Best Amps for HD800 - 2021 Edition

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by ChaChaRealSmooth, Dec 18, 2020.

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  1. Elmer Danilovich

    Elmer Danilovich MOT:Earmen, HeadAmp, Bricasti; AKA:MShenay

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    You know a friend of mine has an XA 30.5 he's not using... second hand price is around $3,000ish which as a side mention for a double duty HD800 + Speakers product I feel inclined to give it a listen,

    I'm also happy to see we've moved up and past the Valhalla 2, as much as I enjoyed it back a few years ago I wasn't a fan of it with HD 800 then... I liked it more with ZMF Dynamics, non the less it's great to see some better options now in focus around that same price point

    Tho I'd love to see a Valhalla 2+ or 3 from @schiit to build on what made the 2 so great within it's respective price point
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
  2. jjshin23

    jjshin23 New

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    Schiit Asgard 3 was a pleasant surprise and better than the BH Crack as mentioned. Great starter amp for this headphone. Was listing to the DNA Stratus this morning and forgot how good this pairing was. With so many excellent cans out there I forgot how good this pairing this was. Want to try the Studio B and wonder how First Watt J2 would sound?
     
  3. bboris77

    bboris77 Friend

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    I have to echo all the positive sentiments about the Asgard 3 and how it synergizes with high impedance headphones in general, and the HD800S in particular. For most people, it could be an endgame headphone amp despite its ridiculously low price. I like mine so much that I ordered another one for my PS5 setup.
     
  4. aamefford

    aamefford Nothing like chamberpot coffee

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    I’m thinking this is the right spot for this question, as it seems to address the acceptable lower price options in a bit more depth. Apologies in advance for my tourist’s command of the audiophile language... if it ought to go elsewhere, please move it and spank me as necessary (please?).

    I’m scaling (way) down from my Liquid Crimson and OG Gungnir Multibit. I currently have an OG modi MB and an old ALO Pan Am I got in a trade. The Pan Am is nice enough, but a bit flat and uninspiring with the HD800S. The OG MB will remain as y DAC for a while due to budget. Within my chosen budget:
    Asgard 3
    Lyr 3
    Jot 2
    SW51+
    Others?
    Desires:
    Strong, controlled bass, NOT flabby, a bit laid back in the upper end, a slightly warmish tilt in general. Basically, for the few who’ve heard the Liquid Crimson, I’d like to approximate it, but “cheaply” and still good. I’d actually prefer to bypass tubes for convenience, but not a necessity. Tubes have always seemed to make the HD800S a bit more civil and help overcome the whole OG HD800-ness of them.
     
  5. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF's Mr. Bean

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    Probably the Jot 2 from the XLR out
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    ^ what he said.

    Use appropriate source for laid-back upper end. Any R2R should do.
     
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    The WA33 indeed does blow away any Woo amp I've heard including tricked out WA5 and WA234 (which is dumb because it has two volume knobs).

    It's presentation is somewhere between DNA and EC. Assuming respective EC and DNA amps are roughly at their PPP (proper price points), more or less depending upon preferences, then the WA33's PPP should be somewhere between $2400 to $2900.

    There are a lot of tubes to roll though. x4 2A3 and x4 6C45. You would be better off buying @Xecuter's Studio T and a Rockna Wavedream DAC (for max synergy), and have spare change for hookers.
     
  8. Moiph

    Moiph New

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    I noticed the Luxman P1u didn't make this list, I imagine because it was OOP back in 2017. But even in that thread it is not really talked about, is there a reason for that??

    I have an opportunity to pick up a P1 which seems pretty rare in North America, and plan on getting a Bifrost 2, my HD800 are currently unmodded but will likely be getting SDR and SBAF mods in the near future, is this something worth considering around the $600 mark?
     
  9. Coldplayer

    Coldplayer New

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    So after looking at this thread looking like the Asgard 3 is a go, wondering would you guys pair with a modi 3 or modius?
    Also i have an option for a used jot 2 with the AKM dac inside, how would this compare to the stack?

    Cheers
     
  10. Royaume

    Royaume Acquaintance

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    The community here will all tell you that HD800 likes tubes and transformers. Solid state simply cannot meet the HD800 resolution. At that price, just get a SW51+. Far better than anything SS.

    I assume you have an HD800? Honestly, that is a waste of the HD800s strengths. You would be better off with a HD650 or something with a more pleasant FR for a fraction of the price. If you are dead set on the HD800, conventional wisdom is to buy a Vali and save up for a big boy tube amp.
     
  11. limesoft

    limesoft Friend

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    I'd like to throw in the Woo WA8 in the pot too - I use it with my HD800s in combination with an Apogee Element 24 dac (very clean dac in a positive sense, with inner warmth - apogee accurate but smooth sound).
    I don't really need EQ in this setup a lot. This Woo is not a powerhouse but it's a class A tube amp, even when pushed to it's limits it doesn't falter, it's muscular and it rounds off the edges on the Senns without becoming warmpoo and sweetens the deal with extra sub bass. I've tested the HD800s with a number of different SS amps, and the Woo takes the lead as it makes the Senns brightness much more palpable.

    The WA8 has a sabre dac too which is not the best (although fun), but you can ignore it and plug in your own as the amp stage is deserving of a much better source.

    It's an AIO but still a worthy mention is the Element's headphone out which transfers some of the Apogee smoothness over to the Senns, and has no issues driving them surprisingly well with excellent tight bass. I know Apogee had ties with Sennheiser when developing their current drive tech so doesn't surprise me it goes with them quite nicely for an SS amp.
     
  12. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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    The OP of this very thread recommends the Jot 2, Asgard 3, and BHA-1 for the 800, so I'm unsure why you'd assert the SBAF consensus would be that solid state and the 800 are a no go. Would definitely agree with you that the conventional wisdom is that you're better off with tubes with the 800 outside of a narrow band of SS options, though.
     
  13. Coldplayer

    Coldplayer New

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    Ended up getting an asgard 3 and very happy with it, just wondering do you guys use low or high gain for the 800?

    Cheers
     
  14. Rob the Comic

    Rob the Comic banned from ASR

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    I was heartened to see the Bryston and Phonitor get a mention. I tossed up between them and settled on the Phonitor XE and it is an excellent pairing with all my cans. I was going to single out the 800’s but it makes the 600 and 650’s sing as well my Utopias and LCD3’s. I have it paired with the Yggdrasil and can’t speak for SE as I only use everything balanced.

    Rob
     
  15. Emojiless

    Emojiless Acquaintance

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    This is a very cool guide. Would recommendations apply for HD800S same as HD800? Wonder if its bass characteristics make some of these amps no longer work as well. Or something else to consider?
     
  16. limesoft

    limesoft Friend

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    Does the Phonitor smooth out the HD800s up top a bit and give them bit of oomph down below? Or is it just neutral clean SS studio sound (which IMO can make the 800s sound a bit brutal)
     
  17. Rob the Comic

    Rob the Comic banned from ASR

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    I can't speak to the HD800S but I have the 800 with the SDM and it sound great. I do not have a great deal of experience with tube amps; have listened to a few in deciding but I really like the sound of the XE - it gives you everything without ever sounding sterile if that makes sense.

    Rob
     
  18. microCuts

    microCuts Acquaintance

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    I have a Laconic Night Blues Mini but i prefer the Susy Dynalo more. Tighter bass + blacker background. I used to audition Headamp GL2 and i quite like it too. It is neutral warm despite being a SS amp, much more listenable to its bigger brothers.
     
  19. Emojiless

    Emojiless Acquaintance

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    To answer my own question, since I've been reading around, it seems there shouldn't be much difference as SDR mod makes HD800 sound close to HD800S, and this guide assumes SDR mod applied:


    I'd like to ask something else though. I value soundstage most of all and I've been enjoying HD800S with Modius+MCTH /w LPSU which I think works pretty good (surprisingly not bothered by sharpness). The MCTH is not mine though (I have good friends) so I only have it until I find a proper replacement/upgrade. I've ordered SW51+ but am worried I will lose out soundstage expansiveness. I'm looking at the amps under 500 section and it seems neither would be much of an upgrade in terms of soundstage from MCTH, right? Is it correct to assume I should look into Valhalla 2 only? As, from impressions it seems to be the only mid fi amp recommended with HD800 and praised for its soundstage width, height and depth.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021
  20. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF's Mr. Bean

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    What you're doing is freaking out too much and having buyer's remorse. Sit back, wait for your SW51 to actually arrive first, then listen to it to see if you like it.
     
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