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Headphone care: Could I have damaged / affected my 'phones...?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi there,

 

So a quick story: I have a pair of Audio Technica ATH-AD700s. I've been using them for music listening, with my laptop and Creative X-Fi Go sound card as source. I recently got an opportunity to use them while plugged into a stereo amp and listening to CDs, and the improvement in SQ was amazing. I'd always thought of these cans as bass lite, but hearing them properly amped gave me a new respect for them.

 

Anyway, this week I purchased a used NAD C 302 stereo amp on the cheap (well, I paid less than $100 for it). I brought it home and tested it, feeding my laptop signal into the phono input on the amp, and then plugged my phones into the headphone out on the amp. As I expected the sound was much richer. There was a noticeable bass presence, which just isn't possible without amping.

 

Problem is during listening I was tinkering with my EQ settings on the laptop. At one point (for I guess 5 seconds) there was suddenly horribly loud bass distortion. I quickly stopped the music playing and fixed the EQ settings. I was immediately worried that I might have done some damage to the phones. I listened to the phones thereafter and heard no OBVIOUS signs of a blown driver. However, I started worrying that the 'character' of the headphones' sound had changed. To my ears, I'm hearing the bass sounds in a more pronounced way in the RIGHT CHANNEL on my AD700s.

 

Now, I'm aware that this could be more to do with perception, especially since *I* know what happened. But is there anyway that what I've described could have affected the headphones' presentation of sound? Could it be that I'm listening with greater awareness now and becoming attuned to the fact that bass sounds (especially kick drums and other LF sounds) are mixed to the right (is this even true)?

 

I would appreciate your input on this.

 

Thanks!

 

'crusha

 

Edited to add the following: is there any test you would recommend (sine sweeps) to check that my headphones are presenting a balanced sound (L&R literally)?


Edited by funcrusha - 7/12/12 at 3:04pm
post #2 of 6

As long as the volume levels were not well above "loud" to your ears your headphones should be just fine.  Most high quality headphones like the AD700 can be driven up to +90dB without major distortion or driver damage.  I am guessing what you heard is an artifact caused by the bass EQ which is quite common.  An over application of any EQ setting typically more than +/-2dB can really hurt the signal.  The signal will typically show signs of distortion as you describe.

 

You state you have plugged your laptop into the Phono in on your amp.  I would advice against this because most Phono inputs are meant for really low voltages.  The Aux input is much more suited for such connections.  Giving the Phono input too much voltage can not only damaged the amp, but it would almost certainly lead to distortion.

 

If you want to give them a test try to find a high quality recording of some "Pink Noise" on the internet somewhere.  Crank it up to just passed loud and give it a listen for a few minutes.  Be careful not to turn it up too loud where it starts to hurt your ear.  If you can hear distortion reset and EQ settings and try again.  If you no longer hear the distortion at loud listening levels your headphones are in the clear.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

You state you have plugged your laptop into the Phono in on your amp.  I would advice against this because most Phono inputs are meant for really low voltages.  The Aux input is much more suited for such connections.  Giving the Phono input too much voltage can not only damaged the amp, but it would almost certainly lead to distortion.

 

My amp doesn't have an AUX in; there's just tape 1, 2, CD, tuner, and phono. Of those, which would you say is most suited to a signal my laptop soundcard?

 

If you want to give them a test try to find a high quality recording of some "Pink Noise" on the internet somewhere.  Crank it up to just passed loud and give it a listen for a few minutes.  Be careful not to turn it up too loud where it starts to hurt your ear.  If you can hear distortion reset and EQ settings and try again.  If you no longer hear the distortion at loud listening levels your headphones are in the clear.

 

Thanks will try this out.

post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by funcrusha View Post

You state you have plugged your laptop into the Phono in on your amp.  I would advice against this because most Phono inputs are meant for really low voltages.  The Aux input is much more suited for such connections.  Giving the Phono input too much voltage can not only damaged the amp, but it would almost certainly lead to distortion.

 

My amp doesn't have an AUX in; there's just tape 1, 2, CD, tuner, and phono. Of those, which would you say is most suited to a signal my laptop soundcard?

 

If you want to give them a test try to find a high quality recording of some "Pink Noise" on the internet somewhere.  Crank it up to just passed loud and give it a listen for a few minutes.  Be careful not to turn it up too loud where it starts to hurt your ear.  If you can hear distortion reset and EQ settings and try again.  If you no longer hear the distortion at loud listening levels your headphones are in the clear.

 

Thanks will try this out.

 

CD is usually my second choice after AUX.  Some amps like my NAD 304 have nicer connectors for CD (and phono) than the rest.  Given that yours is a 302 it may be similar.


Edited by unrlmth - 7/13/12 at 2:46pm
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by unrlmth View Post

 

CD is usually my second choice after AUX.  Some amps like my NAD 304 have nicer connectors for CD (and phono) than the rest.  Given that yours is a 302 it may be similar.

 

Crikey! Just did a search and read up a bit online that plugging your soundcard into the the phono (as in turntable) input is NOT the thing to do. I hope I haven't done any irreparable damage. Don't have a turntable to test anyway. Hoping all's well. I think at some point I was confused by a friend's instruction to plug into the phono inputs (meaning generally inputs for either CD, tape or aux) not phono pre-amp specifically.

 

'crusha

post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by unrlmth View Post

CD is usually my second choice after AUX.  Some amps like my NAD 304 have nicer connectors for CD (and phono) than the rest.  Given that yours is a 302 it may be similar.

 

My AVR receiver even has digital (coax/toslink) for CD inputs.

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