Dedicated he6se advice for a new audiophile

Discussion in 'Advice Threads' started by dleute, Dec 12, 2020.

  1. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    This is my first post on SBAF (outside of the intro post). Please correct me if I have posted in the wrong place, or stepped on the forums best practices. It's also a bit long. I feel that was necessary to get the feeling of my issue.

    I just started on my headphone journey a few months ago and auditioned sundara, ath-r70x, quad era-1, lcd-x, arya and he6se. Briefly:

    ath-r70x: just didn't compete on this list. Apparently I like planar.
    quad era-1: fun, but the way the bass and warmth took over the sound just got old quickly.
    lcd-x: better than quad, but the lcd house sound struggled in the same way as quad without EQ (didn't try to EQ it)
    sundara: brilliant. The only thing I really wanted was more bass slam. This headphone is wonderful to my ears.
    arya: better than sundara in many ways, but not in any way that justified the price jump to me.

    and now the problem child: he6se (adorama special edition)

    To me, it merged the benefits of the arya and the sundara with little to no compromise. I would call it a "meatier" version of them. Not so light and dainty as the arya but maintaining most of the best aspects that matter to me. This is on an smsl sp200/m200 stack which I felt was the *bare minimum* to make it go. (idsd micro signature didn't cut it, which I was hoping. that was naive.)

    So, now I am considering building a stack that is varying degrees of dedicated to it and I would love some feedback on these options (or any other suggestions)

    topping d90/a90: This would still be usable for other things. It's not clear to me that it will take advantage of the he6se (some reports put this next to v281 and speaker amps for he6se)

    flux labs fcn-10: Highest power head amp available for an almost acceptable price. Like a90, should be good for everything. Cons? brand new, unknown everything. Kind of high risk here. I do like that it's one box.

    yamaha a-s801: 100W stereo integrated amplifier. Costs less than the above, has speaker uses as secondary option. It is very well regarded in its price point (as far as I can tell). But, probably not great for any other headphone. And it's freaking huge. Space is a *bit* of a problem on my desk.

    various schiit: There are a half dozens options here. I'm a bit overwhelmed.

    make other suggestions: lower budget with minimal compromise is better.

    I am torn as I was trying to do a "general" solution originally that would let me rotate headphones in and out. The he6se kind of ruined that.

    What would you do? and, more importantly, *why* do you lean that direction?

    Thanks so much! Been lurking here for months. I really like the straight forward advice.
     
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    How much do you want to spend?

    For HE6SE, I would stay away from everything you specifically mentioned, except maybe the V280/V281.
    • All the Topping stuff sounds like butt and on the high-end severely overpriced. Don't let ASR tell you otherwise. They are mostly deaf there and look at one magic number (SINAD) to determine sound quality. Now, if you like the sound of the Topping *90 stack, you are better off with Modius / Magnius for hundreds less.
    • Flux is a huge unknown. 16W into 32-ohms is impressive and hard to believe. However, IMO, AIOs with wireless antennas from mystery brands that do everything tend be to severely compromised sonically.
    • Don't bother with big box store Yamaha below $2k. Yamaha's best days were in the 70s and maybe early 80s.
    Personally, I loved the HE6SE from the Aegir and Saga. It's a more expressive rounder sound rather than a high-contrast sound. If you want to trade off some of that expressiveness for a more robust and slammin' sound, then Ragnarok 2 (this would seem to suite your tastes). Dual Aegir is really something though with the HE6SE. The V280 sounds good too as something in-between but the value isn't quite there. If you want to be cheap, I rather liked this with the HE6SE: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...liexpress-ebay-jl-hood-1969-class-a-amp.4308/ It does get seriously hot though. Another possibility is a good class AB pro amp, provided you can change out the fans. You will need to look on eBay since pro gear is mostly class D these days.

    Otherwise a massive Krell power amp (don't remember which model), Dartzeel NHB-108, and the EC Ultralinear (you would have to ask Craig to build you one) were the best amps I've ever heard for HE5, HE5SE, HE6, HE6SE.

    Now that I think of all the options, the Ragnarok 2 is probably your best bet for starting out. Works with a ton of headphones from dynamics and especially planars. Ton of power into 32-ohms. Will also power desktop speakers in a pinch. Start with the cheapo DAC delta-sigma DAC card in it, and you are all set. If you went in another direction with headphones such as traditional dynamics, then the recommendation would be different. The footprint is a bit bigger than you like, but you asked what makes an HE6SE go - until the day Schiit releases a Nexus based Jotunheim, the Ragnarok 2 is all you got at a reasonable price for HE-6, except for the JLH amp.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 12, 2020
  3. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    My used Adcom GFA-535 does just fine with my he6se, It cost $100 used 10 years ago. I tried the big brother GFA-5500 and could not tell the difference so off it went. I built the speaker to headphone adapter but you can buy one, The dac does volume control and you can always use a SYS or similar for volume. It does not run hot. I set the bias and dc offset per the manual and it has been rock steady for years. I have been mulling over a Flux amp only, no combo, but I just don't need it.
     
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  4. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    Yeah, the reason topping was even on the list, is of I think 5 amps that I compared, the dx3 pro was the only one that worked out of the box without issue. This is not a sound quality thing, but a QC "kept shutting off, played static, whatever other problems" thing. This included the smsl stack and the idsd micro among others. Not working out of box does not impress me.

    The reservation on the ragnarok is price. with multi-bit dac it's 1700 I think? My budget was originally $2k with the headphones absorbing $700 on sale. It's also has a pricey return policy.

    I would assume the aegir and saga would be a dedicated he6se solution as a speaker amp? The aegir had sufficient power? I kind of assumed the people calling for 100-150+ watts are a bit nuts. These are all quite a bit less power. So I assume the power needs of he6se are quite over blown by the outside world?

    I assume you do a straight to speaker adapter (not the hifiman one)? (readily available on ebay for $100 - $150 or so?)

    Should I be concerned about balanced or not?

    The magnius/modius was on the list. The *only* reason I didn't pull the trigger is I am not confident of how well it drives the he6se. Otherwise, they are phenomenal value. I do actually like my dx3 pro on the sundara vs the other amps. Those two just worked well together. I also tried the xduoo ta-30 which, seemed to have a slight advantage in sound quality over the smsl sp200, not enough to justify it. And it mattered more on the arya than anything else.

    I am pondering and learning so much. Thank you for your input. Looking at the other options you suggested that I never considered. Will take some time to digest them.

    Side note: I am an objectivist and subjectivist, so I do read ASR, but I agree with much of the bias said about them. I really just want to know that the specs roughly match what is stated on the box. for that, ASR seems fine.
     
  5. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    I built my adapter with parts from markertek, about $10
     
  6. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    i don’t “build”. Don’t have the time or patience currently. But I am aware that I could.

    In that vein, I won’t be “modding” either. I really need “out of box” spend my money options for better or worse.

    one day, I want to do some build your own amp kits. But, right now, in that genre I would rather just buy a new lego set and build that. ;). Just where I am at in my life right now.
     
  7. Ksorota

    Ksorota Almost "Made"

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    Have you also run the Vidar+Saga Combo? I am running Freya S + Vidar and love the sound, but their is an ever present hum when nothing is playing. It is very faint on the HE6, but on HD600/650 it is very present.

    Does the Aegir have a similar issue? I have tried swapping sockets and I think some of it may be electrical noise in the house. On HE6 its almost a non-issue and I keep hearing really good tihngs about Aegir and may want to make that jump in the future.

    I have run the HE6 through Flux FA-10 and it is a legit amp, but like you suggest, I would not go the full integrated route. As a desktop amp that can drive HE6SE, its pretty hard to beat since it works very well with high sensitivity phones as well. It is an amp on my short list because it can power just about anything and has a very engaging sonic characteristic.
     
  8. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    if not integrated, what dac would you go for with the fa-10? (Trying to get an idea of total cost)

    most of my unknown issues is with the company and product being so new. I don’t generally like to be an early adopter for technology I am not an expert.

    could your hum be lack of balanced between dac and amp? I had all kinds of ground loop issues until I switch to balanced.
     
  9. Ksorota

    Ksorota Almost "Made"

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    I am balanced from Ares ii into Freya S. The rcas going to the vidar matter more than I thought they would, but am using wywires blue currently. The kimber pbjs i was using previously were worse (no shielding).

    The hum on he6 is very faint... maybe I shouldn’t expect to use other headphones but I want the flexibility. Rag 2 is something I would love to try, but it’s on the high end price wise. The FA10 might actually be all i need, I just haven’t committed to buying one yet since I don’t really want to sell the current setup.

    For DAC I can easily recommend the Ares ii or even modi 3 to get yourself started, I’m sure the 3+ is even better with unison.
     
  10. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    oooo! Ares ii is r2r? Cool. Have you used the musicians pegasus? (I think that’s another r2r that comes up?)

    still more money than I want to spend. Currently I am thinking the he6se is not worth the amping cost. I would almost rather have the arya with a cheaper lightweight amp for the time being. Or even the sundara with my dx3 and keep trying headphones. I have not tried anything high end dynamic.
     
  11. Ksorota

    Ksorota Almost "Made"

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    Yes they are both R2R...I had a Bifrost MB w/unison prior and feel that the Ares II has a better tonality and richness to it that feels more natural. I also use a Modi 3 at work and although totally different in its design and slightly different in presentation, it does a very good job paired with GLMK2 and HD600. Not sure what is providing more of the sonic flavor in that setup, but its probably the GLMK2 (cap modded with GR power supply)

    For dynamics I can honestly say that you do not have to look far beyond the HD600...they are superb headphones with the right amp (consider tubes). If SS is your wish, the Focal Elex is to my ears a better sounding headphone than the much raved about Clear. I have tried many more headphones than I should have and HD600 HE6 combo is almost perfect.

    I have not tried the Pegasus, but if I were to step up I would stick with Denafrips and probably try out the Pontus. I am impressed by what Alvin at Denafrips is doing and have had some great conversations with him about how to proceed in setting up a system.

    HE6 will certainly put you on the path of constantly wondering if your amp is enough. Just be sure to live with something a few months before you consider changing. The HE6 needs power, but many power amps on the lower price range (Adcom 545 do a great job for example) I stepped up from there, and the difference is not major, but the Vidar gives more flavor. I hear that the Aegir is even more of full bodied sound and it makes me curious...the problem with HE6, lol.

    Keith
     
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  12. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    I had one on order from black friday but cancelled it when the date slipped past the comparing headphones return windows. At the time, I also thought the he6se was "the way". Now I wish I kept the order. Stupid impatience. (not really a fan of drop so far either)

    I am seriously worried about this. I have enough problems with "ooo! I want to try tubes" and "ooo! r2r!" .... so on. Adding "ooo! more power!" seems like a bad idea.

    I have struggled buying into the hd* line so far. I haven't heard any, but every time I read reviews, I think, um? what's the obsession? But then, I thought that about the he6se before I heard it. So who knows.

    Could you explain the topping dislike that people seem to have here? My limited experience puts the dx3 as a far better product than the other amps I have tried. Now, that's all of 5 amps I think, but it is the only one that worked right out of the box. Literally, *zero* problems outside of not enough power for some of the headphones I have. I have *not* tried any stacks that sound significantly different yet. So that may be it. The attempt to do so was xduoo ta-30, and, well, it wasn't particularly different. maybe I just like the "wire with gain" sound?
     
  13. YtseJammer

    YtseJammer Almost "Made"

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    Here's the EQ that I'm using with the HE-6SE and the Pali pads:

    550 Hz | -2.0 dB | Q=2.0
    1750 Hz | +6.0 dB | Q=2.0
    3700 Hz | -7.0 dB | Q=3.0
    7000 Hz | -3.0 dB | Q=2.0
    8400 Hz | +3.0 dB | Q=4.0
    Gain: -6.0 dB

    I highly recommended you to try this EQ if you don't want to modify the headphones or if you don't want to replace the pads.
     
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    Last edited: Dec 15, 2020
  14. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    I haven’t picked my EQ software for mac yet. What I have is a true pain in the butt to use.

    I can flip on presets from oratory1990 (and others) easily. I wonder if those presets are in a file format that allows me to create my own?

    so far, I have not liked tge results of EQ on any headphone. However, the oratory1990 for he6se was the best. But my amp can’t drive to loud enough levels with the EQ on. So, I don’t have real results yet.

    getting several amp options next week to try.
     
  15. YtseJammer

    YtseJammer Almost "Made"

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    To my ears and for my tastes, the HE-6SE sound really bad 'out of the box' without EQ. Even with my Exposure 3010s2.

    After applying the EQ, I can barely hear the difference in between my integrated amp and the Liquid Platinum.
     
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  16. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    I actually may have discovered why I haven’t liked eq. Sound source may be using 10 band versions of eq presets not parametric. :( that may have changed in the most recent release which is why I suddenly liked the EQ on he6se.

    but, thus far, I have liked every headphone better pre-EQ.
     
  17. Huhnkopf

    Huhnkopf Friend

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    HE-6SE and Pali Pads is the worst combination that came out of Hifimankara. They probably made 50 billion of them and need to offload fast. Even the 6SE v2 comes with them. They are just downright wonky sounding.

    OG velour maybe less comfortable but the sound is far better. Also the good old Velpads
    Other recommendations are ZMF Auteur Lambskin, Ether Flow Angled Pads.

    Ditch the Pali Pads.
     
  18. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    any availability of any of these easily on amazon or other such site?
     
  19. Huhnkopf

    Huhnkopf Friend

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  20. dleute

    dleute Rando

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    I haven’t started paying attention to pads yet. So the sundara and he6se have the same exact pads on them by default?

    would you recommend those focus pads for sundara as well? (That’s an easy purchase as I am keeping one of these two headphones, maybe both)
     

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