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Please Help? Don't Know Which Amp to Choose for the Sennheiser HD 598?

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by chromophore, Nov 20, 2011.
  1. chromophore
    Hey everyone. I own the Sennheiser HD 598 and I was told that I needed to get a headphone amplifier in order to see its true colours shine.
    I own a laptop and use the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Go DAC, I know not the best decision. I recently tested my cousins Monster Beats Studio by Dr. Dre Headphones and although they sounded horrendous I couldn't help but notice that the sound was louder and more involved compared to mine which although were much more refined and spacious definetly lacked engaging sound.  I'm not a bass fanatic, I don't want it to interfere with the rest if the music like the Beats did but I still feel like it needs to be present so I guess I came to the conclusion that it's time for a headphone amp.
    After doing some research it seemed as if I didn't need the most powerful amp for the 598 and that a decent portable amp would suffice. I've looked into the Fiio line of amps/DACs and they look very appealing. I've now come to a dead end because I've realized that if I'm going to get an amp I'm also going to need upgrade my DAC. The Fiio e7 is a DAC and amp but I need both features functioning at the same time, do they? I want to be able to amp my DAP too so I know the Fiio e10 isn't the best option either. That only leaves the option of the e11 and then using my current DAC and potentially upgrading to the e7 in the future. The Fiio e17 also looks really appealing but as of right now ~$120 is my cap.
    What I'm basically asking is, what is the most practical solution? Will an amp make a big difference? Will my DAC with an amp be enough for a engaging and refined sound? Will upgrading my DAC be necessary as well?
    If it makes a difference my music taste is very eclectic random picks from my library: Judas Priest, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Beatles, Bjork, Bruce Springsteen, Clutch, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Doors, Feist, Florence + the Machine, Lykke Li, Kanye West,  MGMT, Misfits, Nirvana, No Doubt, Queen, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Ramones, Doomriders, Fever Ray, Slayer, Tool, Bathory and Sex Pistols.
    Thanks in advance!
  2. Koolpep
    The Fiio e7 does all you want.
    Amps DAP and works as DAC and Amp for your notebook. Have the combo (HD598 and e7) and the sound is very good. You can boost the bass in 4 stages with the e7 as well... off/1/2/3.
    Considering your budget, this is the best way forward. Otherwise I would recommend the Schiit Asgard which works just perfectly well with the HD598.
  3. chromophore
    Thanks for the reply.
    I was wondering if an improved DAC will really make that much of an overall difference though? I mean it is basically an external sound card in the end, right?
    My current sound card sounds pretty good with all the right configurations, and it gets loud to the point that contemporary loud tracks can hurt my ears at max volume.
    The difference I want to see is a more engaging and involved sound specifically with more bass and forward sound. I don't want just increased volume. Can the e7 alone acheive this? I feel like maybe the e11 would be more effective because the amp would be powering my sound card and it would be the power of both of them acting together. I don't know about the effectiveness of amp/DAC combo hardware in contrast to a dedicated DAC and dedicated amp setup. Is there a difference? Additonally, I have heard that the e11 is a more effective all around amp will this be better for my setup?
  4. Koolpep
    I only have the e7, the Schiit Asgard and Valhalla, the NuForce iconHDP. From what I witnessed is that the e7 is a great amp and a good DAC. Connect it via USB and be happy.
    The main argument for a separated setup is the upgradability. You can replace/upgrade on or the other based on your source/headphones.
    And yes, a DAC is an external sound card. Depending on how good the internal sound card of your PC is, it can make quite a difference.
    If you buy the Fiio L7 connector from Fiio you can use the e7 as DAC only, so you basically have all upgrade options still.
    I think the e7 is a great starting point and with your cap of $120 this is the way to go in my eyes.
    Hope that helps, cheers
  5. blueking
    In case you've not seen this Headfonia review of the Fiio E10 I would check it out...
    They seem to think the E10 is substantially better than the E7.  Versus the E7 they say this about the E10:
    "Comparing to the Fiio E7, and again I easily prefer the E10 by a large margin. Fuller mids, fuller bass, better vocals with the E10. The E7 on other hand sounded thin in the mids and lows and though the midrange seemed clearer, at the same time I also hear the midrange to be more constricted on the E7. Well, midrange is where the soul of the music lies, and so it’s a very easy choice between the E7 and the E10. You know what the best news is? The E10 actually will retail for $80, cheaper than the E7 and significantly cheaper than the Audinst." (Headfonia)
    The E10 isn't portable though...
  6. Koolpep
    I am sorry. You are right. I had mixed up the e10 with the e11. My bad. Yes, the e10 seems to be the way to go. Portability is not required hence the e10 is the better choice.

    chromophore likes this.
  7. chromophore
    Thanks for the reply. I have chosen to go with the e10 as the Sennheiser HD 598 are not portable material to really begin with. They're open headphones and at the end of the day I won't be listening to them on the bus anytime soon haha.
  8. ztreb185
    Let me know how the e10 + HD 598s sound, im thinking of getting the same setup.
  9. Destroysall Contributor
    Same here, the HD 598s seem so tempting as is, but all this goodness I hear with e10 makes me wonder how this combo would work as well.

  10. webhappy
    I just got my Fiio e10 (got hd598 a couple weeks ago). I'm quite a newb, so I can't really describe why/how it's better, but I do a hear a few more details than without the E10. I can definitely tell there's more bass presence now. OTOH, I was previously using onboard realtek audio->klipsch promedia 2.1 headphone jack->hd598. I am mostly listening to a mix of 256 kbps mp3/aac from itunes/amazonmp3
  11. Destroysall Contributor
    How does the setup do with metal?  Is it more forward or somewhat laid back?  I have the HD 280 Pro, and my only gripe about it is that is the sound is somewhat more relaxed/laid back and not as lively as I'd want it to be.  Plus, they can get hot and uncomfortable after awhile, but that's another story, lol.
  12. chromophore
    Thanks for the input. So you said the sound was more refined, do you feel like the headphones were being drived properly was everything bright? How were the lows, mids and highs. You said the bass feedback was good was the bass loose, punchy, tight? Were vocals clear? Would you recommend it for the price? Thanks for any feedback [​IMG]
  13. Destroysall Contributor
    Don't mean to pile more questions on ya, but how does the bass keep up with metal?  Is it slow or is it fast??
  14. HoodRanger
    If I had the 598's and mostly use an iPhone 4, would I still need an amp/dac???
  15. Destroysall Contributor
    Probably not, but they will definitely improve when using one.  Some refuse to believe this, but when I ran my HD 280s through a FiiO e10, I became a believer!!  :D
    Everything became more forward and the "veil" was gone.  The headphones sounded so lively and the bass and mids became more apparent.  I hope to get the FiiO e10 soon as it definitely improved the sound in my headphones a lot.  A friend of mine has HD595 and runs it through the FiiO e10 and the FiiO e9 and he said it sounds amazing.  He's planning to upgrade to the Schiit Asgard/Valhalla, which definitely looks and perhaps sounds like it would be a beast of an amp.


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