Originally Posted by Chris J
I can plug my Q701 into my iPod or iPad and get decent volume.
Of course the volume is almost maxed out.
Same here. For a while I held out only amping straight from my Recon3D USB (while gaming) and a FiiO E5 (with music, to control volume while using a FiiO LOD cable, because my headphone jack shorts sometimes). I was already enjoying the step-up to the Q701 from my AD700, and I didn't think a new amp would be worth the cost. Eventually though, I noticed that double-amping the Recon3D with my E5 helped cut down on the harshness of some sounds, like the helicopter's machine guns in CoD4. There was another aspect, harder to describe... like a kind of dullness and/or laid back energy. I also noticed the soundstage was less "round" than my AD700 (which are more sensitive), by comparison spacial depth felt a little compressed, so soundstage felt oval or egg-shaped.
I went looking at amps, read the entire Bravo tube amp thread, and came across a suggestion to try a "super simple 6DJ8 amp," which was a Single Ended Triode tube amp. I found that
thread, and Head-Fi user Zigis who agreed to build the amp for me (he designed a circuit layout and is currently ramping up to start selling completed amps). The "Rock 'n Glass" amp (solid-state 'n tube hybrid) made a big difference, the soundstage and particularly depth was broadened and much more evenly "round," and music really seems to dig into the micro-textures of my test songs and give them more grunt and emotional urgency. Treble sounds are much less harsh without being less detailed, though I've learned that my former irritation might've been due to odd-ordered harmonic distortion, tubes instead have mostly even-ordered harmonics, which means that what little distortion there is supposedly aligns with musical octaves and doesn't sound out of place... in practice, this is a fun amp and I can listen to music or play games much longer without "listening fatigue." I'm going to jump back from all the harmonics and science stuff though, I've tried my best to understand the info that was thrown at me in the E12 thread, but I am no audio engineer, and though it seems to confirm what I was hearing all I "know" is I'm more pleased than before.
In case you picked up on my reference to the E12, I did indeed see the pre-release thread and thought "Ah, that might be convenient." After a few months I jumped on the chance to pre-order. The E12 isn't as colored nor does it increase sound stage as much as the tube amp, but it does a great job offering a more neutral reference and is great when I unplug from my gaming setups (PC or console) and take my headphones to listen to some immersive or soothing playlists in bed. The bass boost is surprisingly great: it's centered at the lowest lows at 20hz, and starts to roll off back to neutral right around when the Q701's frequency response starts to "roll in." So now, the Q701's have incredibly deep bass extension, but the boost doesn't change the rest of the Q701's frequency response, which I like very much. I find that I can leave the boost on all the time; the bass doesn't become loose and bleed over all the other frequency ranges, but when a song digs deep down into very low atmospheric bass, the combo responds with authority. I do find that I usually only listen with this combo for about an hour before getting mild listening fatigue (good time to take a break anyway), unless I'm gaming and get carried away
I do also have a home-theater receiver by Yamaha, which I have used a few times and used to use a lot with my AD700 when I lived in an apartment, but space requirements have left it usually boxed up in my mother's basement lately. From what I remember, the experience purely as an amp was largely similar to the E12 without bass boost (and I distinctly remember comparing the use of the Yamaha fed by the analogue out from my Recon3D vs my Xbox connected via HDMI, double amping left the notes and sounds a little "rounder" while the HDMI connection that used the receiver's DAC instead was more crisp, but the virtual surround simulation for my games wasn't as refined, overall I preferred the double amping experience). Take that with a grain of salt; my impressions are stale and the receiver has been boxed up for a few months now, without the space to set it up. Oh, I will come full-circle though, and mention that I was recommended to test the Q701 with this receiver vs my weaker starter amps, and that experiment was part of why I eventually bought the other two amps.Edited by Evshrug - 4/6/13 at 9:42am