Driving the Sennheiser HD 600 with an Audio Interface

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
KVRian
909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri May 14, 2021 6:31 am

Has anyone tried driving the 300 ohm Sennheiser HD 600 or 650 using an audio interface such as the recently-released MOTU Ultralite MK5? Would this be powerful enough to drive the headphones at a comfortable volume? I contacted MOTU support. They said that they tested with headphones ranging from 2 to 300 ohms, and claimed that an additional amp would be unnecessary. I’m not sure though.

Would an interface like the UAD Thunderbolt Apollo drive the headphones better, actually, or would there be no real difference?

I would much prefer not using an extra amp.

lpr
KVRist
184 posts since 28 Dec, 2016

Post Sun May 16, 2021 5:53 pm

I suspect there would be little difference. I'd say get a headphone amp if you want to mix with your headphones or get a different set of headphones. A cheaper option would be Sonarworks Reference with something like Sony's 7506 or something similar that is lower ohms. That would cost like $250 and deliver superior results than HD600 and a headphone amp, IMO.

lfm
KVRAF
5693 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Sun May 16, 2021 9:27 pm

I would not trust any standard interface to fix 300 ohm phones.
- also think you should consider headphone amp

It's more to it than just volume, it's also about not dropping frequency response so it can drive the increasing impedance with frequency(it is coils after all). Specs only state at 1 kHz what impedance is.

I got a Pro-Ject headphone amp for HD650, and is really, really nice. Bought for both daw computer and hifi amp.The one I got is 18V power and it works fine for 300 ohm, not further up.

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sun May 16, 2021 9:45 pm

I don’t really get the point of connecting an amp to an audio interface. I need the interface to be the DAC and interface with MIDI and hardware instruments, and microphone. When adding an amp, the connections are usually unbalanced, no? I couldn’t find good instructions on dealing with this.
(Is your Pro-Ject amp the $500 one?)

Also I am reading conflicting infornation. Some people including MOTU’s support and others on this forum say that they’ve used even the M2 with no issues, and that an extra amp would be overkill. The powered Ultralite MK5 should be better than that. Is it really hopeless, or might there still be a chance that this would work fine?

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KVRAF
12791 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Sun May 16, 2021 10:48 pm

synchronizer wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 9:45 pm
I don’t really get the point of connecting an amp to an audio interface.
Well, I don't really get the point of getting high impedance headphones and expecting run-of-the-mill amps to drive them properly.
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

lfm
KVRAF
5693 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Sun May 16, 2021 11:50 pm

synchronizer wrote:
Sun May 16, 2021 9:45 pm
(Is your Pro-Ject amp the $500 one?)
My Head box S was €100, so way cheaper and powered by 18V.
Discontinued. I had first for 10 years, and last one in stock on amazon just a year ago.

Replaced by this one with only 5V power
https://www.project-audio.com/en/product/head-box-s2/

How well it suites 250-300 ohm in reality in comparison I don't know.
At least specs say so.

0.7W at 32 ohm and at 1 kHz, not sure how much power at 10 kHz and maybe 10 000 ohm. 5V cannot drive that and probable loss unless amp is compensated in frequency response.

P=U*U/R=5*5/250=0.1W.
say 10 000 ohm at 10 kHz give 0.0025

Compare to 18*18/250=1.3W
10 000 ohm -> 0.0324W

So unless voltage doubler inside I am sceptical.But also have a RIAA preamp Pro-Ject and very good stuff in general. Sure it's better than interface out.

So spending 30% of headphone price on proper amp is well spent as I see it.

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Mon May 17, 2021 4:34 am

Is there a specific headphone amp in mind, preferably one that doesn’t color the sound and which is affordable, and takes the proper inputs - i.e. not RCA, but rather something like xlr?

I’m not sure what cabling is necessary. Most amps assume they’re to be used standalone.

Yet how do we know the MOTU amp is bad? They’ve been known to be better than run-of-the-mill. It’s a ~$650 audio interface and I was told an extra amp would be overkill:
https://motu.com/en-us/products/gen5/ul ... mk5/specs/

If I were to ask MOTU for a specific spec, what would it be? Power per ohms?

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KVRist
439 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Post Mon May 17, 2021 9:29 am

I’m sure if you emailed MOTU and just asked whether your interface had adequate specs to drive an HD600 / HD650 they could give you a definitive answer. Those headphones have been around for a while and they’re a well known reference.

JDS labs do some good, affordable headphone amps if you can get hold of one. Don’t worry about the lack of XLR or balanced inputs... you’ll be using short cable runs and the sound quality will be the same, for all intents and purposes.

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KVRAF
4086 posts since 22 Mar, 2009 from gent

Post Mon May 17, 2021 9:38 am

I used an edirol ua25 to drive a 300 ohm beyederdynamic dt880 , then used the headphone out of a roland integra .
The difference was night and day , in favor of the integra
Eyeball exchanging
Soul calibrating ..frequencies

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Mon May 17, 2021 10:16 am

andymcbain wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 9:29 am
I’m sure if you emailed MOTU and just asked whether your interface had adequate specs to drive an HD600 / HD650 they could give you a definitive answer. Those headphones have been around for a while and they’re a well known reference.

JDS labs do some good, affordable headphone amps if you can get hold of one. Don’t worry about the lack of XLR or balanced inputs... you’ll be using short cable runs and the sound quality will be the same, for all intents and purposes.
I'll reach-out then. Thanks. Would you know specifically how to wire the JDS though, worst case? I've heard good things about its amps and dacs. Their blog post shows something kind of elaborate when it comes to plugging their amp into an audio interface though. I'm not sure it's necessary.

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Fri May 21, 2021 6:54 pm

andymcbain wrote:
Mon May 17, 2021 9:29 am
I’m sure if you emailed MOTU and just asked whether your interface had adequate specs to drive an HD600 / HD650 they could give you a definitive answer. Those headphones have been around for a while and they’re a well known reference.

JDS labs do some good, affordable headphone amps if you can get hold of one. Don’t worry about the lack of XLR or balanced inputs... you’ll be using short cable runs and the sound quality will be the same, for all intents and purposes.
So I'm deciding to go with the Sennheiser 600 for multiple reasons, including the lower cost, and I'm going to try an amp.

I've created a new thread for this part of my search: viewtopic.php?f=102&t=565574
In short, I've also been recommended the Aphex Headpod 4, which has an S/PDIF input that could be more convenient, but I don't know if it's as good as the Atom Amp for preserving the signal (not coloring the sound).

KVRist
51 posts since 2 Feb, 2016

Post Sat May 22, 2021 7:09 am

As a data point, I have no dramas driving my 470 ohm ATH-R70Xs from my Focusrite 18i20.

KVRist
71 posts since 31 Aug, 2020

Post Sat May 22, 2021 7:40 am

I have an HD 600 connected to my Babyface Pro (the last version). Works like a charm, I don't know what could be wrong TBH. Same on my synths and console.
I never quite understood the headphones pre-amp thing, do people mix at 120 db ?

KVRian

Topic Starter

909 posts since 27 Sep, 2010

Post Sat May 22, 2021 8:35 am

I’m now being told the output should always be at 0 db and I should use some external mixer controller/fader with an amp instead to control things. I am outright confused.

The thing is, the Sennheiser is only really audible with all volumes cranked to max, so that doesn’t seem right. It’s too bad an expert ear isn’t around to tell me “oh this is how it’s supposed to sound.”

In the other thread I linked, I’m getting mixed replies as well. So now I have to spend a huge amount on some other amp? I listed two options, but I’m not sure which actually makes sense.

KVRian
824 posts since 8 May, 2018 from Sweden

Post Sat May 29, 2021 12:59 am

Bulbizarre wrote:
Sat May 22, 2021 7:40 am
I have an HD 600 connected to my Babyface Pro (the last version). Works like a charm, I don't know what could be wrong TBH. Same on my synths and console.
I never quite understood the headphones pre-amp thing, do people mix at 120 db ?
I guess some audio interfaces, especially older bus powered ones just don't get enough juice from the USB port. 5V and 500 mA isn't much, even for headphones. If the interface has a separate DC power supply or it uses USB 3 which can supply a higher current, it should be fine.

FWIW, I don't have any problems driving my 250 Ohm DT880's or DT1770's from my Behringer UMC404HD, either. I rarely have the volume at more than 30-40% and it's still plenty loud.

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