Head-Fi.org › Forums › Help and Getting Started › Introductions, Help and Recommendations › New to high-end headphones and amplifiers. Seeking guidance and direction
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

New to high-end headphones and amplifiers. Seeking guidance and direction

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I am new to high-end headphones and headphone amplifiers. Because I am on a semi-limited budget, I am trying to find the sweet spot between quality and dollars spent. I am considering Hifiman HE 500 headphones and Woo Audio WA7 fireflies amplifier. Frankly this is more than I wanted to spend but I didn't want to purchase components I would be disappointed in down the road. I had considered the Hifiman EF-5 amplifier but figured it would cost almost as much as the WA7 once I purchase a DAC. Here are my questions:

 


1. Is this a good choice/price point for getting into audiophile quality headphones/amplifier?

2. Could I spend less money and get products that would perform as well as the WA7/HE 500 combination? If so – what would you suggest?

 

3. I have so far not considered a solid-state amplifier. Are there qualities to solid-state amplifiers that make them more/as appealing as tube amplifiers?

4. Would I get more bang for the buck by purchasing a solid-state amplifier?

 

5. The amplifier will be next to two 39' monitors, a Wi-Fi extender and a PC. Is this an issue with tube amplifiers? Solid-state amplifiers?

 

THANKS in advance for your advice!

post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyGeissler View Post
 

I am new to high-end headphones and headphone amplifiers. Because I am on a semi-limited budget, I am trying to find the sweet spot between quality and dollars spent. I am considering Hifiman HE 500 headphones and Woo Audio WA7 fireflies amplifier. Frankly this is more than I wanted to spend but I didn't want to purchase components I would be disappointed in down the road. I had considered the Hifiman EF-5 amplifier but figured it would cost almost as much as the WA7 once I purchase a DAC. Here are my questions:

 


1. Is this a good choice/price point for getting into audiophile quality headphones/amplifier?

 

Yes--but folks will argue about where that is.  For cans does it start with the HD 518 (was priced just under $100), HD 600 (was priced below $300) or the HE-500 (now available every day at $699).  For amps it starts with the O2 for about $130.

2. Could I spend less money and get products that would perform as well as the WA7/HE 500 combination? If so – what would you suggest?

 

For an amp--yes and depending on your taste and feature needs.  For a can--no (absent a close out deal on a great can).

 

3. I have so far not considered a solid-state amplifier. Are there qualities to solid-state amplifiers that make them more/as appealing as tube amplifiers?

 

Yes--often cheaper to get into a quality tier; no messing with tubes; avoid cost of replacing tubes; not tubes to break in transport, etc.; some prefer sound of solid state amps (understanding that there is a large range in this regard for amps of all types--that don't factor in tube rolling).  Don't forget hybrid amps, which are a bit of both.

4. Would I get more bang for the buck by purchasing a solid-state amplifier?

 

Yes/sometimes--depending on price point and what you are seeking.

 

5. The amplifier will be next to two 39' monitors, a Wi-Fi extender and a PC. Is this an issue with tube amplifiers? Solid-state amplifiers?

 

Can be--shielding, spacing and sensitivity of each piece of equipment in the area are/can be relevant.

 

THANKS in advance for your advice!

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you!!!

Having never listened to either a solid-state, tube amplifier, or hybrid, what criteria do you think I should use to decide what type of amplifier I should purchase? I don't know if the style of music I listen to matters – but if it does – I listen to Baroque, classical, jazz, and rock. As of late I have been completely mesmerized by female vocals.

 

It would be great if I could keep my DAC/amplifier budget $500 or less. Could you suggest a short list of  DAC/amplifiers in that price range?

 

Is there any other hardware I need to consider? I have ripped all my CDs to FLAC format. I will be streaming my music from my desktop. It's

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyGeissler View Post
 

Thank you!!!

Having never listened to either a solid-state, tube amplifier, or hybrid, what criteria do you think I should use to decide what type of amplifier I should purchase? I don't know if the style of music I listen to matters – but if it does – I listen to Baroque, classical, jazz, and rock. As of late I have been completely mesmerized by female vocals.

 

It would be great if I could keep my DAC/amplifier budget $500 or less. Could you suggest a short list of  DAC/amplifiers in that price range?

 

Is there any other hardware I need to consider? I have ripped all my CDs to FLAC format. I will be streaming my music from my desktop. It's


Asking what type of amp is best is often much like asking what your favorite flavor of ice cream is.  Most important is that it combines well with the can that you select.  Cans (more than amps) have different sound signatures.  Some cans (like the HE 500) are orthos, which can require more and/or a different type of power than dynamic cans, which are the most common.

 

I can't help you much with DAC's, as all my serious music listening is done by way of vinyl, CD's, SACD, Blu-ray or DVD audio using my Sony and Oppo players.  There are many good amps available from the low $100's to $500.  I already mentioned the 02.  Others include those made Schiit, HiFiman, Audio-gd, Little Dot and Woo, just to pick a few.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

~~Some cans (like the HE 500) are orthos, which can require more and/or a different type of power than dynamic cans, which are the most common.

 

That's kind of a dilemma – how do I know which amps will work well with the 500s? Are orthos more difficult to pair with an amp? Should I be looking at a different type (dynamic) of headphones? If you were in my shoes, with no experience, how would you go about selecting an amp/headphone combination?

 

Thanks Again!

Jimmy
 

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyGeissler View Post
 

~~Some cans (like the HE 500) are orthos, which can require more and/or a different type of power than dynamic cans, which are the most common.

 

That's kind of a dilemma – how do I know which amps will work well with the 500s? Are orthos more difficult to pair with an amp? Should I be looking at a different type (dynamic) of headphones? If you were in my shoes, with no experience, how would you go about selecting an amp/headphone combination?

 

Thanks Again!

Jimmy
 

 

hiya Jimmy, what is your budget for the dac/amp?

post #7 of 14
I would spend about a month reading zillions of head-fi threads... wink.gif
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

I would like to keep it under $1200 if possible.

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Well I'm off to a good start. I have been reading about headphones and amps for the last three days. I'm more confused than ever.:|

post #10 of 14

If you are looking for solidstate dac/amp, then Audio GD 15.32 is really bang for buck (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm, http://www.head-fi.org/t/648386/audio-gd-nfb-15-32-delivery-impression-thread). This one would cost about 255 US$ + shipping

you can also look at Audio GD 11.32 (http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1132/NFB11.32EN.htm, http://www.head-fi.org/t/624517/audio-gd-nfb-11-32-delivery-impression-thread). 11.32 uses two different chips (ES 9018) for dac and it is 65 us$ more than 15.32. This one with tcxo upgrade costs about 339 us$ + shipping.

Moreover, both 15.32 and 11.32 have the same amp circuit. Both can drive HE 500 efficiently. They can deliver more output power than that of WA7.

 

 

Before investing huge amount of money, try to do research and audition (if there is a possibility).

post #11 of 14
To know if an amp can drive the HE-500 well, the main thing you need to look is the power rating. A suitable amplifier should be able to put an absolute minimum of 160 mw into 32 ohms (according to calculations based on the HE-500's published specs here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/668238/headphones-sensitivity-impedance-required-v-i-p-amplifier-gain). In practice, you're probably going to want considerably more power than that to be on the safe side.

A lot of people like the Emotiva Mini-X A-100 with the HE-500. It's a solid state speaker amp that costs about $200 and has a ton of power. You can read up on it here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/629352/he-500-lcd2-d5000-dt770-sr80-on-a-speaker-amp-emotiva-mini-x-a-100-project. I use this amplifier with the HE-400 and I'm quite pleased with it.

The Schiit Lyr and the Garage1217 Project Ember are two tube amps that have a lot of power and are popular with orthos.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys! I will follow up by reading the links that you sent me.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmyGeissler View Post
 

~~Some cans (like the HE 500) are orthos, which can require more and/or a different type of power than dynamic cans, which are the most common.

 

That's kind of a dilemma – how do I know which amps will work well with the 500s? Are orthos more difficult to pair with an amp? Should I be looking at a different type (dynamic) of headphones? If you were in my shoes, with no experience, how would you go about selecting an amp/headphone combination?

 

Thanks Again!

Jimmy
 


Here's a mere 746 (and counting) pages that you can read in a single thread here about the HE-500:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/551345/hifiman-he-500-he-as-in-high-end-impressions-and-feedback

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Lots of great information on the HE 500 thread. THANKS KCJAG!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Help and Getting Started › Introductions, Help and Recommendations › New to high-end headphones and amplifiers. Seeking guidance and direction