SYNERGISTIC Headphone-Amp combos
Feb 19, 2008 at 9:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 19

Ash

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Hi guys,
I am in search of a Headphone+amp combo that proven to:
- sound good together
- tried and tested
- under $500 total shipped
- available readily.

The headphones should preferably be open cans.
The amps can be solid/tube based - small or big.
Will be used in a desktop setup.
USB- DAC functionality will be a nice bonus, but not required.
Looks are not a factor. Sonic qualities are most important.

The one I have come up with till now is the Grado 325i + LD MkIII.

Please give me some recommendations - that I can research more and hopefully get in the next few days.

Thank you all.
 
Feb 19, 2008 at 11:40 PM Post #2 of 19
Packaged Systems - HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears
Has a few, though they only come with headrooms own proprietary amps, in case you were looking for something else in particular. Their selection's also pretty limited. One question, if I may ask, why are you so concerned about getting a single package? It'd seem easier to buy them both separately.
 
Feb 19, 2008 at 11:57 PM Post #3 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by sonicm /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Packaged Systems - HeadRoom - Right Between Your Ears
Has a few, though they only come with headrooms own proprietary amps, in case you were looking for something else in particular. Their selection's also pretty limited. One question, if I may ask, why are you so concerned about getting a single package? It'd seem easier to buy them both separately.



I am in way wanting to buy the two together.
I was merely wanting to know, whats pairs well together...
Like a bright Grado with a mellow tube amp - making for an overall pleasing combo... something like that.
I have to purchase both... just didnt want to end up with components with clashing attributes.
I dont know, if I was able to clarify myself?
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 12:18 AM Post #4 of 19
Beyerdynamic DT880 + Little Dot MK II amp if you want tubes, Original Master if you want solid state. I find the Beyers to be very good with SS equipment, but some insist on tubes to "round out" the Beyer signature.
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 1:51 AM Post #5 of 19
I'm very happy with my AKG K701/LD MKIII combo. The 325i would be better for rock, but the K701 sounds better with everything else to me.
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 2:04 AM Post #6 of 19
Another combination that works extremely well, is the Little-Dot MKII and Sennheiser HD-600. I use this combination very often, and it is fantastic! You should be able to purchase both new and with shipping, come under your budget.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 3:04 AM Post #7 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by Penchum /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Another combination that works extremely well, is the Little-Dot MKII and Sennheiser HD-600. I use this combination very often, and it is fantastic! You should be able to purchase both new and with shipping, come under your budget.
smily_headphones1.gif



From what I remember with my experience with many low-end Sennheisers over the years (mostly for gym/workout) is that... they tend to be on the warm side - with pretty decent bass. Over the years, my penchant for bass has decreased. So I have 2 questions:
1. Does this combo tend to be on the too mellow or lose detail?
2. If I go the Little dot route (vs the Zero amp/DAC) - I might do the LD MkIII instead. How does that sound in this config?
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 3:09 AM Post #8 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by royalcrown /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Beyerdynamic DT880 + Little Dot MK II amp if you want tubes, Original Master if you want solid state. I find the Beyers to be very good with SS equipment, but some insist on tubes to "round out" the Beyer signature.


I am not familiar with Beyers personally, but have liked whatever I have read over the last few days about them.
What is original master?
Do the Beyers tend to be on the bright side? There is someone selling their 990s for $225, I am tempted to go for those (if they havent already sold).
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 3:14 AM Post #9 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by dgbiker1 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm very happy with my AKG K701/LD MKIII combo. The 325i would be better for rock, but the K701 sounds better with everything else to me.


This combo has alsoa appealed to me - but does the MKIII have enough juice to drive the AKG 701 and mayve the Beyer 880 in the future?
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 4:16 AM Post #10 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ash /img/forum/go_quote.gif
This combo has alsoa appealed to me - but does the MKIII have enough juice to drive the AKG 701 and mayve the Beyer 880 in the future?


You have to set the gain on the MKIII to the highest setting (K=10) to drive them properly, but it does work. The volume is plenty loud at around 12 o'clock (50%) with the gain at the highest setting, and the details are crystal clear. My impression is that if it can handle the K701, it can handle the Beyers.
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 11:49 AM Post #12 of 19
So for now the contenders are:

1. AKG 701 + LD MKII/III
2. Beyer HD880 +MKII/III
3. Grado 325i + MKIII
4. AKG 701 + Zero amp/Dac

Any others? Notable mentions? Close contenders?
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 11:58 AM Post #13 of 19
AKG K701 + Heed Canamp (Solid State)
DENON D2000 + Graham "Green" Solo
HD650 + all amps...
frown.gif
(too much)
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 1:39 PM Post #14 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ash /img/forum/go_quote.gif
From what I remember with my experience with many low-end Sennheisers over the years (mostly for gym/workout) is that... they tend to be on the warm side - with pretty decent bass. Over the years, my penchant for bass has decreased. So I have 2 questions:
1. Does this combo tend to be on the too mellow or lose detail?
2. If I go the Little dot route (vs the Zero amp/DAC) - I might do the LD MkIII instead. How does that sound in this config?



Well, the MKII is an excellent sounding amp, but the MKIII bests it for sure. Enough so, that I have mine coming as we speak!
smily_headphones1.gif
The aspect that I like most about the HD-600 with the MKII is the detail it reveals, from all frequencies.

Cheap Senns, buds and the like are not at all like the top of the line Senns. Folks from the "Senn" fan club here will argue all day as to their superiority over others, where I take a more practical point of view. I wouldn't recommend anything I didn't have (hence the MKIII order) and I have all three top of the line Senn headphones. The most reveling is the HD-600, and it pairs so well with the MKII, that I already know it will pair even better with the MKIII. I use the HD-600 on all my amps, MKII, MKIVse, MKV, LDII++ and the Zero DAC/Amp and in each case, it works very well indeed.

I understand where you are coming from on the bass issue. Many have this same point of view. However, there is no reason why anyone would consider the MKIII to be an excessive bass amp, and no reason why anyone would consider the HD-600 to be an excessive bass headphone. Some would claim the HD-650 has too much bass, but I have not witnessed this with the HD-600. I have played many different types of music with the HD-600, and it continues to impress me. On the flip side of this, I wouldn't want anyone to buy a headphone that is lacking in bass either. This causes all kinds of trouble and leaves the music they listen too, rather unsatisfying. They end up on a quest to find equipment that will compensate for the lack of bass, which is a bad spot to be in.

Bringing up your source situation may be important to all this. If you can go optical out to a DAC/Amp like the Zero, your source will be cleaner and more dynamic for sure. Perhaps, this is the upgrade path for you. Spread the cost over some time, to give the budget a break. Something like purchasing the Zero and headphones now, then add a dedicated tube amp later. This should fit your immediate budget as well. Many students have taken this route, because the headphone amp in the Zero is very nice. It's worth checking into for sure. Let me know if you need any additional information!
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Feb 20, 2008 at 3:07 PM Post #15 of 19
Quote:

Originally Posted by Penchum /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Well, the MKII is an excellent sounding amp, but the MKIII bests it for sure. Enough so, that I have mine coming as we speak!
smily_headphones1.gif
The aspect that I like most about the HD-600 with the MKII is the detail it reveals, from all frequencies.

Cheap Senns, buds and the like are not at all like the top of the line Senns. Folks from the "Senn" fan club here will argue all day as to their superiority over others, where I take a more practical point of view. I wouldn't recommend anything I didn't have (hence the MKIII order) and I have all three top of the line Senn headphones. The most reveling is the HD-600, and it pairs so well with the MKII, that I already know it will pair even better with the MKIII. I use the HD-600 on all my amps, MKII, MKIVse, MKV, LDII++ and the Zero DAC/Amp and in each case, it works very well indeed.

I understand where you are coming from on the bass issue. Many have this same point of view. However, there is no reason why anyone would consider the MKIII to be an excessive bass amp, and no reason why anyone would consider the HD-600 to be an excessive bass headphone. Some would claim the HD-650 has too much bass, but I have not witnessed this with the HD-600. I have played many different types of music with the HD-600, and it continues to impress me. On the flip side of this, I wouldn't want anyone to buy a headphone that is lacking in bass either. This causes all kinds of trouble and leaves the music they listen too, rather unsatisfying. They end up on a quest to find equipment that will compensate for the lack of bass, which is a bad spot to be in.

Bringing up your source situation may be important to all this. If you can go optical out to a DAC/Amp like the Zero, your source will be cleaner and more dynamic for sure. Perhaps, this is the upgrade path for you. Spread the cost over some time, to give the budget a break. Something like purchasing the Zero and headphones now, then add a dedicated tube amp later. This should fit your immediate budget as well. Many students have taken this route, because the headphone amp in the Zero is very nice. It's worth checking into for sure. Let me know if you need any additional information!
smily_headphones1.gif



That was one of the most useful posts for me, in a long time!
It kind of resonates what I have been thinking about the issue.
Going with the ZERO fulfills my immediate needs but gives me enough of an upgrade path to the tubes in the near future. I can do optical out from my Chaintech soundcard into the Zero. It will also integrate well into my existing A/V system.
For the headphones - I am still torn between 701 and the 880s. I like them both. The 880 is cheaper @ about $220. The 702 OTOH is about $270 or so. Phew!
 

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