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Head-Fest 2007 Panel Discussion Thread: Questions Wanted!

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Voltron has shared with me some exciting details about the Head-Fest 2007 Panel Discussion. We're pleased to announce that this year's panel will be made up of headphone amplifier designers and manufacturers. The event will take place on April 21st at 7:00 PM during dinner. Thus far, the panel is made up of the following amp makers/designers: Tyll Hertsens (HeadRoom), Pete Millett (amp guru), Mikhail Rotenberg (Singlepower Audio), Ray Samuels (Ray Samuels Audio), Rudi Stor (RudiStor Systems), Craig Uthus (Eddie Current), and Justin Wilson (HeadAmp). Wes Phillips of Stereophile will return as moderator of the panel discussion. Heavy hitters indeed! More panel members are being discussed and this post will be updated with additions accordingly. Sennheiser has graciously agreed to provide and set up the microphones for this great event.

Like last year, we are asking the Head-Fi community to sugest topics and questions that you would like the Panel to address during the discussion. This idea worked very well last year with Wes incorporating many of our suggestions as he guided the discussion. So please post your proposed topics and questions in this thread. Of course, even if you can't attend, we welcome your valuable input here.

I don't think I am alone in my opinion that the panel discussion was one of the highlights of last year's International Meet. Your questions will play an important role in duplicating that success. And so, to echo immtbiker's words from last year, let the brainstorming begin!
post #2 of 38

Design Objectives?

"A straight wire with gain" vs "Euphonic tone control"; Discuss.
post #3 of 38
Single Ended vs. Balanced
Crossfeed vs. No Crossfeed
Burn-In?

yeah, figured i'd post the most obvious topics before other people get the chance to!
post #4 of 38
Are there features or sonic characteristics that you put into your products because they're popular in the market but that you yourself don't care for?
post #5 of 38
I'd like to hear the answers to these questions:
- What's your design philosophy?
- What do you think are the most important qualities in a headphone amplifier?

Would also be nice to get Justin (HeadAmp) on the panel too.

Would be great if we could ask these very-pointed questions to the specific individual:
- @ Mikhail: All of your current amps are tube-based, is this because you feel tubes have more to offer than solid-states? Do you plan on introducing any solid-states eventually?
- @ Ray: What was it like working on the B-52? What were your concerns as you were building it, were you ever unsure of how it would be received by the community?
- @ Justin (if on the panel): What do you feel the advantages are of the Dynalo circuit? Your most popular products are solid-state, do you feel that solid-state has more to offer than tubes?
- @ Tyll: You were one of the key agents in pioneering the head-fi scene, which has become a runaway success. What do you think is the next "frontier" to overcome now?

Edit: oooo, I want to add these too!

- What, in your opinion, should be a standard goal for every amplifier, whether tube, hybrid, or solid-state?
- What, in your opinion, is one of the best new trends in the amp market?
- What do you see for the future of amps?
- What is at least one of your personal hopes for the future of amps?
post #6 of 38
I'd like to know whether the panel considers it worthwhile to produce specially designed combination amplifier/headphone packages. Since the HEV90/HE90 and HEV70/HE60 combos represent such matched component packages, would it be worthwhile for amp. designers to collaborate with headphone manufacturers, with the objective of marketing additional combination packages of this type (i.e., where the individual component performance is optimized for one another)?
post #7 of 38
Questions in bold.

all:
- How can I get a job in the amplifier industry? How did you get into the amplifier industry? Did you study as an electrical engineer?(i believe this question was asked last year, except with the headphone industry)

Ray Samuels: - Why are all of your most expensive models tube-based, while all of your low- to mid-priced models solid-state? Do you believe that tube amplifiers offer more at these higher price points? Also, why is your current top-of-the-line solid state not a dual-mono design like the one right below it in price? Are you planning a new solid-state amplifier, as there have been rumors about lately?

Tyll Hertsens: - You have hinted at a future line of "all-out assault" or "pursuit" products, meant for the audio purists, such as those found at Head-Fi. Have there been any further developments on this future product line?


Pete Millet: - The Millet Hybrid Portable Amplifier is due to make its premier at or around the time of the national meet. Do you believe that tube designs are simply superior to solid-state amplifier, or that there are enough solid-state portable amplifiers and you'd rather release a unique product?

Mikhail Rotenberg: - Your products are famous for being versatile and customizable to the nth degree. Do you believe that a significantly upgraded amplifier from the lower end of your product line can compete with base models of higher end amplifiers? For example, a maxed out MPX3 SLAM (or MPX3 SLAM SE with a few less extreme upgrades) vs. a base Supra. Are each of your amps designed for a specific sound, and the higher end models just so happen to cost more to achieve their desired sonic qualities?

Craig Uthus: - Older Moth Audio amplifiers are very highly regarded and sought after on Head-Fi. Do you believe that your current lineup is competitive with these older products, strictly sound quality-wise? I say sound-quality only because I understand you had a top-notch designer under the Moth Audio name, and the current Eddie Current products seem to be "no-frills" designs.

there you go, some questions i actually want answered..

edit: edited most of the questions, forgot to specify some things, and looking back the question i gave to tyll definitely isn't a good one.
post #8 of 38
For those of you that manufacture solid state amps, what design philosophies or preferences drove you to discrete vs. opamp topologies?
post #9 of 38
Thread Starter 
Chiming in here:

Questions to All: What are your a) reference phones for amp design and b) favorite phones for personal use?
post #10 of 38
Headphone amp output impedance:

Why are the results so different with different headphones?

What are the range of headphone impedances?
post #11 of 38
In the past, manufacturers of pre-amps and amps built designs with speakers specifically in mind. As your designs are some of the forefront of pre-amps and amps built specifically for headphones, what are some of the challenges you've faced with this new target in mind, both in design and in the market? And have you felt the pressure to incorporate elements that still cater to the speaker market - if so, do you feel this has compromised your headphone-oriented designs?
post #12 of 38
What differences are there is designing amplifiers for headphones and speakers? Are there any challenges specific to headphone amplifiers? Are there any challenges that disappear or are made easier when designing for headphones?

What tradeoffs are there in designing portable amplifiers, aside from the obvious limitation of the small energy source? For those that don't make portables, are there any specific technical or audio reasons why you don't or won't build portable amps?
post #13 of 38
To all:

What percentage of your home audio time (non-portable) is spent listening to headphones as compared to speakers?

Aside from the portability & isolation factors, what advantages/disadvantages do you feel listening to headphones (at home) have as compared to speakers?

Does your speaker listening affect your headphone amp designing?
post #14 of 38
What's your reference source for amp design?
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by SiBurning View Post
What differences are there is designing amplifiers for headphones and speakers? Are there any challenges specific to headphone amplifiers? Are there any challenges that disappear or are made easier when designing for headphones?

What tradeoffs are there in designing portable amplifiers, aside from the obvious limitation of the small energy source? For those that don't make portables, are there any specific technical or audio reasons why you don't or won't build portable amps?
X2!!!! with the follow on:

If speakers of extreme efficiency were possible, would headphone amplifier designs outperform current speaker amplifiers (in areas other than cost/size/weight)? This is just a twist on "is the current state of the art in headphone amplification higher performing (technically) than state of the art speaker amplifiers?" The stereophile review of the Hornet M is one data point in support of this hypothesis.

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