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<$500 Amp for TH-X00 and ie800

  1. Faucet_Evangelist
    Hello all,

    I am looking for a desktop amp and am on a bit of a budget. I already joined the drop for the Cavalli CTH, but also want to consider some other options (especially since it won't ship until the end of February).

    Currently I have Fostex TH-X00 and ie800. Both are fairly sensitive so I don't need a whole lot of power. I'm not planning to upgrade anytime soon.

    I plan to hook this up to a turntable and preamp (Pro-ject Essential iii and UTurn Pluto), so if the amp has a dac integrated I need to have analog inputs available. I would also like to play music from a digital source so I certainly wouldn't mind having an internal dac. The CTH I am signed up for is the model with the integrated dac, just because that is what is available. If the amp doesn't have an internal dac I think I will go with something like Modi Multibit, but this doesn't have to factor into the budget.

    I am not too concerned about tube vs. solid state, but I definitely want something that doesn't sound sharp or harsh - I would prefer a warmer sound, even if less accurate.

    Some other options I was considering was Lyr 2 (used, most likely), Jonunheim (probably with phono input), or a Crack + Speedball. The crack seems like it is better for low-sensitivity headphones though. Some of the lower-end Schiit options looked appealing as well.

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
  2. Oscar-HiFi
    Most of the amps you have listed won't work great with the IE800 due to the higher output impedance of the amps, so if it is mainly going to be used with the TH-X00 consider the Matrix Audio HPA-2C

    It has a slightly smoother sound, but is powerful open and detailed too. It does have some hum with sensitive IEM's but the Crack won't help with that either.

    Jotunheim will be best if you plan to use the IE800's a lot, but it does have a more neutral to slighlty bright sound.
  3. cossix
    The Jotunheim output impedance is something like .1 ohms on both headphone outs so IEMs would be fine there. But it does lean slightly on the bright side. If you can deal with that, it's just about the best $500 combo unit IMO (not counting the portable Mojo)
  4. Oscar-HiFi
    Don't forget the JDS Labs Element :D
  5. canthearyou
    Was gonna also say JDS The Element.
  6. cossix
    The only "issues" with that being that it doesn't put out as much power as the Jot and it only supports up to 24/96. Of course these may not even matter considering the flaming debate on whether or not music formats over 16/44.1 are better or even worse (higher frequencies produce audible distortions which may reduce accuracy). That aside, it's a wonderful combo for the price. I just prefer the look, operation, and hardware features and jacks of the Jotunheim
    Oscar-HiFi likes this.
  7. Faucet_Evangelist
    Thanks for your responses and sorry it took so long to get back, busy day.

    I should have thought about this more beforehand, but now that you mentioned it I doubt I will be using IE800's much with the desktop amp. I have a Mojo and I really enjoy that, it's just not quite enough for the Fostex. That Matrix Audio unit looks interesting, I will definitely look more into that.

    The Jotunheim does seem appealing other than its sound signature, very different than what I am going for. Then again, the Fostex and the source are hardly neutral so I'm not sure if it would bother me much.

    I hadn't heard of that one before, it definitely looks interesting. I don't think I need all the power Jot puts out (definitely not for my current setup). Would it be better to have an external DAC with that model? And how will its sound signature compare to something like Jot?

  8. canthearyou
    I found the Jot to be slightly on the bright side. The Element is more neutral. The DAC built in is fine IMO. Having owned and used the Matrix HPA-3B and Fostex combo, I did not like it. The Matrix has slight "V" shape sound sig and so does the Fostex.
  9. Faucet_Evangelist
    Yeah, I can see why that combo wouldn't work well. Thanks for the advice!

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