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List of synergistic amps for DT-800 600 Ohm (updated for 2014)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi. I wanted to see if we could get a current list of amps that are known to work well (have synergy) with the DT-880 600 Ohm that are say, under $500. I expect most of them to be tube amps. I know there have been exhaustive discussions about this already (and I think I've read them all), but the trouble is half of the amps mentioned either aren't made any more or seem impossible to find. I'd love to get some updated information of current or readily available amps. (For the future searcher, it's April 2014).


[If you care to read all about what led me to decide on the 880s, here's my first ("introduction") post: http://www.head-fi.org/t/713839/introduction-my-headphone-search-dt-880-amp-recommendations-for-2014#post_10447410 . It didn't get many looks over there, so I just lifted the amp questions and pasted them here.]


Personally, I'm looking for help finding an amp that will impart specific characteristics: Great synergy and tamer, silky sweet highs and thicker lows. I imagine the soundstage can take a hit if need be since it's already so expansive. And yes, I guess I'm looking for an amp that will color these phones a certain way, so I'll get this out of the way now: If I'd been able to audition a pair that sounded exactly like I wanted them to, then I would've bought those instead :). Auditions were hard to arrange and of the models I tried, there was just too much I liked about these 880s that it outweighed the negatives, i.e., slight thinness -- they lack upper-low/low-mid thump and are sometimes overly bright. 


I do really like these Beyers the way they are, especially the openness, but I think they have more potential. For example, I love the detail of the highs, but I'd like more silk. If you're familiar with Donald Fagan's, "The Nightfly" (often cited as a reference in pro audio), then you'll understand when I say that I feel that the 880 is kind of like that album: light, pristine, impressive, detailed, clinical, but not always the most "fun" to listen to. 


Here are the usual suspects that keep coming up in my research. Some of these aren't in production any longer and I can't find them used. If there are new amps in contention, please pass it on. I need help because I really don't have a way to audition these amps. I'd prefer not to spend more than $300, but amps approaching $500 would be considered if they're really that much a cut above.


Dark Voice 336SE (or 336i but hard to find) (consensus is tubes should be upgraded)

La Figaro Dark Voice 336c (is the consensus the tubes should be upgraded?)

Little Dot I+ (saw at least one comment about it not being a great match)

Little Dot MKII

Little Dot MKIII

Little Dot MKIV

Schiit Valhalla (said to be a little bright, so that scares me away from this one)

Build a Bottlehead Crack

Musical Paradise MP-301 MK2 or MK3

Audio-GD amps or combos with Wolfson WM8741 (e.g., model NFB-15.32)

Matrix M-Stage


FiiO E09K

Millett Hybrid

Ming Da MC66-AE

Musical Fidelity V-CAN II (discontinued) 

Earmax Pro (no idea where to find)

AudioTailor Jade (no idea where to find)

Woo Audio WA3 (top of the price range but if it were that much better should be considered)


So far the Dark Voice 336 is my top contender. Really wish I could line them all up and compare. Apparently I just missed the SoCal meet.


Anything I've missed, or any I should remove some of these from the list?

Edited by ccash - 4/17/14 at 2:11pm
post #2 of 8
I just ordered DT880 Premium 600 ohms and a Little Dot MKII. The headphones should be here tomorrow and the amp should be here by next Monday at the latest. I'll post impressions here when they arrive!
post #3 of 8

For solid state on a mid-fi budget - add the Audio-gd NFB12 / NFB-15.32 (the 15.32 is the updated version)


Both have dual Wolfson WM8741s


Sound characteristic is relatively neutral, but full bodied with a touch of warmth.


Has very good power output - 150 mW into 600 ohm.  I not only use it for amping headphones - but also for powering my passive desktop speakers.  Good output impedance as well (under 2 ohm) so can be used with a variety of other lower impedance cans.


When I had the 600 ohm DT880's I used either the NFB-12 by itself, or the NFB-12 (as DAC) into my LD MKIV.  Both were excellent.


Best of all - the price ...... USD 235.00 + freight.

post #4 of 8

Chinese dac/amp called KKmaster (originally made for akg k1000). If you know the owner he can mod it specifically for dt880!

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Perfect, just the kind of info we need (sound characteristics and price).


Here's a link to the Audio-GD:



I didn't mention that I have a Matrix mini-i on the way that should be here in a few days (the old 2012 version). I'm buying it for its digital input flexibility since I have a lot of digital sources now. I'm not expecting much from the headphone section, but I'll let you know... could be a nice surprise!


They're $100 off now ($210 and free shipping) here: http://tamaudio.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=35&product_id=55

Edited by ccash - 4/13/14 at 3:02pm
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
This is weird: If you want to buy a new DarkVoice 336 from the manufacturer or an authorized reseller, good luck.

The original DarkVoice makers appear to have a website at darkvoice.net , but it's in Chinese. There's a link on the home page for English but it didn't work. The eBay sellers are, well, who knows. You can buy it from Amazon, through ShenzhenAudio, but I found people saying they didn't think they were an authorized reseller. Little Dot responded to somebody asking the same thing, and they said Shenzhen is Not an authorized reseller for them, yet they sell their products.

Then there's LaFigaro. You can buy directly from them and everything seems more straightforward, but when you go to their products page there is no 336 listed -- just two 332 versions and the 339. I found this link via google: http://www.yuking09.com/336c.asp which looks like they're still selling it, but why can't you access this from anywhere on their site? Is it an old link? I might email them tomorrow and see if they respond.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well, apparently that's because it was discontinued around 2009! I never got that impression from all the research I've been doing. It was replaced by the DV 332, 3322 and the La Figaro versions, the 332c and 332s.

Thing is, this model doesn't really get mentioned in the "synergy" discussions with the DT-880, at least not that I've seen.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Got the Matrix mini-i today. Initial impressions are good, nothing special. I think comparing DA converters in the same price range is really splitting hairs. You're better off picking one and getting on with life. But if I were going to split hairs, descriptors would go something like this (keep in mind this is the 2012 model with AD 1955 converters) :


From the headphone output, a little soft/warm/analog-ey/dark/veiled compared to my other headphone outs. Some may say smooth, others might say dull. I'm talking just a little. Which you'd think would be great with the 880s -- should smooth out that top end, but it's not really an improvement, and certainly nothing magical. I don't know if burn-in applies to this unit (I seriously doubt it), but I'll hope for that possibility and do some A/B tests a week from now. 


Either way, it's fine. I mainly bought this to be a "selector" for digital sources. And for that I think it's a brilliant box. As an AD converter it'll do exactly what I want with bonuses like digital pass-through and balanced XLR outs.


One thing that puzzles me is that in Preaamp Mode (where volume has no effect), the digital out is quite a bit louder than the XLR analog out. I can compare these outputs directly with this box: http://www.presonus.com/products/central-station-plus . When a balanced signal becomes unbalanced you lose about 6 dB, and this is at least that much if not more.

So I guess I'm on to the next step down the rabbit hole :blink: (sorry, I meant :L3000:).


I've zeroed-in on the Darkvoice 336 (by the way, LaFigaro got back to me -- their 336c is discontinued, even though old links will make you think you can still purchase it). If anyone can say anything bad about the 336, please speak now, or forever hold your peace! 


If not the 336, then I'll have to go for the Valhalla. I love that it's made in the US. Hell, they're literally 5 minutes from my house! I'll get it a lot faster, and customer support, should I need it, will certainly be easier.


I don't know why, but for some reason I'm stuck on this DV 336 though. 

Well, I'm having a most enjoyable conversation with myself :beerchug:. If nothing else, it's helping me work all this out on "paper".

Edited by ccash - 4/16/14 at 12:12am
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