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Amp for HD800: Soloist SL or WA7?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 

Greetings all,

 

I have been flying around Head-Fi around for a few days now trying to get some solid impressions, and finally figured I'd just ask the specific question to you fine folks.

 

I have recently acquired a set of HD800s via a pretty decent deal. I listen primarily to classical, jazz, folk, acoustic, with some classic rock sprinkled in. I got to audition the Senn's before buying them (while travelling) and they make lots of sense to my ears, especially for those first few genres.

 

My question is this: right now I am considering amping it with either the WA7 with the optional EH  6C45 tubes (I would also use the on board DAC), OR I would use a Soloist SL with a Resonessence Concero DAC. Now the general consensus seems to be that the Concero is better than the WA7 in terms of DAC, though anyone with differing opinions is encouraged to reply. In my case I wouldn't hear the other I didn't buy, so ignorance is bliss. So then, in terms the amp themselves... which would you have, and why with HD800? I get the sense both are pretty close to neutral, even though one is tubed and the other is solid state.

 

In my case both setups would be identical in price (1100 or so USD), and that pretty much is my ceiling for budget.

 

In terms of sonic preference, I don't require tonnes of bass, I like to to say I like adequate bass to give the music some body (I know, know, how much is that exactly, right?!?!). I do love me some fantastic mids, and I enjoy fine detail so treble is important. Of course soundstage is a priority, I think that's one of the main reasons to get these cans. I see many orchestras live.. so to be able to hear recordings and knowing where everyone is sitting and where the jackass is in the crowd that can't stop coughing is a very thrilling experience.

 

The ideal solution is to try both, but I live in an audiophile-barren corner of the world... so I'm appealing to the knowledge of those who know.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 43

o2+odac

post #3 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OICWUTUDIDTHAR View Post
 

o2+odac

I have considered the O2+ODAC as a minimalist budget approach... but many people seem to think this is sub-par with HD800. I'm guessing this may be related to the O2's output power vs the impedence curve of the HD800... though I hold no electrical engineering degree, so...

 

If I were to find out that O2+ODAC sounds basically indistinguishable / as enjoyable as the other two listed I'd get it in a heartbeat... but i don't get that impression. 

post #4 of 43
At that same budget look at schiit Vali and odac
post #5 of 43
Thread Starter 

I'm in Canada... as for as Schiit is concerned, I can get the Valhalla 2 / Bifrost fairly easily. Because of additional costs I'm weary of importing from the US. I can get the O2+ODAC, I cannot get the ODAC by itself from any retailer I'm aware of.

 

Bifrost/Valhalla 2 do seem by many to be perfectly acceptable for HD800, though you tend to find more people being impressed by HD800 with WA7 (with upgraded tubes). Of course, the Schiit pair is about $300 less money. I guess the discussion then becomes whether or not the WA7 is worth the extra $300.

post #6 of 43
Hey.
For everything you just mentioned in terms of what your sound tastes are I'd totally opt for the SS amp and grab the Burson. The Burson is so incredibly neutral and natural sounding its a bit ridiculous. You definitely got the right headphones for what you like sound wise. The 800's are the most dynamic cans on the market today, so having as rich of a detailed measurement that they carry, buying a tube amp like woo audio will colour the HD's dynamics, therefore taking away the HD' 800 most shinning and redeeming character trait opting for a more warmer sound is not a good idea. Good for the LCD's but not the senns.
Also. Tube amps are a bitch. They lose their peak performance rather quickly over a few years and their maintenance is a pain in the ass. SS amps will give you more longevity and Burson's class a design is so streamlined and focused. It's a beautiful thing.
Lastly. I do recommend buying a good quality AC power line conditioner. Chances are you've got dirty power in your home and that will degrade the Burson's performance. Clean power is essential! wink.gif
post #7 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nephilim32 View Post

Hey.
For everything you just mentioned in terms of what your sound tastes are I'd totally opt for the SS amp and grab the Burson. The Burson is so incredibly neutral and natural sounding its a bit ridiculous. You definitely got the right headphones for what you like sound wise. The 800's are the most dynamic cans on the market today, so having as rich of a detailed measurement that they carry, buying a tube amp like woo audio will colour the HD's dynamics, therefore taking away the HD' 800 most shinning and redeeming character trait opting for a more warmer sound is not a good idea. Good for the LCD's but not the senns.
Also. Tube amps are a bitch. They lose their peak performance rather quickly over a few years and their maintenance is a pain in the ass. SS amps will give you more longevity and Burson's class a design is so streamlined and focused. It's a beautiful thing.
Lastly. I do recommend buying a good quality AC power line conditioner. Chances are you've got dirty power in your home and that will degrade the Burson's performance. Clean power is essential! wink.gif

Thank you! Very thoughtful, well structured feedback. 

 

I have been warned that tubes are a bitch... but at the same time that even though a tube amp, the WA7 is pretty neutral. Only problem with Burson at this stage is availability it turns out, but I will inquire/explore the possibility further.

post #8 of 43
Hey. No problem
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggysp2000 View Post

Thank you! Very thoughtful, well structured feedback. 

I have been warned that tubes are a bitch... but at the same time that even though a tube amp, the WA7 is pretty neutral. Only problem with Burson at this stage is availability it turns out, but I will inquire/explore the possibility further.
.

No problem man. Hey. If you end up getting the Burson the treble may be a bit piercing with the HD's at first, but over time it will become more relaxed with a few weeks of 'Burn in' time. I also trust that budgeting for a good quality DAC is very important, especially for complementing the Burson's nice, clean neutral sound with the 800's. I use an ARCAM irDAC and its extremely amazing for the money and pairs very well with Burson. You also get that natural warm analog sound without threatening the HD's dynamics.
Oh and you can buy a Burson Amp direct from their website. That is what I did cause I'm from Canada, and I saved almost 250$ in retail costs for the unit here. Burson will also cover any duty or extra boarder charges. Very nice company to deal with.
post #9 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nephilim32 View Post

Hey. No problem
.

No problem man. Hey. If you end up getting the Burson the treble may be a bit piercing with the HD's at first, but over time it will become more relaxed with a few weeks of 'Burn in' time. I also trust that budgeting for a good quality DAC is very important, especially for complementing the Burson's nice, clean neutral sound with the 800's. I use an ARCAM irDAC and its extremely amazing for the money and pairs very well with Burson. You also get that natural warm analog sound without threatening the HD's dynamics.
Oh and you can buy a Burson Amp direct from their website. That is what I did cause I'm from Canada, and I saved almost 250$ in retail costs for the unit here. Burson will also cover any duty or extra boarder charges. Very nice company to deal with.

I'll definitely have to look into buying from Burson directly! They're Australian I believe?

 

If I go Burson, I am near dead set on getting the Resonessence Concero for the DAC. It's so well reviewed, and the price is very palatable.

post #10 of 43
Og
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggysp2000 View Post

I'll definitely have to look into buying from Burson directly! They're Australian I believe?

If I go Burson, I am near dead set on getting the Resonessence Concero for the DAC. It's so well reviewed, and the price is very palatable.
[/quote

Oh that Concero is well received. I think it has a SABRE chip in it? Can't remember. Anyway that should be a real fine edition. I think they go for a grand price wise?
Also Burson is Aussie power all the way.
Lastly. Do cable upgrades last. See if you might be interested in toxic cables. They make great HD 800 cable upgrades. Cardas is another company to. wink.gif
post #11 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nephilim32 View Post

Og
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggysp2000 View Post

I'll definitely have to look into buying from Burson directly! They're Australian I believe?

If I go Burson, I am near dead set on getting the Resonessence Concero for the DAC. It's so well reviewed, and the price is very palatable.
[/quote

Oh that Concero is well received. I think it has a SABRE chip in it? Can't remember. Anyway that should be a real fine edition. I think they go for a grand price wise?
Also Burson is Aussie power all the way.
Lastly. Do cable upgrades last. See if you might be interested in toxic cables. They make great HD 800 cable upgrades. Cardas is another company to. wink.gif

 

I pulled the trigger. There is a shop in Vancouver with a little Canada Day sale going on, so it made sense. I was able to get Soloist SL and Concero discounted.

 

Resonessence is based in Kelowna BC actually... and the Concero does use a Sabre chip. The guy who started Reso is one of the engineers who designed the chip itself. They're around $600 standard retail.

 

I have been advised by many people do cables last, in the sense, listen to your gear, absorb it, then add something... that way you can appreciate the difference. Point taken

 

I also asked the guy, for that ballpark of money, if there'd be a better combo for the HD800's with priorities being neutrality and soundstage (basically playing to the strengths of HS800), and he said, no, not really.

 

So yey. Excited! Now I just gotta wait for the stuff. Brutal.

post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggysp2000 View Post

I pulled the trigger. There is a shop in Vancouver with a little Canada Day sale going on, so it made sense. I was able to get Soloist SL and Concero discounted.

Resonessence is based in Kelowna BC actually... and the Concero does use a Sabre chip. The guy who started Reso is one of the engineers who designed the chip itself. They're around $600 standard retail.

I have been advised by many people do cables last, in the sense, listen to your gear, absorb it, then add something... that way you can appreciate the difference. Point taken

I also asked the guy, for that ballpark of money, if there'd be a better combo for the HD800's with priorities being neutrality and soundstage (basically playing to the strengths of HS800), and he said, no, not really.

So yey. Excited! Now I just gotta wait for the stuff. Brutal.

Oh amazing news! I'm very excited and happy for you. There is no greater feeling than spoiling yourself with incredible audio technology. I am sure this pairing will be a staple in your HIFI zone for many years to come. smily_headphones1.gif

Let me know how that DAC is! If you have a receiver/OPAMP do an A/B test. I'm sure you'll hear a difference especially with those 800's! You'll be happy dude. Enjoy.
post #13 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nephilim32 View Post


Oh amazing news! I'm very excited and happy for you. There is no greater feeling than spoiling yourself with incredible audio technology. I am sure this pairing will be a staple in your HIFI zone for many years to come. smily_headphones1.gif

Let me know how that DAC is! If you have a receiver/OPAMP do an A/B test. I'm sure you'll hear a difference especially with those 800's! You'll be happy dude. Enjoy.

I don't have a receiver/OPAMP, so all I can do is an extensive listening test of that chain with various recordings/genres. Especially with classical, it's easy to find a recording where the performance is world class, but much more difficult to find a world class performance that was really well recorded...I hold onto those ones tightly. So we'll see. Beyond that I have a healthy stack of good recordings in different genres so we'll see. I'll attempt to do pre and post burn as well, as i gather it'll make a noticeable different with the the cans and the amp.

 

I can at the very least provide reflections of the perceived qualities of that setup vis-a-vis my preferences, whether they don't meet or exceed expectations. That may help further people down the road.

 

BTW... ever plugged your HD800s into your E17, and if so, what do you think? :P

post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggysp2000 View Post

I don't have a receiver/OPAMP, so all I can do is an extensive listening test of that chain with various recordings/genres. Especially with classical, it's easy to find a recording where the performance is world class, but much more difficult to find a world class performance that was really well recorded...I hold onto those ones tightly. So we'll see. Beyond that I have a healthy stack of good recordings in different genres so we'll see. I'll attempt to do pre and post burn as well, as i gather it'll make a noticeable different with the the cans and the amp.

I can at the very least provide reflections of the perceived qualities of that setup vis-a-vis my preferences, whether they don't meet or exceed expectations. That may help further people down the road.

BTW... ever plugged your HD800s into your E17, and if so, what do you think? :P

That is just fine as well. When you take a high res digital file like say, 24/192 and you run it through a high quality DAC is absolutely beautiful because your getting all that warmth from an analog signal combined with a very clean recording. You will be pleased. Listen to how the tonality of the bass is. It's a night and day difference. Everything just sounds Better through analog. As for the Sens and the FiiO pairing?
It's ok. Not great. The FIIO is much better to pair with portable devices. Besides the DAC portion of the unit is not super high quality and the 800's expose that greatly. Remember, you and I have the most dynamic cans on the planet, so using high quality dedicated amps and DACs is pretty much mandatory. Also, the max OHms on the FiiO is 300 and so it is bottoming out to power the 800's. the dynamics are no where near as wide and clear because the HD's aren't being given the right pedigree of power. I've tested several times. The FIIO is not meant for it. You would have to get the E9 dock/amp for it, but again the DAC on the FIIO pales in comparison to say your Concero or my ARCAM.
The HD 800's are ********. They need the best stuff because they are so detailed and pick up every flaw in a recording.
You'll see. smily_headphones1.gif
post #15 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nephilim32 View Post


That is just fine as well. When you take a high res digital file like say, 24/192 and you run it through a high quality DAC is absolutely beautiful because your getting all that warmth from an analog signal combined with a very clean recording. You will be pleased. Listen to how the tonality of the bass is. It's a night and day difference. Everything just sounds Better through analog. As for the Sens and the FiiO pairing?
It's ok. Not great. The FIIO is much better to pair with portable devices. Besides the DAC portion of the unit is not super high quality and the 800's expose that greatly. Remember, you and I have the most dynamic cans on the planet, so using high quality dedicated amps and DACs is pretty much mandatory. Also, the max OHms on the FiiO is 300 and so it is bottoming out to power the 800's. the dynamics are no where near as wide and clear because the HD's aren't being given the right pedigree of power. I've tested several times. The FIIO is not meant for it. You would have to get the E9 dock/amp for it, but again the DAC on the FIIO pales in comparison to say your Concero or my ARCAM.
The HD 800's are ********. They need the best stuff because they are so detailed and pick up every flaw in a recording.
You'll see. smily_headphones1.gif

Oh I expected it to be bad, just wondered how bad you thought it was :P. I wouldn't be buying 1000+ dollars worth of gear if I thought the E17 was enough haha. Infact the drive ability listed on Fiio's website for the E17 is 150 ohms.... so the lower frequency part of the HD800 impedence curve that is at 600ohms must be pretty pathedic. I use an E17 for my HD598's and that's fine... it'll be fun to plug the 598's into the soloist SL/concero actually, see if they scale up at all.

 

Or if I ever use them again after my HD800s.

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