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Please Help! Advice on distortion cause with Audio-Technica AD700/SennHD555

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I am new to hifi/headfi. After spending time on this board, I bought two headphones to A/B test with my new stereo system: the Audio-Technica AD700 and the Sennheiser HD555. Both sound as expected based on what I read here with most music (great sound overall with both, AT more detailed and lively, Senn more laid-back). However in big orchestral crescendos, both have a lot of distortion to the point where I have to take them off. I am pretty sure it is not the source material, since the CD sounds great on my speakers (Totem Arros), which are not known to hide recording flaws, and it occured with more than one classical CD. I am using the headphone jack of a NAD 325bee integrated amp and the source is a NAD 515 CD player. Both are brand new.

Any thoughts on what is causing this and how to remedy? I thought it might be the headphone jack of the NAD but a lot of people on this board have success with these headphones using a computer and a decent sound card or even ipods and I would think the NAD would be at least as good as either of those, but I may be mistaken. Do I need a headphone with greater range? That would also be surprising, since I understand these are two of the best in the $100 price range. Would a headphone amp solve the problem? If so, is it possible to work that into my system to draw from multiple sources (CD, TV, DVD, Apple TV) while also having those sources go into my regular amp to use with my speakers?

Sorry for all the questions- as I said, I am new to this. Was very excited about my headphones and am disappointed. Thanks in advance for your help!
post #2 of 3
considering this happens in BOTH cans, i find it hard to believe that the cans could be responsible for this distortion. id wager that the problem exists somewhere in the audio chain. and if the integrated amp's headphone-out is as good as the reviews you found claim, then the problem may very well exist BEFORE that.

are you using the digital or analog-out's from the CD player? if analog, it is possible that you have the volume too high on that device - try lowering the CD player volume, and increasing the amp volume, to see if that solves the problem. yes, i realize you dont get the problem with the speakers - but if the integrated amp's headphone-out is a separate circuit from the main preamp, it may respond more poorly to a very high-level signal than the speaker portion. it's worth a shot :/

a dedicated headphone amp might help solve this issue, however id hate to suggest you buy one, only to discover that the distortion remains perhaps you could buy one, and if the problem isnt solved, use it with your computer?

you do not need a can with "greater range" - both the AD700 and HD555 are capable of a dynamic range that would cause your eardrums to literally rupture and bleed
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 


Helpful, thanks. Happy to rule out any isssue with the cans.

I may have mispoke regarding the am- I never have seen a review of the headphone out of the NAD, so I don't know definitively that is not the issue. I was just surmising that I'd be surpised if it was not at least as good as an ipod or a computer headphone out. To be honest, when I bought the NAD I was not planning to use headphones at all so I did not research it. Having dug around recently, I can find anything on the quality of the headphone out.

I am running analog from the CDP into the amp (the amp does not have digital capability). The CDP, however, does not have a volume control, so there is nothing I can do there.

Assuming I have to go the headphone amp route, is there a low-end one that works with multiple inputs and can also link up to the regular amp so those sources can also be used with my speakers?
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