headphones, I have liked the sound of Beyerdynamics in the past (short listening in store DT990). The T1 sounds like an end game headphone like HD800s or LCD3s, but the pricetags of those are a little more than I would like to consider spending.

 

I picked up the Pro-Ject as an impulse purchase to see if my old Sen HD595s would sound better that out of my Onkyo receiver. It is definately a step up for a very modest price, so I am now curious how much better it can get. Between the receiver and the Pro-Ject, the most noticeable difference is the clarity of the dedicated amp. Acoustic guitar work and vocals being the most apparent, but that everything seems to be more separated and you can hear all the parts rather than just the wall of sound coming from the receiver output. The only thing I prefer about the presentation coming from the receiver is the warmer, less stringent presentation. Being that I can hear these differences with my HD595s, my thought was that the amp is the most crucial component when providing the characteristics I am loooking for (clarity and separation without sacrificing warmth and comfort.

 

Interesting to read through this. You're in a somewhat different position since you have experience with the Maggies. Did you get a chance to listen to any other headphones? I would personally suggest you look into the following headphones as well as the beyerdynamics (similar in price range to the DT990, differences in sound though):

 

Sennheiser HD600

Sennheiser HD650

AKG K701 / K702 / Q701 (all more or less the same headphone)

Mad Dog Headphones (planar magnetic)

Hifiman HE-400 (planar)

Hifiman HE-500 (planar)

 

Couple of notes on these headphones:

The AKG K701 / K702 / Q701 will soon be replaced with the K712 headphone. If you're ok with buying used, I'd expect a lot of these headphones to be dumped on the market and they will be a real steal. The old K701 are some of the most open headphones around in the sub $500 range in terms of a "speaker like" presentation.

The Mad Dogs are basically the cheapest entry into what I consider good planar headpones. They are kind of the buzz around head-fi atm, and they are really good headphones for $300. 

The Hifiman HE-500 are also excellent, but they are pricey and you'll probably need a better amp / dac than what you're running to get the most from them. 

 

I think your DAC is fine for now for all of these headphones, but it could be something to upgrade down the road, if you decide you're really into this and liking it a lot. For many new headphone listeners upgrading their DAC won't yield much of a difference up front. If you get, let's say a pair of DT990 and an Asgard2, and in 6 months time you upgrade your DAC, you'll notice the little differences it will give. 

 

Pin pointing what can give a really open sound is kind of a balancing act. The headphones, DAC, and amp all play some roll. If someone held a gun to my head and said prioritize them I'd say 1.headphones, 2. amp, 3. DAC. However, many people can make valid arguments for any arrangement of the three, but in the mid-fi area you're looking into, I'm sure that's where it sits. 

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elwappo99 View Post

 

Interesting to read through this. You're in a somewhat different position since you have experience with the Maggies. Did you get a chance to listen to any other headphones? I would personally suggest you look into the following headphones as well as the beyerdynamics (similar in price range to the DT990, differences in sound though):

 

Sennheiser HD600

Sennheiser HD650

AKG K701 / K702 / Q701 (all more or less the same headphone)

Mad Dog Headphones (planar magnetic)

Hifiman HE-400 (planar)

Hifiman HE-500 (planar)

 

Couple of notes on these headphones:

The AKG K701 / K702 / Q701 will soon be replaced with the K712 headphone. If you're ok with buying used, I'd expect a lot of these headphones to be dumped on the market and they will be a real steal. The old K701 are some of the most open headphones around in the sub $500 range in terms of a "speaker like" presentation.

The Mad Dogs are basically the cheapest entry into what I consider good planar headpones. They are kind of the buzz around head-fi atm, and they are really good headphones for $300. 

The Hifiman HE-500 are also excellent, but they are pricey and you'll probably need a better amp / dac than what you're running to get the most from them. 

 

I think your DAC is fine for now for all of these headphones, but it could be something to upgrade down the road, if you decide you're really into this and liking it a lot. For many new headphone listeners upgrading their DAC won't yield much of a difference up front. If you get, let's say a pair of DT990 and an Asgard2, and in 6 months time you upgrade your DAC, you'll notice the little differences it will give. 

 

Pin pointing what can give a really open sound is kind of a balancing act. The headphones, DAC, and amp all play some roll. If someone held a gun to my head and said prioritize them I'd say 1.headphones, 2. amp, 3. DAC. However, many people can make valid arguments for any arrangement of the three, but in the mid-fi area you're looking into, I'm sure that's where it sits. 

So it sound like you believe I should be looking at a headphone upgrade rather than amp upgrade? The only other headphone I have owned are Grado SR60. The HD595s were a step up from those in my opinion, but I have not heard the others on your list. The only other dedicated amp is got to list to was a Micromega Myzic. It was more poweful than the Pro-Ject, but was less warm, so I went with the Pro-Ject. This listening was done with my own HD595s.

 

If I were to try new headphone first, would the Pro-Ject do them justice? Would the ~0.33 watts it puts out at the impedance of the HE-500 be enough to make them sound decent? I know the Pro-Ject is not up to the task for higher impedance phones already, but that planars do like more power as well to be at their best. This was why I was looking at getting a better amp so I could also enjoy the HD595 more as well as get into something like a HE-500 later.

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dermott View Post

So it sound like you believe I should be looking at a headphone upgrade rather than amp upgrade? The only other headphone I have owned are Grado SR60. The HD595s were a step up from those in my opinion, but I have not heard the others on your list. The only other dedicated amp is got to list to was a Micromega Myzic. It was more poweful than the Pro-Ject, but was less warm, so I went with the Pro-Ject. This listening was done with my own HD595s.

 

If I were to try new headphone first, would the Pro-Ject do them justice? Would the ~0.33 watts it puts out at the impedance of the HE-500 be enough to make them sound decent? I know the Pro-Ject is not up to the task for higher impedance phones already, but that planars do like more power as well to be at their best. This was why I was looking at getting a better amp so I could also enjoy the HD595 more as well as get into something like a HE-500 later.

 

Ooops! My mistake. I post to a lot of these advice / direction type threads, and I must have been mixing them up! 

 

 

The HD595 are really great headphones, if you want to stick with them. There are a lot of really good amplifiers around, especially new ones that are great for mid-tier headphones like these. The Asgard is one of them. I personally wouldn't recommend something like the V200 or A18. The HD595 just wouldn't be squeezing the value of those amplifiers out, and would act as a bottleneck. However, if you were thinking about later upgrading to other headphones, those amplifiers may be a good first step. 

 

If I were in your shoes, I'd look at getting a mid-tier amplifier. The Asgard2 that is named is quite good, and there are a few others. If later on you wanted to upgrade your headphones, the Asgard2 or any mid tier amplifier will really get you most of the performance from you headphones. That's just my two cents. 

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