Originally Posted by gnarlsagan
Which iems would you say change between these two sources? Do you have any theories as to what causes the differences in sound-stage, imaging, etc. in the iems that do change?
The amp itself is contributing its own characteristics to the sound. I've noticed this on many IEMs. From my IE80s, MDR-7550s, FX700s, Tralucent 1Plus2, Fit Ear 334. There is so much more to sound than just "sound". There are other things to factor in. If you don't value those subtleties then I recommend against upgrading your gear any further as it will just leave you disappointed. But the sound staging will definitely make things that much more noticeable. With an IEM that has little to no sound staging (all in your head and what I call invading sound) I can understand it being that much harder to notice any changes in the sound stage if there isn't much of one to begin with.... For example comparing the O2 amp to the UHA6 MKII the differences between these amps are night and day for me...
The 02 is so much more focused on width of its sound stage. Very wide presentation and aggressive. Gets fatiguing quite fast listening to this amp. Very good for rock though. While the UHA6 MKII is much more focused on depth (which the O2 sorely lacks in). Yet the UHA6 MKII still has decent width within its sound stage, but nothing like that of the O2. So I find the UHA6 MKII to be more balanced overall with its presentation. Both have black backgrounds, yet how they both produce music is quite different IMO when you take a look at the entire picture. Overall the UHA6 MKII is the clear winner IMO. That balance that I speak of coincides with the music sounding better as a whole to me. But when I put in Op Amp 209 the UHA6 MKII became a transparency monster. Even more so than the O2 amp. It took transparency to another level. For me this became fatiguing to listen to for longer periods of time and I was hearing the nitty and gritty in recordings that you are not intended to hear (artifacts from the conversion from analog to digital). That is what leads me to get fatigued and I don't like that lol.
But in the end I ended up keeping the Tralucent T1 amp as it is even more balanced to my ears than the UHA6MKII. In comparison it makes the UHA6 MKII sound like its lacking in width within its sound stage and focusing too much on depth instead. While the T1 has great width and depth (balance) within its sound stage, even a fuller sound. This leads to the treble, mids and bass also sounding better to me. They just flush each other out and compliment one another. So pretty much when I use amps its not just for volume. That is honestly not the reason I use amps. It is to drive the IEM/headphones to their full potential. To get better control over the drivers themselves which results in better sound. Yet not all IEMs will really honestly benefit as much as other IEMs at the same time. That will really depend on the IEMs you have and also depend on your needs.
Edited by lee730 - 1/13/13 at 11:48pm