Best Amps For the Sennheiser HD800 - 2017 Edition

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. Dino

    Dino Friend

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    @ColtMrFire has always seemed to know the sound that he likes. (That is a good thing, imo.) That sound is just much brighter than the norm, unless that has changed.
     
  2. Priidik

    Priidik MOT: Estelon

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    I hear it that way too.
    But, dude, srsly get some tubes.

    You need northern meat-eating barbarian skull. Then Jot and HD800 are fine.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  3. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I think I was enjoying my new HD800 so much I didn't notice/mind the glare of the Jot, the massive upgrade in technicalities of the 800 was too attractive. If I listened to mostly classical I wouldn't really care because 99% of the time it's fine. But pop/rock (maybe 30% of my listening) is where it starts being noticeable. Bottlehead Crack is supposed to be a good tube option, but not sure how the resolution is vs. Jot, and I'd rather not downgrade in that area for obvious reasons. Valhalla 2 lacked slam/dynamics which is why I sold it back when I had the T90, not sure how it would fare with the 800 in that area.
     
  4. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @ColtMrFire Here's how I hear those amps in various categories (assuming fully loaded Crack, all possible mods with great components):

    Resolution - Valhalla 2 >~=< Jotunhem > Crack (This is tough, because the Valhalla 2 has that airy, detailed tube magic, but the Jotunheim does some stuff better)

    Speed - Jot > Val 2 >> Crack (think fast, sharp transients)

    Liquidity/Smoothness - Crack >> Jot > Val 2 (Keep in mind too much can be a bad thing in this case...Valhalla 2 is kind of dry sounding)

    Macro Dynamics, Slam - Jot~Crack >> Val 2

    Micro Dynamics - Val 2 > Jot > Crack

    Staging - Val 2 >> Crack > Jot (Sorry, Jot is just too flat for me, depth-wise)

    Tone and other notes - Crack is bassy, warm, in-your-face, Val 2 is neutral with a hint of warmth, Jot is neutral but with some brightness and glare (minor, no other nasties), also in-your-face, but slightly less than Crack

    Overall, the Valhalla 2 was a mixed bag for me. I really, really loved it for some reasons (speed, clarity, staging), but had to get rid of it due to the lack of dynamics and balls as well as a somewhat rough timbre. I prefered the Crack to it, despite the loss of resolution and staging, because it's just so fun sounding and tonally more my thing. Be warned the high output impedance makes the Sennheisers extra bassy, and thus pretty bloomy. And that's not to say it killed all resolution...it's just a step below the other two, but still pretty decent in its own way with mods. The Jot is pretty dynamic but suffers with staging, primarily depth, and some glare and brightness.

    For my tastes, if I had to pick, I'd go fully loaded Crack. For you...hmm, I'd say you may do well to mod the HD800, if you haven't already, and stick with the Jot.

    You might do well with the Mjolnir 2 and tubes of your choice. It kind of reminded me of suped-up Valhalla 2 with insanely large testicles. Not sure I've heard a more slamming amp with headphones, especially balanced. It also has some of the lively and more solid-state characteristics of the Jot in its DNA, namely it's pretty fast and detailed in my experience. Staging is somewhere between what the Jot and Val 2 do, with lots of width but depth somewhere in the middle of the two. Tone sits somewhere between a Val 2 with lots of dynamic swings/bit more bass and Jot with les of that glaring nature.

    Otherwise I think you would be looking at insanely priced solid-state or tube amps if you wanted to really upgrade.
     
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  5. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Nah, it still doesn't fix the weird tuning. You need to mod it and EQ the living crap out of it, to sound even faintly like an orchestra rather than a video game. Weirdly, the HD650 does a lot better once you get past the sleepy, stodgy sound it has on underpowered amps, it's a lot more linear.

    It's a lot easier to live with the HD800 with other genres, but orchestral stuff has too many complex timbres and harmonics that can sound "off" when a headphone is wonkily tuned, at least if you've ever sat and listened to a real orchestra.

    I'm trying to learn to unhear it, while EQing it away, but I have to say that I generally don't use the 800s for classical at all, still.
     
  6. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    @Hands, very generous of you to break that down for me.

    Mjolnir 2 might be up my alley if it has the slam of Jot, and staginess of Val2. I wonder where it sits in terms of clarity vs Jot though, as that's something I almost cannot live without being so used to it now.
     
  7. kevnin

    kevnin #facetweeting - Friend

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    Unfortunately I think you'd find the mjolnir2 would be lower in clarity than the Jot.

    Here's my roundabout way of making that assessment: I used to own mjolnir2 and Kenzie and felt they were equal in clarity. Now I don't have the mjo2 but have a 445 and Jot and still have the Kenzie. After getting used to the 445 I find the Kenzie is noticeably lacking in clarity, but the Jot actually keeps up with it (impressive!).
     
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  8. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    I wonder if putting a Vali2 in front of the Jot as a tube buffer might be the answer (without sacrificing clarity, slam, etc)...
     
  9. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    That would be coloring the sound. Not necessarily bad, just different. But I would expect some loss in clarity...
     
  10. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    I dunno, with whatever tubes I tried on the Mjolnir 2, I thought it was competent in terms of detail and clarity. I think my problem with the Jot is that some of its clarity and detail seems superficial to me compared to a good tube amp, and the Mjolnir 2 leans more towards that good tube amp category than not.

    However, if I'm wrong, you're basically looking at spending mega-bucks on an uber tube amp before you get it all.
     
  11. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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    Thanks for saying what I was afraid to. I had "ZDS" floating in the back of my head, but didn't want to mention. Its quite a financial pill to swallow...
     
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  12. Kattefjaes

    Kattefjaes Mostly Harmless

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    Especially for people who buy and sell amps at a rate of knots, without really learning how they sound...
     
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  13. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Well, I could keep punishing my ears with glare in 30% of my music until I learn how it sounds.

    But I decided to keep it for now and do Sorrodje's mod to see if that helps.
     
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  14. Vorlon

    Vorlon self-important, pompous ass

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    Just made this account to thank you guys for the good work you´re doing. Been lurking here for a while - such a treasure trove of good advice. Like many others in this hobby, I´ve gone through the usual phases: finding Head-Fi.org, going through tons of gear/FOTM and eventually returning to the HD 650...

    Long story short: received my first tube amp (Valhalla 2) last week. Schiit gear is still quite rare here in the EU, but there´s a good distributor in the Netherlands these days. Bought it specifically for the HD800S and HD650. What can I say, I´m not disappointed... OTL amps being good for 300 ohm Sennheisers is no lie. Listening with the HD800S right now and I would say it is on the same level as the official HDVD800 I used to have. Different strengths obviously, but overall it does not sound inferior. Very good synergy and stunning value for money. Hopefully I´ll get the chance to hear a high end tube amp someday now that I believe in them.
     
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  15. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Might have a chance to trade Jotun for a Headroom Desktop amp. Scouring the net for opinions on this combo, but not getting a whole lot.
     
  16. ButtUglyJeff

    ButtUglyJeff Stunningly beautiful IRL

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  17. Rozenberg

    Rozenberg Acquaintance

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    Headroom amps are kinda of an odd choice these days. Only thing I know about them is that they pack a lot of features but resale value seems to suffer.
    There's a Headroom Max Balanced w/ DAC with RK50 for sale for 1699€ (MSRP was like $6000) and no one has bitten yet. Only impressions I've found were from years ago and people said it was the best and all.
     
  18. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Which specific Headroom amp? I am not familiar with their newer stuff. The older stuff wasn't particularly impressive.
     
  19. ColtMrFire

    ColtMrFire Writes better fan fics than you

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    Just the basic amp/dac model. Not the balanced one, not the portable one.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    That one is OK. Just avoid HD800. And maybe even HD600. TBH, you would probably be going backwards.

    I found the portable and the mini amp to have more natural treble but less grunt. The ultra mega balanced amp sounded like sandpaper being grated against my eardrums.

    You are leaving Jotunheim on at all times right? And balanced too?
     
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    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017

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