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post #136 of 363

Those terms mean nothing though - what does "resolution" even mean? Can you measure it? Can you quantify it? Can you reproduce it and create a box with a dial on it that you can screw with to turn "resolution" up and down? The same for the other terms.

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lejaz View Post

That's what I'm asking myself! If a ss amp is simply amplifying and not adding or subtracting anything to the signal, then a $100 will definitely do as well as a $1000 amp. So what's the difference other than the price tag? Is there an extra %1 or 2%....or more.... of something that you get for the extra money? More clarity....resolution....better sound stage, separation, imaging, all those audio terms that people like to throw around.....is there more, or better, with the $1000 amp vs the $100 one?



I mostly agree with this. Where I'd disagree is basically that, if you cut the super insensitive (makes them sound like jerks, doesn't it?) cans out of the equation, you can drop another ~$200-$300 off the top and be through with it. But yes, the EF-5 should really do everything for all things. So should most competent receivers. The "hiss thing" isn't always a matter of quality on the amplifier's part - it's partly (mostly?) on the headphones as well - for example my in-ears will hiss with more or less anything you plug them into (including some uber-expensive boxen), but if you throw an impedance adapter in there they shut up (or if you switch to another headphone). All amplifiers actually have that "hiss" - http://sound.westhost.com/noise.htm

 

Some do slightly better than others, but ultimately once you get to the "good enough" bar, it stops being a problem (there is no magical "slightly audible" realm for the golden ears). e.g. - I can report that both my E9 and VHP1 will hiss into my IEMs, but both are silent with my SA5000s. 

 

Finally, low output power doesn't mean noise - there are plenty of very clean and very low power devices out there, like the Sony Walkman mp3 devices, or the iPod, and so on. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by Magick Man View Post

Lower powered amps, which are usually cheaper, are more likely to introduce more noise, especially when you really crank the gain. All of my low end budget amps have higher noise floors than the bigger ones. As I mentioned before, my Little Dot I+ will drive my HE-6s on high gain with the volume all the way up, but there is a noticeable low level hiss when there are silences in the music. That might annoy some people, or it might not, depends on the person. That noise isn't there with my monster Kenwood or my EF-5, but the LD wasn't much over $100, so I don't expect it to perfectly drive the most difficult headphones in the world. Would an O2 do the job with them? No idea, I don't own one. However, I can say with a high degree of certainty that if someone were to look at their needs in a completely unbiased way, they'd likely see that an amp like the EF-5 ($400) is all they really need, no matter what cans they buy.
Edit: Oh, and sometimes people just want to buy a nice amp because it looks awesome. That's a completely acceptable reason, IMO. It's the main reason I want a big honkin' tube amp, they look bad ass. cool.gif


 

post #137 of 363
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

Those terms mean nothing though - what does "resolution" even mean? Can you measure it? Can you quantify it? Can you reproduce it and create a box with a dial on it that you can screw with to turn "resolution" up and down? The same for the other terms.

 

 

I followed most of your arguments up to now....but lose me here. Those terms have meaning when discussing headphones, so why not when discussing amps? I'm a novice with most high end audio stuff....I'm not much of an audiophile compared to a lot of folks here, so forgive me if my questions are naive, but soundstage and imaging mean something with headphones.....so why not amps? What about clarity....detail retrieval? I'm not implying that a $1000 amp is significantly better than a cheaper one with any of those characteristics, only that headphones tend to be better as you go up in price, so why not amps? BTW, so far my wallet is thanking you for your posts in this thread.  I see no need as of yet to trade in my mkV amp for something more 'resolving'....or whatever....

post #138 of 363


Those terms don't actually mean anything - they're bandied around as "technical" but in reality they don't describe anything concrete. They cannot be measured or quantified. 

 

Soundstage is a bit contentious, because it refers to something that we can all very clearly hear, but that I've never read a good technical explanation of (in terms of how we measure it) - its a property of the speakers and acoustics though, not of any sort of electronics (unless you have some DSP processing going on). In other words, it's out of context to try and describe a decoder or amplifier as having this quality. That happens quite a lot though. Just like people want to believe that an amplifier or decoder or whatever else can produce "tighter bass" - no, it can't; what can change that is mechanical dampening and handling of resonance. That's acoustics. That's in the earcup (or room, if we're talking speakers) and entirely beyond the capability of an amplifier to control. But it's a lot easier to just keep buying progressively more expensive amplifiers than it is to pick up a book. 

 

Things like "clarity" mean nothing at all - in any context - they're just feel-good words that we can use. Just like "Bright" or "muddy" or anything else. If you want to talk about sound in a very technical and accurate manner, you talk about it in terms of things that can be measured, like frequency, level, decay, that sort of thing. Saying something is "bright" doesn't tell us anything - saying it's 10 dB up at 10khz with a 4ms ridge tells us a lot though. 

 

Regarding "this gets better as you go up in price, so why doesn't it work elsewhere" - that logic doesn't work generally speaking. Price, again, does not indicate quality or performance in many cases. It just indicates price. Especially in a consumer economy - luxury goods are often positioned based on their price (in other words, I'm skeptical that the Beats headphones would actually command as much interest and demand as they do if they cost less). Lots of "Audiophile" equipment fits into the realm of luxury goods, and accordingly costs quite a lot. The reality is, we're not generally talking about audible differences, and in some cases we aren't even talking about measurable differences! 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lejaz View Post

I followed most of your arguments up to now....but lose me here. Those terms have meaning when discussing headphones, so why not when discussing amps? I'm a novice with most high end audio stuff....I'm not much of an audiophile compared to a lot of folks here, so forgive me if my questions are naive, but soundstage and imaging mean something with headphones.....so why not amps? What about clarity....detail retrieval? I'm not implying that a $1000 amp is significantly better than a cheaper one with any of those characteristics, only that headphones tend to be better as you go up in price, so why not amps? BTW, so far my wallet is thanking you for your posts in this thread.  I see no need as of yet to trade in my mkV amp for something more 'resolving'....or whatever....



 

post #139 of 363

@obobskivich - But you can hear much more low level details with the k702 than with the k240S. It's easy to hear that. Camera lenses can have better resolution or sharpness, no? ... more accurate color.. Why not amps? 

post #140 of 363

Apples and oranges my friend. Also, those things can be quantified and measured (and as well, at a point, stop mattering - they get to be good enough). Regarding amplifiers - they hit a point where they become "transparent" and there's no reason to spend more; the audibility of various artefacts (THD, IMD, etc) is extremely minimal - most modern equipment has "flaws" that exist far below it. In other words, if we say THD of 0.0001% and 0.001% - sure that's measurable and different, but neither is going to be audible (and even if it was, it's a drop in a very big bucket compared to the gobs of distortion being put out by the headphones themselves). 

 

I'd rather not switch into optics. tongue_smile.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lejaz View Post

@obobskivich - But you can hear much more low level details with the k702 than with the k240S. It's easy to hear that. Camera lenses can have better resolution or sharpness, no? ... more accurate color.. Why not amps? 



 

post #141 of 363

"the audibility of various artefacts (THD, IMD, etc) is extremely minimal - most modern equipment has "flaws" that exist far below it."

 

O.K. fair enough. If what you wrote is true and the 'flaws' are inaudible, it's pointless to spend more than a couple of hundred bucks....or even less.

post #142 of 363


Indeed. As long as your amplifier (doesn't matter what it is) can handle the load you're presenting it without going into clipping, it's going to be "transparent" to the load; Magick's suggestion of the EF-5 as a "be all end all" is quite good (it's something like 2-3W into most any load iirc; it's designed to deal with the HE-5 and HE-6). However, I'm guessing a lot of people probably have more sensitive headphones than the HE-6, so the EF-5 might even be overkill. The super expensive stuff just baffles me (like those $10,000+ SinglePower amps (I sincerely doubt SinglePower still exists!) or even things like the Grado RA1 (ever wanted to see a $500 Cmoy?)). On one hand, who needs 10W or 20W or whatever into headphones?! On the other, why does it (it being noise-induced hearing-loss) need to cost so much?!

 

To give you a great example, a lot of very sensitive and lower impedance headphones will drive just swimmingly from an iPod or Walkman mp3; neither of those devices has a very complicated/expensive amplifier. The claim is often made that things will "improve" or "Benefit" from an amplifier, but unless there's something to quantify or measure that change, how do you know it's happening? Can you verify the claim in a real way?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lejaz View Post

"the audibility of various artefacts (THD, IMD, etc) is extremely minimal - most modern equipment has "flaws" that exist far below it."

 

O.K. fair enough. If what you wrote is true and the 'flaws' are inaudible, it's pointless to spend more than a couple of hundred bucks....or even less.



 


Edited by obobskivich - 3/16/12 at 9:34pm
post #143 of 363

Interesting stuff obobskivich. So all those people who recommended the Heed Canamp for the 70X were mostly deluded? My mkV can easily drive those phones and costs a lot less than the Heed....or the Burson or Phonitor. Is the 70X an exception to the general rule, and very demanding when it comes to amplification...or is that just BS? This thread started out with a question about the 701 and amps, so we should stick to that one, though lots has been written about the 650 being very demanding with amplification as well. 

post #144 of 363


I would not say "deluded" - that implies something is "wrong" with them. This isn't like the person on a diet who "falls off the wagon" and starts carbo-loading, telling themselves it's "okay" because they'll "work extra hard tomorrow" or some other nonsense; there likely isn't any lying in the self-talk process. It's just a perception bias - my understanding is that basically if someone is convinced that a cable or a tube or a widget is making a difference, they really are perceiving that difference, even if no measurement equipment can pick it up. I'm not a psychologist though, so that might not be an entirely accurate understanding. But basically, you can't look at them like they're nuts or consciously aware that they're "mistaken." 

 

I would say something more along the lines of "misguided" or "uninformed" - a lot of shenanigans have gone in with audio equipment in the last ten years, and usually it involves separating people from increasingly large sums of money. A lot of lies have been put out there, and a lot of promises have been made. You can't really slight someone for falling prey to a constant barrage of nonsense, especially when it's re-enforced at every turn (trade rags, forum shills, etc). I mean, we expect some level of honesty and accountability when we go to purchase something at a store - we don't expect someone to take $5 and put it in a box and ask $20 for it. We also certainly don't want to believe that we may, for whatever reason, fork over the $20! Basically, I'm not a fan of putting a value judgment on people for choosing to spend their money how they like, especially if it isn't hurting anyone. At the end of the day it is ultimately their choice.

 

So yeah, they may have spent a bit more than they needed to, but also remember that a few years ago, there was no Fiio, there was no HiFiMan, there was no Little Dot, there was no Schiit; headphone amplifiers have become much more reasonable in their pricing in the last few years ("back in the day" you had Cmoys, Creek, and for a little while Musical Fidelity was in the business of sub-$1000 amplifiers). It's kind of a bummer too, because as electronics have gotten progressively cheaper, headphones themselves have skyrocketed in pricing in the same time period (again, the whole "$699 is the new $399" concept) - I remember when $300 was really swinging for the fences, and those few elusive cans that pushed that envelope were generally something very special (okay, so Ultrasone was still trying to hawk $3200 limited edition cans covered in mythril, and AT was still selling woodies). 

 

Regarding the 70x being "hard to drive" - if you were to put it on a continuum where 10 is some incredible, nasty load (HE-6, AKG K1000), and 1 will blow your ears out if you sneeze at it (Beats Pro, DT48A.00), I'd probably put them at about a 4 or 5. They need a bit of extra power, which can be an issue for some portable devices and probably for some older components (older soundcards or other computer widgets), but they don't need a nuclear reactor behind them just to turn on. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lejaz View Post

Interesting stuff obobskivich. So all those people who recommended the Heed Canamp for the 70X were mostly deluded? My mkV can easily drive those phones and costs a lot less than the Heed....or the Burson or Phonitor. Is the 70X an exception to the general rule, and very demanding when it comes to amplification...or is that just BS? This thread started out with a question about the 701 and amps, so we should stick to that one, though lots has been written about the 650 being very demanding with amplification as well. 



 


Edited by obobskivich - 3/16/12 at 10:53pm
post #145 of 363
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

They do and they don't; if you're talking about THD and going from "low" to "super low" (where both are inaudible) or something like that, it doesn't matter. The point is, it DOES NOT MATTER what is inside the box, or how much it costs, what matters is the output - if they're giving you the same signal (in terms of how it's perceived), then no it's just overbuying. Given that 300mW to 1000mW is like 7 dB (which is nothing), I'm guessing that no - in this case it does not matter (aside from the SPL having things like crossfade on it). 
 



 

Like what? You can't just throw something like that out there and then not quantify it. And sure, people will TOTALLY spend more than $100 - that's a bunk argument. The fact that there's a sucker a minute who will dump money into badge engineering or let a good conman swindle them does not mean it's justified (I'm not speaking about any particular hardware here, mind you). Again, cost tells us nothing, and without some sort of grounded, quantified value that we can judge, we can't just throw our hands up and say "no there are differences" - if they exist, what are they? 

 

As I said before (maybe not in this thread though) - there are people who like to spend $10, and people who like to spend $100. There will always be someone who insists they need to spend more for whatever reason, or who will buy something more expensive for whatever reason, even if it doesn't contribute to actual performance. Take Ford and Lincoln as an example; the Town Car and Crown Victoria are the same car (motor, tranny, driveline, frame, most of the body components, electronics, etc) - so why does anyone spend the extra $30,000 for the Lincoln? It has nothing to do with it somehow being a better performer, it isn't. It is, however, more exclusive, offers some more exclusive features (like air ride), and comes with prestige; it also costs more, and the extra price does move units (this is documented as economic theory; cf Veblen). 

 

So my point is, the super-duper expensive stuff is usually fluff; you do hit a "wall" and there is no extra "1%" - and just because someone is fine dumping $15,000 into some cables or $90,000 into a CD player or whatever, doesn't mean that device justifies its existence, or even offers any real performance gains. It just happens to cost more, and there's always someone who wants to be able to say "mine's bigger!"


 



 


 

I'll be the last one here on headfi to justified expensive headphones ring /equipment...but after 4-5 years of searching the best amp to match for my 702's I've got to the same result and conclusion as I start with. Some of as that have the chance to hear this ring can claim that they prefer more bass, or blabla,bla...but I guess nobody will argue about the K-702 and Phonitor combo in terms sound of resolution and transparency.

 

EDIT: Without getting into TMI maybe you should check this combo for yourself a report back... smile.gif


Edited by Acix - 3/17/12 at 5:33am
post #146 of 363

 

A false belief or opinion: labored under the delusion that success was at hand. 3. Psychiatry A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, ...." In psychiatry it can mean a symptom of mental illness, but I wasn't aware of that definition.

 


No I wasn't trying to imply something 'wrong with them'. I was using the word in the sense that it's defined above as a false belief or opinion.....that's all. I wasn't using in the way a psychiatrist might use it. I had lots of false beliefs about audio equipment myself...that's why I've been participating in this discussion....to find out what's true and what's not....for myself. I'm not overly worried about other folks' delusions or false beliefs....just trying to be good to my wallet. happy_face1.gif But I'd be happy to substitute misguided or misinformed, if it makes anyone happier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


I would not say "deluded" - that implies something is "wrong" with them. This isn't like the person on a diet who "falls off the wagon" and starts carbo-loading, telling themselves it's "okay" because they'll "work extra hard tomorrow" or some other nonsense; there likely isn't any lying in the self-talk process. It's just a perception bias - my understanding is that basically if someone is convinced that a cable or a tube or a widget is making a difference, they really are perceiving that difference, even if no measurement equipment can pick it up. I'm not a psychologist though, so that might not be an entirely accurate understanding. But basically, you can't look at them like they're nuts or consciously aware that they're "mistaken." 

 

I would say something more along the lines of "misguided" or "uninformed" - a lot of shenanigans have gone in with audio equipment in the last ten years, and usually it involves separating people from increasingly large sums of money. A lot of lies have been put out there, and a lot of promises have been made. You can't really slight someone for falling prey to a constant barrage of nonsense, especially when it's re-enforced at every turn (trade rags, forum shills, etc). I mean, we expect some level of honesty and accountability when we go to purchase something at a store - we don't expect someone to take $5 and put it in a box and ask $20 for it. We also certainly don't want to believe that we may, for whatever reason, fork over the $20! Basically, I'm not a fan of putting a value judgment on people for choosing to spend their money how they like, especially if it isn't hurting anyone. At the end of the day it is ultimately their choice.

 

So yeah, they may have spent a bit more than they needed to, but also remember that a few years ago, there was no Fiio, there was no HiFiMan, there was no Little Dot, there was no Schiit; headphone amplifiers have become much more reasonable in their pricing in the last few years ("back in the day" you had Cmoys, Creek, and for a little while Musical Fidelity was in the business of sub-$1000 amplifiers). It's kind of a bummer too, because as electronics have gotten progressively cheaper, headphones themselves have skyrocketed in pricing in the same time period (again, the whole "$699 is the new $399" concept) - I remember when $300 was really swinging for the fences, and those few elusive cans that pushed that envelope were generally something very special (okay, so Ultrasone was still trying to hawk $3200 limited edition cans covered in mythril, and AT was still selling woodies). 

 

Regarding the 70x being "hard to drive" - if you were to put it on a continuum where 10 is some incredible, nasty load (HE-6, AKG K1000), and 1 will blow your ears out if you sneeze at it (Beats Pro, DT48A.00), I'd probably put them at about a 4 or 5. They need a bit of extra power, which can be an issue for some portable devices and probably for some older components (older soundcards or other computer widgets), but they don't need a nuclear reactor behind them just to turn on. 



 



 

post #147 of 363
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acix View Post

 

What about the electronic components and the circuit design they don't count?


Circuit design and components are always important.

There is more to amp design than just distortion, frequency response and signal to noise ratio.

It affects parameters such as

 - power supply noise rejection (which always gets worse at higher frequencies)

 - bandwidth (there have been scientific studies, backed up by listening tests, written stating that wide bandwidth is important to maintain frequency response and phase response, i.e. you want phase response to be within +/- 15 degrees).

 - radiated (i.e. broadcast) and conducted (i.e. down the power cord) noise immunity

 - radiated and conducted noise emmisions (i.e. how much noise your piece of equipment creates)

 

In oher words, there are a lot of secondary effects that the extremely good designers take into account but may not choose to discuss.  Arcam claims to do a lot of this stuff but do not publish much to back it up.  One reason could be to avoid a "Russ Andrews" style lawsuit. Russ Andrews is a British corporation who order to cease and desist advertising their claims on power cords with noise immunity.  They had no problem backing up their claim of increased noise immunity, but ran into trouble when they claimed that this was audible.
 

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

 

Two 6SN7's may have the same on-paper specifications but that doesn't really make them all identical.   Going by the paper spec ignores factors such as manufacturing process, manufacturing tolerance to be allowed as "in spec" batch deviations, different factory lines with different toolings and tolerances, different vacuum densities per batch/glass/factory (there's no such thing as a perfect vacuum outside space, and even that's debatable), different materials used internally in different factories or time periods, contamination of the components, plate spacings, anion coating differences, etc.  Also, different materials in use and different ages may decay in different ways when sitting on a shelf for half a century.

 

Ideally multiple tubes from the same line from the same year would sound identical despite manufacturing deviations within spec tolerance.  But consider, especially with NOS tubes, the large variances of years, and the fact that more popular ones were made in several factories, often in several countries, over many years, and there's definitely enough room for significant differences enough to not really be the same tube.

 

That's the exact sort of thing that may make people hate tubes tongue_smile.gif



My point is if you start to deviate too much out of spec then the tube is not really a 6SN7.

Granted, there are manufactring tolerances, but a 6SN7 is basically defined by it's various gain characteristics, transfer characteristics, maximum voltage and power characteristics, interplate capacitance, heater filament characteristics, mechanical characteristics.   If all this is with spec, then it is a real 6SN7 and should be interchangeable with any other 6SN7. Gain and bandwidth should be the same when used in the same amp.

So why should they sound any different?

 

 

post #148 of 363

How audible are deviations in those parameters? The LD mkV(a $300 ss amp) seems to be noise free to my ears.....which I'm first to admit are not 100% perfect measuring devices. How about frequency deviations....say in a good budget amp like the ones being discussed....the E9 or O2? Would you maintain that there are audible frequency deviations due to the bandwidth issue, if I'm understanding what you wrote?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post


Circuit design and components are always important.

There is more to amp design than just distortion, frequency response and signal to noise ratio.

It affects parameters such as

 - power supply noise rejection (which always gets worse at higher frequencies)

 - bandwidth (there have been scientific studies, backed up by listening tests, written stating that wide bandwidth is important to maintain frequency response and phase response, i.e. you want phase response to be within +/- 15 degrees).

 - radiated (i.e. broadcast) and conducted (i.e. down the power cord) noise immunity

 - radiated and conducted noise emmisions (i.e. how much noise your piece of equipment creates)

 

In oher words, there are a lot of secondary effects that the extremely good designers take into account but may not choose to discuss.  Arcam claims to do a lot of this stuff but do not publish much to back it up.  One reason could be to avoid a "Russ Andrews" style lawsuit. Russ Andrews is a British corporation who order to cease and desist advertising their claims on power cords with noise immunity.  They had no problem backing up their claim of increased noise immunity, but ran into trouble when they claimed that this was audible.

 

post #149 of 363
Quote:
Originally Posted by lejaz View Post

How audible are deviations in those parameters? The LD mkV(a $300 ss amp) seems to be noise free to my ears.....which I'm first to admit are not 100% perfect measuring devices. How about frequency deviations....say in a good budget amp like the ones being discussed....the E9 or O2? Would you maintain that there are audible frequency deviations due to the bandwidth issue, if I'm understanding what you wrote?
 

 



Years ago I read a scientific paper stating that the human ear can detect phase shift as low as +/- 15  degrees.  Bandwitdth and phase shift are tied together.  If you want less than +/- 15 degrees of phase shift from an audio amp then you want a very wide bandwidth amplifier.

It wasn't my research, I am only paraphrasing it.  If I get a spare moment, I might try and track this paper, or a similar paper, down on the web.

Apparently one of the advantages of a properly designed eletrostatic loudspeaker is the reduction in phase shift from the speaker as it is a one way speaker, i.e. no separate woofer and tweeter with crossover components.

 

When I am referring to noise I am partially referring to noise that sees to be buried within the signal that the amp amy or may not add.  Supposedly this is one of the secrets of the Bryston and Arcam sound, they have done a lot to reduce various sources of noise but neither company does much to properly explain what they are doing.  One reason might be that it would take a 50 page scientific paper to explain it all.   How do you explain radiated and conducted noise immunity and emissions to a layman?

 

 

 

post #150 of 363
So, the moral is:

Buy a good amp.
Don't go overboard but also don't cheap out.
Spend the money you save on more headphones.

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