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Topic: 'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is) (Read 3790 times) previous topic - next topic
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'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

So, coming up on the holiday season, its time to justify spending money (or have others spend money on me... whatever works ). My main sound system at the moment is headphone based. My phones are Beyer DT880s, my source is my computer (using an EMU 1212m), and my amp is a somewhat dated Denon AVR-1000 receiver. My thinking is that the amp is the weak link of my system (Although I'm not sure, I can't find any specs on the Denon's headphone out). My question is:

1) Will a dedicated headphone amp noticably improve sound quality?

2) If so, what is a good amp for somewhere in the 200-300 USD price range.

My instinct says a better amp should help, but I really don't have much experience and there isn't really anyone selling dedicated headphone amps where I live (for testing purposes).

Thanks for any advise.

P.S. I listen to about 60% classical, 40% rock if that helps.

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #1
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1) Will a dedicated headphone amp noticably improve sound quality?


Do you hear noise/hiss in the signal with no music playing? Do you hear clipping distortion during use? Is the frequency response of the amplifier driving the headphone load not flat?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you can improve the sound quality by using another amplifier. However, a $80 Behringer mixer(and other options in the general price range) can provide transparent amplification of virtually any headphone, so there is not reason to go to the pricerange you are ready to spend unless you need a specific feature or cosmetic appeal available only on a more expensive unit.

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2) If so, what is a good amp for somewhere in the 200-300 USD price range.


The Headroom ( www.headphone.com ) Micro portable amplifier seems to be a good choice in the pricerange. It is heavy with features(selectable gain, battery power is possible, crossfeed is available via switch, etc.).

-Chris

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #2
Without anything I can identify as distortion, without any significant noise difference, except at a volume control position too high for any music, there is a difference is sound between my receiver headphone jack output and my headphone amplifier. It is not startling or amazing, but it is definite. I prefer the headphone amplifier, but deciding it is worth any amount of extra money is a value judgment, not something objective. No one else can say what it is worth to you.

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #3
1. Yes, greatly.  Espescially in the BASS!!

2. DIYs are great because you get the best for your money, and feel proud afterwards.

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #4
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2. DIYs are great because you get the best for your money, and feel proud afterwards.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=349817"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I've kind of toyed around with the thought of building something like a cmoy, but I've been hesitant because I really don't have any experience in building electronics (other than putting computers together, but that really doesn't count). Also, from what I've read, it takes about 3 tries or so before you can build a decent one that works well.

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #5
Quote
1) Will a dedicated headphone amp noticably improve sound quality?

2) If so, what is a good amp for somewhere in the 200-300 USD price range.

My instinct says a better amp should help, but I really don't have much experience and there isn't really anyone selling dedicated headphone amps where I live (for testing purposes).

Thanks for any advise.

P.S. I listen to about 60% classical, 40% rock if that helps.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=349762"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I would try a PPA in that range. You ought to like it from what people say about it. It's a DIY amp which you can find on Head Fi in the for sale forum from time to time. I don't know how it compares to commercial offerings for the same price. Try and find a match for the sensitivity of your headphones: if they are sensitive, a low gain amplifier.

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #6
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Without anything I can identify as distortion, without any significant noise difference, except at a volume control position too high for any music, there is a difference is sound between my receiver headphone jack output and my headphone amplifier. It is not startling or amazing, but it is definite. I prefer the headphone amplifier, but deciding it is worth any amount of extra money is a value judgment, not something objective. No one else can say what it is worth to you.
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=349811"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


Please correct me if I am mistaken -- but it sounds as if you did a common uncontrolled, biased listening comparison. What is the value of such a method unless very obvious problems(hiss, high distortion/clipping, etc.) persist? Did you enforce any sort of blinded protocol? Did you level match(within 0.1dB)?

-Chris

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #7
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1. Yes, greatly.  Espescially in the BASS!!


Do you have frequency respnose measurements of the Denon reciever in question?

Do you have frequency respnse measurements of the headphone amp he will comparing to it(that he has not even made mention of any brand or model yet)?

Based on the information provided, how  do you come to the conclusion "Yes, greatly. Especially in the BASS!!"?

-Chris

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #8
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Do you have frequency respnose measurements of the Denon reciever in question?
Do you have frequency respnse measurements of the headphone amp he will comparing to it(that he has not even made mention of any brand or model yet)?

I do not, I'm giving a general feeling about the use of headphone amps.  They are built to drive headphones and generally have a flatter impedance curve than speaker amplifiers, which often need to compensate certain frequency ranges for speaker placement (eg, most often, subwoofers are placed in a corner or along a wall...)

In this case, I am also talking about the difference I heard between a modern sony amplifier (I know, it's not _great_, but it does the job), direct source, and a cmoy amplifyer, on HD280s.

Edit : typo

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #9
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I do not, I'm giving a general feeling about the use of headphone amps.  They are built to drive headphones and generally have a flatter impedance curve than speaker amplifiers, which often need to compensate certain frequency ranges for speaker placement (eg, most often, subwoofers are placed in a corner or along a wall...)


What do you mean by "flatter impedance curve than speaker amplifiers"? How does a speaker amplifier compensate for speaker placement?

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In this case, I am also talking about the difference I heard between a modern sony amplifier (I know, it's not _great_, but it does the job), direct source, and a cmoy amplifyer, on HD280s.


So, an uncontrolled, sighted and thus inherantly biased test?

-Chris

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #10
If you have a receiver, you can adapt the speaker outputs for driving headphones with very good quality. Yo can do this building an adequate voltage divider with a couple of resistors for every channel.

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....ndpost&p=334301

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #11
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Please correct me if I am mistaken -- but it sounds as if you did a common uncontrolled, biased listening comparison. What is the value of such a method unless very obvious problems(hiss, high distortion/clipping, etc.) persist? Did you enforce any sort of blinded protocol? Did you level match(within 0.1dB)?
I'm not selling anything and you are free to ignore anything you don't like.

'Tis the season (to buy myself stuff, that is)

Reply #12
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I do not, I'm giving a general feeling about the use of headphone amps.  They are built to drive headphones and generally have a flatter impedance curve than speaker amplifiers, which often need to compensate certain frequency ranges for speaker placement (eg, most often, subwoofers are placed in a corner or along a wall...)


Edit : typo
[a href="index.php?act=findpost&pid=349835"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Assuming the designer did his job properly there is one difference and one difference only between a headphone amp and a speaker amp - the power it is designed to deliver. Headphone amps absolutely do *not* have "a flatter impedance curve" nor indeed a flatter frequency response, which is what you probably meant. Headphones require power in the milliwatt range, speakers require power in the watts range. Any differences in amplifier is solely down to that, all other things being equal. Admittedly it's easier to design certain aspects of a headphone amp, leading to a theoretically better amp but the differences are orders of magnitude below human hearing threshholds.

Speaker placements are not a consideration in the design of an amp either. It would be a foolish designer who tried to "compensate" by such means.

 
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