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Amp Recommendation (~$500+ish), paired with MagPlanars (HE400/500/560s, Mad Dog) & IEMs

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

Following on from my last thread, I've decided i'll keep my Creative X-Fi TiHD as my dac, so now i'm after amp recommendations.

 

So my current system goes as such:

 

Creative X-Fi TiHD -> Matrix M-Stage -> HE400s

 

Plus all my various IEMs, and i'm also looking into buying a pair of Mad Dog Pros in the next week or so. I am also watching the HE560 eagerly, possibly upgrading my HE400s to them, or at the very least get a set of the new pads.

 

Budget is roughly ~$500 or so, don't really mind if it goes over (if its worth it), but yea. I'm not really sure tube amps are what I want, they would be cool, but I tend to use my PC a lot, randomly listening to things and not, and leave my amp turned on all the time, so having to turn it off when i'm not using it (to save the tubes) sounds like a pain haha.

 

So yea, what do you guys reckon? What amps should I be looking at? Do you reckon i'll get much of an upgrade over the MStage, for around my budget, or am I going to have to spend more?

 

Thanks :)

post #2 of 17

Consider the Emotiva mini-X set up to get the most out of your planars. http://www.head-fi.org/t/629352/he-500-lcd2-d5000-dt770-sr80-on-a-speaker-amp-emotiva-mini-x-a-100-project/

 

You can always buy an O2.

post #3 of 17

orthodynamics are usually recommended to be paried with amps with higher watts/power. Stuff like the schiit lyr for example.

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0000 View Post

orthodynamics are usually recommended to be paried with amps with higher watts/power. Stuff like the schiit lyr for example.

That would be a good choice too.
post #5 of 17

a really good amp is the nuforce ha-200

 

its pretty powerful, clean and has a very good sound to it. Its the best I have had yet. You can buy two of them and go balanced.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post
 

a really good amp is the nuforce ha-200

 

its pretty powerful, clean and has a very good sound to it. Its the best I have had yet. You can buy two of them and go balanced.

 

Hrm, looks interesting, will have to have a look.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Claritas View Post
 

Consider the Emotiva mini-X set up to get the most out of your planars. http://www.head-fi.org/t/629352/he-500-lcd2-d5000-dt770-sr80-on-a-speaker-amp-emotiva-mini-x-a-100-project/

 

You can always buy an O2.

 

Also interesting, speaker amp? Hrm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by b0000 View Post
 

orthodynamics are usually recommended to be paried with amps with higher watts/power. Stuff like the schiit lyr for example.

My concern with getting a tube amp like the Lyr (or project Ember, or EF5 etc), is that I tend to leave my MStage on all the time, because I don't sit down and do a solid listening session, I have my headphones on all the time when i'm at my PC, but sometimes listening to music, sometimes watching movies/tv/playing games, and sometimes nothing at all. So i'm concerned about leaving it on all the time and wearing out the tube? Plus I don't know that they handle IEMs that well..... plus with the HE400 being so easy to drive, is having that much power (6w is huge!) really necessary? Rumors are that the 560 is pretty efficient too, so I dunno. It's kinda why I like the idea of having a solidstate amp.... but if the benefits are really there for the tubes I would have no issues going for one. I don't like the aesthetics of the Ember, tbh, wheres my sexy alu chassis haha.

post #7 of 17

It's not necessary, and will never be. But don't forget that this is head-fi, where any step up in audio quality is welcomed even if it means spending a bit more. That said, planars respond well to more watts because that's just how the technology is. Keep in mind, that power and amp synergy is different from gain/volume. The fiio e10 has enough volume to drive the q701 to make anybody deaf.

 

As for tubes, the lifespan is 5000-ish hours on the lyr, and its replacement is only 20 bucks for a pair, so you really shouldn't worry about it. The only time you'd want to worry is if you ever decide to go into tube rolling with expensive premium tubes. There are even tubes that are more expensive than the actual amplifier. Yes things like that exist but ofc no one's gonna use tubes like that with a midrange hybrid tube amp.

 

As for iems, it's overkill. There are people who enjoy it, and there are others who wouldn't risk plugging their iem's into the lyr. iems aren't really designed to be plugged into high power sources.


Edited by b0000 - 3/10/14 at 12:58pm
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0000 View Post
 

It's not necessary, and will never be. But don't forget that this is head-fi, where any step up in audio quality is welcomed even if it means spending a bit more. That said, planars respond well to more watts because that's just how the technology is. Keep in mind, that power and amp synergy is different from gain/volume. The fiio e10 has enough volume to drive the q701 to make anybody deaf.

 

As for tubes, the lifespan is 5000-ish hours on the lyr, and its replacement is only 20 bucks for a pair, so you really shouldn't worry about it. The only time you'd want to worry is if you ever decide to go into tube rolling with expensive premium tubes. There are even tubes that are more expensive than the actual amplifier. Yes things like that exist but ofc no one's gonna use tubes like that with a midrange hybrid tube amp.

 

As for iems, it's overkill. There are people who enjoy it, and there are others who wouldn't risk plugging their iem's into the lyr. iems aren't really designed to be plugged into high power sources.

 

Fair call. 

 

I guess what i'm after is whether there are any SS amps worth looking at to be paired with HE400s/MDPs, or whether I should just go straight to tubes and get used to turning them off :p Guess I could rig up a remote power switch or something, because changes are i'll forget :p 5,000 hours is roughly ~208 days of continuous use, so not too bad actually.... but still another thing to think about that you don't have to with SS amps. So you reckon the Lyr? I've heard good things about the Project Ember (and rumblings that they're making a SS amp with around the same power as the Ember?), but it's a shame that they're so damn ugly. Anything else worth looking at?

 

I'm not really concerned with spending the money, but I guess by the time I buy the mad dog pros, and then even consider looking at the HE560s, the cost starts going up and up.

 

I don't really use IEMs with my desktop setup, they're more for when i'm out and about on my phone/at uni with my laptop etc.... so I guess it's not really a big concern whether or not they can be used.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Anyone got any more comments?

 

I'm seriously considering sticking with solidstate amps for the time being.

 

Thinking about maybe the Burson Soloist SL or the Audio-GD SA31SE. Any others that I should consider? Any reason to go with either one? Or should I really be looking at tube amps (ie the Schiit Lyr)?

 

I've ordered the class-a biasing part for my MStage, but my concern is that the MStage doesn't really have that much power (400mw @ 60ohms is pretty low, tbh).

 

Any thoughts/comments? Thanks :)

post #10 of 17

MAYBE consider the bottlehead S.E.X.? Should find some people with opinions on it though :P I've always been curious about it and from the few that I've heard they say it is great with the hifimans.

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nimzerz View Post
 

MAYBE consider the bottlehead S.E.X.? Should find some people with opinions on it though :P I've always been curious about it and from the few that I've heard they say it is great with the hifimans.

 

Hrm, definitely interesting. Not sure i'm keen on DIYing it, though. Don't get me wrong, i'm handy with a soldering iron/screw driver (i'm an engineer, of course I am haha), but nothing beats assembly at the hands of a pro, especially being a fairly complex thing like an amp :p

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Subatomic View Post
 

 

Hrm, definitely interesting. Not sure i'm keen on DIYing it, though. Don't get me wrong, i'm handy with a soldering iron/screw driver (i'm an engineer, of course I am haha), but nothing beats assembly at the hands of a pro, especially being a fairly complex thing like an amp :p


There is one up for sale on the classifieds though!

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nimzerz View Post
 


There is one up for sale on the classifieds though!

Shipping an Amp anywhere to Australia = mega $$$ though, not really an option :p

post #14 of 17

Personally I'd keep your M-stage amp and save up your money for some better headphones, perhaps consider skipping up to the Alpha Dogs. The HE-560 are supposedly more efficient than the HE-500 already so in my mind the M-stage should be fine powering the HE-400 and HE-560. I ran the Lehmann Black Cube Linear (of which the M-stage is a clone) for a long time with the HE-500 and it was only a little bit marginal on power. Also a very worthwhile option that won't put a lot of money out of your pocket is the Project Sunrise from Garage 1217. I quite enjoyed the Sunrise ii with the HE-500 while I still had it and it had excellent synergy, but not the same kind of dynamics and bass slam that I'm currently getting from the Mini-X.

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0000 View Post

It's not necessary, and will never be. But don't forget that this is head-fi, where any step up in audio quality is welcomed even if it means spending a bit more. That said, planars respond well to more watts because that's just how the technology is.

I don't think that's necessarily true as a generalization for all planars. The HE-400s can benefit from additional amplifier power because of their fairly low sensitivity. But otherwise, they are easy to drive in that they have a very linear impedance response across their frequency range, and I think that's true for most planar magentics, at least based upon the measurements I have read at Innerfidelity. For example, here are the measurements for the Fostex T50RP. The modifications people are making to those headphones won't change the impedance response.

If your Matrix amp still has a good bit of headroom left at the volume you listen to, I don't know that you'll get that much benefit from more power.
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