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AMP 4 a MP3 player - is it even worth it? - Page 2

post #16 of 28
My work setup is currently a Rio Riot, 20 gb mp3/wma player running through a cosmic and Senn hd580s or Grado 325s.

I think that it sounds great. I have anything I ever want to hear at my fingertips, and it is a tiny footprint.

I have several fine audio setups at home (including Thiel 3.6s). The riot/cosmic setup sounds fine to me. I cannot tell the difference when I swap in a cd player.

I do understand the argument against mp3s and I do think that when I listen to burned mp3s on some systems (including the Thiel's), I can notice a slight falling off of the quality. I should also say that this system makes marginally recorded cd's unlistenable.

It is this tiny difference which drives audiophiles to spend tens of thousands of dollars to attain. It is this tiny difference which sets $2,000 cd players apart from $200 players. My experience is that it takes a very special system to exploit this last 5% of quality, and very few setups do it.

I have 2 paits of Cantons and a pair of Klipsch that are very forgiving. I cannot hear any difference whatsoever on these systems, in fact sometimes the lesser recorded cds sound better. Older jazz and rock are difficult to listen to on the Theils become solid on the cantons. I think that both the 580s and the 325s also fall into this same forgiving category.

I think that with the wrong setup, you would be able to tell the difference, but both of these headphones seem to cover any sonic differnces.
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
the archos studio 20 does have a line out, next to the headphone jack.
post #18 of 28
Sadly the Jukebox recorder doesn't have line out and amps don't seem to sound to good out of the headphone out. Especially as it amplifies the hard drive noise.

Wordsworth
post #19 of 28
ClearYourMind...

...I have the Archos Studio 20 as well (with Rockbox firmware). It has a really good headphone out, so there's no obvious need to use a separate amp. Even an HD 600 is properly driven by it. But surely a Meta42, connected to its line out, would improve the sound, as my Corda HA-2 and my Earmax Pro do... and even my Porta Corda – mostly in the bass. But don't expect a huge improvement.

I agree with you: the Studio 20 sounds better than many PCDPs.

JaZZ
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
see... i'm not nuts!

Quote:
Originally posted by JaZZ
...I agree with you: the Studio 20 sounds better than many PCDPs.

I agree, the Archos Studio 20 does not 'need' to be amped by any means. Well the corda cost about what $600 or close to it? Do you think the corda was worth getting? You post really helped. Think you could give a small little review of how the corta ha-2 improved your Archos Studio 20?

Quote:
...I have the Archos Studio 20 as well (with Rockbox firmware). It has a really good headphone out, so there's no obvious need to use a separate amp. Even an HD 600 is properly driven by it. But surely a Meta42, connected to its line out, would improve the sound, as my Corda HA-2 and my Earmax Pro do... and even my Porta Corda – mostly in the bass. But don't expect a huge improvement.
Forget i ever mentioned the computer thing. I'm having to dish out some money for repleacement stock cables for my hd590 headphones. Original cable broke and figured might as well upgrade. Also getting them Monster 400 MK II RCA cables. So thats putting me back a few bucks.

It's like this, I don't really need major improvment in sound, the Jukebox sounds good as is. Plus with a new better cable, the sound will more then likely be a better. It's just that damn headphone feeling. I just wished the soundstage was wider and the sound sounded like it came from the front. I'm hoping a good crossfeed in the high grade meta42 would resolve that. How is the crossfeed with other amps in the sub-$300 price range?
post #21 of 28
Quote:
t's like this, I don't really need major improvment in sound, the Jukebox sounds good as is. Plus with a new better cable, the sound will more then likely be a better.
I know I'm getting annoying, but it is my opinion that buying a $100 replacement cable for your headphones plus another $40 for the Monster cables, when they're not hooked up to an amp and with an mp3 player as a source is not a good way to spend money. Despite the ravings of the folks here, the amount of difference these cables can make is positively small, even for people who know what to listen for, and that's only when they're hooked up to good systems. Those replacement cables are intended for people with top quality gear up front. I just don't see you getting your money's worth on cables like that with the system you have. You need a better source and some CDs.

I know I said I'd butt out, but I'm trying to "help". Really. I'm not necessarily addressing you specifically anymore but anyone else in your situation reading this thread. After your headphones, you (or anyone in your position) should invest in a good source, then an amp, and once all that is sorted out, and you've developed the ear to hear cable differences, *then* you should consider better cables.

Again, I'm not attacking you CYM, and I realize that you've already bought the cables. I hope you enjoy them, and you feel you got your money's worth.

Mark
post #22 of 28
I own the Philips 963SA which is regarded as a good source and can play mp3's. I also have a archos with digital out so I should be able to do a rough and dirty review as to whether a portable mp3 player can sound good if you by pass its internal DAC and amp.

As this isn't an option for those with Archos Studio models it might be an option for others that want good sounds out of portables, though they are considerably less portable with the DAC and amp as they do take up bit of space.

However I agree with Mark in that I don't plan to spend a fortune on cables as I not sure I will hear the benefits over going for cheap replacements to the very thin stock cables.

Wordsworth
post #23 of 28
Are you going to play the original CDs of the material to compare against mp3 versions or are you comparing the Phillips mp3 performance vs. the Archos mp3 performance? Then, aren't you comparing mp3's burnt onto a CD vs. mp3's stored in the Archos? So, still possibly not an apples to apples comparison.

My basic point is that, in my mind at least, the purpose of getting a stand-alone source like the Phillips is to listen to actual CDs/SACDs/DVD-As, not mp3's. I wonder how much difference will be apparent to you when comparing mp3's to mp3's. I still bet there is a difference (in favor of the Phillips), but probably not too much, perhaps leading you to conclude that "expensive" sources don't make a difference.

Mark
post #24 of 28
I did buy the Philips for CD's but I feel good EAC and Lame encoded MP3's sound very close to CD's except maybe on the highest of systems. The MP3's will be on CD but remain in MP3 format so they will be exactly the same as the archos (the storage method of cd or hard drive will not change the sound of the mp3's as they are still encoded 0's and 1's). The DAC on the Philips maybe better but I can use its digital out and connect that to the portable DAC and compare it against the Archos with the portable DAC. It should mean a reasonably fair comparison of the 2 sources. Though ofcourse I don't consider myself to have the best ears or to be a true audiophile.

Wordsworth
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Looks like I made up my mind, an amp isn't that good of a buy for me...right now. As for the cables, I'm not spending oddiles of money, I'm getting a used pair of monster cables from a fellow head-fi'er and I need a strong and durable replacment cable. I'm spending under $70 bucks. I only have a reallly cheap radioshake RCA cable, plus I'm planning on upgrading alot of my componets anyway. I will be getting a better source and gear. So the cables will be a good investment in the long wrong. I have the money now, so why not get them. Not at all expecting any major improvment. I havn't purchased the item yet, hopefully in the next day or two.

There is alot of things I want, nothing I really need. Things like a new digi camera, dvd/sacd player, stereo reciever, I might need some new 250 watt speakers cuz I think I blew the left one out the other day. So many things. lol.

Alright well thanks everyone (you to Mark).
post #26 of 28
I was just re-reading my last few posts and realized I might have come across as a nagging grump. Sorry, didn't mean it that way. Still trying to incorporate more thoughts and words into my posts. Cheers.

mark
post #27 of 28
Wordsworth...

...I envy you for the digital out (well, the line out is a certain compensation...).


ClearYourMind...

...for me the Archos has a true audiophile potential not to be underestimated (this to Mark). E.g. with the Etymotic ER-4X, unamped, my standard portable setup. It's fun to walk around with little weight to carry with me... and enjoy such a great sound. Sure, there's a difference in accuracy to my home setup, but it's truly audiophile anyway. Or with the HD 600, with the HA-2 or the EMP: that's really high fidelity of a high standard. It's even topped by the DT 880 and the same two amps: I guess not many headphone setups sound that good.

The main difference (in quality) with an amp is the more controlled bass. Apart from that the EMP sounds quite similar to the Archos' headphone out, just a bit more brilliant and refined. The HA-2 makes the sound more solid and slightly more dynamic as well as a bit darker. It's different from the EMP, but on par in terms of quality. The Porta Corda sounds brighter, a bit more solid too and faster, and has the most accurate and controlled bass of all, at the expense of leanness (which can easily be compensated by the Archos' bass control).

The greatest improvement with an amp happens with the Beyer, especially with the two expensive amps. They lift it to a very high quality level and true audiophile spheres. Believe it or not. And I'm one who rates the importance of the source within the headphone chain very high. Of course the Archos is not as good as a good CD- or SACD player, it lacks the last bit of precision and extension, but the weaknesses are of a forgiving kind – there's no harshness or roughness or distortion or artificiality or whatsoever which can get annoying when heard through a highly revealing amp/headphone combo. The sound is smooth and clear.

I don't disagree with the idea that a good CD player (why not one of the best ones: the Philips DVD 963SA?) would improve the sound considerably. But as long as you enjoy your Archos with its comfort and its portability and the more than passable sound, don't get yourself forced to such an upgrade.

As to your cable upgrade: to me it makes sense even with the Archos. I have experienced an important improvement with headphone cable swapping, comparable to the use of a separate amp, just in a different sonic area.

JaZZ
post #28 of 28
I use the ER 4P with my Archos and the sound is good (thats the reason the supermini doesn't add anything when used with the headphone out) but for me (and this could only me and my unit not all archos) I hear a fair bit of background noise especially if I listen to some quite classical and this is with the Rockbox firmware. This noise was even worse with the archos firmware though for some reason it disappears when the hard drive spins, though that doesn't happen with the rockbox firmware.

All in all I am pleased with the archos and it only because I listen to quite classical at times and for long periods that I want a portable DAC to remove the noises. Though I hear the noises now only because I now use better headphones than I use too.

Wordsworth
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