Best portable amp for HD 598 without coloring of sound for up to $150
Jun 6, 2011 at 1:22 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

f00fighters

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*NOTE: I apologize in advance for re-hashing this topic, but I'm looking for advice to a more specific question.
 
I just ordered the Sennheiser HD598, and I'm very excited, awaiting its arrival. While I have not actually heard them, my research has led me to believe they are a bit lacking in bass, and will greatly benefit from an amp. I will be using my iPhone 4 as my primary source, and iPad as a secondary, and my Mac Pro desktop as a tertiary. The genre I'm most concerned with at this point, is rock/alternative music.
 
I'm looking for a portable amp that will not color the signature too much, or impact the brightness, or round off any treble detail. Does that mean I'm looking for a neutral amp? I'm not sure if that's what that means. If there was some sort of coloring to be done, I would only want it to enhance bass quantity or quality, without the impacting brightness/treble. If the amp enhances the sound stage, that's fine, as long as it doesn't sound artificial. I want beautiful synergy with the HD598.
 
What portable amp would fit that criteria for $150 or less?
From what I have searched in the forums, the Fiio E series keeps coming up. Would the E11, fit my criteria?
 
Jun 7, 2011 at 5:21 PM Post #2 of 13

f00fighters

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Suggestions, anyone? I just placed an order for the Fiio E7. I wasn't really sure what to get. 
 
Jun 7, 2011 at 6:30 PM Post #3 of 13

natashaful

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I just ordered a E7 tonight also for use with HD555's and HD650's 
atsmile.gif

Quote:
Suggestions, anyone? I just placed an order for the Fiio E7. I wasn't really sure what to get. 



 
 
Jun 7, 2011 at 7:14 PM Post #4 of 13

estreeter

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I have the E9, and that is what I would be using with cans like the HD650 if I had to choose a budget amp for the job, but people have reported surprisingly good results with a variety of cans from the E7 and Blasto Brandino claimed that the uHA-4 drove his HD650s competently. I know the latter is significantly more expensive, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet - there wasnt much under 3-400 USD when I first arrived at Head-Fi, and it would seem that the entry-level buyer has a lot more choice now.
 
Jun 8, 2011 at 12:01 AM Post #5 of 13

Koolpep

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I have the same configuration HD598 and E7.
 
Works perfectly. At home I do however use the E7 as a DAC only and use the Fiio L7 adapter USB in - line out unamped to Schiit Asgard. Of course that is not a portable solution. The Schiit Asgard is a great upgrade and addition to the E7 DAC. Maybe the E9 just does the same job for half the price but I somehow doubt it.
 
Anyhow, you will be very happy with this combination. Give the Senns proper burn in. I so much love their sound and detail. For me, these are THE headphones to own.
 
ENJOY!!
 
Jun 8, 2011 at 9:45 PM Post #6 of 13

f00fighters

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Quote:
I have the same configuration HD598 and E7.
 
Works perfectly. At home I do however use the E7 as a DAC only and use the Fiio L7 adapter USB in - line out unamped to Schiit Asgard. Of course that is not a portable solution. The Schiit Asgard is a great upgrade and addition to the E7 DAC. Maybe the E9 just does the same job for half the price but I somehow doubt it.
 
Anyhow, you will be very happy with this combination. Give the Senns proper burn in. I so much love their sound and detail. For me, these are THE headphones to own.
 
ENJOY!!


Thanks. Unfortunately, the Schiit Asgard is out of my price range for the time being. The E7 will suffice for now, and maybe serve as a DAC should I get something else down the line. I had also ordered the L-shaped Fiio LOD cable. How long do I need to burn-in the 598's? How long do I need to burn-in the E7?  And what's your opinion the bass of the 598? 
 
Jun 9, 2011 at 1:09 AM Post #7 of 13

Koolpep

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Quote:
Thanks. Unfortunately, the Schiit Asgard is out of my price range for the time being. The E7 will suffice for now, and maybe serve as a DAC should I get something else down the line. I had also ordered the L-shaped Fiio LOD cable. How long do I need to burn-in the 598's? How long do I need to burn-in the E7?  And what's your opinion the bass of the 598? 


Hi!
Welcome. The E7 does suffice for the beginning. Absolutely. Now comes the burn in question...
 
Burn-in:
Am not a believer of the mechanical burn in, but the burn in that happens in you head. Whatever the reason, headphones do sound mostly better after some "undefined" time. I took the 598 out of the box and was instantly blown away by their clarity and soundstage. They are truly amazing. I don't miss anything. However I bruned them in with white noise, pink noise, brown noise using the nice Mac software "BurnIn" $1.99 in the AppStore. It keeps track of your headphones and how long you burned them in, vs. a target you can set. Anyhow, combined with listening and bruning in I guess my HD598 are still below 200 hours of playtime. I did not hear substantial improvements after the first 30 hours of burn in. But I must say that it does sound to ME better everytime I listen to it.
 
Bass:
These headphones do not have the earth shattering bass others might have. But they are also not afraid of any bass heavy sound. There is plenty of punchy bass but not overpowering. I also have some ultrasone Pro750 that have too much bass for me. HOWEVER, the E7 has a EQ setting only for the bass that is very good in enhancing just that. So if you want your Senns to deliver a bit more bass, the E7 does it in a very neutral way without affecting mids and highs at all. I usually don't use it, as I like the sound signature of the HD598 as they are.
 
Hope that helps,
cheers,
K
 
 
 
Jun 9, 2011 at 10:15 PM Post #8 of 13

natashaful

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Simple Physics would suggest burn in does exist, Nothing stays the same, Especially moving parts.
 
Jun 10, 2011 at 8:09 PM Post #10 of 13

Digital-Pride

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For future reference just in case you're looking a other options, here a few additional suggestions for ya:
 
Fiio E11
 
iBasso T3
 
NuForce U-Dac
 
Jun 11, 2011 at 12:56 AM Post #11 of 13

f00fighters

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Quote:
Hi!
Welcome. The E7 does suffice for the beginning. Absolutely. Now comes the burn in question...
 
Burn-in:
Am not a believer of the mechanical burn in, but the burn in that happens in you head. Whatever the reason, headphones do sound mostly better after some "undefined" time. I took the 598 out of the box and was instantly blown away by their clarity and sound stage. They are truly amazing. I don't miss anything. However I bruned them in with white noise, pink noise, brown noise using the nice Mac software "BurnIn" $1.99 in the AppStore. It keeps track of your headphones and how long you burned them in, vs. a target you can set. Anyhow, combined with listening and bruning in I guess my HD598 are still below 200 hours of playtime. I did not hear substantial improvements after the first 30 hours of burn in. But I must say that it does sound to ME better everytime I listen to it.
 
Bass:
These headphones do not have the earth shattering bass others might have. But they are also not afraid of any bass heavy sound. There is plenty of punchy bass but not overpowering. I also have some ultrasone Pro750 that have too much bass for me. HOWEVER, the E7 has a EQ setting only for the bass that is very good in enhancing just that. So if you want your Senns to deliver a bit more bass, the E7 does it in a very neutral way without affecting mids and highs at all. I usually don't use it, as I like the sound signature of the HD598 as they are.
 
Hope that helps,
cheers,
K
 
 

No offense, Koolpep, but I don't know how one could be blown about by the 598's out of the box. Right now, I think they sound awful. I know some burn-in has to take place, so I'm giving it time, but I'm a pessimist. So far it has had about 12 hours of burn-in and counting. The best sound comes from my Mac pro desktop. The mids are more noticeable in R&B/Electronic genres, but barely. Rock music, it definitely feels like something is missing.  I'm guessing you already had your Schiit Asgard when you heard your 598s? I get a little more bass, if I plug the Senns directly to my iPhone, but through the amp, I get bit decreased bass, but more sound stage. I now have both my M50 & 598 plugged into my E7, and E7 to Mac as a DAC. 
 
Should I be expecting the sound to open up more, in terms of bass? I'm not expecting earth shattering, but I'm getting that "something's missing" feeling. Music doesn't sound that full. Maybe I should order the E11? I hear it's more dark, which may actually suit the 598s. The mid range is seriously lack. The sound stage seems to be slowly opening up. I hate having to use the EQ to get more bass.   
 
The M50 sounds great with the E7 on the Mac as a DAC. The sound stage opened up more, and music feels even more full than before. The Senns, feel a bit anorexic at this point. 


Quote:
For future reference just in case you're looking a other options, here a few additional suggestions for ya:
 
Fiio E11
 
iBasso T3
 
NuForce U-Dac


I'm thinking about ordering the E11, for the Sennheisers. It's probably too early, but they are really lacking in the mids, on many of my rock tracks. 
 
 
Jun 11, 2011 at 2:09 AM Post #12 of 13

Koolpep

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Well,

am very sorry that you were not blown away immediately, I was. But awful? Seriously? And I am very happy about it. I bought the headphones before I bought the Asgard. I actually ran them directly form my Macs for a week and it had that effect to me. After I purchased the Asgard, man, again I was blown away, the sound became even richer and "rounder". It might be that our "starting points" were different.

Anyhow, maybe the sound-sig is just not for you? I also bought a set of Ultrasones Pro750 and was very disappointed in the beginning but continued listening to them and I don't know what happened (burn-in in phones or brain) but I became to like them A LOT! I know switch back and forth between the HD598 and the Ultrasone depending on my mood and I absolutely am thrilled with both.

I also use the E7 as dac/amp at work, at home, NuForce icon HDP as DAC and Asgard as amp. If I amp the HD598 with the icon as well the sound is a bit darker and has a bit more bass than with the Asgard. but I am not missing anything on my HD598.

I had the luck that the HD598 was a real ear opener for me and I simply love their sound. I listened to LCD-2, HD-800, Grado RS1i at a friends house with various amps and all of them are in certain ways better than the HD598 (no wonder if you look at the price) but the Senns are wonderful allrounders. Sorry for your bad luck that they did not live up to your expectations, but as usual, sound and headphones are so subjective and personal, as I can see from your signature you seem to have tested and owned quite a few, good luck for your hunt for the perfect headphone :wink:

Wish you all the best and maybe you begin to like the HD598 after some time,
K
 
Jun 11, 2011 at 7:55 AM Post #13 of 13

f00fighters

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Quote:
Well,

am very sorry that you were not blown away immediately, I was. But awful? Seriously? And I am very happy about it. I bought the headphones before I bought the Asgard. I actually ran them directly form my Macs for a week and it had that effect to me. After I purchased the Asgard, man, again I was blown away, the sound became even richer and "rounder". It might be that our "starting points" were different.

Anyhow, maybe the sound-sig is just not for you? I also bought a set of Ultrasones Pro750 and was very disappointed in the beginning but continued listening to them and I don't know what happened (burn-in in phones or brain) but I became to like them A LOT! I know switch back and forth between the HD598 and the Ultrasone depending on my mood and I absolutely am thrilled with both.

I also use the E7 as dac/amp at work, at home, NuForce icon HDP as DAC and Asgard as amp. If I amp the HD598 with the icon as well the sound is a bit darker and has a bit more bass than with the Asgard. but I am not missing anything on my HD598.

I had the luck that the HD598 was a real ear opener for me and I simply love their sound. I listened to LCD-2, HD-800, Grado RS1i at a friends house with various amps and all of them are in certain ways better than the HD598 (no wonder if you look at the price) but the Senns are wonderful allrounders. Sorry for your bad luck that they did not live up to your expectations, but as usual, sound and headphones are so subjective and personal, as I can see from your signature you seem to have tested and owned quite a few, good luck for your hunt for the perfect headphone :wink:

Wish you all the best and maybe you begin to like the HD598 after some time,
K

Awful was too harsh. I just woke up. They sound a better today. The sound is bigger, and I'm hearing more details. I had also bought the burn-in you recommended from the mac app store. So brown noise has been playing since last night. So far improvement. There's some potential for the phones. Will definitely give it more time, and see what happens. 
 
I haven't heard the LCD-2, but I enjoyed the HD-800, and more so the RS1i. They are out of my price range, though, LOL. I used to have the Grado 325is, which I really enjoyed, but then I had a baby boy, so I had to prepare. Now that we're more settled in, I've gone back to my guilty pleasure. 
 

 
 
 

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