~$300 Amp for DT 990/600 ohm
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hobojoelikepie

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So this is my first post here on Head-Fi, but I have been a lurker for quite some time now. Anyways, about two months ago I took a plunge and bought my first "serious" setup, which consisted of the Beyerdynamic DT 990 600 ohm version and an Audinst HUD-MX1. 
 
Thus far, I have been happy with the setup, but of course I now feel the need to upgrade. So, recently, I have been looking at several headphone amps, but there are so many options, and I really can't make up my mind. I've mostly considered tube amps, such as the Bottlehead Crack, Darkvoice 336SE, and the Little Head amps. The most important factor for me right now is that my DT 990's are lacking in mids, and so I would like to know which of these would help the most in that department. I would also like for the amp to widen the soundstage. I'm open to suggestions for different amps, as long as they fall within my budget of course. 
 
I have also considered just using the money to buy a different pair of headphones to allow me to enjoy another spectrum of music. As of right now, I was considering the HD 598, which I've heard has great mids and an amazing soundstage, but I cannot make up my mind. 
 
Well thanks in advance for your feedback, and hopefully this will stop my need to upgrade, or at least prevent it from coming for a while.
 
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Cloud9Blue

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I would go with LD MkIII.  It really cures the sibilance on DT990.
 
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hobojoelikepie

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Quote:
I would go with LD MkIII.  It really cures the sibilance on DT990.


Do you think the MKIII helps with the mids? Because I can deal with the treble, but the vocals are really lacking to me, and that is my primary concern. 
 
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Armaegis

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I was able to compare a DT880/600 on a LDmkiii vs Bottlehead Crack, and by far I preferred the sound out of the Crack. Soundstage felt about the same, but the Crack brought out the mids better. Overall though, neither "fixed" the recessed mids of the Beyers (I do feel the 880 is more balanced than the 990 though). 
 
If you're considering other headphones, the full sized Sennheiser pair very well with the Crack, and it is absolutely magical with a vintage AKG K240 Sextett.
 
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Cloud9Blue

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Quote:
Do you think the MKIII helps with the mids? Because I can deal with the treble, but the vocals are really lacking to me, and that is my primary concern. 

From my experience, the mids on this setup are definitely still very enjoyable, but I can see why you might want it to be raised a little more. What source equipments do you have?  I just found out recently that a good powerful DAC is also very critical to the whole setup.
 
 
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hobojoelikepie

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I was able to compare a DT880/600 on a LDmkiii vs Bottlehead Crack, and by far I preferred the sound out of the Crack. Soundstage felt about the same, but the Crack brought out the mids better. Overall though, neither "fixed" the recessed mids of the Beyers (I do feel the 880 is more balanced than the 990 though). 
 
If you're considering other headphones, the full sized Sennheiser pair very well with the Crack, and it is absolutely magical with a vintage AKG K240 Sextett.

Do you think the Crack needs the Speedball upgrade? How much of a difference does it make and does it justify its price tag?
 


Quote:
 

From my experience, the mids on this setup are definitely still very enjoyable, but I can see why you might want it to be raised a little more. What source equipments do you have?  I just found out recently that a good powerful DAC is also very critical to the whole setup.
 

 
Thanks a lot for your input! Also, I will be using my Audinst Hud-MX1 as a dac. Do you think its sufficient? I have read that it was a pretty good amp/dac combo, hence why I bought it.
 
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Cloud9Blue

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Quote:
 
Thanks a lot for your input! Also, I will be using my Audinst Hud-MX1 as a dac. Do you think its sufficient? I have read that it was a pretty good amp/dac combo, hence why I bought it.

I have no experience with the Hud-MX1.  Looks like it has a good DAC chip, but I am not sure DT990 goes well with a solid state amp due to its raised treble and slightly recessed mid.  I would go with separate DAC and Amp combo.  It is just easier to upgrade down the road.
 
 
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Quote:
Do you think the Crack needs the Speedball upgrade? How much of a difference does it make and does it justify its price tag?
 

I've built two Crack + Speedballs now, and a S.E.X. with C4S upgrade. The SEX upgrade is a no brainer for the cost, the Speedball is a little fuzzier, but I would say it is worth it. To my ears it lowered noise floor a tiny bit and seems to smooth out the sound. 
 
 
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I am interested too....
 
How dt 990 reacts on amplification if you don't look to tame the "sibilance".  What's with other parts of the spectrum ? 
 
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I can only speak for the Crack/DT 880 600Ω combo. It sounds fantastic.
 
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I had the 990/600 and I don't know of any component that will raise the mids to an (my) acceptable level- it's why I sold them and kept my 770/600 as these are warmer sounding and good with vocals while being a touch less treble spiked. The 990 has great air though and is compelling with certain music.
 
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Quote:
I have no experience with the Hud-MX1.  Looks like it has a good DAC chip, but I am not sure DT990 goes well with a solid state amp due to its raised treble and slightly recessed mid.  I would go with separate DAC and Amp combo.  It is just easier to upgrade down the road.
 


Yea except I already have the Hud-MX1, and because I don't have enough cash, I might as well use it as a DAC and upgrade to a better amp. 

 
Quote:
I had the 990/600 and I don't know of any component that will raise the mids to an (my) acceptable level- it's why I sold them and kept my 770/600 as these are warmer sounding and good with vocals while being a touch less treble spiked. The 990 has great air though and is compelling with certain music.

Which was why I was also considering just buying a different pair of headphones to compliment the DT 990's. 
 
But, none of that matters anymore, because I just bought the LD MK IV amp. On a whim, I bid for a used set on ebay, and well I won, even though I didn't really expect to :). So thanks everyone for your suggestions, and I'll update on my thoughts as soon as I get the amp. I guess now I have to read more on tube rolling.
 
 
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