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New Head-Fi'er: Needs a bit of help

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I am not here to ask you about what headphones I should get. I passed that step around Christmas time when this website saved me from getting the butt of all audio jokes, the Beats By Dre. I went on to buy a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50S Limited Edition. So far, they are definitely a HUGE step up from your average Apple earbuds or these 10$ no-names at Wal-Mart. But I feel like I'm not getting the most out of them. I returned to this wonderful audiophile community for some help.

The ATH-M50s are alright, but they don't pack as much of a punch as the reviews say, so I've learned of 2 things to improve that. 

1. Burning them in : I've heard that burning them in with "Pink noise" and "Brown noise", etc. would improve the sound quality greatly, but I need someone to elaborate on what it is and how to do it.

2. Amping : I would be using a personal amp because I mostly listen to music from my iPod Touch. I listen to a fair variety of genres (electro, dubstep, pop, rock, alternative, classic, reggae), and I torrent my music. I have been looking at FiiO amps, but with these specifications, (1) is an amp necessary? and (2) what amp(s) would perform best?

 

Also, I would like to understand what I am listening to and how to "diagnose" what a pair of headphones sound like. Ex: What is a ground loop, what qualities do "fun" headphones have, etc. I'd also like to see if there is something similar to a Bose demo where you can listen to music and a voice tells you about things to pick up on, kind of like practice.

 

If anyone has any answers or suggestions to my question, please post on this thread. It would help me out very much!!!

post #2 of 2

From my understanding, theAudio Technica ATH-M50S Limited Edition are closed headphones. In most cases, you can get away without an amp with closed headphones, but I'm not terribly familiar with these. In terms of improving sound quality you have a couple of options.

 

Breaking them in

Breaking in your headphones as you have been doing so already (Just listening to music really will take care of the job overtime).

 

 

Kilobits per Second

Also, a HUGE factor would be what kbps (kilobits per second) the music you're listening to is at. In very many cases, music found online and default settings on certain music ripping software (iTunes) leave music at 128 kbps. At 128 kbps, you won't hear a difference from cheap $1 earbuds or anything, but you have a nice pair of headphones. With what you have though, you'll be missing out a lot in the music, not necessarily in the notes themselves, but the interpretation and feel of them. Do yourself a favor if you haven't already and go for 320 kbps. That is typically the threshold where sound quality improvements become negligible, and in this case, you won't be losing tons of HDD space to large FLAC files (though if that is what you like, go for it!)

 

 

 

External Amp/ External DAC

Depending on your music source, you may or may not want to pick one up. An amp will boost the source volume, whereas a DAC (Digital Analog Converter), will take the media information from the source itself, and interpret it on it's own. Essentially, it bypasses the sound chip on the source in favor of it's own. It is very popular in iPods and other iDevices due to the notoriety of their "poor audio chip" (though honestly, it isn't terrible...). In addition, there are many options for the iDevices, for example the Fiio products (I sport a E07K "Andes") have a LOD connection with all the older devices, and I believe (check up on this one) that there is a apple converter for the newer devices.

 

 

Regardless, you seem to have a very solid setup. Especially with headphones, be patient with the "burn-in", as this process can take over 100 hours of burn-in before they hit their "sweet spot". Of course, this is speculation, and is subjective to everyone as well. 

 

 

Hope this helped some!

 

 

 

~Kami

 

 

 

(Any senior member please check my work. I'm not perfect!)

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