May 17, 2018453 views

HD6XX vs AKG 7XX (also question about dac and amp)

Which one would you get and why? Also, what would you guys recommend for a dac and amp setup. I have heard a lot about the Schitt stack , but are there any other good stacks for around the price point? Just wondering. Last question: For whichever headphone I am going to get (6xx or 7xx), I know that I will get an amp, but do you guys think that a dac really makes a $100 difference? Let me know. Thanks in advance!
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HD6XX will be extremely neutral and do not have (are not capable of) a ton of bass compared to some other headphones.
People will claim you need a tube amp to make them sound good. Because purposefuly distorting the music is how you make it sound good. Tube amps are for guitars (creating a sound), not headphones (reproducing it).
I recommend them highly. But if you like bassy music (I sure do) maybe get a second set of headphones that cater more to that (generally closed back headphones do this better).
If you find them overly neutral (audiophiles love to confuse not super bright with dull), combine them with some good equalizer software, rather than a tube amp. It is best to have your hardware be neutral, and use your software to add color, so that if you want to return to neutrality (because really well mastered tracks often sound best that way) you have that option. A tube amp will never not distort your music.
Or buy two amps. Up to you. As others have mentioned, HD600 series headphones need pretty big ones.
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Yeah, there are some downsides. And different equalizing software tends to vary in quality. Honestly though, I just don't bother with it usually. If I need more bass I just ditch the headphones for my speakers.
fhood
Oh yes, I'm a speaker type of guy too but it's not always convenient. Software equalization can only change frequency response but cannot add harmonic distortions. You can add harmonic distortions with other types of DSP which was what I was referring to, but it's not perfect. I think the best speaker setup would be a completely solid state pre-amp with a tube power amp, this setup will be neutral in frequency response, but at the same time with pleasing tubey distortions.
I've had both, and tons of other headphones including top of the line stuff for reference.
Both are great for the price, the K7xx is easier to drive and easier to make sound good. The HD 6XX is very amp picky, not only does it need an amp that can handle a 300 ohm load, but it sounds dull and lifeless out of lots of amps and really needs tubes to sing.
As for your DAC question, only your ears can answer. The lower end DACs I've owned in the past comparable to ones you're looking at, like the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD and Maverick Audio Tubemagic D1 offered substantial improvements over onboard sound from a computer, but nothing significant compared to an iPhone 6.
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I always found the K7XX (and that family) sound changes less depending on amp than the HD 600 family. Both sound like crap out of any phone.
Rhamnetin
That I don't disagree, the K7xx's change less with better amp than the HD6xx's. HD6XX scales better with better gear but K7XX is very amp picky. The HD6XX will sound good on any amp, while the K7XX only synergizes with amps of certain character. The scaling potential on the K7 family is actually pretty decent, I've found them scaling well with end-game amps but not to the same degree as the HD6XX. Crap is what you make of it, for me the HD6XX sounds good out of my phone, the K7XX doesn't.
I've spent a little over a decade in the headphone hobby and here is my personal advice to newcomers:
1) Welcome, you're going to enjoy this... but your wallet won't!
2) Everybody's ears are different and there are far more factors in audio reproduction than any set of measurements will ever convey. Remember this when you see wildly varying accounts of how something sounds. Best thing to do is find a point of reference (i.e. a well known headphone) and find reviews that compare something new with that headphone.
3) It's also good overtime to read/watch different reviews from the same reviewer to understand their biases. Even if it's something you wouldn't necessarily be into, it helps build an understanding of the reference points that reviewer has. Sadly my point of reference just retired (Tyll).
4) Only compare frequency response graphs from the SAME source. Measuring setups vary significantly and even various runs on the same rig can yield noticeable variances. Try to focus on the changes from your "reference point" more than the overall look of the curve.
5) Does more expensive gear offer an improvement?... generally speaking the answer is yes. Where it gets messy is whether or not that improvement is noticeable to YOU and are YOU willing to pay for it. After about $500 "all in" on a headphone setup I feel you are chasing that last 5-10% performance increase. To some this difference is worth thousands, to others it is not worth it.
6) Spend on headphones first, quality source material second, amps/DAC's tie for third depending on your situation and cables/accessories last. There are exceptions but this works for most.
7) Don't let anyone tell you that you NEED an amplifier or DAC to "get what you paid for". Extremely hard to drive headphones like the HE-6 or K1000's and very low impedance very sensitive earphones like the SE846 or Andromeda do require the proper amplification matching but everything else is less picky. If you already have a quality source the DAC's improvement won't be as noticeable. Both of the headphones you're eyeing fall in the "an amp will make them better" front. One is low sensitivity with middling impedance (AKG) and the other is moderately sensitive but 300 ohms. Neither require additional gear to make acceptable music but they will be enhanced by nicer chains.
After that ramble here are some answers to the questions you actually asked:
AKG or Senn - Both are based on headphones that sold for $500 but I would have to choose Senn, for me they sound more natural. AKG K7 series always had a bit of oddity in the vocal regions.
Cheaper stacks or chains: 1) AudioQuest dragonfly black/red or used 1.2 black - Both a friend and I have the HD650/6XX and the Dragonfly 1.2. My friend uses it as his primary source for the 6XX 2) Micca Origin - well rounded entry to desktop audio 3) Magni 3 + Modi2 Uber - most flexibility, a big fan of separate components myself. 4) O2 + SDAC from MD - Similar to above, less power and flexibility
A couple of side notes: 1) If you have a noisey HP out of an older system the DAC could make a huge difference, if you already have a clean source like a digital audio player the amp is more vital. 2) I don't recommend the Multi-bit from Schiit until you get to the Gungnir level. The way this technology works and the limited options for DAC chips to use makes it difficult to do well AND cheaply.
ElectronicVices
Wow, what an answer. Thank you for putting the time in! I will make sure to look into this! Also, I did some research on your cheaper stacks and chains and they all look good. I'm still deciding! :)
Bluergbswitch
You are most welcome! I have to say those getting into headphones should count themselves lucky that headphones are as popular as they are today. Soooo many more sources for information and options to buy. When I started it was pretty much just head-fi , HeadRoom/Headphone.com and innerfidelity, other people touched on headphones once in a while but no one really focused on them. I was a long time lurker on various sites so thought it was time to share what I've picked up over the years. Feel free to ask away if you have questions.
My friend has quite a bit of audio gear and I asked about a DAC/amp combo. I was wondering his opinion on the schiit fulla 2 and he said that the original fulla had build quality problems, typically unheard of from schiit. But he recommended me this. What I like is that it has both output sizes and is cheap. https://www.amazon.com/Micca-OriGen-G2-Resolution-Preamplifier/dp/B01N14SY65/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_pl_foot_top?ie=UTF8
I plan on buying it soon. Here is the power source it needs, has to be purchased separately.
https://www.amazon.com/standard-adaptor-External-Adapter-positive/dp/B01DPCPAQS/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1526347627&sr=1-5&keywords=5v+power+supply+3.5&dpID=41c7LJteclL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
From what I have heard/know. The HD6XX is very neutral and needs lots of power since it has high impedance. The K7XX is low impedance and bass heavy. I am not an audiophile to the point I can say, "the highs are etc etc, the bass is etc etc."
One thing to note is that the HD6XX drop will close when the amount sold hits 47,000 and you would not receive them till August. Unlike the K7XX which would ship in asbout 2 days after purchase. The akg also has a super long stock cable.
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Yeah, just looked at it. Quite helpful, thanks!
Bluergbswitch
If you go with the HD6XX and a Schiit stack I suggest you avoid the earlier Magnis (1,2, 2Uber... that is if you go the used route). Those models sucked the life out of my 300 ohm Sennheisers. The new Magni 3, however, is an very good pairing with all my 300 ohm Senns (HD600, HD650, HD6XX, HD800S), and most of my other headphones. My favorite with the HD6xx series is my Woo Audio WA3. That thing just does something for all those headphones that none of the other amps I have or have tried over the years can do. And, I personally would chose my HD6XX over my K702s any day of the week.