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Amped vs. Unamped

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I have been using a head direct EF2 hybrid tube amp / DAC for the past 6 or 7 weeks with Sennheiser HD580. I am happy with the sound the combo produces. However when I do comparison testing with this setup then straight out of my ipod with the HD580, I can't really tell a difference. I though HD580 is supposed to be significantly improved when amped. Maybe there is and i just cant tell yet. Is there things that I am specifically listening for? Thanks.
post #2 of 36
When going from amped to unamped to evaluate how an amp does, I usually look at complex passages in the music. Unamped, you hear blurriness and sub par separation, whereas amped the river has enough power to clearly render all parts of the complex passage. Other than that, I do not know, as I do not own nor have I ever heard the HD580.

-Nkk
post #3 of 36
Bass, fullness and general headphone performance should be apparent. Generally many headphones are not driven to their full performance level by normal outputs, although in some cases easy to drive ones are. Grados perform pretty well without an amp but I usually think that Senns need amping to get the full potential out of them.
post #4 of 36
Did you compare using the iPod -> EF2 -> HD580 path?
post #5 of 36
There is absolutely no such thing as "unamped", you're simply referring "unamped" to using the built-in headphone amp of the iPod.
post #6 of 36
Most hybrid amps are built for low impedance phones that need high current rather than large voltage reserves that high impedance phones need. I don't know the specs on your amp, but it is very likely that your phones and amp are perfectly out of sync.
post #7 of 36
Lately I've seen quite a few people comment about how buying an amp made no difference. What was noticeable in every case was that they had bought either one of the most basic Little Dot amps or the EF2 and their source was a DAP or iPod, or their computer sound card. In such cases their comments didn't surprise me.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazy*Carl View Post
...I though HD580 is supposed to be significantly improved when amped...
just a general comment regarding headphone amplification:

the "significantly improved" part of your statement is pretty open to interpretation. the hyperbole around here probably gives the impression that an amp is going to magically transform the headphones or your listening experience. when expectations are high, the differences are going to be less easily discerned.

i haven't yet had the religious experience with an amp that many others seem to have had, but the improvements i do hear still justify the expense and experimentation, up to a point. the basic function of an amplifier is pretty simple. if you keep that in mind, it'll probably be easier to recognize the upgrade, however big or small you perceive it.
post #9 of 36
An amp should give your hd 580 a more refined,balanced sound,more dynamic,with open soundstage,good imaging(the ability to have an "image"of each instrument/singer etc inside the soundstage,to be able to tell from where each sound comes from),better instruments seperation,good controlled and well defined bass(and midbass),which goes lower too,smooth and natural mids and mid-highs,so instruments,voices etc will sound natural and life like,and clear but smooth treble,which is transparent but not very bright,edgy/harsh or very dark.

If you don't hear any difference,try to connect a good cd player,leave the amp to warm up,and adjust your headphones properly because headphone positioning on the head plays a big role to the sound quality.
post #10 of 36
Also,you must be in good physical condition when you test audio equipment,because you may be tired,or with not enough sleep,or maybe your ears have wax so you don't hear very well or have a cold etc...

Something else,if you use mp3's,that maybe the reason why you don't hear noticable differences,try to use good recordings and not so compressed music.

And don't forget,good sound is not sound with lot's of punchy bass and hot treble that impress you at the first few minutes.Try to learn to appreciate good natural balanced sound,which is clear and dynamic,but smooth and not fatiguing.
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallenAngel View Post
There is absolutely no such thing as "unamped", you're simply referring "unamped" to using the built-in headphone amp of the iPod.
I know, but the term unamped is used to refer to this frequently even though it is technically wrong.
post #12 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxvla View Post
Most hybrid amps are built for low impedance phones that need high current rather than large voltage reserves that high impedance phones need. I don't know the specs on your amp, but it is very likely that your phones and amp are perfectly out of sync.
I have tried all different types of headphones with the amp and they all sound the same with or without it.
post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhaedrusX View Post
just a general comment regarding headphone amplification:

the "significantly improved" part of your statement is pretty open to interpretation. the hyperbole around here probably gives the impression that an amp is going to magically transform the headphones or your listening experience. when expectations are high, the differences are going to be less easily discerned.

i haven't yet had the religious experience with an amp that many others seem to have had, but the improvements i do hear still justify the expense and experimentation, up to a point. the basic function of an amplifier is pretty simple. if you keep that in mind, it'll probably be easier to recognize the upgrade, however big or small you perceive it.
Im not expecting a magical transformation. Im just saying right now i hear NO difference with anything I put through it.
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by john53 View Post
Also,you must be in good physical condition when you test audio equipment,because you may be tired,or with not enough sleep,or maybe your ears have wax so you don't hear very well or have a cold etc...

Something else,if you use mp3's,that maybe the reason why you don't hear noticable differences,try to use good recordings and not so compressed music.

And don't forget,good sound is not sound with lot's of punchy bass and hot treble that impress you at the first few minutes.Try to learn to appreciate good natural balanced sound,which is clear and dynamic,but smooth and not fatiguing.
Im not tired, I get plenty of sleep, I clean my ears every day, and im not sick.

Also I use flac, and all different types of mp3s still no difference. I even use ASIO.

All I am getting at here is that there is no difference in sound quality amped vs right out of the ipod. Its not that it doesnt sound good, or i dislike the sound.

Ive done plenty of research here on how to get the best sound, but nothing seems to have any impact on SQ. The biggest impact (only impact for me right now) is the headphones themselves

And I do like good balanced sound now. I like how it sounds, but this isnt the issue. Its the lack of difference. (200$ and I didnt get any difference so far)
post #15 of 36
Thread Starter 
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