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More expensive amp than headphones?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I just got my pair of dt990 pros 250 paired with an e11 amp. Down the road I'm looking into adding a full size amp for home use as well.

When I look up reviews, a lot of the time I see people suggesting $200-300 amps and others saying those are even inexpensive. My experience has always been spend the most on the speakers (headphones) for the biggest bump in quality. Is this not true? Would I be better off with $200 headphones and a $300 amp than $400 headphones and a $100 amp?
post #2 of 9
Unfortunately it is not so easy. Some headphones need more amplification than others to reach their full potential, much like speakers. It's very common to see Beyers, Senns, and AKG with pricy amplifiers while you usually see cheaper amplifiers paired with Denons and Grados. The Beyerdynamic T90 I have right now doesn't improve as much as I hoped for with amplification; while on the other hand the Ultrasone PRO2900, Senn HD598, and even my portable AKG K81 sound a bit lackluster on portable/poor amplification. The Senn and Ultrasone were completly unusable with my Fuze while the Beyer worked well with it.

When I first joined into this site I fell into the same trap that many new here do. I got as expensive a pair of headphones I could afford, later added on an amp and DAC. I also bought based on hype alone and ended up with bad mis-matches between headphones and amplification.(due to output impedance and other issues). The right way to go about things would be to think of everything together as a system(or at least the headphone/amp. DAC isn't as important as long as it isn't the weakest link in your system).

In that regard the prices between various headphones become not so important. If you need to spend $200+ on a $300 AKG so that it isn't underpowered are you really saving $200 by buying that headphone over something easy to drive such as a $500 Grado? Is it really wise to stretch your budget for an Ortho or Ultrasone and get an amp later? No. In the few years I've spent here I've done that more times than I'd like to admit. I've spent more time listening to poor sound(due to blowing all my money on a headphone and committing to getting an amp later) than listening to good sound. In the end more often than not I ended up not being able to afford it later on and ended up selling off said headphones for a loss. redface.gif

It's best if you consider the system as a whole like STAX does.(And it was a good move for them to sell the two together... less bad reviews due to poor amp matching). And you should also have a decent idea of what amplifier you want with the headphones you are looking at. Don't do what I did. After finding out that the Burson 160DS was a bad match for Ultrasones... I bought it anyway. confused.gif To keep it short, it sounded awful. Ignore the hype, find what works with your headphones best on a tech level(don't ignore output-impedance!), and make sure you can budget it soon after or with your headphone purchase.
post #3 of 9

It's a matter of personal taste. I will be honest with my taste; I prefer a more expensive amp. But if you get a good $300 amp and a good $300 headphone with good reviews all around, you probably can't go wrong. So IMO spend at least $600 for your headphone/amp combo brotha.

 

post #4 of 9
Depends if you end up with multiple phones as well. Maybe your dac/amp cost more but they are the backbone of your system, where u may alternate different phones in.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Cool. Lots of good advice.  So Im now deciding between the schiit magni, ld mk2, the o2 and the bottlehead crack.  Im leaning towards the bottlehead crack but i read it has 150 ohm output impeadance...what would go best with my 'phones.

 

And Ive decided to go with schiit modi as the dac

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newschool View Post

Cool. Lots of good advice.  So Im now deciding between the schiit magni, ld mk2, the o2 and the bottlehead crack.  Im leaning towards the bottlehead crack but i read it has 150 ohm output impeadance...what would go best with my 'phones.

 

And Ive decided to go with schiit modi as the dac

 

I can't really comment on the ld mk2 or the bottlehead crack.  But I'm currently running a Magni Modi combo and use to own an O2.  The O2 has a warmer signature to it as opposed to the Magni, but the Magni is considerably more powerful.  I'm using the Magni/Modi stack to power my 600 ohm DT880s right now and volume knob is around 40%, so its a powerhouse (for reference, with the O2, the vol knob was at 100% on high gain mode just to reach slightly louder than normal listening levels).

 

I see that you're running DT990s right now, you should probably ask on the Schiit threads how the Magni Modi stack runs those to get opinions.  From what I read the DT990s have brighter highs than the DT880s, so maybe a warmer tube amp might be more suitable.  I love my Magni/Modi stack though and couldn't be happier for under 200 bucks.

post #7 of 9

I will say get a better DAC is a wiser choice, then an amp that is neutral such as Objective 2. Deend on your headphone though.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newschool View Post

Cool. Lots of good advice.  So Im now deciding between the schiit magni, ld mk2, the o2 and the bottlehead crack.  Im leaning towards the bottlehead crack but i read it has 150 ohm output impeadance...what would go best with my 'phones.

 

And Ive decided to go with schiit modi as the dac

 

Little dot and Bottlehead crack are strong contenders.

Probably the crack with some improvements on sound over the LD. 

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Ok so Ive narrowed it down to the little dot line, but im wondering if there is a noticable difference jumping up to the mk3 from the mk2.  Also, right now Im using my harmon kardon 254 as a dac and receiver.  Would getting the modi first or the mk2/mk3 give the biggest immediate difference?

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