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Novice + HD650s = Need amp recommendations, please. :)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

^^^

 

I just got them last week and oh my wow, they sound great already, even just running off of a little Fiio amp/dac (I think it's the E17 or e07, can't remember)... What are some good amps and dacs to power the HD650s and how much mWs do I need?

 

I realize the HD650s might be a little ho-hum for some of you, but these are a big deal to me. I have about $6,000 worth of audio in my car, but until now the best headphones I have owned are some Audio Technica Ath-m50s

 

On a side note, I'd also like a really nice stand to hang them on... Something like the German Rooms wood stands.

 

Thanks guys!

post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Ulrich View Post

 

I just got them last week and oh my wow, they sound great already, even just running off of a little Fiio amp/dac (I think it's the E17 or e07, can't remember)... What are some good amps and dacs to power the HD650s and how much mWs do I need?

 

Roughly 160mW and 7volts.

https://www.audiobot9000.com/

 

What that can't tell you is how much distortion and noise the amp is piling on at that output level. Look into the Meier Corda Classic FF or Violectric V281. These can also drive headphones with vastly different specs, unlike voltage output-biased OTL tube amplifiers that only work well with high impedance headphones, although these are great if you're on a budget. If you are, look into the Darkvoice DV336se.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Ulrich View Post

 

I realize the HD650s might be a little ho-hum for some of you, but these are a big deal to me. I have about $6,000 worth of audio in my car, but until now the best headphones I have owned are some Audio Technica Ath-m50s

 

HD6xx series are pretty much one of the most popular lines around here, even with the LCD-3 around.

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Roughly 160mW and 7volts.

https://www.audiobot9000.com/

 

What that can't tell you is how much distortion and noise the amp is piling on at that output level. Look into the Meier Corda Classic FF or Violectric V281. These can also drive headphones with vastly different specs, unlike voltage output-biased OTL tube amplifiers that only work well with high impedance headphones, although these are great if you're on a budget. If you are, look into the Darkvoice DV336se.

 

 

HD6xx series are pretty much one of the most popular lines around here, even with the LCD-3 around.

+1 on the DarkVoice 336SE.

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

Roughly 160mW and 7volts.

SEVEN VOLTS? That would be beyond excrutiatingly loud to listen to (and would probably pop the drivers).

InnerFidelity measured the 650, here:
http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SennheiserHD650.pdf

Roughly .2 VRMS to hit 90 dB (which is relatively loud). Power requirements are fairly low too, as they're relatively sensitive cans - roughly .2mW for the same 90 dB.

To answer the original question: not a lot, most "headphone amplifiers" have orders of magnitude more power than you can ever realistically survive. So basically anything you get should have more than enough power.

So is that the end of it? Sort of but not quite. The HD 580/600/650/6XX family are all fairly reactive, which means frequency response has a relationship to output impedance of the amplifier. What does this mean in practical terms? Different amplifiers, if their output impedance is different, will genuinely and measurably sound different. This is the case with any reactive load (more resistive loads will exhibit this to significantly lesser degrees). Based on the Sennheisers' impedance we can say with certainty that higher Zout will lead to increases in midbass response, and you can see that modeled like so:

(where did this nice graph come from and what is it? this is actually based on the HD 650s, and comes out of a Russian-language review/measurement article, here: http://personalaudio.ru/raa/otchety/naushniki/sennheiser-hd-650/ - they did measure sensitivity and power requirements up near the top)

Whether or not you will like one variation or the other comes down to personal preference, and there is no "absolute truth" to be had here - they are reactive and always will be reactive, and Zout will interact with that and have an influence on frequency response. Your personal feelings about one configuration over another are all that matters. Personally I enjoyed the Senns with higher Zout and the slight boost to the mid-bass, but some folks will disagree with that notion. Generally I see tubes suggested for the Senns as "warming them up" or "improving the bass" and it makes complete sense - a lot of OTL tube amps tend to have higher output impedance. There are SS options as well, especially in the form of older/vintage receivers or amplifiers, but some newer boxes follow IEC convention and provide a 120R output (TEAC, Beyerdynamic, and Audio-Technica all have amplifiers like this).

I haven't used the Fiio mentioned, but I didn't have any major complaints about the E9 when I had it. The TI chip is a good platform. I don't know how similar or dissimilar it is to the E7 but my suspicion is that if the thing can provide at least 10 mW you're probably more than covered in terms of power requirements, so it just comes down to preference of how they interact with a given amplifier ("couldn't I just EQ it to taste?" yeah, you could do that too).

To the "dacs" question - that's a source component, it has no relationship to "powering" the headphone or anything of the sort. IME the differences between digital sources are quite small (if not nonexistent), so if whatever you have is quiet and clean and compatible with whatever you need to connect it to, I'd probably just stick with it.

Full disclosure: I'm not saying "high end gear isn't worth the time at all" or "all gear is the same" but I am saying that broadly speaking its very easy to hit diminishing returns with amplifiers, and even easier with DACs or other digital sources these days.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

SEVEN VOLTS? That would be beyond excrutiatingly loud to listen to (and would probably pop the drivers).

 

I didn't mean he'd actually be using all seven volts, that includes (a lot of) headroom for dynamic peaks as well as having an amp that can spit out that much would likely have a very, very, very low noise floor and no distortion at the 1.5 to 2.5volts output level that anybody would use for normal listening. Also, that kind of performance wouldn't need an exotic amp that comes with ridiculous shipping costs due to weight, but still has to be a decent one.

 

I'd put it this way - if someone were to ask me what car to get for all around driving and occassional out of town trips and back road driving, I'd say skip the 2.4L Accord Sport and get the twin-turbo V137DE Infiniti G37 (aka the fancy Skyline sedan for North America, which never got the not fancy old Skyline sedan). Sure, i wouldn't mind if a CL600 has a 155mph limiter since I wouldn't get that to race Veyrons in Germany, but I'd still get the G37 for overtaking ease (plus it's AWD).


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 4/21/17 at 7:28am
post #6 of 12

The HD650 just like the HD600 can be "used" with any amp, but they will sound veiled unless you hook them up to a powerful amp, the more powerful the amp the better they will sound. basically any amp that can run hard to drive Planar Magnetic headphones and other hard to drivewith ease from the headphone, should be able to run these properly for the best sound.

 

With paired with a proper powerful amp, the HD650 are still one of the best headphones you can buy at any price, but without a really powerful amp, you will be disappointed.

 

IMHO.


Edited by KR... - 4/21/17 at 7:21am
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Guys, thanks for all the replies!

 

My only use for these headphones is to listen via my laptop while sitting at my desk and my music library consists primarily of hi-res files from HDTracks, jazz, electronic and pop...

 

I will NOT be listening loud at all, as my ears already take a beating in my Jeep, so won't be needing (wanting) a lot of power and spl. That being said, I understand that the HD650s are not nearly at their full potential with the little Fios amp, at any volume.

 

Two more questions: Do I need a dac as well as something like the DarkVoice? Do you guys have opinions on Shiit's amps?

 

Thanks again!

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by James Ulrich View Post

 

My only use for these headphones is to listen via my laptop while sitting at my desk and my music library consists primarily of hi-res files from HDTracks, jazz, electronic and pop...

 

I will NOT be listening loud at all, as my ears already take a beating in my Jeep, so won't be needing (wanting) a lot of power and spl. That being said, I understand that the HD650s are not nearly at their full potential with the little Fios amp, at any volume.

 

Power isn't really the problem. As I elaborated in my reply to obobskovitch above, it's not so much that you need that much power, but typically an amp that can spit out that much would have a very low noise floor and distortion levels at sane output levels. And neither does that mean monster amps - practically any decent amp can spit out 7volts and an extremely clean 2volts and roughly 200mW.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Ulrich View Post

 

Do I need a dac as well as something like the DarkVoice?

 

Your Fiio has a DAC. If you can use its line out function then use that as a DAC to another amp. Problem is that older Fiio DAC-HPamps need some kind of adapter on the dock port to enable that, plus a battery powered unit if it's old enough would have an older battery too. So it won't be a bad idea to get a new DAC.

 

As for the Darkvoice, well, you'd need an amp, whether it's an amp by itself or in the same box as the DAC like your Fiio now. It's just one of the more popular ones and I wouldn't shy away from that OTL amp since it has a low noise floor for an amp that price (that is, if you exclude the O2).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Ulrich View Post

 

Do you guys have opinions on Shiit's amps?

 

Great value for the money. And if it matters to you, it's kind of like the Corvette - made in the USA and you don't have Chinese labourers jumping off the factory roof. Schiit makes America great again, except of course it's not like they have a whole horde of factory workers there.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 4/21/17 at 8:03am
post #9 of 12

You will only need a DAC if the sound from your laptop is not very good.

 

A good DAC will make your laptop sound a lot better, as long as the audio files are of high quality.

 

However a cheap DAC will sound about the same and will be a waste of money, and if you have a great sound card it may sound worse!

 

So try it without one, live with that for awhile and then try a few DACs and see if they make any difference, or if the difference they make is worth the price.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Power isn't really the problem. As I elaborated in my reply to obobskovitch above, it's not so much that you need that much power, but typically an amp that can spit out that much would have a very low noise floor and distortion levels at sane output levels. And neither does that mean monster amps - practically any decent amp can spit out 7volts and an extremely clean 2volts and roughly 200mW.

 

 

Your Fiio has a DAC. If you can use its line out function then use that as a DAC to another amp. Problem is that older Fiio DAC-HPamps need some kind of adapter on the dock port to enable that, plus a battery powered unit if it's old enough would have an older battery too. So it won't be a bad idea to get a new DAC.

 

As for the Darkvoice, well, you'd need an amp, whether it's an amp by itself or in the same box as the DAC like your Fiio now. It's just one of the more popular ones and I wouldn't shy away from that OTL amp since it has a low noise floor for an amp that price (that is, if you exclude the O2).

 

 

Great value for the money. And if it matters to you, it's kind of like the Corvette - made in the USA and you don't have Chinese labourers jumping off the factory roof. Schiit makes America great again, except of course it's not like they have a whole horde of factory workers there.

Great explanations on all points, thanks!

 

Shiit sounds like the kind of company I like to buy from... Every chance I get, I like to by made in the US or at least NOT made in China. It looks like Shiit's pricing is really good for what appears to be quality product and solid output. I might try out a Shiit Magni 2 as a budget friendly approach and upgrade from there if needed.

 

These seem like respectable specs, right?

 

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-200KHz, -3dB


Maximum Power, 16 ohms: 1.8W RMS per channel
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1.2W RMS per channel

Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1.0W RMS per channel

Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 260mW RMS per channel

Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 130mW RMS per channel

THD: Less than 0.003%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS

IMD: Less than 0.004%, CCIF

SNR: Greater than 102db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS

Crosstalk: -70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz

Output Impedance: Less than 0.2 ohms

Gain: 1.5 (3db) or 6 (15.6db), selectable via rear switch
Topology: Fully discrete FET/bipolar, constant feedback through audio band, Class AB, DC coupled throughout

Protection: Standard failsafe DC power input and muting relay

Power Supply: “Wall wart” style 8VA 16VAC transformer, regulated +/- 15V rails 
with over 4,000uF filter capacitance
Power Consumption: 4W

Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”

Weight: 1 lb
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KR... View Post
 

You will only need a DAC if the sound from your laptop is not very good.

 

A good DAC will make your laptop sound a lot better, as long as the audio files are of high quality.

 

However a cheap DAC will sound about the same and will be a waste of money, and if you have a great sound card it may sound worse!

 

So try it without one, live with that for awhile and then try a few DACs and see if they make any difference, or if the difference they make is worth the price.

Sounds like a great plan, thanks!

I'll try it without a DAC and go from there. To be honest, I hate this little Fiio amp/dac and I look forward to throwing it off a cliff! Lol It has been a PIA, finicky turd as long as I have owned it... But I do have Fiio's x3 2nd gen in my Jeep for the source and I'm very happy with it. 

post #12 of 12
260 mW/ch will be more than enough to cleave your head off. And there's no need to separate power out away from volts - volts are "inside" of power spec if you know impedance (per Ohm's Law). 7V is just far too much - see my first post as to why. That's beyond any realistic level of "headroom" too, by at least an order of magnitude. I agree with KR's points on the DAC. I've never owned a schiit product so I can't speak to functionality or how the company treats customers, but I know they're amazingly popular these days. Some other mfgrs to consider would be Musical Fidelity and CI Audio.
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