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New to Amplifiers, have many questions

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Okay so I'm completely new to amplifiers, I just learned about them today. So I have lots of questions. However first I'll give you some information about my current gear, and what exactly I'm looking for.

 

Gear: I have Sennheiser hd555 headphones. Ipod classic 80gb, I also use a computer but unfortunately I don't know what sound card I have. 

 

Reason why I'm interested in getting an amplifier: I noticed with my headphones, they sound much better when I listen to CD's on my computer. I don't notice much of a difference when I listen to MP3 on my computer (maybe it's a tad better) compared to my Ipod. However, like I said before, when I listen to CD's everything sounds way better. 

 

I'm hoping that I can grasp that good sound, or atleast get closer to that sound with an amplifier connected to my computer and/or Ipod. I'd rather not want to buy a ton of CD's if instead I could buy an amplifier once and get better quality sound on all my MP3's. 

 

Questions about amplifiers:

1. Do amplifiers work with Ipods?

2. I already know amplifiers work with computers, but I'm hoping I can get an amplifier that will work with an ipod.

3. What's the difference between a full size amp, compared to a portable amp? (Maybe this is just a dumb question, because I'm assuming it's just a matter of size. But I just want to make sure, because I was confused about which thread I should post in).

 

Specifics of what I'm looking for:

1. Will an amplifier improve the quality of my sound with my HD555's? I've gone through a few threads and see mixed opinions on this.

2. I want an amplifier that works with my Ipod and computer (although if it's a matter of one or the other, I want an amplifier that works with my Ipod). 

3. I only listen to music at home (besides listening to music in my car but that's irrelevant) so portability is not an issue.

4. I don't want to spend too much money on an amplifier. I don't want to spend any more then $150 dollars at most, however I'm more comfortable with an amplifier around $100 dollars. But if making a 50$ upgrade makes that big of a difference, I'll do it. 

5. I've already looked at and heard about an amplifier such as the FiiO E5, E7. E9. Do all of these amplifiers work with Ipods, and would they improve the sound quality with the headphones I have and my ipod/computer that probably doesn't have a great soundcard? 


Edited by Reagan0mics - 3/27/11 at 2:47am
post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

No one can give me information?

post #3 of 15

I am just a noob as well but have been reading up a bit.  So take my word with large large pinch of salt.

 

1.  Yes.

2.  Yeah.

3.  Yes, just the size and I guess the portable amps would have to run on batteries as well.  Also, for the same price, the desk amps *should* perform better than a portable ones.

 

1.   *Should* improve the sound.  As to how much not sure.  Depends on the amp/dac I guess.

2.  Yeah you can get one that can work with both.

3.  Yeah if that is the case then probably better to look for a desktop one rather than portable.

4.  I am just reading a thread about how amp/dac are over rated and a budget amp/dac should be enough for most people.  Best is if you go to a shop with your ipod and test to see if an amp/dac is worth the difference.

5.  Yes.  Should do so and it might be best to go for the E7 if you think it is your soundcard that is rubbish as it is amp/dac.

 

Think the best thing is to go to a shop and try amp/dac out.

 

 

 

post #4 of 15
Go to the Wiki and read Boomana's guide for new listeners.

I'm not a huge fan of portable amps. Something that plugs into the mains delivers a lot more power and authority than something running off batteries.

Also, desktop amps let you run tubes. Tubes aren't for everyone, but quite a few of us run them. Solid state can sound good, but I prefer amps that glow in the dark. smily_headphones1.gif
post #5 of 15

With HD555s there is no need for an amplifier, you will be wasting your money. Number one component is your headphone at this moemnt and HD555s may not be the worst but are not great either. If you want to put money into some gear buy better headphones first and then worry about amps.

post #6 of 15

Oh and don't forget to mod your hd555 to hd595

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvQ8PzBrHXE

 

 

post #7 of 15

Why would he mod them if, according to Szadzik, he should get rid of them?

 

My own opinion is that the 555 is a very nice, neutral phone that will gain very little from amping unless the OP is hearing distortion, as in something running out of steam. If portability is not an issue, I think he should try to get hold of a decent stereo or even HT amp, if he doesn't already have one. Will drive anything and sound just as good or better than most portable amps.  

post #8 of 15

?  He doesn't want to get rid of the 555.  He wants to improve the sound and modding them would improve the sound.

post #9 of 15

sorry to hijack this thread, but I also have a bunch of questions...

 

At the moment I'm just using my headphones straight from my laptop. I'm planning on getting a turntable and a pre amp (Project Debut III/Cambridge Audio 640).. and I also still want to play my music from my iTunes. 

 

What type of amp would I need? Would a E7/E9 work with this system?

 

I'm also thinking about buying bookshelf speakers and a regular stereo amp (Cambridge Audio 550A) .. is it possible to connect a headphone amp to a stereo amp?

post #10 of 15

add

your not getting too many responses because this exact question has been asked 1000 times on here.  But you can amp anything from anything (as long as we're talking an analog signal).  In the case of the ipod you really need to get a LOD (line out doc), ie the FIOO L3 which is...$10-15 on Amazon.  This is because the ipod doesnt normally have a line out and you shouldn't amp an amped output.  The hd555's are fine headphones and better yet they were built to not specifically need amping which is good in this case - However, amping is always good.  I dont fully understand your post or really at all - but if you are saying your CDs sound better is it your mp3 quality that is inferior?  Also, I personally beleive that skipping your sound card and getting an expernal DAC would be the best bang for the buck.  IF you like that and you still want to spend more money then you can look into other headphones.  Since it was mentioned the very cheap, but still nice, fiio e7 is $100 and has a low-powered  amp and very effictive DAC.  So you can plug it into your ipod (with the LOD) and use it as an amp AND plug it into your computer to bypass the soundcard and use the e7 DAC for better sound and then amplify it as needed.  Down the road if you need more power you can plug the e7 into the e9.  And that was fiio l3 abaove.  For some reason I haven't been able to edit what I write on headfi or

 

 

 

post #11 of 15

sorry, that post was a mess.  Every since I updated firefox a few days ago I can't edit anything I write on headfi or add hard returns.

post #12 of 15

Use Chrome.  Firefox has been bloated and slow for ages.

post #13 of 15

Since you (Reagan0mics) noticed the difference, an MP3 encoded audio file ripped from a CD is inferior to the original if faithful audio reproduction is your metric. The same goes for any lossy encoding scheme (as the encoding algorithm is throwing out information to make the audio file smaller). If you rip the CD to a lossless audio file (FLAC or Apple Lossless are common), you should have a perfect reproduction of the original CD recording. I say "should" because things can go wrong with the ripping process (see dBpoweramp if you want to get one side of the story). If you think CDs are the last word in audio recording, they are not - search for DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD on wikipedia for the details. In any event, these are your source material. Ignoring the possibilities of up-converting (I have no appetite for getting into that), the quality of your audio experience can be no better than your source material allows.

 

When you read these forums, "source" tends to assume at least CD quality audio material; but the term also encompasses the system that holds and "plays" the files (e.g. optical media player, PC, or iPod). The source may or may not include an integrated digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that converts the audio file to standard line-level audio output - RCA jacks for traditional audio components (receivers, amps) or TRS for headphones (most of them) and computers (or computer components - including iPods). In the case of PCs (and Macs), source also includes the software you use to organize and play your audio files. Devices like the iPod have integrated software and a DAC; and the "purest" line-level output for an iPod is generally accepted to be the dock connector. It is also generally assumed (if not universally accepted) that the interior of a PC or Mac is not the best place for a DAC - or at least it is not the best place to preserve the integrity of an analog audio signal. For similar reasons, you can probably do better than the line-level output of an iPod.

 

In any event, many computer users with audiophile tendencies prefer DACs that are external to their computers. External DACs are meant to accept a "raw" digital data stream from PCs via USB (common), digital coaxial or S/PDIF (less common) or FireWire (rare). DACs can be integrated into headphone amps, but this is hardly universal; not everyone needs an external DAC (folks with Blu-ray, DVD-A and SACD players).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reagan0mics View Post
...

Gear: I have Sennheiser hd555 headphones. Ipod classic 80gb, I also use a computer but unfortunately I don't know what sound card I have. 

 

Reason why I'm interested in getting an amplifier: I noticed with my headphones, they sound much better when I listen to CD's on my computer. I don't notice much of a difference when I listen to MP3 on my computer (maybe it's a tad better) compared to my Ipod. However, like I said before, when I listen to CD's everything sounds way better. With all due respect to the lossy codec developers, I don't think many here find this surprising. All things being equal, CD >> MP3.

 

I'm hoping that I can grasp that good sound, or atleast get closer to that sound with an amplifier connected to my computer and/or Ipod. I'd rather not want to buy a ton of CD's if instead I could buy an amplifier once and get better quality sound on all my MP3's. As you hopefully gathered from my opening remarks, this does not seem likely. Since you can tell the difference in source material - no amp or DAC can fix that.

 

Questions about amplifiers:

1. Do amplifiers work with Ipods?  Yes. However, you can probably get better results with your computer.

2. I already know amplifiers work with computers, but I'm hoping I can get an amplifier that will work with an ipod.

3. What's the difference between a full size amp, compared to a portable amp? (Maybe this is just a dumb question, because I'm assuming it's just a matter of size. But I just want to make sure, because I was confused about which thread I should post in). The designers/engineers of full size amps "only" have to worry about reliability, cost and performance. Portable amp designs obviously have further trade-offs related to power and size. I am not saying that portable amps are always inferior to full size amps at a given price point, but that has been my limited experience.

 

Specifics of what I'm looking for:

1. Will an amplifier improve the quality of my sound with my HD555's? I've gone through a few threads and see mixed opinions on this. Assuming at least CD quality source material and your current setup, I think you should be able to find an amp that improves your listening experience. I don't think it will be as noticeable as the difference between CD and MP3. Your mileage may vary .  . .

2. I want an amplifier that works with my Ipod and computer (although if it's a matter of one or the other, I want an amplifier that works with my Ipod). 

3. I only listen to music at home (besides listening to music in my car but that's irrelevant) so portability is not an issue.

4. I don't want to spend too much money on an amplifier. I don't want to spend any more then $150 dollars at most, however I'm more comfortable with an amplifier around $100 dollars. But if making a 50$ upgrade makes that big of a difference, I'll do it. 

5. I've already looked at and heard about an amplifier such as the FiiO E5, E7. E9. Do all of these amplifiers work with Ipods, and would they improve the sound quality with the headphones I have and my ipod/computer that probably doesn't have a great soundcard?

I don't own an amp (or DAC/amp) that matches your situation/requirements, but I have owned head phones in that price range. I can't tell you how something will sound to you; I can tell you how something sounds to me and what my experience has been. The setup that best compares to your situation:

  • iPods/Macs/iPhones/PCs (the latter with various Creative sound cards) -> Grado SR60i 

Before the Grados, I used a variety of gaming headsets and cheap ear buds (Apple, Creative, Sony - all under $30). The upgrade to the SR60 was dramatic. More dramatic than upgrading source material from 128kbps AAC to CD with popular music (but not so much with classical).

 

A few years ago, I upgraded to:

  • Macs -> Apogee Duet -> Grado SR60i

This bump was not so dramatic; it would not be a lie to say I was disappointed (but there were other reasons for getting the Duet). That is, until I listened to higher resolution source material (classical) with borrowed HD 600s. Inspired, I upgraded to the SR225i, but that starts another story that doesn't do much to answer your questions.

 

My point is that you have already made an important upgrade with your headphones; and, assuming I have the sequence of events in the correct order, you were rewarded by noticing how much better CD audio sounds in comparison to MP3s. The bad news is that there is no cure for bad source material, but the good news is that you know exactly what to do about it.

post #14 of 15

Portable amps also can, http://www.headphoneamp.co.kr/ftp/sijosae/Gallery/Tube%20Hybrid%20Amp/Hybrid-10.jpg

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post

Also, desktop amps let you run tubes.
post #15 of 15

Is a superior solid state amp like the Violectric V200 justified for a pair of ortho's like the HE5 or a is a vacuum tube amp more appropriate?

 

 

(P.S. Any thing but the HIFIMAN EF5)

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