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Newbie Amp Question

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
So after searching on this forum for some time now I am still a little unsure on what to do and hopefully you guys can help me out .

Alright, I am searching for an amp but I am wondering if maybe I would be better off with a soundcard. I am using an Ipod as my main source but also listen to music straight out of my laptop too (Dell Inspiron). When I upload CD's and music onto my Ipod I use the highest quality possible (192 kb). I am just wondering if an Ipod will be a sufficient source for an amp or will I have to buy an entirely different source? My headphones are the HD-650 and SR60i which I realize require some type of amp to make them shine and sound great.

I have noticed alot of members have recommended the Little Dot MKiii amp for the HD-650 which looks solid. Can I use my Ipod for that as well? Sorry if these questions are dumb but I am really confused on what I need and more importantly what I don't need.
post #2 of 14
HD650 - need an amp
SR60i - don't need one, but could benefit from one
192kbps - not the highest quality. The highest would be lossless/FLAC, and highest lossy (encoded) would be 320kbps
post #3 of 14
Though source is important, you should take the upgrade process step by step as the amp will make a bigger difference to your setup.

The MKViii is known very well to be good with the HD650, also look at the MKV.

To get signal from your ipod, you should only use line-out (The plug in the bottom) as this provides better sound quality than the headphone jack. Most amps take an RCA input which is left and right. You can use a cord that goes Line out to RCA, such as the following:

iPod Line Out to RCA Cable | Virtual Village - US

This cable is good quality, I have one.

You should also start importing CDs in higher quality. If you use itunes you can find the import settings under Edit > Preferences. Click the button that says "Import Settings" and switch to import using WAV encoder. You can then choose custom setting and switch the sample rate to 48.000kHz and the sample size to 16-bit (Stereo aswell).

If you still don't know what impact an amp will make, I have this thread that has some good info:


Good luck!
post #4 of 14
I suggest getting an dac/amp combo
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thank you guys very much! I read your thread TabooPc and that really helped out alot too

I've figured I will be listening to music out of my Laptop the majority of the time. So now I am wondering if I should just get a DAC (digital analog convertor) and forget about the amp. I realize I now need a wayyyyy better source than my motherboard soundcard or my Ipod.

So which should come first, the Amp, DAC or source? I was set on the Little Dot mkiii but I am not sure now... I am just trying to get the best out of the HD-650
post #6 of 14
Get a quality amp first. You haven't really heard the HD-650 until it is properly amped. A lot of cheap tube amps get recommended, but they're cheap. A quality high voltage power supply is necessary to do tubes properly, and that costs money. If you're on a budget, I recommend going with a good solid state amp. They might not look as cool as tubes, but they handle the music better. Solid state can be much better when running a low cost power supply.

Also, the cheap tube amps are exclusively OTL. OTL doesn't work well with low impedance headphones, like the SR-60. You need output transformers (with a few pricey exceptions) for quality sound. Solid state always has a low output impedance, so it will work with both of your headphones.
post #7 of 14
As I said prior, Check out the Little dot MKV. Its solid state.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
TabooPc,I noticed you have the HD650 as well, what is your experience with the MKV? I am guesing that you're using your Ipod as your source along with out line cable into the amp... And the MKV is not a tube amp so I am guessing it will drive and handle the headphones better

I have also been checking out the Headroom Micro Amp which is right at my budget too. I am stuck between a nice LD amp or the headroom one. And I am not sure what the tube amps do differently... Oh well, I am learning everyday! Thanks for all input
post #9 of 14
I haven't gotten mine yet. I ordered it from audiophilechina.com close to a month ago and still dont have it. It just shipped out a few days ago..

Tube amps just have a different sound from what I hear. Generally they handle lower quality music better, when solid state defines every little flaw.

I love my HD650s though! They have the perfect amount of bass for me, and I like the dark sound.

Ill post back when I get my MKV in a few days.
post #10 of 14
192kbp is not the highest m8, its actualy pretty low.
For mp3 the highest bitrate is 320kbps and then you get WAV and FLAC files and such, which is even better.
For an amp I dont rly know what I can recommend you, if you want it for portable use on your iPod I would recommend you the FiiO E5 headphone amp, its small and does a fine job.
Havent got any non-portable amps myself yet so cant help you in that direction.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
320kbps?? Wow! And I thought 192 Kb was the highest quality for itunes... Jeez I know nothing

Thanks for the advice and let me know how that amp works out. I think I will be leaning towards it as well. The HD650 is my first real headphone and honestly sounds incredible even though I am playing it straight out of my laptop unamped. I can't even imagine how they will sound at their full potential with a proper amp
post #12 of 14
My thoughts exactly! I love my HD650 unamped.

The Fio amp won't even come close to powering the HD650's so thats out of the question :P
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
After reading a few more of these threads on amping a Hd650 I feel like investing a little more than I planned. I keep reading that the Ray Samuels Audio (RSA) Hornet really does a great job of amping the HD-650s and also Grados. It's about the price I paid for the headphones and will hopefully be a great match. Now I just need to wait for one to pop up in the F/S section...
post #14 of 14
If your going to be using it portable that would be nice, at home a portable amp won't even come close to a desktop amp though.
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