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Does a good stereo receiver count as a "headphone amp"? - Page 4

post #46 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post
Thoughtful post, Dr, and not merely because you accept my argument.

[...]the best I can do is keep lookout and step on the first person to re-raise the old myth. Doesn't help much; it comes back up as persistently as mown grass.
There's that old saying: an oft-repeated lie eventually starts sounding like the truth. Perhaps there is a converse: If you continue to refute nonsense, eventually the nonsense will be revealed to be...nonsense. So...Rock On. [Non-standard caps intentional.]
post #47 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by sinner6 View Post
Well, either way, we have all heard the truth by now. You have the option of believing 1 of 2 random strangers off the internet, who each assure you that they are correct.
Do you pick the theory you like the most just because it's your favorite, or seems likely to you?
Well, you could ask the manufacturers. Go straight to the source.

But I've already dealt with that.
post #48 of 88
pp312, I agree with you! The schematics speak for themselves.
post #49 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vkamicht View Post
Yes. I have a hand-me-down Sony receiver (hey you can't beat free!) and it's worked great with everything I've tried on it, from Grados to HD600 to K702. I believe with an amplifier you get more in terms of a cleaner signal, and perhaps different/better tonality. (example, my amp in comparison has slightly more treble and slightly less bass)

But I know someone will come in here saying a receiver will sound like garbage in comparison to an amp... and although I do think thats a laughable exaggeration, trust your own ears When I made the upgrade I was highly underwhelmed. Beware of "diminishing returns", when you get 1/20th the performance you paid for you'll understand.
People for some reason look down on integrated amps in receivers and say they are worthless for headphones, I've made comparisons and don't find them particularly lacking.

At the very least the average stereo receiver is *better* than the budget desktop headphone amps you can get (I mean anything costing $200 or less) and better than most, if not all, portables. I have an old Pioneer receiver which is nothing special but it sounds better than the Little Dot II. It has a built in equalizer to boot. I myself "upgraded" to an LDMk2 and was severely underwhelmed at how it sounded compared to my integrated receivers. I mean it sounded great, sure.... but I was expecting it to blow away my integrated amp from everything I've been hearing on these forums.

On the other hand, I have a Marantz amp and it sounds better than any headphone amp I've yet sampled -- though honestly I've never tried the best.

So while maybe a $1000 headphone amp will infinitely sound better than an old integrated receiver, they are pretty good in their own right, more than capable of driving hard-to-drive phones like the AKG K701. They're not something to look down on and feel like you're listening to something subpar. I've done some testing with the dedicated headphone amps I've heard and these are not inferior in any way (best I've heard though is a G&W T2a though).

I'd still like to listen a really high end headphone amp, though.
post #50 of 88
Indeed receivers and stuff will do the job well enough. Stupid as it is to quantize this sort of thing, I'd have to say that receivers/stereo amps will give you 80~90% of the performance you could get. Whether a dedicated headphone amp is worth that last 10 or so percent is up to you. They do save quite a bit of electricity though - my integrated amp goes at a whole 40 Watts, while the headphone amp most definitely (probably) goes at far less than that. And it takes up a lot less space too!
post #51 of 88

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This is precisely the discussion topic I'm very interested at at this moment.

I wonder whether a TOP OF THE LINE receivers (eg. Onkyo TX-NR905 or Pioneer Elite SC-27) have a good enough headphone amps built in and comparable to at least middle-of-the-road dedicated amps. I have HD 650 and T1 on the way and wonder whether I'm missing anything by not having a separate amp (I looked at Burson 160 here). I don't have access to any dedicated amps to do a direct comparison myself. Did anyone here do such comparison? Bottom line question in my mind is whether the TOP receivers' built-in amps are at least as good as the Burson.
post #52 of 88
Don't confuse home theater receivers and stereo receivers. I don't own one so I can't say for sure, but I can say that because HT receivers have far more features - more channels, video and audio processing etc... you'd probably be getting less audio quality for the buck.
post #53 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ypoknons View Post
Don't confuse home theater receivers and stereo receivers. I don't own one so I can't say for sure, but I can say that because HT receivers have far more features - more channels, video and audio processing etc... you'd probably be getting less audio quality for the buck.
Yes, he's right about that, I apologize for not being more clear in what I said. I meant to say that stereo amps or stereo receivers would be able to deliver more than sufficient amplification, though it still wouldn't be the *best*, so whether or not the extra money spent is up to the consumer (diminishing returns, etc. etc.).

Quote:
Originally Posted by bubba67 View Post
This is precisely the discussion topic I'm very interested at at this moment.

I wonder whether a TOP OF THE LINE receivers (eg. Onkyo TX-NR905 or Pioneer Elite SC-27) have a good enough headphone amps built in and comparable to at least middle-of-the-road dedicated amps. I have HD 650 and T1 on the way and wonder whether I'm missing anything by not having a separate amp (I looked at Burson 160 here). I don't have access to any dedicated amps to do a direct comparison myself. Did anyone here do such comparison? Bottom line question in my mind is whether the TOP receivers' built-in amps are at least as good as the Burson.
I don't have a home theater receiver, but my stereo integrated amp (which is basically a tuner away from a stereo receiver) does the job splendidly, if you're referring to stereo receivers and amps. I do have to admit, I ended up buying my amp initially under the impression that the sound quality would vastly improve. It doesn't do the job a LOT better, but it does sound just a pinch better. Whether multi-channel home theater receivers perform just as well is something I'd have to leave to other head-fi'ers

Edit: the stereo int-amp is a 1972 model mind you; other newer models may not sound the same. They just don't make 'em like they used to, methinks.
post #54 of 88
"I'd still like to listen a really high end headphone amp, though."

Yes, so would I. I just wouldn't like to pay for it.
post #55 of 88
Although I agree with most of you conclusion. I think your experience also suggests that how easily Grado's phone can be over powered.. I have similar experience but in an opposite direction though. My current headphone set up is designed for low impedence Grados, therefore, I always doubt that the newly purchased DT990 600 ohm may be underpowered. Then I tried DT990 on the receiver (a cheap used one) headphone plug, the sheer power from the reciever drives DT990 easily. Since the receiver is pretty low end, there are background noises which can be very annoying in low impedence phones like Grado. The problem is largely mitigated when using DT990.

Quote:
Originally Posted by XLR1 View Post
I am new to quality headphones. I bought a Beryer DT880 in December so that I could crank up movies without disturbing my family. This Beryer is a very good, high impedance headphone that worked very well with a budget home theater. I patted myself on the back for not wasting money on a dedicated headphone amp. The Beyer was not quite as clear as I wanted when I played music, so I bought a Grado RS2i which is know for clarity and suppose to work well with Rock and Pop. The Grado sound was disapponiting with the home theater. I thought that Grado must be overrated until I hooked it to my ipod. Surprise! Great sound from a cheap ipod. Apparently my home theater is high impedance and drives the high impedence Beryer very well, but not as well with the low impedance Grados.

I was very happy with my setup but I kept reading about "soundstage", "depth" and "width". Frankly, I thought people were imagining it or making it up. Finally, I decided to buy a fairly inexpensive, used headphone amp, a Travagans Red, just to see. Wow! It took my music to a whole different level. I discover soundstage. The music opened up as if I was in the same room as the singer. Plus I heard improved highs and lows.

Will a home theater or integrated amp drive a quality headphone and sound good, even great? Absolutely. Will a headphone amp specifically designed to optimize headphones sound even better? IMO absolutely.

REVISION: Let me add, I don't want to oversell dedicated amps. Moving to a dedicated amp made a noticeable difference, maybe 10-15% improvement, particularly improvements in soundstage. Moving to better headphones made a HUGE improvement by comparison.
post #56 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilavideo View Post
It depends on the receiver but in most cases, the answer is no.

The purpose of a headphone amp is to properly power headphones, not simply provide an output that fits the jack. Many receiver headphone-outs are designed to provide a miniature version of the speaker output, one that will enable headphone use. These headphone-outs are usually meant to facilitate headphone use, not to optimize headphone sound. There's no secondary circuit that comes close to the fit of a proper headphone amp. It's more of a means to play headphones without setting them on fire. The impedence may not match. What's more, the attempt to write the sound smaller is less scalpel and a whole lot more butcher knife. The primary concern of the receiver manufacturer is to shrink 100 or more watts per channel to something less than 1 milliwatt per channel. Victory is declared when you have a safe miniature wattage, but accuracy and clarity, in drawing down, is less of a consideration. On many receivers, the headphone-output will produce anemic amplification, with significantly more distortion. Your headphones will not sound optimized, not unless the manufacturer cares enough to do it right. Most don't. Most off-the-shelf receivers are made to compete with other off-the-shelf receivers in a worldwide race to the bottom. It's about cost competitiveness in a Best Buy market.

That's the most wordy wall of text bunch of crap I've read in awhile. Thanks!
post #57 of 88
I've already done the "crap" refutation.
post #58 of 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mochan View Post
I've done some testing with the dedicated headphone amps I've heard and these are not inferior in any way (best I've heard though is a G&W T2a though).

I'd still like to listen a really high end headphone amp, though.
I actually think you can get significant improvement in SS amps by going from $250/350 to $500-$800ish amps. I've tried amps in the former price range (most recently Compass without the DAC), and they are quite clearly outclassed by the Burson or the EAR90 (K701 tested, HD650 and T1 included). I think it has to do with the minimum quality of components and some price drops from some excellent SS amps not getting as much attention as new products take the limelight (HP100*, EAR90, GCHA). Tubes are different matter, different criteria...

Edit - that said, I have not listened a $1000 SS amp in a long time, and I didn't know how to listen for as well as I do now. I'm just saying the jump between the two price ranges is rather substantial for SS amps.

* Price drop here; price raise in the US
post #59 of 88
Not only a stereo receiver, but also a A/V reveiver does the work as HP amp.

I have a HP amp for loan(Graham slee Solo with PSU1) and comare it to my receivers HP out, and to my ears the dedicated HP amp is no better, and my receiver produce even more bass than the Solo, that said the Solo is new and not burn in
post #60 of 88
As with most things, there is no universal "right" answer to this question.

It all depends, of course, on the electronics, and the interplay of those electronics with the headphones. There is no mysticism involved, here.

Some receivers and integrated amps are not only good headphone amps, they are GREAT headphone amps. The Leben CS300X integrated amp is a good example. It has a switch to use the very same tube amp that will drive the speakers to drive headphones. And it's fantastic at it. Same with my vintage Fisher KX100 integrated.

Some (maybe most?) home theater receivers, however, use a very cheap, crappy op-amp to drive it's headphone jack - they do NOT power the headphones of of the power amps in the receiver. And a bad op-amp in a bad circuit will sound bad, regardless of what housing it's being used in.

So it all depends on what is behind the headphone amp in the device in question - and that will vary widely.
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