Headroom Cosmic (Reference) impressions?
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HiWire

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Hi guys and girls,

Has anybody got a strong impression on the Cosmic-Reference with the Base Station? I'm considering it as an entry-level (with future-proof value) for driving a set of Sennheiser HD-600s with Cardas cables. Its semi-portable and has regulated power, should I be looking for anything else? I've also checked out the Grado, Creek, Stax, etc. Don't know much about Gilmore or Perreaux... looking for ownership or test-listener experiences

Thanks
 
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OneMalt

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I have the exact set-up you're describing. I think it sounds superb for just about any type of music except rock. It provides a very warm and seductive kind of sound. Female vocals and acoustic instrumentals are especially nice!
 
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HiWire

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Thanks for the reply. I guess it might sound different depending on what source I use... I'm a publishing intern, so all I've got right now is my 10-year old Panasonic portable. The reason I'm asking is that I'm thinking of skipping a step and not buying the new Total Airhead, since it apparently can't drive the high-impedance headphones that I want. The HD600s are actually approaching a reasonable price right now... can I stand the laid-back sound (only my ears know - they tested OK with a 5-minute sample from a jazz-fusion disc - The Grassy Knoll) vs. the 650 and the other high-ends?

I do like rock, although I have been starting a wee little jazz collection (Miles Davis, Coltrane, etc. ) in the last couple of months. Just tired of pop and electronica, I guess. Do you think it's reasonable to cut back - get Oehlbach cables and skip the base station?
 
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OneMalt

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I can't speak comment on the cables having never heard them but I did get my BS1 after having the Cosmic for a while. It absolutely makes a difference. There is more "black" between instruments and the lower end was tighter. The effect is somewhat subtle but there nonetheless.

The Cosmic will handle the HD600s very nicely. Between it, the Cardas & the BS1, the "veil" is a thing of the past. I haven't heard the 650 but from what I've read, it's the 600 on steriods (I've got a hunch I'd like it a lot)...but at a price. I've got some other nice cans like the RS-1 and CD3000 but the 600s are my favorite.
 
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HiWire

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Sounds like I'm definitely getting the Cosmic with the Base Station. Oddly or not, I kind of like the color of the HD600s versus the newer, more bland-looking 650s. I'm patiently (not) waiting for better mixes of SACDs to come out, so that I can enjoy what CD should have been (PCM blah
)

Basically, the idea of getting the Cosmic is kind of a poor man's Maxed Out Home or Max... with some pretense of portability (not likely - D cells!).

Regardless, I'll post detailed reviews when I get the stuff... be warned


Short-term, I'm looking for a really good CD source (reasonably priced) and maybe a Total Airhead for more efficient, portable phones and player.
 
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I bought the Cosmic with the Base Station,to have a good home set up, and portablity. It is a really nice set up. Drives my HD600 very well. But portable it is not,when you have to lug around the unit and the BIG battery pack. I am sending this set up back and getting the Maxed Out Home, and the Total Air Head. I got to figuring, it cost 300.00 for the Base Station and 730.00 for the Cosmic. That is 30.00 more than for the Maxed Out Home. So I figured I already have this much into a headphone amp system, I would go another 170.00, and have the best of both worlds. I have a pair of Grado 325's that the TAH will drive fine for poratble CD playing. My new rig arrives today. I will let you know how the TAH works. Everyone seems to know how the Maxed Out drives the HD600's.
 
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HiWire

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Hey orion5456, that sounds like a good plan. I've decided to hold off on SACD/DVD-A for now, since the formats are too immature (expensive and often not an improvement) and the players are a mixed bag.

I wonder if the "Reference" module electronics make a truly significant difference in the sound? I've also decided to plan for HD650s, since I some reviewers and head-fiers have complained quite persuasively about the HD600 sound.
 
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Hiwire,

That's a decent chunk of money for a a headphone system (~$1300 for cosmic + base station + HD600). My main concern is that your portable CDP source might be holding you back. Perhaps it is advisable to siphon off a portion of your budget to get a decent entry level standalone CDP. Say around $300-400 for the CDP. That should still leave you with around $700 for an amp.


My guess is that you are hoping to get a source upgrade later and spend your entire current budget on a tip-top amp. The problem with this strategy is that it your current system being held back by a weak source until the subsequent upgrade. My experience is that, due to the intimacy and details of headphones, the source makes a large difference in headphone systems (much more so than loudspeakers based systems).


As for what amps to get, if you are looking for a portable amp, the Emmeline XP-7 is a fine amp. I compared it to my old Supreme amp (upgraded to premium module) a few months ago. They are both very good amps. Differences between the two goes to sonic characteristics rather than sheer sound quality. I suspect some listeners would prefer the Headroom's sonic signature, while others the Emmeline.

As for portability, Orion is quite correct in stating that the Cosmic is not very portable. Transportable would be a better term to describe the amp. If you could forgo the portability option, I would suggest looking at the Emmeline HR-2, which retails for $875. I compared it to my upgraded Supreme and the differences are quite significant. Here, the difference is not merely a matter of sonic characteristics but of sound quality. I haven't checked out the Cosmic with reference module and the base station though.

You should try audition a few amps before settling for the one you want. Reviews are great, but it is best to listen to the amp before deciding. At around $1000, you owe it to yourself to get the best for your buck.

Good luck!
 
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HiWire

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Thanks, Ticky. I won't be blowing all that money at once, without any auditions!

I definitely intend on getting a better source, right now all I have is a portable and my computer. I'm in a furnished apartment, so I don't really have the room or inclination to put money into a "real" system until there is a place for it.

From my reading here, I gather the Emmeline has a kind of godlike status among head-fiers. It's definitely high on my list, but I think it will be a while before I ever hear one. There don't seem to be many places (that I know of) that sell headphone amps in Toronto, Canada.

There are a few lines that I have drawn in the sand, just so that I won't go overboard:

First, I am sticking to non-tube stuff, just for cost and maintenance reasons.
Second, I really don't want to upgrade or change a lot of parts further down the road, since I don't really consider myself an audiophile.
Third, I will stick to the CD format for the next few years, until SACD/DVD-A work themselves out (look how long it has taken for CDs to get great sound!).

And, of course, the ever-climbing budget.
 
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I had the HeadRoom Cosmic (Reference Module) but not the Base Station One. I now have the Emmeline HR-2. I would suggest that you consider the Emmeline XP-7 with the Power Supply Upgrade. It will set you back far less but the sound quality of the Emmeline XP-7 / PSU is equivalent to the Emmeline HR-2. To me, that says a lot more in terms of reaching the full potential of a portable / home headphone amplifier combination than the HR Cosmic (Reference Module) + BS1. It's much smaller in size and the batteries go for much longer too. The op-amps can be rolled and the volume pot is definitely of a higher grade (per the Emmeline).
 
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Hiwire, Another thing to consider, many of the Higher End companies like HeadRoom and others will let you try out their gear, at home for 30 days. Like people said, reviews are good. But nobody can tell you what is best for your ears. It is all "Sooooo subjective". I received my Maxed Out and TAH this AM. They are both superb to my ears, with my gear, my music, etc. And I have not even burned them in yet. I am writting this listening to the TAH with my iRiver SlimX 350 portable CD player, and my Grados 325's. Sounds better with this setup, than when I plug the 325's into my Denon 5700 receiver, headphone out jack. The Maxed Out with the HD600 and the Cardas headphone cables, make the HD600's sound like HD900's. [no such thing of course]. The TAH does not drive the HD600 very well. The HD600 and 650 are harder to drive, without mucho POWER. There is so much great gear out there. Jump in and taste as much as you can. Before you spend the money. It is fun. Then YOU can decide "the best". Of course, there is no such thing, as the BEST of anything, IMHO. My best, to somebody else, could be low end garbage. I have listened to a 100,00.00 dollar system. The guy who owns it, is still looking for the best system. That is the truth!!! He has the money so he can do it. Have fun!!
Tony
 
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Hiwire

What city fo you live in? There may be a member or two that will let you hear their gear if you are near by.
 
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HiWire

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I'm in Toronto, Ontario. I'd feel bad about asking Headroom for a loaner at this point, since it would be financially irresponsible to buy audiophile equipment while I am between jobs.

I tend to think too far down the road...
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by HiWire

From my reading here, I gather the Emmeline has a kind of godlike status among head-fiers. It's definitely high on my list, but I think it will be a while before I ever hear one. There don't seem to be many places (that I know of) that sell headphone amps in Toronto, Canada.


Deitified or not, the HR-2 is in your budget range if you are considering the Cosmic + Base station. I agree with Welly that the XP-7 with power supply is a very good setup. But if you can forego portability and cough out $200 more, the HR-2 is a marked improvement.


Quote:

Originally posted by HiWire

First, I am sticking to non-tube stuff, just for cost and maintenance reasons.
Second, I really don't want to upgrade or change a lot of parts further down the road, since I don't really consider myself an audiophile.


None of the amps mentioned here is a tube amp. The XP-7 and HR-2 does permit you to change the Op-amps (and thus the sonic signature of the amp). The Headroom amps allows you to upgrade from the premium to the reference module.

Quote:

Originally posted by HiWire

I tend to think too far down the road...


But that is better than being to hasty in making a purchase. I generally feel more satisfied with well informed purchases.
 
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HiWire

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I'm checking the XP-7 out online, but Ray Samuels' site is down


A Sennheiser HD650, cable upgrade, headphone amp and decent source would be major investments in my terms. I'm looking for lasting value... since I'm pretty happy with my 10-year old Panasonic and HD320s, lightning could strike twice (or I have low standards
).
 
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