AKG K1000 Headphones & Cayin Integrated Amps

I posted the following on www.head-fi.org (a web site focused on headphone discussions) with virtually no reaction. I am hoping to get at least a few comments on Audiogon before I made the leap.

I have the AKG K1000 headphones. I have been using them with a vintage Marantz 2285B receiver until I had the time and confidence to buy something better. I am actually quite pleased with the sound as I think the natural warmth of the Marantz works well with the K1000 which some might call lean. Nice warm mids, plenty of power and bass, but a bit flabby on the low end and not enough detail and speed for my taste.

Solid state Nelson Pass designed amps seem to be the hot choice for the K1000, but not necessarily for me. For my big rig with speakers, I have gone through many Pass amps so I am familiar with the sound and I am a big fan - Aleph 0, Aleph 2, XA160, and currently X350.5. The First Watt series of amps, also designed by Nelson Pass, are also highly recommeded for the K1000. Did not try the K1000 with the Alephs while I had them, but my guess is that comments elsewhere on their synergy is probably spot on.

I am also a big tube amplifier fan having used several great amps with the big rig too - Joule Electra, Conrad Johnon, Audio Research, Cary, etc. Love the warmth and detail of tubes.

Bottom line, for the money and based on all the rave reviews, I am very interested in the tube based Cayin line of Intergrated Amps for my K1000. As my next step with my headphone rig, I really want to keep it simple and use a tube Integrated Amp - not necessarily solid state. My gut and ears tell me that the K1000 needs tubes but maybe with a few caveats (see below). Cayin seems like an excellent option but I see very little K1000 and Cayin discussion on head-fi other than on the Cayin HA-1A headphone amp, which I feel might be underpowered in the long run for the K1000 (see below).

Baed on many many posts, my understanding is that the K1000 requires plenty of current - ie. wattage is not necessarily the key. Thus the great synergy with the solid state Pass Labs Aleph models and the First Watt (Pass designed) F1, F2, F3, etc. From a different perspective, there seems to be a concern over some excellent sounding tube amps with both low wattage and high wattage specs but maybe not enough current for the K1000.

So....since I want to go with tubes on this adventure, I am wondering if some of the higher watt Cayin tube integrated amps might do the trick. Again, I don't know much about their current and dampening capabilities. Actually, I am looking for much more than adequate sound. I am looking for magic. Need your help!!!!

I am guessing that this post might generate plenty of comments (the more the merrier regardless - send them all), I am desperately looking for real world experience.

I am especially interested in the Cayin KT88 and 6550 tube designs whcih might have a chance to meet these requirements for watts and current. Specifically the Cayin SA-88T/6550, SA-88T/KT-88, and even the SA-70T and SA-50T/EL-34.

Just for grins, I am also currious if anyone has real K1000 experience with the lower powered 300 tube based SA-300P and their new behemoth solid state CAYIN H-80A integrated amps. Sorry - guess I am all over the map on this one, but I am really interested in the Cayin line with a preference for tubes.

Remember that the K1000 headphones are actually connected to the speaker terminals on the amp - not the headphone jack. They are virtually small speakers - another reason for the high power and current.

Lastly, the reason for the need for power and current is that I listen to music on the loud side. Much louder than most normal folks. I listen to all kinds of music - but I love my rock n roll on the loud side with powerful tight bass. Hope this helps.

Thanks in advance for your patience and support. There are plenty of great K1000 combos out there. Just hoping that some have tried the Cayin.
The Woo Audio WA5 is THE favorite amp for the K1000s over at www.head-fi.org You'll get some answers here, but you'll get a lot more over there at head-fi They're "less adult" than here, but there are a lot of K1000 users there.

The Cayin would probably be a better all around amp unless almost all of your listening is through the cans. If the later, then I'd go with the Woo. Jack Wu is a great guy producing very high value products.

I'm using the Woo WA6 with AKG 701s and that's a magical combination.

My Cayin 50T with EL34 tubes, doesn`t have any headphone input!!!
02-16-08: Super_agent_86 said:
"My Cayin 50T with EL34 tubes, doesn`t have any headphone input!!!"
We're talking output here. Doesn't your Cayin have two speaker posts? That's what he needs to drive his K1000s.

I tried the K1000's with the Cayin A-88T but liked my Cary 300SEI a bit better. Ultimately I was not at all a fan of the K1000 (too thin and bright w/ no bass extension) and uncomfortable) and preferred my Sennheiser 650s from the Cary but by far, far and far away I preferred my Stax Omega system.

If I wanted to continue looking for an amp to use with the k1000s I would have bought a Woo Audio next.
Thanks all for your comments so far!
Super Agent - I did mention that you drive the K1000
headphones from the speaker terminals. The K1000 will not work well if at all through the headphone jacks.
Kublakhan - I was aware of the Woo Audio 5 as being one of the ultimate tube integrated amps for the K1000, but unfortunately it is much more expensive than the Cayins when decked out with proper WE300 tubes and it is a two chasis design (seperate power supply) which is not a big plus for me. Again, I want to keep it simple with as few boxes as possible. Just a CD player, integrated amp and the K1000s. It would be nice to have a remote too. I might be wrong but the Woo Audio 5 does not have a remote and the Cayins all do have remotes! Keep the comments coming! Thanks!
I'm using a WA5 (with Jack's upgrade package) with K1000s (stefan art hardwire cable upgrade). The key to the setup is to replace the stock 300Bs with Western Electric 300Bs. Without the WE300Bs, the system lacks detail, only reaches 50% of it's potential. The complete package, however, is oustanding. The innate thinness of the k1000s is fleshed out completely by the 300Bs. The sound is increadibly sweet, full and unexpectedly resolved. Those who think 300Bs lack detail should experience pairing with the highly detailed K1000s. There is absolute magic in the combination. The Steffan hardwire cable upgrade is necessary to obtain the last 20% of detail from the system. Don't stop until all pieces are in place. You will not be disappointed.