Can I better my Headphone amp?

First I aploegis for what may be a long post.

I currently have an Auralic Taurus MK2 and it’s a great amp and has served me well over the last 5 years, however I am using headphones a lot more lately so I am curious as to whether I can improve my set up.

I have a Roon Nucleus which feeds my Devialet 200 and this is connected by RCA to the Taurus.

I have HEK and HD800S headphones , I was only going to keep one, bit I really cant chose so I have decided to keep them both. The HEK sounds good with everything but more and more I am preferring the HD800S although its not good with certain music. I guess that’s the price you pay for accuracy. I do miss a little bit of bass on the HD800S , but maybe that’s because the HEK is great for the bass.

So my first question is how much will I need to spend to get a better amp than the Taurus.

I am considering the Benchmark HP4, Violectric 281 (maybe even wait for the new model) Burson Conductor 3X, GX2 and the IFI Pro ICan. Yes I need to stop reading as the list tends to grow. Its difficult to audition up where I live so I tend to do a lot of forum reading and take advice off others to shorten my list.

Another question, do I go for a one box solution which has the DAC, or go for a separate DAC and headphone amp? I think my Devialet acts as the DAC now and I assume its quite good s its an expensive piece of kit.

What I am wondering then is , all in one solution or a new DAC …….and maybe more important will I get a much better sound than I am currently getting.

I always thought the Taurus would be enough , but like a lot of you right now I am at home a lot and a lot of headphone use has got me thinking.

I appreciate any guidance as always

My first suggestion is: consider exchanging the standard jack cable of the HD800S for Sennheiser’s 3 meter balanced 4 pin XLR cable to the Taurus. I have done this and it enhanced the soundstage and definition of the HD800S considerably.

I agree that from time to time I prefer to listen to another headphone - in my case Audeze LCD-2 - in order to have a more compact/coherent sound stage.

In case you wish to improve (parts of) your (according to most standards) excellent headphone system, I have to advise you to listen before buying, because every ear is different, and your preference may be different from other reviewers.

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Like Johannes said look at your cables first. I decided to go with a separate DAC and headphone amp. My thought was DAC technology will continue to change, a good headphone amp is a good headphone amp. I went with a Rogue Audio RH-5 to drive LCD 3s, and eventually I will ad a HD8** to the stable.

If you do start looking at headphone amps your first decision will be do I like tubes, or SS better. Take some time and audition your candidates with your phones to make the final decision.

Thanks for the post, I already use the balanced cable into the Taurus , both on my hd800s and the HEK .

Auditioning is difficult where I live so I tend to use forums to guide me at first

Yes what you say about a separate DAC makes a lot of sense .

It is a very good set up as it is but it’s 5 years old and technology moves on so I am wondering if I can improve things a little
Thanks for the post
U though the rogue Rh 5 was an amp , not a DAC unless I am reading your post wrong

Just to add I probably could not be bothered with tube changing etc so will probably stick with solid state

I am a fan of changing amps. If something is going to make a big difference in your chain, is going to be your AMP.

So if you are looking at improving your chain, DACS make minimal impact, What makes the most impact is the AMP… Forget cables, power, blah blah blah… (Except if you are using single ended it does make a difference to switch to XLR but not in sound but in power)

I have gone through several AMPS and finally found something that I really like. If like me, you cant do trials of equipment locally, do lots of research! Talk to other people and look for what you look for on an AMP.

Do not settle for the first thing. Take your time. Take opinions and reviewers with a grain of salt and make your own conclusion. Do not get away from what you really like on your sound chain!

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I don’t have any experience with your particular headphone amp, but i do have my HD-800S over my ears right now, and my HE1K are in my listening room, along with some of my other headphones…

I would say that the only HP amp in my posession that do both of these justice, would be the Moon 430HAD. The HE1K requires solid state amplification ime, while the HD800S can sound fine with good tube amplification. I also have a Chord Hugo TT which makes my Focal Utopias sing beautifully (as does the Moon, of course) but it lacks the grunt to power HE1K and really doesn’t gel with the HD800S…

So, what this all comes down to is that these two phones are quite dissimilar in their requirements, but both can sound excellent with optimal partnering.

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I may be wrong but I’m sure you can use the devialet as a headphone amp with the right connections. Why don’t you try it? It may not be better but may sound different which may suit you?

I tried this when I first got the Devialet but it’s not good as a HP amp

Thanks for the reply . Yes it would be simpler if I only had one headphone . That was always the intention to be honest , but now I could not give any of these up as they are so so different .

So yes ideally I would like an amp that works with both as I would not consider tubes .

That’s why the benchmark, violectric and Burston are being considered .

I will have a look at the moon as I have seen this on the forums .

The Taurus does drive them both well I have to admit

Are you interested in solid state or tubes. I have several amps, and have HD800 and HD800s.

If you want to plus up your headphone amp and DAC as a combo unit, take a look at the Benchmark Media DAC3. Simple solid performer. If you plan on purchasing a specific separate DAC, take a look at Headamp GSX-mini (solid state). Tubes is another comittment if you want to go that route. I use ampsandsound tubed amps.

What is your budget?

I don’t really have a budget yet , but I tend to find whatever money is needed if I think it is warranted . But I think the Benchmark amp I have mentioned above is 3.5k so that would be my limit I think

Well, in that case…

Way out of my budget

I was being fatuous. Way out of most people’s budget, I think.

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The RH-5 is an amp/preamp, not a DAC, if that is what your were asking. There are only 2 tubes and it is autobiasing.

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My suggestion is that you head over to Head-Fi (both the regular site and especially the forums) where you will find tons and tons of information about any headphone amp available. Lots of very knowledgeable and helpful people. Please give head-fi a try.

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Yes I am on head-fi . I have posted the same message but as yet had no response

Add your budget criteria. That should stir the pot a bit since everyone loves to show off what can be done with X amount of money.

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Stay away from that place. too much drama and bias BS going on in there.

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