Originally Posted by Sonido
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Originally Posted by olor1n
It's worth noting the source components employed by HD800 owners who have praised its synergy with that headphone. The first impressions of this amp were from people who are very familiar with quality gear and it was stated from the outset that the Vali was quite capable of resolving upstream components. Others have since verified these claims and I can attest to the same findings.
Perhaps the treble glare you speak of stems from your D3 dac? I'm sure the BH stuff is good but the impression I get from your post is that you're employing those things to EQ what you hear through your HD800.
The Vali isn't the be-all but it is a fine amp. It doesn't roll off the upper registers. Treble is extended, pristine and incredibly smooth to my ears. Really good match for the HD800. There are only two reasonable explanations for thinking otherwise - 1) your upstream components aren't up to scratch and 2) you are fine with stifling the HD800 best qualities in favour of smothering it into a totally different headphone.
Probably #2. I admit my preferred chain for the HD800 is far from the pure frequency response that the HD800 was designed to have. And that's fine with me. I care more for my own subjective enjoyment of music. I don't want to get into what's the right way to listen to music argument so I'll just leave it at that. I like the HD800 for its technical superiorities such as soundstaging and detailing, but I'm not a big fan its stock sound signature. I mentioned the Vali to not add warmth like the Crack, and for me it was bright. I guess was not clear on this, but I don't think the Vali added highs or treble either. I think it did a good job pushing out the stock sound of the HD800. From an engineering standpoint, this is a success. However, for my personal enjoyment, I didn't like the sound with the HD800.
The way I see it, it's easier to alter the signature of a headphone than it is to improve its technicalities. That's what I have chosen to do with my setup. Now your #2 statement is a bit loaded to say I have destroyed the best qualities of the HD800. I don't think I have done that at all. Like I said, I kept the technical qualities, but changed the sound signature. You'll find a lot of people follow the same line of thought to some degree. They may not openly seek to completely reshape the sound signature, but many have claimed tube amps to work well with the HD800, because it somewhat changes the signature to be more euphonic to the ears. In fact, if it was all about the numbers and purity of signal, why do we even bother with tube amps. It's known solid state technology have superseded tube technology as far as objective metrics are concerned.
I respect that the pursuit is for your subjective enjoyment. Please don't misconstrue my post as a rally cry for fundamentalist objectivity.
What I'm speculating is whether the added warmth of your pre and amp are masking the inherent glare of your source. It's stated elsewhere that the Vali is a glimpse of tubes "done right" - i.e. soundstage, transparency, dynamics - as opposed to the tube laced warmth which often comes at the expense of resolution.
Apologies in advance but here's a gross generalisation - those who want to preserve the HD800's qualities tend to explore the Eddie Current range, while those wanting to flavour the HD800 will look at the Woo offerings. From most accounts the Vali is in the EC camp (though not in the same league). By your own admission you want to colour the HD800 a certain way. Maybe the quality of your source is at play, as evidenced by impressions to the contrary, and you prefer to open door # 2 to address these issues. So your impressions are actually in line with what has already been stated. It's just that your priorities are different.
edit: added quote for context.
Edited by olor1n - 1/25/14 at 6:19pm