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  1. #1
    Romanticist Philosopher
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    Smile After Further Review My Receivers Are Good Headphone Amps For Me

    I've decided to stop messing around searching for a dedicated headphone amp for my current headphones. That amazing sound I've been looking for all along has been right in front of me or better yet right next to me on the left and right sides of my bedroom. The Kenwood VR 7070 drives my Sennheiser HD 515s so well and with a richness of soundstage and low end that in my mind can't be bettered by much. The Sennheiser HD 515s are only 50 ohms. The Pioneer VSX-1016TXV-K coupled with a Soundblaster X-FI Titanium Fatality edition sounds incredible as well with the HD 515s. My room resembles the Bat Cave as I have 6 PCs in there including a 24" monitor, 30" Monitor, a 42" 1080p 120 hertz HDTV, and a 6' * 8' screen with a Sanyo PLV Z5. I also have a fully functional 7.1 surround setup with two low wattage power efficient 10" Yamaha powered subs, Onkyo 606 model receiver, and 6 matching Sony SS 550 speakers. (6 are 8" 3 way speakers and I also have the matching center speaker) I can't listen to my full size setup late at night at reference levels so I am exploring the headphone option.

    I've done head to head comparisons with a variety of low cost options from Behringer including the HA400 headphone amp, the MA400, and AMP800. In my humble opinion I have found that the ultra low cost HA400 and MA400 are only very good options for unamped sound cards such as the X-Fi Xtreme Audio, Audigy SE, Xonar DS, and X-Fi Surround USB. For my purposes I have found that the only thing I really enjoyed with those amps is my 32 ohm Creative Labs MK II. That set of headphones seems to get no love. They even sound great with my moms Insignia Ipod. They may not have the best soundstage but they cover a wide frequency range and are so comfortable. They do get your ears hot after hours of use. When amping the Sennheiser HD 515s the sound is much thinner than using either of the headphone outputs on the Pioneer or Kenwood receiver. Keep in mind that both receivers cost about $500 when I bought them. So they better damn well sound a lot better than $30 headphone amps.

    Realizing that ultra low cost amps were not going to offer what I was looking for I decided to make a slight step up in the Behringer AMP800. That offers about 2 times the power output of the MA400 that is rated at 60mw into 100ohms. The AMP800 is rated at 124mw into 100ohms. Well in testing the Behringer AMP800 on 2 separate PCs I've come to the conclusion that it is not a good amp for the Sennheiser HD 515s. In short the output is too hot/bright and does not sound as balanced as either of the receivers output. As a test I put on Michael Jackson's Thriller and Wanna Be Starting Something with the AMP800. I most recently tested with the X-Fi Titanium Fatality as a comparison to my other setup with a Xonar DS. It sounds almost exactly the same as the Xonar so I concluded that it is the AMP800 that is messing with the mids and highs causing fatigue after some time of listening. I'm not really sure whether this is a case of over amping or under amping but the bottom line is that it doesn't quite sound right. I don't think it is right to call the Behringer AMP800 a POS but it just does not suit my needs for audio heaven. I'll probably see if I can salvage great sound with my Creative MK IIs. They are geared more to the bottom end so an amp that favors mids and highs might offer a good experience. I'm not even going to attempt to try my Sennheiser HD 202s. I don't want to be as deaf as a World War II vet.

    Listen to the music!!!!!

  2. #2
    Forum Regular
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    My Grado's are collecting dust and I hardly use the Audio GD DAC/Headphone amp anymore. I've found I just don't care that much for a speaker attached to each ear.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular harley .guy07's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    My Grado's are collecting dust and I hardly use the Audio GD DAC/Headphone amp anymore. I've found I just don't care that much for a speaker attached to each ear.
    I understand what you are talking about. I don't have anything against headphones directly and I do listen to a sandisk sanza running flac files through headphones when I am at the university between classes and when walking to class and it is fine but when I am at home I like the distance between me and the speakers because it seems to give more realism to the soundstage and image depth and the imaging seems more natural. I have some friends that have some damn fine headphones including Grado's, AKG's among many others and I have tried them all and some I like better than others but to my ears none of them give me what my Dyaudio speakers give me when I am in front of them with just the right music and that musical openness comes out.

    Marantz SR5008(HT)
    Nu Force P8 Preamp (2 channel)
    Pass Labs X150.5(2 channel)
    Adcom 545 mk2 power amp(rear channel amp)
    Spatial Audio M3 Turbo S Mains Speakers
    Dayton 8" HO custom sealed subwoofer(2 channel)
    Yamaha NS-c444 center channel
    Emotiva ERD-1 surround speakers
    JBL e250p subwoofer highly modified
    Samsung 46" LED TV
    OPPO BDP-83 blue ray/multi format player
    ps-audio NuWave dac (2 channel)
    Dell I660 music server running fidelizer windows 8 audio optimizer
    PS Audio Quintet power center



  4. #4
    Forum Regular
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    Sep 2011
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    My AKG's have taken on a new life with a Schiit Audio Lyr amp. The tonal qualities are pretty much identical to my Acoustic Zen Adagio's in my main rig. Highly recommended!

  5. #5
    Forum Regular
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    Dec 2010
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    23
    Quote Originally Posted by Poultrygeist View Post
    My Grado's are collecting dust and I hardly use the Audio GD DAC/Headphone amp anymore. I've found I just don't care that much for a speaker attached to each ear.
    I live with people so I can't listen to levels too high at night but even so I much prefer listening to my main setup at low volumes than my cans at regular volume.

    Of course my cans are not nearly on the same level as my stereo setup so perhaps that places a role but who wants to be burdened with a cable tethering them to an amp?

    When I do run headphones though my Marantz SR7400 powers them. Otherwise my Niles SI-275 amp drives my front channel. It is a great amp.

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