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Disturbing Trend

post #1 of 528
Thread Starter 
Every time I check into this forum, I find more and more threads recommending portable amps for headphones like the K701 and the HD650. WTF? I have not heard every portable amp out there, but I've owned and heard quite a few and currently own a LaRocco PRII, an SR-71 and a Rockhopper mini^3. NONE drive these headphones as they should be heard. I just gotta say it, and I'm surprised that more HD650 and K701 lovers, who've been lucky enough to hear them properly sourced and amped, aren't saying it as well.

Please note that I'm not saying that a portable amp isn't a good starting point (my first amp was a Headroom mircoamp, which I used with HD580s), can't offer enjoyment, or isn't an appropriate solution for people who travel or, like me, take things back and forth to work. I am saying that I'm disturbed by what I see as a trend that infers that if someone buys the K701s or the HD650, pairing them with a portable amp will give them the quality for which they are known. I'm not trying to be a snob, but I'm a big fan of both the Senns and the AKGs, and it irks me to think they are being short-changed with recommendations that make it appear portable amps will offer them what they need when it's not true.

That's it. My two cents. Flame away if you want, but know I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from getting either headphone and starting out this way. That's fine. I'm just confused as to why people on an audio forum, who should clearly be interested in the qualities of reference headphones, would continually recommend that they be short-changed to fit someone's budget, rather than suggesting people save their money and buy something created to drive them well. It reeks of a dumbing down of audio appreciation, and on a forum such as this, where sq is the priority (or is it?), I find it very disturbing.

BTW, sufficient volume does not equal sound quality.
post #2 of 528
Quote:
Originally Posted by boomana View Post
BTW, sufficient volume does not equal sound quality.
I could not have said it any better, loud does not equal good.

There is no substitute for massive amounts of current and voltage swing when it comes to ringing the best sound out of lots of headphones and you just can't get that kind of power from a pocket-sized amp running off a battery.
post #3 of 528
Quote:
Originally Posted by boomana View Post
BTW, sufficient volume does not equal sound quality.
What!?!? There goes my entire business model. Damn it!
post #4 of 528
I agree to a certain extent. For people getting into the obsession (dare I call it that around here? a quality portable amp is a great first amp as you can take it with you or use at home. My Tomahawk does a very, very good job with my HD580's but it doesn't sound as good as my SP PPX3. But considering the size and price it's a pretty good bargain
post #5 of 528
headamp pico? Although im not getting it, its being touted(SP?) as a giant killer,a desktop replacement. I more interested in a transportable where it can play nice with all my other spdif/toslink output devices, not just usb.
post #6 of 528
Quote:
Originally Posted by n_maher View Post
I could not have said it any better, loud does not equal good.

There is no substitute for massive amounts of current and voltage swing when it comes to ringing the best sound out of lots of headphones and you just can't get that kind of power from a pocket-sized amp running off a battery.
Amen!!! You can get very loud levels from almost anything but the control that comes with a bigger amp has no substitutes. This is also a huge factor in electrostatics and orthodynamics.
post #7 of 528
I agree with you 100% Boomana, when I think portable amp I'm thinking IEM's and the smallest footprint I can stuff into a little camera bag for better tunes on the move.

I would hope most people by a portable amp with this same kind of application in mind and that driving top line phones to some tangible degree is just a plus with your portable amp and not for non portable phones first!

For me there is a big no major difference in listening on the go to my Toma, UM-2 config as opposed to my AKG-701's coming off my MG Head DT fed by the Fog:-)

That last statement also applies to what some think is better in an external amp on a pod around here also. Volume does not equate to better SQ in any form:-0
post #8 of 528
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thrice View Post
What!?!? There goes my entire business model. Damn it!
If I didn't know you better, you'd be scaring me right now. Oh wait. You do scare me, but for reasons having nothing to do with your really nice amps. See you this weekend! I'll buy the first round.
post #9 of 528
Just a thought, people listening with portable amps are likely to be listening to portable sources as well. There's only so much you can do with lossy digital, even with an iMod. So part of it may be that this type of listening isn't 'as critical' as it would be on a home rig with a better source.
post #10 of 528
Funny you should post about this disturbing trend, as I was recently considering starting a thread on the disturbing trend of people saying that HD 650s will not sound good unless you have an expensive home amp. I recently bought 650s, and I'm amping with my Hornet, and I was worried that they might sound slow and muddy and boring, as lots of people have claimed, but they sound amazing to me. I also tried them straight out of my iPod Nano, and they still sounded pretty good.

Now, is this to say that they won't sound increasingly better with increasingly better equipment? Of course not. Of course I eventually want to get a great home amp. But to claim that they sound bad with something like the Hornet, to me, is misleading.

I have a theory. I've heard it said that the HD650s, perhaps more than any other dynamic headphone, can change their sound signature based on the equipment driving them. And I think that the people who claim that 650s only sound good with specific amps are people who don't like the sound signature they provide with different amps. Many people prefer a sound with some treble sparkle. They think this is more exciting. I, personally, do not. So perhaps someone listening to my 650s with a Hornet would call them boring or dark. To me, they are luscious.

So I wish people would stop claiming that 650s sound boring, bloated, or slow without a stellar amp to drive them. What they should say is that if you prefer a brighter, more exciting sound, you might have to get one of several specific amps for the 650s. But if you prefer a darker sound, you have different choices, including IMO the Hornet.

(Sorry I only addressed half of your argument. I have not heard K701s.)
post #11 of 528
i don't recall if it was always this way and i just didn't notice it, but head-fi seems to be very much lo-fi now a days; esp. in terms of amps and sources. there is almost zero discussion of high-end stuff and very little discussion of even moderately priced gear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolshot View Post
headamp pico? Although im not getting it, its being touted(SP?) as a giant killer,a desktop replacement. I more interested in a transportable where it can play nice with all my other spdif/toslink output devices, not just usb.
yeah. i wrote in the pico thread that the amp seemed to be like a super TBH with that as its primary market, but that it was not meant to replace or serve as a home amp - although for budgeted individuals, it could probably serve this purpose. people were like "wtf, you haven't even heard it." i thought. right. like it's really going to replace some one's DA10 + SLAM.
post #12 of 528
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolshot View Post
headamp pico? Although im not getting it, its being touted(SP?) as a giant killer,a desktop replacement. I more interested in a transportable where it can play nice with all my other spdif/toslink output devices, not just usb.
Based on my experiences with the AE-2 I don't doubt the Pico is going to be an awesome little amp but I'm going to agree with boomana on this, I fully expect a good home amp to trump it on some of those harder to drive phones.
post #13 of 528
The Pico is fantastic in that it is the first product to take a serious look at the source side of the portable equation with its upsampling DAC. This give the amp side of the equation a great chance to sound good, and it does. That's not to say that it isn't handily bettered by my home rig but at 1/4 to 1/5x the cost it should be.
post #14 of 528
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarchi View Post
Just a thought, people listening with portable amps are likely to be listening to portable sources as well. There's only so much you can do with lossy digital, even with an iMod. So part of it may be that this type of listening isn't 'as critical' as it would be on a home rig with a better source.
did you mean lossy or lossless?

cause you wouldnt use lossy with an imod if you wanted critical listening!
post #15 of 528
IMHO everyone has to start out somewhere, and budgetary limitations vary greatly across the population.

I haven't really followed any threads specifically, but I don't think anyone would recommend a $150 portable amp as the "end-all" solution for either of those cans. Entry level-yes perhaps.

The bigger problem with head-fi is that the more senior members stop posting. The ones that have gone through the progression... from govibe to Gilmore to MPX...etc tend to drop off the map. So whats left is basically a forum of noobs, who of course are only going to post comments based on their own experiences which may be nothing more than a mini^3, XP or RA1.

So if the more knowledgeable members (whom I do not consider myself to be) are bothered by this trend ...start posting, keep the knowledge flowing...educate those who are seeking advice.
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