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Calling All "Vintage" Integrated/Receiver Owners - Page 579

post #8671 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post

I got a deal for a pair of Mordaunt Short Carnval 1 for cheap, but I still haven't gotten myself an amp yet. I came across tripath amps like lepai and topping, but I don't trust the quality of the lepai despite their glorious reviews. Topping amps however are using better quality components encased in a very solidly built housing.

On the other hand, I have my eyes on one Sansui AU 3900 mentioned previously some pages back.

I'm particularly interested with the headphone out to drive my Goldring DR150. Any of you guys had the chance to compare the performance of a tripath amp and a vintage solid state amp? Should I open a new thread for this?

I hate to do this, but it is a fair and just thing to do. All vintage amps / receivers, with the exceptions so rare that can be forgotten, use for powering headphones speaker output power amp, connected through some fairly high resistance ( couple hundred ohms ) . That means output impedance of your headphone jack is essentially the resistance of that limiting resistor in series. It is suboptimal in any case, but gets worse with the lower impedance of headphones. Not only the control, definition and dynamic range are affected, it manifests itself with quite markedly changed frequency response, particularly with headphones that display gross impedance variation across the spectrum - balanced armature headphones would be most vulnerable to this.

 

Again - it could be to your's liking, it could be good "enough" - but would never represent an optimum solution for driving good headphones. One can not expect not to hear some of the above with say HD800s - please note I diiiiiiid streeeeetch the time with hps plugged into phones out on my vintage amps faaaaar toooooo loooong - a dedicated powerful enough for the headphones driven amp will sound superiour nomatterwhat. It needs not to be expensive to demonstrate this fact - but where on earth are you gong to hear what your amp is doing better than through a pair headphones strapped to your ears - or worse yet - inserted in your ear canal? Poor amp ( and source etc ) has literally nowhere to hide.

 

Vintage dedicated headphone amps? A handful of above exceptions all but unobtainium by now - I remember there was a very high end Onkyo of that type, but it was $$$ and probably still is. Never saw one in flesh.

 

HD 800 through a resistor on vintage amp ( that IS in 99,99999 ........9 % of cases ) - NO, thank you. It is like powering a Ferrari on anything that will remotely burn in its engine - performance be damned. One does not buy a Ferrari if there is afterwards no money for gasoline, tires, etc.

 

This is not to say it can not be an interim solution until budget allows for more or even the ultimate solution for your combination of equipment and listening preferences. I like adore vintage, but that resistor in series is a deal breaker as far as decent headphone performance is concerned. Almost everything else on vintage equipment can be restored/improved/modified - into stratosphere if desired - but that headphone output remains the same. Unless you decide to replace those two 5 cent resistors ( and switch)  with proper headphone amp - here is your answer why in "vintage" times there were so few proper headphone amps. Once Sony cassette Walkmans and their headphone amps have shown a clean pair of heels to headphone outputs on vintage amps/receivers - and you can add anything from then up to present iWhatnots - modern amps/receivers have such dedicated headphone amps. Couple of resistors, capacitors, 2 operational amplifiers - it can be done for say additional $ 10 compared to the 10 cent resistors approach. Of course one can drive the quality ( and price...) of parts beyond any reason - but that $10 headphone amp will make mincemeat of any vintage amp connected to headphones via series resistors.

post #8672 of 13717

This old debate again... Both my Q701 and T50rp sound great on my Pioneer. I've read over and over again that high output impedance is not ideal, but my ears are telling me different. 

post #8673 of 13717
Thread Starter 
So tell me analogsurviver, what vintage amps and receiver have you listened to, to come up with these conclusions? I've owned both high end modern and vintage gear and have even done side by side comparisons using high end low impedance, high impedance, low and high sensitivity cans. And I stand by my conclusion that even some lower end vintage amps can compete with midrange to lower high end headphone amps. So what direct comparisons have you done?
post #8674 of 13717
AnalogSurviver, I have great respect for you, but you are being much too dogmatic here, IMHO. First of all, it is FAR from a given that damping factor, which is going to be the primary effect of the impedance issue, is really all that audible. Further, for purely resistive loads like all Orthodynamic/planar headphones, the whole issue is completely irrelevant. So users of HiFiMan, Audeze, etc, have zero consideration here. And as you pointed out, for high impedance Senn and for sure 600 ohm Beyer headphone, also not really an issue at all.

And for headphones like AT, Denon, Grado...maybe there will be an audible effect. But I think it is very overblown.

One thing I personally would not recommend are IEMs with vintage amps, as I do think the odds of having a powerful speaker amp be quiet enough for an IEM are somewhat more risky.
post #8675 of 13717

I've owned lots of dedicated hp amps from Schitt to Xcans to little dots to Audio gd's etc, and none sound as good as my vintage Sansui, Pioneer or Marantz with the HD800's. From bass control to dynamics, speed and smoother treble. Headphone amps IME (unless they are very powerful and most of them aren't) can simply sound lacklustre in comparison.  

post #8676 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonb View Post

This old debate again... Both my Q701 and T50rp sound great on my Pioneer. I've read over and over again that high output impedance is not ideal, but my ears are telling me different. 

True - I did write it can sound right with certain combinations and to some ears. If you found your Personal Nirvana - great.

 

I personally somehow adhered to that until I started recording music. Hearing music live on my ears alone and through equipment of any sort put a relatively quick end on high impedance option -

all it takes is a few bars played on a piano in lower registers.

 

It is not what is "liked" - it is what most closely resembles the real thing. It may well be the frequency response deviations that do occur with high impedance drive suit your ear. That could be recreated through use of an equalizer. What is more critical is the loss of control of the amp has over the headphone driver if its output impedance is high ( or its damping factor is consequently low ). We react first to frequency response anomalies, everything else must be very much higher in magnitude to be directly audible. Say 1 dB at lower extreme can be the threshold between Personal Gotterdammerung and - inaudible. Distortion has to reach much more than 1 % to be directly objectionable - but you have first to be able to hear the basic signal. That means frequency response takes precedence.

 

If say $ 10 required to go from resistor approach to decent simple headphone amp was/is a problem - then where is the required equalizer of sufficiently high (X00 $ ) quality?!

 

As you can see, it eventually boils down to money. Given the chance to audition the same headphone with the high impedance drive and with low impedance drive equalized for the same frequency response, there is no contest - lower distortion ( and better transient response ) will always win. Trouble, as usual, is in the expense. 2x 5 cents for the resistors vs (10 +x00 $ ) for decent amp + equalizer is no brainer for the majority of the consumers.

post #8677 of 13717

There is an sx-1280 local that I can get about $400. Is it worth it if the condition and functionality is good?

post #8678 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattTCG View Post

There is an sx-1280 local that I can get about $400. Is it worth it if the condition and functionality is good?

I would say so mate, absolutely! 

post #8679 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

Vintage dedicated headphone amps? A handful of above exceptions all but unobtainium by now - I remember there was a very high end Onkyo of that type, but it was $$$ and probably still is. Never saw one in flesh.

 

 

 

 

 

yes, sounds better than my Pioneer SA-7100, which I adore...

bigsmile_face.gif

post #8680 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

True - I did write it can sound right with certain combinations and to some ears. If you found your Personal Nirvana - great.

 

I personally somehow adhered to that until I started recording music. Hearing music live on my ears alone and through equipment of any sort put a relatively quick end on high impedance option -

all it takes is a few bars played on a piano in lower registers.

 

It is not what is "liked" - it is what most closely resembles the real thing. It may well be the frequency response deviations that do occur with high impedance drive suit your ear. That could be recreated through use of an equalizer. What is more critical is the loss of control of the amp has over the headphone driver if its output impedance is high ( or its damping factor is consequently low ). We react first to frequency response anomalies, everything else must be very much higher in magnitude to be directly audible. Say 1 dB at lower extreme can be the threshold between Personal Gotterdammerung and - inaudible. Distortion has to reach much more than 1 % to be directly objectionable - but you have first to be able to hear the basic signal. That means frequency response takes precedence.

 

If say $ 10 required to go from resistor approach to decent simple headphone amp was/is a problem - then where is the required equalizer of sufficiently high (X00 $ ) quality?!

 

As you can see, it eventually boils down to money. Given the chance to audition the same headphone with the high impedance drive and with low impedance drive equalized for the same frequency response, there is no contest - lower distortion ( and better transient response ) will always win. Trouble, as usual, is in the expense. 2x 5 cents for the resistors vs (10 +x00 $ ) for decent amp + equalizer is no brainer for the majority of the consumers.

 

I know it would not be an idea solution, but have been thinking about putting a high quality stereo pot in place of the fixed resistors in my Sherwood, and experimenting with different values to see where the sweet spot is - this thought occurred to me for exactly the reasons you have discussed (mainly damping factor).

post #8681 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by LugBug1 View Post

I've owned lots of dedicated hp amps from Schitt to Xcans to little dots to Audio gd's etc, and none sound as good as my vintage Sansui, Pioneer or Marantz with the HD800's. From bass control to dynamics, speed and smoother treble. Headphone amps IME (unless they are very powerful and most of them aren't) can simply sound lacklustre in comparison.  

It is true that there are requirements to be met for the amp regarding the load. "Headphone amp" is a relatively new kid on the block - and not all are created equal. HD800s are 600 ohms impedance, meaning they require quite some voltage swing that majority of headphone amps that operate on relatively low voltages simply can not cope with dynamic peaks - more voltage swing is required, something easily met with power amp for speakers, as provided by your Sansui. I have GREAT respect for Sansui receivers - they usually have great phono stages, great tuners, drive reasonable speakers with ease, etc, etc - the only thing not to like is that headphone output.

 

Most headphone amps do not have enough voltage swing to properly power 600 ohm headphones. That is the major lacklustre culprit you mention.

It can be done better - at a cost most users of lower impedance headphones would not be willing to pay for something they do not need.

 

I do not own HD800s, Stax is much more up my alley. I heard HD800 with Lehmann ???? ( TOTL or near that ) amp and that was the first time I liked any  non electrostatic Senn. Of "normal" headphones I own AKG K 340 ( old, electrostatic tweeter ) and if HD 800 reacts even mildly similar to high and low impedance drive, it should be night and day difference. That " high AND low impedance amp" I used was Technics SE 9060 power amp headphone vs speaker output - it is quiet enough to drive IEMs without any hiss contributable to amp through either output. It also has enough voltage swing to drive almost any headphone.  It is 75 W/ch into 8 ohms.

 

The same power amp as in SE 9060 ( but with simpler power supply ) is also found in SU 8080 integrated amp. Both are definitely vintage designs, 1977 IIRC .

post #8682 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeakerBox View Post

 

I know it would not be an idea solution, but have been thinking about putting a high quality stereo pot in place of the fixed resistors in my Sherwood, and experimenting with different values to see where the sweet spot is - this thought occurred to me for exactly the reasons you have discussed (mainly damping factor).

This is an interesting idea. Better something than nothing. Trouble - you will quickly learn a QUALITY pot costs much more than that hypothetical $ 10 headphone amp...especially one that has to carry for a pot considerable amounts of power.

 

Cruel fact is that replacing pots on ANY piece of vintage gear with really good pots will usually double the overall price - a really good pot ( and  at least 2 are required, for volume and balance ) is very quickly at $ 100 and above apiece. That is why I mainly soldier on with originals up to the point they really make life too miserable indeed, And in more cases than not it is impossible to get a currently available pot that will physically fit into the space available - making canibalizing another vintage piece of equipment of the same type usually the only option,

post #8683 of 13717

Yes, well aware of the costs.  I will probably will pursue this at some point and will report back with the results.

post #8684 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by analogsurviver View Post

It is true that there are requirements to be met for the amp regarding the load. "Headphone amp" is a relatively new kid on the block - and not all are created equal. HD800s are 600 ohms impedance, meaning they require quite some voltage swing that majority of headphone amps that operate on relatively low voltages simply can not cope with dynamic peaks - more voltage swing is required, something easily met with power amp for speakers, as provided by your Sansui. I have GREAT respect for Sansui receivers - they usually have great phono stages, great tuners, drive reasonable speakers with ease, etc, etc - the only thing not to like is that headphone output.

 

Most headphone amps do not have enough voltage swing to properly power 600 ohm headphones. That is the major lacklustre culprit you mention.

It can be done better - at a cost most users of lower impedance headphones would not be willing to pay for something they do not need.

 

I do not own HD800s, Stax is much more up my alley. I heard HD800 with Lehmann ???? ( TOTL or near that ) amp and that was the first time I liked any  non electrostatic Senn. Of "normal" headphones I own AKG K 340 ( old, electrostatic tweeter ) and if HD 800 reacts even mildly similar to high and low impedance drive, it should be night and day difference. That " high AND low impedance amp" I used was Technics SE 9060 power amp headphone vs speaker output - it is quiet enough to drive IEMs without any hiss contributable to amp through either output. It also has enough voltage swing to drive almost any headphone.  It is 75 W/ch into 8 ohms.

 

The same power amp as in SE 9060 ( but with simpler power supply ) is also found in SU 8080 integrated amp. Both are definitely vintage designs, 1977 IIRC .

Yeah I hear what you are saying. And it makes sense. But my problem is that you are using a headphone as an example that you haven't owned...Or used with vintage amps (the HD800's are 300 ohm by the way) I learned a long time ago not to go by common sense or logic in this hobby. There are too many relatives and variables. Impedance matching being only one of them. The sensitivity of a driver such as used in the HD800 is far more sensitive than say another 300ohm headphone such as the HD650's for e.g. They are different designs. If all headphones were the same then yes, you could pretty much predict what amp will work best based purely on the math, after you had in practice experimented enough. Another example is the AKG dynamic flagships, they are only about 50ohm I think? Yet they respond very well to OTL amps. Or amps with a high impedance output. 

 

A little too much theory and not enough practice my friend. But I'm enjoying reading it all the same :)

post #8685 of 13717
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post

AnalogSurviver, I have great respect for you, but you are being much too dogmatic here, IMHO. First of all, it is FAR from a given that damping factor, which is going to be the primary effect of the impedance issue, is really all that audible. Further, for purely resistive loads like all Orthodynamic/planar headphones, the whole issue is completely irrelevant. So users of HiFiMan, Audeze, etc, have zero consideration here. And as you pointed out, for high impedance Senn and for sure 600 ohm Beyer headphone, also not really an issue at all.

And for headphones like AT, Denon, Grado...maybe there will be an audible effect. But I think it is very overblown.

One thing I personally would not recommend are IEMs with vintage amps, as I do think the odds of having a powerful speaker amp be quiet enough for an IEM are somewhat more risky.

I agree with everything stated - but it has to be taken in consideration on case by case basis. 

 

The effects of damping factor are not appreciated enough - I agree that anything above 50 is probably adequate, but that means 12 ohm output impedance for 600 ohm cans - something even dedicated headphone amps can have trouble with, let alone resistor coupled power amps. Even if it is say 100 ohm resistor ( usually never that low, more like 220 and up ) that means damping factor of 6 for 600 ohm load - which is decidedly poor. 

If it is low impedance headphone, say 32 ohm to stay "polite", one gets negative damping factor - source is three times higher in impedance than the load, definitely not the ideal condition.

 

Grado SR60 can vary WILDLY as regard with what they are driven - to ridiculous amount, both in quality achievable and unfortunately - resulting cost. I might decide one day to share this experience - suffice to say is that all  owner of those SR 60 managed to utter after few minutes listening to that combo was:

 

"...... I never imagined SR 60 can sound THAT great ! "

 

It was perhaps the overkill in the entire audio history, but boy did it sound great.  It had "enough" - of everything - with loads to spare.

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