Stunning Combination
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jlaseter

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Hi all--
 
Over the past few years researching headphones, amplifiers, and audio equipment in general, I've developed a couple of curiosities about headphone amplifiers.

While I understand that certain combinations of headphone and amp go well together, it's often hard to figure out the degree of how well they go together. Especially in the Texas Panhandle, where it's quite unlikely to ever hear any combo without first buying it. So, as I do research on head-fi, I have this dilemma: separating the subtle improvements from the large ones. I feel this question is relevant as much now as ever, what with the introduction of the Schiit Vali and the claims that it can match qualities found in megabuck amps.
 
In short, what headphone/amp combinations (of any price range) have you experienced that were truly, unmistakably stunning, and not just subtly better?
 
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pr0ggy

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Honestly wouldn't mind hearing people's thoughts on this topic either. Bonus points if the combo involves K701 as I'm currently in the market for a DAC/amp and am willing to dig fairly deep into the pockets... :k701smile:
 
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jlaseter

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Same here, actually. I've got a Q701 and HD600 that I'm interested in getting an amp/amps for. I'm alternating between the LittleDot MkIII and M-Stage, but neither blow me away. I'm intending on getting the MAD Ear+ HD because of their supposedly legendary synergy with Grado's. Hopefully it'll bring out the best of my 325 and RS2i.
 
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whirlwind

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  Same here, actually. I've got a Q701 and HD600 that I'm interested in getting an amp/amps for. I'm alternating between the LittleDot MkIII and M-Stage, but neither blow me away. I'm intending on getting the MAD Ear+ HD because of their supposedly legendary synergy with Grado's. Hopefully it'll bring out the best of my 325 and RS2i.

I can vouch for the MAD EAR +HD....the synergy is real
 
 
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jlaseter

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That, at least, is reassuring. I like the color you picked, as well!
 
How did your Q701 sound with it?
 
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whirlwind

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I bought mine 2nd hand, so I had no say in what color it was.
 
The Q701 sounds all right I guess, but it does not even come close to the synergy that the RS1i has with the amp
 
The RS1i, just pretty much stays plugged into the MAD EAR
 
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jlaseter

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Well, I'll definitely have to try it out for my RS2i. That is, unless there's an even better combo out there.
 
How would you describe the difference with your RS1i? Did the soundstage change any? How about any difference in detail and separation?
 
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whirlwind

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Much better detail & separation....and the upper end is silky smooooth.
 
The bass stays tight and fast and the sound of any guitar seems to me to be turned up a notch.....if that is possible......the sylvania 5751 triple mica black plate tube is a real killer with this amp.
 
I really only notice the soundstage changing if I change pads on my RS1i.
 
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  Well, I'll definitely have to try it out for my RS2i. That is, unless there's an even better combo out there.
 
How would you describe the difference with your RS1i? Did the soundstage change any? How about any difference in detail and separation?
The good Dr. voiced the MADs with HD600 or HD650, so i am sure it is good with those too.
To my knowledge he doesn't even own Grados! I had a MAD Super 2 and that one has enough power for the K701.
You can also try the DNA Sonnet or Woo WA-6 SE if you want something that can drive all your cans = Grados, HD600 and K701.
 
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whirlwind

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  The good Dr. voiced the MADs with HD600 or HD650, so i am sure it is good with those too.
To my knowledge he doesn't even own Grados! I had a MAD Super 2 and that one has enough power for the K701.
You can also try the DNA Sonnet or Woo WA-6 SE if you want something that can drive all your cans = Grados, HD600 and K701.
 
Yeah, I have at times thought about getting a  used HD650 ....to see how it sounds with the MAD EAR....see if the synergy is as good as it is with the RS1i.
 
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Yeah, I have at times thought about getting a  used HD650 ....to see how it sounds with the MAD EAR....see if the synergy is as good as it is with the RS1i.
Let's just say there's no one on the HD650 threads raving about it.... 

So many cheaper OTL choices for the Senns!
 
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Have you guys heard anything else which has this level of synergy (or greater)? I'm talkin' about ANY headphone/amp combination. Note that it doesn't have to be a one-size-fits-all type of amp, but all the more impressive if so.
 
Maybe I've been reading the Grado threads too long, but I find it hard to believe that the RS1 w/ MAD Ear+ HD is the ONLY one that leaves this kind of impression.
 
A few years back, my brother made me listen to Bruckner Symphony No. 7 on his SR-60i. Since then, I've been searching out the best listening experience possible. Somehow I doubt it, but is there anything that could compare to a "first hi-fi experience" like this, as far as being totally floored by a headphone/amp combo?
 
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Bottlehead Crack (w/Speedball upgrade) with: AKG K240 Sextett MP and Sennheiser HD600.
 
Those were my jaw dropping moments a few years ago, and I've never felt anything quite like it since. Granted, I was less experienced and jaded back then, with no expectations or point of reference. The closest I've come to that feeling since then was a Senn HD800 from the Nuforce DAC-100. Maybe hearing a Stax setup for the first time, but that experience was jaded by the headband snapping on me =/
 
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whirlwind

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  Have you guys heard anything else which has this level of synergy (or greater)? I'm talkin' about ANY headphone/amp combination. Note that it doesn't have to be a one-size-fits-all type of amp, but all the more impressive if so.
 
Maybe I've been reading the Grado threads too long, but I find it hard to believe that the RS1 w/ MAD Ear+ HD is the ONLY one that leaves this kind of impression.
 
A few years back, my brother made me listen to Bruckner Symphony No. 7 on his SR-60i. Since then, I've been searching out the best listening experience possible. Somehow I doubt it, but is there anything that could compare to a "first hi-fi experience" like this, as far as being totally floored by a headphone/amp combo?

I am sure that they are many.
 
Especially with all of the new amps that keep coming out.
 
Grados are very easy to amp to begin with......just a matter of finding what you like and then rolling tubes , if indeed you get a tube amp.
 
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