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Old 16-02-2015, 08:42 AM   #1
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HD800 + PHA-3

Any owner of the above combo can comment whether the PHA-3 can drive the HD800 well?
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Old 16-02-2015, 10:42 PM   #2
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Most will tell you that HD800 sounds best when paired with a good tube amp.

Only a few headphone amps can really show the full potential of the HD800 and they cost much more than PHA-3

Also HD800 needs to be driven balanced if you want to have speakers like sound staging.
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Old 16-02-2015, 11:14 PM   #3
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There are few things about the HD800:

1) It is using a 1/4 jack which is not a normal 3.5mm stereo jack
to use with the PHA-3.
You will need an adapter to convert the 1/4 but technically
I will not advice doing this.

2) HD800 is rated at 300 ohms so you need either a amp/DAC
to drive this monster.
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Old 16-02-2015, 11:33 PM   #4
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There are few things about the HD800:

1) It is using a 1/4 jack which is not a normal 3.5mm stereo jack
to use with the PHA-3.
You will need an adapter to convert the 1/4 but technically
I will not advice doing this.

2) HD800 is rated at 300 ohms so you need either a amp/DAC
to drive this monster.
Although Sennheiser rates HD800 as 300 ohms(norminal), the actual impedance can hit just shy of 650 ohms @ 100hz.

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SennheiserHD800.pdf

So far only TOTL headphone amps can drive HD800 with full authority(as in not sounding weak or not loud enough).

You need something along the lines of Woo Audio WA700 or Bottle Head Crack + Speed Ball and above for HD800 to sound great.

I am using this amp myself to drive the HD800 in balanced mode:
http://www.audio-gd.com/Master/Master-9/Master-9EN.htm
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Old 17-02-2015, 12:01 AM   #5
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If on a budget can check out the little dot mkviii, when i had it, it drove the Hd800 very well indeed.
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Old 17-02-2015, 10:38 AM   #6
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Any owner of the above combo can comment whether the PHA-3 can drive the HD800 well?
the iFi iDSD Micro would be better imo
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Old 17-02-2015, 11:01 AM   #7
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the iFi iDSD Micro would be better imo
Most definitely! I'm listening to 'Too Much Heaven' on my iDSD Micro + HD800 with volume knob at about 10 o'clock and it's plenty loud enough for me. I haven't tried the HD800 on the Schiit Vali yet, will do so later, but I suspect it'd do a very nice job as well.
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Old 17-02-2015, 11:17 AM   #8
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Any owner of the above combo can comment whether the PHA-3 can drive the HD800 well?
the iFi iDSD Micro would be better imo
Hi TS,

You're always welcome to drop by and audition the set of Micro iDSD or better yet you can make use of our 7-days Money Back Guarantee so you'll have ample time to listen to it and decide.
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Old 17-02-2015, 04:17 PM   #9
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Yesterday I tried the HD800 + iDSD at Stereo in the morning but felt the iDSD still could not power the HD800 to its max. Bought the HD800 today from Stereo and now still looking for a good amp.

I will read up more first and perhaps tried even more of the recommendation above. The search is still on.
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Old 18-02-2015, 12:51 AM   #10
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Perhaps with a pair of headphones like HD800, it would be a good idea to look into full desktop amps instead. Give it what it deserves.
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Old 18-02-2015, 06:37 AM   #11
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you really don't need thousands of dollars of amp to really drive this cans well.

when i heard of schiit , i was skeptical at first.
but they really made some good stuffs at a affordable range.

valhalla2 is a good tube amp for this cans.
very pleased with my bifrost uber usb and valhalla2 powering the hd800.
try some schiit. again, ymmv.
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Old 18-02-2015, 11:16 AM   #12
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Yesterday I tried the HD800 + iDSD at Stereo in the morning but felt the iDSD still could not power the HD800 to its max. Bought the HD800 today from Stereo and now still looking for a good amp.

I will read up more first and perhaps tried even more of the recommendation above. The search is still on.
General consensus is that the FR spike at 6kHz for the HD800 makes it prone to sibilance and is the reason why it the HD800 is described as fatiguing. Unfortunately, it is also that characteristic that allows it to present the sparkle of instruments in various classical / instrumental tracks.

I have the micro iDSD and have actually listened to it at home and at Stereo. While it has oodles of power, I can only listen to it at lower volumes - i.e. 10 o'clock at normal / no-iem match mode. In my room, that's pretty okay but it seems that wasn't an option in Stereo when I auditioned it at around 12 o'clock - 1 o'clock due to the noisy conditions. The treble was still manageable but discomforting...

I am still waiting on the Valhalla 2, which I ordered a few months ago from a local online dealer. Unfortunately, Schiit is clearing back orders and you might get it faster from them if your order direct rather than through a local dealer.

If you are adventurous enough, you might want to try some DIY designs. There's the Torpedo amp and some say the Bottlehead Crack.
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Last edited by pyu; 18-02-2015 at 11:21 AM..
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Old 18-02-2015, 11:52 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the inputs. I went for the Valhalla 2 yesterday after hearing it at E1. I will be getting it next week due to the CNY break in between.

Not sure if I can swap tubes on the Valhalla 2. If so, any good tubes to recommend or is the stock tubes good enough?
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Old 18-02-2015, 12:24 PM   #14
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Can't comment on the Valhalla, but on my Lyr using the stock GE tubes, I found a little roughness or edginess, I was listening to Ah Mei's songs on DSD64 and at first thought that it was supposed to be that way. But on listening to the same songs on my iDSD Micro, I couldn't hear this coarseness. I swapped out the GE tubes for a pair a Telefunken 6DJ8's and that coarseness in her voice was resolved. Made me a believer in higher quality tubes, even bought a pair of Amperex and thinking of a pair of Mullard.
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Old 19-02-2015, 01:51 AM   #15
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Can't comment on the Valhalla, but on my Lyr using the stock GE tubes, I found a little roughness or edginess, I was listening to Ah Mei's songs on DSD64 and at first thought that it was supposed to be that way. But on listening to the same songs on my iDSD Micro, I couldn't hear this coarseness. I swapped out the GE tubes for a pair a Telefunken 6DJ8's and that coarseness in her voice was resolved. Made me a believer in higher quality tubes, even bought a pair of Amperex and thinking of a pair of Mullard.
Mullard may be a better match imo. Amperex may be abit more energetic and makes the peaks more apparent. Nevertheless can hoot both and try
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