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Mid-Fi Battle: AH-D2000 / HD-650 / DT-880 / XB-700

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 

These are all equally wonderful.  Make sure you spend more than $500 on amp though. 


Edited by sugarkang - 1/23/11 at 4:00pm
post #2 of 85

 am thoroughly enjoying your approach already L3000.gif

post #3 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post


 

MY PHILOSOPHY:

 

1. AMPS ARE FOR POWER.  Many of the popular headphones discussed on this board need power that portable sources often cannot provide.  The need for amps is not a scam.  But let’s be clear on the purpose of an amplifier.  It is for clean, undistorted power.  Do not use the amplifier to change the source sound.  That is much better achieved with an EQ and superior control.    Clean, neutral headphone power can be had for $50.  Anything above $100 is a waste of money unless you are buying for aesthetics.  I admit it.  Tube amps have a cool steampunk look to it.  However, amps sound the same, cables sound the same, LAME V0 VBR MP3 and FLAC sound the same.   (See disclaimer at the top)

 

2. PRICE IS NOT QUALITY.  The maxim: “You get what you pay for” is not always true.  In headphone land, it is definitely not true. 

Hypothetical:  Grado and Sony each spend $1,000,000 in research and development. 

Grado makes a total 1,000 headphones (by hand); sells at $2,000 each to rich Head-Fiers. 

Sony makes a total 100,000 headphones (by machine); sells at $50 each to non-audiophile consumers. 

Who made more money? Sony earned $4 million while Grado only earned $1 million.

Yes, this is an oversimplification. 

Any economist will also tell you that this is basically true and it’s called “economies of scale.”

 

3. BIAS IS RAMPANT:  No one is immune to bias.  If you can tell the difference between equipment, the price difference paid is justified.  If you have to try really hard to tell the difference, then the price is not justified.  The only way to know if there’s a difference is to a blind A/B test.  To do it blind, keep all variables (especially volume) equal between equipment.  Have someone else administer the test.  If you don’t want to do the test and you want to pay more for equipment, that is your right to do so.  The legal definition of that line of reasoning is called “willful ignorance.”  It will not work as a valid defense in a court of law should you ever be accused of wrongdoing. 

 

Any drug that wants approval by the FDA in the United States must meet this basic test in clinical trials. 

No blind test = no proof it works = cannot claim FDA approval = nobody will buy your drug.          

 

I share the exact same philosophy. I will also say that sound signature is the most important in choosing headphones.

 

I prefer my HD650 over the DT880's a lot by the way.
 

post #4 of 85

Lookin' good so far. No nonsense. I like it.

post #5 of 85

Agree with everything except the below. You can't get an E7 for less that $100 and its a fairly weak amp. The E9 is considered amazing power/dollar value for $130. I can tell a difference between my E7 and E9 with my D5Ks and they are pretty easy to drive. So I'm wonder what amp for $50 puts out enough power for me to take full advantage of my D5Ks? Yes I read your disclaimer and am just curious what you found for $50 that powers the HD-650?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post

 

1. AMPS ARE FOR POWER.  Many of the popular headphones discussed on this board need power that portable sources often cannot provide.  The need for amps is not a scam.  But let’s be clear on the purpose of an amplifier.  It is for clean, undistorted power.  Do not use the amplifier to change the source sound.  That is much better achieved with an EQ and superior control.    Clean, neutral headphone power can be had for $50.  Anything above $100 is a waste of money unless you are buying for aesthetics.  I admit it.  Tube amps have a cool steampunk look to it.  However, amps sound the same, cables sound the same, LAME V0 VBR MP3 and FLAC sound the same.   (See disclaimer at the top)

 

post #6 of 85

Yeah, he is way off base here. I have a $100 DIY tube amp that I can make sound 10 different ways depending on the tubes and opamps I put in it. And we are not talking about subtle changes in sound. I would give you $100 and the amp if you thought all the tubes and opamps sounded the same. But your disclaimer says they all sound the same. This is misinformation for the minority like yourself. Let me know how that $50 Cmoy with 30mA works out. With that out of the way, can't way for your review...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClassicThunder View Post

Agree with everything except the below. You can't get an E7 for less that $100 and its a fairly weak amp. The E9 is considered amazing power/dollar value for $130. I can tell a difference between my E7 and E9 with my D5Ks and they are pretty easy to drive. So I'm wonder what amp for $50 puts out enough power for me to take full advantage of my D5Ks? Yes I read your disclaimer and am just curious what you found for $50 that powers the HD-650?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post

 

1. AMPS ARE FOR POWER.  Many of the popular headphones discussed on this board need power that portable sources often cannot provide.  The need for amps is not a scam.  But let’s be clear on the purpose of an amplifier.  It is for clean, undistorted power.  Do not use the amplifier to change the source sound.  That is much better achieved with an EQ and superior control.    Clean, neutral headphone power can be had for $50.  Anything above $100 is a waste of money unless you are buying for aesthetics.  I admit it.  Tube amps have a cool steampunk look to it.  However, amps sound the same, cables sound the same, LAME V0 VBR MP3 and FLAC sound the same.   (See disclaimer at the top)

 


Edited by Slaughter - 1/6/11 at 10:10pm
post #7 of 85

 

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/531352/art-headamp4-hd-650-dt-770-ah-d2000Quote:

 

Originally Posted by ClassicThunder View Post

Agree with everything except the below. You can't get an E7 for less that $100 and its a fairly weak amp. The E9 is considered amazing power/dollar value for $130. I can tell a difference between my E7 and E9 with my D5Ks and they are pretty easy to drive. So I'm wonder what amp for $50 puts out enough power for me to take full advantage of my D5Ks? Yes I read your disclaimer and am just curious what you found for $50 that powers the HD-650?
 

post #8 of 85


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post 

 

MY PHILOSOPHY:

 

1. AMPS ARE FOR POWER.  Many of the popular headphones discussed on this board need power that portable sources often cannot provide.  The need for amps is not a scam.  But let’s be clear on the purpose of an amplifier.  It is for clean, undistorted power.  Do not use the amplifier to change the source sound.  That is much better achieved with an EQ and superior control.    Clean, neutral headphone power can be had for $50.  Anything above $100 is a waste of money unless you are buying for aesthetics.  I admit it.  Tube amps have a cool steampunk look to it.  However, amps sound the same, cables sound the same, LAME V0 VBR MP3 and FLAC sound the same.   (See disclaimer at the top)

 


Yes, but no.

 

You're greatly overestimating the performance of something like the ART amp you reviewed.  I'm surprised no one brought it to your attention, but these are the specs:

 

Signal To Noise Ratio: >90dB
IMD (SMPTE): 0.01%
Maximum Input Level: +14dBV
Maximum Output Level: 20dB per channel
Output Impedance: 51 Ohms per channel
Output Connectors: Four stereo 1/4" headphone outputs
Power Requirements: 12V DC (Adapter included)
Total Harmonic Distortion: <0.01%
Power: Power on LED
Dimensions: 4.5" x 2.875" x 1.5" (150mm x 75mm x 38mm)
Weight: 1.3 lbs. (590g)

 

Everything but what is in bold is good.  That output impedance is quite frankly ridiculous and can lead to a large difference in frequency response based on impedance of the cans tested.

 

If you're using an amp like this with those cans, the difference in impedance between the cans combined with the high output impedance CAN AND WILL impact the frequency response.  The cheapest I've seen an amp that can adequately power 32-600ohm inefficient cans without any measurable deficiencies and low output impedance is for $110, and that was B-Stock Rev.2 from a dying company (AV123 X-Head).  New amps with similar performance would probably be around ~$250 like the Schitt.

 

This isn't marketing hyperbole but well known engineering principles.  That said I believe paying past the minimum to alleviate these issues is ridiculous, and worse things like tube amps can reintroduce the problem as they're notorious for high output impedance.  That's another discussion though.

 

 

 

Everything else I agree is on the nose.  Price doesn't equal performance - case in point Monster products (Beats), Bose, etc.  As for bias, I don't think anyone would deny that.


Edited by Shike - 1/7/11 at 2:16am
post #9 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClassicThunder View Post

Agree with everything except the below. You can't get an E7 for less that $100 and its a fairly weak amp. The E9 is considered amazing power/dollar value for $130. I can tell a difference between my E7 and E9 with my D5Ks and they are pretty easy to drive.


Of course it's a weak amp, because the amp is the afterthought. It's a DAC.

post #10 of 85

Sorry but I have spent the last hour researching that amp and only about 4 people on the whole internet have anything good to say about its amplification power and none of them have any experience with anything other than a Fiio E5. 

 

Lots of people think it makes a great switch, which as far as I can tell it what its for. The only goal for the build in amp is to make sure all four phones can run at once at decent volume from one line in. 

 

Anyways I can't find where it says the output power of the Headamp, if anyone can find it I would like to compare to the Fiio products.

Edit: never mind Shike already found it in the half hour it took to write my post.

 

http://www.miccastore.com/fiio-desktop-headphone-amplifier-black-p-42.html

http://www.miccastore.com/fiio-portable-headphone-amplifier-black-p-33.html

 


Edited by ClassicThunder - 1/6/11 at 11:22pm
post #11 of 85
Thread Starter 


You're right.  I was not trying to spread misinformation.  I have no opinions on tube amps either way because I have no experience with them.  Review edited above to reflect this. All comments on amps are for solid state and readers should assume such. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaughter View Post

Yeah, he is way off base here. I have a $100 DIY tube amp that I can make sound 10 different ways depending on the tubes and opamps I put in it.

 

 

 

Double blind A/B yourself with my $50 amp versus your favorite $1,000 amp and then come back and post results.  As to the allegation that I am overestimating the performance, I'll just say that I owned a Meier Corda.  I know what a good amp sounds like.  Specifically, a good amp sounds like nothing.  It provides power with a low noise floor.  My $50 amp does everything the expensive amp does. 

 

The hardest thing to drive properly without distortion is bass.  I have 3 "neutral" headphone amps here.  The Asus Xonar has a built in amp, the E5 and the Headamp4.  There is no "color" distinction between any of them.  According to your logic, I'm lacking the "power to drive."  If that's true, you should also realize that the Headamp4 is MUCH more powerful than the E5, correct?  So, then the Headamp4 should be head and shoulders above the E5 in sound as well, right?  

 

It isn't.  It's exactly the same.  The only difference is how far I can drive volume levels.  The E5 doesn't go that far.  The Headamp4 goes way beyond normal listening levels.  If that weren't enough, my signal is being amplified TWICE.  I have the ASUS Xonar and the Headamp4 on one chain.  One amp, three amps, it doesn't matter:  they all sound the same. 

 

Take the Pepsi challenge and blind A/B yourself.  Otherwise, see my philosophy above. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post


You're greatly overestimating the performance of something like the ART amp you reviewed.  I'm surprised no one brought it to your attention, but these are the specs:

 


Edited by sugarkang - 1/6/11 at 11:38pm
post #12 of 85

What cans did you own when you had the Corda, same as in the review? Anyways my problem is that having an underpowered amp skew may the results against high impedance phones, or more accurately penalize the HD-650 against its lower impedance opponents. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post

Double blind A/B yourself with my $50 amp versus your favorite $1,000 amp and then come back and post results.  As to the allegation that I am overestimating the performance, I'll just say that I owned a Meier Corda.  I know what a good amp sounds like.  Specifically, a good amp sounds like nothing.  It provides power with a low noise floor.  My $50 amp does everything the expensive amp does. 

post #13 of 85
Thread Starter 

HD-650 years ago. 

The problem with the charge that I don't have enough power also works in scale with the equipment I own now.  In fact, it should be even more apparent because the E5 is such a tiny amp.  However, they all sound the same when not driven to excessive levels.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ClassicThunder View Post

What cans did you own when you had the Corda, same as in the review? Anyways my problem is that having an underpowered amp skew may the results against high impedance phones, or more accurately penalize the HD-650 against its lower impedance opponents. 

 

post #14 of 85

Opamps sound different too, just read the opamp thread and the hundreds of people who have posted in it. Your solid state's all sound the same claim is just as weak. I think you will be fine if you just stick to the headphone comparison part of this thread, which I really am looking forward to. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarkang View Post
SUBMIT


You're right.  I was not trying to spread misinformation.  I have no opinions on tube amps either way because I have no experience with them.  Review edited above to reflect this. All comments on amps are for solid state and readers should assume such. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaughter View Post

Yeah, he is way off base here. I have a $100 DIY tube amp that I can make sound 10 different ways depending on the tubes and opamps I put in it.

 

 

 

Double blind A/B yourself with my $50 amp versus your favorite $1,000 amp and then come back and post results.  As to the allegation that I am overestimating the performance, I'll just say that I owned a Meier Corda.  I know what a good amp sounds like.  Specifically, a good amp sounds like nothing.  It provides power with a low noise floor.  My $50 amp does everything the expensive amp does. 

 

The hardest thing to drive properly without distortion is bass.  I have 3 "neutral" headphone amps here.  The Asus Xonar has a built in amp, the E5 and the Headamp4.  There is no "color" distinction between any of them.  According to your logic, I'm lacking the "power to drive."  If that's true, you should also realize that the Headamp4 is MUCH more powerful than the E5, correct?  So, then the Headamp4 should be head and shoulders above the E5 in sound as well, right?  

 

It isn't.  It's exactly the same.  The only difference is how far I can drive volume levels.  The E5 doesn't go that far.  The Headamp4 goes way beyond normal listening levels.  If that weren't enough, my signal is being amplified TWICE.  I have the ASUS Xonar and the Headamp4 on one chain.  One amp, three amps, it doesn't matter:  they all sound the same. 

 

Take the Pepsi challenge and blind A/B yourself.  Otherwise, see my philosophy above. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post


You're greatly overestimating the performance of something like the ART amp you reviewed.  I'm surprised no one brought it to your attention, but these are the specs:

 

post #15 of 85
Thread Starter 

1. of the SS amps I've heard, they sound the same.  The point is that price doesn't matter.  If you are purposely trying to make them sound different with opamps, then I have no comment on that.  As stated above, any coloring should be done with EQ and not the amp. 

2. double blind A/B and come back.

3. read disclaimer above. 

4. disagreeing is fine, but this thread is for people like me, not people like you.  There are plenty of threads that agree with you.  My thread is for those of us that can't tell the difference.  There are a million threads where people claim that they can tell the difference.  I suggest participating in those. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaughter View Post

Opamps sound different too, just read the opamp thread and the hundreds of people who have posted in it. Your solid state's all sound the same claim is just as weak. I think you will be fine if you just stick to the headphone comparison part of this thread, which I really am looking forward to. 
 


Edited by sugarkang - 1/7/11 at 12:44am
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