Best Amps For the Sennheiser HD800 - 2017 Edition

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. Sonorus

    Sonorus Facebook Friend

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    This seem quite difficult to be found.
    Currently only one eBay seller from US.
    Anyway I have got to my hands a V200 loaner and today I am getting a G109A from a friend.
    The jury is still out but not for long....
     
  2. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    For 600 € it's fine.
    I remember Mr @Sonorus likes classical, for which I'd recommend something else. HDVA is a bit dull up top (counters HD800 genetic brightness) and a bit rough in mids at the same time.

    It appears you value firm fast transients. I think Jotunheim might be a contender with a bit mellow/dark DAC.
     
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  3. Sonorus

    Sonorus Facebook Friend

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    Yes , fast transients but without metallic timbre and annoying harshness.
    My DAC - CD player is on the neutral side and no plans changing it.
    I also like my amp to be on the neutral side so I can enjoy my headphones as there were meant to be.
    Don't trying to fix or adjust something but still don't wish for added artifacts from the rest of the chain especially the amp.
     
  4. Sonorus

    Sonorus Facebook Friend

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    My desktop is under siege from a German Panzer chasing away my other stuff....

    Violectric V280 is at home , impressions soon to follow after i manage to get my life back
    and sleep a little.
     
  5. EagleWings

    EagleWings Friend

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  6. Sonorus

    Sonorus Facebook Friend

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    Hi and thank you very much for the suggestion.

    Eventually i have decided and bought a Violectric V280.
    First impressions after two days of listening is that is a very solid choice for HD800s.
    Honestly i am very hard pressed to find any sonic characteristics that i don't like if any.
    General sig is that is a neutral amp with a hint of warmness.
    Warmness not by means of frequency deviations but originating from the highs which although
    very resolving never become fatiguing.
    No ringing , no harshness , no metallic sound.
    The amp is dead silent , very dynamic with hard hitting bass of great quality and quantity.
    Very resolving , plankton is there , head stage very wide and overall technical ability
    on par with HD800.
    Although it is a ss amp the overall presentation is tubey like very 3 dimensional.
    It's very true to the source and material used very transparent.
    That is from the 4 pin out , the single ended is still good but with narrower stage and a bit more slow.
    I am hearing this as a totl amp can't find anything lacking.
    It should be mentioned to the best amps for HD800/s very good synergy.
    The major downside is the price but if money are available it should be auditioned.
    (mine is an x demo unit)
    Anyway i think that i am done with amps for HD800.
    Very happy listening to music.
    More impressions still to come and sorry for my mediocre English.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  7. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The V280/1 fits the requirement. I didn't think it was harsh, but it was a bit too zippy, sharp, and square for my tastes.

    Absolutely not. The list is from 2017 and has not been maintained. Not making any changes just for one amp, especially if other poor value amps were removed from the list, and the Bryston BHA-1 (similar presentation to the V280/1 but at a lower price) is already on the list.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  8. Sonorus

    Sonorus Facebook Friend

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    From EU perspective the Bryston (new) is more expensive it retails about 2K EU.
    The V280 is 1.5K.
    Anyway not a cheap amp.
    I know that the list isn't maintained anymore it was just another way for me to say that this is a great
    synergy for HD800 , of course ''taste'' variations apply!
     
  9. Royaume

    Royaume Rando

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    Hi all,
    I understand that there deliberately have been no efforts to update this list since 2017 for the sake of completeness and transparency. However, I do feel like it's about time for an update. I have read all around the HD800 series, Yggdrasil and amplifier threads for the past 4 months now and these are the amps I would like to see on the list.

    Cavalli:
    Liquid Spark
    MCTH
    Liquid Platinum
    SPL Phonitor series
    (2, X, E, XE)

    Though I cannot seem to find Impressions of the Bryston BHA-1, @purr1n endorsed the Phonitor 2 in a comment in the Phonitor X thread, and recommended the Phonitor series in this thread also, above the Bryston it seems. Torq said it was the best SS amp he has heard and Gbeast agreed that better is only available in TOTL tube amps.
    The MCTH seems to compare very favourably against the Schiit amps and will suit some tastes. The Platinum is also killer, though I still havent found a direct subjective comparison to the Crimson.
    I love this here network of caves, and will continue to explore like a good pyrate!
    PS If someone (@Torq?) could give a comparison of the Crimson and Phonitor X I would be delighted!!!
     
  10. Darkstar1

    Darkstar1 Rando

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    I like the V281 with the HD800 SDR Mod. I think it pairs well with most things. Some phones are better on the single ended while others thrive on the balance XRL which to me is the superior sounding output.

    I think if you listen to the cheaper Lake People amps and like what they do then it is worth it to fine the V281 used. If you don't like the Lake People amps stay clear. Of course the V281 is better but same house sound just more everything and refinement.
     
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    None of the above for HD800. Here is the 2019 update, at respective price points with consideration to performance / price:
    1. Valhalla 2 or Horizon or NBM < $330-b
    2. ---don't bother--- < $3300S
    3. StudioJr. $3300-$6600 (designer can be cranky)
    4. Stellaris $6600+ (stand in line)
    Notes:
    • No hybrids mentioned (except Horizon which as a single MOSFET follower), for a reason. See below.
    • No solid state mentioned, for a reason. If you must consider solid state for HD800, then get it out of your head or get solid state and know that cheaper full tube amps will always be better when it comes to HD800
    • The Crimson should not be invoked with the LP. Different class product. That's like saying I wonder how close a VW Beetle is compared to a Porsche 911.
    • The cheap tube amps will have certain flaws (some veil, thicker sound, rounded bass) but I'd take their ability to engage the listener more than any of the hybrid and solid state amps mentioned. The HD800 loves tubes.
    • Above list considers primary use with HD800. Not thinking about a good general amp or all-round amp.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The V200 sounded nothing like the V281 to me. The latter sounded good. The former sounded like ass. Different presentation too - I don't hear a house sound.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  13. itsikhefez

    itsikhefez Rando

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    Do you think SET amps are generally good with the HD800?
    I've had the HD800 with the BH Mainline and was not impressed with the sound. That led to selling HD800 in favor of a ZMF Aeolus.
    I've then built an Elekit TU-8600R-VK with the Lundahl OPT's. I have it with GoldLion 300B, Telefunken 12AX7 and some RCA Cleartop 12AU7's. It is a HUGE upgrade over the Mainline (which was subsequently sold) and really brought the Aeolus to a different level.

    My current project is a 45 SET based on the Tubelab SE II boards. I used quality parts throughout, including ElectraPrint OPT's, a DACT stepped attenuator and am now experimenting with tomchr's Maida B+ regulator instead of the standard CLC filtering to try and make even more quiet.
    I can also customize the setup to use 2A3's instead of 45 so may give that a try in the future.

    Do you think it's worth giving the HD800 another shot with these amps?
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Any SET with good transformers for sure with HD800. The key is good transformers. May want to mod HD800 a bit if using 45 tube.

    Note that the Studio Jr. and Stellaris recommendations are SET designs, using awesome and uber OPTs respectively

    There are other "TOTL" SET amps, but left out because I didn't didn't like the tube complement, the OPTs, or thought they had poor performance/price.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  15. Darkstar1

    Darkstar1 Rando

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    I have a lake people G100, V281 balance and unbalanced (kinda a v200). Tonally I can hear similarities. All different presentations but not surprising they are make by the same company.

    V200 is not may favorite. Too warm but more so just to congested. Worst on some headphones than others. HD 800s are not the worst that I have with v200 but limits the 800 sound staging abilities in IMO.
     
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  16. Sonorus

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    I agree with the above impressions.
    I have heard extensively G109A , V200 and i own V280.
    V280 balanced is a perfect match for HD800S and easily considered end game as far as SS amps go.
    V200 is overly warm with small headstage.
    G109A is on the dry/sterile side but without annoying highs.
    I also disagree with @purr1n in his statement about SS amps and low cost tube amps.
    I owned Valhalla 2 for 2 years and it's not a good match with HD800/S.
    It's dry and sterile at upper registers and has this annoying Schiit stock sound with forward highs and annoying ringing at certain frequencies.
    Dynamics especially at low end are non existent the HD800/S sounds anaemic and without slam.
    Headstage is very good but other technicalities are just lacking.
    The above remain the same more or less no matter the tubes used.
    Of course V280 (much more expensive) and/or RS02 (about the same price) are easily a better choice.
    As for lake people they have slight different sound than vioelectric , very clear but without annoying treble or ringing.
    They are more sterile , neutral , monitor style.
    Violectric are more refined , fuller , natural and smooth but without roll off at the highs and detail.
     
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  17. Lyer25

    Lyer25 Too sensitive for SBAF

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    Just chiming in to say that I do agree that the G109A is sterile and is polite in the highs, enough so to make a modded HD800 listenable. Still bright as hell, but not painfully so.

    Can't comment on overall resolution but memory says it might be around Project Sunrise level, maybe a bit less resolving? Excellent sense of space, super diffuse, with good macrodetail and incisiveness but until I get to take it home (which might happen soonish, friend offered a loaner) I'm not gonna say anything definitive yet. I remember really liking the bass on it, curious how my current cans will pair with em.
     
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  18. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    2+2 cents,

    V200 is not good, at all, at least with my headphones. I didn't have mine with me but i tried the hd800s and the hd650, which is close enough to my 600 to say that it simple is just a congested amp which small details are all spitted out in a big ball of mess.

    Although i agree with his view that the Valhala 2 is not the best match, unlike @Sonorus i agree that HD800 with SS amps is a BIG no-no for my years, preferring almost always full tube amps. Considering their nature i can't even imagine that some SS amp could convince me otherwise. There are some capable but that does not make them even close to optimal. Tbh, up to this day, i never preferred any amp to the Crimson with the HD800. I have yet to try the Stellaris but at this point i am not even sure if i want to find something better/more expensive. ;)

    The V280 was (is) a good amp but not for the retail price and not a good match with the 800s series.
     
  19. Jerry

    Jerry Friend

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    The BHA-1 works surprisingly well with the HD800. Giving it the tightest bass, while keeping its staging and detail prowess. And it sorta smoothen the treble, unlike other SS amps I tried. This is the only amp that I don't need to EQ the HD800's bass.

    The Black Widow is also known to work well with it. Though I haven't had the pleasure to try.
     
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  20. bozebuttons

    bozebuttons Friend

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    I am going to recommend the Pass labs XA25 for the HD800 run directly of the speaker terminals.
    amp takes complete control of my sdr HD 800.Always thought a tube amp would get the best out of the HD800
    The Xa25 proved me wrong .Handles any headphone I throw at it.
    Downside runs hot ,so needs a lot o ventilation.
     
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