I have a B&W / Lexicon centered high-end system. Just discovered the joy of listening to headphones. Have the Senn 650's with an upgraded 15 foot Cardas cable (no headphone amp) connected directly to my Onkyo 905 receiver. I would like to "push the envelope" in this area by upgrading to whatever my fellow aduiogoner's may suggest.
I would like opinion on the best equipment available. Cost is not a major consideration, but, I would rather not spend considerably more just for a 5 to 10% improvement--in other words---the most bang for the bucks.
I've ordered two Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA head amp. It is pricey but has features worth considering. Here is why: - runs on batteries which power charges are monitored and optimized by custom SMART module. - NOS DAC with USB-in for computer files. - remote controlled - can be used as a digital preamp ( variable volume option ) - V-caps (new . Which in my opinion give RWA somewhat more open presentation and better resolution.
Your cans are also recommended by Vinnie (RWA) as a perfect match for his head-amp.
I will be using one for can setup (2nd system) and the other one as a dedicated digital preamplifier.
www.wooaudio.com www.raysamuelsaudio.com www.headphone.com www.headamp.com www.ttvj.com Also the top of the line Darkvoice amps on ebay. Lots of other really nice headphone amps out there. I suggest you check out www.head-case.org and www.head-fi.org for more info before making a choice. i think going balanced is the way to go with the Senns.
I currently use Consonance M20 with my AKG K701. I enjoy that heavy headphone amp a lot, but would still prefere something more versatile like Musical Fidelity X10 V8 with input, bypass and USB-Dac. I use my speakers for parties only and only headphones deliver me a quality listening sessions! The price-no-object headphone device is Grace Design M902 which is also a balanced preamp, highest resolution universal DAC and state of the art headphone amp.
Best headphone I have heard (vs. Senn 650, AKG 701, Stax Lambda Pro)is the AKG K1000. If you go that way, they need to be driven from the speaker outs from about a 5 wpc or better amp. This puts many SET integrateds into the picture. Right now I am using a Glow Amp 1 which has USB DAC or RCA line level inputs. The K1000s have very quirky ergonomics; about $1K on the used market (no longer made) but are cleary the best I have heard.
I'm not a headphone guy, but then I heard the Sennheiser HD800 playing just through an ipod, and now I want a set. Too bad the wait is so long to get a pair. They are being hand built in Germany in a cleanroom, and are way backordered.
Try not to listen too loudly - doctors are warning us that prolonged headphone listening is dangerous for our hearing. If you have to listen through heapdhones at all, try to turn the volume to minimum.
Since you have a good system, I would listen through that as much as possible, so that you may enjoy this hobby through advanced years...
I just got Sennheiser 800hd...I have a question that I haven't been able to find an answer for yet. I don't have a "headphone" amp, just a regular integrated with a headphone input (Marantz Pm 11s2)...how does a decent integrated compare to the headphone amps?
It depends on the Int. But I've found that most dedicated headphone amps outperform most jacks off preamps and int. amps. there are however some great headphone outs on some of the Carys and manleys and some vintage stuff. if i owned the HD800 i would, without a doubt be looking for a nice hesadphone amp to get the most out of them. headphone.com wooaudio.com headamp.com eddiecurrent.com Lots of info at either www.head-fi.org or www.head-case.org
I've tried denons, sennheisers, and some great shure in ear monitors! I've even had occasion to hear akg 1000's. But the system that sealed it for me was the almarro a205b with akg 701's. I bought both. I have a little custom made pure tube OPT headphone amp at my bedside, but it doesn't hold a candle to that little almarro!! Cheers.
I love the Almarro amp. For the dollar, the best tube amp in the market. I also adore the Leben 300SX and the Luxman N100. All share a highly musical presentation, without the high end cost of competing with Shindo and McIntosh tube products. The Almarro is built like a tank, and IMO, sounds actually on par with their 318 model.
I like the AKG 701 for jazz. The combination with any tube amp is impressive. Nice timbres and decay.
For rock and alternative music, I also love the new B & W 5 headphone. The ear footprint is very comfortable. I also love the new Grado 10 earbuds.
I have gotten to the point that I am listening to phones 90 percent of my time.