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"Mad Dog" by MrSpeakers, modified Fostex T50RP review - Page 326  

post #4876 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhouf View Post

I've been scouring this thread for a warmer portable amp to use with the MD's... I haven't really come up with anything, but I know that I'd like to have deeper bass and warmer mids. Preferably under $200. Any suggesters?

How about the E12?

post #4877 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by deafanddumb View Post

So is that a simple answer to most of us, in saying, don't bother with the new MD's....the standard one is the one you want/need?

Well.. there are whole threads dedicated to balanced vs. unbalanced. (although some quite old), but yeah you can poke around and figure things out for yourself. Everyone has an opinion about this of course. The search function is your friend and so is google. wink.gif

post #4878 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by deafanddumb View Post

So is that a simple answer to most of us, in saying, don't bother with the new MD's....the standard one is the one you want/need?

 

Well... no. What I'm saying is if you are looking for a portable amp, meaning small in size so you can carry it around on-the-go, for the office, to and from etc. Then there really aren't many choices. If you are looking for a full-sized amp, a desktop amp in other words, then there are plenty. But they usually cost quite a bit considering your budget. I'd say at least 500 for a decent one.


Edited by Greed - 4/5/13 at 3:23pm
post #4879 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by kskwerl View Post

How about the E12?

 

I was looking at the E11, but I'll check the E12 out too - thanks. A buddy of mine had QC problems with FiiO in the past, so I've been trying to stay away from them.

post #4880 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by zhouf View Post

 

I was looking at the E11, but I'll check the E12 out too - thanks. A buddy of mine had QC problems with FiiO in the past, so I've been trying to stay away from them.

The E12 was very nice but I like a dead neutral sound so it wasn't really for me. The build of the E12 is pretty great IMO. I've owned a few FiiO products like the E12/E07K/E10 and haven't ever had any issues. The E10 did look cheap tho but it was cheap and I just used it only for watching movies at my desk at work.

post #4881 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greed View Post

 

Well... no. What I'm saying is if you are looking for a portable amp, meaning small in size so you can carry it around on-the-go, for the office, to and from etc. Then there really aren't many choices. If you are looking for a full-sized amp, a desktop amp in other words, then there are plenty. But they usually cost quite a bit considering your budget. I'd say at least 500 for a decent one.

Thanks for this......i guess my budget dictates the standard MD's for me then....

post #4882 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfetan44 View Post

Does going balanced really do anything?

 

Short question with a complex answer.  I'll start by stating that I'm NOT a balanced circuit expert.  I've designed them in the past, but it's been a while, nor am I biased that balanced is better, though it seems several of my absolute favorite amps at home for my theatre have been fully balanced.  

 

In the end, I did this project because I was getting a lot of requests for balanced cabling.  So I'm a pretty neutral person, in that regard, but I am also learning, so the following comments should not be considered gospel or assumed accurate.  For those who really want to study up go to this head-fi link.  There are others as well...

 

Regarding balanced headphone amps:

 

1) Electrically, the Fostex is inherently a symmetric driver.  From a pure system architecture, I like the elegance of balanced amps mated to balanced drivers, and I like the fact that noise and distortion that show up on both inputs to the phones gets summed to zero electrically, so the output will have lower noise and distortion.  How audible that is is a question because there is generally more circuitry in a balanced design, which can increase noise, much depends on the quality of the implementation as to whether it ends up being a net improvement.

 

2) It can reduce power supply induced noise and distortion.  Power supply noise and transients are minimized as one side of the amp swings one way while the other swings out of phase, so the net draw on the power supply is constant making it easier to keep voltages stable and clean.  Also, common mode noise that gets through the supplies is zero'd out at the headphone driver, so the noise floor is really low.  

 

3) In the case of the Mjolnir Schiit did a nice write up on how it allows them to use only N-Channel FETs, which is a good thing, as N and P channel devices are inherently not symmetric.  A topology optimized for balanced might not be the same as one that is single ended, it opens some other options.

 

4) Someone asked about cable length.  For the headphone cable interference isn't an issue, but balanced interconnects cause external noise picked up by the cable to zero-sum at the Amp inputs effectively killing noise that could have entered the system.  This is why it is used in studio and pro applications.  

 

On a practical basis, my first investment in serious balanced gear can't drive Single Ended, so there is no way to AB on the same phone on the same amp; I have to swap cables and compare the phone running on one of my very nice single ended amps, so doing real AB work is not viable.     

 

At the lower end, I tried a balanced portable, and once levels were matched the balanced seemed audibly superior. But the caveat is that this amp is DESIGNED to be balanced as the primary mode, so single ended is not going to be as optimized.  

 

So in the spirit of being fair and open, I have always felt that a good single ended can be as good as a good balanced.  I have to say that my current setup has me questioning if that belief was correct, because I think I'm finding the balanced to be more engaging, but whether that is solely due to be balanced I can't tell you.

 

FWIW I will offer either a single ended adaptor or a single ended cable at launch, and probably both at some point, so the phone can be used anywhere, and for balanced amps that have both outputs others can do AB tests.

 

Here's a great opportunity for owners of balanced gear to pitch in.  If you are in the NYC area, come to either of the events and share your thoughts.  

post #4883 of 6388

P.S.  Balanced amps can have 2x the circuitry, so that does drive the price up.

post #4884 of 6388

Dan...are you partnering with a cable manufacturer? 

post #4885 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrspeakers View Post

But the caveat is that this amp is DESIGNED to be balanced as the primary mode, so single ended is not going to be as optimized.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrspeakers View Post

P.S.  Balanced amps can have 2x the circuitry, so that does drive the price up.

 

I think these are two really important things to note. I won't try to go too off topic, but since I'm sure there are a handful of people reading this thread that are now seriously considering a balanced amplifier: Many people looking into balance have the following question:

 

1) Why does it cost so much more?

It's roughly twice the amount of parts and twice the amount of labor. Yes there are some parts that aren't doubled, but a lot of parts are duplicated which almost doubled the cost of a balanced amplifier vs the cost of a SE version of the same amp. 

 

2) Can I still use my 1/4" TRS and get the same sound since the amplifier has a balanced and single ended out?

If the amplifier has a 1/4" TRS on the front, it is, in most cases, only using half the circuitry. See my answer above, you are roughly using half the cost of the amplifier and skipping out on the "balanced" portion. 

post #4886 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrspeakers View Post

 

Short question with a complex answer.  I'll start by stating that I'm NOT a balanced circuit expert.  I've designed them in the past, but it's been a while, nor am I biased that balanced is better, though it seems several of my absolute favorite amps at home for my theatre have been fully balanced.  

 

In the end, I did this project because I was getting a lot of requests for balanced cabling.  So I'm a pretty neutral person, in that regard, but I am also learning, so the following comments should not be considered gospel or assumed accurate.  For those who really want to study up go to this head-fi link.  There are others as well...

 

Regarding balanced headphone amps:

 

1) Electrically, the Fostex is inherently a symmetric driver.  From a pure system architecture, I like the elegance of balanced amps mated to balanced drivers, and I like the fact that noise and distortion that show up on both inputs to the phones gets summed to zero electrically, so the output will have lower noise and distortion.  How audible that is is a question because there is generally more circuitry in a balanced design, which can increase noise, much depends on the quality of the implementation as to whether it ends up being a net improvement.

 

2) It can reduce power supply induced noise and distortion.  Power supply noise and transients are minimized as one side of the amp swings one way while the other swings out of phase, so the net draw on the power supply is constant making it easier to keep voltages stable and clean.  Also, common mode noise that gets through the supplies is zero'd out at the headphone driver, so the noise floor is really low.  

 

3) In the case of the Mjolnir Schiit did a nice write up on how it allows them to use only N-Channel FETs, which is a good thing, as N and P channel devices are inherently not symmetric.  A topology optimized for balanced might not be the same as one that is single ended, it opens some other options.

 

4) Someone asked about cable length.  For the headphone cable interference isn't an issue, but balanced interconnects cause external noise picked up by the cable to zero-sum at the Amp inputs effectively killing noise that could have entered the system.  This is why it is used in studio and pro applications.  

 

On a practical basis, my first investment in serious balanced gear can't drive Single Ended, so there is no way to AB on the same phone on the same amp; I have to swap cables and compare the phone running on one of my very nice single ended amps, so doing real AB work is not viable.     

 

At the lower end, I tried a balanced portable, and once levels were matched the balanced seemed audibly superior. But the caveat is that this amp is DESIGNED to be balanced as the primary mode, so single ended is not going to be as optimized.  

 

So in the spirit of being fair and open, I have always felt that a good single ended can be as good as a good balanced.  I have to say that my current setup has me questioning if that belief was correct, because I think I'm finding the balanced to be more engaging, but whether that is solely due to be balanced I can't tell you.

 

FWIW I will offer either a single ended adaptor or a single ended cable at launch, and probably both at some point, so the phone can be used anywhere, and for balanced amps that have both outputs others can do AB tests.

 

Here's a great opportunity for owners of balanced gear to pitch in.  If you are in the NYC area, come to either of the events and share your thoughts.  

 

Great write-up. For someone that isn't really familiar with the technical aspects of an amp, even this may seem a bit complicated. Bottom-line, balanced amp is a whole other ball game. Typically, you don't make the decision to go balanced, unless you are willing to pay some serious cash. If your whole setup is based around SE (single-ended), then the premium to switch to balanced will be a hefty one. Even some of the cheapest fully balanced amps I know, are still expensive when you compare it to something like the MD's at its low price of $300. 

 

On a different note, I'm very interested to hear how the MD's fair balanced. I for one, found that a full balanced LCD-2/3 rig, was audible noticeable and superior vs a SE rig.

post #4887 of 6388

which amp will work with MD headphones.

post #4888 of 6388

It's also important to note:  To get the full benefit of a balanced amp - a balanced source / DAC is also needed.

post #4889 of 6388

Yes, but this is also tricky. I don't want to derail the thread, so the main comment I'll make is it's easy to say a DAC is "balanced" by using a voltage inverter to crete the out of phase second signal.  A real balanced DAC literally has two DACs operating out of phase.  Only look at DACs with dual chips in a balanced config.

post #4890 of 6388
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrspeakers View Post

Yes, but this is also tricky. I don't want to derail the thread, so the main comment I'll make is it's easy to say a DAC is "balanced" by using a voltage inverter to crete the out of phase second signal.  A real balanced DAC literally has two DACs operating out of phase.  Only look at DACs with dual chips in a balanced config.

 

Is this the case with the Sabre32 (ES9018) chips?

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