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Recommendations for desktop amp and DAC for Sennheiser HD 600- $900 budget

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi All!

I have been reading on this site incessantly for the last few months in an effort to create an audiophile level headphone set-up to replace my speaker-based system. Due to the march of time and change in lifestyle (birth of 2 kids that are now teenagers), I no longer have the time to listen to my main system in the way I once did. I enjoy listening to music, in an immersive and relaxing way,enough not to give up completely on it. So, I am hoping to find a very musical headphone based system that will give me this pleasure. I am listening for truth of timbre, sense of presence (as though you are there with the musicians), and a smoothness to the sound without being rolled off.

I love female vocalists (early Joni Mitchel, Sarah McLaughlin, Holly Cole, Dianna Krall), but also listen to classic rock and folk, some jazz, some pop. I have a good CD collection (that is collecting dust) and am building my iTunes library through CD rips and downloads.

I am in a predicament with sources. I have a Museatex Meilor DAC that needs a bit of work (gold plated plugs for analogue and coaxial inputs need replacing). Sadly, my Arcam CD player stopped spinning CDs, so I am currently using a cheap DVD player as a source to my wonderful Duntech speakers. Still decent sound but doesn't help me moving forward with a headphone based system.

After reading all I felt I could, I picked up a new pair of Sennheiser HD 600 headphones. A great all-round headphone from what I have read, at a reasonable price.

I have been in-touch with the guys at Schiit and am considering the Valhalla and Uber Bifrost combo.

What are your thoughts on this potential system? Will it be musical and engaging to be immersed in? Am I hoping for too much from a system at this price point (money is limited)? Other suggestions for the HD 600s?

Also, I would really appreciate advice on my sources. If I get a cheap DVD or CD player with a coaxial out, as a transport, I could play CDs through the bifrost or repaired Melior. I also want to use my iPhone 5 as a source. Anyone tried the Pure i20 as a connection for the iPhone 5 and output to a DAC? Other suggestions for linking in the iPhone 5?

My budget for amp and DAC is $1000 at most.

Any and all advice would be appreciated!!!!!

Thanks and I look forward to chatting with you in the various forums (I have some experience rolling 6DJ8 tubes and look forward to contributing my thoughts to the bifrost thread).

Happy listening!
post #2 of 19

Take a look at the Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies. It's a DAC and amp all-in-one combo:

http://www.wooaudio.com/products/wa7fireflies.html

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately it is right at $999 and I live in Canada, so duty and exchange rate factor in a bit (as they would with Schiit). Have you hear the woo? If so, what do you think? Have you ever heard the Schiit stuff?
post #4 of 19

I'm sure you'll find something awesome for the HD600 at your price range.  I've been out of it too long, and haven't heard the latest and greatest in electronics, so don't have too much of an opinion on a specific recommendation.  I do know though that the HD600 is an amazing headphone and when driven properly can be an "end-game" headphone.

 

I'd personally look for highly detailed electronics that have the power to really push the sense of space/air that the HD600 is capable of.  Stuff like musicality or frequency extension or width of soundstage wouldn't be a priority to me with the HD600.  But a lot of that are my preferences with the HD600 too.

 

Back in the day, and being as I've never owned one, I can't really opine, the Benchmark DAC1 would have been a popular response for something in your budget.  I'm sure you can find a used one at a good price.

 

Finally, rather than looking for a DAC specifically designed to work with your iPhone, I'd look into using an Apple Camera Connection Kit so that you can use your iPhone 5 with a wide variety of USB based desktop DAC/amplifiers.  There are threads here which can help.

 

Best of luck to you, I'm sure you'll find something awesome.

 

-Jason

post #5 of 19

If the WA3 is slightly out of your price range, I think Woo Audio has two other OTL tube amps for ~500USD. You could then pair it up with a Schiit DAC and have a damn good system.

post #6 of 19

You don't need an amp/DAC with the Sennheiser HD 600s. They're sensitive headphones. If you want an amp, get an Objective2+ODAC or something. It sounds just as good as the $1K Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies and isn't excessively overpriced. I prefer solid state amps to tube amps, wherever possible, personally.

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of your posts! I was hoping to hear some real positives about the Valhalla, as I have a fair number of 6DJ8 tubes and was lookin forward to rolling some of them with the amp.

As for the DAC, there seems to be a ton of different options. Narrowing it down is tricky. I very much appreciate all of the input!

Unfortunately I don't have a store nearby that I can go and test this equipment out on before buying.

Anyone that has tried the Valhalla and bifost with the HD 600s? Or anyone that has experience with the Schiit equipment?

Thanks!
post #8 of 19

I use an AMB Gamma2 or devilsound to feed my little dot Mkiii to feed my HD800s... that sounds better than I need it to, and I'm pretty sure it was way less than your $1,000 budget so you may want to give that a thought as well.  Haven't tried Schiit's equipment but I've heard good things.  

 

edit: also depends on how attached you are to the 6DJ8 tube stash you have :)

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of your input!

Perhaps I am best to just look at an amp at this point and get used to the sound of the HD 600. I am a sucker for tubes though (all due respect Dranonzeanse). That being said, I am looking to really get the best out of the "cans" so any further advice would be appreciated.

So many options, it's a little overwhelming, even after reading for so long. Working with a trusted stereo dealer to put my speaker system together was much easier....once I found the right dealer smily_headphones1.gif.

I hope I will enjoy the HD 600 cans. I heard some HD 650 pair with a TEAC amp and DAC. Wonderful sound but I was looking at over $1600. Hmmmm. No tubes in that system!!
post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonzeanse View Post
 

You don't need an amp/DAC with the Sennheiser HD 600s. They're sensitive headphones. If you want an amp, get an Objective2+ODAC or something. It sounds just as good as the $1K Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies and isn't excessively overpriced. I prefer solid state amps to tube amps, wherever possible, personally.


I'm sorry but I have to disagree. 600s are 300 ohms and are fairly bright already so if you don't have a tube or warm SS amp, you're not getting the most out of them.

post #11 of 19

I personally much preferred the sound of the HD600 out of a tube amp.  My friend had a pair for a little while and he let me audition them with a tube and a SS amp and it was (as close as you'll get) to night and day.  I'm sure that's a preference thing though.  

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks Maxipad. I am leaning toward tubes and would love to hear some positives about the Valhalla, as I do have many 6DJ8s to roll. No sense getting an amp that won't make the cans really sing though! I will look into the Woo amps to see if the I can roll 6DJ8 tubes. Any other amps out there that will allow 6dj8 rolling?
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty143 View Post

Thanks Maxipad. I am leaning toward tubes and would love to hear some positives about the Valhalla, as I do have many 6DJ8s to roll. No sense getting an amp that won't make the cans really sing though! I will look into the Woo amps to see if the I can roll 6DJ8 tubes. Any other amps out there that will allow 6dj8 rolling?

http://www.head-fi.org/t/588316/valhalla-vs-crack-for-hd650

 

Evidently comes highly recommended.  Although I have no personal experience with that amp :)  Good luck on your search (it's half the fun, isn't it?)

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks! Great thread. Still not seeing tons of support for the Valhalla. Given my fine motor skills, it would cost me $1000 to build the Crack after all the mistakes (given that I didn't burn the whole house down).

The search is part of the fun, but man I am just not getting a sense of clarity or direction yet. It will come I'm sure.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Has anyone tied the HD600s with the Woo WA3 or the WA2?
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