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Many AV Receivers/Stereo Integrated amps do NOT use opamp powered headphone jacks - Page 2

post #16 of 216
Thank you, FallenAngel.

When I first got here, I sounded like tfarney and pp. I assumed that the Head-Fi desire for dedicated headphone amps was perverse, and came to many of the same conclusions others have: that Head-Fiers were elitists, that they were wealthy, that they were deaf, that they were deluded into believing that their gear sounded better because it costs so much, that they liked dedicated tube headphone amps because it got them hot women or impressed their golfing partners or because they had an equipment fetish. My standard headphone jacks seemed sweet and simple.

But the bullies at Head-Fi were so damned insistent, something clicked, and I started down the path that I didn't want. I started to listen to dedicated amps, and compared them to standard headphone jacks, and compared amps to amps. I eventually even went to overkill, at least for me, with a Zana Deux, and backed off once I sensed that - again, just for me - that its benefits didn't match the cost in both $ and, especially, heat - and found a personal sweet spot.

But at the start, I was heavily psychologically defended against the truth, which is that most standard jacks are at best nothing special. I hoped that that wasn't true for obvious reasons: expense, time, trouble. All over small and subtle changes or improvements.

But at some point, you either have to say WTF and wade in deep, or else leave.

Because what will never work - although the barbarians are moving in and taking over Rome and the original inhabitants of the city are now dispersed to other websites or, at the very least, the member's lounge - is insisting that receiver and integrated jacks are just as good, without having heard much else. Because it just isn't true.

And because, as you may notice, nobody listens to you and nobody takes you seriously, because they know better.

(Boomana's portable amp thread, in retrospect, was a last-ditch effort by veterans here to stem the tide of inferiority and general crappiness. And why is the High-End forum not yet open? Is there an international shortage of 1's and 0's? Is the concrete still setting, the foundation being dug, the morter drying? Get on with it, before Head-Fi loses even more steam and prestige!)

Which is why so few veterans ever engage these threads, and the same small group of weird and stubborn unemployed ocd people end up talking to each other over and over again, lamenting the reality of having to spend money and paranoically ranting against the dedicated amp conspiracy.
post #17 of 216
I think the problem here is over generalisation. If we could get over the fact that both dedicated headphone amp and speaker amp headphone jack vary widely in term of performance, we'd be in peace.

I haven't heard my headphones plugged into too many jacks. But I can only think that it is logical to conclude that receiver's headphone jack is worse than some dedicated headphone amp while at the same time better than some dedicated headphone amp. And the best of dedicated headphone amp would probably beat all receiver's headphone jack because they are optimised for that very purpose.

Anyway I don't buy the theoretical argument about why a dedicated headphone amp is superior. Whether the circuit is more complicated than theoretically possible is moot IMO, and theory is best left to the engineers to worry about. IMO the proof is in the sound. If it sounds good, then it's good, whether it is a receiver's jack or a dedicated headphone amp. Why bother if the design is optimal or not?
post #18 of 216
Interesting thread. I've asked similar questions myself regarding the quality of integrated HP jacks. The problem that will always be faced is finding people who have heard the systems in which you're interested and with similar headphones. From this point of view, there is an element of pay to play. People on the forum will generally try to be helpful but they're just not that likley to have heard the particular combination.

Then there is the level of experience. To some extent, you have to take the word of those who have heard more expensive equipment. Yes, there will be bias and subjectivity but their opinion has to be more valid than someone who's never heard higher-end gear (myself included!). This area gets muddled by 'synergy' with particular 'phones. Higher-end and cost are not as related as everyday high-street goods produced in their tens of thousands in a competitive market place.

Addressing the issue of integrated amp vs dediated HP amp, I think it depends on your listening habits. My general system is fairly low-fi and I just use the speakers when I don't want to wear headphones. So, for me, I assume that I will get better value from a dedicated HP amp rather than something that was primarily designed to drive speakers. I may be wrong. I will still save space though :-)

Thanks for reading.
post #19 of 216
Quote:
But some people have, and many of them are veteran Head-Fiers who have now left Head-Fi and gone elsewhere, all because they've been accused of being bullies or elitists or whatnot by noobs who haven't done the necessary research and listening, but have, instead, made sweeping conclusions that support their preferred and hoped-for (and paranoid? and tightwadded?) conclusions, rather than the reality that comes from experience.
There's another side of this story, and it is that many veteran Head-Fiers have repeated the argument, many times in the short time I've been here, that the reason headphone sections of amps and receivers are inferior is because modern receivers and integrated amps use cheap, opamp-based afterthought designs to power their headphone jacks. The myth was so pervasive and well-accepted that it even had its own fictional history -- headphone sections were powered by the main amps, stepped down through resistors (widely reported as being the "good" way with none of the counter arguments being made in this thread) in the 70s and somewhere along the line all of that changed and the op amp designs took over. You just couldn't trust headphone jacks in anything anymore.

Now, it turns out, that was all completely wrong. Of course here at Head-Fi we are rushing into the gap with a new set of reasons why headphone jacks in good receivers and integrated amps are inferior, and a legitimate reason may emerge. But if looking at all of this with a healthy dose of skepticism, under the circumstances, is paranoid and tight-wadded, I'll take that on as my handle.

I will take a wild guess here that there is a big difference between some headphone amps and the headphone sections of some good integrated amps and receivers. And I'll bet that it is nothing sweeping like manufacturers illogically duplicating amplifier circuitry with cheapo op amps, or even some fundamental difference in objectives as Fallen Angel suggests. I'll guess that the difference is mundane, unsurprising, unpredictable and not always that easy to detect, just like the differences between your MIAudio and some of the more expensive amps you've owned. I'll bet it has to do with the elegance and simplicity of the designs, and the quality of the parts and workmanship - right down to that nest of resistors. And I'll bet that the landscape is both simple and complex - simple in that it all comes down to the quality of design and execution, complex in that there are no sweeping generalities to tell us that a decent dedicated headphone amp will automatically net an improvement. I'll bet that your CIAudio is probably pretty objectively better than the "hole" in my Panasonic and a pretty subjective choice over the hole in a NAD.

But I'm just guessing. I intend to find out. Because like I said, if I'm going to drop money on an upgrade and I can upgrade my speaker amp with the same money I use to upgrade my headphone amp, that's exactly what I'll do. I love the old HK, but I'm not pretending it is as good as a similarly-powered NAD or Marantz. I appreciate the fact that you went down that road and through so many amps and phones, and have reported back on the real differences between them with humility and honesty. I intend to learn from it.

Paranoid, tight-wadded and sincerely,

Tim
post #20 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallenAngel View Post
Power amps are designed to drive speakers and their characteristics (low impedance, inefficient compared to headphones, requiring LOTS of voltage gain) while headphone amps are designed to drive headphones with different requirements.
Fishy question maybe, but I'd like to learn : Why the headphone out of an integrated would not come from the preamp stage instead? Would it have the right power to drive most headphones? I notice that on my NAD, the preamp out and headphone out have almost the same impedance...

EDIT : Two specs from the preamp...

Output impedance Pre-out : 80Ω
Maximum output level Pre-out : >11V
post #21 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by greggf View Post
Thank you, FallenAngel.

When I first got here, I sounded like tfarney and pp. I assumed that the Head-Fi desire for dedicated headphone amps was perverse, and came to many of the same conclusions others have: that Head-Fiers were elitists, that they were wealthy, that they were deaf, that they were deluded into believing that their gear sounded better because it costs so much, that they liked dedicated tube headphone amps because it got them hot women or impressed their golfing partners or because they had an equipment fetish. My standard headphone jacks seemed sweet and simple.
First up, I've never thought or expressed any of the above. It appears to be your fantasy alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greggf View Post
But the bullies at Head-Fi were so damned insistent, something clicked, and I started down the path that I didn't want. I started to listen to dedicated amps, and compared them to standard headphone jacks, and compared amps to amps. I eventually even went to overkill, at least for me, with a Zana Deux, and backed off once I sensed that - again, just for me - that its benefits didn't match the cost in both $ and, especially, heat - and found a personal sweet spot.

But at the start, I was heavily psychologically defended against the truth, which is that most standard jacks are at best nothing special. I hoped that that wasn't true for obvious reasons: expense, time, trouble. All over small and subtle changes or improvements.

But at some point, you either have to say WTF and wade in deep, or else leave.

Because what will never work - although the barbarians are moving in and taking over Rome and the original inhabitants of the city are now dispersed to other websites or, at the very least, the member's lounge - is insisting that receiver and integrated jacks are just as good, without having heard much else. Because it just isn't true.
OK, let's get down to tin tacks. If you were to read back through my old posts, my argument has always been against the "get a great dedicated amp or don't bother with good HPs" line directed at newbies. You may have found your holy grail by jumping in at the deep end and that's fine--for you; the deep end isn't where everyone wants to be. The fact is, even Sennheiser state clearly that their phones are intended for good quality amplifiers, meaning integrateds etc. No mention of dedicateds even though Sennheiser and other manufacturers can hardly be unaware of them. As noted in my last post, I've just sold a Little Dot MkV in favour of a Marantz PM6010 OSE. Am I deaf? Maybe, but I've been in hi-fi since the 60s and even written for a hi-fi magazine. I know what a live orchestra sounds like. I know what to listen for. To me the LD just didn't sound as good as the Marantz. I couldn't hear the timbre of instruments; there was little soundstage and not much "air". Does this mean everyone listening to these two amps with their own choice of music would make the same decision? Of course not. Does this mean all integrateds are great sounding? Hardly. I had a PM66K1 before this and it didn't grab me. I had a NAD C320BEE, widely regarded as having a good HP out, but that didn't really click with me either. But I had a PM8200 well before that and it was incredibly musical (but hot and wasteful), to the point where one wanted to buy CDs one wouldn't normally buy just to hear how they sounded. And I'm sure I could try several expensive dedicateds and get similar patchy results. A well designed amp is a well designed amp, and apart from synergy, always a factor in hi-fi, there is no reason why a well-designed integrated shouldn't sound as good as well-designed dedicated (to say nothing of a poorly designed dedicated, of which I'm sure there are many).

Quote:
Originally Posted by greggf View Post
And because, as you may notice, nobody listens to you and nobody takes you seriously, because they know better.
Indeed? I wonder what you think of those many people (and there many, if you care to visit other forums) who post that after hearing their phones through a certain integrated, they now regret buying their super-duper dedicated. Those are people who appear to have taken the same road as you but not experienced the same epiphany--that epiphany which apparently entitles you to post the following insults:

Quote:
Originally Posted by greggf View Post
Which is why so few veterans ever engage these threads, and the same small group of weird and stubborn unemployed ocd people end up talking to each other over and over again, lamenting the reality of having to spend money and paranoically ranting against the dedicated amp conspiracy.
I note that other posters have taken this paragraph in good humour, so they must know something I don't (that you've been imbibing immoderately perhaps?). Personally I consider it a pistols-at-dawn affair, but since duelling has gone out, I'll take my cue from the others and--for now-- simply turn the other cheek.

Incidentally, please call me pp312. Only my friends call me pp.
post #22 of 216
Pretty much what pp312 said (may I call you pp?). I have never assumed that a desire for a dedicated headphone amp is perverse. I came here, in fact, out of a desire for a dedicated headphone amp. I didn't carry my skepticism into this room with me, I found it here, in the mythology, overstatement and rank hyperbole of the mentality often displayed here by veterans and newbies alike. I mean, seriously, it doesn't take much bludgeoning to develop a bit of skepticism here. The amp forum currently contains a 3 or 4 page thread on the best-sounding USB cable. People report huge, mind-boggling, life experience-changing morphing of their listening experience through cable upgrades. Opinions vary widely and are often presented as logical, irrefutable, objective conclusions. And that is mostly the veterans.

And greggf, I'm not so much unemployed (a bit of overstatement on my part, I'm afraid, but thanks for your concern) as underemployed. I'm an independent strategic marketing consultant without a long-term engagement to guarantee high continuing income at the moment, FWIW. I could go pay cash for a Zana Deux right now if I chose to, but it would not be the prudent thing to do. And I consider that a blessing. It is giving me some time to separate the wheat from the pure unadulterated ******** in the headphone world.

This thread, so far, has been very instructive to that learning process. A long-held, often-repeated conventional wisdom is revealed as a myth, and the "experienced" immediately flood into the gap to provide alternatives....

Tim
post #23 of 216
GreggF could not be more wrong.

I have owned and listened to ALOT of cans and dedicated amps and hp jacks on various components. I have owned darths, ALO K701s and recabled RS2s among many others and I have MarkL D5000s arriving this week. I am not averse to spending $ to get good sound.

Of all the purchases I have made on headfi over the past 18 months, the worst values in terms of higher SQ for my $ were the dedicated headphone amps. Even fancy cables (I never woulda thunk it!) have been a better value, imo, than many of the amps I have owned.

There have been exceptions like the Doge now sitting on my desk which sounds fantastic. But it better for $500 plus $ for lots of great tubes.

The Doge sits next to my Nikko Beta 50 Pre which gives the Doge a run for its money while only costing me $10 on Craig's when i bought it's big bro power amp.

And that is not my first Nikkko hp jack that sounded great for WAY less than $100.

It is just ridiculous that this sort of value is not only not celebrated here, but insultingly dismissed as the musings of people who are mentally unbalanced and cannot afford more. Later this week I will plug my new D5000s into the Nikko Pre and if it sounds better than plugging it into the pretty and glowing $500 tube amp that sits next to it, I will choose to listen to my great $10 find.

And I will share that discovery with the people here who really want to listen to what sounds best. If that drives away the people who only want to rationalize their expensive purchases, this will be a place of greater integrity and less snobbery.
post #24 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by senns&nonsense View Post
GreggF could not be more wrong.
No, he has just had a different experience from you. I seriously doubt that either of you has heard the same equipment as the other.

I'm obviously a proponent of dedicated headphone amps myself, but I also realize that there is as much [if not more] bad gear out there as there is good. The same is likely true with preamps' headphone outputs. Obviously if you try either and have a good or bad experience you will draw conclusions about the whole group. That's just human nature, but it is a mistake in this hobby.
post #25 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headdie View Post
Fishy question maybe, but I'd like to learn : Why the headphone out of an integrated would not come from the preamp stage instead? Would it have the right power to drive most headphones? I notice that on my NAD, the preamp out and headphone out have almost the same impedance...

EDIT : Two specs from the preamp...

Output impedance Pre-out : 80Ω
Maximum output level Pre-out : >11V
this is good question. i don't have integrated amps or receivers. i have pre-amp for hometheatre, denon avp8000 and it has headphone out. i'd never used this feature until i got into headphone hobby a few years ago. first i thought it was a joke because i didn't turn the volume high enough because of my normal speaker setup i would only need to turn it from -40db to -25db. one day when i cranked the volume knob passed 0db and to +10db, oh man it cranked out the juice just like a regular headphone amp. it was a little sterile sounding but honest and i would rate it between g-lite and gs-1 in term on performance as a headphone amp. only issue is its monstrous size.

now if you like to listen to class-a headphone amp via a pre-amp, u should seek for a bryston 60r...that is one performer.
post #26 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by philodox View Post
I'm obviously a proponent of dedicated headphone amps myself, but I also realize that there is as much [if not more] bad gear out there as there is good. The same is likely true with preamps' headphone outputs. Obviously if you try either and have a good or bad experience you will draw conclusions about the whole group. That's just human nature, but it is a mistake in this hobby.
I think that's probably a mistake in any endeavor. Personally, I'm just looking for some nugget of objectivity; specs or design parameters that, if well-executed, should deliver good results. With that, I think I can probably make reasonably good choices, even in this world of sound-unheard internet shopping. But with myths like the one being discussed here being substituted for fact and going unchallenged, even by the veterans, it is pretty clear to me that if that nugget is here somewhere (and I don't doubt for a moment that it is), it is buried in a sea of hyperbole and conventional wisdoms, inflated way beyond their real value, and presented as facts. It make this a great place for skepticism, a fool's place for trust.

I would have quietly withdrawn long ago, but I have too much time on my hands, and I do find valuable, honest and informative threads here pretty regularly, this being one of them. Actually, one of the best I remember was one in which greggf reported his experiences of going through many amps, mostly pretty high end, settling on one that is quite mid-priced, and giving us a really honest evaluation of what he heard in his journey and how he got to its end, including an admission that he really couldn't hear the difference between the free wall wart that came with his MIAudio and the psu he paid extra for. It was a great thread that put the MIAudio on my short list very quickly.

Tim
post #27 of 216
When I said GreggF is wrong I did not mean that he is wrong about the equipment - that is his opinion based on his experience.

However, he is wrong to think that people who disagree with him do so because they cannot afford expensive equipment or because they are ocd or whatever other insulting nonsense he suggested.

I like what I like because it sounds good. I am happy that there are sources of headphone amplification that are dirt cheap and as good or better than dedicated headphone amps. I wish that there were the same type of bargains in the actual headphones, but unfortunately the same honest assessment leads me to conclude that expensive headphones (typically with expensive recabling) are what sounds best.
post #28 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by tfarney View Post
I think that's probably a mistake in any endeavor.
Good point.
Quote:
Originally Posted by senns&nonsense View Post
However, he is wrong to think that people who disagree with him do so because they cannot afford expensive equipment or because they are ocd or whatever other insulting nonsense he suggested.
I guess I read his post in a different light. It didn't seem to me that this was the focus of what he was saying at all.
post #29 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by philodox View Post
Good point. I guess I read his post in a different light. It didn't seem to me that this was the focus of what he was saying at all.
Perhaps. But it was the part that was rather hard to ignore.

Tim
post #30 of 216
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLA View Post
now if you like to listen to class-a headphone amp via a pre-amp, u should seek for a bryston 60r...that is one performer.
x2 My Bryston BP-25, by itself, drives headphones wonderfully--but it is transparent to a fault. According to bryston, the headphone output is the exact same signal fed to the power amp.
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