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Sennheiser HD598 properly powered?

  1. jedbadda
    I've been reading a ton of threads on this forum (hours and hours worth), and I need help finding an amp solution for my newly acquired HD598s (about 30-40 hours of burn-in so far).
    I listen to jazz, rock and classical.  I'm not a big bass-head per se, but I do want to be able to hear and feel the bass when you're supposed to hear it in a song (like when there is an electric bass guitar, for instance).  I realize that the 598s are not supposed to have the most powerful bass, and that's fine with me, I have other phones for that, but I was disappointed by their totally anemic bass response.
    I had been listening to them on my desktop computer (Dell Inspiron 620, the sound card is either 'Intel (R) Display Audio' or 'Conexant HD Audio', it lists both under my Device Manager) using iTunes with AAC/ALAC files.  I took the headphones out into my living room and plugged them into my Onkyo TX-SR508 A/V receiver, playing a CD out of the Blu Ray player, and the bass was PERFECT.  Not overpowering, but so much more present and full, and I could even 'feel' it a little.  Not to mention the soundstage and detail were also improved, and at a relatively low volume level (18-20).  It was like night and day, and it settled the debate about whether the 598 needs to be amped or not.
    So I researched portable/desktop amps, because I wanted to get that same sound at my computer.  I went with the Fiio E07k (notice, not the older e7k) because reviews said it had the same DAC as the E17, just less amplification.  Since you supposedly don't need much power to 'drive' the 598s, I thought the E07k would suffice. 
    I have the E07k gain cranked up all the way (12dB) and the volume up about halfway, to 35/60 (this is the highest comfortable volume to listen to) while my itunes and CPU system volume are at about 75% volume.  And overall, the sound and bass response didn't improve that much.  Increasing the gain helped a little, and boosting the Bass EQ on the Fiio doesn't really make it sound better.  I tried adding the Bass Booster preset on the iTunes EQ to all this, but what it adds seems 'thin.'  The DAC in the E07K also didn't seem to be an improvement over my Dell's DAC. 
    So basically, I'm trying to hear what I heard coming out of the Onkyo.  Do I need an amp with more juice, like the Fiio E09K, or something else?  (People on the boards have claimed that the E09k is way too much amp for the 598s).  I have heard that the E17 has a bass-anemic signature, so it probably won't be an improvement.  Also, I've looked into the Schiit Asgard, but am hoping I can come up with a solution that costs less than $200.
  2. kimvictor
    You sound like you want some good bass boost amp. Why don't you look for tube amps or Fiio E12/E11?
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    The headphone jack on the Onkyo is powered by the same amplifier that drives the speakers, so there is lots of "juice".
    The headphone jack on the receiver has a high impedance, which sometimes can cause a "bloated" bass with lower Ohm headphones, but you say you hear improved sound stage and detail.
    I'm guess when you want to listen using headphones, your not going to be normally around the receiver?
    Are you planning on returning the E07K, as it does not seem to improve that audio quality that much, put the cash towards something else?
  4. jedbadda
    I got the e07k on craigslist so I may have to sell it.  I'm trying everything I can to make it sound better before I have to do that, including the trick of lowering the Treble EQ so the bass stands out more.
    I have thought about the e11, but it's really too bad that it doesn't 'work' while it's charging, and it sounds like the battery only lasts 4-5 hours.  I would really like something with a volume knob, though.  How does the e11 amp compare to the e07k amp, is it more powerful?
    And the DAC of the e07k doesn't over-ride the DAC of an iPod, is that right?
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I believe (guessing) the amplifier on the Fiio E11 is a more powerful amplifier then the E07K's
    Maybe sell off the HD598s and get more "bassy" headphones.
    Or run an optical cable from your PC to the Onkyo and get an headphone extension cable to run from the Onkyo to wherever your sitting.
    Cables are fairly low price when mail ordered.
  6. Frosty3258
    I have the e11 and for me the batteries last 10 to 12 hours at half volume, and at two thirds the volume around 8 t0 10 hours. i need to update my profile but i was driving the kns 8400's and just bought the hd598's so cant wait to try those :)
  7. Frosty3258
    do you know of a place to buy, a cable to recable the hd598's? i just ordered them and heard they improve with a diff. cable but i cant seem to find one...
  8. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I believe that the little jack that connects to the Sennheiser Headphones is only used on Sennheiser headphones.
    So you might have to modifiy your current cable.
  9. jedbadda
    So, update:
    I don't know if my ears just adapted or what, but I've been really liking the FiiO e07k and feeling like the bass is good enough.  It was probably just a matter of finding the right settings and listening to different recordings (80% volume on cpu, 80% volume on iTunes, between 25-30 volume on the e07k and about +4 to +8 bass EQ).  I ordered the e11 to try it out, and didn't like the sound signature...it seems to add a lot of 'bloated' bass (even without the bass boost on) and sacrifices a lot of the sound clarity with the 598s. 
  10. Frosty3258
    Okay thanks, that's what I've been seeing as well
  11. Frosty3258
    does the e11 make it sound bad? I just ordered the hd598 and have the e11 from my kns 8400. I am getting a shiit set up in a few months...
  12. jedbadda
    I think you'll have to try it yourself with your setup and your music.  You might like the bassy sound (sounds a bit 'boomy') but I find you don't get as precise highs/mids, or as tight a bass as when amped with the e07k.  I only tried them back and forth for 20 minutes or so, and the 07k was the clear preference for me.
  13. Frosty3258
    Thanks, like i said i am going to be upgrading to a solid amp and dac just wanted to know if the e11 ruined the Sig of the senns. So i read a little and didn't find too much but seems like it will do for now, just not ideal.

  14. teb1013

    I'm glad that you are enjoying the e07k. I listen to similar music to you (jazz, rock, classical) with the HD558 modded, which has the same driver as the 598s (although whether the foam mod really makes them sound like 598s is open to debate). Anyhow the older Fiio e7 drives these well for most uses and I still use it for portable use. If you have extended times at one location a more permanent DAC/amp can really bring the Senn 5xxs to life. I use an Aune T1 which is a small plug in hybrid dac/amp combo, which has resulted in much more power and depth and allows you to do a bit of 'tube rolling' which can adapt to the sound you like. Watch out though! Tubes can become an expensive addiction. Anyhow a tabletop amp or amp/dac is something to keep in mind for the future.

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