Where do I go from the best?
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mwb

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About six months ago I began coming to this forum to learn about headphones from the masters. I had a baby 14 months ago and was going to assemble the best in headphone listening because I could not use my reference speaker based system very much any more.

After the first week, and to get my feet wet, I purchased a set of Senn HD600s and a Cary CAD 300SEI integrated am with Western Electric 300B tubes. I am familiar with Western Elecrtic 300Bs and knew (from Jonathan Scull who uses one as his reference) that Cary shunts the outputs from the 300Bs to the headphone jack via a switch. Because the 300B sound is legendary and after review comments abot it here, I went ahead and bought one.

Anyway, about a month later I was in touch with one of the members here who secured a pair of Audio Technica ATH W2002 headphones NEW in Singapore and had them shipped to me. By all accounts the gurus here seemed to think that the Cary and Audio Technicas system was among the finest systems one could buy for headphones.

I have only put about 25 hours on the Audio Technica ATH W2002s and about 40 hours on the Cary - I know it is not enough time to break either of them in - and they DO sound glorious...But the thing is that I fing headphone listening to be quite alienating, almost lonely. I can't really get a lot of enjoyment from a headphone system as a listening reference so I am just going to sell the Cary and Audio Technicas.

But I am going to keep the Senn HD 600s and my long winded question is this: After having been spoiled by one of the finest systems in headphones can I get some suggestions for what the best possible PORTABLE headphone amp is to drive the Senn HD600s?

Thank you all for generously sharing you experience and knowledge with occasional seekers.

Best regards,
Mwb
 
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post-173245
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kelly

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mwb
The real question I'd have is "What else have you heard?"

I, for one, don't care for the way the Cary SEI sounds--finding its bass on the boomy side and its midrange to be the thick, murky kind that some people who like "tube sound" seem to actually enjoy.

I also posted a rather lengthy review of the W2002 where despite its good qualities, I found myself not wanting to listen to it as much because of its flaws.

And yet, I too kept my pair of HD600 and bought the Cardas replacement/upgrade cable for it.

So... are you saying you want to do a different amp with your HD600? If so, what did you like or dislike about the Cary SEI?

Where do you live? Maybe we can get you in contact with some people who can let you audition some different things.
 
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mwb

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To be honest Kelley, you have read what I have heard. Like I said, I purchased after musch research and discussion here.

I have to say that my own experiences were that The W2002s were very clearly better in virtually every way that the Senns...to the positives on the Senns, there was a bit more air (although I never really broke in the Senns or the W2002s ) and that is in part to the way the phones are voiced --- kind of farther back in the hall if you will. THe speed, definition, bass, transient speeds, body/presence and liquidity all were in spades in the W2002s.

I just am keeping the Senns because they were good and I already own them and I'd like to make a portable system if possible.
\
But don't get me wrong Kelley, if you want to suggest a different headamp, please do.

Ultimately though it was less a dissatisfaction with the sound qualities of the Cary/W2002 set up ( although as I freely admit, I have nothing to caompare them to other thatn speaker based systems) ---- I just found it isolating to listen to headphones. It was as if the music I live was no longer pouring into the room -- all that emotion --- it was just pouring into me and I could look around and see that nothing and nobody else was being touched by it. I know it sounds crazy and all but I was left feeling quite lonely after most listening sessions.
 
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kelly

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mwb
There are definitely a lot of things to like and dislike about speakers versus headphones and you've hit a couple of them squarely.

[more of kelly's dumbass remarks removed by kelly]
 
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NotoriousBIG_PJ

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I believe this was the question:

"what the best possible PORTABLE headphone amp is to drive the Senn HD600s?"

^^

Biggie.
 
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kelly

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Doh, you're right Big, thanks for pointing out the obvious to the blind.

And finally something I can opinionate about.

HeadRoom sells a bag caleld the Traveler bag which is pretty nifty. Lots of people here are fans of the Traveler bag and what goes inside it. In short, it'll hold your wallet and passport and whatnot with room to spare for a paperback book (no seriously, it's a dedicated pocket) and a big section made specifically for a portable CD player/MD player/etc., the HeadRoom Cosmic (or Cosmic Reference) amplifier and one of those slim 24-CD CD cases. The bad news? It's more "totable" than portable and the OPA627 opamps in the Cosmic need a lot of juice so it runs from a pouch of D cell batteries to an internal DC-DC converter.

The Cosmic has HeadRoom's trademark sound (which I think is due largely to their choice of opamps and good power supply circuitry). That sound (to me) is very clean with a low noise floor with solid articulate bass. The HeadRoom's sound, to me, is a little lacking in texture and ambeint detail which makes their products a little better suited to people who find the detail of headphone listening fatiguing or the flaws of bad recordings and poor sources to be too much to deal with--but less ideal for people like me, looking under ever nook and cranny for that last drop of detail and realism.

If you'd rather have that texture sound, the META42 is a good way to go. The META42 is a DIY amp that several builders here on HeadFi make for people. The AD823 opamp is popular but I haven't heard it. The AD8620 is a newer latest-technology opamp that reportedly can be driven well from a pair of 9volts. The META42 I got to audition was a "home" version that used a wallwart and a larger pot and case than you might choose. It did have the Linkwitz crossfeed filter that you might opt for, though. Batteries and all, the META42 will be a smaller footprint than the Cosmic.

Fianlly, I predict that we'll see a lot of products like this last one I'm going to mention in the near future. aos has designed a product he calls the PDAC -- essentially a similar circuit to the META42 but inclusive of a DAC (digital analog converter) while maintaining a small footprint. Since, in my opinion, the real bottleneck of a portable system is the crappy DAC built into portable players, the PDAC, and products like it, should really serve to fill a void. I've gotten to hear a prototype version of the PDAC and think it easily competes with some external DACs. I look forward to hearing the final product which by all accounts I expect to sound even better. The bad news here? It's not out yet and you're looking at a little bit of a wait. You'd also have to acquire a portable CD player with digital output--many of the Japanese models have that but only a few American ones do.

All three of these are great for driving the Sennheiser HD600 and really beat the hell out of any of the other portable/battery operated amps.

Sorry for missing the point of your post the first time through.
 
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bkelly

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I've never tried one myself but everyone seems to love the META42 and I'm sure it will be overwheelmingly recommended.

I'd love to buy take a shot at purchasing the headpones when they go up fo sale.




Best
Brian
 
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john_jcb

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Never heard the META42 but I have listened to Headroom's Cosmic and I don't think you can go wrong with it for a good portable piece.
 
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MacDEF

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mwb:

Please don't cross-post questions in different forums -- I merged your three threads into one and, since you were asking a portable question, moved it to the Portables forum.

Thanks
 
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Nick Dangerous

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If you're willing to explore the world of DIY... how about this...

Sell the Cary and W2002 seperately, and keep those expensive WE 300B's... no need to give them away so cheaply!

For the portable solution, buy a Headroom Cosmic and Cardas upgrade cable.



With the remaining cash, buy the Bottlehead Parabee monoblock kit and use your WE300B's in them.



For speakers, build the Straight 8's.

Best of both worlds.
 
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mwb

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I think the DIY route is out of the question, I have a toddler and thus no time... ( not to mention the fact that it is totally out of my realm.)

The items above seem interesting and I look over this site to see if I can't find some review and info on these suggestions. One thing is though--- It is often hard to know where to go to actually buy some of this equipment much of which is completely new to me.

Finally, I put the Cary up for sale here in the gear for sale section ...I put it together with the ATH W2002s for about $150 less than an older Cary on Audiogon without any headphones. I figured somebody here would like a good deal on them since so many people were so helpful when I asked for guidance in purchasing them....


Sorry, McDEF....I cross posted because there were alot of people, especially in the Headphones Forum that were very helpful to me when I was looking to get into the game....I just went to the two forums where I had met the most people. I did not mean to brreak any rules here. I'll be careful not to cross post in the future, However I'd still like a couple of the regulars in the Headphone Forum to weigh in on my amp question (=:
 
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MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by mwb
Sorry, McDEF....I cross posted because there were alot of people, especially in the Headphones Forum that were very helpful to me when I was looking to get into the game....I just went to the two forums where I had met the most people. I did not mean to brreak any rules here. I'll be careful not to cross post in the future, However I'd still like a couple of the regulars in the Headphone Forum to weigh in on my amp question (=: [/B]


Don't worry about it -- but if you post in one forum, most people will see it, since most Head-Fi'ers check most of the forums
 
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kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by mwb
The items above seem interesting and I look over this site to see if I can't find some review and info on these suggestions. One thing is though--- It is often hard to know where to go to actually buy some of this equipment much of which is completely new to me.


For what I have suggested,

The HeadRoom Cosmic may be purchased from HeadRoom
The META42 may be purchased from:
Eric343
Tangent
or JMT

The PDAC is not yet available but you should contact this person if you want more information or a better guess at how long the wait will be:
aos
 
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