Need Audiophile Headphone Rig to Replace Sen HD590

My Sennheiser HD590s are in for repair, but frankly, even if they cannot be repaired, I may replace them just because I have had them for many years and I would like to explore what else is out there.

Let me give you my background. I am a serious audiophile and I listen to two different systems. The first is my master system which features a dCS Delius DAC and Purcell Upsampler, a gigantic monstrosity of a Mark Levinson amp, B&W Nautilus 802 speakers and very good cabling throughout the system. Needless to say this is a first rate system.

My second system features a Threshold T2 preamplifier, a Bryston 3B ST amplifier and B&W Nautilus 804 speakers.

My musical taste centers around jazz, folk and classic rock.

I have never used headphones with either of these systems. However, because I am temporarily living with people who are students, need quiet ect, I am now interested in occasionally using a pair of headphones with these systems. Note that neither system has any sort of headphone jack or headphone amp.

Generally my headphones stay in my computer room, connected directly to a Soundblaster X-FI sound card. I got awesome reproduction of game sound effects and ambience with the 590s, and I’d like to take things to the next level. I am considering the HD600s.

Suppose I wanted to take my headphone performance up a notch or two, but not spend a fortune. What cans would you recommend and if an amp is required to drive those cans, what amp? I would like to keep this project as affordable as possible--$600 or less including the amp if necessary. But I wouldn't mind spending less if possible.

I do want a significant improvement over the 590s.

Any thoughts? I think the cans will be HD600s but I don't know of any good, affordable headphone amps.
I'm not sure you would find that much difference btwn the two Senns.
What is your budget allotted?
I use a pair of HD600s with a Headroom Little More Plus headphone amp and an Ah! Tjoeb tubed CD player. It's a very nice combination. I like the 'process' circuit on the Headroom amp. It does make the experience more like listening to speakers, the sound seems to have a more realistic sound stage than you usually get with headphones. I bought both the headphones and amp used, for less than your $600 budget.
You might try the following:

1. Purchase a pair of Senn 600s
2. Purchase a Cardas headphone cable
3. Purchase a Musical Fidelity X3 headphone Amp
4. Purchase a Musical Fidelity X3 PSU
5. Purchase a Shunyata Venom power cable

Enjoy the music!
I much prefer the AKG K701s to the Senns. I drive mine with a Woo Audio WA6 headphone amp. That's a very synergistic combination that lots of people over at use.

You may not like them direct out of your computer as they'll reveal ALL of the weakness of that Soundblaster card. The Senns are probably a better choice for that use. However, if you want a headphone rig that rivals you main two-channel system in transparency, resolution and timbral accuracy then the 701/Woo combination is hard to beat.

In contrast, with a good headphone amp, the Senns will seem thick and euphonically warm through the midrange.

Roll around at head-fi a little. The most popular rigs include the Senns, AKG, Beyer 880 or 990 and Grado.

The Woo is an incredible deal. You get a single-ended, class A tube design that really revealing yet with no edgyness, all for under $600.

Dave- Have you ever heard the AKG K1000s (I have a pair that needs repair, so I am familiar with their sound) and if so, can you compare them to teh 701s?
No Swamp, I've never heard the K1000s. A couple of decades ago I had some midline Stax electrostatics that I dearly loved, except I had reliability issues and kept getting static electricity shocks in my ears (not fun). Anyway, I loved the smooth midrange of the Stax and feel like the AKGs give me that in a dynamic phone and less hassle.

I'd say that the midrange and highs of the AKGs are electrostatic-like but that's as far as I can go.

Of course, I'm sure you know that there's still a very strong market for the K1000. Woo Audio makes an incredible amp for them and other electros (the WA5-it's beautiful).

If you are happy with the sennheiser "house sound" you may want to just go higher up the line.

After many months research looking for a good headphone rig I settled on the senn 650's with a grace 901 amp to power it. This has proven to be a very good combination for my tastes. I will admit that at first I was not impressed with the 650's but after sufficient burn in time the cans now sound great!

If you are sticking to the sennheiser brand I would look at these amps (in no particular order)

Solid State
Heed Audio - Can Amp
Lehmann Audio - Black Cube Linear (Sennheiser used this amp to debut the 650's)
Graham Slee - Solo
Headamp - GS1 or Gilmore Lite (with dedicated power supply)
Naim - Headline (with NAPSC power supply)

Antique Sound Lab - MG HEAD DT OTL MKIII
Melos - SHA-1
Musical Fidelity - X can v3
Rudistor - RP5.1 (hybrid)
Woo Audio - Woo Audio 6

If you go in a different direction such as AKG or Grado, the amp selection will change somewhat.

Most of the amps listed will have to be purchased used in order to meet your $600 budget but thats all part of the fun isn't it?

Good luck on your hunt!

My dealer suggested the pro-ject headbox ii, which goes for $119. Do you guys have any experience with this unit?