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senn hd650 + total bithead, or stax?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by kertong, Sep 17, 2008.
  1. kertong
    Hey there fellow audio fanatics,

    I just wanted to solicit some opinions on which path to take.

    I currently switch between an unamped sony mdr-v6 and a stax srm001 mk2 setup at work. Both sound great in their own way, but I find myself constantly switching between the two - I love the bass/upper bass on the V6s along with the comfort, but I love the midrange and smoothness of the stax (though they seem to have a rolled off treble, and the bass is smooth but doesn't have that oomph and impact).

    I went to go audition some ultrasone proline 750s, but ended up listenign to the AKG k701 and sennheiser HD650s (driven off a headphone amp). I fell in love with the sound on both of them, and after some internal turmoil, decided to opt for the HD650s and a total bithead.

    However, another option that popped into my head was finding a used set of stax + amplifier on ebay, for a total budget of under $800. (I'm currently eyeing an SRM-1 with the SR-404 headphones)

    I constantly hear about the hd650s being one of the best headphones in the world, but I am a big electrostatic technology fan and have a special place in my heart for stax. Though to be honest - my stax srm001 mk2s did not really impress me too much.

    The Senn option would be nice in the sense that it would take the dac offboard to a digital usb device, and probably have a higher quality sound output than my macbook's onboard audio sounds. But the stax do have their own charm - and if I did get them, I'd use my macbook as the source using mostly lossless or >256kbit mp3/aacs.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on these two options, and any advice would be highly appreciated!
     
  2. Golden Monkey
    The BitHead won't be able to drive the HD650 well enough. I have a Total AirHead, and it just doesn't do them justice. That said, it'll really do well with your ER-4P or MDR-V6. If you go the Senn route, I'd suggest looking at something like the Meier 2Move, or the RSA portables.
     
  3. kertong
    Oh wow, that's some great advice, Golden Monkey. Thanks. I guess I can cross out the total bithead, and power the senns with my arcam delta 290 integrated? [​IMG] what about a cmoy pocket amp?
     
  4. Golden Monkey
    You'll want something with high gain for the 650's, and I don't think the cmoy is up to it either. If you really want the 650's, order from J&R Electronics ($329, free shipping) as they are an authorized dealer, and will be covered by the factory warranty. You can then use the $50 rebate offer from Senn, bringing the price down to $279, and roll that into a nice used amp (see Skylab's review of 37 portable amps for a really in-depth study), and come out FAR ahead.

    I don't know about the Arcam amp, but I DO know they make great stuff. Most headphone outputs on integrated amps are fairly poor, as they are designed to keep cost down (so, no real dedicated circutry beyond the bare minimum). Arcam products are quality though, and therefore should be fine, but ultimately, you'll probably want a dedicated amp. If I was spending your money, and knowing that you really want the 650's at this point, I'd get them, spend a bit on a nice portable amp that I can also use at home, and eventually once the budget returns to normal, go for a tube amp like the Woo or Darkvoice (or go nuts and get a Ray Samuels!). Tubes will provide all the power the 650's need, and are really a nice match. It'll also give you somethig else to obsess about (tube selection), lol.
     
  5. ph0rk
    a Mini^3 set for high gain would probably do well for a 650.
     
  6. ericj
    The limitations of the babystax are well known, but for that kind of money you could buy an SRS-2050a kit which would not have the same limitations.
     
  7. kertong
    Thanks so much for all the sage advice, everyone!

    I did some searching on audiogon, and happened to find a local guy who was selling his hd650s *and* his musical fidelity xcan v3s. I picked them up today and just got home.

    Now to turn them on and listen! [​IMG] Thanks again, wise headphone gurus!
     
  8. kertong
    Hmm, coming from a grado family, I have to admit that these senn hd650s sound pretty muffled and lacking in detail/texture, compared to what I'm used to. Comparing the grado labs sr225 to the HD650s, I feel like I'm listening to the senns with cotton balls in my ears. [​IMG] Don't get me wrong, the senn hd650 sound is very open and REALLY smooth - maybe it's the "sennheiser veil" that I'm hearing?

    Now that I have a musical fidelity x-can v3, I wish I had kept my grado 325s. Hmm.

    I'm listening from my macbook, through a turtle beach USB soundcard, using apple lossless or flac source, being amped by the MF XCAN v3 of course. I feel like these hd650s have more in them than what I'm hearing - any suggestions to maximize clarity and enjoyment? [​IMG]
     
  9. aloksatoor
    the 650 are a tad dark... try with a silver cable from moon audio to open them up a bit
     
  10. FallenAngel Contributor
    You need a powerful amp to drive HD650, otherwise they sound as people generally describe them: dark, boring, veiled, muffled, lacking detail/clarity. That all changes when they are properly amped and no portable amp will do that.
     
  11. rds
    I think a better amp and source are the solutions.
    I wouldn't recommend the cable unless you've got an amazing amp and source and your money's burning a hole in your pocket.
     
  12. kertong
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rds /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    I think a better amp and source are the solutions.
    I wouldn't recommend the cable unless you've got an amazing amp and source and your money's burning a hole in your pocket.




    That's my line of thinknig for cables - probably one of the *last* things on my list to upgrade.

    My question is though - I could upgrade the amp, but - I find it strange that the sony MDR-V6s I have sound more crisp and focused through this MF v3 amp? I've tried it through my arcam delta 290 amp as well, and the results are the same. It's quite puzzling.. I'm starting to wonder if something is wrong with the sennheiser hd650s [​IMG] (I bought them used from an audiogon member).

    My arcam d290 had no problem driving even my magnepan speakers (well, maybe just a little), so I'm a bit hesitant to believe that they're having trouble driving my dynamic senns..
     
  13. omegaman Contributor
    I'd say that the senn 650 is obviously a totally different sound than the Grado's. Sometimes it takes a while to adjust. Try listening to just the senns for a few days and then see what you think.
     
  14. kertong
    Thanks, Omegaman. You may be right, because once I brought these guys home and listened to them, they sounded *great*! Rich, lush, smooth, not as clear and forward/bright as the Grados, but still had the detail.

    So that brings me to ask - is it possible that the power by my desk at work is too "daisy chained", and dirty? Is it possible that the quality of power can affect sound this much?
     
  15. tourmaline
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by kertong /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Thanks, Omegaman. You may be right, because once I brought these guys home and listened to them, they sounded *great*! Rich, lush, smooth, not as clear and forward/bright as the Grados, but still had the detail.

    So that brings me to ask - is it possible that the power by my desk at work is too "daisy chained", and dirty? Is it possible that the quality of power can affect sound this much?




    Ohhh yes.

    I used to use a powercondition in my setup but after the amplifier was totally modded, especially the powersection of the amp, the system sounds much, much better without the powerconditioner. Good filtering INSIDE the amp is more important then trying to patch something before the amp!

    The difference is like night and day...

    I used to laugh when audiophiles said that sound is for 80% power, now i have done all things myself i know they are right!

    No powerconditioners for me anymore, waste of money. spend it on strategic upgrades for your amp and source. much better spend.

    next to the amp, the source is as important. What i said for the amp, goes also for the power and analogue sections of a the source!!!
     

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