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Headphone amp or dac for Sennheiser HD650's upto £200

2 replies [Last post]
N.Cassidy's picture
Joined: 11 Aug 2012
Posts: 5

Hi folks,

I am sure this is a much thrashed topic but here we go!

I would like to spend up to £200 on something to get better sound from my new HD650's.

I am loving their sound  - I upgraded from HD580 'precision' and get so much more detail and soundstage from these, even now connected to my PC with a Focusrite Audio interface.

I have looked at USB dacs and am interested in the HRT headstreamer. However, my listening is not needing to be portable and I could also use a headphone amp. There seem to be plenty around £200.

Don't quite understand whether a USB dac or headphone amp would give me a better sound (although one obviously uses a PC and one doesn't).

My listening is mainly Classical and on CD.

Please forgive any ignorance!

dalethorn's picture
Joined: 7 Dec 2011
Posts: 1069
RE: Headphone amp or dac for Sennheiser HD650's upto £200

A mini-DAC like the Headstreamer, Microstreamer, Audioengine D1, Dragonfly etc. gets all its power from the USB. It may sound great at first with the 650, but it doesn't have enough power for all dynamics, and will "soft clip" at least. When it does (and doesn't go into obvious distortion), you'll lose quality and may not realize it for awhile - perhaps after the return privilege date. I think something like the ODAC and O2 in a single enclosure would be a great starting point, and other DAC/amp combos having that much power might be good too.


MrSpeakers Alpha Dog, FAD Pandora IV/VI, Beyer DT1350/T51p, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/Microstreamer/FiiO E07k DAC/amps, PA2V2 amp.

ellisdj's picture
Joined: 11 Dec 2008
Posts: 1087
RE: Headphone amp or dac for Sennheiser HD650's upto £200

That budget is tight for those headphones - can you stretch it a bit?

if you want new a Graham Slee Novo is a great headphone amp with loads of power to drive the 650's


or look used for a Graham Slee srgii which is the model up. This you can upgrade with a linear power supply which will benefit you no end.

they go for around 220-250 used on ebay


Meridian G61R, HD621, Bryston 9BSST

Optimised Audio PC - J River / JPlay / Custom Full Linear Power Supply

Panasonic 65VT65, Marantz UD7007, HIFi Racks Podium Reference

Monitor Audio GX100, GXC150, GXFX, SVS SB13 ULTRA (set with hard knee house curve)

JCAT USB and Sata, Graham Slee Spatia (SC) Graham Slee Lautus Digital / Analogue IC x 9