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Old 02-07-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
McCrutchy McCrutchy is online now
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So I just got a modest surprise in the form of a check, and with the help of some Amazon.com trade-in credit. I have decided (after much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth) to replace my three-months broken Sennheiser HD 280 Pros (I have been listening out of one earcup all that time) with a brand new set of Sennheiser HD 650s. The biggest hurdles here were that the 650s are open, which is a pain if I'm ever listening with people (but that doesn't occur much, if ever, anymore), and that I "need" a headphone amp, which I'm frankly not prepared to get right now.

I will be listening to these mainly out of a 2009 Dell Studio XPS 345T on an accompanying 2.1 speaker system I bundled with it (no idea on the brand of that, and it is now inaccessible to me) which is how I listen to 90% of my music (in various file formats on iTunes). The other 10% (and hopefully more in future) will be CD, DVD-Audio and SACD out of my Pioneer A/V receiver from my Oppo.

So I'm hoping I didn't make a huge mistake here, because I'm not fancying the prospect of spending more money than I have already.

I can gather that I may get a somewhat superior experience from using an amp, but can anyone in the know tell me if I have made a grievous error here?
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:53 PM   #2
pentatonic pentatonic is offline
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Well they are 300 ohms so an amp (or good audio card with amp) might be necessary for optimal sound. But they are efficient at 103 dB. Rule of thumb is the higher the impedance the harder it is to drive. Are there restocking fees at Amazon if it doesn't work out as I believe you will need and want an amp (doesn't need to be a $500 unit) For the longest time I was listening to my now sold AKG K340 electrostats and volume was there but it's not until I started using my vintage receiver to power them that I realized how awesome they could sound with an amp.
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Old 02-08-2013, 12:21 AM   #3
McCrutchy McCrutchy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentatonic View Post
Well they are 300 ohms so an amp (or good audio card with amp) might be necessary for optimal sound. But they are efficient at 103 dB. Rule of thumb is the higher the impedance the harder it is to drive. Are there restocking fees at Amazon if it doesn't work out as I believe you will need and want an amp (doesn't need to be a $500 unit) For the longest time I was listening to my now sold AKG K340 electrostats and volume was there but it's not until I started using my vintage receiver to power them that I realized how awesome they could sound with an amp.
Just to clarify, would I need an amp with the A/V receiver as well?

Also, can you recommend any low-priced ones (<$200 perhaps)?
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Last edited by McCrutchy; 02-08-2013 at 12:24 AM.
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:57 AM   #4
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McCrutchy,

Congratulations!

I recently just got a new pair of headphones as well.

I got the HD800s. I actually have a thread going about them if you would like to check it out, here.

The reason I mention that is I just bought a fantastic headphone amp from this company, and have a bunch of pictures and such.

Schiit Audio

Made in the USA, high quality components, very impressive. The one that I purchased is probably more than you are looking to spend. (I bought the Valhalla, and their DAC, the BiFrost), but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about their (2) other models:

The Magni ($99 US)

and The Asgard ($249 US)

If you are in the market for a decent USB DAC as well, you should definitely consider the Modi (also $99 US).

I, by the way, am in no way affiliated with this company. I just am so impressed with such a unique, and great US company that makes some excellent sounding Headphone Amps! Top sounding stuff.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about other amps or the likes, I am fairly well versed in many models, did a lot of homework prior to my Schiit Audio purchase. I'd be happy to help however I can.

Cheers!
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Old 02-08-2013, 01:59 AM   #5
Adrock Adrock is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrutchy View Post
Just to clarify, would I need an amp with the A/V receiver as well?

Also, can you recommend any low-priced ones (<$200 perhaps)?
Depends on the receiver. Also, somewhat depends on the signal path of the Headphone output of the receiver, some cheaper receivers will process the sound, often with a less than desirable effect.

From personal experience, I think you would hear a very large difference in getting a dedicated headphone amplifier that is meant to drive the 650s. Your results for even spending $200 or less would certainly be measurable in comparison.
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Old 02-08-2013, 04:26 AM   #6
McCrutchy McCrutchy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrock View Post
McCrutchy,

Congratulations!

I recently just got a new pair of headphones as well.
[Show spoiler]
I got the HD800s. I actually have a thread going about them if you would like to check it out, here.

The reason I mention that is I just bought a fantastic headphone amp from this company, and have a bunch of pictures and such.

Schiit Audio

Made in the USA, high quality components, very impressive. The one that I purchased is probably more than you are looking to spend. (I bought the Valhalla, and their DAC, the BiFrost), but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about their (2) other models:

The Magni ($99 US)

and The Asgard ($249 US)

If you are in the market for a decent USB DAC as well, you should definitely consider the Modi (also $99 US).

I, by the way, am in no way affiliated with this company. I just am so impressed with such a unique, and great US company that makes some excellent sounding Headphone Amps! Top sounding stuff.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about other amps or the likes, I am fairly well versed in many models, did a lot of homework prior to my Schiit Audio purchase. I'd be happy to help however I can.

Cheers
!
Hi Adrock,

Congrats on the HD 800s, way too rich for my blood, but I can dream.

Given how I will be using my 650s, do you think I should focus on getting only the amp, or would you advise going with an amp and a DAC? For example, I could probably only get either the Magni and the Modi OR the Asgard alone.
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Last edited by McCrutchy; 02-08-2013 at 04:28 AM.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:41 PM   #7
Adrock Adrock is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrutchy View Post

So I'm hoping I didn't make a huge mistake here, because I'm not fancying the prospect of spending more money than I have already.

I can gather that I may get a somewhat superior experience from using an amp, but can anyone in the know tell me if I have made a grievous error here?

McCrutchy,


I also wanted to comment on your statements from your original post.

I am not sure how big you are into audio and the likes, but I did want to add that I do not believe you made a mistake at all in buying the HD650s. Those are excellent headphones, and very highly regarded.

You may find for your taste, and interest that they sound good enough for you without necessarily purchasing a separate amp to drive them. At the end of the day, all that matters is that you like how they sound.

You are definitely correct though, a dedicated amp/DAC would certainly provide a superior listening experience.



Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrutchy View Post
Hi Adrock,

Congrats on the HD 800s, way too rich for my blood, but I can dream.

Given how I will be using my 650s, do you think I should focus on getting only the amp, or would you advise going with an amp and a DAC? For example, I could probably only get either the Magni and the Modi OR the Asgard alone.
Hello again McCrutchy,

I think based on your situation, I would recommend the M&M (Magni/Modi) Combo. Considering that a majority of your listening will be computer based, I think you would benefit from a good USB DAC. The nice thing is too, is that the Modi is bus powered, so your USB port powers it, which is nice too, because it does make it somewhat portable if you ever want to use it with a laptop. I think you would probably greatly benefit having a good converter as opposed to just a good headphone amp because most converters that come stock with computer sound cards are garbage, and often are fairly noisy.

If you want to read further regarding people's thoughts and feelings on the M&M Combo, check out this link on HeadFi. (Be aware, that thread is like 65 pages long though. ) Lots of good reviews though on that site for really any of the Schiit Audio products.

In addition, I cross referenced a quick search with the link I posted above, and there are even a whole mess of users whom are using the HD650s specifically with the M&M Combo and really praise them highly for use with those specific headphones.



All from different users:

"The HD650s sound great with the M&M."

"+1. The 650s with the M&M stack are wonderful."

"Agreed, with the HD-650's."




These are just a few of the ones that I found in regards to the M&M being used specifically with your headphones.

You may notice as well that the owner of Schiit Audio (Jason Stoddard) also posts in the threads. He is very pro-active and offers some of the best customer service to his customers that I have ever witnessed. Quite impressive.

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.
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Last edited by Adrock; 02-08-2013 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:02 AM   #8
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Also one other note, McCrutchy...

On Page 1 of my HD800 thread, there is a fellow Blu-Ray.com member whom owns the M&M Combo, ZIPPO. He may be willing to comment if you have any specific questions. Here was his post in the HD800 thread.
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:54 PM   #9
ZIPPO ZIPPO is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrutchy View Post
So I just got a modest surprise in the form of a check, and with the help of some Amazon.com trade-in credit. I have decided (after much hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth) to replace my three-months broken Sennheiser HD 280 Pros (I have been listening out of one earcup all that time) with a brand new set of Sennheiser HD 650s. The biggest hurdles here were that the 650s are open, which is a pain if I'm ever listening with people (but that doesn't occur much, if ever, anymore), and that I "need" a headphone amp, which I'm frankly not prepared to get right now.

I will be listening to these mainly out of a 2009 Dell Studio XPS 345T on an accompanying 2.1 speaker system I bundled with it (no idea on the brand of that, and it is now inaccessible to me) which is how I listen to 90% of my music (in various file formats on iTunes). The other 10% (and hopefully more in future) will be CD, DVD-Audio and SACD out of my Pioneer A/V receiver from my Oppo.

So I'm hoping I didn't make a huge mistake here, because I'm not fancying the prospect of spending more money than I have already.

I can gather that I may get a somewhat superior experience from using an amp, but can anyone in the know tell me if I have made a grievous error here?
Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrutchy View Post
Just to clarify, would I need an amp with the A/V receiver as well?

Also, can you recommend any low-priced ones (<$200 perhaps)?
Quote:
Originally Posted by McCrutchy View Post
Hi Adrock,

Congrats on the HD 800s, way too rich for my blood, but I can dream.

Given how I will be using my 650s, do you think I should focus on getting only the amp, or would you advise going with an amp and a DAC? For example, I could probably only get either the Magni and the Modi OR the Asgard alone.
Congrats on the new headphones! To get the best out of your new purchase, you should get a headphone amp & DAC. Of your choices, I'd get the Magni/Modi combo. I have the Magni/Modi combo myself, which I use with my iMac. I have used it to drive the following headphones, with good results.
Grado SR80
Grado SR80i
Grado RS1
AKG K701
Ultrasone HFI-780
Audio-Technica ATH-A700

None of my cans have a 300 Ω impedance, but based on the Magni specs, it should have no problem with your HD650s.
Specifications*

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-200KHz, -3dB
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1.2W
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1.0W
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 260mW
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 130mW
THD: Less than 0.005%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: Less than 0.007%, CCIF
SNR: Greater than 100db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: -70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: Less than 0.1 ohms
Gain: 5 (14db)
Topology: Fully discrete FET/bipolar, Class AB, DC coupled throughout
Protection: standard failsafe DC power input and muting relay
Power Supply: “wall wart” style 16VAC transformer, regulated +/- 15V rails
Power Consumption: 4W
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”
Weight: 1 lb

*All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1 or SR1+ Audio Analyzer


Your Pioneer AVR probably can drive your HD650s, but a headphone amp will do a better job. While I use the Schiit M&M combo with my computer, I use a Bellari HA540 tube headphone amp( http://www.rolls.com/product.php?pid=HA540 ) with my SONY AVR. Like the Schiit product, the Bellari product is made in the USA . It does a much better job driving headphones, than my SONY AVR. To keep cost down, you can use the same Schiit M&M combo with both of your systems( computer & AVR ). Just order an extra wall-wart power supply, that way you can switch the M&M combo around, with little hassle. If you order, don't forget to add a PYST unbalanced RCA cable set.

MAGNI WALL-WART http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=15
PYST http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=12
MODI http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=14
MAGNI http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=13

Happy listening!
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Last edited by ZIPPO; 02-09-2013 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:08 PM   #10
pentatonic pentatonic is offline
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Damn I like all the great advise one can get here. And I agree, better to spend a bit more and have a great experience. Until you can afford it though, nothing is stopping you from enjoying them now, but trust me once you get at least an amp you will wonder why you didn't before. Phones are exactly like speakers, all will benefit from good clean power, but some just need it to shine.

Oh and congrats on your purchase, great cans
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Old 02-10-2013, 05:22 PM   #11
Adrock Adrock is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZIPPO View Post
[Show spoiler]Congrats on the new headphones! To get the best out of your new purchase, you should get a headphone amp & DAC. Of your choices, I'd get the Magni/Modi combo. I have the Magni/Modi combo myself, which I use with my iMac. I have used it to drive the following headphones, with good results.
Grado SR80
Grado SR80i
Grado RS1
AKG K701
Ultrasone HFI-780
Audio-Technica ATH-A700

None of my cans have a 300 Ω impedance, but based on the Magni specs, it should have no problem with your HD650s.
Specifications*

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-200KHz, -3dB
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1.2W
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 1.0W
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 260mW
Maximum Power, 600 ohms: 130mW
THD: Less than 0.005%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: Less than 0.007%, CCIF
SNR: Greater than 100db, unweighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: -70dB, 20 Hz-20KHz
Output Impedance: Less than 0.1 ohms
Gain: 5 (14db)
Topology: Fully discrete FET/bipolar, Class AB, DC coupled throughout
Protection: standard failsafe DC power input and muting relay
Power Supply: “wall wart” style 16VAC transformer, regulated +/- 15V rails
Power Consumption: 4W
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.25”
Weight: 1 lb

*All measurements made on a Stanford Research SR1 or SR1+ Audio Analyzer


Your Pioneer AVR probably can drive your HD650s, but a headphone amp will do a better job. While I use the Schiit M&M combo with my computer, I use a Bellari HA540 tube headphone amp( http://www.rolls.com/product.php?pid=HA540 ) with my SONY AVR. Like the Schiit product, the Bellari product is made in the USA . It does a much better job driving headphones, than my SONY AVR. To keep cost down, you can use the same Schiit M&M combo with both of your systems( computer & AVR ). Just order an extra wall-wart power supply, that way you can switch the M&M combo around, with little hassle. If you order, don't forget to add a PYST unbalanced RCA cable set.

MAGNI WALL-WART http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=15
PYST http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=12
MODI http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=14
MAGNI http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?mai...products_id=13

Happy listening!
Thanks a lot for chiming in with your input, ZIPPO.
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:42 PM   #12
McCrutchy McCrutchy is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pentatonic View Post
Damn I like all the great advise one can get here. And I agree, better to spend a bit more and have a great experience. Until you can afford it though, nothing is stopping you from enjoying them now, but trust me once you get at least an amp you will wonder why you didn't before. Phones are exactly like speakers, all will benefit from good clean power, but some just need it to shine.

Oh and congrats on your purchase, great cans
Yes, I just plugged them into my desktop through the 2.1 system, and this is really a revelation--and I am only listening to iTunes purchased files.

I will get an amp and DAC eventually, but I'm ecstatic right now. I'm hearing entire instruments I could not before.

And a huge thanks to everyone else in the thread for your valuable advice. When I can save enough, I will definitely be looking at the amp and DAC from Schitt audio. Maybe I will save and do Valhalla / BiFrost as well.
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Last edited by McCrutchy; 02-11-2013 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:16 PM   #13
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I have a small collection of mid-fi headphones: HD650, HD598, HD580, HE-400, DT880 (600Ohm), Q701, D2000.

On my iMac I use optical to an audioengine D1 DAC ($169) to a Matrix M-stage amplifier ($250); I also have an Oppo DVD Player connected to the m-stage as a second source.
My living room rig is a sony S590 blu-ray player -> optical -> schiit bifrost ($350) + asgard ($250).

I like both amps a lot, both are perferable to listening to music direct for my Yamaha or Denon receivers. Although compared to the asgard the m-stage is a little more flexible since it has two inputs, switchable gain and preamp outputs. Asgard 2 now has switchable gain and preamp outputs, but still only has one input (I have the previous model asgard).

Also try the HE-400 planar headphones if you upgrade headphones again... if I had to choose only one at the <$500 price point that's my favorite.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:48 PM   #14
Adrock Adrock is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HammyTown View Post
I have a small collection of mid-fi headphones: HD650, HD598, HD580, HE-400, DT880 (600Ohm), Q701, D2000.

On my iMac I use optical to an audioengine D1 DAC ($169) to a Matrix M-stage amplifier ($250); I also have an Oppo DVD Player connected to the m-stage as a second source.
My living room rig is a sony S590 blu-ray player -> optical -> schiit bifrost ($350) + asgard ($250).

I like both amps a lot, both are perferable to listening to music direct for my Yamaha or Denon receivers. Although compared to the asgard the m-stage is a little more flexible since it has two inputs, switchable gain and preamp outputs. Asgard 2 now has switchable gain and preamp outputs, but still only has one input (I have the previous model asgard).

Also try the HE-400 planar headphones if you upgrade headphones again... if I had to choose only one at the <$500 price point that's my favorite.
It is cool that there are so many fellow Schiit owners on the forums.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:00 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrock View Post
It is cool that there are so many fellow Schiit owners on the forums.
Told you Adam, we know our Schiit here
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:01 PM   #16
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Told you Adam, we know our Schiit here
Nice.
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Old 02-17-2013, 06:41 PM   #17
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Switched out my HD-598 to HD-650 and got a Schiit Audio Vahalla amp. Very nice combo. Nice warm sound and detailed.
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Old 03-06-2013, 02:05 AM   #18
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Great headphones! I love those and HD600 (HD650 more). I vaguely seem to recall that the treble was a bit weak when I used the HD600 straight into my soundcard (x-meridian) and bass weak on AKG701 run that way, I forget.

I've been running my headphones off of the Benchmark DAC 1 PRE for a while now. WOW. Very $$ though and I'm sure you can spend less and get close (but that head phone amp does sound amazing and it drives every type perfectly). I was comparing a few head phone AMP/DACs and was feeling let down that most of the pricier ones were not sounding any better or even different from a good modestly priced one then I hit the Benchmark, whoa.

Anyway, that is too pricey but look for ones with near 0 resistance on the head phone amps since they won't mess up frequency response (some headphones are not very linear impedance vs frequency). Hopefully a decent one in your price range can be found that has that, not sure. And do some research since there are some that cost a lot and do worse than then lower priced head phone DAC/amps.
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