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Sennheiser HD 600 Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by windsor, Feb 6, 2011.
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  1. TheEldestBoy
    I believe that the SHIFT can also be used as a DAC only, connecting through its line-out jack to a more powerful amp.
  2. TheEldestBoy
    Hi DavidA,
    Thanks for the input.
    Ideally I would like to stick with the HD 600's.  From what I've read, they seem to be the go-to reference cans.  It could be quite awhile before I ever buy another pair of headphones (possibly years), and I think I'd want to start with HD 600's as my intro into the world of audiophile-grade listening.
    Having said that, I have also considered the HiFiMan 400S's...
  3. TheEldestBoy
    Thanks for the input, Raptor34.  
  4. Midgetguy
    First and foremost, I'm going to tell you that I know very little about measuring. I'm also rubbish at physics so power specs are often lost on me. I'm saying this simply because I don't want what I say to be taken as fact. You'll be wise to take what I say with a heaping bowl of salt [​IMG].
    I can't attest to this with any sort of actual experience so I'll tell you my thoughts based on the strict statistics. If powering the same headphone, it's impossible to have the same volume at 30mW and 65mW. Those are measures of power and in that sense, they directly relate to volume. More power = higher volume. Some members have mentioned current being key to making the HD600s sound their best, others have noted the flow of the impedance curve. I can't weigh in on either of those theories because I don't have the expertise to do so.
    Let's look at an example of actual use instead. I can play the HD600s at an adequate listening volume from my iPod Touch 5g. Loud enough? Yes. Does it sound as good as it does coming out of my desktop setup? I'd say no. Is it because of the amp and its power delivery? Maybe, but I'd bet more on the DAC instead. I'd say don't fret over something like power output if it can drive headphones to a proper volume level. Those are just my thoughts, some would agree, many would disagree. It really comes down to the ears; much like the rest of the audio world YMMV.
  5. TheEldestBoy
    Thanks again for the input Midgetguy - much appreciated.
    I think what I meant was this:
    1. You listen to the Seinnheiser HD 600's with an amp that has an output power of 30 mW into 300 Ohm.
    2. You then listen to the Seinnheiser HD 600's with an amp that has an output power of 65 mW into 300 Ohm.
    Both times, you listen at the same volume (decible level).
    All other things being equal, will the amp with the higher output-power capabilities actually produce better sound?
    In other words, you'd being pushing amp #1 (the amp with an output power of 30 mW into 300 Ohm) harder than you would amp #2.
    I understand that you'll ultimately be able to go louder with amp #2.  But if you listen to both amps (at the same volume level, and at a volume level that sits within each amp's capabilities), will amp #2 necessarily sound better?
    I don't listen at very high volumes anyway, so being able to go very loud isn't that important to me.
    But I do want the HD 600's to sound very good at the relatively moderate volumes at which I will be listening to them.
    Even if amp #1 gives me more than enough volume, maybe amp #2 is still the better choice because it has more breathing room on the volume (in other words, it can go much louder than I will ever need) and will ultimately give me better sound?
  6. Midgetguy
    In this scenario, I think that it's going to be based on what the amp circuitry is like and that's probably what many people more well-versed in power may tell you.
    If we assume that you try from two identical amps, just that one is capable of more power output than the other, than no, at lower volumes (let's say we're pushing 18mW in this 30mW/65mW amp example), both amps should yield the exact same sound result. What really matters in such a case (assuming we continue with 2 identical amps, just with different output ratings) is how close you get to the max power output. If you listen at 28mW for example, you're likely to get clipping or distortion from the amp that supplies 30mW of power compared to the one that supplies up to 65mW of power. At least that's what my rudimentary knowledge of amps tells me. Higher volume tends to introduce more and more distortion, especially the closer you get to the the max power output.
    Keep in mind that this hypothetical scenario involves amps with EXACTLY the same output specs, just difference in output power. In reality, different amps produce differing current values as well.
  7. Bob A (SD)
    An amplifier with greater power output (expressed in both RMS wattage and amperage current delivery*) will have more headroom with which to handle peak audio excursions without distortion.  You don't want to get an amplifier that just manages to give the volume you want to your HD600s as the lack of headroom will probably result in high level dynamic passages being distorted.  
    (MidgetGuy:  Higher volume will only introduce distortion and/or clipping if there is insufficient amplifier headroom for the load it's driving.)
    From my knothole those ratings of 30 mW or 65 mW into a HD600 seem extremely low.  I'd be looking at several times that amount as a minimum.  As an example the Garage 1217 Polaris headphone amp puts out between 195 mW and 765 mW into 300 ohms depending on the resistance and attenuator settings.  Plenty of headroom for my HD580 or HD600s.  [​IMG] 
    * As examples my Odyssey Stratos monoblocks are rated at  120 amps current delivery 180w/ch @ 8Ω,  where as my Parasound HCA-1200 stereo amp is rated at 40 amperes continuous current, 57 amperes peak,  200w/ch @ 8Ω.  I use these amps to drive my modified Magneplanar IIIa's in biamped mode augmented with an 18" subwoofer.
  8. Midgetguy
    And there's agreement on my point about distortion! Hooray! That's exactly it, the closer you are to an amp's max power output, the more distortion you're gonna get.
    That said, seems @TheEldestBoy was looking for information in regards to a portable amp; after all this discussion sprung from talk about the Oppo HA-2. The Polaris, while a great amp by many accounts, isn't exactly portable [​IMG]
  9. Bob A (SD)
    No question.  It was used only as an example of output.
  10. Brooko Contributor
    Well I can only speak from my experience with the HD600 - and the Fiio X3ii on 80/120 volume gets the HD600 as loud as I'd like with most music, and what is more sounds pretty good doing it.  It's output into 300 ohm is about 24 mW. No audible distortion or clipping. With very dynamic music you might need more headroom (also if you listen to a lot louder than I do).
    Using the X7 with AM5 hi-power amp module, about 70-75/120 on low gain will net you the same power.  There is a little different tonality (due to the overall configuration of amp and DAC) but it still sounds great and no huge differences in overall quality.  The X7 + AM5 will put 55mW into 300 ohm.
    If I use the iDSD there is a heap more overall power, and it might be slightly warmer tonality - but again no real difference in signature or overall sound quality. It still sounds like an HD600 and I think if I was blind testing all 3 sources, while there might be small things different - they would be very small, and changes are more different than "better". The iDSD will put 950 mW into 32 ohms in normal mode (turbo will put 1.5W into 64 ohms) - so rough calc would put the output on normal as roughly double that of the X7 + AM5.
    All 3 devices sound truly very good with the HD600 and the difference in output power (to me anyway) is mainly in headroom. Maybe I am not as picky as aonyone else.  Maybe I also volume match when making comparisons - but I see very few people actually do that properly.
    So where/when do I get the best sonics out of the HD600 (subjective)?  When I add voltage rather than current.  The best I've heard the HD600 so far has been out of an OTL Tube amp.  Now this could be simply preference for the tonality of the amp, and there could be placebo involved (at some stage I need to build a switch box so I can test properly).
    But my answer to TheEldestBoy would be to get something which gives you enough headroom (and putting 55mW into 300 ohm should be plenty).  And when you get a chance, go to a local Meet, and take your HD600 with you.  Try some different set-ups.  They should sound great on practically everything - but I'll be interested if you find similar to many of us - that the higher impedance headphones (with reasonable sensitivity) seem to perform quite well with the voltage from an OTL tube set-up.
  11. TheEldestBoy
    Thanks for the input Bob A.  Very informative for me.
  12. TheEldestBoy
    Thanks for the input Bob A.  Very informative for me.
  13. TheEldestBoy
    Very helpful, Midgetguy.  Thanks.
  14. TheEldestBoy
    Thank for the input, Brooko.
    Based on the last few replies from you, Midgetguy, and Bob A, I think I'm leaning towards getting the Peachtree SHIFT (instead of the OPPO HA-2).
    Even though I don't listen at very loud volumes (and could probably actually get away with just the OPPO), I don't want to be stuck with an amp that I might sometimes need to push towards its max to power the HD 600's.
    It sounds like the added headroom in the SHIFT (65 mW into 300 Ohms, versus 30 mW into 300 Ohms) will serve me well.
  15. UtopiaB
    Huh? You say FiiO may offer the X7 with different amps some where down the rd... which to me means the opposite of what you concluded. The fact that FiiO isn't offering our choice of module at the beginning when buying an X7 means that FiiO IS "forcing the situtaion" at this point.
    We have NO CHOICE BUT TO GET THE FIIO X7 WITH THE AM1 MODULE whether we want the AM1 or not, which means to me that FiiO IS FORCING THE SITUATION. Me and you have concluded differently, let's just leave it at that.
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