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HD600 - Finding A Better Amp?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello... So I've been using my HD600 from my soundcard(Xonar STX, stock op amps, RCA non-amped(?) output), and have tried a Bravo V2 and Project Sunrise III amp with a few tubes.

 

Why is it, that I practically hear no difference in power/punch with these amps VS plain soundcard output? :confused: (The plain soundcard output, however, sounds great!) Also, I didn't like how the tubes muddy up the sound.

 

So, what is the problem here? Do I need a solid state amp?

 

 

Thanks! :normal_smile : 


Edited by CT007 - 5/2/14 at 9:31pm
post #2 of 10

Hi,

 

Asus Xonar STX is a very good soundcard for high impedance headphones like your HD600.

 

Have you tried those amps with 'audiophile' recordings?

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Nothing 20/24-bit or above 44.1KHz, no. I'm using MusicBee > ASIO STX 32-bit output, with 320kbps/FLAC, with the STX driver set to 44.1KHz. The tube amps muddy up the sound, but I was expecting to get more punch/power, at least... I tried all 3 hi/med/lo Ohm settings on the PSIII, also.

post #4 of 10

I have owned all 3 senn-veil models over the years (580/600/650) and I have never found them to be my most detail revealing cans.  I'm on a 650 now and enjoy it tremendously, although detail presentation / extraction is not its strong point.  IMHO they all have their own signature that kind of sugar coats the sound and can hide the sonic attributes of whats playing upstream.  When I want to hear differences in tubes and OP amps, I'll grab the K701... while the HD650 waits on standby.

 

Generally, tube hybrid amps offer more by way of current reserves than voltage potential / swing.  So its completely plausible that those particular amps are not providing the 300 ohm HD600 what it really needs, and the HP circuit in that sound card does.

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by CT007 View Post
 

Nothing 20/24-bit or above 44.1KHz, no. I'm using MusicBee > ASIO STX 32-bit output, with 320kbps/FLAC, with the STX driver set to 44.1KHz. The tube amps muddy up the sound, but I was expecting to get more punch/power, at least... I tried all 3 hi/med/lo Ohm settings on the PSIII, also.


What sorts of music do you normally listen to?

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Well, everything, I guess. :normal_smile : Film soundtracks, game soundtracks, electronic, Satriani/Buckethead, Mike Oldfield, Bob Katsionis, chiptunes, classical, Masterplan, Weird Al, Ronald Jenkees, synth, Vangelis...everything mostly but mainstream/rap/hiphop/dnb/thrash/country.

 

What I'm looking to try next would be things like:

-ASUS Essence One

-Magni/Modi/Asgard 2/Bifrost

-some good solid state amp/amp+DAC combo

 

I liked what I heard out of the HE-500, but the HD600 has a much better overall presentation. I think I can hear details quite well with this, but of course it's not ultra detailed like HD800/etc. I can certaintly tell the SQ difference between the RCA and headphone/amp output on this soundcard, if that says anything.

post #7 of 10
Bottlehead Crack, if you are into DIY. If not, the Valhalla from Schiit would be good. Any OTL, in theory, would be a better match for 300 ohms than a hybrid, unless you want a hybrid type sound. The Valhalla is the cheapest OTL I can think of, and it's pretty good too. I use the BH Crack, and I really am a solid state guy, but I love the Crack. I keep my Burson Soloist around though because it sounds great with every headphone. Matching SS amps is easier than tube IMHO. But I digress. The Valhalla would be good, or better yet, a used WA3. Jack Woo makes fantastic amps.

I would browse the For Sale section for amps, and look into any of the amps that intrigue you.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

See, I read all about the Crack before buying the PSIII(which is also OTL, at least partially(?)), and strangely didn't get much out of it. I would've bought the Crack if there was a pre-assembled option!!

 

I forgot to note that I didn't like the muddy sound that (my) tubes added, which is why I'm thinking SS is probably best...

 

Maybe HD600 just can't gain as much power/punch as I'd like it to? It is already decently punchy on the STX, though, oddly. I haven't heard these with high-end stuff yet, so I just don't know. :( 


Edited by CT007 - 5/2/14 at 9:45pm
post #9 of 10

Sounds to me like you either need a decent valve amp like the crack, or just a different pair of headphones.  I've tried a lot with my HD650's and come to the conclusion they don't do power/punch or intimate detail, they have their own laid back smooth sound so that's all your ever going to get out of them.

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by CT007 View Post

 

Why is it, that I practically hear no difference in power/punch with these amps VS plain soundcard output? :confused: (The plain soundcard output, however, sounds great!) Also, I didn't like how the tubes muddy up the sound.

 

So, what is the problem here? Do I need a solid state amp?

 


The question here is how much more current does that little tube amp have over the soundcard, whether the headphone needs it, and whether your music has that much dynamic range that it will benefit from more current from any amp other than those two. However, since the tubes are muddying up the sound, it may be that while it may be making more current, any audible benefits are offset by a number of things - like the tube coloring the sound and the capacitance or slew rate of the capacitors can't keep up with the bass boost. At the same time, is your soundcard sending out a proper fixed lineout signal? Using a variable level line-out at higher volumes tends to just allow distortion to get amplified by the receiving amp.

 

In any case, a good option may really be to just try and test a solid state amp, but you might as well try a DAC with it too, so you can also eliminate the possibility of distortion in the variable signal out of the soundcard. Best get a quiet solid state amp with a huge power supply so there's a bigger likelihood that there will be appreciable benefits, since in theory it should have more power and more importantly more dynamic range.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by CT007 View Post

 

Maybe HD600 just can't gain as much power/punch as I'd like it to? It is already decently punchy on the STX, though, oddly. I haven't heard these with high-end stuff yet, so I just don't know. :( 

 

The HD600/HD650 aren't as hungry for current as, say, the K701/K702/Q701, although I have tried a lot of amps that didn't have as much punch or weren't as tight and nimble as my Cantate.2, such as a CMOY and a Little Dot MkII. On the Cantate both Sennheisers and AKGs are on par for dynamic range, but then I got to try the Burson Soloist - the Sennheisers' only gain was slightly deeper-sounding bass notes, while the AKGs had dynamic range that was comparable to a Grado RS-1 on a proper amp (but with a more proper soundstage). Most likely the lower impedance and perhaps a wider swing of the impedance from nominal really made powerful, high-current amps a necessity (and the Cantate.2 is no slouch in that department, considering how it does on the LCD-2).

 

It's not easy to tell if the soundcard is lacking, considering it's not consistent as some sources supplied enough current and punch for the HD600, like my old Marantz CD60 and the Ibasso DX100 (not as much as the Cantate.2 but definitely not bad).

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