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Is a headphone amp overkill for 192 kb/s - 246 kb/s MP3's ?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello guys,

let us assume that I mostly listening to 192 kb/s - 246 kb/s MP3's and not to flac's anymore.

Would a Galaxy S i9000 Wolfson DAC with installed voodoo sound be a good enough source unit for my requirements?

Or would a setup which would use a headphone amp be much better so it would be worthwhile considering?

I would also be interested to know how good the Galaxy's DAC is compared to a good car audio head unit?

Thanks!

post #2 of 8

Only way is to listen to some and compare ;)

 

People often think of an amp as primarily to provide more power, however many phones/mp3 players etc. provide, on paper, plenty of power to make most headphones go very loud (HE-6 springs to mind as an exception).

 

However an amp will provide the same power with far more linearity, less distortion, less noise, faster slew, lower output impedance etc. etc. and it is for these reasons one is desirable as a buffer between source and phones.

 

The quality of the audio files has little to do with it whether an amp is appropriate, as long as they are sufficiently good that you can't tell them against lossless with the gear you're using. If you're out and about environmental noise will ruin any chance of critical listening.

post #3 of 8

The real question is what headphones do you plan on using from the phone? Try to find some hard specs on the device (output power, output impedance, voltage swing, etc) and that'll give you a better idea if you need amplification.

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post

The real question is what headphones do you plan on using from the phone? Try to find some hard specs on the device (output power, output impedance, voltage swing, etc) and that'll give you a better idea if you need amplification.

This. 

 

Weather an Amp is overkill has nothing to do with the audio file. (unless you're talking about very very low bit rates.)

It all depends if your headphones need the amp or not.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by b1o2r3i4s5 View Post

This. 

 

Weather an Amp is overkill has nothing to do with the audio file. (unless you're talking about very very low bit rates.)

It all depends if your headphones need the amp or not.

 

True.

An amp generally will not improve on the audio signal. It will improve your headphones' sound if they are currently underpowered.

Of course, if your headphones start to perform better, chances are you'll hear compression artifacts with low bit rates, something you maybe missed un-amped.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

Of course, if your headphones start to perform better, chances are you'll hear compression artifacts with low bit rates, something you maybe missed un-amped.

 

Yeah. This happens to me sometimes when I'm using a really low quality MP3 file. When I play it like with the cans plugged into the laptop, then through the amp, with certain tracks I can hear those artifacts a bit better with the amp than without the amp.

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

True.

An amp generally will not improve on the audio signal. It will improve your headphones' sound if they are currently underpowered.

Of course, if your headphones start to perform better, chances are you'll hear compression artifacts with low bit rates, something you maybe missed un-amped.

 

Sources these days (digital) are rarely underpowered for driving headphones. Excluding the very inefficient (e.g. HE-6) there are few headphones which won't be sufficiently powered by a good DAC or soundcard, and whether this is the case is very easily determined with a few quick calculations.

 

What a well-designed amp will do however is provide the same or more power with lower noise, and posses other qualities like low output impedance, faster slew rate etc.

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post

 

Yeah. This happens to me sometimes when I'm using a really low quality MP3 file. When I play it like with the cans plugged into the laptop, then through the amp, with certain tracks I can hear those artifacts a bit better with the amp than without the amp.

 

Not to mention the increasing loudness of music. Already loud and flat enough to make your ears bleed even without an amp.

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