I've a Matrix m-Stage desktop amp that I've used for a year or so with a pair of HD650s and have found the 18dB gain setting to be the one that prevents me hitting the stop on the volume pot.
I'll soon have a pair of HD800s, which seem to be moderately easier to drive than the HD650. Does anyone use either the m-Stage or a Lehmann Black Cube Linear with the HD800, and what gain setting do you use?
More generally, is there any drawback to selecting a higher gain? My gut tells me that higher gains will be less well-controlled, but I might be just making that up!
Thanks in advance for any suggestions/tips/teaching on this subject,
Higher gain decrease overall performance most of the time. General rule of thumb, put the lowest gain setting possible in order to get adequate volume play on the pot. Only use higher gain if you lack volume. Potential power (or power you don't use) doesn't increase performance as many people will make you think.