Recommended Amp for ATH-W2002?
Jun 26, 2002 at 12:26 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

Schrieks

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In Dec 2001 I was in Japan and I saw and listened to the AT woodies, the R10, and the blue Philips and pretty much all the other nifty headphones I have seen you guys discuss here (All at one superstore, no less). Happy with my V6s for the past 9 years, I was content to wish for a while, but I snapped back into reality upon exiting the store. I've either slipped back out of reality or I have entered a higher state thereof, because today I put in my order for some w2002s.

Now that I have blown a sizable chunck of the money I'd saved for a new computer, I might as well use some more on a good amp. But which one? I would like recommendations from anyone, but I'm most eager to find out what other w2002 owners have, or have liked best. The MG Head amp from Antique Sound Labs appears promising (at ~$350) but I may be getting too caught up in the external asthetics of new gear! Are there any amps of reasonable or reasonableISH price that would compliment these new cans? Reasonable is $100-$300, ReasonableISH is up to $500, I guess. The Amp designed for these cans is a bit out of the reasonable range for me.

My reason for going with such an expensive set of headphones is my memory of their sound, coupled with the reviews here. (Their being limited edition and simply gorgeous never came into play. Nope, Nyet, Nuh-uh. Well, perhaps a bit...) Oh, and in 5 years, I'll still have a set of cans that will blow most others out of the water, while a state-of-the-art computer of today may be utterly worthless then. ...So I have INVESTED. Please help me decide which amp is best to couple with these extraordinary electric earmuffs.

And maybe a CD player, portable or not. Please don't laugh: At work I listen to my V6s through my computer's stock line-out jack. At home, I don't really listen to headphones. In fact, this is almost an exclusive at-work setup I am making, since I listen to music for ~7 hrs per day there.

BTW: I live right outside of downtown Los Angeles and if anyone lives in the L.A. area and would like to trade an audition of a good amp for an audition of some w2002s, email me and maybe we can meet, to mutual benefit.

Thanks
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 1:22 AM Post #2 of 16

zzz

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One piece of advice as a W2002 owner I can give you is don't go with MG Head. MG Head is a fairly decent piece of gear, but it doesn't do W2002 any justice. It hisses into them at a fairly annoying (to me) level, there is virtually no bass whatsoever, and in general it does not seem to behave or sound like a tube amp with them (I confess, I could not for the life of it tell any difference between MG Head OTL driving W2002 [headphone jack, switch in OTL position] and whatever is built into NEC CD-903, except that MG Head is capable of attenuating the signal more to my liking -- NEC CD-903 internal amp has fixed gain).

The only other two amps I plugged this headphone into were Total Airhead and Sugden Headmaster. As expected, TA was a mediocre performer, but Sugden was *very*, *very* good. In fact, this is the amp that I'm currently getting and it's probably going to be the last headamp for me for at least a year or so...

Maybe you'd be able to find something cheaper and easier to get to drive these 'phone though. I was told that microZOTL is pretty good at driving them too, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 4:05 AM Post #3 of 16

dhwilkin

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A Headroom Max also works quite well w/ the W2002.
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 4:27 AM Post #5 of 16

dhwilkin

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Problem w/ that amp is AT does not want to sell it outside of Asia, and you'd have to deal w/ power conversion issues, as well.
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 4:41 AM Post #6 of 16

zzz

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Quote:

Originally posted by dhwilkin
Problem w/ that amp is AT does not want to sell it outside of Asia, and you'd have to deal w/ power conversion issues, as well.


...and, according to several reports, it's crap.
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 5:14 AM Post #7 of 16

zzz

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A summary of what I found when I was looking for an answer to the same question (general impression that I developed based on posts by other people, I've heard only a few of those amps):

Tube amps and W2002:

1. MG Head: smooth and fairly detailed sound, but hissy and has virtually no bass. bass that is there is pitch-correct, but lacks any pattern that may have been present in the original signal -- virtually a pure sine wave (this is nearly impossible to notice if you can't compare with an amp that can drive W2002 better though).
2. Melos SHA-1: harsh. most people with SHA-1 sold W2002 after about a week of auditioning.
3. microZOTL: nice relaxed yet not rolled off sound.
4. Melos SHA-Gold: I think markl swears by this combo but beyond that there's not much known...
5. EMP: ~50% seem to agree that this is *the* amp for W2002, approximately same number of people think that they don't match at all.
6. RKV: [I could be off-base here] apparently Mk II was very noisy with W2002, but that could have been fixed in Mk II rev. 2 (Mk III?). not much else known.

I don't remember anyone mentioning HP4 with W2002, I'd love to hear this combo myself.

Solid state and W2002:

Anything goes. Better amp produces better results. HA2002 is a significantly overpriced POS (I remember somebody posting a short review/impression on this amp not so long ago, but since the amp is usually referred to as `that thing audio-technica made for W2002`, it's hard to find the exact reference...).

Looking back, I may have been a bit overly harsh about MG Head. I just returned from 3-day `break` from headphones and, hm, re-discovered that my work rig with MG Head OTL is extremely enjoyable. Still hiss and no bass though, so I'm still looking forward to Sugden (which I had pleasure auditioning with W2002, but I think I said that before and more than once too...).
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 5:46 AM Post #8 of 16

Schrieks

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Thanks for your extensive advice, zzz. If only this were easier! I find I may end up buying an amp the same price as the headphones! I have read a bunch about the HeadRoom Little and how it's great as it is, plus it's upgradable. I will wait to hear your reaction to the Sugden before dropping any money for an amp.
Hopefully others have firsthand comments to share.
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 6:09 AM Post #9 of 16

hokiefritz

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I am very pleased with my Sugden Headmaster paired with the W100 and several other phones I might add, but it costs outside of your stated reasonable range.

I didn't care for the MG Head with the W100 for the short time I listened to one (compared to the Headmaster). I can't imagine that the W2002 is that much different that it would have greatly different results.

What I would seriously consider is the Corda HA-1, which is in your price range. It would be excellent for use at work and home as it's small enough to take with you so it could serve double duty.

If you do a search you'll find some favorable comments on this combo. Here's a start.

Good luck!
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 1:37 PM Post #10 of 16

JML

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This is based largely on reports about the W100, but also W2002s.

For a solid state amp, try the Corda HA-1, or the Sugden if you have more money. The best solid state amp for these cans, if you are trying to keep within your budget, is probably the Corda. And if you don't like the combo, you'll find it very easy to sell.

But if you get the Corda, you'll need either the Grado adapter cord or the AT adapter to fit the standard plug of the AT cans into the Corda's minijack. Many other adapters won't fit. And the Outlaw PCA interconnects are splendid with the Corda -- they make it so one is able to appreciate the noise floor of the Corda.

For tubes, without going outside your budget, the EMP seems to be the one that gets reliable raves.
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 2:22 PM Post #11 of 16

Nik

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Dear Schrieks,

why you don’t consider the Grado battery powered amp? Is a wooden block that is nice with your ATW2002s. With the Grado RS-1 this little wooden piece sounds very nice, his price is 350$ and you can find it anywere… This amp sounds very clear and I suppose that is good for a closed cans as you have.

Nik
 
Jun 26, 2002 at 2:30 PM Post #12 of 16

daycart1

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Welcome, Shrieks. My avatar thinks your signature is pretty cool!

I notice that most folks are characteristically making recommendations over your stated budget: EMP, Zotl, Headmaster.
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smily_headphones1.gif

Since your ATs are an investment (good point there), your idea of an upgradeable Little makes a lot of sense. You might also post a want ad on this forum for a used, higher-ticket amp.

OTOH, you could get a less expensive amp now, then sell it here when you are ready to upgrade.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Jun 27, 2002 at 6:51 AM Post #14 of 16

kelly

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I found the W2002 to be noisy with my RKV Mk II prior to having the RKV repaired, upgraded and restored by AudioValve. At this point, I'd have to hear it again. The Etymotics sure seem to fair well with the amp now.

In either case, the RKV exceeds the budget of the poster. The Corda HA-1 fits nicely within budget and was very much a good combination. I suspect the HeadRoom amps would be good too but you may find yourself not using their crossfeed filter with the W2002 due to the cantered drivers of headphone. Vertigo reported reverb distortion issues (with his crappy jpop CDs) when using the MOH crossfeed filter with the Sony R10 which also had cantered drivers. The Corda HA-1's more transparent crossfeed is a good match for the W2002 because it simply slightly blends the channels. The cantered drivers pull the image out of your head so the pairing is nice.

I personally found disfavor with the Melos/W2002 combination, but I believe this is due to the slightly bright stock tube pushing the somewhat peaky headphone over its threshhold into harshness territory. I'm sure it could be made to sound good, but again the Melos is not necessarily cheap.

If you're willing to spend a little more, the Berning MicroZOTL is $790 shipped and I'm told is the best amp for the W2002. KurtW uses this and seems to prefer the pairing to both his Corda HA-1 and Sugden Headmaster. I tend to believe Kurt has excellent taste but I've not yet gotten to hear a ZOTL at all myself.
 

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