What would you guys recommend for a desktop headphone amp newb within the stated price range? It will be paired with a set of HD 800S headphones and be fed lossless CD rips and hi-res files from my MacBook through a Chord Mojo in line level mode.
I had been happily using the Senns with the Mojo in DAC/amp mode and then, on a whim, decided to run them through an old iQube V1 portable amp that I’ve had for a decade or more. The difference was profound, particularly at the bottom end where the bass retained all its reference like clarity and precision, but became noticeably more profound and three dimensional. That experience got me to wondering what might be possible with a dedicated desktop amp - especially one with an output impedence better suited for my 300 ohm cans.
I was able to audition the HD 800Ss against Focals, Audezes and many other top brands prior to making my purchase. Given my strong preference for the more technical proficiency and open sound of the Senns, I suspect I might be better served by a solid state amp (but am certainly willing to be disabused of this notion if it’s based on a misconception).