Originally Posted by brunk
Honesty, I think the silly power handling capability of said cans is a unicorn. 14watts into a 91dB at 128mw efficient headphone is not jiving at all IMO . I think the problem you're having is the initial issue of excessive gain, followed by killing off a lot of power with the resistor network. If it were me, I would contact Jan about lowering the gain of the amp until hiss is in audible, and crank that sucker to 11 without a resistor network.
This makes so much sense, as it's the hiss that's causing everyone to ask Jan for a resistor box. I've understood this all along, but never considered asking Jan Plummer to redesign my MG3 to reduce the gain. My understanding is that this could involve replacing multiple components, at which point, I could end up with a different sound signature, I'm afraid, while achieving the goal of reducing the gain. And I like the MG3 just as it is for use with my near-field monitors - where no hiss is heard in the absence of a resistor box. And I like the MG3 just as it is, with resistor box in place, for the HD600. In other words, I'm not going to pursue this very logical suggestion to reduce the amp's gain for use with the LCD-2. I could buy and modify a 2nd MG3, but the fear of altering its wonderful sound signature makes that a $500+? gamble. I'd rather find a different amp for my LCD-2 (if not just a different resistor box.)
Regarding the use of 14,000 mW to drive the LCD-3 (or even 1000 mW, as recommended by Audeze, for that matter) I can only imagine that there are benefits to using so much power that have nothing to do with achieving ear-splitting SPLs. Gary is far from being the only Head-Fi member using gobs of Watts to drive his LCD-3 and surely these people aren't listening at levels much higher than 95dB, if that much. Head-Fi has many members using LCD-2 and -3 with everything from vintage receivers to new speaker amps, with ratings as high as 200 Wpc into 8-Ohms.
So... perhaps the LCD-2 and -3 are just much better controlled when the amp is crazy powerful. It's either that or, as you've implied, it's all in our heads - where the amp's power rating only has a placebo affect, and thus, 124 mW is more than enough power to drive the LCD-2 to the best of its abilities and I'm just imagining that the HD600 sounds better.
Sadly, I am a huge believer in using equations to describe the real world. I'm not a mathematician, but I am, rather, a rabid consumer of math - I love latching onto any formula that allows me to understand or better yet, take control of variables that affect a desired outcome. But here, in the world of audio, the math seems to say one thing while people's ears, including mine, say another. Arrrrrgh!
And in the end, the ears will always win.