Improving the HD650's
Aug 1, 2015 at 10:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

bemeurer

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Recently I went to my first live concert to listen to Grieg's Piano Concerto in A Minor (Op.16), one of my favorite compositions ever and beautifully played by the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. I'm 17, a bit old for a first time live classical music presentation, but having no one else in my family that liked classical it took me a while to discover and subsequently love it. The point is: I was absolutely amazed. I had been listening to that piece for months but there, live, it was a whole other thing. The music was the same but there was a certain essence to it that my iPhone driven apple earbuds couldn't reproduce at all. So with this swinging in my mind and the thought of how all the other music sounds like I decided to get myself a nice setup. Without a lot of research and just an spontaneous shopping spree I went ahead and bought HD650s, just that and nothing else. I was absolutely amazed, and thought it couldn't get any better than that. Until my friend mentioned the existence of DACs. Once again I spilled the blood of my wallet over the muffled crying of my girlfriend and bought a Fiio X3ii. Not a desktop DAC, but since I had an extremely long flight from Germany to Brazil ahead of me at the time (in addition to the fact that I'm mostly on-the-go) a DAP seemed like a nice purchase. I got home plugged the headphones in, pulled a nice SACD recording of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé aaaaand wow even better. The sound was great, clarity, volume and whatnots but, and I really can't explain here, something is missing. I'm not sure why but I feel the 650's just lack a certain warmth. I've always liked neutrality but for these phones I just feel a tad of warmth would do no harm at all. A couple annoyances added up so I decided to come here to, after this long-ish story, ask a couple of questions. So here it goes:
  • How/which cable to get for the 650s? The vanilla 3 meter cables are just horribly annoying and keep getting stuck everywhere apart from not being exactly portable. I think something around 1.5 meters would be a better choice.
  • How to make the phones sound more like I'd like them to, or better, how do I find out what's missing exactly. It might be warmth but, given my noobness it might as well not be. I've read on amps, valves and so on and apparently the Bottlehead OTL has some sort of primitive cult around it praising it as the new messiah; could that be the issue?
  • While we're on it, a double question, what's the thing about valve amps (as in why use valves and not just bare electronics) and how will they deal with the Brazilian summer (~30-45ºC or ~86-113ºF)?
This seems like quite a nice community, hopefully I'll figure these questions out and, please, let me know if anything in my post formatting is bad or improper.
Thanks!
 
Aug 1, 2015 at 11:20 PM Post #2 of 18

ProtegeManiac

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  I'm not sure why but I feel the 650's just lack a certain warmth.

 
How new are they? You need to wear out the earpads a little bit - when new they're too stiff and the sound of the HD6x0 is a lot closer to the HD800 than the average impressions posted online. You also need to wear them a little bit tight, but you need to readjust that once the earpads are soft otherwise you'll end up with really squishy, worn out earpads too soon.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 12:27 AM Post #4 of 18

bemeurer

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How new are they? You need to wear out the earpads a little bit - when new they're too stiff and the sound of the HD6x0 is a lot closer to the HD800 than the average impressions posted online. You also need to wear them a little bit tight, but you need to readjust that once the earpads are soft otherwise you'll end up with really squishy, worn out earpads too soon.

Less than a month old, I'd say around 15 days or so. The beaten up ones at the "Try me" booth over at the Saturn I bought them did sound better.
 
  Not familiar with your equipment, but the 300 Ohm HD 650 needs an amp to be properly driven.  What amp are you using and what is its capability to properly drive this can?

I'm using my Fiio X3ii as a DAC on my pc, volume-wise it's all good.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 12:38 AM Post #6 of 18

Japheel

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  There is far more involved in properly driving a can than the volume level.  See:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared#user_HD650

Yup, and the hd650 scales pretty damn well
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 1:10 AM Post #7 of 18

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arengorn /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Less than a month old, I'd say around 15 days or so. The beaten up ones at the "Try me" booth over at the Saturn I bought them did sound better.

 
You'll need to put some wear on those earpads, maybe wear them tighter than you normally would for a while. Or use the headphone as a clamp for a few books (which will simulate your head) overnight.
 
Aug 2, 2015 at 2:53 PM Post #8 of 18

Armaegis

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You can also simulate wear on the pads by gently washing them. Remove them from the headphone, compress a bunch of times under water with some mild soap, let dry. It's also not a bad idea to clean pads every once in a while to remove oils and grime (which can wear out pads faster then usual).
 
The Bottlehead Crack is a fantastic amp with the HD600/650/800. It does require some DIY skill, but the first one I ever built was one of my very first projects and the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Yes the tubes get hot, don't touch them. Don't worry about that Brazilian heat; it means nothing to those tubes.
 
If you're mostly on the go though, you have to consider whether investing in a desktop amp is worth it, or if you should invest in a more powerful portable amp
 
Reduce your cable length with a single strand braid... here's the first google hit I found: http://www.animatedknots.com/braid/
 
Aug 3, 2015 at 4:11 AM Post #9 of 18

dead99

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The Bottlehead Crack is a fantastic amp with the HD600/650/800. It does require some DIY skill, but the first one I ever built was one of my very first projects and the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Yes the tubes get hot, don't touch them. Don't worry about that Brazilian heat; it means nothing to those tubes.


+1 to this. The Bottlehead crack is a great amp for the hd650 but I would highly suggest you also getting the speedball upgrade. It really does make the sound alot better, especially the bass. And if you decide to build it, 1 advice: work slowly you dont want to blow up 2 transistors (not that I did that *ahem*)
 
Aug 3, 2015 at 4:25 AM Post #10 of 18

Armaegis

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Having built three of them so far, one of the best things you can do (and a huge time saver) is to pre-measure and strip all the wires that you'll need and set them aside in the order that you'll need them. If you're so inclined, lightly pre-tinning the wires and assorted hardware makes life easier too.
 
Aug 6, 2015 at 3:41 PM Post #11 of 18

bemeurer

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Okay, sorry for the delay guys and thanks for all the answers!
  There is far more involved in properly driving a can than the volume level.  See:
 
http://www.head-fi.org/t/634201/battle-of-the-flagships-58-headphones-compared#user_HD650

I'm aware there's more than volume level, and thanks for the link it was a very nice reading!
 
 
 
You'll need to put some wear on those earpads, maybe wear them tighter than you normally would for a while. Or use the headphone as a clamp for a few books (which will simulate your head) overnight.

Hmm, I don't quite understand this tho, how could the earpads make a significant impact in sound? I thought their function was purely for comfort.
 
  You can also simulate wear on the pads by gently washing them. Remove them from the headphone, compress a bunch of times under water with some mild soap, let dry. It's also not a bad idea to clean pads every once in a while to remove oils and grime (which can wear out pads faster then usual).
 
The Bottlehead Crack is a fantastic amp with the HD600/650/800. It does require some DIY skill, but the first one I ever built was one of my very first projects and the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. Yes the tubes get hot, don't touch them. Don't worry about that Brazilian heat; it means nothing to those tubes.
 
If you're mostly on the go though, you have to consider whether investing in a desktop amp is worth it, or if you should invest in a more powerful portable amp
 
Reduce your cable length with a single strand braid... here's the first google hit I found: http://www.animatedknots.com/braid/

 
 
+1 to this. The Bottlehead crack is a great amp for the hd650 but I would highly suggest you also getting the speedball upgrade. It really does make the sound alot better, especially the bass. And if you decide to build it, 1 advice: work slowly you dont want to blow up 2 transistors (not that I did that *ahem*)

 
 
  Having built three of them so far, one of the best things you can do (and a huge time saver) is to pre-measure and strip all the wires that you'll need and set them aside in the order that you'll need them. If you're so inclined, lightly pre-tinning the wires and assorted hardware makes life easier too.

I'm definitely considering the Crack, I just hate the looks of it. For all the price I just think it could look significantly better, so right now I'm seriously in between the Crack and a Schiit Valhalla 2, although I'm not sure how does the Valhalla perform with the 650s.
 
Aug 6, 2015 at 5:13 PM Post #12 of 18

Armaegis

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If you like to DIY and have all the relevant tools, you can't go wrong with the Crack + Speedball. A bit of woodworking or panting can really make it shine as well (they have some nice galleries over at the bottlehead forum).
 
Aug 6, 2015 at 5:27 PM Post #13 of 18

bemeurer

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@Armaegis I'm pretty into DIY, just built my own 3D printer and most of my stuff I build myself, I just feel a little insecure about putting 300 or 400 with the speedball USD on a project that I have 0 experience in. It's quite a lot of money for a kit, specially when other products in the same price range have a much more professional/quality build. Is the Crack that much of an unbeatable pair with the 650s?
 
Aug 6, 2015 at 6:34 PM Post #14 of 18

Armaegis

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That pairing has garnered high praise for a reason. It's a really simple build if you're worried about the skill required.
 
I liked the Crack far more than the Valhalla1, but I have not heard the Val2 (which supposedly is a huge improvement).
 
Aug 7, 2015 at 1:51 AM Post #15 of 18

Shaffer

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OP, take a look at the Feliks Elise:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/732875/feliks-audio-elise-previously-6sn7-6as7g-6080-prototype

A Crack owner just bought one. You can read his impressions at the end of the thread. IME, it's the best HP amp I've heard and it will work with low- z cans. Yes, it costs twice as much as the Crack. It's also a completely different sonic animal. Good luck.
 

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