Originally Posted by manbear 1) It sounds like you do think that different amps sound different, just that the difference isn't typically worth the money
. You said you heard a difference between your two receivers, as well as between your two sound cards. Subjectively, yes, but still. Basic. We need them to say that there's an objective difference between amps. Nevertheless, 2) I think you will agree that without hearing or measuring the Lyr, you cannot be subjectively or objectively certain about how it compares to other amps. You are merely speculating based on your "audio values."
I think you are exaggerating the cost issue. Personal finances aside, nobody has mentioned amps in the 30x more than the o2 price range... 3) Everybody has to make their own decisions about what's worth the money to them, but that's not really the issue here. We're just talking about amps and how they compare. Remember that tastes are subjective, and that objective measurements can't accurately predict what a person would prefer.
Some people are perfectly happy in this hobby by sticking with their subjective impressions, regardless of what measurements say they "should" hear. Again, I don't see the value of "should" when it runs counter to one's actual experiences. But that is IMO. 4) You are free to place more value on the "shoulds," if that's what makes this hobby enjoyable to you. Enjoyability is subjective for everyone.
Great - so much for not getting dragged into debate. Sorry for the wall post in advance, I know how much some people hate that.
1) Exactly - the issue of cost is relevant to me, and (I personally) am not willing to risk that much more money on an amp for the sake of a (better/different) sound. I know it is highly unlikely I'll get as big a change in sound as there is a change in price (diminishing returns which I noticed you did not comment on). I see no harm in strongly urging others to adopt my mindset, since no one likes getting / feeling ripped off and my audio values are informed, in part, from having been ripped off in the past. They are also informed by my budget, which was super-damaged by the HE-400s as it was. My poverty will keep me priced out of the upper echelons for a long time of that I am sure.
2) Sure - until I can get my hands on something like a Lyr, I am just ********ting and speculating that it isn't worth $450 dollars or that it will not make a worthwhile impact on the listening experience. I'll just ignore the fact that it uses tubes which are already outside my preferences (in part for added cost of ownership). I'll leave it to you and probably Fearless1 to make a case that I should spend 112.5% of the cost of my HE-400s for X (insert number / adjective) improvement in sound. Not trying to be rude here, but if this discussion comes down to "only owners of said equipment can make proper recommendations of said equipment" (not those with experience or who can learn from reading, common sense, etc.), I suppose we should all just shut up and let the resident elitists make the call - since they are the ones that blow money on the really expensive stuff and therefore 'know' the headphone world subjectively and objectively from the top-down and back up again. I'd put money on the likelihood that you could get a person to 100% satisfaction WITHOUT an amp upgrade long before I'd put money on an amp making all the difference.
3) This is very much the issue, or I suppose there wouldn't be people leaping to the defense of more expensive tube amps and insinuating I am some sort of hypocrite for recommending NOT spending money on something. Originally, I said no one should not buy a $450 amp to go with his $400 phones' (because it would be stupid - uh-oh). So, actually, cost is quite relevant here because I made it part of the criteria. Especially given that guys like Nicholars have discovered the value of EQing as an effective tool for rectifying non-preferable audio reproduction. I was simply building on that by claiming that trying to buy a different sound through the purchase of different (in this case more expensive) amps is ultimately a very inefficient ('wasteful') way to try to get a better sound. Dollar for dollar, I think amp impact is trite compared to just buying new headphones. If I were Nicholars personal CFO, I would forbid such purchases prior to exploring other options first.
Amps supply power-that is the first and most important criteria. So I DID say I heard a difference between a Sony receiver and a Yamaha at the same price point. Notice I said it was "louder with less power" - not "warmer, with gently sloped treble and higher resolution". The experience does not discredit the value of subjective / objective observation, and it does not prove them either. It doesn't make a case for 'always buy Yamaha'. It DOES make a case for the fact that careful subjective / objective measurements would probably have backed up my impression that, dollar for dollar, Yamaha was the better buy. So, any way we can get a honest leg up on spending our hard earned money wisely is a great thing. Unless of course, you have a ton of money, in which case you probably don't give one iota of a crap about my perspective. I am surprised at the anti-consumer attitudes of some people.
4) There is no good reason I can think of why some baseline performance can't be guided, if not enhanced enhanced, by objective criteria. Literally every industry focused on any sort of technology in the world does this, with damn good reason. Harmon Kardon doesn't spend millions on R&D to produce a bunch of crap at arbitrary price points that they aren't sure will please a massive audience (their target 'market'). They painstakingly search for objective data on which they can enhance product development (and yes, it is possible to take something formerly 'subjective' and make it objective - that is called science and they use it to study preferred frequency response). And yes, cost is a major consideration in that process, and eventually all their hard work and major considerations become MY major considerations. Did their level of cost / performance meet or exceed my expectations or not? Did their competitors deliver comparable performance at an even lower price point or not? If I can't test HK against a Lyr, how much do I trust that they ALWAYS deliver the goods? I bet HK would give an arm and a leg to be the first company that could, through the prerogatives of science, be guaranteed that their next headphone or amp would be irresistible to everyone that heard it at a price highly profitable to them. Even if that were a $10 dollar headphone with a $9.99 profit margin, the search would be over. You simply CANNOT get there from the perspective of "oh well, to each their own". And you can't convince me that, from that point on, it would make sense to recommend to someone that they spend $1,000 when the $10 is superior. Some companies really want to know how to deliver a better sound, and sound science is there to provide the answers. The whole objectivist / subjectivist debate is stupid to engage in when acting as though neither businesses nor consumers can understand value. And that, IMHO is what you are doing when you decide that price does not matter and that performance cannot be judged except on individual terms and individual experience.
I stand by my assertions, which are that amps shouldn't sound different, even if they do. Notice I never said that was necessarily a problem - I think you added that. Consumers deserve information, period. I wouldn't by a house without it, and I won't by headphones without it. And I sure won't recommend really expensive amps to people trying not to spend tons of money on minor tweaks.
Can I have a beer now? Lol.
Anyway, how about this nugget - recently, Consumer Reports, a highly respected magazine that works tirelessly to liberate consumers from BullSh*t claims to get them more value, gave the Grado Sr 80i's their top score for headphones, which matched their score for the second place HE-400s. Were they or were they not doing a grave injustice to people like us, that went for the HE-400s when they could apparently have spent far less for equal-awesomeness? By what criteria were they supposed to judge headphones (Hint - there always has to be specific criteria to judge anything)?
Edited by MrMateoHead - 11/15/13 at 12:17pm