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I won't be hopping on this because I already own the HD650. But as a headphone enthusiast and audiophile, I can tell you that these are some of the most natural-sounding, resolving, and dynamic headphones on the market under $1000. Two hundred dollars is a fucking steal.
Just be sure to amp them with something good. That's the real hidden cost of these headphones. O2 or Magni will get the job done, but you will be amazed at how much detail these things can pull out of a good amplifier. It's really quite stunning.
Which amp would you recommend? The savings on these hones will be put towards a new amp. Currently I have an O2 AMP/DAC combo, and an apogee groove I use with my fostex th600. I'm excited to add these to my small rotation
I think the best options are DIY. I personally use Bottlehead Crack, pretty heavily modified (speedball, stepped attenuator, replacement tubes, film output capacitors, power supply inductor and film caps). It's not cheap, but it's considered one of the best amplifiers for the HD6x0 in the world. It sounds amazing stock with the HD6x0, very lively and energetic, but the upgrades with the right tubes produce insane levels of detail and texture I didn't know these headphones were capable of. As far as DIY, I've also heard the AMB CKK and it is really fantastic sounding if solid state is more your thing.
Otherwise, I'd look at Schiit (Valhalla 2 or Jotunheim) and audio-GD's NFB DAC/amp combo lineup.
Any experience with the Maverick Audio D1? I got that instead of the crack because I felt like the crack was a little veiled and mid forward for my liking with the hd650. I never tested the hd650 on the maverick but I tried the best Hifiman HE1000 on the maverick side by Aiden with the Audeze Deckard and the difference was minimal.
Off topic, but do you have a source for how to add the stepped attenuator and film output caps? I assembled my Crack+Speedball well and I'd like to try these upgrades but I don't know electrics well enough to know how to do this without direction.
The Schiit Jotunheim is said to be an absolute dream when paired with the 650's.
Lots of help on the bottlehead forum-do a google search on both topics.
I would also appreciate any links you might have used to upgrade your bottle head crack. I have an EE comrade who could help me with a DIY build. For reference, could I put one together for less than the $400 Jotenheim?
jb70, The base Crack kit plus speedball costs about $400. Upgrades are easily another $200, although surprisingly worth it. If you're concerned with cash and want a good DIY option, look at the AMB CKK-III (amb.org). Straightforward and fun to build, shouldn't cost more than $200 total (prob closer to 160), sounds absolutely fan-freakin-tastic with the HD6x0.
Now as for Crack mods, they're all described in far greater detail in the Bottlehead Crack forum. But I've had enough coffee to give a breakdown of what I've done:
1. The stepped attenuator upgrade is very simple and worth it cause the stock pot is BAD, I can measure differences in resistance with my multimeter across channels and they are not small. Wherever you buy the stepped pot from should indicate clearly which leads go where (input, output, ground). I really like the stepped pot I got from lasercollection on ebay, but sometimes I feel like there aren't enough steps to hit the right volume, so I'm planning on adding a 3 way gain switch as well.
2. The output capacitor mod is a little more complicated only because polypropylene film capacitors are huge and need to be mounted to the chassis somehow. Be creative. These replace the blue 100 uF capacitors that go on the terminals between the tube sockets; just wire it into whatever terminals those capacitors sit in now. Note that film caps are non-polar and so you don't need to pay attention to which lead goes where like you do with electrolytic caps that have a positive and negative. This improves resolution, clarity, dynamics, basically everything across the board, since those crappy electrolytics are directly in the signal path. I used Dayton polypropylene caps from partsexpress.
3. Tube upgrades are critical. I highly recommend picking up a 6SN7 adapter from Garage1217 and using a 6SN7 tube to replace the stock 12AU7. 6SN7 are more linear (read: superior) tubes and the difference in soundstaging, separation and imaging is quite notable. They're also a drop-in so you don't need to change out resistors to get the proper biasing. I've had great results with the Raytheon 6SN7/VT231. As for the power tube, there are a lot of options out there, but the Tung-Sol 5998 is a clear step above the rest across the board. It also has a lower output impedance than most 6080 tubes. For budget options I highly recommend the Sylvania Winged-C 6H13C or RCA 6AS7G.
4. Power supply fuckery. The Triad C-7X inductor replaces one of the ceramic resistors in the power supply (doesn't so much matter which iirc). Mounting it requires some creativity, but once it's in you'll never look back. This also improves the efficiency of the power supply (since we've removed a resistor), making it possible to replace the last 220uF electrolytic cap in the power supply with a 100uF polypropylene film cap similar to the output coupling capacitors. I went for a panasonic cap here vs the audio-grade Dayton caps, as this one isn't directly in the signal path. I did both of these upgrades at once after all the above and to be honest the difference is NOT small. It sounds like a different amplifier, in that I am hearing new details, textures, sounds presented in ways that I've never heard before. Yuge improvement.
Now, don't ask me for more info on Crack mods. All of this and more is available on the Crack forums.