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Amps are overated? - Page 2

post #16 of 252
Chef Medeski, I've found amplification to make a huge difference in 2 situations, neither of which fit you: 1) with hard to drive headphones and 2) in the case of tube amplification.

No solid state portable amplifier I've tried has made any kind of signficant contribution to the sound in my experience.
post #17 of 252
Exactly why I don't intend on buying a portable amp ever again even though my experiences with the Hornet and Hornet M have been pleasant. The extra price, weight and bulk just weren't worth it. Plus, I'm only ever going to be using IEMs in a portable scenario. I must admit it does sound cool to be lugging around a portable amp though I do believe in desktop/home amps though having experienced a noticeable improvement that is definitely worth paying for.
post #18 of 252
Think systems !!!

I haven't found any single component can please everyone. I believe strongly in system synergy. You might have to pick and choose to build your own system. That's why we're all here at Head-Fi to find the way to build such an illusive system. (Some are here on other purposes )

If you can find a component that please everyone of us, I would say that you've found the holy grail.

Keep searching...

post #19 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 $$$.
.... and what people need to keep in mind is that FOTM hype always seems to die out as fast as it storms in (especially with porta-amps). Wait out the FOTM-storm. Hang back and wait for the negatives, and complaint threads to surface (they always do).

One solution is to buy used, so that way you can at least re-sell at a minimal loss.

Garrett
post #20 of 252
What is this, the 3rd thread that's popped up questioning the viability of amps? Now I'm scared to get one...

Yet, hearing the DT990 from an old Sony receiver and having passed the new can love, I can't help but feel a little disappointed...I mean, it sounds great and is clearly a big step up from the HD555, but I hope that an amp will add more than just "subtle differences"...
post #21 of 252
How can you say amps are overrated?!

Nonetheless, if you dont have the funds or are not intending to spend weeks of salary on this ridiculously-expensive hobby, then I think you'd better start running away from this place ASAP. OR, you can always try a DIY amp which costs you under $30-50 or LESS!
post #22 of 252
It's the curse of "Sorry about your wallet"... It's real...

Quote:
Originally Posted by penguindude View Post
How can you say amps are overrated?!

Nonetheless, if you dont have the funds or are not intending to spend weeks of salary on this ridiculously-expensive hobby, then I think you'd better start running away from this place ASAP. OR, you can always try a DIY amp which costs you under $30-50 or LESS!
post #23 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post
.... and what people need to keep in mind is that FOTM hype always seems to die out as fast as it storms in (especially with porta-amps). Wait out the FOTM-storm. Hang back and wait for the negatives, and complaint threads to surface (they always do).

One solution is to buy used, so that way you can at least re-sell at a minimal loss.

Garrett
Yeah I think this is a very good point, if you don't have the opportunity to hear gear locally or at meets wait until after the initial FOTM craze has ended. It happens with any new piece of gear that comes out and its easy enough to tell when it's died down. At that point it'll be very easy to find whatever it is used and if you don't like you won't lose much reselling it.
post #24 of 252
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrostyMMB View Post
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.
I'm using the line-out of an iPod primarirly with 320 kbps MP3 VBR. Most high quality stuff there is. Well I mean not the iPod but the encoding. Yeah, I'm thinking of just finding a CDP for my room and using that to listen at home since I have a lot of CDs. Usually those have pretty good preamps. My father had this really old school DVD player that was one of the first video ones. It was a really expensive Sony, well at the time most DVDs were. But it was really nice. I used to listen on it and stuff. And the detail was INCREDIBLE. Straight out of headphone out. I went back this Xmas for winter break to see if I could snag it since I knew he wasnt using it anymore and he said I could have it a month before. ONLY TO FIND OUT HE THREW IT OUT I was like no. That could have saved me like $150. I was going to compare that to line-out to Toma. But, now that will be postponed.

I def dont know what to do. I love the conveince of the iPod but the quality..... and the inconvenience of an amp doesn't seem to help me. I think I might try a different amp like a Xin or somethin. Ive only heard rave reviews about those, and that is no hype. Especially not after people waiting 3 months furiously for them. I havent given up, just became a lot more skeptical, which I believe is for the better.

Kramer, I agree with you. Trying is believing. I dont think I'm going to pay more than $200 for anything again before I try them out. My previous strategy of $200 budget per component worked great. Got me Etys and HF-1s, but when I started to loosen the belt... well.

Definetly need to start a Montreal Mini Meet. Alliteration! Whoah!
post #25 of 252

My Take

I can say without hesitation that for me adding an amp into the mix makes a difference in almost all cases. This is especially true when comparing IPod headphone output to line out with an amp. I've done countless AB comparisons and in every case the SQ is better with an amp in the chain. One of my favorite examples is not with expensive high end cans but rather with cheap buds. I have a set of Cerulean XLRs that are sold by the iSkin people. Cost me an extra $15 when I bought my case. These are very decent for ear buds and a big step up from standard iPod buds. Even with these, I can hear a noticeable difference. http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/ipo...arphones-ipod/ I don't have RS-1s but I have some other very nice IEMs and other cans and at least to me there is always an improvement with my Portaphile or Tomahawk connected. I agree there is a certain amount hassle factor with extra cables, etc. but a Nano and a TH combined with a good set of IEMs makes for a very small high quality package. On a related note, I've often wondered why no one has made a high quality portable amp that can easily attach directly to the back of an iPod to make one nice compact package. There was the Simpl A1 but they got it all wrong and used the headphone not the line out. Plus it was a clunky implementation and apparently sounded like poo.
post #26 of 252
A quick update. I tried unplugging the receiver and connecting the headphones directly to my DAC with a volume control to cut out the white noise (and this DAC expressly says that "sound quality is not guaranteed with direct connection to headphones"). Results? Crystal clear, compared to the receiver. I lose a good bit of bass extension, but it's just as good in the treble and the mids are more detailed through the DAC. What the...? I know it's probably just that the receiver was crappy, but this still casts more doubt on me buying an amp...
post #27 of 252
I hear a difference with all of my amps. BitHead, Aria, LD2++ all make the music sound better than using the standard headphone out. I don't have an iPod. Can't comment on that type of setup. One thing I would say is that the difference using an amp from my computer is less than using an amp with my stand alone CD player. The music from my CDP with my LD2++ sounds amazing. The music from my computer using my BitHead or Aria sounds better but not by leaps and bounds. Maybe the difference in sound using a tube amp is more noticeable or maybe USB connections aren't that great. I don't know. But I'm pretty happy with my amp purchases and I definitely think they make a difference/improvement in the sound.

I think a better question is the difference in improvement between medium priced (or cheap) amps and expensive ones. That to me could be a much more interesting discussion.

But hey, as long as the music sounds good to you, then that's all that matters.
post #28 of 252
I don't think you can make a blanket statement and say amps make no difference. Each situation is unique.

It really depends on what cans you have. IEMs in general do not seem to change very much with amping (E500s being the exception...seriously a night and day difference with treble roll-off when combined with my Hornet M). I couldn't tell much of a difference except minor things w/ low impedance headphones such as the HD595. HD650s = completely different story.

But I agree to a certain degree...some amps really DON'T do much at all. In my personal experience, this pertained to the LDM+. I really did not notice much change...Even with my E500s. The slight differences were so minimal that I really had to nitpick to find them...nothing I'd be able to tell just from enjoyment listening. Thats why I never carried an amp around with me...That is, until I got my Hornet.
post #29 of 252
Good thread for new members.

My thoughts as shared here by others...No, you don't need a portable amp for IEMs and many low impedance cans if using a good DAP. I've realized that I can't do without a portable amp now that I've heard the difference.

Using a full size headphone with a DAP as source will require a portable amp in most cases from my experience (to properly drive them).

I don't regret buying any of my amps although very little of the cash came from paychecks so that makes the idea of experimenting much easier.
post #30 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef Medeski View Post
Then I plugged my HF-1s into my computer to hear some old school Beatles. And you no what. It blew me away.
Not all built-in headphone jacks are created equal. Apple's happen to be really good.

I've been listening to my HD-580s directly out of my iPod recently. Y'know what? I love it. Doesn't get ear-bleeding loud, but enough for the music to completely engross me in a quiet office environment.

I'm not ready to sell my "reference" system yet, but I definitely won't be upgrading, either.
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