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Bravo Audio - funny looking little tube amps

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by ear8dmg, Sep 9, 2009.
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  1. UmustBKidn
    You will not drive the HD650's sufficiently with simply a headphone output from a laptop or a desktop. And I would not use any sort of sound blaster card to drive them. No. Simply not good enough. That's why they sound "just ok". They are high impedance headphones that require a decent amp to drive them, and a decent DAC to drive the amp.
    First off, what is your budget? You don't want to go cheap with those cans. I guess you could if you must, but honestly, you won't do justice to them with something like the Bravo.
    If you are on a budget, the bare minimum I would go with is a Schiit Modi DAC, and the Schiit Vali amp. Yes, you could go with the Bravo (and I'd use a v2), and replace the stock Bravo V2 tube with something better from eBay ... but every report I've read in the Vali thread indicates the Schiit Vali is superior to the Bravo (any version). You'll spend somewhere around $220 bucks, but that's the very least I would do for those cans.
    However, if I were going to recommend something really appropriate for the quality of the HD650's, I would go with the Schiit Bifrost Uber, and a Bottlehead Crack amp. If you don't want to put the amp together, then go with a Schitt Valhalla amp instead. Either of those setups will yield results more appropriate for those headphones. You will spend around $800 for that setup, but it's far more appropriate to really put them to good use.
    (I am assuming of course, that you're wanting a tube amp of some sort.)
    yoyo711 likes this.
  2. yoyo711
    Thanks for the info
    My budget is about $100~$120 Just in to Headphone so I do not know about amp
    how is the JDSlabs O2 I see the Amplification For Sale thread about $90 do i need to add DAC ??
    And what is DAC for ??? 
    I like to know what is DAC??
    Maybe go to SOCAL 2014 head-fi Meet
    Thank you again
  3. money4me247 Contributor
    dac is kinda like an external sound card. it will improve on the sound card in your computer or audio player. no, a dac is not really necessary & from my personal experience, the sound quality improvements is quite subtle, so whether it's worth it for the price is up to you.
    however, UMustBKidn is right. for high impedance 300ohm headphones, you require an amp to achieve appropriate volumes and for the headphones to have enough power to sound good. I do disagree with absolutely requiring higher-end more expensive equipment. You can achieve decent results with some budget amp. The hd650 does scale up nicely with more expensive equipment, so that is why a lot of people recommend getting pricier stuff, but if you are just starting out, you can definitely get by with something cheaper & if you don't notice anything wrong with the sound, you can be content with that.
    just a note of budgeting for audio equipment. it is usually wiser (IMO), to spend the majority of your budget into your headphones as they have the biggest impact on your sound quality. maybe about <25% of your whole budget into external equipment like amps/dacs. also note there are quite a few free ways to improve your sound, like increasing the bit rate of your source files (higher bitrate mp3s sound much noticeably improved when using nicer headphones - you can definitely hear the difference between good vs bad sources). also, you can EQ the sound frequency to find a sound signature that suits your tastes.
    good luck & i hope this info was helpful.
  4. UmustBKidn
    Yes, you could go to the head-fi meet, and I would recommend it. But honestly, you really just need to spend some time reading this website. You need to learn some of the lingo and some of the concepts. I'm not sure how many people will be willing to spend their day explaining the basics to you. They are going to be there to try out gear they want to buy, more than anything else.
    Ok. Well, this is interesting. First off, you've got some great cans, but to really use them properly, they need to be amplified. You can search elsewhere on this website to really research why, I don't want to try to re-explain it here. That is not the case for all headphones. There are many excellent headphones that do not require an amplifier.
    You are not going to purchase the right equipment for those headphones for another $120 bucks. Sorry, bro. You would be better off returning those cans for something cheaper, and spending the difference on a low end DAC and amp for them. Or saving it for something else.
    I'm not sure how you ended up with Senn HD650s, but whomever sold them to you should have told you a bit more about them. They aren't the kind of cans you just plug into an ipod or laptop or sound card for that matter, and expect great things from. So if you have a choice, I would reconsider that purchase. If you can't return them, then I would consider selling them on the used equipment forum. You can probably get several hundred for a used set in good condition. And that will spare you the whole amplifier/dac thing, and let you buy some cans that are more appropriate for what you want.
    Personally, one of my favorite cans that does not require an amp to sound good are my Sony MDR 7506's. They are only 63 ohm cans and I can drive them with an ipod just fine. So if you had something like that, you could skip the rest of this discussion. There are many other choices, that's just one example.
    So, if I haven't scared you off yet: What is a DAC? It's a Digital to Analog Converter. Modern music is stored in binary format on your computer, compact disk, etc. Your ears cannot listen to music in binary format. It has to be in what we call Analog format. Back in the days of vinyl records and cassette tape players, music was recorded in analog format (which is to say, the sound amplitudes and frequencies were recorded onto magnetic tape or recordsm without being converted into another form). When it was played back, it was turned back into audible frequencies without all this fiddling around with 0's and 1's. Today, however, music is recorded in digital format, so it is necessary to convert those 0's and 1's on your computer into "analog format" before it can be played. A DAC does this.
    The amplifier just turns low level analog format music into higher level music that you can listen to through headphones or speakers. In the case of low impedance headphones, an amplifier is more of an optional decision. In the case of high impedance headphones, it is not optional - it is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you're just wasting your money.
    I'm really trying not to get into a huge technical discussion here lol. So let's just say that if you have a high quality set of headphones, and want to listen to high quality music, then you need a high quality DAC and an amplifier. By some stroke of luck or fortune, you own a set of some really high quality headphones, without really knowing why you want to own them. Most people who drop $500 clams on cans like that, know why they want them, and know that they also need some other gear to make them work properly.
    A DAC is not an external sound card. They are two entirely different devices.
    Whether it is necessary to use a DAC or not depends on whether you need an amplifier. If you have headphones that don't need to be amplified, then you don't need a DAC either. But if you have headphones that need an amp, then you most surely do need a DAC. I really don't want to argue about it, I will just refer you to the plethora of information on this website that will prove that point to you.
    It is possible to skip using a DAC on a temporary basis. But I would not recommend it. Plumbing a headphone out jack into another amplifier is double-amping the sound, and it will result in excess distortion.
    I would not encourage someone who owns half of a good system to continue using it. Really. Whomever sold this person a set of HD650s without explaining to them that they are high impedance headphones that require amplification to sound good, did them a dis-service. I would not continue to do this person a dis-service by justifying their continued usage of such a setup. Yes, there would be an improvement by plugging it into a budget amp like a Bravo. But that's still far, far away from an ideal setup. You don't need to believe me. Run that by anyone else on this website that's been around for a while, and they will tell you the same thing.
    Budget amps like Bravo's are great for budget setups. But please don't make me sound like an incompetent jerk for recommending the right equipment for those headphones. Please do this person a favor, and give them the right information, and let them decide for themselves what to do. Thanks.
  5. DefQon
    Actually you couldn't be more wrong with not being very specific. A sound card can be both an sound processor and a dac but more so the former with no special input and output such as balanced xlr connections unless you get studio grade sound cards such as the Esi and M-Audio variants which are not cheap and do use a proper dac IC to convert digital 0's and 1's to a analogue wave signal output.
  6. UmustBKidn
    I'm not sure if it's the run on sentence, or the rum and coke, but I didn't get that [​IMG]
  7. DefQon
    There is no rum or coke in my sentence otherwise I'd be drinking it and not posted.
  8. money4me247 Contributor
    lol... a DAC is simply a device that converts digital signal (the 1s & 0s) into analog signal. it's nothing magical or special. all audio-video-receivers have a DAC inside and most sound cards have a DAC component to process the digital data into an analog signal. basically, the easiest way to think about what a DAC does is to imagine it as an external sound card. the special input/output connectors that certain DACs provide is probably not needed for yoyo711, and it is really unnecessary for someone just starting out. Different DAC devices have different connector options just like different monitors have different input/output connections.
    For a $120ish budget of a solid dac/amp, it's easy. I purchased my bravo v3 tube amp ($65) + the stoner acoustic UD110v2 dac ($59) for $124 for my Hifiman HE-400. There are lots of other budget DACs out there such as the hifimediy sabre $60, Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface $30, $99 audioquest dragonfly v1.0, etc... (http://www.head-fi.org/t/696401/giant-list-of-sub-200-portable-dacs-w-their-chips-price). For that price, you get perfectly acceptable performance. You can spend a bit more: $200ish for the Schitt Magni amp & Modi dac combo or JDS Objective O2 amp + Odac combo or just $200 on a better audiophile-brand-name desktop amp.
    omg, please... all this audiophile stuff is really really simple and you can definitely get amazing high quality sound on a budget price. it's kinda silly that some 'audiophiles' try to make everything sound so complicated and that good sound is only available at a premium price. that is simply not true.
    >>>For @yoyo711, you basically need to know that for headphones with an impedance greater than 32 ohms, you will need an amp. The 300ohm impedance HD650 will require an amp. A dac is a device geared to further improve sound quality... aka dac is not necessary. for greatest upgrade in sound quality, upgrade your source files (try 320kbps mp3s at least). next, most important factor in determining your sound quality is your headphones. short version: there are two types of over-ears (open vs closed) named for whether they leak sound in&out. open leak sound for improved sound stage & other sonic qualities. closed noise isolate for privacy. finally, amps (tube amps vs solid state) only essential for high impedance headphones or low efficiency headphones. The sonic changes achieved by amps/dacs is probably only 10-15% from my personal experience.
    edit: however, UMustBKidn does bring up some good points. for certain headphones, there is a need for more equipment (slash more hassle) which may not be worth it for you. There are a wide range of amazing premium portable low impedance headphones on the market now from the $200-400 range including the AKG K545, Sennheiser Momentum... etc, etc...
    yoyo711 likes this.
  9. yoyo711
    Thanks Guys
    I knew I did not know about headphone and amp
    First about 4 month go pick up used HD 555 I was shock.  It was new world on headphone it was very comfort and sound was very good.
    I google and somehow I find Head-fi how good is HD600 & HD650  forums and youtube......
    So I pick-up about 150 hours used HD600 local CL and it was other lever sound and soundstage detail si was WOW with out the amp.
    My co-worker want HD600 so I sold and 3 days go got my HD650 30 hours used on ebay.
    But HD650 was very small soundstage and very dark sound and detail is there but I like the HD600 better so last week I pick up Creative Sound Blaster Z which has headphone AMP but I did not like the sound so I want to car garage connect the Big Stereo amp to HD650.
    Sound got better but still soundstage lot small then HD555(soundstage mod to hd595)
    Maybe do I need Tube amp ???????? or DAC ???  Or Headphone amp????
    So for my English not good
    Thanks Again
  10. money4me247 Contributor
    The HD650 has a naturally darker sound signature. you can EQ to change this, but if you don't like the sound signature, the general recommendation is to get a different pair of headphones rather than messing with EQs. Yes, it sounds like the HD600 suits you better.
    The most common cause of bad sound quality for higher end headphones is your audio source files as nicer headphones are more transparent and revealing of subtle audio distortions. What are you using?
    I believe the HD555 has an impedance of 50ohms while the HD600 has an impedance of 300ohms. UMustBKidN is right, in the sense, that the Sennheiser HD600/HD650's sound scales up with nicer equipment and needs a good amp to sound the best. Adding a nice DAC will also help as well. However, I think it may be more prudent to try out a few different headphones with your stereo amp to see what kind of sound signature and sonic quality you are looking for as the pair of headphones you have has the biggest impact on those qualities over an amp/dac. After you find a pair of headphones that you really love their sound, you can amp/dac it up as required to further improve your sonic quality (but keep in mind that amps/dac will not cause that drastic of a change with sound). you can search the threads for specific amp recommendations for the hd600.
    If you are dissatisfied with the HD600 sound, my recommendation for a great bright sounding pair of open headphones with amazing sound stage would be the AKG K701/702/Q701 headphones.
    Note: headphone amps come in two basic flavors: tubes and solid state. Solid state is generally able to be more neutral/transparent sound and tubes have an unique "tubey" sound (aka more colored though you can find more neutral sounding tubes). You can play with tube amp's sound signature by tube rolling. generally speaking, low impedance headphones are current driven while high impedance headphones are voltage driven.
    yoyo711 likes this.
  11. yoyo711
    I use all 320Kbps mp3 quality
    I have 1 More question 9622 tube or 12AU7 tube becase 9622 tube more expensive tho..
    Thanks again
  12. miko16
    It depends on what tube amp you will be using. 6922 and 12au7 are not the same.
  13. yoyo711
    I know but what do you prefer?
    Or which sound better ?? V2 or V3
  14. miko16
    SQ they are both equal, it will all depends on what brand you uses. Afaik the only difference is the price between the two. 12au7 is cheaper than 6922 tubes.
  15. razor5cl
    From what I've heard, go V2. The V3 has some silly EQ circuit that ruins the sound.
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