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How do amps work?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

So I'm looking at getting a portable amp. Something like the E11 or E17 from fiio. I was wondering does it actually make the bass more "boomy" or does it just make everything else quieter and the bass louder. I don't want to spend $130 to just make the bass drown out the other things when I can already get an application to do that. Thanks!

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

How old do you think I am? lol I won't be taking physics for another few years

post #3 of 8

A (headphone) amplifier is an electronic circuit designed to power headphones.  Different headphones can have significantly different designs, so the requirements to power them may be significantly different.  For example, some headphones are very quiet by design, so they need a more powerful amplifier to output a stronger signal so they play as loud as another louder headphone does with a weaker signal.  The design of the amplifier determines the performance characteristics when powering different kinds of headphones:  how large of a signal it can output, how distorted it is, and so on.  Most amplifiers don't change the balance of bass, treble, and mids by much, but some do, for various reasons.

 

A smartphone already has a headphone amplifier integrated into the audio chip.  That's why you can get sounds if you plug your headphones into that.

 

The question is thus about whether or not using a dedicated amplifier may be different or better whatever than the integrated one in the smartphone.  Different people have different opinions on this, but I'd say the answer is a "yes it's better" but the difference is subtle at most and probably not worth your money if you're using those headphones, which are designed to run pretty well off of almost anything.

 

Note that some amplifiers additionally have bass boost options or other features to alter the sound.  FiiO E11, E17, and many others give a pretty "flat" (changing little) presentation but have bass boost options implemented in the hardware, that you can turn on if you want.  The exact nature of the bass boost (which bass frequencies are boosted, by how much, and so on) is different for different devices that have it as an option in hardware, and for different software.  You could perceive more boomy bass, a boost to bass that just makes everything else softer, bass that drowns everything else out, some combination of the above, or something else entirely.  It depends.

 

 

If all you want to do is adjust bass / treble / mids levels, find a software player for the phone you like that has good EQ options.  There's generally more options and possibilities for fine tuning with software like that than with most portable amps or amps in general.  So just messing around with software is the cheaper and better way.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks a ton! You just saved me $140! 

post #5 of 8

Another decently easy way to think about it is to equate a sound wave to a sine wave (google is awesome if you don't know what a sine wave is) and then picture one with a small amplitude before it goes into the amplifier, then has a large amplitude but the same frequency when it comes out

158551_1.jpg

Take this for example, the red curve would be before amplification and the purple would be after

post #6 of 8

i just bought myself a pair of sennheiser hd380 pro's and a cowon j3...do you reckon i would benefit from an amp or just muck around with the j3 software? (i'm pretty new at audiophillia btw.)

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deltaechoe View Post

Another decently easy way to think about it is to equate a sound wave to a sine wave (google is awesome if you don't know what a sine wave is) and then picture one with a small amplitude before it goes into the amplifier, then has a large amplitude but the same frequency when it comes out

158551_1.jpg

Take this for example, the red curve would be before amplification and the purple would be after

So in your comparison of sound waves to sine waves, what are the units for the x and y axis? I am curious to know what the amplitude is when it comes to sound.

post #8 of 8

X is time, Y is amplitude.

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