Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Ryan Bedlack, Nov 23, 2021.
for 100 bucks I’ve had good luck with the Helm Bolt and HD600s (out of phone and computer)
The OP asked about the Sennheiser HD650s @ $499, and what I (among others) suggest is spending $179 (on sale now) for the Drop HD6xx variant of the 650s.
I can play, for example, music directly from my Mac by plugging into the headphone output, still gets "loud," but they do not have the same sonic signature as they do when playing through my Schiit Asgard 3 (<--a very well-valued headphone amp that pairs brilliantly with the 6xx headphones).
The cost of the "pair" together is in the ballpark of the OPs budget.
Like you, I'm recommending the 6xx headphones, but I do appreciate that for these to sound their best that they do need adequate amplification. It isn't only about levels, but dynamics. The difference is fairly significant IMO.
I agree. Sometimes one might forget when reading posts here that not everyone has the money for a dedicated amplifier for headphones that costs much more than the headphones themselves.
I never owned the 600 or 650 but did own the 580s and used them frequently plugged into the headphone jack on a portable cd player. They sounded good. Would they have sounded even better through a $2,000 amp versus the $50 cd player? I'm sure they would have. But it isn't like they sounded bad plugged into the cd player.
If a person knew they were only going to plug headphones directly into a phone or CD player w/o an amp, I'd recommend something other than HD650/6xx headphones.
The Schiit Asgard 3 headphone just got a $50 price bump, but it is still $250 w/o a DAC. Not $2,000.
With a smart pairing, the HD6xx combo gets one into serious territory. Great value and great performance. But these cans are not ideal for using w/o an amp.
My first suggestion in this thread was to get the 150 ohm HD660s given the headphone amp that the OP has.
There is also the 150 ohm Senn HD58x Jubilee that is on Drop right now for $129. It is 150 ohms like the HD660s but different drivers. The HD660s is better and is more resolving. The HD660s is also more expensive.
I have the HD58x Jubilee. With all of my $200 and under headphone amps I prefer the HD58x Jubilee over the HD650/HD6xx. It isn't until I use my $500-ish and up amps that the HD650 pulls ahead clearly. Somewhere between $200 and $500 is the tipping point where the HD650 becomes the better choice. With my $1000+ amps the HD650 is obviously better and leaves the HD58x Jubilee in the rear view mirror. The HD650/HD6xx scales with better amplification. The HD58x Jubilee stops scaling up at around the $200-ish level.
The HD58x Jubilee is nice. I find it useful when using it with sources like my laptop or USB dongle headphone jacks or my $100 Cavalli Liquid Spark amp, and other similar sources.
Yeah I agree 100%.
I didn't say anything about only plugging them into a cd player without an amp. I merely said that I did use them that way frequently and wouldn't describe the sound as horrible veiled or unpleasant to listen to.
I think the only time I've truly experienced horrible sound due to a bad amp/speaker or headphone combo was with a Sony receiver I owned about 35 years ago that was allegedly rated at 100wpc but which couldn't drive speakers with an impedance that dropped below 8 ohms without sounding incredibly thin and harsh.
No disagreements here. Not horrible, just not optimal.
If I were mainly going to use a set of cans directly from consumer products (as opposed to a fairly powerful headphone amp) I would not personally choose the Senn HD650/6xx. I have these headphones and enjoy them a great deal. But with an amp.
My 6xx sound better than I expected directly off my Mac (not horrible in any measure), but they come into their own with an amp. I even noticed a difference when I previewed the Asgard 3 vs the Magni3+ out at the Schiiter just before lockdown.
The extra power shows these headphone off at their best in my listening experience.
Just for a matter of clarification on my part....I own a Yamaha AS501 amp which I really like. I feel as though I get sufficient "power" from that amp to drive my 6xx's. Would it be even more enjoyable if I also used a separate headphone amp?
A good separate headphone amp will sound better.
An integrated amp like that will be using a resistor network connected to the speaker amp to drive the headphones. The resistor network is to pad down the volume and power output so you don't send 100 watts through your headphones.
The downside to doing that is that the resistor network adds output impedance to the headphones. So the headphones see a higher output impedance from the headphone jack than they are designed for. High output impedance also means a poor damping factor (which means looser bass and transients that aren't as tight as they should be). Speaker amps also have more noise because they're producing 100 watts. Headphone amps are designed to be very low noise like pre-amps are. So you'll get cleaner sound from a good headphone amp than you will from the headphone jack of an integrated speaker amp.
Your Yamaha AS501 has two pairs of REC OUT jacks. You can use one of the REC OUT jacks to connect to a separate headphone amp. It's easy to add an external headphone amp to your system.
I'm not qualified to answer, as I'm not certain what those Yamaha AS501 amps put out and how they pair with 300 ohm headphones like the Sennheisers, but I expect others will have a more informed answer for you.
ETA: And while I typed you got your better answer.
I took a quick look at the manual for the AS501.
The specs in the manual is saying the headphone has an output impedance of 470 ohms. That's a lot. Really a lot. General rule of thumb is that the headphone amp output impedance should be less than 1/8th the impedance of the headphones. So for 300 ohm headphones that means about a max of 37 ohms output impedance. 470 is way more than 37.
With the Yamaha amp you're hearing what a high output impedance sounds like. The high output impedance also affects the tonal balance of the Senns. The 300 ohm Senns have an impedance bump centered around 100 Hz. The high output impedance of the amp has an effect like you're adding several dB of EQ at around 100 Hz. Which affects the overall tonality of the headphones.
It's explained here if you want to dig in: NwAvGuy: Headphone & Amp Impedance
Good solid state or hybrid headphone amps will usually have an output impedance below 1 ohm.
A downside to using an external headphone amp with your Yamaha is that the REC OUT jacks will bypass the tone controls and loudness button. You'll lose the ability to use the tone controls or loudness button when you're listening on headphones. You'll also lose the several dB EQ bump you've been hearing with your Senns due to the 470 ohm output impedance of the Yamaha.
WOW! A lot is over my head....but I take it that all is well as is. That is what I felt in the 1st place. Than k you very much for your extremely detailed response. I can "listen easy" now.
Are the 6xx’s and 600/650’s of similar build quality?
if so I just don’t think you can’t go wrong at that price. Sennheiser Hd/580/600/650 are things worth spending time with. They don’t dazzle but they’re great to listen to for extended periods of time. I might try out the 6xx. Never heard them
I apologize for going off topic but do you think the Cavalli Liquid Spark DAC+Headphone amp would work fine with Audeze LCD-2?
The little Spark amp will drive the LCD-2. The amp has enough power and a smooth sound. It will get loud enough and pleasant enough. The question becomes is it able to drive the LCD-2 well enough. And that gets subjective.
With the Liquid Spark the LCD-2 will sound constrained in soundstage size and the ability of the soundstage to breathe. The LCD-2 will end up sounding more closed-in than it is capable of. Sounding more like a closed headphone than an open headphone. Better and more expensive headphone amps fix all that and the LCD-2 can sound open.
It's the same with all of the $99-ish amps. Like the Schiit Magni series or the Topping or any of the other $99-ish amps. They all constrict the soundstage and cause the LCD-2 to sound more closed-in. The $99-ish amps are good amps with the right headphones, but they're not giant killer amps. A better and more expensive amp like the Schiit Lyr 3 or Cavalli Liquid Platinum or similar will get the LCD-2 to sound open and free and like they're intended to sound like. I do think the Liquid Spark is the nicest sounding of the $99-ish amps and is the amp I use when I need a small amp like that.
Thank you. I'm thinking of something I can move around the house and I just found this combo for sale here. It gets tiring to disconnect dac and headphone amp and move cables etc every time I want to sit and listen to music in the bedroom or in the garden.
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