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Berkel

Headphone amps

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G'day all,

 

Could I please get some advice on headphone amps ?

I occasionally listen through Audio Technica ATH AD700X ( when I want to leave the doors & windows open for fresh air but not annoy the neighbours ).

Also, I just received a pair of Sennheiser HD 598 ( used ) which I haven't tried yet. I run the ATs straight from the CD player, and they sound pretty good, but I've read a lot about how much improvement can be gained by using a headphone amp. Before I buy one, I would very much appreciate some " learned " opinions.

 

Cheers.

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Both of these headphones have low impedance so they do not "need" an amp but it depends how loud you need to go without clipping your CD player output. Try some of the Fiio portable ones and see how you like them before you spend any serious money on a decent amp.  

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the best way to find out is to try different amps/dacs and compare them with your current CDP. The easiest way is to take your CDP and headphones to the shop. 

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Thanks for the responses so far.

I listened  to some " heavy duty " pipe organ music through the Sennheisers last evening, and there was a huge improvement over the ATs.  Quite a lot of bass and clearer, more detailed, non distorted treble.

On this particular recording, the ATs made the treble too bright and hard. If anything, the Sennheisers gave a slightly over emphasized mid - bass, but it was appropriate for the organ. Haven't tried them with orchestral music yet, but I'm sure they'll be great. At this stage, I don't think a separate headphone amp will be necessary.

 

Dennis

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Do you have a budget in mind? Is DIY an option?

I used to have a Musical Fidelity X-CAN v3 which drove my Fischer FA-11 and AKG q701 nicely, but then I went DIY,  currently have about 5 headphone amps around the house :)

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Gidday Dennis,

 

Dunno what your CD player is, but even most high-end ones have very average headphone outputs (if at all). A headphone amp would definitely improve your listening pleasure. I'd say it's mandatory. Look at the Graham Slee Solo models - if you're patient you'll find a used one on the classifieds. 

 

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Thanks mate. My CD player is a Denon 1500 AE ( ? ) SACD player.

 

I will keep my eyes open for a Graham Slee Solo.

 

Cheers,

Dennis

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Thanks also to Steve. As I'm an age pensioner, my budget is pretty tight. Unfortunately I'm not skilled enough for DIY.

 

Dennis

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I am a huge Little Dot fan. This is what I advised my son-in-law to get for his Sennheisers:

WWW.REXBASS.COM

Howdy! I have been using a CMOS headphone amplifier for awhile now, and have really enjoyed the way it brings my Sennheiser...

An OTL valve amp of lovely sonic quality for around $300

 

Also the Schiit SS headphone amps are good quality and value, e.g. Magni 3 for $215!

ADDICTEDTOAUDIO.COM.AU

Go ahead. Compare the third-generation Magni to anything out there at its price. We think you’ll find there’s really no...

 

You can see the second hand SNA Schiit headphone amps from time to time. A Magni 2 and a Vali sold this week for $80 each.

 

All of these would make you happy in my opinion.

 

Just my 2c worth

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I'm selling a cheapish headphone amp in the Classifieds right now, a Cavalli Tube Hybrid. It made a huge difference when I listened to Sennheiser HD590 (those now donated to a friend), and HD6XX headphones.

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Excellent idea--best of both worlds (hybrid). From a manufacturer with a great headphone reputation at a great price. I think you'd have to spend quite a lot more to get--or notice--big sonic improvements in your system as it is. I love the SNA classifieds 😊

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18 hours ago, Berkel said:

Thanks also to Steve. As I'm an age pensioner, my budget is pretty tight. Unfortunately I'm not skilled enough for DIY.

 

Dennis

A shame you are not local to me, I would have lent you one of mine to try.

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Thanks for the suggestions so far.

I have noticed the 598s are a bit boomy in the mid - bass, at least on pipe organ recordings.

Could this be tempered somewhat by a h/phone amp ?

 

Thanks,

Dennis

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The quality difference that a good amp will make is very dependent ( as stated above) on the amp you are currently using, and how "high-end" you want to go.

I don't listen to headphones very much but when I do I really enjoy my Meier Jazz-FF with crossfeed circuit. (Meier amps come at a variety of price points.)

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G'Day Dennis,
I recently was making the same decision, ie stay with using the Headphone Amp in my CD player (Marantz CD5005) or getting a dedicated headphone amp. I am a fan of "the tube sound" so I decided to try a Schitt Vali 2.

 

The one mistake I made was not paying enough attention to headphone amp power at different Ohms, and my headphones impedance. I was using a set of Audio Technica's with an impedance of 44ohms. This was to low to get the best from the headphone amp, and I moved to a headphone with a 250ohm impedance.

 

I can say having the dedicated headphone amp has increased my listening enjoyment substantially, with the added fun of being able to tube roll, which just add's enjoyment to the hobby.

 

Seeing your in Melbourne, a trip the the Schitt stockist (Addicted to Audio) would be well worth the effort.

 

Regards, 

 

Brenden.

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Thanks for your feedback and suggestion Brenden.

 

I'll follow up with a visit to the stockist you mentioned.

 

Cheers,

Dennis

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Highly recommended this. Inexpensive and beats the best headphone amps I'd tried previously (Audio Technica,  John Lindsay Hood 1969, Darkvoice 336SE etc).

 

Course it's really a DAC with integrated headphone amp.

 

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.com%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F273977653536

Edited by MattyW

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I would try and match a headphone's signature sound to the type of music you listen to the most. Do you like a highly detailed, crisp sound? What about tonality and soundstage? Or do you like a warmer more liquid sound? There are lots of different descriptions. Some headphones are more general in their sound and fit a lot of music, some are more specific to rock or vocal or orchestral, for example. Listen to as many as you can. Then as previous posts, figure out what you need in terms of amplification to drive them properly. This really makes a difference to those headphones that have high (^50 Ohms) impedance, like HD598/600/650. DAC/headphone amp combinations also work but can just make the decision more difficult. There are lots of options at all price points and all of these are available (with patience) on SNA and Fleabay/Scumtree. Your ears tell you what you like.......and are golden!

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Hey Berkeley!

Give the Topping NX4 DSD portable DAC Amp a go

Its quite affordable (around $200 AUD with Amazon Prime) and plenty powerful enough for the 598 SE (I have tried this setup before).

 

The DAC amp is small, light and portable, with 6-8 hours continuous usage battery life.

 

With my Audio Technica IM-70 (dual dynamic IEM), the soundstage is extended, bass is thundering but controlled and the added sparkle in the upper mids helps to resolve details from string instruments

 

Hope it helps a bit

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Thanks for the informative answers folks.

I ended up buying a Schiit Magni 3 at a good price 2nd hand.

It's a good amp, giving a bit more clarity and detail than direct listening from my CD player.

However, the treble is accentuated and the bass is diminished, so it's NQR for my tastes.

 

Any further suggestions for headphone amps would be appreciated. My budget is quite limited.

I only listen to classical music, including a lot of pipe organ music.

 

Thanks,

Dennis

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