What Amp Needed To Power HD650 Through Desktop PC??
Jan 5, 2009 at 2:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14


New Head-Fier
Jan 5, 2009
Hi all, Im a newbie to this forum and need some advice on what amplifier I should buy for a newly purchased Sennheisers HD650 headphones.

My source is a desktop PC with an onboard soundcard.

I heard the HD650 sounds ok through a soundcard but obviously if you want the full potential you need a amp.

What would you lot recommend to buy to power these to there full potential running through a PC?

Budget is around 200-300.

Also why do some people have a DAC and amp running these HD650's?

What is a DAC?
Jan 5, 2009 at 2:16 PM Post #2 of 14
I would recommend searching around and defently going to the computer audio forum located here: Computer Audio - Head-Fi: Covering Headphones, Earphones and Portable Audio
I can tell you that most peopel would recommend the little dot or darkvoice amps for that price range. Do some searching around and see what people are saying the amp sounds like.

DAC (Digital to Analog Coverstion). Example computer and CD are digital, but we only hear analog so there has to be a conversion that happens for us to hear the music. Every DAC sounds different, and every amp sounds different. You might want to take a favorit CD and you head phones and go some where that sell HiFi headphoes and try out some amps. The Zero has both a DAC and a Amp, but it doesn't have a USB.
Jan 5, 2009 at 4:26 PM Post #3 of 14
A DAC is going to improve the clarity and detail of the sound going into your amplifier. You'll want to get one sooner or later. For amps, it depends on what music you listen to. If you're a more rock/metal person something solid state might be better, if you like acoustic/alternative/vocal/etc music a tube amp might have your name on it. I would go for tubes if I were you, tube amps just fit really well with sennheisers. Scaz ^ is right, the darkvoice and little dot amps are great options for your price range.
Jan 5, 2009 at 5:43 PM Post #4 of 14
I've got a Little Dot MkIII running my HD650s from a netbook.

Sounds from the Netbook's headphone plug is good, but definitely not audiophile quality. My next step will be a DAC with USB connection.
Jan 5, 2009 at 7:24 PM Post #5 of 14
Would second everything said above: a DARKVOICE 336se would be perfect.
Jan 5, 2009 at 8:42 PM Post #6 of 14
Check out the Audio-GD Compass thread sometime, it's a spiritual successor to the Zero offering a nice headphone amp section, optical/coax/USB DACs, and only gonna cost $250 at the outset - it might fill the bill.

I'd tell you to get a 336SE because I have one and it sounds good, but I still don't know until the rest of my ebay tubes come whether or not I can abolish the hum that all but the crappy stock tubes make. The 336SE also has questionable build quality as it arrived with a flimsy and broken power switch that I had to remove and bypass. If you're not afraid of swapping out a power switch then it's the amp for you. You might get lucky and get one that never hums when you put different tubes in it, or get lucky and find the right tubes, or have the flimsy power switch never break on you, but don't count on it.
It is a fair price though and it delivers a ton of sound for not too much money. And I'm fairly confident that the $100+ i spent on tubes will pay off when one of them works...that and removing on/off switches I have heard increases sound quality as it's just one more component impeding the flow of power.
A DAC is pretty important though and I don't know of any combination tube + dacs off the top of my head (besides the Musical Fidelity V8 which is $550). Your stock sound card is going to be feeding the most foul sound imaginable into the HD650s, having plugged mine into my gaming PC one time and wincing in pain. A USB DAC is the set it and forget it option, for sure.
Jan 5, 2009 at 8:49 PM Post #7 of 14
And I do agree with the previous poster that you should base your tubes vs. solid state decision on your musical preferences.
Tubes sound fine with most anything but to me they do not do rock, rap, or electronic music justice. However, I still have a craving for tube...the sound is so smooth and relaxed and vocal music/any older music/analog stuff sounds so tasty. That's my my 336SE isn't getting put out to pasture just because I bought an M3 solid state amp.

Still, the 336 sounds a bit muddled with really raucous music, it takes some smooth musical stuff to get it to sound its best. It's hard to say that it makes 650s sound any less "veiled" but the real reason tubes sound good with Senns is their high voltage capabilities, those big gulps of power that the 650s require are easily satisfied. I love my 336 despite its shortcomings and the fact that I could've bought a Woo3 for the price of it + tubes + metal aggravation, a properly designed amp that I could have had serviced in the States.

If I roll all these old tubes that I bought off ebay at the end of the week and the 336 still hums with every preamp 6SN7 tube except the stock one, I will be letting everyone know. I also may just suck it up, practice up my soldering, and perform the Fitz mod, a mod named after a famous person named Fitz that will remove the hum. If only Darkvoice could Fitz mod their own freaking product.
Jan 6, 2009 at 12:02 AM Post #8 of 14
Well I'll probably go down the solid state route.

Was looking at the Graham Slee Novo Amp, are these any good?

As for a decent DAC, I have no idea on that one.

Also I notice alot of amps frequency's go to about 20hz., but the Sennheiser HD650 frequency range goes to 10hz. So surely you will be missing 10.000hz of sound frequency?
Jan 6, 2009 at 5:15 AM Post #10 of 14
Consider the Kicas Caliente which seems to be receiving little love right now despite the great reviews. Considering that I got it to replace my broken Littledot, which replaced a dead on arrival Darkvoice, I recommend it over those two for obvious reasons... lol. If your budget is in USD, the 400 CAD price tag should be acceptable for you too. It may seem lacking in power at first requiring 12 o'clock volume position for comfortable listening, but this is really useful later because the whole range of the potentiometer can then be used unlike on my LD MK IV where the pot was never above 9 o'clock and I always had to be careful when spinning the pot.

As for a DAC, I would agree that you would be amazed by the improvements over consumer sound cards. I came from a Creative X-fi Extreme Music to my Keces Da 151 and never looked back. The unfortunate thing is that its really only good for music and most cheap DACs lack a variety of inputs. There are plenty of good and affordable USB DACs around, just look in the dedicated source section.
Jan 6, 2009 at 6:12 PM Post #12 of 14
Why an USB dac?

Currently i'm running with an X-Fi/ ATH-900 and a Little Dot I+.
Thinking if i should get a DAC or not... keep in mind that i also game with this setup.

Jan 6, 2009 at 8:23 PM Post #13 of 14
Yeah, bypassing your soundcard with a USB is going to be helpful for music where you don't want that nasty soundcard getting in your way, but for gaming where you want all that extra processing...hmm. There's no way to win that one.

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