A few suggestions:
2) Antique Sound lab DT/OTL headphone
3) Musical Fidelity X-Can v3
4) Headroom amp at your budget level
BTW, do you need a tape loop in the headphone amp or are you planning using the integrated for a pre-out?
For even more info:
Check out Head-fi.org. The greatest source on all things headphone.
The second place to go is headphone.com. Headroom's own web site.
Here's what I've been using with my Sennheiser HD-600/Cardas cable, for the same reason too(wife and kiddies sleeping). It can also double as a preamp in a pinch.WooAudio 3
Nice little OTL tube headphone amp/preamp. BTW, I have swapped in Mullard tubes, and it's realy sweet sounding now.
John- I'm thinking about buying the Woo as well...did you compare it to others?
How's their customer service?
Another good choice is an Audiovalve RKV Mk2. Its got some punch which is nice with the Senns. Has a loop out. OTL/tube design, tubes are inexpensive and amp auto-biases.
I have used the Antique Sound lab DT/OTL headphone for the past year and love it. They have several options for headphones and pre-amps with headphones. Another cheaper option is the Antique Sound Lab speaker out transformer. Their website is www.divertech.com Good luck!
I'm currently looking to set up a headphones-only system and second ejliu's recommendation to check out head-fi.com. There is an amazing amount of information there on headphone amps. If you use the search function in the Amplification section, you will find many threads that discuss amps that work well with the Senn 600s.
Sorry, I gave the wrong link in my previous post. That should be head-fi.org (not head-fi.com).
Look at the Earmax (http://www.stoneaudio.co.uk/stoneaudio/products/details.asp?product=217) line.
Try this site. Its home to headphone lovers.
I second the Earmax, especially the Pro. Swap out the stock tubes with NOS and WOW! I have the Sennheiser 600s and could listen for hours...and do!
The Rega Ear was voiced with the 600's, very enjoyable.
I would definitely upgrade to Senn 650s--I did on the advice of some Headfi posts & found them to be a major improvement: a fuller but not overwhelming or forward sound. The 600s sounded thin to me. I use the newest version of the Headroom Max (with the new "reference module")with the Zu Mobius cable & I am very satisfied. Tubes are nice but you have to plan your listening because you really can't leave them on all the time, I think, & they need to warm up. Make sure you get good interconnects from your source.
I don't know about the matchup of my amp with the Seinheisser 600's, but my Berning Micro-ZOTL with Sony MDR-CD3000 cans is magic.
Definitely check out HeadFi
for all your headphone questions.
I would have really liked a set up like Marco's and did look long and hard at the Micro zOTL. But I was doing this just so I could watch DirecTivo late at night without disturbing anyone. Functionality, price and nice looks were my main criteria so I opted for a Channel Islands Audio VHP-1 with Koss KSC-50 ear/headphones. For quiet TV listening I like this combo a lot.
The microZotl works just fine with the Senns (my second HP rig), but may be a little laid back for some. The 650 is better. Hard to find the micro used, but they do turn up on Head-fi occassionally. Cheaper than the RKV for sure.
I compared it to the Antique Sound Labs MG Head DT OTL mk III (say that fast 3 times) and the Grado RA-1. I preferred it over these two with the stock tubes. The Woo sounds even better with the Mullard tubes as well. IMHO, I don't think you can beat it for under $500.
I also used it as a preamp for a month while I was between preamps. Although it didn't embarass itself, sounding quite sweet at times, I wouldn't recommend it as such. It was a bit noisy and limited operationally for my preamp tastes. I had just sold my BAT VK-31SE, so it is quite a step down from that, as one would expect.
As for customer service, I wouldn't say they are the best either. The unit comes with no manual or power cord. If you buy direct from Woo Audio, they e-mail you a 2 page manual, which tells you there is no power cord. I haven't had any service issues, so I cannot comment on their response. It did take 3 weeks after my order to receive my unit. So overall, I wouldn't say that customer service is their fortay. They do make a good sounding head amp though.
I am currently using the same source and phones in my office setup, and can readily endorse the microZOTL. I do agree that it is a touch more laid-back than some SS amps I have heard (Headroom). Nonetheless, I find this to be a good match with the Ring DAC of the Arcam, which I find to be very detailed, yet forward. Good luck - a great headphone setup can amaze and engoss you.
I third the Earmax. Relatively inexpensive OTL tube amp, small and portable, and a very impressive sound with the Sennheisers.
Thanks for the ideas. I look forward to further research; however, it appears that auditioning some of these units prior to purchase might not be possible since they are mail-order. It does appear that several of the little amps have been endorsed by several people and will likely sound better than my existing, but soon to be eliminated, amp.
At the risk of being a copycat, I agree Earmax is very fine with the 600's. I found that the choice of IC's into the Earmax inputs could make big differences in feeling of reality (as defined by the headphone experience), and ability to convey emotion of the music, and it can serve as a quick screener of the quality of IC's before they are inserted into loudspeaker systems which use tube amps.
if budget allows....try the Berning MicroZotl..
Oh, yeah....if budget allows Cary 300B SEI. I almost forget about this when talking headphone amps. It's actually an integrated amp, but works amazingly well for headphones. At $4k MSRP, a bit pricey though.