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. DRKSHDW

    DRKSHDW New

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    are there any good amps in the $1,500 range with a smaller footprint? Out of the Schiit amps what is best with the HD800S? I see Asgard, Jotunheim and Lyr mentioned. For the first two is it better to use a separate dac or pay for their DAC chip? I am pretty sure I can get a "higher end" chip in the Chinese DACs
     
  2. internethandle

    internethandle Almost "Made"

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    All the Schiit amps in that price tier are big boy 16 x 12-ish chassis - the Ragnarok, for instance, which could be a nice pairing with 800 depending on upstream, as far as I understand it. You could try to find a used Mjolnir 1 or 2 (discontinued). Unsure of synergy there, can’t remember, so either read OP again to see if it’s mentioned or search for the older 800 amp thread Marv started in 2017 or so. Mjolnir is still about 16-ish wide but less deep, I think. There’s one linked in the Used Deals thread at the moment for $500 on Audiogon.

    Asgard/Jot 2/Lyr are all smaller footprint than above. My vote would be a separate multibit or NOS DAC for 800. Delta sigma DAC’s like the ones in the cards or a Topping/similar will run the risk of sizzly highs and etch/digititus, which may lead to listening fatigue with the 800 given its treble forward nature, not to mention it is resolving enough that if you cheap out on the DAC you may come away unsatisfied, not that there aren’t $$ delta sigma implementations.

    Edit: okay I stopped being lazy and looked up the old thread/read this one’s OP. Mjolnir is not on this one, but Marv mentioned Mjolnir 2 on the 2017 thread as long as you use the balanced headphone out. That plus a Bifrost 2 would put you at around 1500 all said, and you definitely could do worse:

    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...s-for-the-sennheiser-hd800-2017-edition.3408/
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2023
  3. TamHo

    TamHo New

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    Hi everyone,
    So my recent HD800S has been my most pleasant audio purchase I have ever made. Right now I am in the US and would love to buy another special thing. I am planning to buy a Bifrost 2/64 but it is out of stock for weeks. So I want to ask if the Quicksilver amp has enough detail for my HD800S? It is not listed in #1 post. I long for listening to a holographic kind of sound but still detailed. And it must be sub $1500 and ready in-stock. Am I looking for too much ? :) I think hearing new things in my old fav songs is what I love about my HD800S with my ss amp. I just want to add a bit of
    new and interesting thing on top of it. I have no permission posting WTB in the sale forum. Thanks for your all replying!
     
  4. caute

    caute Lana Del Gayer than you

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    top ears believe the QS is the best tube amp under $2k, and while I’ve never heard it, researching it for myself, I believe them.

    also this is just a personal pref thing, but I would rethink 2/64 w 800s if I were you.

    Have you heard one before? The upper-mids, treble are very emphatic on that DAC, might not mesh well w 800…
     
  5. TamHo

    TamHo New

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    I hope I am not derailing this thread. I sold the mumby v1 v2 and og Gungnir Multibit long time ago because of their wall-of-sound but I have always thought there was something weighty like real (distortion?) texture in Schiit multibit. Audio products in the US is twice as cheaper than that in my country and many are delicated for US customers. Thanks for your answer I will def read more about the QS amp.
     
  6. Emojiless

    Emojiless Acquaintance

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    Anyone hear the Mjolnir 3 prototype? Wonder if there’s any indication it would be good for the HD800S.
     
  7. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    *Below comments are for modded & EQ'd HD800, and may or may not apply directly to 800S.

    SW51+ drives my modded HD800 decently in my opinion (Mullard Blackburns or Telefunken EF805S tubes), better than ECP DSHA 3F. ZDT Jr is effectively the same as Night Blues Mini by Laconic, which I sold. Its bass is super flabby but IT has the holographic soundstage, not SW51, which has a fairly average stage, but decent imaging.

    Tonality wise, Cavalli Liquid Carbon v1 is a good match for HD800. It's a pleasant listen if a little mellow.

    I haven't tried Piety with my HD800 yet. I'm getting home from my vacation in a couple days. Please remind me if I haven't posted about it within a week.
     
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    Last edited: May 20, 2023
  8. limesoft

    limesoft Friend

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    I started using Astell Kern PA10 (class A) portable amp with Hiby RS6 (warmish R2R). I find the PA10 has solid control and makes the HD800S sound dynamic and big without the typical side effects of brightness and ringing - I can recommend it with a warm source if you want a good neutral technical performance out of the 800S without shredding your ears off. It isn't a warm or colored amp, it's neutral but with the added depth and bloom of class A, so a touch of eq might be needed (like -1.5 db in the 800's treble peak and +4db in 50hz sub bass).. High OI tube amp is still needed IMO to use the 800 without eq, nevertheless the PA10 can play side by side with my Woo WA8 if i want a more technical performance.

    If you want to experiment with a class A bias on a budget I can also recommend the ifi zen can with ifi xpower 5v and 4.4mm cable. It is more colored than the PA10, less precise, but has what seems more bloom and is a little fuzzy like a cloud + with it's bass boost button can make the 800s more fun and exerts good driver control (better than most AIO amps). Power supply upgrade is key however, otherwise it's no good imo.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2023
  9. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Any recommendations for a 'portable' or DAP-like class-A amp? I ran into the HiBy R5 II (Gen 2) for one but not really convinced w/ the old Android software on it for one thing. Dethonray with AK4497 was something I saw recommended on head-fi before but look like that hype train already passed..
     
  10. limesoft

    limesoft Friend

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    If you want just an amp then hands down the PA10 - there's nothing as good and portable for that money solid state.

    If you want a DAP, I haven't heard one with Class A amp built in - the Hibys i like though, i have the RS6 which I rate well. I think their new R6 Pro II looks really neat with class A for a reasonable price. It has Android 12, it's a good thing IMO as you can do a lot. Also has global convolution plugin so you can do all kinds of headphone/room corrections eq with it which no other DAP maker has.. Hiby also seems to be more active with software updates compared to the Fiios and Cayins
     
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  11. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    I've been home a few days and am mostly over jetlag. Calibrated with BF2>SW51 w/ EQ, then w/o EQ.

    Piety drives the HD800 nicely. Less punch and macrodynamics than SW51, but treble is smoother and bass is fuller. My EQ is mostly a subbass ramp up and a 4dB cut in the face-tweeter range (SDR doesn't kill it enough for me). With Piety I don't have EQ in the chain. I don't really feel the need for EQ, except for stuff that's more forward in the presence range (female pop vocals). So while maybe not the best match for HD800, I think Piety does a decent job of driving it and is synergistic with the HD800s characteristics (face-tweetery, lacking bottom end).

    *Edit: My HD800 is heavily modded
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2023
  12. THeProfessor

    THeProfessor New

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  13. louiscipher

    louiscipher New

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    I'm interested on Luxman amps since i can get used for quite a nice price, does anyone have compared P700u vs P750u Mk1?
     
  14. Taguro

    Taguro Almost "Made"

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    I don't have experience with the P700u, but I once owned the P750u Mk1. I used it mostly with a Utopia. One of the best sounding SS amps I've ever owned. It does have a more rounded character, with some added warmth to the sound, but I feel it jives very well with things like Utopia or the HD800. Soundstage was cavernous and I wasn't left wanting with regards to staging.

    I also had the P1u (the model prior to the P700u). That one was even warmer than the P750u Mk1. Not in a bad way, but it was definitely noticeable. Technicalities go to the P750u though (as it should as they're 2 generations apart).

    Build quality was amazing. Built like those 80s and 90s Japanese electronics that had a lot of heft and gorgeous metalwork. The P750u runs in class A so expect it to be hot. Sonically, I still pine for it from time to time, but I have too many amps already and it didn't fit my current work space (too big -- around same size as an Yggdrasil).
     
  15. surd9

    surd9 New

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    How do the Ampsandsound Kenzie and Mogwai rank within this listing? I currently have a Bryston BHA-1 and am exploring as an alternative tube amps. I have been eyeing the DNA Stratus/Starlett as well as the A&S Mogwai/Kenzie. Also, how does the Bottlehead Mainline rank relative to these?
     
  16. roshambo123

    roshambo123 Friend

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    I recall plugging my HD800SDR into one or both of those at TSAV showroom. They're competent but I didn't feel like they were necessarily a great value.
     
  17. surd9

    surd9 New

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    So, if I were to narrow down my choices to the Stratus V4 vs the Starlett, what would be the differences between the two? Pros and cons of each besides the cost? When I communicated with Donald, he described them as "Comparing the two, I’d say the Starlett is a bit more mid hall presentation whereas the Stratus is more front hall with more presence."
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    The staging is a bit more 3D on the Stratus. The Stratus is marginally better in extract microdetail, trailing decays, ambient cues. Starlett is 90% of a Stratus. I would say that the biggest difference is that the the Stratus provides way more tube rolling options because there a million 2A3 types out there. This can either be a blessing or curse.

    Different house sound. Donald's amps tend towards lush, warm, inviting. A&S amps tend towards rhythmic and driving.

    Mainline is too dry sounding for HD800 IMO.

    P.S. Need to make 2023 version of this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2023
  19. Lyander

    Lyander Official SBAF Equitable Empathizer

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    Has the list changed so much in recent years, or is it more a matter of sourcing tubes from Russia etc being more of a pain lately?
     
  20. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    I had Mainline and HD800 for awhile and while the Mainline was designed with the 800 in mind, I'm going to have to side with Marv on this one. Maybe with a super romantic source it could work but it would take a lot of wrangling if it's even possible at all to make it synergistic. Would not recommend.

    DNA amps work great with the 800 though.
     
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