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Speaker amps for headphones - Page 46

post #676 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

Thanks SMG52,

 

 

I'm with you on all of that, as I've been using the Emotiva > LCD-2 without resistors for about a month now, without issues.  I am not, however, completely satisfied with the Emotiva itself being a bit bright for my tastes, even with the shelved highs of the LCD-2, and a wee bit harsh, too.  

 

I've been running the Decware ZSTAGE tube buffer to take the edge off the treble, currently using an NOS Siemens 12AU7, having tried rolling several tubes already.  The ZSTAGE is about as transparent a piece of tube gear as anyone could hope for, beyond the distortion inherent to the tube itself, of course.  Thus, I'm able to warm and soften the treble with the right tube, but it comes with slightly diminished detail - which hurts those low level signals that help imaging.  The even order distortion of tubes may be more palatable than odd-order distortion, but it's distortion just the same.  redface.gif

 

Another aspect of using the ZSTAGE, which is essentially a triode pre-amp with a single set of inputs and outputs, is that I can attenuate the signal coming from the DAC section of my DACmini CX, to force the Emotiva to stretch its legs.  I can say that without changing tubes, but rather by just turning down the gain of the signal coming into the Emotiva, while moving the Emotiva's volume control from up from about 8:30 to 11:30, the SPL at the headphones remains the same, but the Emotiva sounds better - with more body and fullness from the waist down, so to speak.  The mids, lower mids and bass get more energy (as if to reduce the energy of the treble region).  It's not subtle, but it's not a complete "cure," either.  

 

Hoping not to bore anyone here, but as an aside, Steve Deckert (of Decware), offers a less expensive tube buffer, called the ZBOX, which offers only attenuation, from not quite unity gain, down to zero, where, depending on the tube, the ZSTAGE adds the ability to increase gain by as much as 5 dB above unity.  His literature suggests that by attenuating the signal going into an amp, you can reduce both the fullness and the dynamics (think saturation and contrast) heard at the speakers or headphones and, conversely, by increasing the gain, above unity (above the 2V rms that comes from my DAC, for example), you can actually increase the fullness and dynamics.  

 

In an email discussion I had with Jan Meier (of Meier Audio) about the impact of variable input gain to an amp, he said that its effectiveness will vary depending on the design of the amp.  I've since become convinced that this technique works best with OTL amps (from research, not from personal experience.)  I know that this effect is somewhere between placebo and negligible with the Emotiva a-100 Mini-X.  

 

Thus, I'm not losing any fullness or dynamics (saturation or contrast) by attenuating the input gain to the Emotiva.  Instead, I'm just getting a favorable shift to the frequency response (to the color balance) as the bass and mids improve with the Emotiva operating in the middle of its power output range (11:30 on the volume control), rather than idling along (at 8:30).

 

 

 

 

Following this line of reasoning a bit farther, I've also inserted a pair of Harrison Labs 6 dB, inline attenuators at the inputs of the ZSTAGE.  This forces the Emotiva's volume control to go up to about 12:30, to maintain the same SPL at the headphones heard without the attenuators.  But, for the record, I can't really detect any additional improvement in bass or mid energy, relative to that had by using nearly the maximum possible attenuation via the ZSTAGE volume control  In fact, to get the Emotiva volume control to go from 8:30 to 11:30, with the LCD-2, I'm having to run the ZSTAGE volume as low as it can go without causing a channel imbalance - which happens right before it forces silence.  Thus, it required a lot of attenuation at the ZSTAGE (a lot more than that had with the 6 dB Harrison Labs attenuators) to get the color shift I'm enjoying with the Emotiva volume moved from 8:30 to 11:30.  

 

OK, writing a book here, I suppose - sorry!  But I'll finish by saying that I ordered The Canopener resistor box purely as roll-of-the-dice experiment to see if it can make any aesthetic improvements to the sound, whatsoever.   

 

To put all this into perspective, given that it must sound as if I'm really displeased with the Emotiva...  I've sold my Burson Soloist, thanks to this rig - it was just too laid back and lifeless for my tastes.  I really love the dynamics and bass control that come with 8Wpc into 50-Ohms, and the clarity while using the Decware ZSTAGE is still superb overall - much better than that of  a Schiit Lyr I borrowed from a friend for 30 days.   In my opinion, this is the best desktop rig I've ever had, but there's always room for improvement.  

 

Maybe I'll mount some curb feelers next!

 

tongue_smile.gif

 

Mike

I am not trying to be a salesperson for Jan at TBI, but I wonder if you tried out the Millenia amp whether that would solve the issues you are having. You may need a resistor box, like Gary used. Maybe he could sell you one of his, I think he may have an extra one. I am only saying that because Gary had such a great experience with the Millenia with his LCD-3 headphones. Of course, we can play around with all sorts of things in the audio chain to try and get the sound we prefer......nothing wrong with that, if the end result is to our liking. But, just a suggestion. The experience you are having with the Emotiva appears to be a common one, so it sounds like much of what you are doing is compensating for that amp. Anyway, just my two cents, which was not asked for!

post #677 of 2721

Latest  review I was referring to, about the Millenia:

 

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue67/tbi_millenia.htm

post #678 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG52 View Post

Just to be clear, I needed to use resistors between my headphones and the Millenia amp. Before Jan put together the resistor box, in order to try out the amp with my single ended Paradox headphones, Jan recommended using resistors to tie the grounds together. It sounded GREAT but there was too much background hiss. He thus came up with the resistors to diminish the hiss, and to make it all neat and tidey, he put it all in the one box. If there is not an audible background hiss, that is, your headphones are quiet when no music is playing, and you are not concerned about the negative grounds being shared, and you have adequate volume level control for your desired listening range, there may be no need for any resistors. I can't say that including resistors into the mix will improve anything if they are not really needed.  But, of course, it will be interesting to see what you find. 

Oooops! I better qualify that recommendation of using a resistor box like Garys'. I don't know if you are using the Audeze in balanced or single ended configuration. If they are single ended (I understand the Emotiva has shared grounds), then you may need to compensate for that and maybe Garys' box wouldn't work. Best to check with Jan, if you ever did go that route.

post #679 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by koiloco View Post

I from went fiio E17 to TEAC 501. It Is a very mooth DAC so far and Pair nicely with the Emotiva.

Smooth is good!

Thanks,

Mike
post #680 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG52 View Post

I am not trying to be a salesperson for Jan at TBI, but I wonder if you tried out the Millenia amp whether that would solve the issues you are having. You may need a resistor box, like Gary used. Maybe he could sell you one of his, I think he may have an extra one. I am only saying that because Gary had such a great experience with the Millenia with his LCD-3 headphones. Of course, we can play around with all sorts of things in the audio chain to try and get the sound we prefer......nothing wrong with that, if the end result is to our liking. But, just a suggestion. The experience you are having with the Emotiva appears to be a common one, so it sounds like much of what you are doing is compensating for that amp. Anyway, just my two cents, which was not asked for!

I really appreciate every bit of your advice, SMG52. You have my standing invitation to carry on just as you have. :-)

Yes, the problem is the amp, but I move very slowly (with spending money), trying to extract as much schooling as possible from every piece of gear I buy and eventually sell. I have to admit it will be a sad day when I realize I've built my "end game" system, because I so very much enjoy the process of getting there. I'm savoring every bite. :-)

But, yes, I "belueve" in the MG3, and will probably get there sooner than I should. :-)

Mike
post #681 of 2721

I hope I am not going 'off topic' too much, but I just wanted to give some perspective about our experiences with our music systems. Although I have been into this audio hobby since the mid '70s, I am relatively new to the headphone scene. But, it's becoming clear - especially with the advent of more and more high quality headphones, along with the use of speaker amps to drive them with - that the similarities between two channel home audio and the headphone scene are becoming greater and greater. I have been through so much equipment over the years, I can't begin to list it all. Lots of times it was in order to alleviate some issue somewhere in the chain, but at other times it was with the endeavor to make something that much 'better'. Systems being what they are, with everything including cabling impacting the sound (including usb cables....... that's been my experience), sometimes it can feel like a dog chasing its' tail. But there is something enjoyable too about finding some component that helps a system sound that much better, or even just the simple pleasure of being able to hear differences in components; at times, that can be rewarding and other times seem like a curse. When I first met my wife, she was totally content listening to music via a boombox; now, when pressed, she can readily hear differences in equipment changes that I have made.....BUT, she still enjoys and appreciates listening to music via her mp3 player while exercising, and in fact listens to music more in that format than otherwise. The more we get into this hobby, the more we learn about our preferences (which may also change over time) and the more sensitive our listening acuity tends to become, with so much focus on that aspect of the experience. But at times maybe we just need to take a breath (myself included), and look at the 'bigger perspective', which I believe is still the enjoyment and connection with the music. Of course, this may not be the forum to make such comments.....it's more a forum for pursuing something else, so I don't mean to derail things! I also hate to think that through sharing my own experiences with equipment that I am making anyone feel compelled to spend their hard earned money, as that is certainly not my intent. It's more like, well, just sharing, with maybe a suggestion here and there, maybe trying to address an issue someone is having. If someone were to say "I am happy with my boombox and mp3 player" with that set up being their "end game", than I would say more power to you! Maybe I can learn something from you.

 

Okay, back to our previously scheduled programming......

post #682 of 2721
An excellent reminder to enjoy the music. Thanks!
post #683 of 2721

Im sure that beast sounds great, but damn the price for the mod alone. The biggest difference here is that tube buffer compared to that PSU imo. Just get a Yaqin Tube Buffer and call it a day tongue.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by preproman View Post

 

 

I'm thinking about this.  It has a few very good reviews.

 

 

post #684 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMG52 View Post

I am not trying to be a salesperson for Jan at TBI, but I wonder if you tried out the Millenia amp...

 

I just ordered it!

 

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post #685 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by zilch0md View Post

 

I just ordered it!

 

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post #686 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

popcorn.gif

x2

 

 

...but seriously, I hope it works out for you. Jan has been very responsive in answering concerns, questions, etc. should they come up. And, you do have thirty days if it's not your cup of tea.

post #687 of 2721

Would there be any objections to running a Senn HD-800 off SS speaker taps?

post #688 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by brunk View Post

Would there be any objections to running a Senn HD-800 off SS speaker taps?

I have always curious about this question as well.

Thank you for raising it.

post #689 of 2721
Quote:
Originally Posted by vincent215 View Post

I have always curious about this question as well.

Thank you for raising it.

Yeah my guess is that its fine, especially since ill be re-terminating to 4-pin XLR. Then I have a female 4-pin XLR with the wires going to left/right and +/- respectively. I would assume if staying TRS jack, something like The Can Opener would be needed. /shrug

 

I just want to wait before i try it if someone knows more than i do. 

post #690 of 2721
There have been plenty that have used them on a speaker amp. Just be responsible with the volume control.
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