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Looking for an amp/DAC for Sennheiser HD 650

  1. larson80
    Hello everyone!

    First post, here we go...

    I've had the Sennheiser HD 518 with Sabaj Da3 driving them beautifully for a while now.
    Then I bought the HD 650s and nothing in my household can drive them at even close to the sound quality of the 518s. I've tried my Pioneer home theater system, the Sabaj and straight from the computer. Not surprisingly nothing I have can juice these headphones. In fact they sounded so bad in comparison to the 518s, I first thought I'd bought a broken set (they're used).

    So, here we are. I think I'm going to need both an amp and a DAC, or is it possible to use the Sabaj as DAC and hook it up with a separate amp? I'm not very savvy with the connection possibilities, not to even mention the deeper technical stuff I'm going to need from the amp.

    Here's what I have:


    I've been considering:

    Schiit Fulla ($99) or Asgard ($199)
    I don't actually know what kind of sound quality difference there would be between these.

    Pro-Ject Box-Design Head Box S2 Digital ($145 used) DAC included

    JDS Labs Objective 2 ($129 + buying a DAC)

    So, that's what I've been mulling over for a couple of days. Budget is around $200, but flexible if there's good gains to be had via a sale for example.

    I'd be very interested in your opinions and expertise on these devices since I'm still very green on these matters. Also, if you have any other suggestions, they're very welcome. Help is greatly appreciated and thanks for welcoming me to your ranks!
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
    That Pioneer's headphone jack should at least drive the HD650 decently.
    Do you have access to any other receiver that you could plug the HD650 headphones into?

    I also wonder if the HD650 are broken?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
  3. larson80
    The sound is quite bright and clean but seriously lacking in bass and body. It does get loud enough with the Pioneer and Sabaj but the sound is quite bland. I tried to compare the 518 the 650 through The Pioneer system and 518s still sound better. Way more bass and way more balanced sound. Maybe it just can't drive the 300 ohm phones? Or maybe they really are f***ed. I may have to go to a store to test out the 650s with a proper amp.
  4. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Any chance the Pioneer is causing the HD518 to have a bloated (louder, less detailed) bass
    and you got use to having the bloated bass?

    As the 300-Ohm HD600/HD650/HD6XX do better with more power, if you get an amp, get the Asgard.

    Also you might try reading up and asking here about what is best for driving the HD650.
    larson80 likes this.
  5. starence
    For me, the 650 was a bit of an acquired taste. I love them now, but they took some getting used to. IMO, the Asgard 3 has great synergy with them. Amazing amp. Looks like the Sabaj lacks a line out, so it wouldn’t be ideal as a DAC. You could use it that way though, if you turned the volume down enough. Or you could use the line out from a PC or something.
    larson80 likes this.
  6. larson80
    Actually this was the first time I tried the 518 through the Pioneer. I always use the Sabaj when using headphones and it does produce noticeably better sound, as you'd expect. I mean, it's ear candy; very clear and controlled sound throughout, not very bass heavy but that's just how the phones are.

    Still, both ways of amplification fare much better with the 518 than the 650, raising the nasty possibility I bought a busted set. I'd just think if a driver in the headset was broken, it'd more probably be either or, not both?
  7. larson80

    I went to a couple of HiFi stores and got to test the HD 650 with a proper amp. They work fine.
    They'd sell the Pro-Ject Audio Head Box DS (this is what I tested with) for €280 used,
    The other one I saw online was Pro-Ject Box-Design Head Box S2 Digital for €160.

    Schiit seems to be out of the race since they don't sell in Finland and I'd have to order from abroad potentially adding tolls and taxes.
  8. serman005
    Not sure exactly where you are going with the whole DAC situation, but a Meier Corda Rock (on Innerfidelity's Wall of Fame) is a very good amp in my opinion that is close in price range to what you are looking at. Might be worth looking into. Meier is based in the EU.
  9. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Finland, guess you must like the cold and playing a lot of taxes.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  10. Youth
    In case you didn't know there are two EU Schiit distributors.
  11. larson80
    I do! Then again those taxes return in the form of free health care, universities and pensions. Then again 2: I've heard over the internet we don't even exist. /ot

    I'm leaning towards the


    since I could just go and pick it up tomorrow and with abundant connections it seems more of a futureproof solution.
    It'll also be cheaper than the Asgard that'll run me 319 € plus delivery.

    To complicate the issue:

    I'll be using the 650 and 518 simultaneously via splitter when watching movies etc. If I've understood correctly, these headphones could output different volume levels depending on values like sensitivity (103 vs 108), impedance (300 vs 50) etc. Therefore I ask: would something like this


    be in order to adjust both headphone volumes individually?
  12. pbui44
  13. s002wjh
    I use jds atom+ topping d50s, sounds great. there are review on those two.
  14. larson80
    I haven't tried it because I don't have the cable nor do I understand what the difference is. :beyersmile:
    I read something about it putting out more power, but the point is now moot since I'll have to be able to run two sets of headphones through the amp.
  15. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I would try and talk you out of getting the Berringer, whatever headphone amplifier you have feeding into it will no longer drive the headphone, it would be just the Behringer driving the headphones.

    I've been doing a lot of reading on the Winter War (1939-1940), I guess the Soviet Union lost 10 times the number of troops, compared to the Finnish army :)
    larson80 likes this.

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