Indecisive about amps for my HF-1's and HD 580's
Mar 28, 2006 at 3:03 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 37

solbergg

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Just a warning in advance, my sentence structure in this post will be horrible as it will be in a "stream of conciousness" style of writing. Here goes:

I've been wanting to pick up a tube amp for quite some time, and I just can't get myself to decide on anything. I recently had a "mini-meet" with mrarroyo to test his two tube amps, a modded X-can V3 and a Mapletree Ear Purist ++ (I think that's the model name, not quite sure). After a good amount of comparing, I preferred the Mapletree with the HF-1s and the XCV3 with my 580's. So, my thought at the time was that I should just get the X-Can V3 since it's cheaper and also because the 580's had a larger margin of sound improvement with the xcans than the HF-1s did with the Mapletree (I hope the makes sense). I'm watching the used boards for an X-Can, and may just jump on an opportunity if one does show up on the for sale forum for $300, BUT a nagging thought in the back of my head reminds me that 75% of my music is rock, and I prefer to listen to rock with the HF-1's.

So, I was wondering if there is some kind of alternative to these two amps that has great synergy with both headphones? I might be trying to have my cake and eat it too, as both headphones did sound wonderful on both amps. But again, now I know what I might be missing, it's hard to let that feeling go.

It's probably best if I explain what I liked about the sound of each. When listening to the Mapletree/HF-1 combo, the sound was more lively and upbeat, with nice, punchy bass. It really made rock sound like it was a live performance in my head. With the Senn/Xcan combo, I tested with Tori Amos. The sound was so rich and sweet, it was sonic chocolate!

So, I guess I'm just fishing for opinions, comments, ideas, suggestions, etc. If there isn't such an amp that can play both roles well, I guess I should just get eventually get an amp that caters to the individual headphone. If I were to go that route, should I necessarily get two tube amps? Perhaps a SS is more appropriate for the fast pace rock sound? I was planning on getting the HR Micro, but then I realized I didn't need to make any sacrfices in the name of portability, since this will be a home rig only. Budget should be less than $800, but less is definitely better so I have some money left over to purchase a DAC soon.

Here are my setups:

Vinyl: Musichall MMF-5 -> Bellari VP-129 Phonostage -> Insert amp here -> Headphones (currently using headphone out on the VP-129's)

Digital 1: Sony dvd player for redbook -> Insert eventual DAC here -> Insert amp here -> headphones (currently using headphone out from HK receiver)

Digital 2: iTunes from Laptop -> Insert eventual DAC here -> Insert amp here -> headphones

Heh, if it's not obvious already, I'm a little light on equipment. Grrr, if only I had more money, none of these issues would exist
580smile.gif
rs1smile.gif


Thanks in advance!
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 3:22 AM Post #2 of 37

tyrion

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I think you go with the Mapletree. While you preferred the Mapletree for you HF-1 as compared to the 580's it didn't sound like you hated the Mapletree/580 combo. I am assuming that the 25% of your music that isn't rock would be for the 580's. I tried the Mapletree with my 650's and thought it was a pretty nice amp for the money. It was at the Miami meet and I didn't spend a lot of time with the combo. Perhaps with some tube rolling and cable changes you can get the Mapletree/580 to a point that you won't feel like you are compromising too much. Whenever you have a budget to work within and it is limiting your choices you need to make a compromise. It seems to me that if 75% of the time you are not compromising too much is not such a bad situation. I hope this makes some sense.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 4:15 AM Post #3 of 37

solbergg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tyrion
I think you go with the Mapletree. While you preferred the Mapletree for you HF-1 as compared to the 580's it didn't sound like you hated the Mapletree/580 combo. I am assuming that the 25% of your music that isn't rock would be for the 580's. I tried the Mapletree with my 650's and thought it was a pretty nice amp for the money. It was at the Miami meet and I didn't spend a lot of time with the combo. Perhaps with some tube rolling and cable changes you can get the Mapletree/580 to a point that you won't feel like you are compromising too much. Whenever you have a budget to work within and it is limiting your choices you need to make a compromise. It seems to me that if 75% of the time you are not compromising too much is not such a bad situation. I hope this makes some sense.


Hey, Tyrion. You are correct, I pretty much listen to the other 25% with my 580s. The 580s are wondeful phones on their own, but the rock experience the HF-1's provide is unparalled by the senns. So I guess the nagging voice in the back of my head is right. The only thing is that although I love the sound of the mapletree, I just can't get over it's aesthetics. If I planned on never upgrading my equipment, I might not worry about this as much, but I have noticed, after years of owning and selling home theater equipment, that it's much easier to resell "pretty" equipment than the utilitarian-looking stuff. Are there other amp alternatives to the mapletree that are known to mate well with the HF-1's?
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 5:10 AM Post #6 of 37

omedon

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Buy a MPX3 or PPX3 SLAM and don't look back. That is what I did. Best audio decision I ever made.

It should work great with both the senns and grados and you can tube roll the sound to your taste.

Upbeat and punchy, smooth and airy, or anywhere inbetween.


Now that I have finally had the chance to hear a unit I would say that sacdlover does not pimp them nearly enough. They are that good. Go Team Singlepower!
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 5:16 AM Post #7 of 37

solbergg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by omedon
Buy a MPX3 or PPX3 SLAM and don't look back. That is what I did. Best audio decision I ever made.

It should work great with both the senns and grados and you can tube roll the sound to your taste.

Upbeat and punchy, smooth and airy, or anywhere inbetween.


Now that I have finally had the chance to hear a unit I would say that sacdlover does not pimp them nearly enough. They are that good. Go Team Singlepower!



I have been very curious about the singlepowers. Looks wise, they will sit perfectly right next to my black acrylic mmf-5. It is a bit spendy though, so I would have to stall my audio purchases for a good while to recover. But, if it would be the one amp solution for a very long time, that may be worth it.

The Gilmore Light also seems very nice, and I like the idea of upgrading the psu later on if I decide I like the GL.

I'm going to do some more reading on both of these amps. Thanks for the tips!
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 5:59 AM Post #8 of 37

omedon

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I recently just upgraded to the MPX3 from the Gilmore Lite. I had always been pretty unsatisfied with my Gilmore 225 combo the HF-1 brought me some more love but it wasn't the incredible headphone exprience I was expecting when I got into this crazy hobby. I had some great times with my Gilmore & HF-1. And the last month or so I had been enjoying the combo more than ever. But I had to find out what Singlepower and modern tubes were about so I took the plunge. It really paid off. This was the kind of incredible sound I was expecting when I stumbled upon this whole head-fi scene. I think the Gilmore Lite probably needs the dedicated PSU to work really well with the HF-1. The bass, especially the mid-bass, is fairly recessed on the standard lite. It really seems to take a back stage to the rest of the music and can kind of dissapear in it. Either further HF-1 break-in or the added PS Audio Minilab PC to my source fixed this to some extent but there is a point in the bass heirarchy where it just kind of loses all prescence. I like to listen to the Weather Report and I want to hear Jaco Pastorius do his thing. But often it was like trying to listen to him play a rubber band.


I don't live in a place where I can attend meets and audition stuff though. So I decided to avoid the half-measures of Gilmore w/ DPSU, Mapletree Ear Purist, and PPX3 Slam and go right to the top of what I could possibly conceive spending in the next five years.

As I said best audio decision I made. I have only hit the tip of the iceberg though. I still get to explore the many types and brands of tubes to further improve the sound. I am looking forward to getting the blackgate upgrade to further enhance transparency and clarity. Both of which already exceed my lite. It really makes me wonder about these meets and how good the super set-ups must sound.


I like bring my friends over to share my system with them. With my Lite system I was always a bit hesitant. I know that many of them would think I was crazy for spending that much money and that it didn't sound that much better than there sony speakers. But in the MPX3 I have great confidence it has an undeniably great sound that I think few people will fail to recognize.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 11:30 AM Post #9 of 37

tyrion

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If you jump into the price range of an MPX3 then there are a number of amps to consider. I use my Raptor with any headphone I've had including the HF-1 and now the modded HHF-1. You could also consider the GS-1, Dynahi, HR-2 and others. Your are welcome to come up and borrow my Raptor since I have a Stealth and my KGSS to keep me busy. I know of a Dynahi that might be for sale that I am sure you could audition not too far from you.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 12:49 PM Post #10 of 37

Inter

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I'll also chime in with a Singlepower recommendation, although mine is a MPX3-SLAM with some further upgrades. It is just a remarkable piece of audio equipment, even without any burn-in whatsoever. I upgraded from my Lite with the DSP and it just can't hold a candle whatsoever to the MPX3-SLAM. Of course, the Lite + DPS is about $500 while my slam is in the $1300 league, so of course there will be (large) differences but if you take the plunge, you will never look back.

I don't think I will ever need another headamp, except perhaps for an upgrade to the next Singlepower.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 5:49 PM Post #12 of 37

solbergg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tyrion
If you jump into the price range of an MPX3 then there are a number of amps to consider. I use my Raptor with any headphone I've had including the HF-1 and now the modded HHF-1. You could also consider the GS-1, Dynahi, HR-2 and others. Your are welcome to come up and borrow my Raptor since I have a Stealth and my KGSS to keep me busy. I know of a Dynahi that might be for sale that I am sure you could audition not too far from you.


If I end up going the Singlepower route (which I am leaning towards, at the moment) it would be for a PPX3 Slam, as I really don't want to go overbudget. But I would certainly love the opportunity to try out the Raptor, in case I ever want to think about upgrading to that later on.

I don't know much about the Dynahi, and I couldn't immediately find a company website. I'll try doing a head-fi search on it when I am not at work.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 6:26 PM Post #13 of 37

tyrion

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Quote:

Originally Posted by solbergg
If I end up going the Singlepower route (which I am leaning towards, at the moment) it would be for a PPX3 Slam, as I really don't want to go overbudget. But I would certainly love the opportunity to try out the Raptor, in case I ever want to think about upgrading to that later on.

I don't know much about the Dynahi, and I couldn't immediately find a company website. I'll try doing a head-fi search on it when I am not at work.



If you want to borrow the Raptor, let me know. I don't know who is making the Dynahi. SFT was making them but I don't see it on his website. The Dynahi is a Kevin Gilmore design.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 7:31 PM Post #14 of 37

Icehawk

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I'm also busy researching a possible amp for my 325i, seems like the Grados with their low impedance have much different amping requirements vs most other cans. I keep seeing the Gilmore recommended... but I keep getting drawn back to the MAD with it's fun dancing Magic Eye. Makes me wonder if that Dared MP5 might be a viable choice.

I guess my question is - what are the high current amps out there? Yeah, yeah use the search
biggrin.gif
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 7:46 PM Post #15 of 37

solbergg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Icehawk
I'm also busy researching a possible amp for my 325i, seems like the Grados with their low impedance have much different amping requirements vs most other cans. I keep seeing the Gilmore recommended... but I keep getting drawn back to the MAD with it's fun dancing Magic Eye. Makes me wonder if that Dared MP5 might be a viable choice.

I guess my question is - what are the high current amps out there? Yeah, yeah use the search
biggrin.gif



I think the Dared accepts USB input only, although I think I do remember you saying that your laptop is your only source, so that might not be a problem. But, what I really wanted to say is that if you are willing to accept the utilitarian look of the MAD (and the magic eye is very sweet), then I would definitely recommend you go for that, Ice. The Grado/MAD synergy was very impressive.
 

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