Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Amps are overated?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Amps are overated?

post #1 of 252
Thread Starter 
I have HF-1s. Etymotic ER-4S. I love them to death. Etys were my first real cans. Grados have always been something special for me, and special woody editions only makes them even better. All I heard about them was, AMPS HELP SO MUCH. I was weary though cause I hate making things complicated with Amps. I mean I love just carrying around my iPod, its so slick. But add an amp, extra cables. Batteries. It gets complicated.

Yet, finally Head-fi pulled me. I got a Bithead, perfect, right. Its a DAC plus amp itll give me new levels of sound. Plug everything in . Where's the difference? Ok... understandable, its very liad back probably not my style. Dont get discouraged, just sell it. Sold it at $40 lost due to customs.

Decide to buy a Tomahawk. Much more present of an amp. Nice small, hopefully it wont be burdensome. Plus amde for Etys and HF-1. Perfect!

Well I thought my first one was defective, which might have just been my mind working. But the second one I guess I so wanted to just the $300 spent that my mind tricked me into thinking it sounded great. Sure it was hard to proof. So, I've been carrying it around with me recently. Fun and games. Then I plugged my HF-1s into my computer to hear some old school Beatles. And you no what. It blew me away. This is what I use to love, the detail and quality. The amazing sound. This blew me away in the beginning with buying great headphones. The almost ear-gasm. Then it never returned and I guess I searched for amps to allow me to hear again. Yet to no prevail. Suddenly its the crappy headphone out of my computer making me hear and feel the vibe. I'm thinkin I'm goin to sell my Toma. Its a great product. I just cant justify $300 on a device when I cant hear a difference. I mean I can hear subtleties. But I don't pay subtleties for $300.... atleast not yet.

Just wanted to put this out. For those who lookin to buy. It wont always help that much. Headphones are probably the best upgrade ever. Sources make a huge difference. But... if the complexity and cumbersomeness of portable amps has you not wanting to buy one. Dont. The sound isnt worth it. Save yourself some money. Go buy a couple nice albums. Treat yourself to a nice ice cream. And put some money in the bank. If you double check and see that account is just begging to be plucked. Well then splurge away, but I think Blind Testing and critical listening might help you decide for yourself that it really isnt worth it. Especially if it takes you 3 weeks salary to get $300 as it does for most part timers/students like me.

Just remember. Enjoy the music and keep your wallet tight! Then you will always enjoy what you have.
post #2 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Medeski View Post
Just wanted to put this out. For those who lookin to buy. It wont always help that much. Headphones are probably the best upgrade ever. Sources make a huge difference. But... if the complexity and cumbersomeness of portable amps has you not wanting to buy one. Dont. The sound isnt worth it. Save yourself some money. Go buy a couple nice albums.
I agree somewhat, and will always agree to the purchase of additional albums

However, I think some people just like to tinker with various amp, headphone, cable, mods, etc combinations. Their hobby is the hardware. Sort of like people who build $5000 gaming computers and overclock the piss out of em' and yet never really sit down and play any games. Nothing wrong with that; they like to tinker with the hardware. And lord knows there's a lot of headphone related hardware to tinker with!

Some people like to collect music, and couldn't care less about the hardware as long as sound is emitted from it. Then there's a mix of the two types. I think everyone who posts/reads head-fi regularly has at least a small bit of hardware enthusiast in them.
post #3 of 252
I posted this in another thread but i'll cross post it here since it's pretty much the same subject...

Quote:
It will depend on your ears as to whether the differences are worth the outlay. Adding a dedicated headphone amp may not show up in your face as a major improvement in the sound, but rather a host of subtle changes that will grow on you over a period of time. I think what some people sometimes forget is that they're still listening to the same music, so if it sounded totally different then there is or was something wrong with their system.

If you audition a headphone amp make sure that it's fully burned in, as some will sound much better after a decent amount of use, or if you buy one to give it a while before you critically evaluate it.
post #4 of 252
Headphones are always first but the amps and cables, etc. are a way of fine tuning a sound you already like. They are not night and day but if I go iPod > ES2 it does not have anywhere near the dimension, weight or clarity of the iPod > Hornet > ES2.

I think where you start to see more diminishing returns is on the larger amps. Don't get me wrong, I love the PPX3 Slam and HR-2 they really make a difference but when it starts going over $1k I can't help but think I'd rather take a cruise or a trip somewhere... I guess it depends on the person and their priorities. For me the last 10-20% is an acceptable loss when I can get pretty close with good cans and portable amp.

I may pick up a Apogee mini-DAC some day if I can find one cheap
post #5 of 252
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuzydice View Post
I agree somewhat, and will always agree to the purchase of additional albums

However, I think some people just like to tinker with various amp, headphone, cable, mods, etc combinations. Their hobby is the hardware. Sort of like people who build $5000 gaming computers and overclock the piss out of em' and yet never really sit down and play any games. Nothing wrong with that; they like to tinker with the hardware. And lord knows there's a lot of headphone related hardware to tinker with!

Some people like to collect music, and couldn't care less about the hardware as long as sound is emitted from it. Then there's a mix of the two types. I think everyone who posts/reads head-fi regularly has at least a small bit of hardware enthusiast in them.
I completely know if its a hobby then please by all means. But if money is tight..... Im just saying to go wastin it on amps. Or atleast buy better headphones. Like Im still gettin custom molds for my Etys, thats a mod that will surely be very pleasing (possibly not sonically but definetly comfort sie).
post #6 of 252
Never (ever) buy anything based on forum hype. That forum hype is (partially) what fuels the head-Fi business model for sponsors, and it can lead new members to spend a lot of $$$ on items that may or may not yield that much sonic improvement.

Always (always) use your ears to guide you, and demo items before spending your hard earned $$$.
post #7 of 252

Give it more time?

I bought a bithead about a month ago. I plugged it in with the mini to mini cable and fired it up. With my new hd595 I thought it sounded better, but perhaps not worth 200+ dollars. I then went on a long flight with my UE super.fi 5pro, a new ALO copper dock, and again thought the sound was improved but not significantly.

Yesterday, for the first time in a while, i was at the gym and didn't want to drag the amp around so I plugged the super.fi directly in to the ipod. Whoa, where'd my sound go?!@?! It was very obvious my soundstage had shrunk radically and the very low lows had disappeared. Everything sounded muddy.

I think I had to train my ears to hear all the new sounds. Or maybe that burn in stuff really is true. the headphones were nearly a year old but the copper dock and bithead were bought at the same time along with the hd595(which sound f'ing spectacular now, btw)

with that said, I'm returning the bithead and getting a micro dac for home use with my computer and have ordered a higher end portable amp which should be at home as I type!
post #8 of 252
Ok, you guys are giving me cold feet! I'm about to purchase a hornet for my ipod/E500/ALO dock setup (typical)... and I'm expecting to hear MORE than an "incremental" gain over the govibe... If that's not the case then I might as well not even consider the purchase???????? *confused*
post #9 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morph201 View Post
Ok, you guys are giving me cold feet! I'm about to purchase a hornet for my ipod/E500/ALO dock setup (typical)... and I'm expecting to hear MORE than an "incremental" gain over the govibe... If that's not the case then I might as well not even consider the purchase???????? *confused*
Ray will take a return if you aren't happy with it so you have nothing to lose. I love my Hornet, now I just have to pry it from my iPod to send in for the M mod and a silver case
post #10 of 252
I do think amps tend to be overrated but I think it applies to a greater degree to portable amps. IMO most portable amps aren't worth anyhwere near what they cost and are more of a burden then they are worth (extra cables, batteries, yet another device to carry around, etc..).
post #11 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Morph201
Ok, you guys are giving me cold feet! I'm about to purchase a hornet for my ipod/E500/ALO dock setup (typical)... and I'm expecting to hear MORE than an "incremental" gain over the govibe... If that's not the case then I might as well not even consider the purchase???????? *confused*
The go-vibe is a very fine amp for the money, you might want to look into the new V5 version. Honestly I think the hornet is one of the more over-hyped amps around here and I haven't liked it the few times that I've heard it.
post #12 of 252
I am starting to see alot of these threads which say that amps make no difference in the sound to the OP. As with anything audio related it all depends on you, the listener. I just recently purchased my Hornet from RSA after being unamped for years, and my pc sound card isn't shabby. I could tell a difference between amped vs unamped through my 595's and ER's, however that is just me. I think people have an idea that somehow some headphone or piece of equipment will all of a sudden be so amazingly different than any other headphone or equipment. At some point though you reach a place were you will only see minute differences in sound, and almost might not be noticeable unless you are "looking" for it. I am glad you tried purchasing an amp though, at least you know now for you and your setup an amp doesn't make a difference.
post #13 of 252
How are you using your Tomahawk? From your computer or iPod? Are you running either using a line-out option?

In response to the subject line of the thread: no, amps are not overrated assuming that your ducks are in order when you are building your headphone system. More often than not, an amp will underwhelm when paired with a mediocre source. Upgrade the source to a decent CDP and sometimes that's all it takes to realize what an amp can do for your cans. A good soundcard output into a good DAC as a source could do the same, though I haven't been there.
post #14 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post
Never (ever) buy anything based on forum hype. That forum hype is (partially) what fuels the head-Fi business model for sponsors, and it can lead new members to spend a lot of $$$ on items that may or may not yield that much sonic improvement.

Always (always) use your ears to guide you, and demo items before spending your hard earned $$$.
While I agree with the sentiment, I'd say 99% of members haven't got local stores/friendly head-fiers to demo amps/cans/sound cards and have instead relied on advice from the board instead

Otherwise the motto wouldn't be sorry about your wallet!
post #15 of 252
The only "night and day" differences I've encountered with amps are when a seriously underpowered source was involved. For example, the M-Audio Transit, which runs off USB power, just doesn't cut it for demanding headphones. I do agree with the OP to a large degree, though. I think there is a lot of hype in the amp market.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Amps are overated?