Which Amp & Dac pairs the best with Sennheiser HD600/650s?

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  1. Heinstar
    Hello everyone. I have both Sennheiser HD600 and HD650. I've mostly been listening to my HD600 because it seems to sound better with most music I listen to (playlists from Monstercat & EDMs in general). But I think that's only because the HD600 requires less power to run than the HD650, thus sounding better for now. Although HD600s sounds slightly better/clearer, HD650s is easier to listen to for a long time without fatigue unlike HD600s. I kind of regret buying HD600 after second guessing my choice of HD650. I should've used that money to buy an Amp and Dac instead.

    I'm still only a beginner so I just want the best value entry level HD headphone (HD650s) and an Amp and Dac that pairs the best with it. The Schiit stack (Modi2/Magni2) is said to be the best value Amp/Dac combo, and it's probably sufficient to run the HD600. But it can't get the most out of the HD650s which is why I'm spending a bit higher in budget for Amp/Dac so that I won't have to upgrade too soon.

    Anyways, I'm currently using the Audioengine D3 as my DAC and I don't have an Amp. My budget is $1200AUD. In your opinion, what are the best headphone Amp & Dac that pairs the best with Sennheiser HD600/650s at a reasonable value? Thanks for your help.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  2. chimney189
    I've heard many people recommend the Bottlehead Crack w/Speedball upgrade. It is said to be a match made in heaven.
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Darkvoice 336SE OTL tube headphone amplifier, $214-$250 (sold thru Massdrop, eBay, Amazon)

    DAC, check out the website Hifimediy.
  4. cossix
    I've heard the Bottlehead Crack is the best pairing, Darkvoice comes in at a close second
  5. Heinstar
    Thanks. So Bottlehead Crack w/ Speedball pairs the best with HD600/650? What should I get for Dac? I'll check out the price on their official website. If I was to get it, I'll be paying for the assembly fee as well. If the final cost is not much different from eBay, then I might just purchase it from the eBay seller instead: https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Bottle...451465?hash=item4b2a133e89:g:uw4AAOSw-kBZyADo
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  6. buke9
    Yes Bottlehead Crack is the one to get for those two. I have two BHC’s one with Speedball and one with out and I think I would go with the Speedball. Just watch out as tube rolling can get expensive real quick but the stock tubes usually don’t sound too bad there are much better ones out there. I have the HD-6xx’s but have heard the 600’s from it also and both do well as does my 700’s and 800’s. If you can find a Tung Sol 5998 it is really good but are getting hard to find and can be a bit pricey
  7. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    D3 only has amplified headphone output, and with that kind of budget you might as well get a new DAC that has a line output.

    Or a one box DAC-HPamp.
  8. Guidostrunk
    +3 on the crack. Best pairing I had with any of the Senns.
  9. Oscar-HiFi
    I will throw in the suggestion of the Feliks Audio Espressivo :D

    You could then get a JDS Labs EL-DAC and some extra tubes with the change
  10. Heinstar
    So Bottlehead Crack w/ Speedball are the best pairing Amp for HD600/650? And Darkvoice 336SE comes closely second?

    Bottlehead Crack is a bit pricey though if I import it to Austraila and have it preassembled. Is it still worth it even if it costs me $750 - $840USD? From eBay, I can get it for $750USD plus $90USD shipping which totals to $840USD. If I was to buy it from the official website, it costs $413USD for bottlehead crack w/speedball and $340USD for kit assembly by hifibuilderguy which totals to $753USD. Plus shipping cost which I don't know how much to Australia, but probably between $30 - $50USD.

    Darkvoice 336SE only costs $270USD plus $20USD shipping from eBay which is far cheaper.
    I can get Schiit audio Jotunheim for $497USD from addictedtoaudio.com.au
    I can also get La Figaro 332C for $350USD plus $70USD shipping to Australia from yuking09.com

    Which on should I go with? I'm a newb so I really need help. If somebody can give me a good recommendation, I'll happily donate them $20 via paypal.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  11. cossix
    The previous posts aren't loading for some reason, are you against assembling the Crack yourself? It's definitely not worth 300 USD to get somebody to build it for you.

    I have the Jotunheim and I really like the pairing with the 650. It provides a bit of brightness to clear up the recessed treble while still letting it retain its laid back attitude. But going from what I've read after literal days spent researching this sort of thing, the Bottlehead Crack is still #1 most recommended pairing with the 600/650. People always say the same thing, that you really haven't heard the 650 until you pair it with the BHC. I haven't heard it myself but it's definitely on my list of things to do.

    If you don't mind some effort, the Crack is probably the best way to go. Darkvoice is likely second, with the Jotunheim coming in third only because people rave about how good the 650 sound with tube amps. Honestly though, the 650 is so good you'd love it with any of the mentioned amps :)
  12. Heinstar
    That's a very good point. It should be obvious that BHC loses its value if you have to pay $450AUD for assembly but it makes more sense now that you've mentioned it. I definitely don't want to assemble/solder (maybe in the future) so I guess I need to go with something else. Even if it's not as good as the Bottlehead Crack that's claimed to pair best with HD6XXs.

    I did a lot of reading and I have heard these names recommended with HD650s:
    • Bottlehead Crack w/Speedball
    • Darkvoice 336SE
    • Schiit stack (bare minimum to power HD650s) O2+ODAC stack is said to not pair well with HD6XXs
    • Schiit Audio Jotunheim
    • Schiit Audio Vali 2
    • Schiit Audio Valhalla 2

    For DAC, I hear a lot of recommendation for Schiit Modi Multibit so I think I'll go with that.

    For Amp, I'm considering between Darkvoice 336SE, Schiit Audio Jotunheim and Schiit Audio Valhalla 2.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  13. cossix
    I have the Jotunheim with the 650 and I'd say it's pretty nice but I hear more love for the Darkvoice. The Jot is more for versatility down the line: ability to add powered monitors, lots of outputs, upgradable phono stage for turntables, and tons of power. I'd say DV is a short term buy, Jot is a long term buy
  14. ahmadfaizadnan
    I am not sure about others but I am not a fan of valhalla 2 with 650 although they sound pretty good actually. I don't know about bottlehead crack because I never listened to the combo myself but you'll be surprised how good the 650 pair with liquid carbon.
  15. Heinstar
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Then that boils down my choice to either Darkvoice 336SE or Schiit Jotunheim. It's really hard to choose between both.

    Schiit is guaranteed to be of good quality and should last long as it's a solid state Amp. In terms of sound, it's supposed to be solid but it lacks a bit of depth. But it's versatile with wider range of headphones and other uses. I can get it for $606AUD directly from Schiit or $650AUD from addictedtoaudtio.com.au

    Darkvoice 336SE is claimed to be the second best sounding and bang-for-buck tube Amp to pair with HD6XXs right after BHC w/Speedball. Only concerns are the quality control as some units can start smoking. And it's less flexible for other uses than Jotunheim. From Amazon, I can get it for $352AUD or it's $374 from eBay.

    Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00CF9JON8/ref=dp_olp_new_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=new
    eBay: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/DarkVoice-336SE-Headphone-Tube-Amplifier-neat-technics-6N8P-6N5P/391775448813?_trkparms=aid=111001&algo=REC.SEED&ao=1&asc=20131017132637&meid=5c9dd8cad3784a2290d379f2fb9f7093&pid=100033&rk=1&rkt=1&sd=391775448813&_trksid=p2045573.c100033.m2042
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2017
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