Originally Posted by pezhore
I'm relatively new to the head-fi forum, and I'm beginning to look at how I can enjoy my music on a higher level. A few years ago I picked up a pair of Sennheiser HD 203s and I was immediately blown away by the difference in comparison to my more generic headphones. I'm considering either upgrading my cans or perhaps putting that money towards a headphone amp - but I'm not really sure what I should be looking for.
Can someone explain to me the benefits to using a headphone amp, especially with regards to computers and portable devices (e.g. tablets/smart phones)? I've just begun to look at DACs - does it make sense to get a DAC and Amp combo, or would an amp by itself be enough of a difference in sound clarity/quality?
I was considering a DIY amp - perhaps the CMoy - just to see if I liked the change. Would such an inexpensive amp provide some sembelence of what I can expect with a slightly more expensive amp?
I think the advantage with a better amplifier or DAC is that it loses less of the original signal.
Often people think that using a separate amplifier from the one built into a computer or portable device will bring some sense of "more amplification" in some way, may "more muscle" or something but in fact the better amplifier will simply lose less of the original signal. So, for example a very delicate piece of music may sound even finer, more delicate with a better amplifier.
The amplifiers built into portable devices can work quite well, but personally I like to use an alternative amplifier for increased quality of reproduction.
What I've written about amplifiers is true also of DACs.
I can't be specific about which amplifiers or DACs because to be honest although I've listen to many over the years I am not that au fait with the ones currently available.
There is a forum dedicated to amplifiers and suchlike and you may get some good responses there.
Personally I tend to avoid amplifiers or DACs that have some influence on the music. I don't think that amplifiers should be "warm" for example. I think amplifiers should be as neutral as possible, having as little influence. Let the musicians be warm, or cold in their playing if they wish.