1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

Time for an amp upgrade for the HD600

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by polkmaniac, Mar 20, 2013.
  1. PolkManiac
    I've been enjoying my setup for a while now, but think I"d like to upgrade to a better amp.  I"m running the Sennheiser HD600 out of a Schiit Valhalla amp being fed by a Peachtree DAC-IT.  I"ve used the same DAC in other setups and really like it, and I've heard the HD600 on better amps and really like their overall sound signature.  
    So I think the component in my system that I'd like to change is the amp, that's what I need some feedback (from you all, not the amp itself :))
    I like the general sound from the Valhalla and the fact that, for a tube amp, it has a good bit of energy especially on the top end.  Where I think it falls down a bit is in the bass region.  I know my Senns are not orthos, but I've heard better bass response with them out of other gear so I know it's in there somewhere.  
    Ultimately what I'm after is an amp that's smooth, has a better bottom end and still has the sparkle up top.  I don't want something that's too 'tubey' and warm and don't want something that's too detailed and sterile or bright, I want something right in between.  The Valhalla is almost that amp but lacks the bass response that I want.  My instinctive response is that I can't have both, I can get either detailed and quick or smooth but not both, but the Valhalla comes so close to nailing it that what I want has to be out there if I'm willing to spend the money to get it.
    Tubes looks neat, but in reality I have no preference of tubes or SS, whatever gives me the sound I want is what I'll go with.  I've been told that I can't really get the best of both worlds in a tube amp for under $1000, so my budget is $1000 max, cheaper is better.
    I'm not just coming in here blind and asking you guys to do my homework for me, I've done quite a bit of reading already and have a few things in mind, would like input on those and any other options you may have.
    Woo Audio WA3 - This is an OTL design like the Valhalla and looks very tempting, and gets great reviews everywhere.  My concerns here are that the OTL design won't deliver enough punch to give me the bass response I"m looking for and that this amp may be too warm sounding.
    Woo Audio WA6 - This also gets great reviews, it's a bit more expensive especially when you factor in the Sophia rectifier tube that's apparently a must, but I wonder if it mitigates my concerns about the WA3?
    Burson HA-160 - This one also seems to be well liked, is often described as having a tube-like sound for an SS amp, and apparently was designed with the Sennheiser HD6xx series in mind.  There isn't quite as much info here and other places on the Burson as there is on the Woo Audio products, so it's a bit more difficult to get a feel for how it will work in my system.
    Woo Audio WA7 'Fireflies' - This one looks really interesting, and early reviews are positive.  Even though I really like the Peachtree, the idea of one less box on my desk is tempting, and I can move the DAC-IT to another system.  I've emailed Woo Audio about the amp quality in this model vs something likee the WA3, will see what they say.
    Bottlehead Crack (with speedball upgrade) - I've read alot of good things about this one as well.  I have no desire to build one myself, so I'd need to buy one already built or pay someone to do it for me.  
    Peachtree novaPre - I really like my DAC from them, so considered this as an option to integrate the DAC and headphone amp.  There's virtually zero info or reviews on the headphone section, which is a little worrysome, but Peachtree seems to think they've designed a good headphone section in this piece, anyone heard it?
    I'm sure there are lots of options I haven't looked at, so I'd appreciate any thoughts on the ones I've listed or the ones I haven't.
  2. PolkManiac
    Well, I ended up grabbing the Peachtree NovaPre.  That doesn't render my question moot and I'm still looking for advice as this may not be what I'm ultimately looking for.  I've hit that point of analysis paralysis thought and decided to just buy something and start from there.  I decided on the Peachtree for a couple reasons:
    - I've had good luck with them so far and if that NovaPre is as good as a headphone as their DAC-IT is a DAC then I may be set
    - I found a decent price on one and will have it tomorrow
    - If I don't like it it'll be easier to return than something like the Woo or Bottlehead
    - I like the idea of simplifying my desktop setup down to one device, even though that's not a requirement it's a nice bonus
    So we'll see how it sounds and I'll report back when I hear it, feel free to chime in on the other options in the meantime.
  3. runswithaliens
    I hope you will post your impressions of the Peachtree preamp.  I had been considering it for my HD650's, and emailed Peachtree to find out what the output specs of the Headphone amp are, since they list specs for some of their amps, but not the NovaPre.  However, they never replied to my inquiry, so I was a bit put off.
  4. Amorgan
    Peachtree stuff is not very common here, i'd like to know more about the pairing with the HD600 and how it compares to the rest of your gear (Valhalla, woo on your sig)
  5. NA Blur
    I would give the BUDA try from HeadRoom.  I think they have some on sale still or in B-stock.  I grabbed one and love it.  You do not require a new DAC so the BUDA gives you the option to go balanced, but has two single ended jacks built into the XLR combo jacks.  The low end on the BUDA is pretty hard to improve upon.
    If you want to do some serious simplification you could always try the Ultra Desktop Amp from Headroom which comes with a DAC.  One very small footprint device.
    Have you heard the O2+ODAC?
  6. Dubstep Girl
    Woo Audio 2 [​IMG]
    last amp u'll ever need for hd 600s. 
    bass? check. silky smooth? check. maintains sparkle on top when needed? check.
    you can also get the WA3, which should still have decent bass response, at least with the right tubes.
  7. PolkManiac
    Funny, I initiated a conversation with them yesterday, they replied almost immediately and we've been back and forth numerous times and their responses have been very timely and helpful.  Maybe yours got lost somehow, but my experience has ben great.
  8. runswithaliens

    I don't see anything funny about that, but since you seem to have their attention, please ask them for the headphone output specifications of the NovaPre and let us know what you find out. :)
  9. PolkManiac
    Ah, I assumed that people were generally familiar with the various usages of the word funny.  In this instance I meant funny in the sense of being odd (since your experience was completely opposite of mine), not funny as in laughing out loud.
    I'll ask them and report back with what I find.
  10. PolkManiac
    Well, got the Peachtree in today and initial impressions were good.  It wasn't a night and day difference from the Valhalla though, I was really wanting something alot better and the Peachtree didn't wow me out of the box.  Don't get me wrong, it sounds great and does open up things a bit over the Valhalla, but right out of the box wasn't different enough to warrant the purchase.  I was fully prepared to let it burn in for a couple days though and then give it another go, knowing that it'd open up even more and likely be what I wanted.  Then I heard it...the problem
    I'm getting a faint random intermittent popping sound, it's not very loud and it's not regular, but it is there and happens enough to be an issue.  I'm running Amarra on top of iTunes, latest version of OSX and am using a Peachtree DAC-IT and have zero issues with that setup, and the DACs are very similar with only the USB implementation being different, so my issue seems strange.  Oddly enough, there was a notice that came with it about some issues with the driver and OSX in some isolated cases but that was dated a year ago and I figured they'd worked that out by now, apparently not as the issue described is exactly what I had.
    I've initiated a return with Amazon and am planning next steps. I'm not sure if I want to go with another one of these, right now I'd say I'm more likely to move on to another piece.
    I don't wanna bash the NovaPre though, it sounds superb and if I had a need for the preamp section (which is very likely the best part of the unit) I'd go through returning it and buying another one, but as things stand it didn't really jump out and grab me.
  11. Rem0o
    Have you tried to change the input tubes of the Valhalla?
  12. PolkManiac
    I have the original Valhalla and the tubes are not rollable in that model. However, if rolling really makes a difference then I don't mind buying another Valhalla that allows it

Share This Page