Headphone Amp - Perreaux vs Musical Fidilety

I am considering going for the headphone amp and my choice is between the Perreaux SHX1 and Musical Fidelity XCANS. I have not heard either of them but have read many reviews. The source would be Philips 963SA and headphone in question is the Sennheiser HD580.

My understanding is that the Perreaux having a good reputation when it comes to low end may complement the 580 (not famous with bass freaks) in a better way compared to the Xcans. On the other hand the Xcans may have better tube like midrange. Both headphone amps surely, as is always the case with any hifi gear, have their plus and minus points. There are surely other attributes associated with both amps as well which I am not in position to discuss since lack of audition on my part.

I do not listen to Rap, Metal or Hard rock otherwise all other genres of music I enjoy. The speakers I have are the LS3/5a’s and the Paradigm Studio 40 v.2.

If anyone has compared the two I would appreciate if they can share their opinion. If not, I'd still like to hear from anyone who has used either.

If you were to choose between the two in question, which one would it be, and why?
I used to own the Perraux, liked it but sold it due to getting a higher end OTL tube unit (Audio Valve RKV).

The Perraux has plenty of power, you won't have to worry about driving Senn's high impedence. And your thought on bass is right, it's strong with the Perraux.

The Perraux DOES have a softness or warmth to it (once fully broken in), reminiscent of tubes, though not quite as lush.

I haven't heard the X-Cans v3, but it seems to pick up some nice reviews or comments (Stereophile, a couple on www.head-fi.org). It MAY have a slightly better in-head soundstage than the Perraux, something I found that was bettered by my RKV, and also my other headphone amp, Ray Samuels XP-7.

BVut if you want a slight warmth, and value a strong balance and accurate tone, then you won't be unhappy with the Perraux.

I would suggest hopping over to head-fi, or www.headwize.com, and search for the X-Cans comments, see what you find.

Lots of luck.
For what it's worth - I just picked up a pair of HD600's also (seems lots of us got these at a good price recently, after rebate). I'm using my Nakamichi headphone jack with a dummy tape paused for recording. I can easily adjust level and have plenty of gain.

Would a separate headphone amp sound better - probably, but it's damn fine now. I would definitely have to audition one and hear the difference before plunking down the cash. I also did some research and it seems like most prefer tubed amps over solid state, even stating that the inexpensive tubes still beat the expensive solid state's. More euphonic probably.

As soon as I saw this topic, I felt compelled to bring to Audiogon's attention the 2002 release by the Ric Sanders Group (In Lincoln Cathedral) as issued on Heliopause Records (Voiceprint Group) and now available through Music Direct (www.amusicdirect.com). This release is distinguished by to its inclusion of binaural tracks created expressly for headphone enthusiasts.

First there is the music! Like their concert performances, In Lincoln Cathedral is an instrumental potpourri of acoustic jazz with strong folk, classical and even prog-rock influences. The compositional content reflects these influences; works of Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis and Chick Corea are performed with improvisational stylings that recall Grapelli and Reinhardt. Additionally, original compositions stand alongside interpretations of lesser known pieces by Paul McCartney and George Harrison. Rick Wakeman of Yes guests on Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing.

The session was an all-acoustic live recording which captured the magnificent ambient space surrounding the musicians. The album is packaged as a 2 disc set. Disc 1 has 72 minutes of stereophonic tracks in redbook. Disc 2 is a hybrid enhanced CD organized into three sections. The first section has five tracks from disc 1 repeated in binaural. The binaural process used custom modified DPA 4060 microphones inserted into the engineer's ears and recorded at 24/96 onto a Nagra V. Next, two tracks are repeated in DTS 5.1 for discrete multichannel. Finally, there are 19 minutes of MPEG video from the same session. If you watch the video you can actually see the engineer wandering among the musicians as they perform which results in a very organic soundstage presentation. The engineer describes this approach as "three dimensional spatial choreography" which fully exploits the creative possibilities of binaural. The sense of immersive realism is unmatched by any other surround medium.

With three audio options, (stereo, binaural and DTS multichannel) plus video content, In Lincoln Cathedral may be the most diversified CD offering from a technical perspective. The sound of the violin-led small combo in a large cathedral along with these extra features present a compelling package for discriminating listeners and audiophiles alike.
Thanks for the tip Linkster. I think I will check it out!


PS - for anyone who might really be into headphone listening and is amenable to another suggestion (albeit at a higher price point), I heartily recommend the Moth Audio SI-2A3 amp. I bought the older verion (with volume control and headphone out) for my bedroom system and was blown away by the sound from my Sennheiser 600s. IMHO, it so thorougly and decisively beat my former Earmax, I sold it and never looked back.