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Non-audiophile reactions to high-end headphones Part II - Page 198

post #2956 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePianoMan View Post
 

I'd say its usually between 85% -- 95% headphone, and 13% -- 3% amp, and about 2% DAC.  I heard someone once who said 98% driver/headphone, and 2% amp.  It's how you want the sound shaded, or what gaps you want filled in.  DACs are even less a part of the sound, maybe just a bit above cables (no pun intended)

I tend to think the headphone is about 95% of the equation on average, and 5% is "everything else, mostly the amp" but its the whole system working in synergy with good files that really makes a great listening experience.  I'd rather have a thousand quality, well-recorded FLACS I enjoy with an adequate amp, than a really good amp and a bunch of 128kbps files that were recorded in someone's garage on their jury-rigged potato-clock microphone.  But that's my two cents.

 

DACs are an enormous part of the sound.

 

Headphones are just speakers. They don't actually make the sound on their own, they're just there to transmit the bits of data being fed to them after it's been translated into analog. It doesn't matter how amazing your headphones are if the music being fed to them is bad or the signal is weak. You can throw FLAC files at a crappy source without enough output power all day long and it's never gonna sound any better than those 128s. 

 

Remember, everything you listen to through your headphones comes via a DAC and an amplifier. Everything. The question is whether the INTERNAL hardware on whatever source you're using is adequate. Plugging your headphones into a Mac Pro is going to yield a wildly different experience than plugging them into a $200 Chromebook. Suggesting that DACs and amps are unimportant is foolish. It'd be like making a car audio system in your 1987 Civic and acting like you can still keep the stock dash unit an expect everything to sound great. 

post #2957 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude View Post
 

 

DACs are an enormous part of the sound.

 

Headphones are just speakers. They don't actually make the sound on their own, they're just there to transmit the bits of data being fed to them after it's been translated into analog. It doesn't matter how amazing your headphones are if the music being fed to them is bad or the signal is weak. You can throw FLAC files at a crappy source without enough output power all day long and it's never gonna sound any better than those 128s. 

 

Remember, everything you listen to through your headphones comes via a DAC and an amplifier. Everything. The question is whether the INTERNAL hardware on whatever source you're using is adequate. Plugging your headphones into a Mac Pro is going to yield a wildly different experience than plugging them into a $200 Chromebook. Suggesting that DACs and amps are unimportant is foolish. It'd be like making a car audio system in your 1987 Civic and acting like you can still keep the stock dash unit an expect everything to sound great. 

Imho the difference in sound quality between well-implemented DACs - of which there are many in various price ranges from budget to extremely expensive - is rather small compared to the difference switching headphones or amps will give you. It's pretty simple to design a well-implemented DAC too, when compared to amps and especially headphones. 

post #2958 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeGuyDude View Post

DACs are an enormous part of the sound.

Headphones are just speakers. They don't actually make the sound on their own, they're just there to transmit the bits of data being fed to them after it's been translated into analog. It doesn't matter how amazing your headphones are if the music being fed to them is bad or the signal is weak. You can throw FLAC files at a crappy source without enough output power all day long and it's never gonna sound any better than those 128s. 

Remember, everything you listen to through your headphones comes via a DAC and an amplifier. Everything. The question is whether the INTERNAL hardware on whatever source you're using is adequate. Plugging your headphones into a Mac Pro is going to yield a wildly different experience than plugging them into a $200 Chromebook. Suggesting that DACs and amps are unimportant is foolish. It'd be like making a car audio system in your 1987 Civic and acting like you can still keep the stock dash unit an expect everything to sound great. 
I didn't mean to suggest that DACs are unimportant at all! I believe DACs are necessary and use one myself. I was simply talking about the relative yields. Stating that the DAC is less important percentage wise doesn't mean it's unimportant. However, for example, a Grado of a particular model will still have a distinctive "Grado" sound signature no matter what DAC or Amp you pair it with. I've heard some pretty amazing DAC, and I certainly notice a difference, sometimes a big one. But unless the headphones have a very sculpt able sound signature, it seems to me that the DAC is a bit secondary. Regardless, I'm sorry if my numbers and comments came off as silly, I didn't mean to imply that DACs are unimportant or not a part of the sound.
post #2959 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePianoMan View Post


I didn't mean to suggest that DACs are unimportant at all! I believe DACs are necessary and use one myself. I was simply talking about the relative yields. Stating that the DAC is less important percentage wise doesn't mean it's unimportant. However, for example, a Grado of a particular model will still have a distinctive "Grado" sound signature no matter what DAC or Amp you pair it with. I've heard some pretty amazing DAC, and I certainly notice a difference, sometimes a big one. But unless the headphones have a very sculpt able sound signature, it seems to me that the DAC is a bit secondary. Regardless, I'm sorry if my numbers and comments came off as silly, I didn't mean to imply that DACs are unimportant or not a part of the sound.

 

I just mean the difference can be a lot more than 2%. That's negligible, like within the "margin of error" in most studies. And sure the DAC/amp isn't going to make a wild alteration to the sound signature, but the "Grado" sound is just what the headphones impart upon what they're playing. For that matter, the "Grado" sound will exist whether you play FLAC or 64kbps wma files. By that merit you could say bitrate doesn't matter.

 

The DAC has zip zero nothing nada to do with "sculpting" the sound. All a DAC is doing is taking the digital input signal and turning it to an analog output signal. Digital Analog Converter. It's not an EQ, not a bass boost, not a "virtual surround" nothing. The DAC's entire job is to take the file being fed into it and make it to a wave for the speakers to flap. 

 

You have to look at it like kind of a pipeline. Sound goes from Source -> DAC -> Amp -> speakers. Wherever your bottleneck exists is going to hold you back from then on. For most people, the source files are of high enough fidelity and the DAC/Amp internals on their devices are more than adequate to drive whatever headphones they want, so the headphones are what make the difference. As you start climbing up the ladder, though, you bottleneck yourself earlier in the chain and need to boost that.

 

What I'm getting at is the percentage isn't something you can just slap a number on. You pick up a pair of ATH-M50s to go with a good laptop and you probably won't notice anything from a DAC/Amp except a volume boost. Put a pair of HD800s on and now that difference is HUUUUGE. 

post #2960 of 3803

I'm still in the "once you have a good dac/amp you're set for life" camp. Unless somebody shows me something IRL that's much better in a blind test.

post #2961 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_wizzie View Post
 

I'm still in the "once you have a good dac/amp you're set for life" camp. Unless somebody shows me something IRL that's much better in a blind test.

What's your rig? ;)

post #2962 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_wizzie View Post

I'm still in the "once you have a good dac/amp you're set for life" camp. Unless somebody shows me something IRL that's much better in a blind test.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BucketInABucket View Post

What's your rig? wink.gif

popcorn.gif
post #2963 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuco1965 View Post



popcorn.gif

I'm just curious; I'm skeptical that he won't be affected by upgrade-itis. This is head-fi after all :D

post #2964 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by BucketInABucket View Post

I'm just curious; I'm skeptical that he won't be affected by upgrade-itis. This is head-fi after all biggrin.gif
Oh I know. biggrin.gif
post #2965 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by BucketInABucket View Post
 

I'm just curious; I'm skeptical that he won't be affected by upgrade-itis. This is head-fi after all :D

I'm trying to repel upgrade-itis. I'm using Objective Dac/amp. I tried the HD800 on Asus STX, and some dac/amps I am not familiar with at an audio shop. (The owner told my buddy that it's worth $2400 but for the life of me I can't remember the name of it). I even have a quarter inch to 3.5mm converter shipping to compare my Objective to onboard, just to see what happens.

 

:)

post #2966 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_wizzie View Post
 

I'm trying to repel upgrade-itis. I'm using Objective Dac/amp. I tried the HD800 on Asus STX, and some dac/amps I am not familiar with at an audio shop. (The owner told my buddy that it's worth $2400 but for the life of me I can't remember the name of it). I even have a quarter inch to 3.5mm converter shipping to compare my Objective to onboard, just to see what happens.

 

:)

It's a pretty good combo to me. However, the O2 is notorious for lacking enough current to really drive orthos with no problems so I suggest you to never try one for the life of your wallet ;) your O2/ODAC combo will probably beat your onboard audio simply because the O2/ODAC units are separate and designed with only one function in mind while the onboard audio is an all-in-one solution.

 

I've tried the HD800 with my 627 MICRO as well as the FiiO X5 in-built amp. Holy crap it sounds good, but the treble is slightly too much for me to take. YMMV of course!

post #2967 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by BucketInABucket View Post
 

It's a pretty good combo to me. However, the O2 is notorious for lacking enough current to really drive orthos with no problems so I suggest you to never try one for the life of your wallet ;) your O2/ODAC combo will probably beat your onboard audio simply because the O2/ODAC units are separate and designed with only one function in mind while the onboard audio is an all-in-one solution.

 

I've tried the HD800 with my 627 MICRO as well as the FiiO X5 in-built amp. Holy crap it sounds good, but the treble is slightly too much for me to take. YMMV of course!

As far as I remember, I had issues with my high frequency hearing. I cannot hear anything above 16khz at all and I'm only 20. I've been told today that may affect my perception of many tracks. Of course, I can never hear the difference.

 

When I EQ'ed away any frequency in my hearing range [Note the EQ in foobar goes like 10, 14, 20khz increments], I could hear a change in the way the track sounds. So when I change the 10 or 14khz slider to max, normal, or none, I heard a change, but of course, no audible change with 20khz slider as that's far above my hearing.


Edited by Dark_wizzie - 5/4/14 at 11:32am
post #2968 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_wizzie View Post
 

As far as I remember, I had issues with my high frequency hearing. I cannot hear anything above 16khz at all and I'm only 20. I've been told today that may affect my perception of many tracks. Of course, I can never hear the difference.

 

When I EQ'ed away any frequency in my hearing range [Note the EQ in foobar goes like 10, 14, 20khz increments], I could hear a change in the way the track sounds. So when I change the 10 or 14khz slider to max, normal, or none, I heard a change, but of course, no audible change with 20khz slider as that's far above my hearing.

Wow, tough luck man! On the plus-side that means that any upper-treble peaks and spikes won't affect you at all ;)

 

The stock f2k EQ is known for being a bit weak, but I've never had a reason to use it so it's good to know it's working for you.

post #2969 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_wizzie View Post
 

I'm trying to repel upgrade-itis. I'm using Objective Dac/amp. I tried the HD800 on Asus STX, and some dac/amps I am not familiar with at an audio shop. (The owner told my buddy that it's worth $2400 but for the life of me I can't remember the name of it). I even have a quarter inch to 3.5mm converter shipping to compare my Objective to onboard, just to see what happens.

 

:)

 

Did you notice much improvement going from the asus stx to the dac/o2 combo? what about pluggin in the o2 amp to the stx?

post #2970 of 3803
Quote:
Originally Posted by urkel View Post
 

 

Did you notice much improvement going from the asus stx to the dac/o2 combo? what about pluggin in the o2 amp to the stx?

I didn't plug the o2amp into the STX. But when I tried HD800 in STX vs Objective combo I didn't really notice a difference. Call me deaf or whatever, but that's my perception. I'm still keeping my Objective though. I've sold my STX. So what I can compare soon is onboard vs Objective.

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