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Amps do nothing. - Page 2

post #16 of 90
dbl post
post #17 of 90
Were you listening to CDs or mp3s? What recording did you use?

Also, remember, garbage in, garbage out. It may be that a Discman as a source, even on well-recorded material isn't good enough to reveal differences through any amp, no matter how expensive.

OTOH, I think that we on this site are very guilty of over-emphasizing the importance of amps vs. source. Amps, IMO, are overall limited in what they can do compared to what a good source can do, and the quality of your source and your source material (good CDs/SACDs/DVD-As not mp3s) is far more critical to getting good sound from headphones.

IMO, this poster has it backwards-- he's spent at least 3X on his amp than his source. It should be the other way around. I think if you spent 2X on your source vs. amp, you'll get much better value for your money.

Mark
post #18 of 90
Quote:
Originally posted by markl

IMO, this poster has it backwards-- he's spent at least 3X on his amp than his source. It should be the other way around. I think if you spent 2X on your source vs. amp, you'll get much better value for your money.
Most of the older pcdp's, with a few exceptions, are less expensive than modern portables, and sound better. Throwing more money at a source isn't necessarily an answer. Also, note that the Cosmic is made for portable use. Going for a stand-alone source defeats the purpose.

I've been trying a lot of portables lately. Only one of my amps (the super-mini) is in the price range of the portables I've been using, and even it is more expensive than most of them (The Grado HPA-1 is my main portable amp). I use the RS-1 as my "portable" headphone, so my source is the cheapest link in the chain.

I can assure you that I'm perfectly capable of hearing subtle sonic differences with this setup, and that some of my portable players are surprisingly good.
post #19 of 90
Quote:
Originally posted by Hirsch
Most of the older pcdp's, with a few exceptions, are less expensive than modern portables, and sound better.
I somewhat agree with this, but the term for the older PCDP's that sound better should probably be "transportable" not "portable". That is certainly the case with my Sony D-5.
post #20 of 90
Quote:
Originally posted by markl


IMO, this poster has it backwards-- he's spent at least 3X on his amp than his source. It should be the other way around. I think if you spent 2X on your source vs. amp, you'll get much better value for your money.

Mark
My biggest improvment in sound quality wasn't when I bought the MG-Head to my D-25 portable, but when I bought the NAD C541 source for my MG-Head. But Hirsch is right about the portability. For that I wouldn't have add anything to my D25.
post #21 of 90
I'm not recomending he buy a better portable. I'm questioning the wisdom of hooking up a $500 amp to any portable, period. Maybe that means I'm questioning the purpose of a Cosmic itself.

Hirsch, I don't doubt that it's possible to hear differences between PCDPs and portable amps, I guess I just don't understand the expectation of obtaining audiophile-grade performance from a portable set-up. If your chief interest is in fidelity, not portability, a stand-alone CDP at 2X your amp is a better answer IMO.

Mark
post #22 of 90
I agree with Mark.

Quote:
It may be that a Discman as a source, even on well-recorded material isn't good enough to reveal differences through any amp, no matter how expensive.
That's what I thought, too.
Quote:
I think that we on this site are very guilty of over-emphasizing the importance of amps vs. source.
Exactly! As multifaceted and different amps can sound, their difference in (subjective) quality is by far smaller than the quality levels among source devices.

There are indeed some portables with quite good headphone jacks – myself I own one: even with my Porta Corda connected, the sound isn't clearly better than without it – I'm speaking of the Archos Studio 20 MP3 Jukebox. I have to say that I rate the quality of its headphone stage very high. Unfortunately the line-out level is very low, nevertheless I believe to detect that it sounds very similar to the headphone jack. It would be interesting to find out – maybe with the help of Head-Fi's DIYers – if there's really a big difference in signal (origin) between line-level signal and HP jack output in common portables or if both are more or less identical, except for the level.

If the latter is the case, you can't gain much accuracy and thus objective quality by using a separate amp. IMO in most cases headphone amps don't really have the function to amplify a signal (given that the source signal is stronger than needed for the actual listening level), rather to add some interesting coloration to it. Not to be misunderstood: this can indeed restore some of the naturality and credibility lost during the whole technical process with recording as well as A/D and D/A conversion. (Interesting link!)

The Etymotic ER-4S is a headphone which indeed isn't critical in terms of amps, according to my experience. It's even the one which sounds best with direct-path operation (using the line-level signal to drive it), i.e. it's not dependent on any amp's euphonic effect. And when you take the portability factor into account, it's only logical to renounce a separate amp and enjoy the little weight you have to carry with you.

JaZZ
post #23 of 90
Quote:
Originally posted by markl
I'm not recomending he buy a better portable. I'm questioning the wisdom of hooking up a $500 amp to any portable, period. Maybe that means I'm questioning the purpose of a Cosmic itself.
My Sony D-12 sounds real good hooked up to the HP4 and R10 (using VD Nites with a Rat Shack RCA to mini adapter, and yes, I've really done this). The CD53 certainly sounds better, however, I've run out of room in my travel bag once I fit in the HP4 and R10 (and no, I haven't really done that).

The idea is to get the best sound possible within the contraints of your situation. Portability could be a limitation on your system. WAF could be another. Cost could be another.

Within the constraints of a portable system, the Cosmic is an excellent amp. Whether it's for everybody depends on their individual priorities.

If you want to listen to music on the move, or when travelling, why not get the best you can?

Quote:

Hirsch, I don't doubt that it's possible to hear differences between PCDPs and portable amps, I guess I just don't understand the expectation of obtaining audiophile-grade performance from a portable set-up. If your chief interest is in fidelity, not portability, a stand-alone CDP at 2X your amp is a better answer IMO.

Mark
If your chief interest is fidelity alone, true. If your chief interest is fidelity AND transportability, then priorities shift again. It's possible to want, or need, both. It's also possible to get both, at audiophile standards. The best possible portable setup can't sound anywhere near as good as the best possible stand-alone...but that doesn't mean it sounds bad.
post #24 of 90
I think there are a lot of newcomers that get some misconceptions about amps. Even Headroom admits the choice of headphones outweighs headphone amps and they make headphone amps. And your music will still strongly resemble what you heard before, it surely isn't going to play your music backwards for you to let you hear Satan worshipping lyrics or anything.

If you are new to amps keep in mind, most people who rave or hear big differences in amps usually also have an easy time distinguishing between crossfeed and filters as well. Keep in mind not everyone has the same (aquired) ability to distinguish these qualities and I'm sure some people think that crossfeed is just a switch not hooked up to anything because it makes such an inaudible difference to them. Perhaps only when they disconnect one channel and engage crossfeed will they realize it actually does something. Since I know that the Cosmic has Headroom Crossfeed, and because Headroom never endorsed or produced any discman with their crossfeed, your claims of hearing no difference leads me to believe you are in the camp of people who have a difficult time hearing differences in the first place.

But if you really don't know what you are getting and why...don't get it. If you are ordering one of the heaviest and largest portable amps out there, than why even complain that it is too heavy and large? It would be like buying Ety's and complaining that you have to stick them in your ears and that they don't let you hear outside noises.

Also I don't know why it seems like there are a lot of people lately that just end up getting amps and end up listening to some earbuds or phones they might not really even like and plugging it who knows where and not understanding what an amp is supposed to do or what the point of an amp is. For example if you can't distinguish say a 192 or even 160 kb mp3 file from CD, than you just might not be able to hear any improvements from a good neutral amp either.

That said, I do believe there are some amps that may not be worth buying depending on your situation. Some lower level amps may not even exceed the performance of a good component jack (read other threads about this). However I don't consider the Cosmic to be a lower level amp, and *most* discman jacks are not good. Wheter or not it is worth the cost is up to you. Saying that the Cosmic is no better than a discman jack is going to give you laughter, but saying that it might not be worth the cost to you might get you some agreement, so I don't know why you post the former, except for shock/troll value.
post #25 of 90
Amps refine the sound in subtle ways, and the difference is usually not day and night, especially when you're using relatively easy-to-drive portable phones like Etys. jm2c
post #26 of 90
I think this is a tough situation. Indeed, Ety's are incredible headphones and honestly seem to be immune to amp scaling. The major differences you will hear while using Etys will be from a portable cd player to a full blown player or DAC. Ety's from my experience just don't require amazing amps. I have tried the Ety's directly from a portable, through a CHA47, through my CD player, through an HA-1, RA-1, Meta42, CMOY and Melos. To me, I could plainly live with a high output portable and the 4P's. There are differences to be heard however, soundstaging, blackness, imaging, tonal balance, extension at both ends...all of these aspects improve with an amp. Even just through the CHA47. If you are looking for just more resolution or whatever, the Ety's really are spectacular on their own and you may not be able to discern the microdetails/dynamics which are increased through an amp.
post #27 of 90
The ER4S's need an amp to really sound great. They improvement is not subtle. The 4P's may be different with their much lower impedance.
post #28 of 90
The ER-4P possibly benefits from a separate headphone amp – this avoids the early bass roll-off caused by the undersized caps in portables –, while the ER-4S can renounce an amp if the portable's HP out has enough power.

post #29 of 90
The improvement may be "drastic" in audiophile terms, but, objectively speaking, it is not so drastic in the eyes of your average music listener.
post #30 of 90
I agree totally statix
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