HD650 - what benefit would an amp give me?
Jul 21, 2010 at 3:39 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

socistep

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Hi All
 
This is my first post on the forums, hello all !
 
Over the past couple of years I have invested quite a bit of time and money in my squeezebox set-up, I have a dedicated music server with 4 "zones", 2 standalone players (Boom & Radio), one linked to some wireless headphones (Sennheiser Rs130) and the final one (SB Touch) hooked to some powered speakers, it works really well.
 
I have always wanted to move into a HiFi set-up, however a small house, close neighbours and a baby on the way have ruled out (for a few years) amp and speakers so I moved onto headphones.
 
I recently purchased the popular Sennheiser HD650, I have these plugged directly into my Squeezebox Boom and have about 60-70 hours on them, I am very impressed with them and love listening to different types of music from them, for the first time I can tell the difference between production standard on recordings and also how mp3's compare to lossless (95% of my library is in flac but I do have some mp3s), also I can relate to some of the terms like imaging, clarity, soundstage etc. however I was comparing to a lower level of headphones before.
 
I am obviously aware that an amp is beneficial to get the best out of these headphones (my head is spinning with the various options), however to whet my appetite before purchasing - what benefit would I see from a dedicated amp ? How much had this improved sound on the HD650 unamp'd ? Any comments appreciated
 
Thanks
Ian
 
Jul 21, 2010 at 6:03 PM Post #2 of 22

maverickronin

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With a proper amp the most noticeable changes are that it will be smoother, more detailed, and have deep bass.
 
Jul 22, 2010 at 1:34 AM Post #3 of 22

tktran

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Better dynamics, better bass, fuller sound.
 
I don't have a Squeezebox Boom, but I have a Squeezebox 3/Classic and the headphone
output on that is low powered.
 
Running off an dedicated amplifier, even a simple/cheap one like an Altoids make a big difference because there is a big difference in available voltage swing and power.
 
Jul 22, 2010 at 2:04 AM Post #4 of 22

brendon

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For best results get an amp with a good voltage swing. Preferably an OTL tube amp as they work best with high impedance headphones.
 
For a Solid state amp, get a decent one like the Schiit Ascard or the Matrix M-Stage. Both around $250.
 
Jul 22, 2010 at 3:37 PM Post #5 of 22

desktophifi

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If you use a good amp, you will discover a new side of your headphones. 
The HA-160 is a great amp for driving the HD650's. They have good synergy...they have a better soundstage and detailed sound when using it. 
 
Jul 23, 2010 at 2:08 PM Post #6 of 22

Max F

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I have the Squeezebox Classic (v3) and will tell you that you definately need a desktop amp.  Also, you'll likely want to get a better DAC too in the future.  
 
BTW, welcome to head-fi.  Sorry about your wallet...
 
Jul 23, 2010 at 10:59 PM Post #7 of 22

jdkJake

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Echo what has already been said. An amp just makes the HD650 "blossom" and really begin to show their potential.
 
Lot's of potential candidates. Depends upon the sound signature you are looking for, the amount of $$ you want to spend and your willingness to embrace the journey. Only your ears can decide what amp is best for you.
 
I am partial to Tube/Solid State hybrids. The best of both worlds if you will (or at least IMHO). I use my Millet MiniMAX with 12AE6 tubes (sylvania construction) to make them sing! But, be aware, they are only as good as the source material providing them. It is more a synergy than a "right" answer.
 
Good Luck! You are about to embark on a great journey. Enjoy the ride!
 
Jul 23, 2010 at 11:08 PM Post #8 of 22

kingtz

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As can be seen in my signature, I currently have both a SRH840 and HD650 that are being driven by a uDAC, No real amplification yet. With this setup, my SRH840s sound noticeably better than my HD650s. My HD650s just sound - for lack of a less cliched term - anemic all-around. Bass isn't really great and the twangs from plucked guitar strings just don't resonate as clearly or for as long as the SRH840s. Overall, everything sounds muffled on my HD650, where as the same music is very clear and livelier on my SRH840s.
 
With that, my HD650s have now gone back in their box and will remain there until I can get decent amplification. Here's to really hoping all my observed issues with them will disappear with a good tube amp.
 
Jul 23, 2010 at 11:20 PM Post #9 of 22

David.M

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what benefit it will give you?
 
a benefit beyond your wildest imagination :)
 
Jul 23, 2010 at 11:39 PM Post #10 of 22

Uncle Erik

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You'll find the biggest benefit in the low end. The HD-650 likes to have a good amount of power - without it, the low end gets a little sloppy and fuzzy. I think this is where the myth of the "Sennheiser Veil" comes from. When the bass is loose, it'll cover up a lot of the detail that is there in the rest of the spectrum. Once you have the bass tightened up, the mids and highs will emerge from the the "Veil" and become more detailed. If you have a chance to go to a nearby meet, take your HD-650 along and plug them into a good amp. You won't think they're the same headphones - the HD-650 is sensitive to what it's plugged into. Plug them into a top shelf amp and they become one of the best headphones on the market.
 
Jul 23, 2010 at 11:48 PM Post #11 of 22

kingtz

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Yeah, "sloppy" and "fuzzy" are actually good terms to describe what the bass sounds like right now. I said it "isn't really great" as I couldn't really think of a good way to characterize what I was hearing.
 
Unless a meet happens in the L.A. area within the next few weeks, I might just have to blindly buy a headphone amp. I figured, what the hell, anything will sound drastically better than what I have now.
 
 
Jul 24, 2010 at 9:55 AM Post #12 of 22

xnor

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Look for a low (close to zero) output impedance to tighten the low end.
 
Jul 24, 2010 at 3:20 PM Post #13 of 22

daveDerek

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Quote:
You'll find the biggest benefit in the low end. The HD-650 likes to have a good amount of power - without it, the low end gets a little sloppy and fuzzy. I think this is where the myth of the "Sennheiser Veil" comes from. When the bass is loose, it'll cover up a lot of the detail that is there in the rest of the spectrum. Once you have the bass tightened up, the mids and highs will emerge from the the "Veil" and become more detailed. If you have a chance to go to a nearby meet, take your HD-650 along and plug them into a good amp. You won't think they're the same headphones - the HD-650 is sensitive to what it's plugged into. Plug them into a top shelf amp and they become one of the best headphones on the market.


i agree with Erik that a proper amp can make the all difference with these cans. run wrong they can sound lifeless. drive 'em properly and they're a thing of beauty. for example plugged into a woo amp they can be really lovely. however it's not strictly  power that makes the difference. run them balanced off an rsa protector and you'll be amazed by how good they can sound (actually i've not yet done this with 650s, but i have listened to 600s run this way and it's rather surprising. i've not yet heard an amp, that i can think of offhand, that works well with a 600 and not the 650 so i think this is a reasonable supposition). they should also be fed well. like any other system, gigo (garbage in, garbage out). source matters.
 
Jul 24, 2010 at 4:57 PM Post #14 of 22

Masterbrk

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Just got my schiit asgard yesterday.wow makes my 650s sound better than I thought they could. The Asgard is only $250 and has a 15 day money back guarantee. Even with the volume at 90% there is no distortion which allows me to use my remote to control the volume with my lavry da11. If $250 is in your budget it's a great place to start risk free. If you search schiit Asgard in the forum there is plenty of good reading to make you want to try the Asgard. it did for me. Good luck
 

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