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Topic: HD800S - best solid state reasonably priced amplifier? (Read 670 times) previous topic - next topic
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HD800S - best solid state reasonably priced amplifier?

Hi,

I've just purchased a Sennheiser HD800S and would appreciate some guidance on the choice of a headphone amplifier. The HD800S has an impedance rating of 300 Ohms but I understand that this can vary across the frequency range. I have become quite jaded having read Head-Fi for many years and been to two CanJams. Disappointments include the Focal range, the Stax SR-009 and a plethora of overrated valve amplifiers. I currently also own a Stax SR-007A and SRM-300 which conveniently avoid (unless you're in the pay of Blue Hawaii) complications regarding amplifiers.

On the short list are the NJC Reference II and the slightly pricier Lake People RS 02. To the extent that the power ratings below are accurate, the Lake People RS 02 would seem to be more powerful and versatile. Would this necessarily translate into better performance, i.e. more bass and volume, on the HD800S or is the NJC Reference II already sufficient? Both are equal for distortion and probably frequency response.

I've read a thread here which suggests that either the O2 (not Lake People) or an Asus STX II soundcard (I can hear the audiophiles with their pitchforks) are sufficiently powerful to adequately drive the HD800S, but I would like to get an uncompromising amplifier which has ample power to drive the HD800S.

NJC Reference II

Both channels driven (<1% THD) 3.7W (22 Ohms), 3.1W (32 Ohms), 2.2W (50 Ohms), 195mw (600 Ohms)

Lake People RS 02

Both channels driven ( 1 kHz / < 0,1 % THD+N)   

19,0 Veff in 600 Ohms = 600 mW
18,1 Veff in 300 Ohm = 1100 mW
15,5 Veff in 100 Ohm = 2400 mW
9,7 Veff in 50 Ohms = 1900 mW
6,2 Veff in 32 Ohms = 1200 mW
3,4 Veff in 16 Ohms = 710 mW

Martyn

Re: HD800S - best solid state reasonably priced amplifier?

Reply #1
Sensitivity is 102 dB/V, which most things will drive ok.  How loud are you planning to go? 

Re: HD800S - best solid state reasonably priced amplifier?

Reply #2
Sensitivity is 102 dB/V, which most things will drive ok.  How loud are you planning to go? 
Not too high, just a reasonable level to drown out nearby sounds. I have misophonia so like to block out ambient sound if possible.

Re: HD800S - best solid state reasonably priced amplifier?

Reply #3
Benchmark DAC1 or DAC2 with built-in headphone amp (used,  approx. 500$) drives every headphone including my pairs of HD800 without issues (clean and loud). It has  the cleanest and finest sound I've heard till moment.

THD of DAC1 is way better than HD800's.

O2 was desgined to be as good as DAC1 (ideally) as it's possible and obviously cheaper than DAC1

 

Re: HD800S - best solid state reasonably priced amplifier?

Reply #4
Sensitivity is 102 dB/V, which most things will drive ok.  How loud are you planning to go? 
Not too high, just a reasonable level to drown out nearby sounds. I have misophonia so like to block out ambient sound if possible.

Then don't buy something that will put 18v into 300 ohms.  Most sources will go quite loud on those headphones, and you may not need an amp at all if your source has a quality headphone jack. 

Re: HD800S - best solid state reasonably priced amplifier?

Reply #5
What is your source?    Are you sure you need a separate amplifier? 
Quote
Disappointments include the Focal range...
I'd guess the amplifier isn't your problem. 

If you're not happy with the sound maybe just try some equalization.*   Or, maybe you'd prefer a different headphone.   But, the main difference in "sound quality" between headphones comes down to frequency response and you can adjust/change frequency response with EQ.  

Did you choose those headphones because you like the sound?   Above a couple-hundred dollars it's largely a matter of preference.    Headphones are notoriously difficult to measure so it's hard to say one headphone is "better" than another.   If you're unhappy with what you have, you can probably find something you like better and probably at a lower cost.

In a "blind" listening test (where you didn't know the brand or cost) you might have chosen something less expensive...
 
Quote
Would this necessarily translate into better performance, i.e. more bass and volume, on the HD800S or is the NJC Reference II already sufficient? Both are equal for distortion and probably frequency response.
An amplifier should simply amplify.   "A straight wire with gain".   Most modern amplifiers have flat frequency response and distortion below audibility (as long as you don't drive it into clipping).   If you can't get it loud enough without clipping, that's a problem and you need more power/voltage.      All amplifiers generate some noise.  If you've got audible noise, that's a consideration.

With modern electronics it's cheap & easy to build a good headphone amplifier.   If you're buying a stand-alone headphone the actual electronics is a small part of the cost.    You're mostly paying for the enclosure, the connectors & controls, plus marketing and distribution and other overhead costs. 

Quote
and a plethora of overrated valve amplifiers.
It costs a LOT more to build a good amplifier with 1950s vacuum tube technology.  ;) 


*  You have to be a little careful with EQ because if you boost any frequencies you can end-up clipping your DAC or clipping your amplifier.   But, if you've got enough headroom there's no problem... You just turn-down the digital volume (if necessary) and turn-up the analog volume control to make up for it.  








 
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