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Looking for a fast and aggressive desktop setup for music.

  1. yakcyll

    I've been looking for a desktop setup for the last couple weeks, trying out headphones and a couple amps and I'm struggling to pick out a pair that'd suit me well. A few notable ones were ATH-AD1000X, ATH-A1000Z, DT1990, M1060, K812, HD800 and HD800s. Most of them were way too warm and had dull treble, which was most prominent in the percussion. The ones I was most enthusiastic about were HD800 (great detail, sharpness and comfort, but a bit too spacious and vocals recessed) and K812 (exemplary bass - extended and very fast - with a good amp, but dull percussion).

    I'm looking for a setup - a headphone with an optional amplifier - that could be characterized as bright and forward, with sharp, detailed highs, fast, extended, if a bit recessed bass and clear, consistent vocals. Comfort of the headphone is a major factor. My current favorite headphone is MSR7, which I'm running from a FiiO X5 Mk3. My gripe with it is that it lacks the vibrant, resonating extension of bass and it's hard to keep them on my head for a longer while, both due to clamp and the somewhat fatiguing sound (it doesn't appear fatiguing, but after a while I'm just glad I took them off). On the upside, it has the sharpest, most natural sounding percussion I have ever heard, the vocals are just right in terms of prominence and the bass is as tight as it always should be.

    My budget tops out at about 2200$ / 1900€. I was considering HD800 with something like a Schiit Valhalla 2 and/or an Audio-GD R2R-11, but I won't have a chance to audition either amp before purchase and HD800 has a reputation of recessed vocals, a mid-bass hump (which on other headphones literally overflowed everything for me) and everything sounding a bit distant. On the upside, the headphone is known for its great potential, both in terms of pairing and EQing, so I'm mostly interested in whether there are solid alternatives to it (that'd retain the positive factors I'm looking for), or whether there's an amp you could recommend that'd make it sound more forward, but still detailed. As a side note, are the two aforementioned amps different enough to warrant eventually owning both?

    Thanks a bunch for helping out.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
  2. Luminance
    +1 for NFB R2R 11.
    I have NFB 11.28 myself, but if I was to buy an amp again, I would choose R2R instead, basing on the reviews.

    Have you tried DT1990 with analytical pads? Less bass than with default, balanced pads, but the bass itself is tighter and has better quality. Treble is also clearer, maybe a bit sharper. Very detailed. Midrange is natural, not recessed at all. These pads are also a little more comfy.
    How they compare with HD800(S) or AKG K812 I cannot tell as I have never tried these cans myself.
    yakcyll likes this.
  3. HBen
    If you want a fast and agressive setup, combining the HD800 with a tube amp or soft ss-amp won't really serve that purpose. Thats what people recommend because they want their HD800 to be LESS bright...

    If you like this kind of sound you might also want to consider some Stax headphones, old Stax 404 anyone? :)
    Cymbals sound very realistic ... no comparison to any dynamic or planar headphone I recently heard.
    yakcyll likes this.
  4. Youth
    Have you tried HD700?
    yakcyll likes this.
  5. BunnyNamedCraig
    HD700 or HD800 would be a good pick.

    I just recently heard a tube amp at RMAF and I was amazed at how bright it made the sound... I forget what tubes the guy had in it but it was wild. It was being fed by a VPI turntable so not sure what cart he had on it either. Could have also added to the brightness. The HD800 AND LCD3 sounded really bright for what they normally are and I was shocked ha.

    Anyways just sharing that to be a counter part to all tube amps being smooth on the top end. Since that was the only time I experienced it I agree its not normally the case...
    yakcyll likes this.
  6. buke9
    What you are describing is Mr Speakers Ether C’s. As for the Valhalla 2 it was one of the most solid state tube amps I’ve heard with stock tubes. I am not cutting on Schiit as I have a Yggdrasil and a Freya but did not care for that amp with the HD-700’s as I did not have the 800’s at the time but I’m sure the same would be said for them also.
    yakcyll likes this.

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