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Beginning Headphone Amp (AKG K271 MKII and Grado SR80i)

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, after reading a ton of reviews on headphones, the issue of an amp comes up. I just have no idea what to get or how to research it. The two headphones above are the two that I would be using on it. I put the thread on full size as that's what I'm most likely to get, but really have no clue where to look. I guess I'd just like recommendations on where to start and what to look at concerning specific amps. Style is a nice touch, but price is a bigger issue. No clue where they run and what I would want. Can speakers be used on amps too? Would an amp work on a laptop as well? Price range is something like $0-300. They would be used mainly to listen to electronic music, bass-y kind of stuff. Thanks :)

post #2 of 25

I have a buddy using my Bithead at work right now with his SR-80's and he really likes it.  The good thing about the Bithead is that it is also a DAC which can really help improve your computer listening because it cleans up all of the noise within your PC.  It is not the absolute best amp out there, but it holds its own in the price range.

 

The FiiO series are posting some pretty good numbers, but I cannot say how they perform against the Bithead.  Perhaps someone else out there can?

post #3 of 25

I like my Headroom Total Bithead - especially since it can double as a portable.

 

I've also been having a lot of fun with the Hifiman EF2A. Tube rolling, even with an inexpensive amp, is a blast. And the sound is a great pair for the Grados. (Would be fine for the AKG as well, just pairs particularly well with the Grado).

 

Both include USB DAC's - which is nice.

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

Sweet :) checked both out and I particularly liked the EF2A. Looks awesome too. My last question I suppose would be (other than tube rolling which sounds really interesting) what is the difference between a solid state and a tube amp sound wise? Assuming those are the only two available.

post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

Read a bit more and hearing about the tubes being a bit bright as opposed to warm. Even though I haven't heard them, I love that warm sound. Where would I go about getting a new pair as well as any pair for tube rolling?

post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

Also, why do I keep hearing about Schiit Lyr? XDD


Edited by Sploosh67 - 10/4/11 at 6:46pm
post #7 of 25

I got my new tubes off ebay, but there are dedicated shops as well... e.g. The tube store: http://thetubestore.com/

 

Rolling the Mullard 8100's now, which do (honestly) seem a bit warmer than the stock tubes, taking some of the edge off the highs. Though, I will say, the stock tubes sounded great already - especially with the Grado. 

 

The Lyr looks like an awesome amp - but definitely not a beginner amp in either performance or price. Also, does not include a DAC... 

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

Alright, that makes sense. I like the reviews on the store too. After a bit more research, I found this http://www.head-fi.org/t/522546/hifiman-ef2a-tube-replacement-moar-bass. Just a couple recommendations that might interest you. I've definitely made my choice on the EF2A though. But, the difference of a tube and solid state. Is there really anything to dig for or are they alike, save for tube rolling allowing for a much more personalized experience?

post #9 of 25

I think mostly it comes down to personal preference - a good amp, either solid state or tube, is a good amp. They will sound a bit different - solid state probably being a better choice if you are after transparency - with tubes adding their own "flavor" to the sound. I find that tubes are a nice pair with my AKG K702, which are very clinical on their own, so adding a bit of warmth and "tubey" goodness gives them back some musicality. With the grados I consider them a natural rock/jazz pairing since tubes were likely in the guitar rigs used as well... it's a consistency/synergy thing. 

 

The ability to personalize the experience via tube rolling, really just appeals to my geeky, tinkering nature, and has less to do with the listening experience (for me).

post #10 of 25

How about a Schiit Asgard and a cheapo DAC like the Fiio D3?

 

It's not the best DAC per se, but it's a good line out and you get a good amp for your headphones.

 

You have to have an optical out though.

post #11 of 25

The audinst hud-mx1 is also an all in one option for you (solid state). I know you are set on the Hifiman EF2A, I'm not sure how they compare.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
If I'm going to be using the phones to make music and mix it, should I still consider something like the EF2A's or should I aim for something more transparent? If that's the case, how do Nu Force's do for this kind of application? How far down there product line would I have to go to find one worth my money with these two phones?
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sploosh67 View Post

If I'm going to be using the phones to make music and mix it, should I still consider something like the EF2A's or should I aim for something more transparent? If that's the case, how do Nu Force's do for this kind of application? How far down there product line would I have to go to find one worth my money with these two phones?


I'm a certified EF2A hater.  I really didn't care for the sound it produced from my headphones.  Maybe it was a synergy issue?  But I digress, I think there's more powerful amps to be had in the same price range especially if you look at it as an amp only purchase since the inbuilt DAC is godawful horrible.

 

Look at it like this at a retail tag of 199, you're not that far from some well reviewed amps like the Matrix M-stage or the Schiit Asgard or even some other DAC/AMP combos from the likes of Matrix, iBasso, Audio GD, etc.

 

Not a huge fan of the NuForce sound, but I admit they make some good products not called the uDac.

post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
If the Asgards a DAC, then I'd be more than happy to purchase it. That thing is sexy. i'm just afraid of having something like tubes affecting the sound if that's precisely what I don't want. But I have no clue if it's that big of a deal. I have no clue what people who master tracks for a living use to amplify their headphones. But I do love the whole tube rolling idea. It's just this amp won't soley be used as listening pleasure but also to create songs. The latter of which is much more important.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sploosh67 View Post

If the Asgards a DAC, then I'd be more than happy to purchase it. That thing is sexy. i'm just afraid of having something like tubes affecting the sound if that's precisely what I don't want. But I have no clue if it's that big of a deal. I have no clue what people who master tracks for a living use to amplify their headphones. But I do love the whole tube rolling idea. It's just this amp won't soley be used as listening pleasure but also to create songs. The latter of which is much more important.


nope no dac.

 

Do you have optical out from your source?

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