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Tube amp for HE400?

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by antikus, Apr 10, 2013.
  1. antikus
    I'm just starting into the whole earphone experience. I have Hifiman HE-400 and Sennheiser  hd558. I'm driving them from a modi/magni combo, but I'd like to try the "tube" sound. I can see a number of interesting tube hybrid amps out there, but I'm having difficulty picking one that would  sound good, allow for a bit of experiment with tube rolling, and be reasonably inexpensive. The amps I looked at so far are
    - Bravo v2 (doesn't look good enough)
    - Little Dot I+ 
    - Hifiman ef2a (I do not really want to pay for the dac)
    - Hifiman ef5 (that's a bit more than I want to spend, but I might swing it if it's much better than Little Dot)
    - Schiit Lyr (is probably too expensive for me)
    I also looked at some DIY kits (Millet Max-MOSFET and some Cavali kits) and while I know how to hold a soldering iron, I'm more interested in the outcome than in the amp building process.
    I'm hoping that folks with some experience of pairing he400 with a tube amp can chime in and tell me...
    1. whether I missed a good amp in my price range that I should consider
    2. any hints and suggestions on what amp to pick.
    Thank you!
  2. jackwess
  3. antikus
    Thank you.
    I think I found another one (or two) that fit the requirements: Projects Starlight and Sunrise. I need to figure out which one would be better with HE400. Sunrise has more power, but no ability to roll opamps.
  4. Grado77
    IMO I'd buy the Lyr and be done with it. Ive been through many amps and the Lyr is just awesome with my 400 and 500 he. Well worth the price paid. It really is an end game amp for mid teir listening and a beautiful match with 400.
  5. Powello
    How about a little dot Mk III?  lots of fun with tube rolling, i just got the Mk IVse, bit more pricey but it's a quality product and my first play with tube gear also, but yeah awesome!  they pop up 2nd hand here and there, or can go new for not too much outlay.
  6. antikus

    Isn't little dot mk iii a bit underpowered for he400? It puts out 100mW into 32 Ohms. As far as I understand little dot I+ is the only one LD in this price region suitable for he400.
  7. antikus

    Agh! You might be right! :) but firstly, the price is a bit scary, - Lyr is more expensive than the headphones, - and secondly, I'm not yet convinced my ears will hear the difference. What I remember from my college physics tells me that as long as an amp does not distort the signal, the SQ should not affected. At the same time, I read too many posts talking about the effect of amps, tubes, and (gasp) wires here to start doubting it :) I'll pick something like Sunrise and play with tubes to see if I can hear the differences.
  8. Modular
    I own the Sunrise and use it with Beyer DT880's and the sound is pretty fantastic.
    I know it's not a direct comparison, but judging by the specs of the amp at 32ohms, I can't see how it would have a problem driving the Planar drivers at all. It's just shy of a full watt at the 5R setting at 32ohms. I say go for it. It's a couple hundred bucks, has awesome reviews and one of the best companies in terms of customer service.
    Starlight has about half the power at that impedance, but gives you the ability to swap op-amps and tubes - SWEET! Either way, I think you'd be fine, but why not email Jeremy at Garage1217 to see if he has an recommendations for you on which amp to go with?
    Good luck and report back on what you end up going with!
  9. antikus
    Ok. I ordered the Sunrise. Will post back the experience.
  10. Greed
    Buy a Used Lyr. Best amp for orthos that you have mentioned. Has plenty of power, the option to roll tubes, great build quality, and an excellent warranty. It is well worth the money, and many people are perfectly content with the HE-400/Lyr combo. 
  11. antikus

    I was looking for that. I even missed a couple in the Fs forum. I haven't figured out the forum subscription well -- looks like that only some of the new FS posts showed in my mailbox and I missed most of them. So I missed a couple used Lyrs. I'll start with Sunrise. Only one tube to roll :D
  12. Greed
    I have heard good things about the Project Sunrise II amp. Very underrated and the sound is wonderful, especially for the price. Hopefully that is true, and you will be happy with your purchase.
  13. antikus
    I got my Project Sunrise ii this week. My first impression is that it is freaking beautiful! The overall design is not new -- there are plenty of similar looking amps on ebay. I believe Jeremy took it to the next level, especially where the quality of construction is concerned. The soldering joints have perfect, almost machine-like quality. (I am very glad that I ordered it built -- I would never have achieved such quality myself.) The plexiglass top cover alignment and cut outs are very precise. The overall amp feels very solid. Also, the adjustable LED is a very nice touch.
    So what about the sound? I did not have time to listen to it too much, but here are my first impressions. I'm currently running the stock tube: Electro-Harmonix 6922. I compared it to Magni. Sunrinse sounds a bit smoother than Magni. Magni is harsher and, e.g., less forgiving to Mark Knopfler's voice. Both amps are good at showing off details in the music, but they differ in character: Magni is slightly drier and Sunrise is a bit more musical. However, I feel these differences are so tiny, that I would be hard pressed to prefer one over the other.  
    I will try to do a better analysis later...
  14. g33klunch
    I do have the HE-400 paired with the Lyr. I was looking at the Project Sunrise because of this tread but decided to swing the Lyr so I can just close the book on the middle tier amps for now. The HE-400 and Lyr pair sound fantastic - the vocals do now become "intimate" and smooth - I old DAC/AMP was an O2/ODAC desktop combo. 
    The build quality is awesome. About the Project Sunrise, it looks very cool and i do still want to try it out. 
  15. money4me247 Contributor
    you never did your better analysis!!!!! [​IMG]
    do you still have the HE400 w/ project sunrise?

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