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First Headphone Amp

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi All!

I'm trying to make my first foray into headphones, although I'm a long time audiophile (no idea why it's taken me this long!). I've read a bunch of reviews and threads and could do with a little help sorting the wood from the trees, as there is nowhere near me I can listen to any of these puppies!

I love all kinds of music, the badly recorded kind too, so my setup has to be able to handle pretty much anything I can throw at it while remaining balanced, musical and definitely non-fatiguing! I'm fussy about rythmn and tone on violins (I like to be able to hear body and not just the edge of the bow). I'd rater have musicality than clinical detail retrieval. My source is a Meridian 808.2i, so balanced is an option. I'm probably going to be using Senheiser HD650 phones.

Models I'm considering at the moment include:
Violectric V200 or V181
Meier Corda Classic or Jazz
Lehmann Linear
Graham Slee Ultralinear Diamond

Could anyone please help me sort the wood from the trees here please, in terms of comparative SQ, bearing in mind my listening preferences?

By the way, is any modification necessary to the HD650s to run balanced, apart from a cable?

Thanks in advance!

James
post #2 of 13
Thread Starter 
Bump, anyone?

I need voices of experience, please!

James
post #3 of 13
Save yourself some cash by building a crack. From what I've experienced hd6xx sounds best with tubes. No point running 650 balance knowing that it will still be inferior to the 800s and lcd2. Instead save up for headphone upgrades.
post #4 of 13

You need only to reterminate the hd650 cable to 4 pin xlr and you are ready for something like the V181.

From the amps you mention I consider the V200 as smooth and slightly warm for SS amp, but I have not heard your other options. For more musical presentations you can go after tubes or Audio gd SA-31.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys!

Afraid my building days are over- I have neither the time nor inclination, although I totally understand why some do smily_headphones1.gif Also I'm not keen on tubes for many reasons, mainly practical, but I've never been a huge tube lover, tbh.

That's good to hear about the balanced cable on the HD650, I assume the HD800 are the same should I ever upgrade?

Interesting, from a couple of (excellent) reviews I read on here of the V200 and V181 I was already leaning that way a little.

Is balanced OP considered important in terms of a long-ish cable run between amp and headphones, or is it considered negligible? In regular Hi-Fi systems one would keep unbalanced interconnects short and used balanced for longer runs, but I have no idea as to headphone cables? I guess I could run the V200 with long balanced interconnects and power cable so it sits next to me for volume control and a shorter headphone cable run?

Thanks again!

James
post #6 of 13
What kind of sound signature are you after?
Edited by Rem0o - 6/16/13 at 8:41am
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3dit0r View Post

That's good to hear about the balanced cable on the HD650, I assume the HD800 are the same should I ever upgrade? Yes

Interesting, from a couple of (excellent) reviews I read on here of the V200 and V181 I was already leaning that way a little. Ok, but no one recommended them in this thread so far

Is balanced OP considered important in terms of a long-ish cable run between amp and headphones, or is it considered negligible? In regular Hi-Fi systems one would keep unbalanced interconnects short and used balanced for longer runs, but I have no idea as to headphone cables? I guess I could run the V200 with long balanced interconnects and power cable so it sits next to me for volume control and a shorter headphone cable run? Right. Also, many balanced amps benefit from balanced connection no matter the length.

Thanks again!

James
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rem0o View Post

What kind of sound signature are you after?

On the warm, musical side of neutral. I like things accurate and dynamic, but that is often interpreted as clinical- whereas I mean it has realistic properties in terms of tone and involvement without sacrificing rythmn and detail. So all the detail and texture should be there, but not overwhelm the performance as a whole.

These things are so difficult to describe, so I hope that makes any sense...

What I hate in equal abundance is any stridency or fatiguing brightness, and woolly, overblown, indistinct bass.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by i019791 View Post

I took your mention of the V200 being somewhat smooth as a recommendation of sorts given my mentioned listening preferences in my first post. Apologies if I misinterpreted this.

Thanks for the info on balanced cables- very useful smily_headphones1.gif
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3dit0r View Post


On the warm, musical side of neutral. I like things accurate and dynamic, but that is often interpreted as clinical- whereas I mean it has realistic properties in terms of tone and involvement without sacrificing rythmn and detail. So all the detail and texture should be there, but not overwhelm the performance as a whole.

These things are so difficult to describe, so I hope that makes any sense...

What I hate in equal abundance is any stridency or fatiguing brightness, and woolly, overblown, indistinct bass.


For the HD650 to have a good controlled bass, you need a good ammount of juice. If you can afford it, a Violectric might fit the bill but I can't really talk about its sound since I never heard a V200. One thing to keep in mind: remember that difference between amps is minimal once you get to a certain level. From my experience, a headphone has 2 states, either underamped or properly amped. Don't expect a certain amp to completely change the character of a headphone if you come already from a good amp. Again, from my experience, differences between amps with the 650s were quite subtle. If you want a better resolution, different bass, different treble and so on, change headphones.

My 2 cents.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
T
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rem0o View Post


For the HD650 to have a good controlled bass, you need a good ammount of juice. If you can afford it, a Violectric might fit the bill but I can't really talk about its sound since I never heard a V200. One thing to keep in mind: remember that difference between amps is minimal once you get to a certain level. From my experience, a headphone has 2 states, either underamped or properly amped. Don't expect a certain amp to completely change the character of a headphone if you come already from a good amp. Again, from my experience, differences between amps with the 650s were quite subtle. If you want a better resolution, different bass, different treble and so on, change headphones.


My 2 cents.

Thanks that is very helpful!

Well, on balance I think that a starter combination of V200 and HD650 will be a good one for me. They both seem to be considered 'safe' beginners choices in that no one seems to have very major criticisms of them and they are said to be quite smooth. I think if I'm happy with them they might be all the amp and phones I ever need, but if I feel the need to upgrade they seem to hold a resale value too.

Another benefit of the HD650 is that they're reasonably priced enough that, if we like the sound, I can buy a second pair for my girlfriend to also listen at night and the impedance and sensitivity will match.

Thanks again guys,

James
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3dit0r View Post


On the warm, musical side of neutral. I like things accurate and dynamic, but that is often interpreted as clinical- whereas I mean it has realistic properties in terms of tone and involvement without sacrificing rythmn and detail. So all the detail and texture should be there, but not overwhelm the performance as a whole.

These things are so difficult to describe, so I hope that makes any sense...

What I hate in equal abundance is any stridency or fatiguing brightness, and woolly, overblown, indistinct bass.

 

After reading this, i think you'll like the Soloist SL. Once you have one, it's hard to upgrade. 

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackwess View Post

After reading this, i think you'll like the Soloist SL. Once you have one, it's hard to upgrade. 

Thank you, I'd heard they are quite a bit brighter than the V200, but will check one out.
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