Comparing the Grado RA-1, Headroom Little, Rega Ear, etc...
post-159652
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 28

B4S

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Posts
9
Likes
0
Hello,
I plan to obtain a set of Sennheiser HD 580 or HD 600 soon and I will get an headphone amp to go with them. I would like some advice/information about these amplifiers, the Grado RA-1, Rega Ear, and Headroom Little. Does any one of these work better with Sennheisers? Or should I hold out for a used X-CANS? Any thoughts or suggestions would be most helpful.

I have heard the Grado amp with some Grado RS-2 and it sounded fine, but then I was listening to the RS-2s instead of Sennheisers. I have heard the HD 580 without an amp and I liked them much better than my SR-80s so I definitely want to go Sennheiser for my cans.

The source will be a Sony portable cd player and my PC. I want good sound, but don't want to spend too much (about $200-300) on the amp.

Do I need the Headroom processor or is that unnecessary? I guess I left out the Creek amps too. Any input on them?

I would love to have a tube amp, but I will be moving the amp around frequently, which makes a solid state amp more practical. The portability of the Grado would be nice, but I could probably live with a AC powered amp as well.

Bottom line, I want the best amplifier for HD 580 or HD 600 for the money (around $200-300) new or used. What do I need to know?

Thanks in advance,
Eric
 
     Share This Post       
post-159660
Post #2 of 28

kelly

Herr Babelfish der Übersetzer, he wore a whipped-cream-covered tutu for this title.
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Messages
5,435
Reaction score
11
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Posts
5,435
Likes
11
The Corda HA-1 is only $345 shipped and it a good deal.

Most people are saying good things about the META42 and that can probably be built for a bit less.

I'd consider these two very seriously over the other ones you mentioned.
 
     Share This Post       
post-159683
Post #3 of 28

Hirsch

Why is there a chaplain standing over his wallet?
Joined
Aug 12, 2001
Messages
7,820
Reaction score
23
Joined
Aug 12, 2001
Posts
7,820
Likes
23
Of the amps you mentioned, I like the Grado RA-1. I also like the X-Can, but you need to upgrade the tubes and power supply before you get close to RA-1 performance.

The RA-1 also responds to a power supply upgrade (do a search in the Cables and Tweaks area on "rechargeable batteries"). In short, the Plainview 9v NiMH has very audible benefits in the RA-1, IMO.

I've got to agree with kelly's thought of the Corda, but also have to give the nod to the RA-1 as well. IME it's a seriously good amp. The last couple of days I've been using it with the Grado HP-1, which has power requirements that make the HD-600 look downright easy to drive. The RA-1 is really doing well with it.

I haven't heard the Meta42, and can't really comment on it, but I can say that the Grado is one of the best in its price range. In a battery powered amp, IMO you'd need to get to the Headroom Cosmic to give it competition (unless you go DIY with the Meta, and it's as good as people seem to think)
 
     Share This Post       
post-159900
Post #4 of 28

FCJ

Propz go out to his homeez at Burrz-Brownz!
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
1,669
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Posts
1,669
Likes
10
I agree with Hirsch on the Grado RA-1. I've been using it for the past two weeks with a variety of headphones (the Senn 600s being close to what you plan on using) and I've found it to be neutral and relatively transparent. You can't go wrong with it.

On the other hand, I have a Corda HA-1 on order. I do like the crossfeed effects, however they are subtle and not always noticable with some recording.
 
     Share This Post       
post-159960
Post #5 of 28

B4S

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Posts
9
Likes
0
Thanks for your input, I will look into the other amps mentioned. I have decided on the HD 600s for headphones. Is anyone familiar with the Headroom amps? I have found a used Headroom Little for $175. How does the Little hold out against the Grado, Creek, and such?

Thanks again,

Eric
 
     Share This Post       
post-159966
Post #6 of 28

kelly

Herr Babelfish der Übersetzer, he wore a whipped-cream-covered tutu for this title.
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Messages
5,435
Reaction score
11
Joined
Jan 1, 2002
Posts
5,435
Likes
11
Quote:

Originally posted by B4S
Thanks for your input, I will look into the other amps mentioned. I have decided on the HD 600s for headphones. Is anyone familiar with the Headroom amps? I have found a used Headroom Little for $175. How does the Little hold out against the Grado, Creek, and such?


Eric
I felt the HD600 sounded very thin and veiled with the Little, Grado and Creek. The Little with More Power upgrade and the Creek with the PSU upgrade might be a different story--I don't know. All three of these amps seem to do better with headphones that are easier to drive like the Grados.
 
     Share This Post       
post-160026
Post #7 of 28

FCJ

Propz go out to his homeez at Burrz-Brownz!
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
1,669
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Posts
1,669
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally posted by kelly

Eric
I felt the HD600 sounded very thin and veiled with the Little, Grado and Creek. The Little with More Power upgrade and the Creek with the PSU upgrade might be a different story--I don't know. All three of these amps seem to do better with headphones that are easier to drive like the Grados.


I used to own the Little/More Power. I used the 600s with them and they held their own. If you get the Little, you can always upgrade later to either the More Power or the Premium version (or both). From what I remember about the Little (I owned it first, then upgraded to the More Power) was that it was a bit bright. Something that shouldn't be a problem with the 600s.
 
     Share This Post       
post-160043
Post #8 of 28

B4S

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Posts
9
Likes
0
FCJ,

Did you use the Headroom processor with your HD 600? Was the Little bright after you added the More Power upgrade? I do like the size of the Little, but if it is bright, I may not go for that. I would rather error on the warm side of things rather than bright, because 1) the HD 600 is supposed to be revealing, and 2) my sources won't be phenomenal, so they have a chance in being a bit bright I would think. My portable cd player isn't annoying (bright) now, but I don't want things to get worse when adding an amplifier. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Regards,

Eric
 
     Share This Post       
post-160049
Post #9 of 28

FCJ

Propz go out to his homeez at Burrz-Brownz!
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
1,669
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Posts
1,669
Likes
10
Quote:

Did you use the Headroom processor with your HD 600? Was the Little bright after you added the More Power upgrade? I do like the size of the Little, but if it is bright, I may not go for that. I would rather error on the warm side of things rather than bright, because 1) the HD 600 is supposed to be revealing, and 2) my sources won't be phenomenal, so they have a chance in being a bit bright I would think. My portable cd player isn't annoying (bright) now, but I don't want things to get worse when adding an amplifier. Please correct me if I am wrong.


Eric,

Yes, I did use the processor on both Littles. Unfortunately, when I had the basic Little I did not have the 600s (they weren't available yet), so I can't comment on the combination. I don't believe, though, that the Little was overly bright. I think you'll be safe with the 580s--I just wouldn't go near something like the Grado 80, though.

The Little's brightness was tamed after I added the More Power upgrade. In fact, the overall increase in weight and definition with the More Power is worth the upgrade. However, you most likely won't be getting the most you can out of your Senn 580s with the source you'll be using, but if you upgrade down the road you'll have a great set of phones and a decent-enough amp (especially if you upgrade).
 
     Share This Post       
post-160080
Post #10 of 28

Fubar

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 4, 2002
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jun 4, 2002
Posts
10
Likes
0
I'm using the HD600 with the Little More Power Premium and it is definitely not too bright. In fact, when you use the crossfeed, you also need to use the other switch/filter (not sure what you call it) to kick up the brightness.
When I added the clou red, it increased the bass and made the setup quite enjoyable.
 
     Share This Post       
post-160231
Post #11 of 28

bifcake

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 24, 2002
Messages
1,690
Reaction score
25
Joined
Jun 24, 2002
Posts
1,690
Likes
25
I haven't heard the Little, but I have the 580/Creek combo and I'm VERY happy with it. Your sources won't do justice to it though. There is quite a difference between a portable or a PC as a source and a good CD player. So, if these are going to be your sources, don't spend a lot of money on the phones/amp combo unless you're purchasing a decent CD player in the future.

I think the posts that talked about differences among various amps assumed a really decent source. I doubt that you will be able to hear the differences among amps described in these posts using the sources you mentioned. I got my Creek amp for $150. Even though I haven't heard the Little, I have a feeling you'd be very happy with that combo as well given your sources. I think that you'd have to get to at least $1,000 CD players before you'll start noticing differences among various headphone amps.

To summarize, I think that HD580/600 are a VERY good choice. Getting ANY decent headphone for them whether it's Creek, Little, Meta42, Corda, etc will be MORE than sufficient for the sources you have in mind AND they will more than hold their own when you upgrade your source components. The differences among these amps are subtle enough to be a matter of preference. All of them are quality components. So, my advice would be to spend what you can COMFORTABLY afford and you'll be set for a long time to come.

Good luck.
 
     Share This Post       
post-160234
Post #12 of 28

FCJ

Propz go out to his homeez at Burrz-Brownz!
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Messages
1,669
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jan 30, 2002
Posts
1,669
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally posted by bifcake
I haven't heard the Little, but I have the 580/Creek combo and I'm VERY happy with it. Your sources won't do justice to it though. There is quite a difference between a portable or a PC as a source and a good CD player. So, if these are going to be your sources, don't spend a lot of money on the phones/amp combo unless you're purchasing a decent CD player in the future.

I think the posts that talked about differences among various amps assumed a really decent source. I doubt that you will be able to hear the differences among amps described in these posts using the sources you mentioned. I got my Creek amp for $150. Even though I haven't heard the Little, I have a feeling you'd be very happy with that combo as well given your sources. I think that you'd have to get to at least $1,000 CD players before you'll start noticing differences among various headphone amps.

To summarize, I think that HD580/600 are a VERY good choice. Getting ANY decent headphone for them whether it's Creek, Little, Meta42, Corda, etc will be MORE than sufficient for the sources you have in mind AND they will more than hold their own when you upgrade your source components. The differences among these amps are subtle enough to be a matter of preference. All of them are quality components. So, my advice would be to spend what you can COMFORTABLY afford and you'll be set for a long time to come.

Good luck.


I don't think you need to spend $1,000 on a CD source to tell the diferences between these amps. Other than that, bifcake is dead on. You'll be hearing your music on a whole different level. Enjoy.
 
     Share This Post       
post-160249
Post #13 of 28

B4S

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Joined
Jul 23, 2002
Posts
9
Likes
0
Ok, that sums things up very nicely. Thank you bifcake and FCJ. I think I have a pretty decent idea of what to do now. I really appreciate all the help I have received here at this forum considering I am a new guy. I have been into stereo for at least 5 years now, but I am just getting into headphones. Thanks for leading me in the right direction/directions!!

Regards,

Eric
 
     Share This Post       
post-160311
Post #14 of 28

Hirsch

Why is there a chaplain standing over his wallet?
Joined
Aug 12, 2001
Messages
7,820
Reaction score
23
Joined
Aug 12, 2001
Posts
7,820
Likes
23
Quote:

Originally posted by FCJ


I don't think you need to spend $1,000 on a CD source to tell the diferences between these amps. Other than that, bifcake is dead on. You'll be hearing your music on a whole different level. Enjoy.


Agreed. As I type this, I'm listening to a Sony Discman (D-12) driving a Grado RA-1/Grado HP-1 combo. The source cost me about $25 used. It sounds good
 
     Share This Post       
post-160346
Post #15 of 28

fiddler

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Messages
1,930
Reaction score
30
Joined
Jun 24, 2001
Posts
1,930
Likes
30
I also disagree with the statement: "you'd have to get to at least $1,000 CD players before you'll start noticing differences among various headphone amps".
I'm using a Panasonic CT570 PCDP as a source and I was able to clearly hear the differences after very slightly modding a Corda. If I can hear the difference between the stock and modded versions of the same amp, I'm sure it'd be easy to hear the difference between say, a Corda and a Creek.

The combination sounds sweet, by the way.
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top