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Amps really aren't worth their money?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

First off... I'm pretty new to the audio world, but I have decent ears from music training all my life as well as perfect pitch. 

 

I got a HD600 and Asgard setup along with a E10 dac.

 

So I ran the HD600's out my computer's onboard, and it sounded super thin with no bass at all.  As expected.

Plug it into my e10(which is an dac and Amp), it sounded much better.

But once I plugged it into my Asgard, the sound only got slightly better.

There was more bass and a deeper sound, but I got almost the same effect from turning on the bass boost on the e10.

 

What I'm saying is, the Asgard wasn't really $200+ better than my e10.  The difference in sound to me was pretty minimal.

So I got to thinking.  What if say instead of the Hd600 and Asgard, I used the $650 (+$50) for something like a HE-500.  Even if I did run it from my e10, wouldn't I get better sound for my money?  Of course with the higher headphones, I'll probably need a marginally better amp... but the concept is the same.

post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by CSGO rice View Post

 

What I'm saying is, the Asgard wasn't really $200+ better than my e10.  The difference in sound to me was pretty minimal.

You make several interesting observations, but I think this is key.  Audio equipment -- and I suspect the same is true with cars, cameras, etc. -- is subject to diminishing returns.  The key, for each individual listener, is to decide where the sweet spot is... and perhaps find a way to be satisfied investing no more.  

 

If only audio were like potatoes -- spend twice as much and get twice as many.  Alas.

 

But having said this, over time, you may find that your setup provides you pretty much what you want in the bass, but that vocals don't sound as immediate as you'd like.  Or you might like the quantity of the bass but that it seems a bit slow.  Etc.  Etc. Etc.  In this hobby, I think a lot of money gets spent in chasing after small details.  If you can avoid this obsession, you will save yourself a LOT of money.  :-)

post #3 of 9
Quote:

What I'm saying is, the Asgard wasn't really $200+ better than my e10.  The difference in sound to me was pretty minimal.

So I got to thinking.  What if say instead of the Hd600 and Asgard, I used the $650 (+$50) for something like a HE-500.  Even if I did run it from my e10, wouldn't I get better sound for my money?  Of course with the higher headphones, I'll probably need a marginally better amp... but the concept is the same.

 

The type of headphones one uses makes the biggest difference. It could very well be that you've better sound using the HE-500s together with the e10.

I once had an HD800 and many things using it straight from my 100 Dollar soundcard sounded better than now on my K701s with a 1000 Dollar amp/DAC and the Cardas headphone cable.

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by flatmap View Post

If only audio were like potatoes -- spend twice as much and get twice as many.  Alas.

 

Yet there are premium potatoes more expensive per kg... as in audio...

post #5 of 9

Yes I would say you're better off using an HE-500 with E10, even though the E10 might not have enough raw power for it.

post #6 of 9

Well yeah I agree with you there, the speakers/headphones always seem to make a much much bigger difference than anything else in the chain.

 

IMO once you have decent enough source + amp (i.e. OK not super high-end) then you will get better returns on your investment by spending 3X as much as on everything else on the direct sound source - the speakers or headphones.

 

 

Now IMO when you get to things like interconnects and headphone cables well... You're probably spending a decent amount of money on something that will (I believe) make either no or negligible difference... May as well spend it on something that'll make more difference; so headphones or source or... more CDs!

post #7 of 9

:p another violinist-- and one with perfect pitch! The 3 parts of the chain will make the biggest difference... and I think I may remember the 3rd. 1st is the playback/bit-rate. Remember this from watching thatsnazzyiphoneguy about 2 years ago I think (hence how I got into hi-fi)... If you got this, and it's a fine recording, you're pretty much fine. No compressed audio to ruin your chain. 2nd is the power. The thing you run your phones with. If you don't have enough power to drive your phones, the phones can't shine to their potential. 3rd are the phones themselves. These 3 factors pretty much determine what'll be happening.

From what I've seen most DAC's should do it-- bit skeptical on FiiO, but it's been 2 years since I've seen them, too. They seem to be doing better, and seem to have enough customers for a "flagship" soon. But most stand-alone DACs should do it. 

Interconnects, amps, and what-have-you won't really affect you that much unless you have iono... an hd800/r10? Even then, by the time you get up there, you'd probably have enough money to squeeze the max out of them since they'd have a higher potential. That's only because they'd be MUCH more demanding. But for our purposes, the 3 things are interconnected. Seeing that the 600's aren't unbelievably hard to drive, we've got the power component out of the way. Then is your source. If you got uncompressed and bypass the inline audio, you're fine. 

Everything else is pretty much negligible. You start getting a square root/log function for every little thing (amp, interconnects) in relation to sound gained. Everything pretty much branches out from the phones. The more needy/picky they are, the more you'd have to work on the others. 
 

post #8 of 9

Aside from the diminishing returns argument. I think matching equipment synergy yields a bigger bang-for-buck. I don't have much experience with Schiit's amps and DACs so I don't know what 'flavour' of sound they'd impart on your audio system.

There's also another great way to get the most out of your equipment without spending any more money, and that's with equalising your headphones to your taste:

 

http://www.head-fi.org/a/how-to-equalize-your-headphones-a-tutorial

Head-fi for me is either tweaking the equipment I already have to sound as close as it can to my preference, or getting a new component that rectifies something that is lacking—this is always subjective.

If you are budget conscious then the cheaper alternative is to move completely away from headphones and towards IEMs, as they wouldn't require expensive amps to drive them.

post #9 of 9

LOL?

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