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Thread: Help me select a headphones amp

  1. #1
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    Help me select a headphones amp

    I just bought a Cary 303/100 cd player and have Sennheiser HD595 headphones so I'm looking for a headphones amp to connect these two.

    I'm new to headphone amps so I need some help. I've been looking around and there is a huge variation in the price. For example,

    $60 Electric Avenues PA2V2 Headphone Amplifiers reviews - Audioreview.com

    $250 MATRIX M-Stage Headphone Amplifiers reviews - Audioreview.com

    $1000 Holographic Audio Ear One Headphone Amplifiers reviews - Audioreview.com

    And there is > $1000 models too. By the way, I'm not limiting my choices to above 3 models; they are here just as examples.

    Now I do not want to spend > $1000 but obviously would rather spend $250 than $1000. What are the differences in sound? Is there a sweet spot where higher prices yield ever so diminishing increase in sound quality?

    This Objective2 amp is only $129 https://www.jdslabs.com/products/35/...one-amplifier/ and is getting great reviews.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    You may want to try the Head-Fi forum dedicated to headphones and related gear.

    Head-Fi.org - Headphone forums and reviews for audiophiles

    Here is a company you may want to check out=

    Feliks Audio

    Feliks Audio Elise

    You should also check out the Oppo Headphone amp/dac.

    I have a good friend that is into high end headphone gear, I will ask him what he thinks.

    Welcome to AR
    Last edited by blackraven; 04-10-2016 at 09:39 AM.
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
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  3. #3
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    Welcome to AR. You don't want to go cheap on a headphone amp, think of it as a regular amp, though you will use headphones the system will only be as good as it's weakest link, you want a headphone amp that will send the signal from the Cary without degradation. Cary has a headphone amp and buying direct for the first time, if that fits you, they are offering 25% off. The Musical Fidelity X-can has been a good match with Sennheiser and sold together if more in line with your budget. The Schiit has been getting good comments although I've not heard one. I'd also suspect the PS Audio would be a good performer.
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  4. #4
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    If you don't mind the used market, there is a Woo Audio WA-2 on Audiogon that is a nice setup. It would also be a nice match if you decide to upgrade your phones in the future. This is my 3rd set of Sennheiser phones, so I know about the upgrade bug.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
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    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
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    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  5. #5
    frenchmon frenchmon's Avatar
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    Here you go! And if you go to Head-fi, you will get excellent feed back on these!


    micro-iCAN SE

    or this if money is no object.

    iFi Pro iCan Headphone Amp at Music Direct

    iFi Audio
    Last edited by frenchmon; 04-11-2016 at 10:40 AM.
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    Thanks everyone for your comments. Lots of very useful info. Head-fi has been an excellent source too. But now I'm thinking I need to upgrade my phones too - the HD600 are supposed to be much better than my HD595.

    I'll update this thread once I settle on the amp, in case people are curious.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular Jack in Wilmington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PasswordIsIncorrect View Post
    Thanks everyone for your comments. Lots of very useful info. Head-fi has been an excellent source too. But now I'm thinking I need to upgrade my phones too - the HD600 are supposed to be much better than my HD595.

    I'll update this thread once I settle on the amp, in case people are curious.
    The HD-600's are an excellent choice. I had HD-590's before I upgraded to the 600's. They are my choice for late evening listening pleasure.
    2 Channel System
    Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
    Pass Labs X150.5 (Amp)
    Cary SLP-03 (Preamp)
    Music Hall MMF 5.1 (TT)
    Goldring 1012GX (Cart.)
    Pro-ject SE II (Phono Box)
    Rotel RCD-1072 (CD Player)
    Bryston BDA-1 ( DAC )
    Sennheiser HD-600 (Headphones)
    Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 (Headphone Amp) _

    HT System
    Usher X-719 (Mains)
    Usher X-616 (Center)
    Usher S-520 (Surrounds)
    Rel T2 (Subwoofer)
    Anthem MCA20 (Amp)
    Yamaha RX-A830 (Receiver)
    Panasonic TH-46PZ85U (Plasma TV)
    Denon DBT-1713UD (BluRay/SACD)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PasswordIsIncorrect View Post
    Thanks everyone for your comments. Lots of useful info. Head-fi has been an excellent source too. But now I think I need to upgrade my phones too - the HD600 are supposed to be much better than my HD595.

    I'll update this thread once I settle on the amp, in case people are curious.
    The Sennheiser HD600 is an audiophile-grade hi-fi professional headphone.

    This Open-back gear is equally good for casual and critical listening jobs. It makes an ideal pair with your Stereo hi-fi systems.

    Being a 300 Ohms impedance head monitor, you require a high-grade DAC/Amplifier to drive out the best of it.

    Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 is a worthy high-performance DAC, well supported with its high definition audio reproduction capability.That makes him a good partner with Sennheiser HD 600.

    Music Fidelity - V90-DAC is another compatible option for your specified requirements.

    For more relevant information, visit here - Top 9 Best USB DAC under $300 : For Audiophiles - Sound Out Media

    Hope it helps!

    "Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music."

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by disc1 View Post
    The Sennheiser HD600 is an audiophile-grade hi-fi professional headphone.

    This Open-back gear is equally good for casual and critical listening jobs. It makes an ideal pair with your Stereo hi-fi systems.

    Being a 300 Ohms impedance head monitor, you require a high-grade DAC/Amplifier to drive out the best of it.

    Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 is a worthy high-performance DAC, well supported with its high definition audio reproduction capability.That makes him a good partner with Sennheiser HD 600.

    Music Fidelity - V90-DAC is another compatible option for your specified requirements.

    For more relevant information, visit here - Top 9 Best USB DAC under $300 : For Audiophiles - Sound Out Media

    Hope it helps!

    "Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music."
    Thanks for this. One thing I am unclear on is this: the Cary CD player has a built-in DAC. Would I also need an amp with a DAC? My understanding is you only need an amp with DAC if your source is going to be digital like the one coming from a computer but in my case my source already includes a DAC.

  10. #10
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PasswordIsIncorrect View Post
    Thanks for this. One thing I am unclear on is this: the Cary CD player has a built-in DAC. Would I also need an amp with a DAC? My understanding is you only need an amp with DAC if your source is going to be digital like the one coming from a computer but in my case my source already includes a DAC.
    No, you don't need headphone amp with a DAC. You can use the line-level analog outputs from the Cary to feed a headphone amp without a DAC.

    For a while I owned that a Schiit Audio Asgard 2 headphone amp that I found highly satisfactory. It will drive high and low impedance headphones with no problem. (The Asgard 2 doesn't incorporate a DAC.)

  11. #11
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    So I've narrowed down my choices now.

    Decided to get the HD600 or HD650 and Schiit Asgard 2 or Schiit Valhala 2.

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  13. #13
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    The Sennheiser HD600 is an audiophile-grade hi-fi professional headphone.

    This Open-back gear is equally good for casual and critical listening jobs. It makes an ideal pair with your Stereo hi-fi systems.

    Being a 300 Ohms impedance head monitor, you require a high-grade DAC/Amplifier to drive out the best of it.

    Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 is a worthy high-performance DAC, well supported with its high definition audio reproduction capability.That makes him a good partner with Sennheiser HD 600.

    Music Fidelity - V90-DAC is another compatible option for your specified requirements.
    For more information you can check out this article: Top 6 Best USB DAC under 200 Dollars.

  14. #14
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    To give an update: I ended up getting HD650 and paired them with Project Ember amp. Very pleased with the sound.

    Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts.
    Mr Peabody likes this.

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