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HELP! Suggestions for Sennheiser HD800 - HDVD800 or WA22?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

 

So I'm planning to buy a Sennheiser HD800 in the future and was looking for an amp. I've seen the HDVD800 as being a good match but I heard many accolades given to the WA22.

 

I'm looking to not replace or buy new equipment after my first and only purchase unless something breaks horribly - so I'm looking for a high-end-won't-need-to-replace-anytime-soon setup.

 

I listen to everything but mainly rock (japanese rock to be exact) - will also be using while playing games.

 

My ideal endgame set-up that I'm looking towards is:

 

- Sennheiser HD800

- WA22 or HDVD800

- Some DAC if I get the WA22.

 

In favor of the HDVD800 because of price - but will spend the money for WA22 and a DAC if it's superior to my taste in music.

 

Will consider other options too, but I mainly want to hear about the two amps I'm interested in as well.

 

Thanks for your help!

 

(sorry if this is a duplicate, someone told me to post here instead)


Edited by xerojin - 4/14/14 at 12:26pm
post #2 of 13
While you're talking those dollars, you might want to consider the HDVA600 with a better, separate DAC instead. The general consensus seems to be (Jude included) that the amp is GREAT for the HD800 but the DAC leaves something to be desired, certainly for the price.

I haven't experienced any of that stuff firsthand, but I'm actually looking for almost that exact setup.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jchandler3 View Post

While you're talking those dollars, you might want to consider the HDVA600 with a better, separate DAC instead. The general consensus seems to be (Jude included) that the amp is GREAT for the HD800 but the DAC leaves something to be desired, certainly for the price.

I haven't experienced any of that stuff firsthand, but I'm actually looking for almost that exact setup.

 

Thanks! I'll look into the HDVA600 as well.

post #4 of 13
Wa22 or auralic Taurus are my suggestion
post #5 of 13

If you aren't insisting on driving the HD800 balanced right away, give the e20 DAC of exasound a try.

Great sound stage, no sibilance or "piercing treble" at all. Detail resolution as good as it gets. Solid, authentic bass with all kinds of acoustic instruments. Given my music preference of mostly classic and Jazz, I am absolutely happy with this little box. It has a built in volume control, is a balanced design and you can add an amp later but also be perfectly OK with the DAC driving the HD800 directly. -15db is the max. volume that I can tolerate, so there is plenty of room left, it's not putting up a sweat driving these cans. The DAC comes with an Apple remote and a 30 days money back guarantee.

post #6 of 13

Have you actually heard these amps? To me they are very different and picking one above the other is largely a matter of personal preferences. In this price bracket you shouldn't be asking "which one is a better amp" but "which one is better for me" - paying a couple of grand for a headphone amplifier puts you squarely in that position. On the technical merit alone even the Matrix M-stage is good enough.

 

Since you're looking for an end-game solution, I second the suggestion for the Auralic Taurus. Looks like HeadAmp GSX mk2 may be too expensive for you, but that would be the ultimate solid state solution.

 

As far as tube amps are concerned, there are several amps that seem to be at least as good as the WA22:

DNA Sonett and Stratus

Eddie Current Zana Deux SE 

 

Regarding the HDVD800: as it has been stated before, the DAC it has on board is not really the end-game territory, so chances are soon you'll be in the marked for a better DAC. But that's part of the fun, isn't it?  

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PleasantSounds View Post
 

Have you actually heard these amps? To me they are very different and picking one above the other is largely a matter of personal preferences. In this price bracket you shouldn't be asking "which one is a better amp" but "which one is better for me" - paying a couple of grand for a headphone amplifier puts you squarely in that position. On the technical merit alone even the Matrix M-stage is good enough.

 

Since you're looking for an end-game solution, I second the suggestion for the Auralic Taurus. Looks like HeadAmp GSX mk2 may be too expensive for you, but that would be the ultimate solid state solution.

 

As far as tube amps are concerned, there are several amps that seem to be at least as good as the WA22:

DNA Sonett and Stratus

Eddie Current Zana Deux SE 

 

Regarding the HDVD800: as it has been stated before, the DAC it has on board is not really the end-game territory, so chances are soon you'll be in the marked for a better DAC. But that's part of the fun, isn't it?  

 

First, I'd like to thank everyone who has responded! You guys are wonderful!

 

I have not actually heard those amps and it would be rather difficult for me to try. :bigsmile_face: I'm relying mainly on the community of experts to give me perceptions of what each of the amps offer in hopes to make an educated choice - thus I mentioned my tastes in music. I'm also planning to get a balanced cord right away with the HD800 purchase.

 

I'm OCD when it comes to tech and fear what will happen if I fully pursue an audio hobby as I already have an expensive hobby (tech) :normal_smile :

 

I've always been keen to music and loved hearing a good piece. So the reason I find myself wanting an end-game solution (besides enjoyment) is after all my research, it seems as though audio technology doesn't seem to take leaps and bounds like, for example, a GPU does (sorry if I offended anyone); audio mainly remains to be a matter of taste and wanting to find that perfect combination.  - So I'm skipping to the end since I generally have an idea of what I like.

 

It personally helps me to hear suggestions like yours so I can guesstimate on what sound signature I'd most likely prefer from these amps - so thank you!

 

HDVD800 seemed sexy... sorry to hear about the DAC - I hear it doesn't do a good job on separation (?)...

 

I love hearing individual instruments with as much accuracy as possible and good sound stage. :darthsmile:


Edited by xerojin - 4/14/14 at 10:37pm
post #8 of 13

I think it would be easier to recommend something if you shared more about your listening tastes and preferences. What gear did you have so far? What did you like and dislike about it? Musical styles you prefer? And let's not forget the budget, as we love emptying each other's pockets.

 

One concern I'd have about the WA22 (or any other tube amp) is that it may leave the temptation to upgrade open, as tube rolling is a natural consequence of this choice. And it can get time consuming and expensive too. Not to mention that tubes have limited lifespan, so sooner or later you will be forced into this game.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
 I think it would be easier to recommend something if you shared more about your listening tastes and preferences.

I love hearing individual instruments with as much accuracy as possible and good sound stage. :darthsmile:

 

Quote:
 What gear did you have so far? 

 

  • Audio Technica ATH-M50
  • Grado Prestige Series SR125i 

 

Quote:
 What did you like and dislike about it? 
  • Audio Technica ATH-M50
    • Like: more detail and bass than cheap headphones.
    • Dislike: feels like I'm in a small room.
  • Grado Prestige Series SR125i (I don't own one anymore)

    • ​Like: Generally liked it because of the open feeling, more detail than cheaper headphones.

    • Dislike: I don't remember.

​​

Quote:
 Musical styles you prefer?

 

Genre - Artist - sample music

 

Quote:
  And let's not forget the budget, as we love emptying each other's pockets.

 

  • $1500 Sennheiser HD800
  • $300 Balanced cables
  • $2000 For amp. (tubes I'll consider later)
  • $300-$500 for DAC.

 

Reason I was looking at the Sennheiser HDVD800 is partially because of the value.


Edited by xerojin - 4/15/14 at 11:40am
post #10 of 13

From my experience space and precision are the domain of solid state amps. Looking at your preferences I believe you would be happier with SS, although even the HD800 alone will make a massive difference in that regard. I see that you are also gravitating towards the balanced setup which in the tube world tends to be more expensive.

 

In the >$1000 territory the amps are usually very transparent and many come close to the "wire with gain" mantra. This means that the DAC selection may be equally important, and $500 may not be enough for a DAC that will match the amp and headphones. I can recommend two DACs that could easily be considered end-game, without costing even more than the amps you have in mind:

 

Matrix X-Sabre is around $1000

Yulong DA8 about $1300

 

Both are very modern Sabre ESS9018 based units, have balanced outputs and support DSD if that's a consideration. Both sound very good.

 

Regarding the amps, if you pair the $1900 Auralic Taurus with either of them you are over your budget. But in my view that would be the best setup. Other amps you may consider:

 

Questyle CMA800R  ~$1600

This one by default is single ended so you save $300 on the cables. If you get two of them you can run them balanced, but SE is already fantastic. Technology wise this unit is very intriguing and it really delivers.

 

Matrix Quattro ~$400  

Don't discard it based on the price. In fact I'm recommending it partly having your budget in mind. I've only heard it SE and it was already very good. Those who have heard it in balanced mode say it is on another level. And it would match the X-Sabre perfectly. 

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PleasantSounds View Post
 

From my experience space and precision are the domain of solid state amps. Looking at your preferences I believe you would be happier with SS, although even the HD800 alone will make a massive difference in that regard. I see that you are also gravitating towards the balanced setup which in the tube world tends to be more expensive.

 

In the >$1000 territory the amps are usually very transparent and many come close to the "wire with gain" mantra. This means that the DAC selection may be equally important, and $500 may not be enough for a DAC that will match the amp and headphones. I can recommend two DACs that could easily be considered end-game, without costing even more than the amps you have in mind:

 

Matrix X-Sabre is around $1000

Yulong DA8 about $1300

 

Both are very modern Sabre ESS9018 based units, have balanced outputs and support DSD if that's a consideration. Both sound very good.

 

Regarding the amps, if you pair the $1900 Auralic Taurus with either of them you are over your budget. But in my view that would be the best setup. Other amps you may consider:

 

Questyle CMA800R  ~$1600

This one by default is single ended so you save $300 on the cables. If you get two of them you can run them balanced, but SE is already fantastic. Technology wise this unit is very intriguing and it really delivers.

 

Matrix Quattro ~$400  

Don't discard it based on the price. In fact I'm recommending it partly having your budget in mind. I've only heard it SE and it was already very good. Those who have heard it in balanced mode say it is on another level. And it would match the X-Sabre perfectly. 

 

Thank you!!! Those look very nice.

 

Since I'm looking for end-game, I think I will I'm all in for the Auralic Taurus and possibly for the Yulong DA8.

 

I had a question about the DAC. I was wondering what the difference is between the Yulong DA8 and AURALiC VEGA. The AURALiC VEGA is way out of budget but the pairing seems tempting enough to keep saving up. 

 

I'm right now I'm at the point where truly my ignorance is bliss. Since I don't exactly know what's out there, I don't have a desire of getting equipment immediately and I'm willing to wait longer. I think this is the perfect time to reasonably save up more money to get "that" gear that will satisfy my end-game solution.

 

Thank you again! You're great help and a great educator! (I've heard of the placebo effect and I'm scared I'm starting to look into equipment that's considered "placebo effect". :ph34r:)


Edited by xerojin - 4/15/14 at 5:58pm
post #12 of 13

No direct experience with Vega here... From what I have read about it, it should be very good. Matching the Taurus stylistically is another temptation. 

post #13 of 13

Here's a couple more DACs to consider. I don't have any direct experience with these, but they were on my shortlist, so you may want to look at them too:

 

Dangerous Music Source ($1000)

This one is actually aimed at the pro audio market, but there's a number of audiophiles using it and the feedback is very good. 

 

Anedio D2 ($1400)

A bit on the expensive side but has very good reviews. Supposed to be better than the Yulong DA8.

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