Need help deciding on a new amp...
Mar 30, 2002 at 1:08 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 29

Voyager

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Well, the title says it all. I need help deciding on a new headphone amp. It will mostly be used with my HP-1s, and sometimes with some HD580s, or eventually HD600s. I'd prefer a solid state amp, mostly because I didn't really like any of the tube amps I've listened to, even the Cary 300sei. I've been looking at the Sugden Headmaster, the Headroom Maxed-Out Home, and the MAX. The Blockhead is just a bit too much for me at this point in time. I'll consider anything under $2000, and would like to stay under $1500, but if it's good enough...

Anyway, I was hoping you guys could help me make up my mind and suggest other options I might be overlooking. This will likely be the last headphone amp I ever buy, so I don't mind if it's a bit more expensive. Also the ability to use the amp as a pre amp would be very good.
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 2:03 AM Post #2 of 29

kelly

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The HP-1 is low impedance so doesn't surprise me that you don't like the big tube amps. You might still try the Berning microZOTL, though, which Hirsch seems to love with his HP-1 and Kurt with his W2002 (also low impedance). The Melos SHA-1 is a hybrid amp that was designed to work with the HP-1.

If you're dead set on solid state, I'd also add the Grado to the list of ones to gather info. about, since I mean, after all, it's Grado.

No solid state amp can drive the HD600 to its potential though, IMO. (At least none of the ones I've heard so far.)
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 2:07 AM Post #3 of 29

Audio-Me

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If you had tried your HD580s with the Cary, I bet you'd have ditched your Grados right then and there and instantly bond with the CAD-300SEI.
wink.gif


If you don't feel like doing another audition, it'd probably be a good idea to try out the Max.
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 3:21 AM Post #4 of 29

markl

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Hi Voyager,
You've really opened a can of worms. Threads like this tend to get hotly debated. Forgive us in advance.

How about a tube/ss hybrid? If you'd rather spend more like $1000-$1200 I would recommend the Melos SHA-Mestro (aka SHA-Gold Reference). This is what I use with my Sony R10s. It is the best headphone amp I've heard. BUT, Melos is no more and they went bust in part due to poor quality control. There's an outfit on the web that will repair/upgrade your Melos.

Or, try a MicroZOTL at $800. It's very high quality sound and will drive all headphones, rare in tube amp at this price.

markl
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 4:02 AM Post #5 of 29

JMT

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I am loving my Maxed Out Home with the headphones that you mentioned Voyager. HP-1s, HD-600s, plus my MS Pros, ER-4S, and my SR-325s. In my opinion, the MOH has a very "classy" sound to it. Brilliant, but not bright. The seperation between the instruments is almost "black," meaning that there is a lot of definition between the different instruments. I think musically, the busier the music, the more the MOH shines. I can't wait to hear my new NAD C541i with it.

I hope that made some sense.
confused.gif
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 4:13 AM Post #6 of 29

Voyager

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I just don't like the tube sound. When I listened to the Cary, I felt that it had a great midrange, the bass was good and soundstageing was awesome, but at the same time the highs were too rolled off for me. In that respect I much prefered my JMT CHA47. Samething with the Wheatfield HA-1 I listened to, but I thought the Wheatfield was a lot darker sounding. Coming from an amp that emphasizes the treble slightly (Rega Ear) I think it would be easier to live with a solid state amp than with tubes. I just prefer solid state sound. I would, however, from what I read be happy with the Holmes Powell DCT-1, but that is just too much money.

As for the Grado amp, I did like it, but I'm looking for something that will blow my current amp away. The Grado amp just sounded different than the Rega to me, not better.
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 5:18 AM Post #8 of 29

kelly

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Hmmm. I felt like the Melos had a really good top end but wonder if your generalization about tube amps rolling off the highs is generally true. It's certainly true of the MG Head. Mark, did you feel that the ZOTL and Melos are lacking in hf extension?

If anything, I tend to have the opposite generalization. I tend to think (and no just with headphone amps) that tube amps have a sweet top and midrange but don't have the bass speed and extension of high end solid states. I really felt like the Max was exceptional in regards to bass extension with every headphone except the HD600.
smily_headphones1.gif


A fair warning to you, though--I felt like the Max was not as strong on the top as other amps (including the Melos) that I auditioned. The Sugden is said to be exceptional on top, but maybe a little bright--still haven't gotten to hear for myself.
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 1:40 PM Post #10 of 29

MacDEF

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You'll be very happy with a MOH or Max, Voyager
wink.gif
And despite Kelly's comments, those of us who use one of these amps regularly know they drive the HD600 as well or better than anything else
biggrin.gif
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 2:47 PM Post #11 of 29

kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by MacDEF
You'll be very happy with a MOH or Max, Voyager
wink.gif
And despite Kelly's comments, those of us who use one of these amps regularly know they drive the HD600 as well or better than anything else
biggrin.gif


If you haven't heard better, you may find yourself agreeing with Mac.
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 4:50 PM Post #12 of 29

markl

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"Hmmm. I felt like the Melos had a really good top end but wonder if your generalization about tube amps rolling off the highs is generally true. It's certainly true of the MG Head. Mark, did you feel that the ZOTL and Melos are lacking in hf extension?"

They've both got plenty on top and bottom. I don't think they're rolled at all.

markl
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 7:51 PM Post #13 of 29

Vertigo-1

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Quite a bit of dough to blow there...hmm. I personally had excellent experience with the HP-1 and RKV MK II. I would avoid the little Grado RA-1 for the HP-1s, the HP-1s may have a low impedance but they still suck up power like crazy, quite easily up into the range of the Sennheiser HD-600s if you go by the volume knob position. The more power behind your amp, the better off you will be here. If you want solid state, I can't help but think you should go with a Sugden for a classic solid state sound. In this day and age, I tend to avoid all Headroom amps, tonally they're just not my cup of tea. If I were to get another amp myself this moment, money not withstanding even up into the Blockhead level, it'd probably be a Sugden.

If you want to go balls out, the EAR HP4 would be another consideration.

Regarding treble rolloff of tubes, it's actually possible for tube amps to portray more treble than a solid state amp. Surprising, but the McCormack MID plainly cut off cymbal clashes much earlier than the RKV did...the RKV extended cymbal clashes longer, although it did noticeably sound softened on the top compared back to the MID.
 
Mar 30, 2002 at 8:11 PM Post #14 of 29

dngl

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Quote:

Originally posted by markl
They've both got plenty on top and bottom. I don't think they're rolled at all.


Agreed. I think the Melos is a good choice because it isn't tubey. I'd call it airy ss.
 

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