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Amplification recommendations for the ATH-M50?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Last year I decided to get my first full size headphones, and after a period of deliberation I decided the ATH-M50 would be the perfect set for me. 


After a few weeks of listening to them, I eventually decided that they would benefit largely from an amplifier, a concept that seems in accordance with the various reviews I've read on the M50s.  Never before having owned a headphone amplifier, I decided to take it slowly to see if my untrained ears would detect a difference with an amplifier, and found myself the proud owner of a fiio E3. 


Overall I've been relatively content with it--I'm not yet ready to drop 500 dollars on a portable amplifier.  However, there is a design problem that has been driving me crazy-the thing doesn't have a power switch.  Instead it expects the user to pull out the headphones whenever it's not being used, something that has resulted in my wasting numerous batteries, and on one occasion, pulling out the tension release spring from the ATH-M50 (I wasn't being careful enough).  I have decided I need to go with something...different.


I say different, and not outright better, because my one real requirement is a little silly--I want a switch.  I use my headphones at a desktop quite a bit, and it is simply annoying to have to pull out the 'phones every time I leave the desk.  I'm not an expert in the amplifier market, and so I come here to ask the question--what would you recommend for someone like me?  Does anyone have an amp they think compliments the M50s?


If anyone needs to know more about my preferences, feel free to ask.

post #2 of 6
The new fiio E11 looks good, but personally i have a cmoy which is rather good, i really like it. Jds labs BB cmoy is supposed to be very good, you could look into it.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Preferably less than fifty dollars, maybe willing to go higher if it's some level of diy and I'll get some sort of fun-factor from building the thing.  I know it's a little backwards, but...oh well.  Not that I know for certain I'd have time.

Edited by Elsoreth - 6/5/11 at 5:42am
post #4 of 6

The M50 really don't need a powerful amplifier, the amplifier inside any digital audio player can meet their needs with ease. If the issue is you want to by-pass the poor performance of your mp3 player or soundcard's headphone out a £25 Sansa Clip + might be a better route than an expensive portable amp as it has a perfectly flat frequency response most portable amps do not match and its amp section can drive the M50 with ease.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

I actually have and use a sansa clip+.  I still think, although it's possibly just some sort of odd placebo, that I get a huge difference with simply the fiio E3.  I haven't played with any of the sound settings, so maybe I just prefer the changed sound signature, I don't know...although I suppose if that's it I should try to figure it out before I spend too much in the future cool.gif.

Edited by Elsoreth - 6/5/11 at 5:48am
post #6 of 6

There is an allure to the "hardcore" nature of having an external amp attached to your mp3 player - I might even suggest that their popularity is largely down to the fact that people just like the image of these huge "hardcore" looking rigs of ipods and braided hundred dollar LODs and chunky amps with volume dials and convince themselves it makes a huge audible difference to the sound because they want it to.


I went through a phase of it and tried several quite expensive options before realising I was fooling myself and the improvements, if existent, did not justify the expense, weight and inconvenience of a portable amp. Now I just use a Clip + and am much happier than when I was weighed down by all that clunky gear and constantly dealing with the "double switch on/switch off" and out of synch recharge cycles.


The truth in my eyes is that most portable amps are pointless. You get portable headphones and 99% of them can be driven just fine by a DAP. Then you get headphones designed for home use that aren't portable anyway - and the kicker is most of them need MORE than portable amps can offer and really need a desktop amp to shine.


So portable amps sort of sit in the middle - portable phones don't need them and home phones need more than them.


A minority opinion, no doubt, but as valid as any other...


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