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do my hd650's need an amp

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Hi,

I have ordered a pair of hd650's.

I will listen to them from a laptop headphone out.

If I purchase a headphone amp, does science predict any sound quality improvement?

Thanks,

Sean.
post #2 of 41
Well that would depend on the amp. But for instance if you get a Gilmore Lite, yes it would.
post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
Can you explain to me, or point to an explanation of why an amp will increase the SQ as heard with hd650s and a laptop hp out?
post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by spc100 View Post
Can you explain to me, or point to an explanation of why an amp will increase the SQ as heard with hd650s and a laptop hp out?
Increased head room, transient response, voltage swing, etc.etc. Basically it can better control the drivers in the hd650s which are producing your sounds. It can do this with less strain (distortion), faster, and more accurately to the original as well as a plethora of other factors.

Dave
post #5 of 41
If you feed it with the laptop output, all you may get is a higher maximum volume. The noise and distortion of the laptop will be faithfully amplified.

Speed, transient response or accuracy, regarding the ability to deliver current, are not a problem in a laptop output. The problem is the DAC quality, that is usually very bad.

You'll enjoy the HD650 all the same, but hiss and noises might be quite annoying.
post #6 of 41
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your feedback. I'm fairly new to understanding this sort of thing, so I appreciate your advice. I have read a good bit of the forums over the last few weeks though, and I didn't find something definitive on if/why an AMP increases SQ.

I don't have a background in music, so I don't think my ear would be very critical.

I did wonder if an amp will only increase volume, or did it add anything else. 2 posts say it will add something else, and one says it may only increase volume.




Below are some more details on what I use at the moment.

My laptop has a SigmaTel C-Major Audio chipset. Here is a rightmark result for a SigmaTel C-Major audio chipset

When I use sr-60 with my laptop HP out I'd have volume at maybe 20%. The only "issue" I can point out is a constant static/hiss. Very obvious when the audio volume is low or zero. I'm hoping the higher impedance of the hd650s will eliminate the hiss.

When I use a Harmon Kardon AVR45RdS Marantz+Speakers with my hp out. I have volume on laptop 100%, and I don't hear any issues with sound delivered from speakers.
post #7 of 41
I think for what you have right now, the HD-650 is major overkill. Hopefully in the future you plan to drive it properly.
post #8 of 41
You'll want an amp. 650s are not easy to drive like a pair of 595s and so your laptop will struggle. But if you're laptop drives an amp which then drives the 650s it'll be a lot easier for the laptop and the amp can do the grunt work of amping the 650s properly. You'll notice a huge difference.
post #9 of 41
I'd consider something that is both a DAC and amp in one, as if you buy an amp, it will just amplify the crap sound your laptop makes. If you're not acronym familiar, "DAC" stands for "Digital to Analogue Converter". The quality of the DAC is very important when it comes to the quality of the music you hear. The DAC built into laptops these days are always rubbish.

Headphones are basically very small speakers. The reason amps are important is that for a good sound, they need to be able to constantly and effectively send rapidly changing voltages to the headphones. In the case of your HD-650s, it's not unusual for people to buy amplifiers costing thousands of dollars to use them with, as the quality of the music they are capable of delivering scales that high.

Since a DAC and an amp are separate things, you can get them from many manufacturers either separately or in one box. Separately you have the convenience of changing one or the other. Together you have convenience and simplicity.
post #10 of 41
Also the headphone out on a laptop will have nothing like the right ohm value.

The hd650s will sound thin and horribly underdriven. Even if you can make them loud they won't sound full like the could. One of the worst choices of phones to use w/o an amp.
post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pio2001 View Post
If you feed it with the laptop output, all you may get is a higher maximum volume. The noise and distortion of the laptop will be faithfully amplified.

Speed, transient response or accuracy, regarding the ability to deliver current, are not a problem in a laptop output. The problem is the DAC quality, that is usually very bad.

You'll enjoy the HD650 all the same, but hiss and noises might be quite annoying.
The problem is that the distortion is compounded without an amp because the laptops output has to work harder to drive the 650s thus distorting. In addition, the hd650s are feed at a lower impedance than they want and being very hard HPs to drive are underdriven as well.

So although the soundcard on the computer may not be great, the problem is severely compounded by underdriving the headphones and overtaxing the headphone output of the laptop thus causing extra distortion. An amplifier will bring up the impedance, take the strain off the HP out of the laptop and properly drive the hp650s thus significantly improve the sound quality. Of course an external dac would help considerably with the SQ as well.


edit-boy sometimes i repeat myself in different ways, file under "if you say it often enough it must be true".
post #12 of 41
Nope, anything that produces sound can drive the 650s =)

Now for the real answer...YES amping is needed for the 650s.

Will amping take your MP3s and make them sound better? NO

Willing amping bring out the best of a good source, YES!
post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by HighLife View Post
Nope, anything that produces sound can drive the 650s =)

Now for the real answer...YES amping is needed for the 650s.

Will amping take your MP3s and make them sound better? NO

Willing amping bring out the best of a good source, YES!
Which is the point here; the OP doesn't have a good source, and so that severely limits the rest of the audio chain, regardless of how well he upgrades everything else.
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMarchingMule View Post
Which is the point here; the OP doesn't have a good source, and so that severely limits the rest of the audio chain, regardless of how well he upgrades everything else.
If he moves the 'source' to a DAC the laptop is a fine transport. There are a number of affordable DAC with amp combos out there. Even a fairly inexpensive one will be a night and day difference from the laptop's headphone output. (for the OP's benefit. I know you (Mule) know this )
post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMarchingMule View Post
Which is the point here; the OP doesn't have a good source, and so that severely limits the rest of the audio chain, regardless of how well he upgrades everything else.

Yep, if i were to do it all over again...i would get a source and a small amp, then upgrade the amp later on =)

Garbage in = Garbage out
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