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[First Purchase] Sennheiser HD 660 S + Schiit DAC & Amp combo?

bobcoutu

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Hi, first I want to thank anyone that can help me out! I really appreciate it.

Quick backstory. I've recently had surgery for my left ear after nearly two years of problems with it. With my hearing back I've been listening to music non-stop. I'm happy no matter the tunes and I really want to enjoy my music more. It felt daunting to get an amp (and learning about DAC's) but I feel now is the time to dive into it. I've been reading reviews, watching Youtube videos, lurking forum threads (including here) on what to pick out. I settled on the following...

Sennheiser HD 660 S for my headphones. I know some prefer the 600 and are cheaper. I don't mind the price though I'm open to suggestions for anything comfier as I tend to wear headphones for hours on end. Other criteria is open-back for roomier sound (my home is pretty quiet). Usage is 90% music, 10% solo gaming (nothing competitive). I also REALLY like the look of the Beyerdynamic DT 990's but I haven't researched them enough yet.

Schiit Modi 3+ as my DAC and Schiit Magnia 3+ as my Amp. I'm not exactly sure the difference between the other models they offer, to be honest. I'm so beginner that I have no clue what EQ program I should use to set the levels I want, if any. I'm not that critical of sound but I do want to appreciate music a bit more than plug-in headphones. I did look on the... formula/calculation for powering headphones but I still don't really get it, to be frank.

What is recommended for my needs as a beginner? Should I look at something else instead? Any info would be great! I'm not critical of sound but I do want to learn more and enrich my listening sessions as much as I can!
 

Wicky

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For the Sennheisers, the HD660S are great but 650s, 600, or the massdrop 6XX (if you can get it) are very comparable and significantly much cheaper. As a 660S owner I'm very happy with them, very comfortable for long sessions. Interesting debate/comparisons on these on the ASR thread including links to EQ settings for these headphones, if you like the target harman sound #66
 

jae

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I would go with the 6XX (which is the 650) over the 660S as a good introductory headphone. What were you paying for the 660S? At the price points I see the 660S sell for there are much better headphones you can buy such as planar magnetic ones from hifiman or dan clark audio around the $500 mark or less.

Unless price is really a problem, honestly I see no point in going with separate dac/amp if all your listening is from a computer. If you are willing to pay a bit more I'd suggest the TOPPING EX5 dac/amp combo instead.
 
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bobcoutu

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@Wicky: I did see that thread in my research and I worry the 600 being too clear/harsh for treble. I'm not sure if EQ settings can make it less harsh...? It's something I worry about and considered the 660S for. The 650 (6XX, right..?) are almost the same price as the 660S for me as they seem hard to find right now. The 600 are about $100 cheaper.

@jae: The 660S with my currency would be $679 ($542 US). Insanely expensive... but I also rarely spend on new headphones. I'm currently using old Razer headphones. Yes, this is all PC listening. Oooh, I like the TOPPING EX5! That's a both-in-one sort of thing? What's the upside for having a DAC/Amp versus having a dedicated DAC and dedicated Amp?

Thank you both for the help.
 

KeithPhantom

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@bobcoutu What type of music do you listen to?
 
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bobcoutu

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@KeithPhantom: It always ranges, from acoustic covers to metal with hip-hop and punk sprinkled in. I've taken into account the fact I don't use subscriptions to Spotify for higher sound quality. That'll dampen my listening session. I know it's almost heresy for some here. I still think it'll be an upgrade for me to get dac/amp and good headphones. I can get a subscription later, though the technical side of audio is overwhelming.
 

Sombreuil

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Headphones: I'd rather buy the HD 58X Jubilee from Drop, $170 vs $400+ for something that is 99% identical. It gives you almost $300 to buy two more pairs. This allows you to decide which sound signature you like the most. Every pair or brand has pros and cons depending on what you are looking for.

DAC: Unless you need specific outputs, a $20 dongle by Apple or Google would give you the same result. More information here.

EQ: APO with Peace GUI is highly recommended. Then some reading and you're ready to go.
 
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bobcoutu

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Looking at the HD 58X... jesus, so many options. I like I can change the earcups so easily. Not too sure if I'm sold on the dongle stuff, I'd like to have something sit on my desk. Thanks for the EQ link, I'll give it a read tonight. Just skimming is giving me a headache. I didn't think wanting dac/amp and headphones would be so..... much.

As for location I'm in Canada and I'd rather buy new than refurbish, even if more expensive.

I still have a question. How does one know if an amp is needed? I'm looking at the HD 58X, for example:
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Frequency response: 12–38,500 Hz (-10 dB)
I'm not sure what the threshold for getting an amp is when looking at specs...
 

KeithPhantom

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@KeithPhantom: It always ranges, from acoustic covers to metal with hip-hop and punk sprinkled in. I've taken into account the fact I don't use subscriptions to Spotify for higher sound quality. That'll dampen my listening session. I know it's almost heresy for some here. I still think it'll be an upgrade for me to get dac/amp and good headphones. I can get a subscription later, though the technical side of audio is overwhelming.
For hip-hop, I wouldn't buy anything Sennheiser, they struggle delivering bass with controlled distortion measurements, since most of them roll-off at the lowest frequencies and you need to compensate for that. If you are set on the HD 660S, you will need to EQ them to even sound passable with hip-hop. About an amplifier, if your amplifier at max power at the impedance listed covers at least 120 dB SPL, you should be fine since that covers any transients without the risk of clipping.
 
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bobcoutu

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For hip-hop, I wouldn't buy anything Sennheiser, they struggle delivering bass with controlled distortion measurements, since most of them roll-off at the lowest frequencies and you need to compensate for that.

O-oh... being a basshead that kind of makes me doubt of my choice, then. I still want clear sound but ability to get deep, heavy bass when I want. So much more researching... I'm kind of discouraged about all of this now.
 

Sombreuil

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O-oh... being a basshead that kind of makes me doubt of my choice, then. I still want clear sound but ability to get deep, heavy bass when I want. So much more researching... I'm kind of discouraged about all of this now.
You might find this comparison interesting then: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...8x-jubilee-review-headphone.25474/post-867205

(Note that the differences are very subtle for the most part, it's not like it's night and day).

The first headphone you buy is the most important one because it's the one that gives you a point of comparison. Hence why buying something expensive "for the sake of it" isn't the best idea IMO, especially when there is a much cheaper alternative that suits you better.
Also, you wouldn't need an amp with the 58X, or at least very rarely.
 

KeithPhantom

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O-oh... being a basshead that kind of makes me doubt of my choice, then. I still want clear sound but ability to get deep, heavy bass when I want. So much more researching... I'm kind of discouraged about all of this now.
To get that, I found that I need to spend a bit more if I wanted to buy new, but if wanting to buy used I could find good deals around. It is easy to EQ and fix how the headphones sound if it is a frequency response error, but it is hard when the source is distortion. I have had a listen with pretty much all Sennheiser's portfolio, and with hip-hop and other bass-centric genres, distortion is heard when boosted to the required Harman EQ level. You do not have to buy expensive, just buy smart and choosing what you appreciate and like. Buy used, it will net you a lot in the long run.
 
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bobcoutu

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Okay, let's pretend I'm going with the 58X. Would getting a dac/amp change anything? Should someone as oblivious as myself notice a sound difference? I've sort of put all my choices on the backburner and taking all suggestions so far. I'd be an idiot to not consider the 58X at that price.

I'm reading Sombreuil's link and:

"The HD58X has the best bass extension of Sennheiser’s HD6** series headphones. Bass is present and ‘tighter’ than that of the HD650/HD6XX. No loud deep exaggerated ‘rumbles’ in this headphone even though bass extends down to 20Hz (-3dB). It won’t rattle your teeth nor appeal to bass-heads."

I'm wondering how much I can play with the bass in an EQ.

@KeithPhantom Could I get your thoughts on the 58X since it's part Sennheiser?
 

KeithPhantom

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1629067743135.png

265.44 mW is amplifier (or very nice dongle) territory. Let me cut straight to the point, I do not mean for you to listen at an average level of 120 dB SPL, but let's say you are listening to a hip-hop song; at 1 kHz it may be only 90 dB SPL, but due to the equal-loudness contour, the bass frequencies will be playing at around 110 dB SPL. This sound pressure level is not excessive for these frequencies since we are insensitive in this region. Also remember that there is content with a huge dynamic range (movies and some videogames) that may have high transient levels, and you do not want to distort them due to your dongle running out of power for these. And if you want to buy other headphones, having at least an amplifier will let you try other headphones that do need the extra amplification to sound as they are intended (low sensitivity ones).
 

Sombreuil

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Okay, let's pretend I'm going with the 58X. Would getting a dac/amp change anything? Should someone as oblivious as myself notice a sound difference?

If your source is a computer/motherboard, the logical purchase order in your case should be: Headphones > see if your hear interference because of the DAC/motherboard > If so buy one > Get an amp if you need more power. The amp has barely any impact on the sound, if any.
 
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bobcoutu

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WHOA, okay that graph is SUPER helpful. Thank you so much!

My source is computer/motherboard, yes, and I'd wager a pretty good one as it's recent. The thing that sticks out to me after skimming the 58X article is that it's not for bassheads BUT it's a "cheaper" (one way to put it) version of the 660S. That said, if I do hear some interference then I'd only get a dac? And an amp if I listen to louder levels. Despite my hesitation about the basshead thing I'm REALLY leaning for the 58X just because of the price.

Honestly, thank you a million times for answering my questions so quickly. I had a hard time through 2 years with my left ear basically not hearing so I'm honestly grateful for the help and suggestions I'm receiving right now.
 

Sombreuil

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WHOA, okay that graph is SUPER helpful. Thank you so much!

My source is computer/motherboard, yes, and I'd wager a pretty good one as it's recent. The thing that sticks out to me after skimming the 58X article is that it's not for bassheads BUT it's a "cheaper" (one way to put it) version of the 660S. That said, if I do hear some interference then I'd only get a dac? And an amp if I listen to louder levels.

Yes. The only situation where I need an amp with it is for old classical music recordings. They tend to be badly recorded and very quiet. For your case, only you can tell. No need to buy an amp beforehand "just in case".

Might be worth checking is this applies to Canada as well: https://helpdesk.drop.com/hc/en-us/...tive returns,their eligible Drop Studio items.
 

jae

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@Wicky: I did see that thread in my research and I worry the 600 being too clear/harsh for treble. I'm not sure if EQ settings can make it less harsh...? It's something I worry about and considered the 660S for. The 650 (6XX, right..?) are almost the same price as the 660S for me as they seem hard to find right now. The 600 are about $100 cheaper.

@jae: The 660S with my currency would be $679 ($542 US). Insanely expensive... but I also rarely spend on new headphones. I'm currently using old Razer headphones. Yes, this is all PC listening. Oooh, I like the TOPPING EX5! That's a both-in-one sort of thing? What's the upside for having a DAC/Amp versus having a dedicated DAC and dedicated Amp?

Thank you both for the help.

Yes, its a combo dac/amp. Upside is less pointless annoying boxes on your desk that constantly shift about and less cables/mess and in this case better performance. The benefit to having separates is that they will generally have more inputs/outputs suitable for a complex system with more components/sources and they tend have more features and build quality, but that is irrelevant at that pricepoint and not your use case. I'd stick with something like the EX5 as I suggested. It also has bluetooth and a remote which is nice.

I would not buy the 660S for retail, its definitely not worth it. If you are in Canada I've seen it go as low as $<400-500 CAD but even for that price it is not really worth it in my opinion. The 6XX is in stock right now for $220 USD on the official site (https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-sennheiser-hd6xx - expect to pay shipping and probably duties however) and is a much better buy than any of the other Sennheiser 600 series. There's some on ebay right now for even less.
 
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bobcoutu

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@jae: 6XX, how does it compare to the 58X?

So I've settled on a plan. Depending answers on the 6XX vs 58X, I'll pick one of those. I'm leaning on the EX5 if I feel the need to buy a dac/amp (I really want to dip my toes by getting one at some point). Both 6XX and 58X are well below my budget so that's pretty good news.
 
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