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Hi! New to forums, need some help.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey all, I'm new to the forums. I love music, and I have a deep appreciation for wholesome music. I own cheap headphones right now (Hesh 2.0's & MDR-EX210's), but I am looking forward to buying Sennheiser 380's in the future to enjoy my music library. I'm looking at buying a portable headphone amp, and I was wondering what exactly does a headphone amp do? Does it bring your headphones to life if they have the potential? Or does it just boost overall volume instead of audio clarification? I heard that if you use a headphone amp with the Hesh 2.0's they sound much better, and it'd be a great addition in the future to the 380 Pro's.

 

Amps that I was looking at: FiiO E6($28), FiiO E11($60). Help me out here, you're talking to an amateur that's willing to learn!

post #2 of 16

TL;DR Headphones will make a much larger difference than amplifiers with your current setup.


In most modern audio setups, you have a source, DAC (digital to analog convertor), an amp, and finally the driver (headphone or speakers). There's no need for a DAC if you're already using an analog source such as a turntable.

For most, the source is a computer or a media player. Both these have built in DAC's and amplifiers, but typically of mediocre quality. More on that later. Anyways, the source reads the music file, and outputs a bunch of ones and zeroes. The DAC takes the 1's and 0's and changes it to an analog signal that can be played. This signal is boosted when it passes through the amplifier, before the driver finally turns it into soundwaves.
 

 

In the case of the amplifier, it merely amplifies the signal (big surprise). This is important because some drivers require a lot of power to be driven properly. In your case though, both headphones are relatively efficient and do not really need the power of a dedicated amplifier. That being said, amplifiers also vary in how accurately they boost the signal. That is where most internal amps fall short.

However, to take advantage of this, you would need to bypass the internal amp of your source. This can be done via an external USB DAC or with a LOD (Line-Out Dock) for iPods. Otherwise, you are just feeding a dirty signal to be amplified to a more powerful dirty signal.

 

In addition, the amps you have mentioned will not make a very large improvement over the amp in an internal source; they are better for driving demanding headphones. They do have an EQ, but so do most music players.

Headphones will be a much more effective upgrade for you at the moment. The Hesh are decent, but there are much better that can be had for around the price.
 

post #3 of 16
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies! So to definitely confirm this... *1) My HTC EVO 4G LTE, or my on-board sound (EVGA X58 SLI3 mobo) should be fine with the headphones I currently have? Buying a headphone amp is unjust in this case because I would see miniscule, if not, any differences yes?

 

As I'm reading more and more I think I'm starting to understand how this works. *2) Okay, my phone creates electrical signal that is constructed of binary digits, a.k.a the song I'm jamming to. Next, the internal amp pushes the signal to the DAC (not sure what the amp does exactly). The DAC converts the signal to analog format and pushes it over the cable so my headphones (drivers) can produce the sounds according the value of the information sent initially yes?

 

*3) Are there any Micro-USB B line-out converters for non-Apple devices? Thank you for all the help, seriously!

post #5 of 16

Almost correct. The 1's and 0's first pass through the DAC and become an analog (line-out in this case) signal. This signal gets boosted through the amp, which before reaching your headphones.

Unfortunately, I do not believe a LOD via micro-USB works. If you fine something, please let me know so I can use it with my Nexus 7! 

You can enable digital-out on Android, which pushes the 1's and 0's to an external DAC. However, there's often issues with too much power consumption unless the DAC has an integrated battery supply. This feature is common in portable DAC/Amp combos such as the Fiio E7 or the iBasso D-Zero.

post #6 of 16

To the OP.

If you haven't bought the headphone yet, try the headphone first. 

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Alrighty, thank you tzjin! Also, good point proton007.

 

I think I hit the gold... http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=3.5mm+to+Micro-USB

 

Would any of those work?

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero of Time View Post

 

I think I hit the gold... http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=3.5mm+to+Micro-USB

 


I'm not so sure about that. A USB DAC (if used) will connect from micro usb (phone) to mini usb (dac), and then the dac/amp will have a 3.5mm out to plug in your headphones.

 

In that case, the phone itself is not outputting the sound, its basically transferring the music file over to the DAC, which is converting the file into sound, and the amp will increase the power of the signal.

 

If you're really keen on trying out a DAC, start with the Fiio E7 (dac + amp).  It'll work with android, and your pc as well. See if it makes any difference.

For your phone, just google 'enable usb audio on android'. There are plenty of links!


Edited by proton007 - 1/10/13 at 5:10pm
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Oh junk.. I was thinking about using the converter between my phone's Micro-USB port and an amp like the E11/E6. That wouldn't work though because like you mentioned I'd need a DAC too right? The built-in DAC isn't being used in this situation... Then there would be no point of the whole 3.5mm to Micro-USB conversion. Ah...

 

Okay, so something like the FiiO E17 is what we should be talking about yes? If so, I see that it is capable of playback with 192Kbps/24Bit quality. This would work in our instance yes? If so, I would probably buy it or keep it in the back of my head to buy it later on down the road unless if a newer revision appears.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero of Time View Post

Oh junk.. I was thinking about using the converter between my phone's Micro-USB port and an amp like the E11/E6. That wouldn't work though because like you mentioned I'd need a DAC too right? The built-in DAC isn't being used in this situation... Then there would be no point of the whole 3.5mm to Micro-USB conversion. Ah...

 

Okay, so something like the FiiO E17 is what we should be talking about yes? If so, I see that it is capable of playback with 192Kbps/24Bit quality. This would work in our instance yes? If so, I would probably buy it or keep it in the back of my head to buy it later on down the road unless if a newer revision appears.

 

With PC its no issue, with the phone you might have to install a custom kernel, it might not work out of the box.

 

So yeah, just keep an eye on the latest developments.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007
 
With PC its no issue, with the phone you might have to install a custom kernel, it might not work out of the box.

 

I don't understand =[

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero of Time View Post

 

I don't understand =[

 

I guess its getting too technical. Thing is, Android doesn't support USB audio out of the box, so usually it requires jailbreaking ('rooting') the phone, and installing a different kernel.

As of now, I don't think its working with your phone, so keep an eye out for any updates.

post #13 of 16

The HTC Evo 4G LTE does not support USB DACs (only a few Androids phones do without any modification to stock software or use of apps - the Galaxy S3 and Note 2).

 

...that said, a user here is using a USB DAC with his One X, but he is running a custom ROM and it is not clear if HTC have implemented USB audio with their Jelly Bean update, or whether the ROM maker/kernel developer has added the support for it. I would check at XDA-Developers in the development forums for your phone as to whether anyone else with the 4G LTE has managed to get it working.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

Okay, I am familiar with xda and I have an account there since '10. Sadly, I don't know how to customize a smartphone in this manner. Here's the thread I started there...

----->   http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=36603197#post36603197

 

A new solution I came up with... Would pairing the products below work if they're hooked up into the Line-Out port of lets say an E17?

 

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung--AUM3SBEBXAR-micro-3-5mm-Adapter/dp/B003WZV02M/ref=sr_1_7?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1357959737&sr=1-7&keywords=3.5mm+male+to+micro+usb+male

 

http://www.amazon.com/Cable-Store-Stereo-Headphone-Extension/dp/B00474WYIG/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

post #15 of 16

I am not a pro at Android's but I don't believe any HTC's support USB OTG and have a cyanogen or other digital audio out procedure or ability.

 

At this price range, geting better headphones is worth it more imo.

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