I took the plunge and bought an HE-500. Now I'm going to have to deal with getting a proper DAC and Amp for the headphones (as I have nothing decent apart from a few portable players).
My budget is $1000-$1500 all-in. I would like to add that I will consider speaker amps, but I highly prefer headphone amplifiers as I will most likely use future purchases on this setup.
Edit: After researching a bit more, it looks like getting speaker cables for my HE-500 and tapping into some speaker amps might be a great alternative to a headphone amp. Please feel free to recommend some good speaker amps too!
I've researched a bit and here's a short list of what I'm considering (from most preferred to less preferred):
- Emotiva mini-X a-100 + Resonessence Concero: great DAC/speaker amp combo.
- Woo Audio WA7: the all-in-one solution here and elegant design is very hard to pass up.
- Schiit Lyr + Bifrost: great combo from my research, especially for the HE-500
- Schiit Mjolnir + Gungnir: an even greater combo (starting to push my price range). Will require me to go balanced which will add cable costs into the mix.*
* Removed because after some research, there seems to be bad synergy with the HE-500.
Attributes I seek from my setup:
- Power: I want the headphones to sound absolutely effortless even when the volume is jacked up a bit. HE-500 requires 1 watt per channel, so it is somewhat power hungry.
- Transparency: Little to no muddiness. I love when the frequency spectrum is balanced so that a bass thump doesn't overpower highs.
- Resolution: I love when I discover new details in music and when it is not overly accentuated (it shouldn't sound artificial).
- Neutral signature: This is probably cliche, but I would prefer a neutral signature. Judging by the quality of these amps and DACs, this is probably obvious but worth mentioning.
My frequency preferences: Midrange > Lows > Highs
What would you recommend for the HE-500? Obviously there is headphone synergy involved, but I would also like to use my AKG K702's and JH16s with this DAC/Amp (albeit the HE-500 will probably be connected to it 90% of the time). Keep in mind that I will consider both DAC/Amp combos as well as separate units.
Edited by SolidVictory - 12/4/13 at 10:34pm