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Why do high end headphones require good headphone amps?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

In 2013, why is it not possible for headphone manufactures to create high end headphones that are very easy to drive?


Edited by ubs28 - 9/25/13 at 11:43am
post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 

In 2013, why is it not possible for headphone manufactures to create high end headphones that are very easy to drive?

They do make high end headphones that are easy to drive.

Audio Technica ATH-W1000X are $500 and are only 40-Ohm.

post #3 of 14

Grado PS1000 are $1700 and are only 32 ohms. 

Fostex TH-900 are $1500 and are a meagre 28 ohm.

 

High end headphones require good amps because if you listen to a flagship headphone through an entry level amp, you'll hear 'entry level' sound.

Good headphone amps use better quality materials and parts in an effort to preserve the fidelity of the electronic signal given to it by the source (DAC, CD player, Computer output, Vinyl etc etc).

A cheap headphone amp will amplify the signal, it will make the signal louder, BUT it compromises at the expense of some of the fidelity of the audio signal because it contains cheaper parts with lower quality materials that taint the fidelity of the electronic signal. 


Edited by GREQ - 9/25/13 at 1:30pm
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 

In 2013, why is it not possible for headphone manufactures to create high end headphones that are very easy to drive?

In 2013, why is it not possible for music source manufacturers to provide enough power for the best headphones?

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post
 

Grado PS1000 are $1700 and are only 32 ohms. 

Fostex TH-900 are $1500 and are a meagre 28 ohm.

 

High end headphones require good amps because if you listen to a flagship headphone through an entry level amp, you'll hear 'entry level' sound.

Good headphone amps use better quality materials and parts in an effort to preserve the fidelity of the electronic signal given to it by the source (DAC, CD player, Computer output, Vinyl etc etc).

A cheap headphone amp will amplify the signal, it will make the signal louder, BUT it compromises at the expense of some of the fidelity of the audio signal because it contains cheaper parts with lower quality materials that taint the fidelity of the electronic signal. 

 

This is not true. AKG has proven it can be done with the AKG K812. Now it's up to the other manufactures to do the same. 

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post
 

Grado PS1000 are $1700 and are only 32 ohms. 

Fostex TH-900 are $1500 and are a meagre 28 ohm.

 

High end headphones require good amps because if you listen to a flagship headphone through an entry level amp, you'll hear 'entry level' sound.

Good headphone amps use better quality materials and parts in an effort to preserve the fidelity of the electronic signal given to it by the source (DAC, CD player, Computer output, Vinyl etc etc).

A cheap headphone amp will amplify the signal, it will make the signal louder, BUT it compromises at the expense of some of the fidelity of the audio signal because it contains cheaper parts with lower quality materials that taint the fidelity of the electronic signal. 

 

This is not true. AKG has proven it can be done with the AKG K812. Now it's up to the other manufactures to do the same. 


In your humble opinion ... ;)

 

The quoted bolded statement may be a bit extreme.  I doubt that an entry level amp is going make a flagship headphone sound as bad as the amp.  Yet, there's almost no instance where a quality amp won't make a quality headphone sound better.

post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 


In your humble opinion ... ;)

 

The quoted bolded statement may be a bit extreme.  I doubt that an entry level amp is going make a flagship headphone sound as bad as the amp.  Yet, there's almost no instance where a quality amp won't make a quality headphone sound better.

People who have the AKG K812 confirmed that it sounds excellent out of an iPod. So it's not just my humble opinion. 

 

In my opinion, only difficult to drive headphones will improve with a quality amp (so bad impedance and / or bad sensitivity). 

post #8 of 14
Because, high-performance speakers (or headphones in this case) strive to have very little sound of their own, in a sense that they'll pass through whatever is upstream. Drive them with a POS and you'll hear a POS. Use crap for a source and you'll hear crap. Adding a higher order of resolution to a modest system, as in HD800 for example, will only expose the sub-par electronics. That's just how it woks.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 


In your humble opinion ... ;)

 

The quoted bolded statement may be a bit extreme.  I doubt that an entry level amp is going make a flagship headphone sound as bad as the amp.  Yet, there's almost no instance where a quality amp won't make a quality headphone sound better.

People who have the AKG K812 confirmed that it sounds excellent out of an iPod. So it's not just my humble opinion. 

 

In my opinion, only difficult to drive headphones will improve with a quality amp (so bad impedance and / or bad sensitivity). 


The fact is that everything you plug that headphone into has an amp.  Otherwise, the headphone wouldn't work at all.  The question is, does that amp allow the headphone to realize its full potential?  For $1500 headphones, most would wish for something better than "it sounds excellent out of an iPod." 

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ubs28 View Post
 

In 2013, why is it not possible for headphone manufactures to create high end headphones that are very easy to drive?

why is it not possible for manufacturers to make a sports car which is fuel efficient?:p

post #11 of 14

A lot of high end headphones don't need amps.

 

Denons, Fostexes, Shures, Ultrasones...

post #12 of 14

Would the Sennheiser HD 439 require an amp? Would you recommend one or would I be better served saving my money?

 

Thanks

post #13 of 14
I suspect the OP was a shill for the AKG 812. Hopefully he got a free pair of K77 for all his hard work...

The HD439 is fairly efficient, with a low impedance of 32 Ohms (peaking to a bit over 50 Ohms at 80 Hz) and a sensitivity of 112 dB. They really don't need an amp, but I suspect a little amp might give a bit more punch in the bass region and the top of treble. It would not be significant difference. I think you would be better served to save your money and buy an amp when you really have headphones that need it.

BTW, good deal on refurbished Sennheiser HD439 here => http://www.vminnovations.com/Product_50177/Sennheiser-HD-439-Around-The-Ear-Portable-Headphones-Refurbished-.html

I haven't purchased from that company, so caveat emptor...
post #14 of 14

Plenty of high end headphones are easy to drive in terms of power requirements, but the power of an amp is separate from the sound quality of an amp. 

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