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Request for amp + dac combinations for HD800S

zblackwell

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#1
Hi all,

I've been bouncing from community to community, and I'm glad I stumbled to this website after getting some recommendations for audio-gd on headfi. I'm very new to the audiophile world (2 weeks old) and I'm looking to pick a dac and amp to maximize the headphones I just bought (HD800S). From what I've seen the THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier and khadas tone board look like an excellent combo, but I'm not sure if I can wait until the amp becomes available again. Right now I'm running on my asus z390 motherboard (lol?). The RME ADI-2 DAC looked attractive, but I'm not sure if there is a point to have something that performs that well for my headphones? Especially when the other combo is about 500 bucks.

If it helps with the recommendation, I really care about excellent sound stage and bass.
 
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maxxevv

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#2
You can go even cheaper with the JDS Atom amp, especially if you're in the US.

Contrary to popular belief, the HD800 / 800S are not "difficult" to drive as in needing loads of power. But they do pack some wild impedance swings in their frequency response curve. ( Innerfidelity has those FR vs Impedance curves for reference if you swing over there)

So as long as the amp chosen has a power output slew rate that can keep up with these swings, it should in theory make them sound as they are intended to be.
 
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twsecrest

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#3
Hi all,
I've been bouncing from community to community, and I'm glad I stumbled to this website after getting some recommendations for audio-gd on headfi. I've very new to the audiophile world (2 weeks old) and I'm looking to pick a dac and amp to maximize the headphones I just bought (HD800S). From what I've seen the
THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier and khadas tone board look like an excellent combo, but I'm not sure if I can wait until the amp becomes available again. Right now I'm running on my asus z390 motherboard (lol?). The RME ADI-2 DAC looked attractive, but I'm not sure if there is a point to have something that performs that well for my headphones? Especially when the other combo is about 500 bucks.
If it helps with the recommendation, I really care about excellent sound stage and bass.
Go back to Head-fi, ask Purpleangel, he usually has the best advice.
 

zblackwell

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#4
Go back to Head-fi, ask Purpleangel, he usually has the best advice.
I actually got some quotes after I got a suggestion from him about Audio-gd and watched some youtube review of the NFB-28. It looked good, and I thought it was going to be the brand I was going to buy until I found this site. Even though I'm not educated enough to follow all of the site owners tests, I like how he supports his conclusions with hard data. Before I got to this site, I was starting to get tired of all the subjective opinions, and I had no idea what to choose.
 
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GoMrPickles

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#5
I actually got some quotes after I got a suggestion from him about Audio-gd and watched some youtube review of the NFB-28. It looked good, and I thought it was going to be the brand I was going to buy until I found this site. Even though I'm not educated enough to follow all of the site owners tests, I like how he supports his conclusions with hard data. Before I got to this site, I was starting to get tired of all the subjective opinions, and I had no idea what to choose.
I am using an SMSL SU-8 DAC and THX 789 AAA amp. It's a great combo. The Topping DACs get a lot of love on this forum, but the reliability issues put me off. I haven't personally tried any of them.

I also bought an Atom. It sounded the same (to my ears) as the THX 789; I couldn't tell a difference. For the price (or even much more than the price), the Atom is incredible. And again for the price, it's a no-brainer starting point, if you're used to "computer out" sound.
 

twsecrest

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#6
I actually got some quotes after I got a suggestion from him about Audio-gd and watched some youtube review of the NFB-28. It looked good, and I thought it was going to be the brand I was going to buy until I found this site. Even though I'm not educated enough to follow all of the site owners tests, I like how he supports his conclusions with hard data. Before I got to this site, I was starting to get tired of all the subjective opinions, and I had no idea what to choose.
Purpleangel "I like how he supports his conclusions with hard date"......thanks for the complement :)
 

flipflop

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#7
The Atom provides more power into a 300 ohms load and is cheaper, so that would be my recommendation.
KTB is also a good choice, but keep it mind that it comes without a case.
 

zblackwell

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#8
Thanks for the input everyone. I actually just ordered the Atom. Now to decide on a DAC. Yeah I'm not sure if I want to deal with a KTB. I read somewhere recently they were back ordered as well and were shipping out some "bulk" version. At least I think I remember that information correctly.
 

garbulky

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#9
You can go even cheaper with the JDS Atom amp, especially if you're in the US.

Contrary to popular belief, the HD800 / 800S are not "difficult" to drive as in needing loads of power. But they do pack some wild impedance swings in their frequency response curve. ( Innerfidelity has those FR vs Impedance curves for reference if you swing over there)

So as long as the amp chosen has a power output slew rate that can keep up with these swings, it should in theory make them sound as they are intended to be.
IOW, it is hard to drive.
 
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#11
Hi all,

I've been bouncing from community to community, and I'm glad I stumbled to this website after getting some recommendations for audio-gd on headfi. I'm very new to the audiophile world (2 weeks old) and I'm looking to pick a dac and amp to maximize the headphones I just bought (HD800S). From what I've seen the THX AAA™ 789 Linear Amplifier and khadas tone board look like an excellent combo, but I'm not sure if I can wait until the amp becomes available again. Right now I'm running on my asus z390 motherboard (lol?). The RME ADI-2 DAC looked attractive, but I'm not sure if there is a point to have something that performs that well for my headphones? Especially when the other combo is about 500 bucks.

If it helps with the recommendation, I really care about excellent sound stage and bass.
If sound stage is very important you will probably wind up with a tube or tube hybrid amp sooner or later. I do all my headphone listening on HD800S and the least expensive amp I could live with was a Vali 2. I used the Vali 2 until I moved up to a Kenzie tube amp. This list from 2017 is dated but still relevant. The most highly regarded amps for HD800S are still made by Eddie Current, ampsandsound and ECP Audio.
 

garbulky

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#12
Its rated at:

Sensitivity: 102 dB @1mW.

Hard to drive ??
"
But they do pack some wild impedance swings in their frequency response curve. ( Innerfidelity has those FR vs Impedance curves for reference if you swing over there)

So as long as the amp chosen has a power output slew rate that can keep up with these swings "
So - yes.
 

maxxevv

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#13
"Hard to drive" and "amp picky"are not the same thing.

Where is the full text of what I wrote again ?
 

zblackwell

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#15
Does anyone know much about the SMSL SH-8 or DA-8 amps? There seems to be a combo price available that is intriguing.
 

garbulky

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#16
"Hard to drive" and "amp picky"are not the same thing.

Where is the full text of what I wrote again ?
I was quoting the reason why I called it hard to drive within your quote, hence the truncated quote.
If you want to call hard to drive purely by how many mwatts, then it's not hard to drive. (But it's hard to drive).
 

twsecrest

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#17
Thanks for the input everyone. I actually just ordered the Atom. Now to decide on a DAC. Yeah I'm not sure if I want to deal with a KTB. I read somewhere recently they were back ordered as well and were shipping out some "bulk" version. At least I think I remember that information correctly.
Check out Hifimediy DACs.
 
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#18
Buy some or another good Creative Labs product like a Soundblaster G6 or and X7 depending on your power needs. Done. And the X7 even comes with a free headphone stand, amplifier, and a huge volume knob (that I have never used). It charges your phone, too. Scratch off the logo and print up one that says KRELL on it to impress your friends and feel better about yourself.
 

garbulky

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#19
Buy some or another good Creative Labs product like a Soundblaster G6 or and X7 depending on your power needs. Done. And the X7 even comes with a free headphone stand, amplifier, and a huge volume knob (that I have never used). It charges your phone, too. Scratch off the logo and print up one that says KRELL on it to impress your friends and feel better about yourself.
All right now, we have to draw the line somewhere. It may measure well, but seriously, Creative with an HD800?! (I've owned several of their older gear. Just so so bad.)
 
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#20
Does anyone know much about the SMSL SH-8 or DA-8 amps? There seems to be a combo price available that is intriguing.
I have the dac and headphone amp combo. I have the sen 660s and using balanced cables.

Sounds great to me with plenty of power. I do have the bass at +3 on the dac though.

There is ALOT of extra detail, this is sometimes good, sometimes bad. Some tracks are "filled" with extra sounds that you wouldn't normally hear, I heard a train horn in the background of a Bob Marley track the other day. The size of the units are just right for my desk top and look the goods too. I'm happy I made the purchase as I didn't need the extra power of the THX AAA™ 789 and the combo is the same cost as the THX AAA™ 789 on it's own.

Please note however this is my first purchase of a stand alone dac and headphone amp so your getting a newbs opinion. Most of my listening experience is with full speaker systems.

Goodluck with your choice, took me a long time to make my decision and am happy with what I choose.
 
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