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Better Sound Or Just Louder Sound?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 

I've been having a good time reading and posting here for the past few weeks.

 

I've gradually come to realize that the vast majority of posts which claim better sound quality are in fact, mistaking "better" for:

 

1. louder sound

 

2. a placebo effect which is completely a figment of their imagination

 

3. backwards rationalization where posters claim a product improves sound quality, even though they know it doesn't, since they don't want to admit they just wasted X amount of dollars and Y amount of time researching a product which actually produces inferior results.

 

 

Now, you may object and claim that you are in fact, hearing superior results with equipment x y and z vs a b and c.

 

As far as amps are concerned, do you

 

a. verify that you are listening at the same sound levels with and without the amp?

 

b. can you point to any double blind a/b tests which corroborate such a difference where neither the researcher nor subjects know which piece/s of equipment are playing at any given time?

 

We could save ourselves an untold amount of money and time with such scientific testing.

 

Who is up to it?

post #2 of 42

Yay more scientific testing!

 

Music isn't like drug testing.  Generally your ears and mind can get used to different sound qualities without any detection of the subtle differences.  What you're really talking about is 3.  EVERYBODY does this for everything.  Many times we do something, buy something, and we rationalize it to ourselves the reasons for it afterwards.  It's a psychological condition, not something we can just get rid of.  I'm sure you're smart enough to take everything with a grain of salt, no matter how great the posts are that you read.  Also, many people don't have the financial commitment to sound test every single piece of equipment on their list, some at the same time.  Many people get rid of their current equipment for something better, so they don't have the luxury to do any testing, let alone asking someone to do a blind test, let alone making the tester give double blind tests.  It's just not logical.  Anyways, amps are there to make the sound louder anyways, so I'm not sure what your point is.  Since you don't know, and don't have the scientific stats, you can't swing your realization either way.

post #3 of 42

I'm still debating whether to pull the trigger and buy my first portable amp or hold out and just buy the Fiio X3 player.. decisions!

 

I sometimes like to increase volume levels without encountering clipping or distortion to hear deeper into the music (For short periods to protect my hearing) and suspect/hope that the amp I am looking to get at least provides this... as long as it doesn't decrease the SQ noticably. In the event that it actually does improve the sound quality over my Daps existing on board amp I'll be a tad surprised but a very happy man indeed.

post #4 of 42

You should be aware that there are limits to discussions about A/B - DBT in this sub forum...  just an FYI.

 

I have done A/B DBT tests before with another head-fier and it was an educational experience comparing a new versus well-used K701.  To discuss that in detail in an amp forum would be off topic though.  BUT the one element A/B - BTD can not account for is variation across a sample population.  I guess if you could get ~50 of something versus ~50 of something else and do an A/B - DBT... that might help.  But for obvious reasons its just not realistic / practical to do that.  Even if you could... how could one dispute or deny sonic differences are in actuality differences in production variation? 

 

1. louder sound

No question increasing volume, changes the sound.  Human beings are going to respond to loud sounds differently than soft ones.  To it, YES louder sound can be perceived as better sound... as a result.  For me louder overall sound is not the main reason to add an amp gain stage.  I use my amps more as signal attenuators more than amplifiers.  So for me its more about color and synergy than signal gain.

 

2. a placebo effect which is completely a figment of their imagination

No question the eyes have a STRONG influence on the brain, and can influence what is heard.

 

3. backwards rationalization where posters claim a product improves sound quality, even though they know it doesn't, since they don't want to admit they just wasted X amount of dollars and Y amount of time researching a product which actually produces inferior results.

So you are saying a considerable percentage of head-fiers lie and intentionally miss-inform others... to justify $$$ spent?  I don't think this is the case.  But then again how would anyone really know the motivational intent of each member when they praise something?  Every time I read a negative comment about an owned product, or when someone elaborates on why they dislike something enough to sell it....  I think that can be interpreted as "I bought this and it wasn't worth the $$ spent."  There are plenty of comments like this on head-fi.


Edited by kramer5150 - 4/2/13 at 10:50am
post #5 of 42

i agree with some of your claims, however i found if the interneral amp circuit in your palyer is inferior, portable amps will really improve the sound quality interms of detail, soundstage etc. I had tested my sony walkman with the ALO rx mk3, the result was simple remarkable. I definitely hear the difference when i plug the amp on. The sound distortion is much lower on the amp and player combo. Also i'm sure i set the same volume when doing the test.

 

but if you make test with something like the ibasso dx100, i don't really a portable amp is necessary to boost up the sound quality coz the internal amp section is good enough, especially compare with those mid-fi portable amps.smily_headphones1.gif

post #6 of 42

That's exactly why I've been hesitant to amp my DT770 Pro 80s. My Macbook Air drives these way beyond listenable volume -- any higher than 15-20% becomes too loud. Despite that, the overwhelming consensus here is an external amp is needed to reach their potential sound quality. The Air is seemingly providing more than enough power, so I'm wondering what exactly an amp can improve here other than loudness, which is not needed.

 

To make matters worse, I've read the occasional post from those who paired them with an E17, for example, and couldn't tell any difference other than loudness.

 

That said, so many people say amping the DT770 Pro 80s makes a huge difference, I'm just wondering if it's a "pass an ABX test" difference.


Edited by acti0n - 4/2/13 at 5:06pm
post #7 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MHPhunter View Post

i agree with some of your claims, however i found if the interneral amp circuit in your palyer is inferior, portable amps will really improve the sound quality interms of detail, soundstage etc. I had tested my sony walkman with the ALO rx mk3, the result was simple remarkable. I definitely hear the difference when i plug the amp on. The sound distortion is much lower on the amp and player combo. Also i'm sure i set the same volume when doing the test.

 

but if you make test with something like the ibasso dx100, i don't really a portable amp is necessary to boost up the sound quality coz the internal amp section is good enough, especially compare with those mid-fi portable amps.smily_headphones1.gif

 

Of course you can hear the difference using an amp. The amp makes the signal louder. Also, an amp can't reduce distortion. That's simply a figment of your imagination. An amp can amplify a signal but it can't reduce distortion. That's just nonsense.

post #8 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by acti0n View Post

That's exactly why I've been hesitant to amp my DT770 Pro 80s. My Macbook Air drives these way beyond listenable volume -- any higher than 15-20% becomes too loud. Despite that, the overwhelming consensus here is an external amp is needed to reach their potential sound quality. The Air is seemingly providing more than enough power, so I'm wondering what exactly an amp can improve here other than loudness, which is not needed.

 

To make matters worse, I've read the occasional post from those who paired them with an E17, for example, and couldn't tell any difference other than loudness.

 

That said, so many people say amping the DT770 Pro 80s makes a huge difference, I'm just wondering if it's a "pass an ABX test" difference.


A good amplifier can't do anything more than what it's designed to: which is to amplify the signal. You can achieve exactly the same effect by turning up the volume on your player.

 

Some amps provide a bass boost or treble boost. Again, you can achieve exactly the same effect with an equalizer.

 

I said it before and I'll say it again: I'm willing to buy an amp like the fiio e6. But it's not because I need amplification, it's because I think it's a cool piece of equipment.

post #9 of 42

i convinced myself that cans like edition8 and pro900 need to be listened to ..LOUD !  

lol...gets my heart pumping...and surround sensation enhanced.

 

maybe i am just getting alittle deaf. 

beerchug.gif

post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by newphones View Post


A good amplifier can't do anything more than what it's designed to: which is to amplify the signal. You can achieve exactly the same effect by turning up the volume on your player.

 

Some amps provide a bass boost or treble boost. Again, you can achieve exactly the same effect with an equalizer.

So why do so many people claim that the DT770 Pro 80s bass is "messy" and bleeds into the midrange unless amped, and that amping them "tightens" up the bass? My Macbook Air has a built-in amp... why is an external amp necessary to get the aforementioned improvements? If both drive the headphones to the same volume, what is the external amp doing to improve the sound over the laptop amp?

post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by newphones View Post
Also, an amp can't reduce distortion.

 

That is not necessarily true. The distortion might (and often does) result from the difficulty of driving a low impedance transducer load, while a line input is very easy to drive. Here you can see how the line output of an ALC887 HD audio codec on a motherboard performs in terms of THD vs. level with a 5.4 kΩ line input and a 220 Ω load. The distortion is lower in the former case, and the latter even clips before reaching 0 dBFS. Additionally, the amp can improve sound quality by having a lower output impedance (high output impedance also increases the distortion of transducers, in addition to affecting the frequency response) and direct coupled outputs; this output impedance graph of the same line output indeed shows that an amp would make a useful difference. Now of course you may say that these examples do not count because it is a line output, but many cheap headphone outputs are really not much better than a line output, and have similar issues driving headphone loads.

post #12 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by acti0n View Post

So why do so many people claim that the DT770 Pro 80s bass is "messy" and bleeds into the midrange unless amped

 

That happens when the source has a very high output impedance, which is not the case with the MacBook Air (at least the 5G version that I have seen measured). It is prone to oscillation when driving capacitive loads (like long headphone cables), though, but that probably would not result in "messy" bass. Clipping because of insufficient power could be described as "messy bass" by some people, but - listening at low volume - you do not seem to have any clipping issues.

The DT770-80 has bass quality problems (non-flat frequency response, and high IMD at loud levels) even from an "ideal" amp with zero output impedance etc., so many people may also just blame its flaws on the cheap source.

post #13 of 42

To OP, get some decent dac and amp from seller who accept return, get yourself used to their sound in a week and go back to whatever you used before, see if you still can't "hear" the difference.

post #14 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by laon View Post

To OP, get some decent dac and amp from seller who accept return, get yourself used to their sound in a week and go back to whatever you used before, see if you still can't "hear" the difference.

 

Of course, do not forget to match levels (with measurements, not by ear), and perform the comparison double-blind. Otherwise, "getting used" to the new devices is basically just developing bias.

post #15 of 42

I don't consider getting used to nuance or sound you normally can't or not used to hear due to many factor to be a bias, more like "schooling" your ears.

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