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I've been enjoying my HD 6XX since receiving it. I can say this is my endgame headphone for me! Above and beyond this is my most enjoyable and affordable.
Quite the collection... what amp/dac is your favourite pairing for these?
Most of the amp/dac in my current collection and the ones that I have tried and sold off (too many)are more similar than different. But, to answer your question . I'm not endorsing JDS Labs I bought everything with my own money. This combo is my current favorite and that may change in the future. LOL
Looks like a magni and modi setup in the picture. If so, what did you think of them with the 6xx? I'm searching for something that will run the 6xx on classical with at least a little volume to spare.
"I can say this is my endgame headphone"
That's what I thought too, for about 6 months. But as I listened more and I learned new things, I realized it's actually a rather poor sounding headphone. It has a high degree of driver coloration, and is muffled and dark sounding. Others have described the sound as "subtle sounds lost", "muddy, indistinct", "seemed like I had noise dampening earplugs in", "very thick sounding". They sound like a set of mediocre box speakers - a sound that many people are familiar with, but lacking clarity and definition. Instead of an end-game, it really is just the beginning.
buy reference monitors then
I thought the same until I got used to these and then switched them out. Once I was accustomed to the sound signature of the HD 6xx, most of my other headphones (specifically, modded HE-350, modded T50RP, and Ultrasone HFI‑680) sounded too bright and fatiguing over long listening sessions.
Obviously, my listening experience depends on the frequency response of the headphone as well as my auditory system. If I heard less high frequency information, for example, I might like some of my other headphone more.
Making things worse, our hearing is also not static. It changes over time and can be affected by the environment.
Is the HD6xx and "End Game" headphone? depends on the person. However, it certainly is no slouch in sound reproduction.
You should have plenty of volume to spare with that setup - unless you like listening to your music at ear-damaging volumes.
"it's actually a rather poor sounding headphone."
You must have ludicrously high standards.
Not ear damaging, just loud enough to lose myself in the music. I'm currently using an aune T1, and it doesn't have quite enough power.
I think an Objective 2 will work for you.
I am using an amp that I built. I designed it with approximately 1x gain and has almost the same amplification section as the O2 (I just changed the power supply section to be plug-in only and easier to build). The amp pushes the HD6xx past comfortable listening levels. Any O2 that you buy will have at least 2.5X gain (including the one listed on MD) which means it will be plenty loud .
JDS labs on an hd650, dear god why....
Thanks for the suggestion. I was thinking a bit of that, so I'll look into it more. I was also thinking about the Schiit Vali and Modi/Magni ( can't remember which is the amp lol).
why is that considered bad?
nicy artsy... I am going to start show casing my collection
hd650 will be underpowered from c5d.. also hd650 on solidstate is pretty boring sounding
Nice collection, I don't think there are many endgames for people. I thought the same when I had my ATH-m50, then I got my Phillips X2, and then I went even more ludicrous with some LCD-2 and Ether C. Granted I wish I had a better DAC to really make them shine. I still bought the HD6xx and so far they are great headphones for the price(albeit hard to drive).
how do you feel about HD6xx and the X2? I you could only have one which would it be?
Good luck with your search.
I would also like to add that I prefer the sound signature of the HD6xx pared with vacuum tubes. The headphone is pretty analytical and certainly benefits from the warmth (distortion) that the tubes add. We hear distortion when listening to music from speakers/live performances due to the interaction of sound waves with objects in the room. I guess we associate this distortion with the "live" experience.
An advantage of the O2 is the low output impedance (< 1 Ohm), which is very important when using a low impedance headphone. For example, if you use a 32 Ohm headphone with an amp that has an output impedance of 40 Ohms (which is in the range of a lot of amps), less than half of the voltage is seen by the headphone. This also changes the perceived frequency response of the headphone. The process of minimizing this problem is called impedance matching.
The HD6xx has a rated impedance of 300 Ohms. So you don't need worry about amplifier output impedance too much. I also use a hybrid tube amp I built to drive these, and prefer the sound over the O2 based amp. For many other headphones, I prefer the O2. I did, however, have to try out a bunch of tubes before settling on a RCA clear top. Some tubes including Tung-Sol muddied the bass response.
if your talking about fidelio x2s? I have both and I love both. Initially I thought the x2 was far more comfortable at first due to the hard clamp force of the the 6xx which was a surprise as they are much lighter than the x2s. However, over time and some stretching they became far more comfortable. I find the bass more accurate and abundant and soundstage wider and better on the the x2s. I find the 6xx just well rounded and accurate overall if powered correctly (running a schitt asgard 2 via modi dac). I think those using O2 amps or mangnis wont be hearing the full potential of the 6xxs. 6xx is decent for gaming too but x2s are probably better due to their soundstange
the hd650 is un-listenable to me unless it is on tube. I'm amazed a lot of people think it sounds good without...
once they hear the tube difference on a set of tubes that match them best... it's all over (and the $$ spending on tubes begins).
I enjoy amperex tubes so much I have 5 more good pairs waiting for me when my current ones burn out, so I'm set for some years lol.
Slight technical correction: the distortion introduced by tubes consists of nonlinearities that brighten vocal and instrumental overtones without making them sound "unmusical". This generally only happens at high listening levels, except with some SE designs. Nonlinear distortion does *not* occur naturally from sound waves reflecting from objects in the room. These interactions are all linear, and only add reverberation, which is why all things being equal headphones tend to sound drier than speakers.
Tube amps often have a high output impedance which affects the frequency response and sometimes boosts some frequency ranges -- this sort of coloration should not be considered a "benefit" of vacuum tubes, however. As @Asheikm noted, the HD6XX headphones are less sensitive to this problem than low impedance headphones, and furthermore headphones in general have relatively flat impedance curves so are less affected by amplifier output impedance than loudspeakers are.
I’m amazed that some people religiously go for tubes and reject good solid state amplification As a whole. Good doesn’t mean expensive by the way, it mean a good design and relatively neutral amplification. But then again if some people like to spend time and money on tube amps and light bulbs, I guess some other people won’t object and will benefit from that... and i’m not talking here about the consumers that buy those expensive tube amps and confusing time consuming bulbs...
Thanks! Are you talking about odd vs. even harmonic distortion?
I don't know too much about how vacuum tubes amplify. Similar to semiconductors being doped to promote charge transfer, I assume the heating of the tube elements promotes charge flow. I assume that this electrical-thermal process has a slower transient response than semiconductors, hence the "warmer" sound.
I did find some old books on tube amps, but, unfortunately, haven't had the time to read through them.
Nobody is religiously going for tubes and I didn't "reject" Solid State amps. Tubes bring back the full harmonics, and a solid state doesn't (it's impossible).
Why do you think Sennheiser's best amp uses tubes? Because the sound is exquisite, and cannot be copied by any tweaking of a Solid State design.
We listen to tubes for that "tube" sound, which is that full harmonic range and for the (generally warm) sound signature.
I do not reject SS amplification (you read my comment wrong) I only reject it for the hd650. Because the hd650 doesn't sound nearly as good off of any SS compared to a tube amp.
Yes, it is said that even order distortion overtones are less sonically objectionable than the odd order components produced by some transistor designs, The worst case is high-order odd harmonic distortion, like 7th harmonic, 9th harmonic, etc.
I think what is more important is the class of the amp. Even with tubes, a push-pull class AB design will produce significant odd-order components. On the other hand a class A amp's distortion products will go to zero with low signals levels.
Class A amps also let you simplify amplification and power regulation circuit design significantly (at the expense of requiring much larger heat sinks and high temperature components than a similarly-rated AB amp). Likewise one of the real advantages of tubes is that they simplify circuit design because they do not require as many correction factors as transistors. Great sounding class AB transistor amps exist, but they involve relatively complex circuits and highly skilled engineers.
Regarding your comment about transient response, be aware that in frequency response theory there is a direct relationship between transient response (a time domain metric) and high frequency cutoff (a frequency domain metric). If an amp has a high frequency cutoff above the hearing range (say 20 kHz) then it's transient response is automatically going to be "fast" enough. Nearly all tube and solid state amps are flat to 20 kHz so transient response is not a differentiator.
That's the technical standpoint. Now for casual use, if an amp has a high frequency emphasis then this makes it sound "faster" than an amp with a low frequency emphasis, so I think this is what some people are thinking of when they use the term transient response. For example when people speak of the transient response or "speed" of the bass (which makes absolutely no sense from a technical standpoint) what they are referring to is whether there is a frequency response emphasis in the bass. If there is, then naturally-occurring harmonics will be overshadowed and in the absence of high frequency clues the ear will hear a "slow" attack. On the other hand if the frequency response has an early bass cutoff or a mid-high frequency emphasis (like smaller speakers) then you hear the harmonics of bass instruments and the high frequency components of the kick drum beater more clearly and your ear translates this into a "fast" attack.
The point is: just look at the frequency response curve. If you think one system sounds "faster" than another, it is likely that the faster one simply emphasizes high frequencies, possibly due to a high output impedance coupled with well-damped speakers. If you have tone controls or an equalizer, turning down the treble will "slow it down"!
With transient response, I meant time domain metrics such as rise time, fall time, settling time, overshoot. I believe these are what you associated with attack, sustain, and decay.
Given that audio amps operate over a large frequency range, it is very difficult to design a circuit with critically damped transients at all frequencies. Maybe the "fast" characteristic can be associated with rise /fall time. These time dolman characteristics won't necessarily show up on frequency response plot.
One thing to keep in mind with Sennheiser HD-580/HD-600/HD-650 headphones is sample to sample variation. I've owned HD-580's for 20 years and have two pairs of 600's and have listened to several more. While Sennheiser does a good job with Left-Right driver matching (important for sharp stereo imaging) I've been surprised by the difference in sound among headphones within the same model. One pair of 600's I bought (and ended up selling) had great L-R matching but had about 4dB more bass than my usual pair. In consequence they sounded muddy and muffled as you describe. Yet another pair of 580's sounded overly aggressive due to a 2 dB emphasis around 2kHz to 6kHz, which was not conducive to long-term listening (the thing I love most about my reference 580's).
I don't know how the HD6XX fares in sample to sample variation, but before writing it off (or declaring it perfect) make sure you get a listen to 3 or more samples.
Audio amps are linear systems so the frequency domain response can be determined from the time domain response and vice versa. There are only two aspects of an audio amplifier that affect the transient response metrics you mention: the high an low cutoffs of the frequency response band. Time domain rise time relates only to the high frequency cutoff, sustain of a square wave depends on low frequency extension, and any resonances are directly related to insufficient damping at the high and low frequency cutoffs, which is visible in the frequency response as the existence of a peak at these cutoffs. As long as the frequency-magnitude cutoff is well beyond the limits of hearing (so that it's attendant frequency-phase effects are minimal within the audio band), rise time, decay time, resonances, etc will likewise not be audible in any form.
Not trying to be a flat-earther... I use a Class A headphone amp and appreciate its benefits. I'm just trying to clarify usage and shed some light on some misconceptions that are spread by unscrupulous marketing departments and ivory tower audiophiles.
Ivory tower religious audiophiles, n’est-ce pas ( « indeed »), my great friend Uzuzu ?
This discussion has certainly given me new angles to look at.
I also use a class A hybrid amp that I built and appreciate the sound signature over some transistor amps that is have put together; for the hd6xx.
To clarify/build on what I said earlier, and at the risk of being overly academic... Audio amplifier nonlinearities (harmonic distortion, intermodulation distortion, etc) are small enough that they do not generally affect frequency response and transient response measurements, so these measurements are indeed related in a linear way as discussed above, and only deviate from the ideal at the extremes of human hearing or beyond.
Multi-way loudspeaker systems are much messier. Each driver has resonances at its own frequency extremes (say around 60 Hz and 1 kHz for the woofer and 1 kHz and 10 kHz for the tweeter) as well as more complex resonances in its plastic, paper, and/or metal cone materials, acoustic resonances in the enclosure, resonances in the enclosure walls. The resulting system can often still be termed linear, so the time domain and frequency domain responses can be derived from each other. All the tiny time-domain resonances appear as irregularities in the frequency response well within the audio band. Extremely careful engineering is required to produce a reasonably smooth frequency response, and this in turn will indicate well-controlled resonances and good time-domain response.
Getting back to (open back) headphones, the low power levels and absence of an enclosure simplify the design tremendously. That's why we can have this Sennheiser series paired with a sub-$500 amp sounding as good as $10,000 loudspeakers paired with a $20,000 amp.
Thank you again! I certainly appreciate the information.
I am familiar with nonlinear system theory and am always apprehensive when people claim linearity; I always think about what simplifying assumptions were made, which are sometimes necessary for analysis?
I am a huge proponent of diy and build speakers, amplifiers, and even dabbled at headphones. Since audio is only a hobby, I haven't been able to spend too much time on the theoretical side. Tools like PSpice make it extremely easy to design and simulate amplifier/crossover circuits for builds.