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Headphone Amp on a Budget

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hello, I'm new here and would like some advice concerning headphone amps. I pretty much have no knowledge on the matter, all I know is that my headphones aren't performing at their full potential, and I need a headphone amp to get them there. The problem is, I'm 16 so I don't have enough money to be dropping around $500 on high-end equipment. I'm looking for a decent amp, that's affordable ($200 is my limit for now), and powerful enough to properly drive my headphones. I don't even own an amp, so I really want to start somewhere decent. My headphones are AKG k271's btw, if that matters.

post #2 of 23

what is your source that you're running these headphones on? Is it a ipod or are you running it off your computer? If you're running it off the computer, what's the computer, or soundcard in it?

post #3 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philiiiiipe View Post

My headphones are AKG k271's btw, if that matters.


It matters a great deal. Still, according to some here, the Leckerton uHA-4 should be right up your alley and the price is right:

 

http://www.leckertonaudio.com/products/uha-4/

 

You will need to find a few more shekels for postage, and you really missed out on the initial 'discount' price, but all up its still very affordable.

 

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 

Well, my old set up was a CD player connected to an integrated(?) amplifier I got at a thrift store. Again, I don't know what that means, I saw it at the store, and thought it would help with sound quality. the amp died recently though, so it's just the CD player now. I tend to use my laptop as a source just as much as I use my CD player. I don't know what sound card my laptop has, but it has "Dolby Audio", if that helps. The sad thing is, my laptop sounded better than the CD player/amp combination, so I knew I was doing something wrong, or the equipment was bad, or both. I've been reading through the forums ever since I posted this question, and the "Matrix M-Stage" keeps coming up as a good pairing for AKG's. The other recurring suggestions were the "NuForce Icon uDAC-2" and the "fiio E9".

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

estreeter, thanks man. Just wondering, have you tried them?

post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philiiiiipe View Post

estreeter, thanks man. Just wondering, have you tried them?



No, and thats why I qualified my statement with 'according to some here'. The other alternative is to check the 'FS Forum' to find a pre-loved amp, but you might be surprised by how highly many here value amps, particularly portables, when it comes time to sell them. In the case of a newer amp, demand can often outstrip supply, and that goes double when the amp maker puts up the 'Sold Out' sign the day you decide to order one :)

post #7 of 23

You can get single tube headphone amps off eBay starting around $60.


 

post #8 of 23

Please read the warnings given by Uncle Erik and others re any tube amp costing less than a thousand dollars. I'd rather spend that $60 on beer.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Haha good point. I've been reading up on the UHA-4 and from what I've read, it seems like people are mostly using it for IEM's and such. Now the debate in my head is whether to get the UHA-4, or a fiio e7/e9 combo. On paper, the fiio combo is more appealing as the e7 functions as the DAC, and the e9 functions as the amp (to my understanding), which would theoretically bring more of an improvement. Don't get me wrong estreeter, I appreciate the suggestion, but I just want to explore all the options before I decide. Thoughts anyone?

post #10 of 23

don't get a tube amp in this price range, I think that money would be better suited for other things in the future. Anyways, tube amps will only work effectively if the source they're getting the sound from is good. In this case, your labtop probably isn't the best source out there. I would say go with the e7/e9 combo for now, but know that you'll most likely want to upgrade that in the future to something better. If you had a desktop you were running this off of, i would completely recommend the asus xonar ST since it has coaxial out and you would be able to use that for future setups, food for thought though

post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

So I did more reading, and apparently the FiiO E7/E9 combo can only connect to a computer =/ That should be good enough, but is there a way to connect my CD player to it? Cus my plan was to connect my CD player to the FiiO combo, then to some sort of receiver, which would then be connected to speakers (I mainly use headphones, but the option for out loud listening would be nice.) Is there any way to do that? And would that be a good idea, or am I misusing the equipment?

post #12 of 23

O.o you want to add your cd player, sure you can! just use the audio-in to plug your cd player into the fiio. I'm assuming you're talking about old school cd players and not an actual cd stereo system. The Fiio should have an audio in and audio out. So it'll look like this

 

CD player (male to male 3.55mm) --> Fiio E7/E9 (male to male inbetween them, then male to male 3.55mm) --> receiver (3.55mm male to male) --> speakers

 

that seems like a run about, if you're running this off speakers i would just suggest going from the cd player to the speakers. If you're using your computer, you can just have the dac part of your Fiio setup to go to go from your computer to the Fiio. Then after that go from the Fiio's output to your speakers. I'm not sure if that made sense or not, if it doesn't, just say so and i'll try explaining it again

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice! Yeah, I'm not referring to little portable CD players though, if that's what you meant by "old school CD players", I meant the ones that stay at home and are intended for sitting down and listening too. I refrained from calling it a stereo in my earlier post because it is a dedicated CD player that takes a 1/4 jack and has RCA connections on the back, and I thought stereos were those all-in-one type deals (which shows my lack of knowledge, sorry haha.) So it's considered a stereo system then?

 

And my main issue isn't that I want speakers (though it would be nice to have everything all in one setup), it's that I want to amp up my CD player using the FiiO combo, but the FiiO combo only has an RCA out, and not an RCA in.

 

I think I'm babbling on too much. I think the better suited question would be: Is there an amp that I can use with both my laptop AND my CD player/stereo system?

 

Sorry if I'm asking stupid questions..

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philiiiiipe View Post


I think the better suited question would be: Is there an amp that I can use with both my laptop AND my CD player/stereo system?

 


Dozens. Are you familiar with the RCA-to-mini cable ? Thats exactly what I used last night with the RCA-out from my DAC (exactly the same connectors as those on the back of your CDP) into the 'Line In' on the E9. Easy-peasy.

 

http://www.jbhifionline.com.au/ipod-mp3-portables/accessories/belkin-f8v235-07gld-ap-mini-stereo-to-2-rca-cable/238508

 

You can get them much cheaper than that - just go to an electronics store.

 

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

Awesome, I already have one of those lying around! I read somewhere that RCA to 3.55mm diminishes SQ, though, is there any truth to that? Well, either way, it looks like it's the most promising set-up, and fits my needs. Thanks guys, I appreciate the help!

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