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Perfect AMP for my HD598 under $300 ? (Bravo or HIFIMAN EF-2A or FIIO E17 or HRT or Bellari HA540)

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hi guys ... I am enjoying my Sennheiser HD598 and for someone who uses them mostly run out of my computer (with an old, cheap soundcard) I just want to see if I can get better and louder sound using a AMP under $300.

 

So far I narrowed it down to these.

 

 

Bravo 

http://www.amazon.com/Bravo-Audio-Ocean-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B00A2QKSVI/ref=sr_1_8?s=audio-video-accessories&ie=UTF8&qid=1396127800&sr=1-8&keywords=headphones+amp

 

HIFIMAN EF-2A

http://www.amazon.com/HiFiMAN-EF2A-HIFIMAN-EF-2A-HEADPHONE/dp/B004357WL8/ref=sr_1_3?s=audio-video-accessories&ie=UTF8&qid=1396127800&sr=1-3&keywords=headphones+amp

 

FIIO E17 

http://www.amazon.com/FIIO-E17-Alpen-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B0070UFMOW/ref=sr_1_21?s=audio-video-accessories&ie=UTF8&qid=1396127800&sr=1-21&keywords=headphones+amp

 

HRT 

http://www.amazon.com/HIGH-RESOLUTION-TECHNOLOGIES-355-HRT/dp/B0067Z6BNC/ref=sr_1_23?s=audio-video-accessories&ie=UTF8&qid=1396127800&sr=1-23&keywords=headphones+amp

 

Bellari HA540

http://www.amazon.com/Bellari-HA540-Stereo-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B004FI6AKW/ref=sr_1_28?s=audio-video-accessories&ie=UTF8&qid=1396127910&sr=1-28&keywords=headphones+amp

 

 

 

Any feedback is much appreciated.

post #2 of 24
Thread Starter 

also thinking about  

 

Shiit Modi Magni combo ??

post #3 of 24

As I doubt your current sound card has a good DAC chip, I'm thinking you could replace it with an Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card ($180).

The STX comes with PCM1792A DAC chip :) and a headphone amplifier that can drive headphones up to 600-Ohm.

Also a Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $60) mated to an external headphone amplifier, like the Schiit Magni ($100) or 02 (Objective 2, $120) headphone amplifier makes a good combo.

 

I just bought a Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/Amp ($298) to replace my Essence STX.

post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

As I doubt your current sound card has a good DAC chip, I'm thinking you could replace it with an Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card ($180).

The STX comes with PCM1792A DAC chip :) and a headphone amplifier that can drive headphones up to 600-Ohm.

Also a Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $60) mated to an external headphone amplifier, like the Schiit Magni ($100) or 02 (Objective 2, $120) headphone amplifier makes a good combo.

 

I just bought a Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/Amp ($298) to replace my Essence STX.

 

What I want to do is oprder a few things from Amazon and be able to easily return stuff that I don't like. Ordering a sound card, installing it ... just more hassle than I want at first. I'd rather get something with a quick hook up. So a Shiit Modi Magni combo, good choice?

post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist718 View Post
 

 

What I want to do is order a few things from Amazon and be able to easily return stuff that I don't like. Ordering a sound card, installing it ... just more hassle than I want at first. I'd rather get something with a quick hook up. So a Shiit Modi Magni combo, good choice?

 

The Modi/Magni should improve the audio quality of the HD598, go for it.

post #6 of 24

The HD598 are a low impedance headphone, I think around 50 ohms.  I would look for an amp that has an output of near zero.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-impedance

 

I noticed a big jump in soundstage on the HD598 when I moved to a lower ohm amp, so much so that I love the HD598s now, whereas before I didn't get what the big deal was.  It is definitely worth it.  For example the two tube amps you mention are probably higher in impedance output and don't meet the rule of at least an 8 times difference.  I think the Bellari has a 16 ohm output.  A tube amp probably matches better with the HD600.

 

I would recommend the HRT micro streamer over the head streamer if you want something portable.  Many like the micro streamer over the music streamer.

 

The Schiit Magni has an almost zero output impedance, and the Modi is supposed to be very good.  I would check with Schiit how the Magni matches up with a very easy to drive headphone like the HD598.  You could always consider the Asgard2/Modi combo as the Asgard 2 has a switch for low or high gain.  Check Amazon for B-stock.  It is the route I have decided to go and I will use the Microstreamer for out and about with a closed set of phones.

 

Any amp will probably do just fine as the HD598 are very easy to drive but I would try to stick with the impedance rule to maximize performance.

post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by domes View Post
 

 

 

I noticed a big jump in soundstage on the HD598 when I moved to a lower ohm amp, so much so that I love the HD598s now, whereas before I didn't get what the big deal was.  

 

so what is that amp you are using that gave such a huge improvement? :-) do tell

post #8 of 24

My first amp was a Audioengine D1, which I still have and am going to use on another system.  This has a 10 ohm output.  I currently have the HRT Microstreamer and when I switched to that I noticed the soundstage really increase with the HD598.  I am assuming the DACs on the two are fairly comparable and didn't know about the output impedance matching before.  I could be totally wrong on the impedance mismatch as less than optimal being the reason.  I just bought an Asgard 2 as I want the preamp capability to use with a set of powered monitors I use at my desk, but am waiting for shipment.  I will use this with the micro until I decide on another desktop dac and then use the micro with my iPhone or laptop. 

post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by domes View Post
 

My first amp was a Audioengine D1, which I still have and am going to use on another system.  This has a 10 ohm output.  I currently have the HRT Microstreamer and when I switched to that I noticed the soundstage really increase with the HD598.  I am assuming the DACs on the two are fairly comparable and didn't know about the output impedance matching before.  I could be totally wrong on the impedance mismatch as less than optimal being the reason.  I just bought an Asgard 2 as I want the preamp capability to use with a set of powered monitors I use at my desk, but am waiting for shipment.  I will use this with the micro until I decide on another desktop dac and then use the micro with my iPhone or laptop. 

 

The Asgard is a great match for the HD598 - amazing synergy.

 

Cheers,

K

post #10 of 24
Thread Starter 

I hear many people liking the Vali + Modi combo. Under $250 .... can anything else be better?

post #11 of 24

I have an EF2A, and I sometimes question my choice of purchase.  Honestly I'd go for the Magni/Modi combo.  It certainly looks like a more solid purchase from my perspective. 

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by MegaMushroom View Post
 

I have an EF2A, and I sometimes question my choice of purchase.  Honestly I'd go for the Magni/Modi combo.  It certainly looks like a more solid purchase from my perspective. 

 

Yes, you can't go wrong with the Modi/Magni combo. You will love the sound of the HD598 from this combo.

 

cheers,

K

post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolpep View Post
 

 

Yes, you can't go wrong with the Modi/Magni combo. You will love the sound of the HD598 from this combo.

 

cheers,

K

 

I actually bought Modi/Vali combo. It's coming tomorrow ... we'll see how it sounds for someone who never heard headphone sound paired with an amp and a DAC.

I'll also test this with my friend's HD600. I remember that when A/B testing my HD598 vs HD600, I liked the sound of HD598 more as it was louder, more alive, etc, BUT .... to not power a HD600 is a crime I hear, so let's see if HD600 will now beat the sock off of HD598.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist718 View Post
 

 

I actually bought Modi/Vali combo. It's coming tomorrow ... we'll see how it sounds for someone who never heard headphone sound paired with an amp and a DAC.

I'll also test this with my friend's HD600. I remember that when A/B testing my HD598 vs HD600, I liked the sound of HD598 more as it was louder, more alive, etc, BUT .... to not power a HD600 is a crime I hear, so let's see if HD600 will now beat the sock off of HD598.

 

I am curiously awaiting your post about your experience then :-) You made a good choice and I am sure you will like the HD598 even more amped.

 

Cheers,

K

post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koolpep View Post
 

 

I am curiously awaiting your post about your experience then :-) You made a good choice and I am sure you will like the HD598 even more amped.

 

Cheers,

K

 

One thing I don't understand though about DACs.

 

If now I plug my headphones into my headphones out on my PC that means my sound card is doing the DAC. Now ... if I plug Shiit Modi to my PC sound card ... does that mean that now Modi DAC is doing the converting>?>? and then the Vali amp is amping it up?

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