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Can amps hurt the sound too?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Maybe not hurt it but give NO improvement?

 

EXAMPLE:  If you take a tight sounding neutral-side IEM that is already efficient and amp it I am not sure you hear much difference.... where unamped....everything sounds a bit more natural and relaxed and open (less tight).  I think it's more pleasurable.

 

SOURCE:  SE535 + Ipod Classic + Ibasso T3 analog + westone "star" tips.   I swear....it sounds better unamped.

 

I suppose this is where synergy is a HUGE factor.  Perhaps a more open losser flabbier sounding IEM would benefit more from amping? (like W3?)

 

What about introducing another signal path and it's effects?  I always figured the less path between player and earphone was always best and I find nothing wrong with Ipod headphone jack.  If you do, can you be specific?

 

Comments??


Edited by Spyro - 9/28/13 at 5:58pm
post #2 of 10
Unless there is something very wrong with the design, a modern solid state amp should be totally transparent. The only issue is power. If you need it, you amp. If you don't you don't. Sound quality wise, it's same same.
post #3 of 10

I don't like the idea of synergy at all, but think of it this way:

 

Each component can only degrade the signal. Good equipment will degrade the signal only insignificantly. Bad equipment will degrade it significantly (potentially causing audible issues).

 

(good/bad has nothing to do with looks, price etc.)

 

 

 

edit: I don't know the output impedance of the ipod classic but if it is an older model it could be quite a bit higher than the T3. This would (according to the impedance of the SE535) cause a boost around 2 kHz, making it possibly sound "clearer" but also a cut at 6 kHz.


Edited by xnor - 9/29/13 at 2:58pm
post #4 of 10
In general ^

Also in general, it is possible (but don't treat any of these too seriously or all that certain or likely) that degraded performance in some way can sound different and even better to you for some music. It's also possible that two things can be degraded in ways that compensate for each other—really, this doesn't happen as much as people like to think. In some situations, adding an amp can improve the sound quality for sure, sometimes in audible ways.

If you add an amp, you could potentially be adding an audible level of noise, even if you're not necessarily perceiving it as that. SE535 are really sensitive, so maybe this is a possibility? Also, the amp may have a different output impedance than the player, which affects the effective frequency response seen by the IEMs, altering the sound.


Things to keep in mind that differences in volume are often perceived as sound quality differences. It is hard to do fair A/B comparisons, even if that is your intent. Slight differences in IEM insertion depth can make a significant difference in sound quality. The way you listen has a strong impact on perceived sound quality as well. Can you be certain that all the above were the same between using the iPod directly and when using the iBasso? What I mean to say is that perception is not necessarily an accurate indicator of differences in audio stimulus, and furthermore that there may be unintended factors influencing the audio stimulus, unintentionally biasing your comparisons. Maybe you should try listening again or in a more controlled fashion, if you really want to be more sure about things.
Edited by mikeaj - 9/29/13 at 3:24pm
post #5 of 10

I have never run across a recent solid state amp that added audible noise. I don't know what you guys are talking about. I think you are overcomplicating things to the point of not being particularly helpful in answering his question.


Edited by bigshot - 9/29/13 at 4:45pm
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

I have never run across a recent solid state amp that added audible noise. I don't know what you guys are talking about. I think you are overcomplicating things to the point of not being particularly helpful in answering his question.

 

SE535: 0.012 V rms needed to reach 90 dB SPL. Broadband isolation: -36 dBr. (http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/ShureSE535.pdf)

 

So 0.001 V rms noise -> 68 dB SPL. 0.0001 V -> 48 dB SPL. 0.00001 V -> 28 dB SPL.

 

You could be running single digits microvolts rms noise levels and have that be audible on something like that... and the 36 dB of isolation is going to help drown out ambient noise to let you hear any noise from the electronics. It's not like speakers at all or even fullsize cans.

post #7 of 10

Is that Westone Star Tips? And impedance mismatch isn't the fault of the amp. With the proper impedance amps are clean.


Edited by bigshot - 9/29/13 at 5:31pm
post #8 of 10

i have nothing useful to say that can help the op but this is an interesting topic for sure and im subscribing... 

 

 

though i have noticed that better technicalities do not necessarily mean my enjoyment is higher... 

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
 

Is that Westone Star Tips? And impedance mismatch isn't the fault of the amp. With the proper impedance amps are clean.

 

I'm not quite following what you're asking and saying (probably is my bad), so I'll just throw stuff out there and hope it clears things up for at least somebody that's reading? Maybe?

 

The OP is using Shure SE535. These in-ear monitors:

http://rinchoi.blogspot.com/2013/05/shure-se535.html

http://www.shure.com/americas/products/earphones-headphones/se-earphones/se535-sound-isolating-earphones

 

with some kind of aftermarket tips (ear flanges that go on the nozzle and stick into the ear when listening). Westone is another company making IEMs, so I guess they have some so-called star tips. Because the size, shape, and materials of the tips impact how IEMs seal into the ear canal, they affect the sound quality and comfort somewhat.

 

Impedance isn't a problem with mismatches or damaging anything or anything like that. It's just that the SE535, like most balanced armature models (especially those with multiple drivers and crossovers), have funky impedance curves, so you end up with frequency response changes when the amp's output impedance isn't practically close enough to zero. For whatever reasons, it's often not a design emphasis to make sure even portable solid-state headphone amps have output impedance under an ohm or two. With some IEMs, you end up with damping factors in lower single digits or worse, and it actually can make a difference.

 

Anyway, why is the impedance an issue? What's the mismatch? With respect to picking up audible hiss from the electronics, the problem is mostly the high sensitivity. Though really, this may just be a tangent.

post #10 of 10

I agree with most of the comments here.

 

More components will only degrade the sound. There's only one original input to a chain of systems, each of which will act upon the signal in some way. The simpler the chain, the lesser the input will be modified.

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