Upgrade from HD 530ii to HD 600/650/660s and an amp?
Oct 8, 2020 at 2:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

scov

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Hello, I'm new to this forum and was hoping for some help.

I've had a pair of HD530ii since the 90s and love them - on my second pair. But, these have now bitten the dust and feel I need to move on. I'm currently using them straight out of a Tascam US-1800 or via and Onkyo A-9010 amp. I use them for composing/arranging production music and producing - which is everything from classical, jazz, electronic or maybe hip-hop... (eg: modern film music!). Oh, and just listening to music.

I love the clarity, space & tone with stings and female vocals of the HD530's but miss the bottom end when mixing drums etc. I mix on decent monitors, so looking for headphones to replace the HD530's.

So, am I right at looking at HD600/650/660s?

I've tried Shure and Sony IEM's but still go back to Sennheiser with those, maybe just because I'm so used the Sennheiser 'sound'. I am almost sold on the HD660s after reading this review
https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/sennheiser-hd-660-s.22727/reviews
...but keep going back to the hd650 for some reason.

I also realise I might need a dac/amp.
I presume using coaxial out of audio interface (Tascam US-1800) into a dac/amp would be better than the headphone output of my Onkyo A-9010?

Budget:
Headphones £300-400
DAC/Amp £300

Any ideas or help would be great - Thanks.
 
Oct 8, 2020 at 4:19 PM Post #2 of 5

surfgeorge

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I am looking for something similar as you and based on reviews the Hifiman Sundara was top on the list.
I tested it on Monday and compared it against the HD660 and HD800S, and against my Sony IER-M9 IEMs.
Source was the CHORD Hugo 2

For you, mainly the comparison between the HD660 and the Sundara would be of interest, and they sounded quite similar to me, with the Sundara sounding a bit more open and clear, and actually having a soundstage and imaging, while the HD660 had very little in terms of imaging, it was more a sound cloud, and it sounded a bit duller. The sundara seems to have more upper mid boost, more treble and bass extension, which would explain the more open and clear sound.

For the sake of reference, they both don't have the detail, clarity or staging of the IER-M9 IEMs and the HD800S was even better than that, with a vast and pinpoint precise soundstage and immense detail and clarity. With classical music it felt close to a life concert.

But I felt the Sundara was a balanced and very comfortable headphone which I felt didn't do anything wrong for the money.

Regarding DAC/Amp I am part of the minority who consider the source as important as the headphone/IEM, and I invested early on in a CHORD Mojo, which I can wholeheartedly recommend for that price range.

As always, there's nothing better than listening yourself, so if you can find a shop where you can test the equipment it would be best to try that.
 
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Oct 9, 2020 at 7:52 AM Post #3 of 5

wantan

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You should check the Sonarworks blog and read their gear reviews, they are very good especially if you're looking at mixing headphones.

HD530 is a bit bright and light on bass.
HD600/650 in their stock form are the most neutral headphones if you follow the Sonarworks philosophy.
HD660 is slightly darker, more romantic and laid back. It sounds great but is more tailored towards hifi than studio.
Another alternative is a Beyerdynamic dt880, this has very good bass that goes deep, just not very much of it. It's also slightly on the bright side so maybe not too far away from your HD530. The dt880 does usually works well with classic stereo amps like your Onkyo, so it might save you the cost of an extra headphone amp. The Beyers are also dirt cheap on ebay these days.
 
Oct 10, 2020 at 3:43 AM Post #4 of 5

scov

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... the Hifiman Sundara was top on the list.
I tested it on Monday and compared it against the HD660 and HD800S, and against my Sony IER-M9 IEMs.
Source was the CHORD Hugo 2
Thanks surfgeorge, I've never heard of the Sundara. I'll have a look. I wish I could afford Hugo2 & HD800... Maybe one day!

Does anyone know anywhere in the South East UK where you can test any of these headphones?

You should check the Sonarworks blog and read their gear reviews

Thanks wantan, I'll have a look. What's the soundstage like on the DT880s?

I'm just scared of losing lush mid range and soundscape of the HD530s, but then again I really do need some more bottom end.
 
Oct 10, 2020 at 6:00 AM Post #5 of 5

wantan

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The dt880 has some emphasis in the upper treble, once you reduce 8Khz by around -3 db it's pretty neutral and soundstage is simillar to the HD600. Still slightly bigger but the Senns make it easier to hear the positions of the instruments. Soundstage with headphones is mostly brain burn in though, once you have a frequency response that's close to neutral soundstage differences will become very very small.
The dt880 is attractive because it's so cheap, I got a 250Ohm at ebay for 80€ earlier this year. The Beyer is slightly leaner in the midrange compared the HD6xx series.
A higher impedance source like your Onkyo adds some welcome warmth to the Beyer.

They're all great headphones and worth owning.
My personal favourites are HD600 and HD660S, the latter getting the most of my recreative listening time these days.

If you consider the Hifiman Sundara you could also look for the Hifiman Drop HE-4xx, which sounds simillar to the Sundara at a cheaper price. Hifiman is "famous" for it's questionable build quality though.
 

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