Originally Posted by Happy Camper
The 4 is a much harder can to drive than the 400. The 4, 5, 6 are power monsters where the 400, 500 don't need as much. I still feel the 500s do better though with a bit more than a .5 watt amp. It will starve the amp when you start turning up the power.
I'd like some planar guru to explain this "starve the amp" in the case of an HE-500, with Vali.
during normal listening I can't even handle turning the volume past 12oclock without it being insanely loud.
hence, a ton of headroom left on the volume pot.
(and hey, I went to my share of 1980s/90s punk rock shows, up front and am not afraid of volume. heh)
Is starve the amp saying:
1. an underpowered amp can't *easily* deliver enough mW to drive headphones without losing quality?
2. an underpowered amp can't take you into and beyond safe/loud listening levels (beyond 115dB?) without losing quality?
I'm not saying "more power" is a bad thing, heck- I've got the Lyr with the HE-500 also, and can't listen with volume past 10-11 on the dial.
(see earlier posting for my preference for the Lyr)
but from what HE-500 specs I could uncover:
sensitivity = 89 SPL dB/mW
ohms = 38
thus, max power to get to 115dB (club concert level) at 38 ohms = 398mW
Vali should be able to deliver 547mW at 38 ohms.
would an amp with +37% headroom beyond the 115dB driving level be "starved" unless I wanted to be deaf within the hour?
I can't grasp whether the "underpowered amp theory" (which is pervasive in the HE-500 and Lyr threads also) is
only "subjective = more power, sounds better even at lower listening volumes"
an actual "I need mohr power to crank it up to louder volumes to get the best quality" of the headphones.
either way, with only 1 day of these amps side by side (burn in not complete, no blind A/B tests) my ears hear:
- the Vali is not underpowered in terms of adequately driving the HE-500
- the Lyr (with Ediswan) tubes still deliver a tad better quality in terms of sound stage, low bass details, instrument separation.
if the Lyr "wins" *simply* due to having a ton more of wattage, please clue me in as to why.
as I feel it's a pairing and "tube type" differences, if not any/all of the surrounding circuitry in either amp.
and not simply more watts.