or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Help and Getting Started › Introductions, Help and Recommendations › [LIST][OPINION] Amp recommendations for Fostex/Denon Headphones.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

[LIST][OPINION] Amp recommendations for Fostex/Denon Headphones. - Page 16

Poll Results: What do you think of amp recommendations in general?

• 11% (17)
Disgustingly not thought out, just recommended from the single amp they have tried
• 12% (19)
Poorly thought out, mostly blind brand loyalty
• 42% (63)
50/50, a lot of zealots but about the same number of helpful recommendations
• 11% (17)
Mostly people here know what they are saying
• 15% (23)
WiR3D is a zealot.
• 6% (10)
I disagree with you most things, people can recommend from there own experience, even if it is just the one amp that they own.

Higher the (headphone impedance) : (amp output impedance) ratio, more power could be delivered towards the headphone. Otherwise you would just be using a killer amp on a suicidal way

Quote:
Originally Posted by songmic

snip (Click to show)

I'll add one more important factor regarding impedance that I haven't mentioned before. I have stated that any output impedance of a headphone amp is tolerable as long as the distortion caused by the difference between the maximum and minimum resistances in the frequency-impedance curve is less than 1 dB, by the use of a mathematical formula.

However, this alone does not explain why an amp with high output impedance, such as many OTL amps, doesn't work so well with low-impedance orthodynamic headphones like Audezes or Hifimans, which have a VERY flat impedance curve. And in fact, these ortho headphones still have higher impedance than 25-ohm Denon or Fostex headphones. The distortion would be much, much lower for these headphones, yet OTL's are bad for them. Why?

This has something to do with the voltage distribution between headphone and amp output, and another value known as efficiency/sensitivity (which is measured as dB/mW).

When a headphone is connected to an output, the headphone and the output section of the amp forms a "series connection." In a series connection, the amount of voltage distributed to each part is determined by the ratio of their resistance/impedance ratio. The lower the headphone impedance, or the higher the output impedance of the amp, less voltage is distributed to the headphone. If the output impedance of an amp is very small (less than 0.1 ohm), or if the headphone has very high impedance (300-600 ohms), nearly 100% of the voltage will be distributed to the headphone. This explains high voltage swing is more important than current for high-impedance headphones like Sennheisers. Conversely, if the headphone impedance is low and the output impedance of the amp is high, less voltage will be distributed to the headphone. Imagine an OTL amp with 75-ohm output impedance driving a 25-ohm D7000. In this case, the ratio of voltage distribution of D7000 and amp output will be 1:3. Only 1/4 of the entire voltage in the circuit is distributed to the headphone.

Because voltage is relatively small, current plays a more important role for driving low impedance cans. (Power = Current x Voltage) The good news is, 25-ohm Denon and Fostex headphones have very high efficiency/sensitivity at 100 dB/mW, meaning it needs relatively less power to drive these cans well. On the other hand, the sensivity of orthos such as Audezes, Hifimans, is somewhere in the 80's and 90's dB/mW. Since we're dealing with dB which is in logarithm, 80 dB/mW and 90 dB/mW means that these headphones are 1/100 and 1/10 less sensitive than 100 dB/mW, or that they would need 100 and 10 more times the power to be driven properly, respectively. That's why high output impedance amps are a no-no for orthos; not because of distortion, but because of lack of power. But the Denons and Fostex have high sensitivity, so we need not worry about lacking power; we should worry more about whether the distortion is greater than 1 dB, the smallest difference in volume that the human ear can discern.

I was finding it difficult to phrase, but one of my concerns was definitely the power distribution in regards to the difference in impedances and how it changes the load on the amplifier. I think you pretty much covered it all in this post, except, I have heard on multiple occasion that some high output impedance OTL amps actually struggle to deliver that current, now what exactly was mean by struggle I'm not quite sure, but logic tells me that if a circuit is made for voltage and you instead try to pull current then things don't go so well, in regards to efficiency and quality. This is my main concern. And to make things worse amps aren't exactly linear with their power delivery.

Quote:

Could we quote songmic's post on the first post, in a spoiler for those who wants better understanding of the whole impedance mismatch/affecting frequency issue?

I'm going to, still debating though.

EDIT: PS thanks songmic for all the information, this has been wonderfully educational.

Edited by WiR3D - 11/25/12 at 7:13am

This is really good stuff..

Quote:
Originally Posted by WiR3D

I was finding it difficult to phrase, but one of my concerns was definitely the power distribution in regards to the difference in impedances and how it changes the load on the amplifier. I think you pretty much covered it all in this post, except, I have heard on multiple occasion that some high output impedance OTL amps actually struggle to deliver that current, now what exactly was mean by struggle I'm not quite sure, but logic tells me that if a circuit is made for voltage and you instead try to pull current then things don't go so well, in regards to efficiency and quality. This is my main concern. And to make things worse amps aren't exactly linear with their power delivery.

I'm going to, still debating though.

EDIT: PS thanks songmic for all the information, this has been wonderfully educational.

Classic water pump analogy. An OTL amp would be like a water piston. Great to deal with a very narrow water pipe or to push water through a very congested, dirty pipe. It wouldn't be very ideal if the pipes are huge and clean because it pushes very little water (although at high speed).

Quote:

Classic water pump analogy. An OTL amp would be like a water piston. Great to deal with a very narrow water pipe or to push water through a very congested, dirty pipe. It wouldn't be very ideal if the pipes are huge and clean because it pushes very little water (although at high speed).

well put!

Quote:
Originally Posted by whereas

What? This?

nah it goes to Currawongs funny comments

Hello guys and thank you for this great thread WiR3D!

I have been reading amp recommendations for my d7000 on this thread and others, but still somewhat lost. If I got this right then:

Burson Soloist

Burson HA-160

Matrix M-stage

Schiit Asgard

Are all great choices, but which should I pick? I can get the Burson's on a great price which makes me able to include them as a possibility therefor all of them fit my budget which is 650. I really enjoy the bass the d7000 produce and don’t want any reduction in that department.

Is the most preferable (best paired) amp the most expensive one, in this case the Soloist and the least desirable on this list the least expensive one? I have no chance of testing any of them so any help to pick an amp would be much appreciated.

I use the Denon's for music (all genres) and movies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mossberg

Hello guys and thank you for this great thread WiR3D!

I have been reading amp recommendations for my d7000 on this thread and others, but still somewhat lost. If I got this right then:

Burson Soloist
Burson HA-160
Matrix M-stage
Schiit Asgard

Are all great choices, but which should I pick? I can get the Burson's on a great price which makes me able to include them as a possibility therefor all of them fit my budget which is 650. I really enjoy the bass the d7000 produce and don’t want any reduction in that department.
Is the most preferable (best paired) amp the most expensive one, in this case the Soloist and the least desirable on this list the least expensive one? I have no chance of testing any of them so any help to pick an amp would be much appreciated.

I use the Denon's for music (all genres) and movies.

I have the Asgard and can guarantee you that it doesn't take away any of the bass. On some songs it does feel like there is less bass though since the treble when amped will fully display its potential, making the cans sound a bit veiled when unamped. Still the sub-bass goes super deep and sound yummy as hell.

My next upgrade may be one of the Burson, unfortunately I know nothing about how they sound yet. General consensus seems to be that Burson is a safe bet for pretty much any dynamic/ortho headphone out there so I don't think you can go wrong with either.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mossberg

Hello guys and thank you for this great thread WiR3D!

I have been reading amp recommendations for my d7000 on this thread and others, but still somewhat lost. If I got this right then:

Burson Soloist

Burson HA-160

Matrix M-stage

Schiit Asgard

Are all great choices, but which should I pick? I can get the Burson's on a great price which makes me able to include them as a possibility therefor all of them fit my budget which is 650. I really enjoy the bass the d7000 produce and don’t want any reduction in that department.

Is the most preferable (best paired) amp the most expensive one, in this case the Soloist and the least desirable on this list the least expensive one? I have no chance of testing any of them so any help to pick an amp would be much appreciated.

I use the Denon's for music (all genres) and movies.

HI there! Its a pleasure.

If your not after the utmost clarity, then grabbing the Asgard will be 93%+ of the clarity of the Bursons. Remember of the law of diminishing returns. The matrix is a bit coloured from my understanding, and because you can swap opamps I would recommend it for people new to the hobby, to fine tune their sound preferences.

The Burson Soloist is the most desirable, and the most expensive, but you never hear people complain about them, except for price with the HA160.

The choice is ultimately yours. Is that extra 7% worth 3x the price? For me, yes. For most other people - depends on your salary.

Quote:

I have the Asgard and can guarantee you that it doesn't take away any of the bass. On some songs it does feel like there is less bass though since the treble when amped will fully display its potential, making the cans sound a bit veiled when unamped. Still the sub-bass goes super deep and sound yummy as hell.
My next upgrade may be one of the Burson, unfortunately I know nothing about how they sound yet. General consensus seems to be that Burson is a safe bet for pretty much any dynamic/ortho headphone out there so I don't think you can go wrong with either.

Thank you for the feedback :)

I am leaning against the soloist it seems like the best deal for me, I tend to hold on to my things for a long time and build quality and elegance is important then I pick things to keep.

About my salary I get 28,000 a year as a manager assistant in a retail store, but don’t send a penny directly to Arabia or to insane insurance companies. Drink 16 beers a month at home and don’t smoke, have good VISA credit, so I am good. J

With my budget soloist seems to be my best option of 650 dollars.

Thanks again WiR3D

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mossberg

I am leaning against the soloist it seems like the best deal for me, I tend to hold on to my things for a long time and build quality and elegance is important then I pick things to keep.

About my salary I get 28,000 a year as a manager assistant in a retail store, but don’t send a penny directly to Arabia or to insane insurance companies. Drink 16 beers a month at home and don’t smoke, have good VISA credit, so I am good. J

With my budget soloist seems to be my best option of 650 dollars.

Thanks again WiR3D

Enjoy it, and let us know how you like it :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by cocolinho

I have the opportunity to buy locally a Yulong D100 MKI for 270€ shipped

Should I go for this or HRT/ODAC + Matrix M stage for the same price (2nd hand too)

Which combo to choose?? knowing that I might add Hifiman HE400 next to my D2000 & Grado

THanks

I finally bought D100, will pick it up this afternoon at the post office, I will report here my impressions even if I don't have anything to compare with except my Studio V

Thanks again

Quote:
Originally Posted by cocolinho

I finally bought D100, will pick it up this afternoon at the post office, I will report here my impressions even if I don't have anything to compare with except my Studio V

Thanks again

Do report back :) its a pleasure

Ok, here's what triggered my posting here.

Quote:

??? What about a Zana? Sounded good with all the low impedance cans  had at the time including 2 D7000 and a bunch of ATs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WiR3D

Interesting, will need further explanation if you don't mind: here

Quote:

Nice poll and rant!  :)

I'll do my best to post some of my findings in that thread today. And yes, I had more than one amp. ;)

Meanwhile, here's a little post that says enough about how I feel about the Zana. I feel it also shows I'm not BS-ing about that amp and it sure proves I can be a complete idiot at times.

Quote:

Quoting an ancient post here, sorry for that MF.

I have been semi out of running here for a few months but there's something I just can get out of my mind: having sold my Zana Deux.

I'd be surpirsed if you haven't already heard the TH900 with the HP-A8 and since you seem to prefer to listen to the TH900 with the Zana Deux (not an SE if I remember) I would love to hear you thoughts on both. Differences, similarities, drawbacks, advantages of using one over the other?

I am thinking of getting a HP-A8 and use it as both a headphone amp and Dac but I'm pretty worried I'll find the sound "nothing special" like just about any other SS headphone amp I heard or had.

If you think that will be the case I consider going with my original choice for the Dac, the upcoming Marantz NA-11S1 to replace my Marantz NA7004.

For the headphone amp part I'd buy a balanced Zana Deux SE, again. Somebody hit me on the head with something heavy please! Ah well ...

The reason is that I never heard anything that sounded like the Zana. The HP4 was a great amp but the Zana was the only one that sounded truly different and amazing to me and I did have quite a few top amps. And it wasn't just the new toy effect, I got, and kept getting, that feeling everytime I plugged in some phones into the Zana.

The TH900 and D7100 will be the only phones I will use with it by the way.

First of all, I'm quite happy I found this thread.

It seems like a no BS thread where I can give my unsalted opinion on amps suitable for the only type of cans I like: low impedance closed phones.

And it will help me in the decision making I am facing right now as well: how to amp the TH900? 2 options for me: HP-A8C or Zana. See my concerns for either choosing a Marantz NA11S1 + Zana at a price tag nearing 6000€ (yep, shipping and taxes baby, this is Europe) or an all-in-one HP-A8C for 1600€. Pricewise I'd choose the latter of course but having owned a Zana before I'm afraid the HP-A8C will bore me to death. Still undecied though and it's hell to get a Zana here. Took about 4 months from leaving Craig's place to my door. Long story, suffice to say we have retarded customs over here. Best is to wrap the amp in a case of pure uncut Columbian or in a shipment of AK-47s which would make it passed our customs in a day. Ah, well ...

Phones.

Ok, what kind of phones do I like? Closed low impedance ones and that's it. Think Denon/Fostex and AT. I tried (read bought, they're all in my profile but tried quite a few in shops whenever I got the chance as well, these are not in my profile of course) fine samples of all other kinds but none gave me the sound I get from CLI cans I love so much. Open ones don't have the intimate sound I want (which is also why I have no use for crossfeed or surround with cans), stats (Stax) aren't bad but highly overrated IMO and I gave up on orhtos altogether after having bought an LCD2, they were that good.  ;)

I also can't stand IEM's in my ears, not even customs. I don't like the Grado sound as well.

D7000.

I had my first D7000 for three years unmodded after which I made an LA7000 from it. I bought a second D7000 and made a (different) LA7000 from it and owned that one for about 6 months. This means nearly all my amps have been tried with a D7000.

It wasn't love at first sight with the D7000 though, it grew on me. It took me some head-fi experience to appreciate it and realize I liked it better than open cans. I nearly sold it after having bought a DX-1000 but after a while I realized the D7000 was the better phone and DX-1000 was just changing the dimensionality/spatiality of sound too much.

Every new AT I bought beat the D7000 right away. But they couldn't keep it up, after a while they started to sound too colored in direct comparisons and when finished comparing for the night the D7000 was remaining on my head for the rest of the night. One exception for a particular genre: L3000 with metal, hardrock, older hardrock, flower-power ... from the 60s 'till now, you get the picture. Nothing beats an L3000 with that music but only with that music, it gets outperformed by the D7000 for all other genres, especially classical (talking Baroque and small chamber orchestra's here, lots of violin).

So why sell my two babies? Will be getting a TH900 (which I expect to be a hyper-D7000 with R10 traits, yeah, I know, lemme dream will ya!) just haven't bought it yet as I haven't listened to phones for 2 months now I guess. Meanwhile prices are dropping.  ;)

Alongside are the D7100 I have. Yep, they are good, ignore the D7100 bashing thread. They're not as good as/quite different from (take your pick) the D7000 though. That said the TH900 will be used for serious listening here, the D7100 for all the rest.

Amps.

First a few general statements, then I'll go amp by amp with the D7000. From memory. Don't expect reviews of any kind, just my unsalted opinion according to my taste in phones and amps. If you like open/static/dynamic cans you will strongly disagree.

"SS amps are the best for low impedance cans and they sound clean, open and dynamic."

They should but they don't. They're porbably the safest choice, you can't go wrong with most of them but you'll miss half the fun. Kinda like with and without condom. In the end they all sound similar in some ways and it starts to get dull. And you can get a lot more open and dynamic than any SS amp can give you.

"Tube amps are too powerful and too warm in the mids."

True for most of them I guess. I like some warmth but most tubes are too warm in the mids and seem to lose extension in both higs and lows. Bloated bass.

My amps:

- Pro-Ject Head-Box SE: not worth mentioning, as good as the phones out of my Mac.

- PSAudio GCHA: a greatly improved version of not worth mentioning. It's a real headphone amp though, not to be compared with headphone outputs of other devices, just doesn't wake me or my phones up. something seems to be missing. Prat, if that exists?

- W4S Mint: picked up more noise than a FM antenna, even in the middle of my garden. Sent it back. Courteous service though.

- SPL Phonitor: Great amp, loved it, mainly because it sounded more different from the standard SS sound that I was used to. Probably the best (thus non-exaggerated) crossfeed out there but I don't like crossfeed as it takes away the intimate sound I love from phones. If I wanna hear speakers I have two decent pairs here and I can use those. Too powerfull for closed cans though and noisy with them as a result.

- iQube: really dry, dull and boring, certainly compared with the next amp.

- Fostex HP-P1: this is a little gem. Fantastic for closed cans and a warmer, fuller sound than most SS amps have. One I would actually dare recommend for the D7000. I could happily live with it actually.

- Luxman P-1u and Audio Technica HA-5000ANV: these give rather similar results with closed cans. The differences would be that the Lux is more neutral (in a natural and non-analytic way, it's a Lux, they don't sound clinical) and the AT a bit warmer (smooth and clean warmth, not tube-like, and just a hint of it). I'd pick the AT over the Lux for a D7000, for open cans I'd go with the Lux. With the AT you need to crank up the volume quite a bit driving a HD800 for example. The AT is something I could recommend alongside the HP-P1 for a D7000, if you wantan SS amp. But there are tube amps as well.

- Little Dot MkIII: quite a nice amp for those starting to experiment with tube amps and tube rolling. The sound is good but you're going to upgrade anyway after having had your fun with it. There is better. Has the typical tube warmth.

- Yamamoto HA-02: not noise free, certainly with low impedance cans and not a good synergy with the D7000 or ATs IMO. You'll read the opposite as well here on HF though. What was a surprise is that it sounded amazing with the HD800. Doesn't have the typical tube warmth or certainly not enough of it to bother me.

- Luxman SQ-N100: really powerfull, a lot of tube warmth, not for low impedance cans. Does good with hard to drive cans (K701, HD800, LCD2, probably Beyers as well) if you don't mind the tubey sound. Great amp to drive the K1000 through it's speaker outputs, beat the crap out of my former Marantz PM-7200 KI switched to class A mode or not when used that way.

- EAR HP4: Difficult one. Very refined and what one would call a true "audiophile" amp that is a great match for closed cans. No noise or tube warmth whatsoever, probably the ideal amp if I wouldn't have heard the Zana. Which is why I won't say much about it because the Zana I will describe below has everything the HP4 has plus more. I bought this one in a futile effort to further improve on the Zana sound and maybe in absolute terms it did, but it also missed something I can't put my finger on that made the Zana so special.

- Eddie Current Zana Deux: This is what you would expect a SS amp to sound like if you just finished reading a bunch of reviews on the best SS amps out there and believe all the crappy marketing trying to describe the sound. This is the sound the best SS amps claim to have but none do. No tube warmth at all, completely silent and noise free. I'm talking with stock tubes here, with the right driver tube rolling it gets even better. Great dynamics and the best soudnstage I have ever managed to get out of cans. It felt like even the best SS amps I had don't have any soundstage at all after hearing the Zana. If Prat does exist then this amp has got a s**tload of it.

I told you before I felt like all SS amps started to sound the same to me after a while. This one doesn't. It has something special. It doesn't sound like a warm tube amp or a good tube amp either, there's something that sets it apart from all the rest I heard. A sound that I vividly remember and that haunts me after having sold the amp, the reason I might buy it again. I'm an idiot.

Maybe that's the sound of an OTL amp? Do all OTL amps sound like that? I wouldn't know since I only had/heard one. It's either that or Craig really knows what he's doing.

And yes, it does have great synergy with the D7000 just as it does with the most sensitive ATs. I had the SE version and we're talking about using it on the low gain setting here but it did just as wel on the high gain seting, just louder. And you 'll wanna go loud with this one. I never said it's a healthy amp. ;)

So,I hope this is helpful to someone. And surely there will be people that don't agree with some of my findings but there's nothing I can do about that. It's my taste, they're my ears and that's the sound I like.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Return Home
• [LIST][OPINION] Amp recommendations for Fostex/Denon Headphones.