So, I had the chance to listen to a few amps and headphones yesterday.
- Sennheiser HDVA 600
- Musical Fidelity M1HPA
- Lehmann Black Cube Linear
- Meridian Prime
- Stax SR-007 MKII
- HiFiMAN HE-400 (my own with the HiFiMAN silver cable)
- Sennheiser HD800
- Grado GS1000i
- Grado RS1i
- Stax SR-009
- Rotel RCD-1070
As well as being extremely impressed by the GS1000i (once again) when listening to anything related to guitars, I was very much impressed by the Lehmann amp. Very good clarity, a lot of power, enough bass even with the HD800, instrument separation was great, .... I just really felt like I was in the music, not just listening to it. The M1HPA was great for electronic music but it was just too warm for acoustic guitars and subtle tracks. The Sennheiser HDVA 600 was great with the HD800 but I had to crank it quite a bit with the HE-400 and it didn't justify its price tag of 1400 Euros, at least in my humble opinion. The Meridian Prime suffered from bass overload spilling into the mids with the HE-400. If I did own the HD800 I might consider the Meridian for them as it might just give them that bit of extra bass they are a little bit shy of. But, honestly, the Lehmann had plenty of bass, not that much sub-bass with the HD800, obviously, and I wouldn't want to sacrifice detail for a little bit more pressure in the lower regions.
And, while being there, a Musical Fidelity V-DAC II was returned after just a couple of weeks because the owner decided to go bigger. I will pick that one up for 140 Euros cash tomorrow, as well as buying the Lehmann for 770 Euros. Unless anyone here has something to tell me about good reason not to do so.
Especially with the V-DAC II being so cheap I can always upgrade later on to Gungnir or the irDAC or the McIntosh d100 (which I am trying to find for a listening session after reading very very positive reviews). 140 Euros for a quality DAC is a no-brainer, the Lehmann sounded amazing with all headphones I threw at it.
Obviously, the Stax combo is in a different league to most equipment in this list and it was a delight to listen to them, but I am just not willing to sell a kidney to be able to afford it (yet).
I will pick up an essentially brand new Musical Fidelity V-DAC II for 140 Euros and the Lehmann Linear (no USB) for 770 Euros tomorrow. Anybody against that?