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Author Topic: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800  (Read 100584 times)

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Armaegis

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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #620 on: September 21, 2015, 06:37:19 PM »

Sorry, but I owned the Oppo HA-1, and I could not stand my HD800 with it for even 30 seconds on pretty much any track except for the mainstream pop songs.

It is one screachy sounding DAC/Amp, but I'm pretty sure the DAC was at fault.

The dac is the bigger offender, but the amp section also leans into chalkboard territory.

  • Moon Audio 430HA: Probably the best preamp option as it includes trickle-down from their Evolution line of stereo preamps. Some favorable and non-favorable impressions in Inner Fidelity's Big Sound 2015. Remote. Also solid state. Feel most comfortable with this option at this point.

I spent about two hours on and off auditioning the 430HA at a local shop. I really liked it, moreso than the HA1 and Rag. If only it wasn't so expensive...
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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #621 on: September 21, 2015, 06:50:11 PM »

My problem with the 430HA was a lack of absolute clarity. There's always a sort of greyness to the tone. Some described it as a little rolled off sounding. I think it could stand to be a little more resolving as well which is likely tied to the first couple comments. The tonal dynamics just didn't 'pop' from the 'blackground'.
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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #622 on: September 21, 2015, 07:17:12 PM »

Moon 430HA, like I said, was too polite, not dynamic enough, could have used a bit more thickness, sort of grey sounding. Not offensive, just not engaging. Boring. I honestly didn't dig into how well it might have been pulling out small details and ambient cues because it was just too boring for me to care. I guess I can give it good marks for being clean and smooth sounding and very wide. Volume knob was nice, and all how granular you could get with the volume steps.
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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #623 on: September 21, 2015, 07:17:51 PM »

EDIT: Sennheiser HDVD600: Decent option as well with the balanced output, but no remote (confirmed with local dealer). Have not found any impressions of this as a preamp in various searches.
I had it, if I remember correctly it had fixed gain output from pre outs.
Also as preamp it takes away quite a bit of resolution that got away even with pretty unimpressive s-d dacs I had back then.
Not a bad hp amp, but not a good value either.
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thegunner100

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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #624 on: September 21, 2015, 07:59:26 PM »

I'd say no to the Oppo. It didn't really do any favors for the hd800s. However, the remote and phone app remote worked fairly well.
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CEE TEE

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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #625 on: September 21, 2015, 09:54:13 PM »

@Cee-Tee : insightful post  thks.  I personaly plan to achieve my final HD800 Rig with the DNA Stratus . Different option but I think we share the same quest for our HD800.

I have a question though: why do you advice EQ for some amps and not for the other?  that would suggest that both EC ZDS or BA  induce some tonal coloration , right? 

Thanks for the note and the question:
  I did specifically suggest some EQ with the solid state amps because that gives some flexibility to consider. I have always rolled tubes in my tube amps for presentation/tonality/quality (except with Crack and Vali). That's a plus for tube amps if you take the time and expense. With solid state amps (except for the TCM/FRM filter DAC settings on the Geek Out which do make a difference)- you can't tune them.  The Black Widow doesn't tune the HD800 into an HD850- but with mods and EQ, the HD800 on the BW is fantastic and I can + want to listen for long periods. Both solid state amps are practical, good value, and play very well with other phones too. Wanted to share that I am definitely enjoying the HD800 with these amps and even better with some EQ.
 
Many of us avoid EQ, but it is making things easier for me...
 
If I were to run a ZD Super in my home? Not sure where I would end up- I would roll tubes first, then see if any EQ is needed. Depends on my DAC, software, tubes, the ZD Super over time. I found the ZD Super at a meet to be just a slight bit thicker and a little more forgiving than the first prototype EC Studio that I heard. Heard it with an Yggy and it seemed linear with good control. Probably a good match for my PWD but have not tried the combo yet.  My Balancing Act was so beautiful in the midrange and had sparkle up top, was not fatiguing at all. However, the bass was pretty uncontrolled with my BA tube combo (KR PX-4, TSBGRP) with the older transformers.  This was very noticeable against Ragnarok at a different mini-meet, with the Ragnarok having such bass control (but going too far in the other direction, too fast/analytical for me).

My impressions of great tube amps is that they can have a beautiful sound, can have an accurate sound, can be somewhat "tweakable" with tubes or capacitor mods. Tube amps can have a presentation that seems bigger, and more open/natural sounding to me. They are sometimes drier and sometimes more euphonic. The great tube amps still sound bright with HD800, but can also be worked with towards a sweeter/less fatiguing sound.

Solid state amps can be great technically and they can also impart some tonal coloration (I found a B22 build to accentuate HD800 U-shape, for example).  Something about the control/attack/speed or etch on some solid state amps can just be fatiguing with the HD800 (with Magni2 I would need to switch to Vali after some time). The Black Widow has a wonderful quality to the treble but also seems tonally neutral so it can show how bright the HD800 are. Add the mods/EQ and I am very happy.
 
It is riding a fine line with the HD800 a lot of the time. Such capability, but can also bother. I don't like dark phones, so I keep working with the HD800. Not having enough "air" or upper mids are deal-breakers for me. And too much is of course, fatiguing plus unsatisfying because you can't turn the volume up enough to listen to the full recording without that fatigue.

The headstage/presentation may not quite be the same on solid state amps...but the price, practicality, versatility, and the overall quality of them is really good right now and I'm enjoying mine. Can always be seduced by a good tube amp though. :&     
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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #626 on: September 22, 2015, 07:52:59 AM »

@CEE TEE : Thank you for taking the time to develop. Much appreciated  :money:

kevnin

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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #627 on: September 25, 2015, 09:17:13 AM »

So I finally dusted off my vali and tried it with my recently acquired HD800 (for the past couple weeks I've been using asgard2). I feel like there is a little extra "thickness" to the sound with the vali, which is nice, but I also feel like I am losing clarity/picking up a little bit of grain. I guess I need to listen some more to make sure, but if this holds up I prefer the asgard2. I hate grain.

Does anyone else hear the vali having a little bit of grain compared to something like asgard2?
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OJneg

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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #628 on: September 25, 2015, 09:18:09 AM »

Yeah the Vali definitely has a bit of that grain
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kevnin

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Re: Best Amps for Sennheiser HD800
« Reply #629 on: September 25, 2015, 09:24:56 AM »

Wow, that was fast. Thanks OJneg! It's good to get some confirmation since I'm kind of new to comparing amps and dacs. Comparing headphones is much easier.
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