Sennheiser HD650 & Massdrop HD6XX Impressions Thread
May 24, 2015 at 8:21 AM Post #25,426 of 44,528

whirlwind

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  I admittedly realize this may not be the best thread to ask this given people's love for the HD650 in this thread, but wondering if there is a 'normal' or recommended allocation of $1k+ budget b/w headphones, amp, and DAC.
 
New to headphones.  Started w/ Sennheiser HD650 for $300.  I've listened to them some with friend's FiiO E12, as well as as the iFi iDSD Micro, and through my Onkyo home stereo A/V receiver.  I really like the HD650 (though don't have much to compare them to except a few in-store listens).
 
From reading this thread, a lot of people obviously swear by the Bottlehead Crack + Speedball amp, and a general consensus that the HD650 thrives on tube amps.  I don't want to build the Crack and seems like I could get it for ~$500+ new assembled from reputable source or save a couple hundred bucks and get it used. DAC would obviously be extra.
 
I'm not at all opposed to go this route, but as a hp newb I thought the headphones would be the most important part of the equation and thus the most expensive.  I realize the HD650 can sound very good w/ a cheaper amp/DAC combo, but I think I will end up spending more in the long run if I go with a cheaper amp/DAC to start and then ultimately get the Crack anyways.
 
Is there a 'normal' or recommended allocation of budget between headphones, amp, and DAC?  Would I be better served by returning the HD650 and buying more expensive hp (possibly lower impedence) and less expensive amp? Or should I just be happy that the HD650 punches above its $300 price tag and go with an amp + dac combo that will likely cost 3x the cost of the headphones?

If you can afford the BHC , that would be a combo that you would enjoy for a long time.....not saying that you could not enjoy a cheaper combo either....but if you can afford it....I think you would be very happy.....get the best dac you could afford with your budget after you get the HD650 & BHC
 
The BHC is an OTL amp and will sound best with higher impedence cans....the match is great with the HD650 .
 
May 24, 2015 at 8:28 AM Post #25,427 of 44,528

MattTCG

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I've gone through a few headphones, amps and dacs over the past few years (cough cough), and IMO the hd650 is and always will be a wonderful purchase. They are my tried and true, warm blanket, always on my desk headphone.
 
Yes, the BHC is legendary with the hd6x0 and for good reason. My only nit pick with the BHC is the lack of flexibility with other hp's, especially planar mags. But you could easily buy the Crack and call it a day with the hd650. For a very good pre-built OTL also consider the Schiit Valhalla 2. 
 
For a solid state amp choice consider: Schiit Asgard 2 and the Gustard h10 (violectric clone). 
 
There are lot's of good dacs out there. I've owned most of them. One of the better bang for the buck dacs: Schiit bifrost uber. $500. On a tighter budget consider an odac. 
 
Go to meets and try things out first when possible. Or borrow from a friend. 
 
Matt
 
May 24, 2015 at 8:29 AM Post #25,428 of 44,528

JacobLee89

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  I admittedly realize this may not be the best thread to ask this given people's love for the HD650 in this thread, but wondering if there is a 'normal' or recommended allocation of $1k+ budget b/w headphones, amp, and DAC.
 
New to headphones.  Started w/ Sennheiser HD650 for $300.  I've listened to them some with friend's FiiO E12, as well as as the iFi iDSD Micro, and through my Onkyo home stereo A/V receiver.  I really like the HD650 (though don't have much to compare them to except a few in-store listens).
 
From reading this thread, a lot of people obviously swear by the Bottlehead Crack + Speedball amp, and a general consensus that the HD650 thrives on tube amps.  I don't want to build the Crack and seems like I could get it for ~$500+ new assembled from reputable source or save a couple hundred bucks and get it used. DAC would obviously be extra.
 
I'm not at all opposed to go this route, but as a hp newb I thought the headphones would be the most important part of the equation and thus the most expensive.  I realize the HD650 can sound very good w/ a cheaper amp/DAC combo, but I think I will end up spending more in the long run if I go with a cheaper amp/DAC to start and then ultimately get the Crack anyways.
 
Is there a 'normal' or recommended allocation of budget between headphones, amp, and DAC?  Would I be better served by returning the HD650 and buying more expensive hp (possibly lower impedence) and less expensive amp? Or should I just be happy that the HD650 punches above its $300 price tag and go with an amp + dac combo that will likely cost 3x the cost of the headphones?

 
It's easy to fall into the idea that the headphones are the most important.
Put simply, yes, the headphone will be the most important because it has the sound signature. To get the details you want, and the power to juice up the headphones however, you will need to ensure that your DAC and amp is up to scratch.
 
Also you have to consider the quality of the sound files as well. MP3 320 Kbps is considered the absolute minimum by many, whilst many swear by lossless formats such as FLAC and DSD.
 
In short, you cannot expect a great detail from a headphone being sourced from a built in sound card (using built in as DAC) , and you cannot expect great tonality out from a headphone driven straight from an audio out from a built in sound card (using built in as amp/dac).
 
As for a starting amp/dac combination you could start off with Schiit's products, whom have a great selection of decently priced DACs and AMPS, can't go wrong with any of them from what I've read (apart from the Modi, which has been recently reported to work poorly with the HD650).
 
Another combination would be the ODAC / O2 combo. Which can be found second hand here in the trade section very often, and also sells very fast due to how well they perform.
 
There are tube amps that have been touted to run the HD650's very well, that are under the $500 bracket, but I unfortunately must pass this torch to another as I know very little of tube amps.
 
*Edit* this is also a chance to do an insert of the SeNNator Project. There's only 11 filter boards left, leaving a possibility of only 13 "easy build" SeNNators left until they become hardcore DIY amps.
 
May 24, 2015 at 8:54 AM Post #25,430 of 44,528

i luvmusic 2

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  Why are you guys talking about TRS cables? Am I in the wrong place?

Nope........
But the cable is for the HD650.
biggrin.gif
 
 
May 24, 2015 at 8:58 AM Post #25,431 of 44,528

ButtUglyJeff

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If the HD650 is your headphone to grow with, then sure go ahead and invest in them.  There's a thread somewhere on head-fi asking the exact same same $1k question.  And the most common answer is the HD650 + Bottlehead Crack + Speedball...
 
With that said, the Crack isn't the only answer.  There are many tube and solid state options.  Woo WA3 and the DarkVoice 336SE are other OTLs like the Crack.  Project Ember and the Schiit Lyr2 are tube hybrid that also works well with lower impedance cans.  I ordered a solid state Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon (kinda blindly) for my HD650s, and I bet you could get a used Schiit Mjolnir for not too much these days.
 
If you're just starting and are sure the HD650 is the headphone you can to grow with, then I'd start studying up on amp options....
 
May 24, 2015 at 9:14 AM Post #25,432 of 44,528

mikoss

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For a $200-$250 combo I'm sure nobody else would recommend; USB to the Gustard U12, optical to a Panasonic SA-XR50. Sounds splendid with the HD-650's. Comparing it to the WA2 with some great tubes, I am surprised at how warm/organic it sounds, while also being very detailed. But it's an old amp/receiver so I'm certain very few people have heard it. It also drives planars well if you try out other phones in the future, and then inevitably return to the 650's :D
 
May 24, 2015 at 10:49 AM Post #25,435 of 44,528

3083joe

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You for sure want an amp thats OTL, word best with HD650s
Crack or Woo wa6 wa2 or maybe a darkvoice 336se
thats my opinion, which we all have
 
:)
 
May 24, 2015 at 11:40 AM Post #25,438 of 44,528

Solrighal

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The DAC is the trickiest thing to shortlist. I use an ODAC & like it but I often wonder if I'm missing out on something. It's so cheap compared to many but very often the next thing up also has a built-in amp which I really don't need & would resent paying for if I didn't use it.
 
Does anyone know what the next step up from the ODAC is? Something that's just a DAC and doesn't have a built-in amp?
 
May 24, 2015 at 11:48 AM Post #25,439 of 44,528

Lorspeaker

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http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/dac/NFB12015/NFB12015EN.htm....$650 ( others avail)
Gustard has a X12...and a X20 coming...next mth? 
 
May 24, 2015 at 11:54 AM Post #25,440 of 44,528

DDDamian

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  The DAC is the trickiest thing to shortlist. I use an ODAC & like it but I often wonder if I'm missing out on something. It's so cheap compared to many but very often the next thing up also has a built-in amp which I really don't need & would resent paying for if I didn't use it.
 
Does anyone know what the next step up from the ODAC is? Something that's just a DAC and doesn't have a built-in amp?

Hi @Zorrofox are you looking for only a desktop unit? The reason I bring it up is the Fiio DAPs. Depending on your tastes they can come with a warmer DAC or a brighter more detailed ESS chip. You can plug in via USB and get a 1/8" to RCA splitter to drive your Ember, and un-hook to go portable. SQ-wise and amp-wise the X5 is very nice indeed, and will start showing up used with the next-gen devices coming out from Fiio. Just gives a lot of options for the price, and the ESS chip is very bright and detailed which only compliments the 650's.
 
For pure desktop use the Schiit Bifrost will attract some recommendations no doubt.
 

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