Thanks for your valuable impressions, Project86, much appreciated.
Edited by Zkadoush - 8/2/14 at 11:03pm
I luckily have some extra cash at the moment, so I decided to find the best Amp out there for my HD 800s. I have a chance to compare my V100 with a Taurus and with Sennheisers HDVA 600 Amp using balanced cables, and fortunately I'll be able to do audition Firestone Audio's Audio Bobby as well, but at another dealer. I would love to have the chance to audition Violectric's new V281 and Questyle's CMA800R, but there's sadly no dealer who has those at the moment.
Last week I had a chance to listen to the Taurus with a pair of hifiMAN HE-500s and a pair of Audeze LCD-3s using my V100 to compare, and although the Taurus' titanic power impressed me - it dwarfed my V100 as much in sheer output power as in size - the Planars didn't. I was unable to get past 12 o'clock on the volume knob even with quiet tracks. I tried them out with both outputs, and although both headphones image better and offer a better soundstage in balanced mode, the imaging, soundstage, accuracy, detail and speed of my HD 800s simply blows the planars out of the water. I was frankly dissapointed. The planars are simply not for me. I was actually considering the LCD-3s as a good counterpoint to my HD 800s, but not anymore. I know it's a personal thing and ultimately a preference issue, but I have the constant feeling that something is missing with the LCD-3s, and I just can't get over the unease and start to enjoy the music. Imaging was very poor even with tracks from MA recordings and Chesky's binaural recordings. In my case, I believe I would do better buying a new DAC or a portable solution for that money.
In conclusion, I now appreciate the merits of my HD 800s even more, and decided it's the perfect opportunity to give them something better than my V100. I have yet to hear them in balanced mode, and I will have the chance to compare them in balanced mode using both the Taurus and the HDVA 600, and see how much of a difference that brings. And speaking of balanced, I recently read your last comment about the V281s balanced output, and obviously being a Violectric fan, I would certainly consider it as an option as well. In the same thread, Fried insists on the V200 as the most transparent Amp compared to the V281 and V220, and recommends to go for the V200 + V800 combination when it comes to ultimate fidelity. My obvious question is if the balanced output of the V281 could be worth it in comparison to the V200, and wring out even more of the HD 800s qualities?
I have the money to go for either the CMA800R, the Taurus, the V281 or the HDVA 600 - although I have no chance to audition the CMA800R -, and if the balanced output brings some more to the table, I'm certainly willing to go for the Taurus, the V281 or the HDVA 600.
I know you said you needed more time with the V281 to arrive at conclusions, but my question to you would be if there's an obvious improvement from the V281's balanced output vs the V200?
Fried posted a chart with the most recent measurements of the V220, V281 and V200 in the thread mentioned above, and although the V200 is the clear winner, I would be interested in the difference that the balanced output could offer. I know you said it was on par with the Taurus, but that it is too soon to conclude anything beyond that, but more of your impressions would nevertheless be valuable.
Until now, but only from what I've read about it and the characteristics you describe, the CMA800R is at the top of my shortlist, but as I have the chance to audition the Amps I mentioned, I will certainly take the time to do it. I also have the chance to listen to a BHSE with a pair of SR009, but only out of curiosity, since they are beyond my budget. But I suspect the electrostatic rig will be the ultimate comparison point with my HD 800s powered by a top tier Amp.
Another question I have is regarding crosstalk. The V200 sports a crosstalk of -122 dB at 1kHz, vs the Taurus -80 dB @ 1kHz. This should be an important difference, but I am not familiar with how that works from a balanced output, and if there's an obvious improvement there. Fried said that "everything lower than -80 dB is more than any source can deliver", but I guess it's still a valid question. Also, Questyle doesn't list any crosstalk measurements for the CMA800R, any chance they could provide that detail?
Sorry for the extra long post.