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Pre-amp and Headphone amplifier separates? - Page 3

post #31 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by googleli View Post

Given that most high end interconnects are only 1.5m to 2m, while speaker cables typically go at least 8 feet, I am not sure whether this is the intended / desired setup for monoblock systems.

Notwithstanding the cable argument, going monoblocks certainly isn't about trying to cut down the speaker cable length though in theory it sounds good. In XLR, the losses and noise rejection would be better than what you incur in speaker cable, hence the common thought.

 

If anyone sees my setup, they would still see that I use 4m speaker cable even though my monoblocks are right next to my speakers.. there are some reasons for this, but none of which would appeal to those who believe in theories. :)

 

But anyway, steering this back to head-fi, both these arguments don't really apply since cable lengths are relatively short in either case. It's just whether we believe going monoblocks or even dual mono for pre-amp have a benefit, and why are there so few headphone amps that are built this way.


Edited by Quest88 - 8/12/12 at 7:55pm
post #32 of 48
Thread Starter 

Have been reading more threads on the forum and seems like some people manage to activate a 'direct' mode on their headphone amplifiers so as to use a pre-amp in the chain.. that would be useful to go around the integrated.

 

Not sure about most people here, but I find adding a better pre-amp to be pretty big in the performance jump.

post #33 of 48

Most sources have enough output to drive a headphone amp directly. Why would you pass the signal through another unnecessary stage? The pre-amp cannot add anything, only coloration which may be appealing to some depending on the type of distortion.

post #34 of 48

A preamp is mostly useful for multiple sources. It has a selector switch. And yes it adds coloration (I can't imagine how it cannot). But if you only have one source and it has a variable output, it is much preferable.

post #35 of 48
Thread Starter 

Just my 2 cents - Put it this way, as long as you need a variable volume control, whether you are using the one included in your DAC or your headphone amp, you are already using a "pre-amp". I also classify digital volume control in this same category. Whether you feel it makes a performance difference in separating this pre-amp out or not is the issue at question.

post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quest88 View Post

Just my 2 cents - Put it this way, as long as you need a variable volume control, whether you are using the one included in your DAC or your headphone amp, you are already using a "pre-amp". I also classify digital volume control in this same category. Whether you feel it makes a performance difference in separating this pre-amp out or not is the issue at question.

 

Not the same, a signal attenuator is not the same as a signal amplifier of which a preamp is.

post #37 of 48

Quote:
Originally Posted by Quest88 View Post

Just my 2 cents - Put it this way, as long as you need a variable volume control, whether you are using the one included in your DAC or your headphone amp, you are already using a "pre-amp". I also classify digital volume control in this same category. Whether you feel it makes a performance difference in separating this pre-amp out or not is the issue at question.

 

 

Not so popular commercially for obvious reasons, but taking the voltage divider out of the headphone amp and using upstream digital control has got advantages and then some disadvantages as well, the bit loss debate etc. I personally think it’s best way to do it, when implemented correctly, Twisted Pair Audio’s Volumite Controller for the Buffalo DAC III is a good implementation IMO. 

post #38 of 48

Can you really hear the loss? If I bring down the volume, would it matter? We're talking about LSB.


Edited by wuwhere - 8/13/12 at 12:38am
post #39 of 48
I can't, but I'm using a Sabre 32bit chip.
Edited by johnwmclean - 8/13/12 at 1:25am
post #40 of 48

The addition of a preamp in between a source and a power amp (headphone or speaker) is always going to change the sound.

Be it adding various harmonic distortions, (de / ) emphasising frequencies, etc.

 

Clearly this is not always a bad thing, especially if you are using it as a way to tune the sound to something that makes you happy.

It is dependent on the listener's ears if this "tuning" is subtractive to their enjoyment or not.

 

As for volume control at the source/DAC, then yes I agree with John that the 9018's digital attenuation is (to my ears) transparent.

That being said there are valid hiccups that people raise with this type of control.
As to whether these problems are audible, once again that is rather subjective.


Edited by nattonrice - 8/13/12 at 3:09am
post #41 of 48
Thread Starter 

I find it interesting that since headphones are generally more revealing than most speakers, that it is not thought that a pre-amp actually improves the sound.

I don't think people buy high end pre-amps worth $50k to introduce distortion.. but maybe those of us playing speaker systems are all crazy.

 

But nonetheless, we are all entitled to our own points of view, based on the experiences we have built up. I feel this way as I have always heard improvement whenever I split up pre-amp and power-amp in a speaker system - even when adding a pre-amp onto an integrated if there is a way to bypass.


If a pre-amp has no difference in head-fi systems, that would be great to know. Perhaps, like I alluded earlier, this is because the current/wattage requirements are much lower on the power section and influence on the pre section is less. Curious to know from those who had really tried.

post #42 of 48

I guess the point I was trying to make is that (from a practicality point of view) the only thing as linear as a piece of wire, is a piece of wire.

 

There are many varied reasons why adding a preamp in the chain may make the resulting sound more (or less) pleasing to the ear, even in a headphone rig.

As I said, it's highly subjective.

post #43 of 48
Thread Starter 

nattonrice, I fully agree with you in theory.

 

However, audio isn't quite as simple if even different pieces of wire can sound different. Reducing the voltage without loss is also probably more difficult than most people think, if even transmitting it without alteration/loss via a wire is already difficult. Probably as much as trying to amplify something (with a power amp) without adding more or less to the signal.

 

And I wasn't talking about being less or more pleasing, but actual performance improvements.. I guess one must try to really hear the difference before being convinced - same as most things which don't make usual sense - like cables (since I mention it in this thread).


Edited by Quest88 - 8/13/12 at 6:08am
post #44 of 48

Got a chance to listen to a full Audio Note setup yesterday in one of the demo rooms - the system included the AudioNote M10 preamp. The whole setup costs well above US$200K. Audio Note is all tube (even the DAC is tube), so it is distortion after distortion, with the distorted US$50K M10 preamp in the middle which distorted things further. But the "distorted sound" in that room - was one of top three systems I heard in the show yesterday - and I am sure many people would agree that a TOTL Audio Note system would beat many SS based systems, with or without preamp.


Edited by googleli - 8/13/12 at 6:34am
post #45 of 48

^ This is a prime example of what I meant by "not always a bad thing".

 

I'm particularly a fan of the Kondo M1000 when used as a phono / line pre for this exact same reason.

Every time I've heard it I've had a lot of fun.

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