I've been reading a ton of threads on this forum (hours and hours worth), and I need help finding an amp solution for my newly acquired HD598s (about 30-40 hours of burn-in so far).
I listen to jazz, rock and classical. I'm not a big bass-head per se, but I do want to be able to hear and feel the bass when you're supposed to hear it in a song (like when there is an electric bass guitar, for instance). I realize that the 598s are not supposed to have the most powerful bass, and that's fine with me, I have other phones for that, but I was disappointed by their totally anemic bass response.
I had been listening to them on my desktop computer (Dell Inspiron 620, the sound card is either 'Intel (R) Display Audio' or 'Conexant HD Audio', it lists both under my Device Manager) using iTunes with AAC/ALAC files. I took the headphones out into my living room and plugged them into my Onkyo TX-SR508 A/V receiver, playing a CD out of the Blu Ray player, and the bass was PERFECT. Not overpowering, but so much more present and full, and I could even 'feel' it a little. Not to mention the soundstage and detail were also improved, and at a relatively low volume level (18-20). It was like night and day, and it settled the debate about whether the 598 needs to be amped or not.
So I researched portable/desktop amps, because I wanted to get that same sound at my computer. I went with the Fiio E07k (notice, not the older e7k) because reviews said it had the same DAC as the E17, just less amplification. Since you supposedly don't need much power to 'drive' the 598s, I thought the E07k would suffice.
I have the E07k gain cranked up all the way (12dB) and the volume up about halfway, to 35/60 (this is the highest comfortable volume to listen to) while my itunes and CPU system volume are at about 75% volume. And overall, the sound and bass response didn't improve that much. Increasing the gain helped a little, and boosting the Bass EQ on the Fiio doesn't really make it sound better. I tried adding the Bass Booster preset on the iTunes EQ to all this, but what it adds seems 'thin.' The DAC in the E07K also didn't seem to be an improvement over my Dell's DAC.
So basically, I'm trying to hear what I heard coming out of the Onkyo. Do I need an amp with more juice, like the Fiio E09K, or something else? (People on the boards have claimed that the E09k is way too much amp for the 598s). I have heard that the E17 has a bass-anemic signature, so it probably won't be an improvement. Also, I've looked into the Schiit Asgard, but am hoping I can come up with a solution that costs less than $200.