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Questyle CMA600i vs Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies for Audeze LCD-3

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by Sebab, Sep 14, 2017.
  1. Sebab
    I'm planning on getting the Audeze LCD-3 but can't decide which one of these amps I shoud get. Can't afford a more expensive amp than these two at the moment. What are your thoughts on which one would drive the LCD-3 better? The Questyle is a solid state amp and the Woo Audio a tube amp.

    All help appreciated, thanks! :)
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
  2. koven Contributor
    My experience is that planars pair better with solid state.
  3. Amish
    I think they pair well with tube as well as SS amps. I run both and my LCD2s sound great with my tube amps. I prefer tube amps with some power though to really make the Audezes shine. I'd buy the WA7 if I were making that choice. I know for a fact it plays well with my LCD2s because I demoed it.
  4. zerogorgor
    In addition to that, Questyle uses current mode amplification, which is nice for planers as planar headphones are usually current-hungry. I have listened to CMA400i/600i/800i/800R driving LCD2/3/X/XC, and I think Questyle does taps the potentials of these headphones (OPPO PM1/2 and TH500RP as well). I owned a CMA800i and really had a great time with it driving my PM-2. It appears to me that many audiophiles like the Questyle-Audeze pair, but one of the major impressions that I have, however, is that the highs of most Questyle-Audeze pairs don't sound harmonious enough. Not that they are harsh though.

    In terms of pairing I'd prefer Bakoon's amplifiers with Audeze, which also make use of the current amplification. I listened to Bakoon Japan's HDA-5520, Bakoon International 's HPA-01 and HPA-21 driving some Audeze planars, and owned the HDA-5520 for some time. To me, products offered by these two brands have a strong character in general, but the pairing is very appealing. Unfortunately it probably is even harder to find a place that has Bakoon demos, but I think they are worth trying out if you see them at some shows. A problem with Bakoon Japan is that the factory set gain is usually too high for me as I listen at low volumes, and Bakoon International is way beyond my budget. They once did a Massdrop drop for HPA-01, which deters me from getting it at the MSRP.

    My experience with planar headphones is that they are not easy to pair with. Most of them are current-hungry, which might be addressed by going balanced or using current amplification. But more importantly, I find the level of difficulty in finding a decent sounding combination and finding a synergistic combination similarly frustrating. I can name a number of decent sounding amplifier X-HD600/amplifier X-DT880/amplifier X-Amiron Home combinations, and a few synergistic ones, but I can't really do the for the planars I have tried. This is probably a reason why I take dynamic headphones and planars very differently. I'd be happy to take a little risk when it comes to dynamic cans, buying one that sounds OK out of any of the available demo amps and try to see how good they will match with my own stuff. But when it comes to planars, I will only seriously consider buying one if the demo combination sounds good enough.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  5. flea22
    I've got lcd 3's paired with the wa7, and can say it sounds pretty good. Adding the tube psu makes a massive change to the sound imo. Also you will have option to upgrade the tubes in the psu and customise the sound further to your taste.
    I also have a peachtree nova 150 that is a solid state. And I can say the wa7 is a way more lively 3d experience.

    Also the wa7 looks are killer.
  6. seamon
    LCD 3 sounds absolutely breathtaking with the Questyle CMA600i.

    Well controlled bass, effortless mids, pretty big soundstage and well extended Treble.
    I think this is a very good pairing as LCD 3 needs a Neutral DAC/AMP to sound their best.
    Tubes make the sound way too warm for the LCD 3.
    My 2 cents
  7. Sebab
    Thanks a lot for the helpful info!!

    The Bakoon amplifiers look awesome, but they're unfortunately over my budget. What did you mean by that the highs don't sound harmonious enough on the Audeze-Questyle combo? I'm personally a little sensitive to extended highs, so that's why I like headphones such as Audeze, which tend to have a little rolled off treble. I also like headphones with strong bass and the LCD-3's certainly have that.

    Would the Questyle combo make the highs more harsh compared to tube amps or would they still stay rolled off? Would I be sacrificing bass for treble if I got the Questyle CMA600i instead of the Woo Audio WA7 for the LCD-3's?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  8. Sebab
    Ok, thanks for your reply!

    I tend to like headphones with a little rolled off treble and strong bass, which is the reason why I prefer Audeze over other headphones that I've tried. The CMA600i wouldn't add too much treble to the LCD-3 compared to tube amps, right? I've always been a little sensitive to extended treble. Would I be sacrificing bass for treble if I got the CMA600i instead of the WA7?
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  9. Sebab
    Ok, that's good to hear, thanks for your reply!
  10. zerogorgor
    You're more than welcome.

    I think Bakoon Japan has launched the Kumamoto amplifier not too long ago and is selling at some 130,000 Yen, with a 10,000 Yen donation to two music-related entities affected by the Kumamoto earthquake in 2016. Is this cheaper than getting a brand new CMA600i? But a reminder: the only Bakoon (Japan)'s product I had is the HDA-5520 and it was too loud for me. I returned it to lower the gain by half. Also, Bakoon's products have a strong character and not all of my friends who have tried my HDA-5520 like it.

    The issue I have with Questyle-Audeze is hard to express in words. I am not a technical guy, but the impression I have is that Questyle does not roll off the high frequencies as much as Audeze does. Based on my experience with the CMA800R + LCD-2/LCD-3, the result is that while these combinations have an engaging sound in general, the highs sound bleak/dry/weird relative to the mids/lows. I am inclined to attribute this to the differences in the two brands' take on high frequencies roll-off, and I am not a big fan of this.

    I have not tried the WA7 previously, so I will refrain from speculating.
  11. Sebab
    Ok, thanks for your reply!

    I really prefer a warm sounding headphone, but I've heard that the LCD-3 and a tube amp could result in a too warm sound signature and this is why I've been thinking about the Questyle CMA600i, which should be a neutral sounding amp. The highs aren't very important for me, as long as they're just there and aren't too harsh, since my ears are sensitive to that. Did you think that the Audeze/Questyle combo sounded harsh or sibilant in any way, or was it still a warm sound signature in general?
  12. zerogorgor
    This hits me more like highs are very important to you. I wonder why there is a lot of bass quality/quantity discussion but not that many on treble quality/quantity. If I am not mistaken, perhaps you are looking for treble that is of good quality, but not necessarily with a strong presence (like some people who need clean, tight and well-controlled bass but not necessarily with a strong presence)?

    It is a personal matter when it comes to treble harshness. Here are my very subjective impressions: I don't find the treble of the Questyle CMA800R/CMA800i - Audeze LCD2/LCD3/LCDX combinations harsh, but I do not like this presentation. It is as if the Audeze headphones are trying to subdue the highs but the Questyle isn't really giving in. I find the treble a bit lean and bleak, and it is not the kind of treble I like. This makes a great contrast in terms of the overall sonic presentation, since the Audeze has lush mids or lower-mids and bass, and I think this sonic character is not as cohesive as I desire.

    I think what I can really say is that, to me, the Questyle amplifiers do tap the potentials of planar headphones. I prefer using a Questyle amp to drive planars than, say, using a Violectric V200. The combinations of Questyle amplifiers and Audeze headphones I tried are good, my impressions are positive in general. But my wallet spoke.
    omniweltall likes this.
  13. Sebab
    Ok that's good to hear, thanks! You're absolutely right, I like a good quality treble, but not with a strong presence. The bass on the other hand, needs to have a strong presence in my opinion and these are the 2 main reasons why I like Audeze headphones in general.

    As long as the Questyle drives the headphones well, doesn't make the treble too sibilant and doesn't remove any of the amazing bass that the LCD-3's have, it's good enough for me.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2017

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