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- productdigiZoid ZO2 Personal hi-fi experiencetagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
- productEtymotic Research ER4S MicroPro Reference Earphonestagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
- productFiiO E12 Mont Blanctagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
- productFiiO E17tagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
- productHeadRoom Total BitHead Headphone Amp / DACtagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
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- productIbasso T3tagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
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- productJDS Labs c421 Headphone Amplifiertagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
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- productJDS Labs Objective2 Assembled PCBtagged by dbsaffor, 9/10/13
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Head-Fi Buying Guide (Portable Amps, DACs, & DAPs)
Last edited: 1/22/15
This is my first review on head-fi. I had humble beginnings in my path as an audiophile that only officially started once I got the wonderful AKG K550 and grew more conscious of the link between...
Before I start my review, I would like to Thank RIVA Audio team for a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion. Thanks to the original Jambox, going back a few years, wireless...
http://www.raysamuelsaudio.com/ It takes a lot of confidence to name your product after the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. If your going to honor the legendary mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance...
Every 6 months I've had the pleasure of talking to Shinobu Karaki of Aurorasound at the Tokyo headphone festivals. As an ex-Texas Instruments employee he has come up with some interesting...
For me, the Audeze EL-8Cs satisfy a long awaited two year search for a closed headphone that I can use at work that sound just as good as my home theater setup. I enjoy them so much, that I cannot...
The Sub-$200 Portable Amps Shootout – 13 (+11) amps compared - Page 7
Gear mentioned in this thread:
Edit: I was tired and typed the wrong thing. Edit in bold. Sorry for the confusion.
Edited by Evshrug - 9/9/12 at 7:17am
I think one of the challenges for new amp buyers is the difference between high current, high voltage & high gain. I know it confuses me! All I know is that low-impedance headphones tend to hiss and sound bad if the amp's gain is too high - but I really don't know why - I'm guessing it is because gain is actually a voltage increase? And if the amp gain is too high for a low-impedance 'phone, then you can overdrive the 'phone (supply too much voltage) - is that correct?
Unlike current, you can control the voltage using the volume knob. With low impedance headphone, the problems are two folds: first, if the gain on the amp is too high, a slight turn on volume knob can make the headphone too loud. Since many volume knob also have imbalance issue on very low position, you will also get imbalance issue as well. That's the first sign your amp's gain is too high for your headphone. Often, it is also a sign your headphone doesn't need any voltage gain at all. In cases like this, digital volume control (which doesn't suffer from imbalanced) and zero voltage gain are preferred, because it is really the current you are interested at this point. The second issue is, high gain brings higher noise level, which comes in the form of hiss. That can be easily picked up by a low impedance, high sensitivity headphone, like custom IEM.
Edited by ClieOS - 9/9/12 at 9:49am
Wow, sounds complicated, I have no idea what to get now. :/
When I get it, what do I do with the gain settings and whatever? I'm confused about the fiddling with the settings and stuff also and how turning up the gain causes distortion and whatever. The ibasso t3 has +10 db gain,Maximum Output power:120mW+120mW, Signal to Noise Ratio:-98dB. What does that mean? This amp buying buisness is so confusing lol.
Edited by clairyvic - 9/9/12 at 12:04pm
What would you guys say about the Fiio E11 vs the Audinst AMP-HP? I know the Fiio E11 is half the price, but considering it's amp is "better" than the E17's, and my options are an E11 or an Audinst (or some thing comparable to the Audinst), I figured I'd ask anyways.
The e11's amp is better then the e17, well I guess that just leaves the choice between the t3 and e11. What's frusterating is that is says the MD's require at least 100 mw per channel for best effect, but I can't find how much mw per channel each of these amps have on the internet. :/
Don't know what a dac does. The EQ i'm not really interested in. I'm not sure what impedance means or a lot of this stuff means or else I would just look at the stats myself which is why i'm asking you guys.
But this headphone has 50 olms impedance, I don't know if that's a lot or a little. I guess I want minimal hissing because a lot of my music has a lot of atmospheric silence and hissing tends to bother me. So for power/lack of hissing what would be the best choice for a 50 olm headphone between the e11, e17, and t3? I don't really care about the money difference. For the sake of conversation lets just pretend they where all the same price, so even if one is just a little bit better despite the price difference I would want to get it.
Ok, going back to this post I am quoting... The reason we know (or are learning) what the stats mean is that we want to match an amp to our headphone. The whole voltage/current requirement isn't that difficult to wrap your head around.
A good amp for a low impedance headphone (measured in Ohms) doesn't have much output impedance (so it can supply plenty of current). Meanwhile, a good amp for a high impedance headphone will need more and more voltage as the impedance goes up, and it will probably have enough current once you've got enough voltage. Basically, my understanding is that if you start with an amp that has a very low output impedance, and enough voltage to drive your headphone to acceptable volume decibel levels (preferably without turning the amp up to max), you have a good amp for your headphone.
If all that is still a mystery to you, or you can't find manufacturer listed specs for output ohms and voltage, then consider that ClieOS has found 19 options and measured them for you, and reviewed their sound character too. If you STILL can't decide what has priority for you, then just get the all-around very good Objective2 amp, and consider that part of your headphone audio DONE.
By amp section alone, I won't say E11 is better than E17. It is more like 'different'.
- The Sub-$200 Portable Amps Shootout – 13 (+11) amps compared
Gear mentioned in this thread:
- › Beyerdynamic T90 :D 17 seconds ago
- › New Schiit! Ragnarok and Yggdrasil 39 seconds ago
- › Hifiman HE1000 Planar Dynamic Flagship 1 minute ago
- › Chord Electronics 2Qute DAC announced 2 minutes ago
- › Fiio X5 - Custom/Modded firmwares 2 minutes ago
- › Analog Squared Paper Discussion Thread. 5 minutes ago
- › RHA MA-750i Review 5 minutes ago
- › The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread 6 minutes ago
- › Sennheiser IE800 IEM's 7 minutes ago
- › Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Discussion Thread 7 minutes ago
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- › Aurorasound HEADA Balanced Headphone Amplifier by Currawong
- › Audeze EL-8 Closed-Back by bearcat1986
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- › Table of Earphocalypse
- › The Great FiiO DAP FAQ Wiki
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- › Head-Fi Buying Guide (Introduction)
- › Head-Fi Buying Guide (Over-Ear Headphones)
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- › Head-Fi Buying Guide (Over-Ear Headphones) 3
- › Head-Fi Buying Guide (In-Ear Headphones)
- › Head-Fi Buying Guide (In-Ear Headphones) 2