Warm amp for HE-500
Jun 10, 2015 at 5:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

mark235

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While my end game headphone will undoubtedly be an Audeze, for now I've settled on a second hand Hifiman HE-500, due to budget. The HE-500 can get a little sparkly in the treble according to most reviewers. Swapping the stock silver cable for the copper Canare apparently helps out. Still, I'd like to know which budget amps with a warmish signature could help out a bit further in this area. To put my taste in treble in perspective, I currently use a Senn RS220 and HD600. The HD600 is used with a Schiit magni / modi combo. The Schiit combo is too trebly for my taste, probably due tot the magni. Using the HD600 on an iPad (don't laugh) produces acceptable treble for me. The RS220's treble is also fine, although it's a little veiled compared to the HD600. 
 
I realize that I won't do the HE-500 proper justice until I get something like the Violectric V200, or Cavalli's new Liquid Carbon, but that's out of the budget for now. Max €300 for an amp will need to do. The Schiit Modi will probably stay as DAC. My preference goes to solid state or hybrid amps, since tube amps in this budget will most likely underpower the HE-500.
 
So which amps under €300
- have a warm, smooth sound signature, "polite" or "rolled of" treble
- provide enough juice to drive this Ortho
 
Jun 10, 2015 at 5:35 PM Post #2 of 18

GREQ

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If your taste in acceptable treble is the HD600, the HE-500 will almost certainly just sound tinny and harsh to your ears half of the time, depending on the music and recording.
I love my HE-500, but on certain tracks (Oasis, Radiohead, some electronic music etc) the treble is just unbearable. 
On the whole, I prefer warmer sounding phones too, so I could only start to properly appreciate the HE-500 after some basic modifications [search headfi for: 'fuzzor mod' and 'grill mod'. Also others suggest ear pad upgrades to lambskin etc, but they're $$$!)
But for longer, uninterrupted listening I prefer to grab some warmer headphones, or simply turn the volume down - it's a pretty cool trick for listening longer without fatigue and better for our health! 
biggrin.gif

 
Jun 10, 2015 at 5:57 PM Post #3 of 18

mark235

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Shucks, my gut told me to just get a Schiit Vali for my HD600 and be done with it, rather than switching phones. Maybe I should have listened 
redface.gif

 
Or not. I'm also dying to finally hear a good pair of Ortho's. With so few canjams in Europe and headphone selling points in Holland its tough to hear gear before you buy it.
 
I came across the Gustard H10 thread while searching more about HE-500 / amp combo's. There's a lot of positive talk on that match, although I don't get the idea that the H10 has a particularly warm sound signature. 
 
Are there any Chinese clones of Burson amps that would stay in my budget? Burson's supposed to be warmish, but the Conductor is out of my range, also second hand. Could get lucky with a good price on a second hand HA-160, but I wonder whether that one has enough oomph for the HE-500
 
Jun 10, 2015 at 6:16 PM Post #4 of 18

GREQ

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Yeah, that's the trouble with Europe 
redface.gif
 very few meet ups etc.
 
Don't give up hope yet... I've tried the AKG K812, Senn HD800, Beyer T1 etc and thought they were ALL too bright and harsh... the HE-500 is warmer and treble just feels softer. 
 
I've never tried it, but I've read good things about the Audio-G NFB-15 being ballsy enough most headphones and being on the warmer side.
I've also received two personal recommendations on this brand from members I trust... but don't take this as advice or a recommendation - only a note on what other possibilities are out there.
Incidentally I'm on the look out for one of these to try out with my HE-500, which is why I mention it :p
 
Jun 10, 2015 at 6:34 PM Post #5 of 18

inthere

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Schiit Magni Uber 2 ($179) will do fine, Asgard 2 ($259?) slightly better than Magni, I have both AND HE-500 and it sounds great on either one. However, I actually prefer Aune T1 mk2 ($169) over both for HE-500. 
 
 I wouldn't worry about harsh highs with the HE-500, I don't think it's an issue, the highs are actually very smooth imo. 
 
Jun 11, 2015 at 3:26 AM Post #7 of 18

mark235

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yeah, that's the trouble with Europe 
redface.gif
 very few meet ups etc.
 
Don't give up hope yet... I've tried the AKG K812, Senn HD800, Beyer T1 etc and thought they were ALL too bright and harsh... the HE-500 is warmer and treble just feels softer. 
 
I've never tried it, but I've read good things about the Audio-G NFB-15 being ballsy enough most headphones and being on the warmer side.
I've also received two personal recommendations on this brand from members I trust... but don't take this as advice or a recommendation - only a note on what other possibilities are out there.
Incidentally I'm on the look out for one of these to try out with my HE-500, which is why I mention it :p
 


 
HD800 and T1 give me a proper headache with their treble. Not my kind of can. I guess I'm rather treble sensitive. No, I won't give up hope yet, and with the right cable and amp, the treble on the HE-500 will probably be fine. 
 
I had missed the NFB-15 on Audio GD's product page. Looks like it has enough power. I'm going to read up on it in the threads, see what say about the sound signature. It's definitely a good choice budget wise, even allows me to sell my Modi. 
 
Quote:
  Schiit Magni Uber 2 ($179) will do fine, Asgard 2 ($259?) slightly better than Magni, I have both AND HE-500 and it sounds great on either one. However, I actually prefer Aune T1 mk2 ($169) over both for HE-500. 
 
 I wouldn't worry about harsh highs with the HE-500, I don't think it's an issue, the highs are actually very smooth imo. 

 
I have the Magni, and find the treble too harsh on a neutral headphone (HD600). Since the HE-500 is also considered fairly neutral, the chances of the Magni working out seem rather slim. But I'll give it a try of course.
 
Can you explain why you like the T1 on the HE-500 over the Schiit amps?
 
  You may want to look at the Gustard H10 It's a great amp with orthos.(HE-500/560, LCD2/3 ext...) It is at the top of your budget but worth it.

 
Thanks, another forum member sent me a PM yesterday also referencing that amp. It sure looks gutsy enough for the HE-500, and a lot of people are very positive about the pairing. It doesn't sound like the H10 is warm though. Still, if it is one of those magic combo's, It'll go high up on the wishlist. 
 
Any other ortho capable amps with warm sound around $300?
 
Jun 11, 2015 at 8:07 AM Post #8 of 18

mark235

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Audio GD's new NFB-3AMP have a jumper setting that can make the sound "warmer". Never seen EQ done through jumpers before. Looks interesting.
 
http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB3AMP/NFB3AMPEN_Use.htm
 
Jun 11, 2015 at 8:59 AM Post #9 of 18

GREQ

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  Audio GD's new NFB-3AMP have a jumper setting that can make the sound "warmer". Never seen EQ done through jumpers before. Looks interesting.
 
http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB3AMP/NFB3AMPEN_Use.htm

Didn't know about this one... I may have to take a closer look :)
 
Jun 11, 2015 at 9:39 AM Post #10 of 18

inthere

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Can you explain why you like the T1 on the HE-500 over the Schiit amps?

 
 Well, I'm using a Phillips E188CC-tube so it's not the stock tube, but I get a bit more clarity than the Schiit amps with it, while losing none of the fullness. I hate harsh treble also, but apparently not as much as you do. The stock tube smooths out the treble some, but you lose tightness and definition in the bass imo. For your ears I'm thinking maybe a Mullard tube would be good for you. The good thing about the T1 is if you decide to tube roll, there's only one tube to replace. 
 
Jun 11, 2015 at 9:54 AM Post #11 of 18

mark235

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 Well, I'm using a Phillips E188CC-tube so it's not the stock tube, but I get a bit more clarity than the Schiit amps with it, while losing none of the fullness. I hate harsh treble also, but apparently not as much as you do. The stock tube smooths out the treble some, but you lose tightness and definition in the bass imo. For your ears I'm thinking maybe a Mullard tube would be good for you. The good thing about the T1 is if you decide to tube roll, there's only one tube to replace. 

 
The tube and lighting on the T1 reminds me of a lighthouse 
smile.gif
. I'm surprised how much output that amp can give, 1W @ 32ohm. Still, I'll probably go for something with a bit more juice to get those Ortho's going. 
 
Thanks for your thoughts on the tube rolling. That part of the hobby I haven't ventured in yet, but probably will at some point. Coming to think of it, with my taste in treble I guess it's strange that I haven't tried tubes yet...
 
Jun 12, 2015 at 3:11 AM Post #12 of 18

mark235

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Looks like the opamps on the Gustard H10 can be replaced 
smile.gif
, so I could tune the sound on that one as well. Also allows some more freedom in tuning compared to the 3AMP, which only has 2 sound "flavors". 
 
Things are looking good for the H10. It's got some extra power over the 3AMP, I like the looks better, it's a "proven" combo with the HE-500 with lots of followers, and there are more sound customization options. I dislike having to choose an amp that will "solve" a treble problem with my headphone, but think that will yield better results in the end compared to staying with my HD600 and missing out on the dynamics, and bass of a well driven ortho. 
 
Before I settle on the H10 though, can anyone think of any other alternatives that are not home grown from China? Any recommendations on other (second hand) gear?
 

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