Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Onkyo A-5VL - A game changer
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Onkyo A-5VL - A game changer - Page 2

post #16 of 65

Very good review, especially putting up against prominent players in the market..... I was looking at the Dacmagic plus and the TEAC UD-H01 but based on this review I am certainly intrigued by this.... especially since I do not need all the connectivity options that the Dacmagic offers... Could you answer a couple quick questions for me?

 

Are the volume pot and other control knobs metal? ( It's superficial I know but I hate paying hundreds for a piece of kit and getting plastic)

Do you know if it support USB directly or do I need a converter like a Fiio E10 to run coax from USB? I am looking at it as a desktop to use with my laptop (stationary laptop).

Do the treble and bass controls stay within their own frequency range pretty well? This is huge for me because I really like the ability to adjust tone.... and most headphone amps and or dac's don't have this. Helps when the bass head in me rears his head.

 

To me it seems like it has some pretty good Headfi capability.... the ability to adjust tone, dac/amp and analog options.... not too mention in those pictures above , the headphone out circuit/ section takes up nearly a third of the compartment.... it's certainly isn't the most elegantly designed headphone out circuit but definitely wasn't an afterthought either.

 

Also in terms of pure SQ, disregarding the power issue you had with your Beyers.... do you think the Onkyo or the TEAC was better?

Thanks for the review.... and putting this on my radar. Kudos

post #17 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fed View Post

Very good review, especially putting up against prominent players in the market..... I was looking at the Dacmagic plus and the TEAC UD-H01 but based on this review I am certainly intrigued by this.... especially since I do not need all the connectivity options that the Dacmagic offers... Could you answer a couple quick questions for me?

 

Are the volume pot and other control knobs metal? ( It's superficial I know but I hate paying hundreds for a piece of kit and getting plastic)

Do you know if it support USB directly or do I need a converter like a Fiio E10 to run coax from USB? I am looking at it as a desktop to use with my laptop (stationary laptop).

Do the treble and bass controls stay within their own frequency range pretty well? This is huge for me because I really like the ability to adjust tone.... and most headphone amps and or dac's don't have this. Helps when the bass head in me rears his head.

 

To me it seems like it has some pretty good Headfi capability.... the ability to adjust tone, dac/amp and analog options.... not too mention in those pictures above , the headphone out circuit/ section takes up nearly a third of the compartment.... it's certainly isn't the most elegantly designed headphone out circuit but definitely wasn't an afterthought either.

 

Also in terms of pure SQ, disregarding the power issue you had with your Beyers.... do you think the Onkyo or the TEAC was better?

Thanks for the review.... and putting this on my radar. Kudos

 

 

Volume pots are not metal, but they're made of very good plastic and they feel VERY good in hands, very solid, precise and smooth action.

There is no USB input, only coax and spdif.

Yes, treble and bass controls are very well done, much better than you can do with an EQ. They do exactly what they should without making the sound overall worse.

In terms of pure sound quality, I think that Teac might be just slightly slightly better. But we're splitting hairs here. Teac sounded slightly fuller in the midrange, but thats such a tiny difference its barely noticeable when plugging the headphones from one device to another while the same music is playing.   The DAC in Teac is better, obviously, that the whole point of the device, but as a whole, DAC + amp, Onkyo was far better. When Teac ran out of steam, Onkyo just started to sound good.

post #18 of 65

I hear you.... If it's a matter of switching back and forth a dozen times to say "Oh yes the TEAC has a slighter full mid, I need to return it.... It's not perfect" then I doubt I'd ever be happy.... I am a music lover who wants to enjoy my music not analyze my gear to death.

 

It wasn't even on my radar now its at the top of my shortlist. I was looking at Grant Fidelity Tubemagic but the bass and treble functions are really appealing.... and I don't need all the added functionality of the Grant piece of kit. I already have a Fiio E10 to act as spdif converter so it's looking really good.

 

Thanks for that!

post #19 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fed View Post

I hear you.... If it's a matter of switching back and forth a dozen times to say "Oh yes the TEAC has a slighter full mid, I need to return it.... It's not perfect" then I doubt I'd ever be happy.... I am a music lover who wants to enjoy my music not analyze my gear to death.

 

It wasn't even on my radar now its at the top of my shortlist. I was looking at Grant Fidelity Tubemagic but the bass and treble functions are really appealing.... and I don't need all the added functionality of the Grant piece of kit. I already have a Fiio E10 to act as spdif converter so it's looking really good.

 

Thanks for that!

 

There really is not much between them in terms of sound quality. I mean, all the integrated amplifiers I tried sounded very good, not in any way inferior to headphone amps I compared them with, in fact they all shared the same trait, they all somehow had bigger soundstages than the headphone amps. I don't know why, but that was always the first thing I noticed, a "bigger" sound. BUT, integrated amps like high impedance headphones, I dont know how all low impedance ones will work. My Ultrasones work great with Onkyo, don't have the Q701 at the moment to try it.

post #20 of 65

That is the one thing that has me hung up.... The picture shows a relatively well evolved headphone out circuit so they thought about it...but integrated amp/ receiver manufacturers rarely (if ever) spec out their headphone amp and output.... So output impedance and RMS output are two specs that are vital but will be virtually impossible to find. 

 

I have (2) lower impedance planar magnetic headphones that require a lot of current but are low voltage so synergy with a big voltage monster like this is a big questions mark.

 

May check locally to see if there is one on the shelf somewhere and see if I can plug in with my Hifiman or Audeze to see how they sound.

If I was running Sennheiser 650's or Beyer 880s like yourself.... It'd be a no brainer.... I am in, but these planar cans are testy little buggers..... I'm sure it could/ would make them loud, but would there be damping problems with impedance interplay.... Loud but degraded is not ideal.... I need to dig a little more to see what I can find out.

post #21 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Fed View Post

That is the one thing that has me hung up.... The picture shows a relatively well evolved headphone out circuit so they thought about it...but integrated amp/ receiver manufacturers rarely (if ever) spec out their headphone amp and output.... So output impedance and RMS output are two specs that are vital but will be virtually impossible to find. 

 

I have (2) lower impedance planar magnetic headphones that require a lot of current but are low voltage so synergy with a big voltage monster like this is a big questions mark.

 

May check locally to see if there is one on the shelf somewhere and see if I can plug in with my Hifiman or Audeze to see how they sound.

If I was running Sennheiser 650's or Beyer 880s like yourself.... It'd be a no brainer.... I am in, but these planar cans are testy little buggers..... I'm sure it could/ would make them loud, but would there be damping problems with impedance interplay.... Loud but degraded is not ideal.... I need to dig a little more to see what I can find out.

 

 

I don't think there's a separate headphone circuit on this amp. Also, I don't know why people have this misconception that headphone outputs on amplifiers are an afterthought. They really aren't. Sure there aren't separate circuit boards for headphones on most amps, but after hearing many of them, I cannot agree to that at all.  Manufacturers indeed pay much attention to the headphone outputs performance , as much as they do for speaker outputs, because at the end of the day, a headphone output should have exactly the same sound signature and quality as the speaker output. Thats the goal, to make the amplifier work well for all the purposes its built for, and the reason why there's a 6.3mm gold plated headphone jack on the front is not to make the front panel look nicer, its to plug in high quality headphones.

 

On Onkyo, the headphone output is fed from the same circuit from which the speakers are fed, same as on any other integrated amp, except here its all digital. I don't know much about it technically, its really a unique design, but the bottom line is, its fed from the same "source" as the speakers, but the output level is digitally controlled, unlike on normal integrated amps, where the output is "physically" controlled by adding resistors between the power source and the headphone output. That results in slightly lower output impedance. Around 50 ohms, compared to 100-200 ohms on other amps. But I repeat again, ALL integrated amps I've tried sounded excellent with my DT880's and absolutely none of them were in any way inferior to dedicated head amps I directly compared them with, in fact, all of them were superior in terms of output power and authority, as well as having a bigger soundstage.

IMHO, in my mind, after conducting the tests,  dedicated headphone amps are a waste of money. There I said it.  Overpriced quite simply. Unnecessary, UNLESS you really have some crazy hard to run high end headphone, or no other place to plug your headphones, like a integrated amp, receiver, even a CD player or a higher end TV. Heck, the headphone output on my Panasonic plasma (a pretty high end model though) TV sounds freaking amazing and runs the DT880's better than any of those dac/amps deviced I've tested. It sounds excellent with low impedance Ultrasone Hfi-2400's as well.  I'd really like to see the face of a hard core audiophile when hearing how the Ultrasones sounds fed directly from the Panasonic TV playing something like Eric Claptons Unplugged album. Just stunning. 

 

As for dedicated amps, you pay loads of money for a little piece of circuit board thats worth, lets face it, 50$ tops even in 500$ head amps, you usually get poor build quality, and you get performance that you would get from much cheaper, much more all-around devices, aka. receivers or integrated amps.  Even with low impedance cans, its no big deal. Some people on this forum use D7000's with higher end integrated amps and say it sounds better than with any headphone amp they've heard so.... I already sold my Bellari tube amp. Its really rubbish compared to Onkyo, or even the Panasonic plasma.  Really people, if you have any higher end device at home that has a headphone output, try it before buying a separate amp.


Edited by derbigpr - 8/17/12 at 3:25pm
post #22 of 65

QUOTE:  "As for dedicated amps, you pay loads of money for a little piece of circuit board thats worth, lets face it, 50$ tops even in 500$ head amps, you usually get poor build quality, and you get performance that you would get from much cheaper, much more all-around devices, aka. receivers or integrated amps."

 

 

Ah, but can you roll tubes with your Onkyo?   Please do not forget that there is a bit more to this hobby, many of us are into computer audio and use "headphone only" amps with DACs, Music Servers and all manner of computers and software which we switch out and tweek.

 

No disrespect ~ just do not forget the hobby aspect.

 

 

post #23 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

 

I don't think there's a separate headphone circuit on this amp. Also, I don't know why people have this misconception that headphone outputs on amplifiers are an afterthought. They really aren't. Sure there aren't separate circuit boards for headphones on most amps, but after hearing many of them, I cannot agree to that at all.  Manufacturers indeed pay much attention to the headphone outputs performance , as much as they do for speaker outputs, because at the end of the day, a headphone output should have exactly the same sound signature and quality as the speaker output. Thats the goal, to make the amplifier work well for all the purposes its built for, and the reason why there's a 6.3mm gold plated headphone jack on the front is not to make the front panel look nicer, its to plug in high quality headphones.

 

On Onkyo, the headphone output is fed from the same circuit from which the speakers are fed, same as on any other integrated amp, except here its all digital. I don't know much about it technically, its really a unique design, but the bottom line is, its fed from the same "source" as the speakers, but the output level is digitally controlled, unlike on normal integrated amps, where the output is "physically" controlled by adding resistors between the power source and the headphone output. That results in slightly lower output impedance. Around 50 ohms, compared to 100-200 ohms on other amps. But I repeat again, ALL integrated amps I've tried sounded excellent with my DT880's and absolutely none of them were in any way inferior to dedicated head amps I directly compared them with, in fact, all of them were superior in terms of output power and authority, as well as having a bigger soundstage.

IMHO, in my mind, after conducting the tests,  dedicated headphone amps are a waste of money. There I said it.  Overpriced quite simply. Unnecessary, UNLESS you really have some crazy hard to run high end headphone, or no other place to plug your headphones, like a integrated amp, receiver, even a CD player or a higher end TV. Heck, the headphone output on my Panasonic plasma (a pretty high end model though) TV sounds freaking amazing and runs the DT880's better than any of those dac/amps deviced I've tested. It sounds excellent with low impedance Ultrasone Hfi-2400's as well.  I'd really like to see the face of a hard core audiophile when hearing how the Ultrasones sounds fed directly from the Panasonic TV playing something like Eric Claptons Unplugged album. Just stunning. 

 

As for dedicated amps, you pay loads of money for a little piece of circuit board thats worth, lets face it, 50$ tops even in 500$ head amps, you usually get poor build quality, and you get performance that you would get from much cheaper, much more all-around devices, aka. receivers or integrated amps.  Even with low impedance cans, its no big deal. Some people on this forum use D7000's with higher end integrated amps and say it sounds better than with any headphone amp they've heard so.... I already sold my Bellari tube amp. Its really rubbish compared to Onkyo, or even the Panasonic plasma.  Really people, if you have any higher end device at home that has a headphone output, try it before buying a separate amp.

 

Could you be more specific about this? Where did you read this exactly? The specs hardly make any mention of the headphone output. Most receivers and integrated amps simply use resistor drops off the speaker taps to limit the current throw the headphones. Also, you keep throwing out the word "digital", but I'm not sure how that relates to the headphone output.

 

Maybe you could open up the case and show us what's inside. It wouldn't be hard to tell whether the HP output uses resistor drops or some sort of independent output stage.

post #24 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post

 

Could you be more specific about this? Where did you read this exactly? The specs hardly make any mention of the headphone output. Most receivers and integrated amps simply use resistor drops off the speaker taps to limit the current throw the headphones. Also, you keep throwing out the word "digital", but I'm not sure how that relates to the headphone output.

 

Maybe you could open up the case and show us what's inside. It wouldn't be hard to tell whether the HP output uses resistor drops or some sort of independent output stage.

 

 

I don't know exactly how it works, what I know is what I've been told by the Onkyo distributor sales guy, who's also been a DIY'er for over 20 years and knows something about amps. He was talking that from technical point of view, this is a unique amp on the market, because its fully digital (I have no clue what exactly that means either), and it should be one of the best amps for running headphones. I don't know exactly the technical specifications, you might wanna email Onkyo about that. To me, specs aren't important. At the end of the day, I bought the amp purely because of its performance after auditioning it and comparing to other products, I had no clue about a single spec about it, and never even heard of this amp before I walked into the store that day.

 

There's a picture of it opened on the first page of this thread.


Edited by derbigpr - 8/17/12 at 4:19pm
post #25 of 65

Page 19 (Appendix) of the manual shows the headphone directly taped at the preamp output... Got one on order...

Cheers

 

post #26 of 65

I saw that, and from what it looks like, the little PCB in the bottom right corner are where the resistor drops are located. I've cracked open a few amps and that's usually how it's done. It's impossible to be sure without a better picture or a comprehensive schematic though.

 

And no offense, but a manufacturer's salesman is probably not the best source for technical information. What he meant by "fully digital" was that it happens to have an SPDIF input and DAC in it. I don't see how any other part of the amp is "digital". Personally, I don't trust anyone who's paid on commission to sell me something. 

 

And there are certain aspects of headphone amplifiers that are desirable over this kind of design. Low output impedance and low noise being the most prominent. But hey, if you're happy with it, that's great. For my desktop rig, I use a Parasound Z-amp to run both my loudspeakers and headphones (off resistor drops) and it sounds great.
 

post #27 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post

I saw that, and from what it looks like, the little PCB in the bottom right corner are where the resistor drops are located. I've cracked open a few amps and that's usually how it's done. It's impossible to be sure without a better picture or a comprehensive schematic though.

 

And no offense, but a manufacturer's salesman is probably not the best source for technical information. What he meant by "fully digital" was that it happens to have an SPDIF input and DAC in it. I don't see how any other part of the amp is "digital". Personally, I don't trust anyone who's paid on commission to sell me something. 

 

And there are certain aspects of headphone amplifiers that are desirable over this kind of design. Low output impedance and low noise being the most prominent. But hey, if you're happy with it, that's great. For my desktop rig, I use a Parasound Z-amp to run both my loudspeakers and headphones (off resistor drops) and it sounds great.
 

I  thought the general wisdom was that receivers and amps of the 1970s and 80s took the output off the power amp stage and dropped it down to run back to the headphone outs, not the preamp outs.  Isn't that correct and why some of those had such great sound at the hp out? I am not an ee type so lots of what is posted is over my head and when researched not born out by what I can read.

 

Here is a great example of a mediocre set of cans (not to mention what the heck the source was, no don't tell me it was something like a pop fm station) being used to bust a myth.........then Fallen Angel comes in with his wisdom.  Seems like everything matters and you must hear everything before proclaiming a status for it, based on the design.  Kind of like the folks who think the brand and model of dac chip is most that matters in the sound of a dac!

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/338299/many-av-receivers-stereo-integrated-amps-do-not-use-opamp-powered-headphone-jacks

post #28 of 65
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post

 

And no offense, but a manufacturer's salesman is probably not the best source for technical information. What he meant by "fully digital" was that it happens to have an SPDIF input and DAC in it. I don't see how any other part of the amp is "digital". Personally, I don't trust anyone who's paid on commission to sell me something. 

 

And there are certain aspects of headphone amplifiers that are desirable over this kind of design. Low output impedance and low noise being the most prominent. But hey, if you're happy with it, that's great. For my desktop rig, I use a Parasound Z-amp to run both my loudspeakers and headphones (off resistor drops) and it sounds great.

 

 

 

As I said, he has been a DIY'er for over 20 years and built many excellent amps and speakers on his own, so he has some technical knowledge and knows what he's talking about. He's not some 20 year old just wanting to sell stuff, he's a serious 50+ year old man, an audiophile as well, with lots of experience in hi-fi. And he could have recommended me some more expensive amp easily if he wanted to just rip me off, but he didn't.  He could have been quiet about this Onkyo (because I never heard about it until he recommended it) and could just tell me to buy the Cambridge Audio Dac magic plus with the piece of crap useless headphone amp, or the Asus Xonar Essence One with equally useless headphone amp for high impedance headphones. But he didn't.

 

As for the aspects that "should" be superior on the headphone amps....which are those? In theory, sure, but in practice? Low noise? All the headphone amps I've ever tried (and most of them costing more than the Onkyo) were not silent, they were always hissing on higher volumes. Onkyo doesn't. Its absolutely silent even when knob is turned all the way.  And its SNR is way above the line where it doesn't matter if its higher anymore.

Output impedance? Not nearly as important IN PRACTICE as some claim it to be, especially with high impedance cans. I convinced myself with testing, so that is all I need. Experiences or advices from other people saying that headphones sound crappy out of integrated amps are from now on irrelevant to me, because my own two ears and my brain proved to me that integrated amps have great headphone outputs, full stop. And even the people on this forum who have been open minded enough to plug their headphones into something thats not a dedicated headphone amp share a similar experience. I don't care for what it says on the paper if in practice the device doesn't show it. On paper, for example Asus Essence One has very superior specifications in comparison to Onkyo, and should sound better, and have more power. But if you heard both side by side, you'd swear it was the other way around, in fact its stupid to even compare them, as well as comparing the Asus / CA / Teac / Little Dot / whatever to any entry level integrated amp.  As I said in my first post, we're comparing toys to real gear.  If a 350$ integrated amp/dac performs CLEARLY and UNDENIABLY better than a dedicated headphone amp/dac that costs twice as much, then what are we talking about?


Edited by derbigpr - 8/18/12 at 4:05pm
post #29 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bixby View Post

I  thought the general wisdom was that receivers and amps of the 1970s and 80s took the output off the power amp stage and dropped it down to run back to the headphone outs, not the preamp outs.  Isn't that correct and why some of those had such great sound at the hp out? I am not an ee type so lots of what is posted is over my head and when researched not born out by what I can read.

 

Here is a great example of a mediocre set of cans (not to mention what the heck the source was, no don't tell me it was something like a pop fm station) being used to bust a myth.........then Fallen Angel comes in with his wisdom.  Seems like everything matters and you must hear everything before proclaiming a status for it, based on the design.  Kind of like the folks who think the brand and model of dac chip is most that matters in the sound of a dac!

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/338299/many-av-receivers-stereo-integrated-amps-do-not-use-opamp-powered-headphone-jacks

 

That's what I was talking about the whole time.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

 

As I said, he has been a DIY'er for over 20 years and built many excellent amps and speakers on his own, so he has some technical knowledge and knows what he's talking about. He's not some 20 year old just wanting to sell stuff, he's a serious 50+ year old man, an audiophile as well, with lots of experience in hi-fi. And he could have recommended me some more expensive amp easily if he wanted to just rip me off, but he didn't.  He could have been quiet about this Onkyo (because I never heard about it until he recommended it) and could just tell me to buy the Cambridge Audio Dac magic plus with the piece of crap useless headphone amp, or the Asus Xonar Essence One with equally useless headphone amp for high impedance headphones. But he didn't.

 

As for the aspects that "should" be superior on the headphone amps....which are those? In theory, sure, but in practice? Low noise? All the headphone amps I've ever tried (and most of them costing more than the Onkyo) were not silent, they were always hissing on higher volumes. Onkyo doesn't. Its absolutely silent even when knob is turned all the way.  And its SNR is way above the line where it doesn't matter if its higher anymore.

Output impedance? Not nearly as important IN PRACTICE as some claim it to be, especially with high impedance cans. I convinced myself with testing, so that is all I need. Experiences or advices from other people saying that headphones sound crappy out of integrated amps are from now on irrelevant to me, because my own two ears and my brain proved to me that integrated amps have great headphone outputs, full stop. And even the people on this forum who have been open minded enough to plug their headphones into something thats not a dedicated headphone amp share a similar experience. I don't care for what it says on the paper if in practice the device doesn't show it. On paper, for example Asus Essence One has very superior specifications in comparison to Onkyo, and should sound better, and have more power. But if you heard both side by side, you'd swear it was the other way around, in fact its stupid to even compare them, as well as comparing the Asus / CA / Teac / Little Dot / whatever to any entry level integrated amp.  As I said in my first post, we're comparing toys to real gear.  If a 350$ integrated amp/dac performs CLEARLY and UNDENIABLY better than a dedicated headphone amp/dac that costs twice as much, then what are we talking about?

 

Enjoy your tunes! beerchug.gif

post #30 of 65

Just bought this little gem. Man. This headphone amp is pretty darned...good. The dac is ok, though my V-DAC II is slightly better. But the headphone amp is pretty good especially for the price. Beats the black cube linear and lake people g100 with the hd650, which I've been using. And those cost more than this whole unit! 

 

Thanks to the op for this info. Was looking for a stereo amp and thank goodness I went for this.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › Onkyo A-5VL - A game changer