Originally Posted by streetdragon
for a certain budget is it better to get an expensive amp for a cheap headphone or a cheap amp for an expensive headphone? or does it depend on the amp and headphone?
Headphone > Amp > DAC
You can always get a good headphone and then generally do a bit of EQ (usually -ve EQ works better than +ve EQ). A bright one can be turned down, a bass-heavy can be made slightly neutral.
On the other hand, you can never get an average headphone to sound good, a neutral headphone to sound bass-heavy (HD598 is one of them), or a warm headphone to sound bright, because you're trying to do something the headphone just wasn't designed for. The results are usually not satisfactory.
An amp plays a part when your source is under-powered. Headphones are variable loads, and as long as your source can power the headphone under this variation, its sufficient. Other than increasing the power delivery, usually an amp will not be able to do much.
Also, you'll start to get diminishing returns in amps much faster than a headphone.
A DAC reaches diminishing returns even quicker.
When some say *true potential* of a headphone, its somewhat vague. What's the "true potential" anyways? Maybe there's an ideal sound each listener wants, but it differs from person to person, and thus, there can be many paths to that sound, some simpler and straight, some going round a few times.
Edited by proton007 - 9/24/12 at 2:02am