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Speaker amp comparisons for HE-500 - Page 2

post #16 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by bhazard 
Thanks for doing this. I can add that the Magni has enough power to drive the HE-500, but does not have the bass of the Lepai, and highs are slightly more elevated and sibilant.  Could be from the HE-500 needing more power, but the volume knob halfway on the Magni would blow your eardrums out.
I appreciate all this but I think it's important for people to realize so much is subjective. OP says the WA7 doesn't drive it properly. Yet Woo Audio uses it with the 500 to showcase it. I thought it sounded wonderful. Then you say the Magni has enough power. It is roughly equivalent to the WA7 in power. Then others say the EF5 is not enough power. Yet it's twice the Magni/WA7. I'm not arguing or saying that everyone doesn't hear what they say they hear, I'm just finding it hard to believe that amps with 1W or more are not enough after reading impressions and hearing the WA7 myself.
post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethan7000 View Post


I appreciate all this but I think it's important for people to realize so much is subjective. OP says the WA7 doesn't drive it properly. Yet Woo Audio uses it with the 500 to showcase it. I thought it sounded wonderful. Then you say the Magni has enough power. It is roughly equivalent to the WA7 in power. Then others say the EF5 is not enough power. Yet it's twice the Magni/WA7. I'm not arguing or saying that everyone doesn't hear what they say they hear, I'm just finding it hard to believe that amps with 1W or more are not enough after reading impressions and hearing the WA7 myself.

 

The only way to know is to try yourself. The Lepai or Emotiva would be the most affordable to try out. The HE-500 really does seem to benefit from more than 2W to them, which most headphone amps are just not designed to do.

post #18 of 45
Thread Starter 

Here are some frequency response graphs done by playing white noise through each of the amps and the HE-500. I used an app and the mic on my phone. Unfortunately it seems the mic on my phone isn't very sensitive to bass, especially sub-bass. Also remember this is done with the mic of my phone, probably not a world class recording device.

 

WA7:

*The WA7 test used the stock silver cable rather than Moon Audio Blue Dragon copper cable. Also used single ended TRS plug instead of balanced XLR setup.

 

Emotiva:

 

Lepai:

 

Sophia Baby:

 

 

A few things that can be noted here that matches up with my observations is that the Emotiva does look to have the most neutral curve. Also I noted that the Lepai sounded warm and more tubey than the Emotiva, and it has a similar looking curve to the Sophia Baby. In fact, I've found other people mention in various places that Class-T amps have a tubier sound than other solid state classes.

 

Once again I want to remind everyone I don't know how accurate these curves are through the device I'm using and also that curves don't tell you the whole story. Only by listening yourself could you get an idea on how each amp sounds.

 

 

EDIT:

I have came up with new configuration by using the WA7 with the Emotiva as a preamp. Since the Emotiva is pretty neutral, the result is that you can really hear the sound of the WA7 and its tubes, but now the WA7 outputs plenty of power to drive the HE-500. Honestly, the sound rivals that of the Baby Sophia and had I known to do this before, I probably would have never gotten the Baby Sophia. The bass is still less impactful than the Baby Sophia and it's somewhere in between the Baby Sophia and Emotiva, but there is definitely a warmer tube signature. The biggest improvement though is that I find the WA7+Emotiva to be more transparent and have better transients than the Baby Sophia.

 

And yes I made a graph. :D

 

WA7+Emotiva:


Edited by Sonido - 11/2/13 at 9:15pm
post #19 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

Here are some frequency response graphs done by playing white noise through each of the amps and the HE-500. I used an app and the mic on my phone. Unfortunately it seems the mic on my phone isn't very sensitive to bass, especially sub-bass. Also remember this is done with the mic of my phone, probably not a world class recording device.

WA7:


*The WA7 test used the stock silver cable rather than Moon Audio Blue Dragon copper cable. Also used single ended TRS plug instead of balanced XLR setup.

Emotiva:



Lepai:



Sophia Baby:




A few things that can be noted here that matches up with my observations is that the Emotiva does look to have the most neutral curve. Also I noted that the Lepai sounded warm and more tubey than the Emotiva, and it has a similar looking curve to the Sophia Baby. In fact, I've found other people mention in various places that Class-T amps have a tubier sound than other solid state classes.

Once again I want to remind everyone I don't know how accurate these curves are through the device I'm using and also that curves don't tell you the whole story. Only by listening yourself could you get an idea on how each amp sounds.
I appreciate you doing this. Definitely appears the mic has trouble with sub bass. All things considered, that emotiva graph looks pretty sweet!
post #20 of 45
Thread Starter 

One more point I want to make that I stated in the main HE-500 thread about amps we deem "underpowered" such as WA7 or O2:

 

Quote:
I would like to hear a scientific explanation to how power translates to better sound quality out of the HE-500. I know the HE-500 is less sensitive than most other headphones especially dynamic ones, and the lower the sensitivity, the more power is needed to drive the headphone to the same level of volume. I also know that when you overdrive an amp, clipping happens and that creates distortions, which sounds bad to our ears, especially hard clipping from solid state amps. That said I don't know any specific formula to calculate how much power is needed to drive a specific sensitivity rating to a specific decibel level without clipping. And I doubt 1 watt from an amp like the WA7 is underpowered in the sense that it would cause clipping when driven to a normal listening level. Even my O2 amp that only gives like 600 mW to the HE-500 doesn't clip when driven to 80 dB. Therefore, I doubt clipping is a real issue here at normal listening levels. Also remember decibel is logarithmic which mean it takes 10 times the power to get from 80 dB to 90 dB and 100 times the power to 100 dB, so it's likely clipping will come quickly even if you increase the decibels linearly. However, when going to a more powerful speaker amp, I do notice a significant increase in bass impact. If anyone is more knowledgeable on this subject, please correct me if I'm wrong here: since bass is the longest wavelength in sound, it requires more power since the drivers are displacing a farther distance to create the sound. This in turn creates a punchier and impactful bass when given more power. I think this where pro-speaker amp people say that the HE-500 benefits from speaker amps and more power. That said, I don't think the WA7 and other headphones amps are "underpowered" for the HE-500, just would not give as much of a bass impact as amps that deliver more power. And whether you like that bass impact is a personal preference.

Edited by Sonido - 10/20/13 at 6:36am
post #21 of 45
Thread Starter 

After a whole weekend of listening to all three amps, I have a better idea of where each of these lie. The Emotiva has really started to pull away from the Lepai, and I recommend it over the Lepai despite 10 times the price. This is mainly due the treble highs on the Lepai to be too hot for my tastes. Also, after further listen I've noticed that the Lepai is less resolving and somewhat more veiled than the Emotiva or Baby Sophia. Also when you take into the cost of recabling for Lepai vs. Emotiva, I find the Emotiva to be a better buy with some weight towards quality, especially if you get it at the current sale price. The Lepai is probably still the best bang for your buck, especially if you can make cables yourself, but really if you're focusing entirely on costs with less weight on sound quality.

 

The separation between the Baby Sophia and the Emotiva is a more complicated than the Emotiva and Lepai. While the Lepai was lacking is some areas I deem necessary when compared to the Emotiva (treble and clarity), the difference between the Emotiva and Baby Sophia is more in areas I would deem optional or would call an X-factor. The Emotiva has no major flaw and is well rounded in all major areas. The only thing I find the Baby Sophia to do better is the quality and extension of the bass. While the Baby Sophia has more bass, I find it to be how that bass gets presented. It's actually quite subtle, but it gives extra body to various instruments from acoustic guitar to piano. This makes the instruments sound more realistic. I think it's due to the subtle sub-bass that adds weight to the decay of each note when played by these instruments. Once again though, this I view as a bonus rather than a necessity. You'll have to decide for yourself if it's worth going from $200 to $1000 for this, when you have an amp in the Emotiva that is technically proficient in all of the standard metrics.


Edited by Sonido - 10/20/13 at 11:37pm
post #22 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post
 

Case for Emotiva:

Most neutral. If you care about the least colored sound, I'd choose the Emotiva. Also cabling is easier since you don't need to bypass the TRS plug on the stock cable.

 

http://www.amazon.com/HOSA-Stereo-4-Inch-Phone-Female/dp/B000068O5D
+
2 x http://www.amazon.com/Pyle-Pro-PCBL34-Gauge-Female-Banana/dp/B004HJ5JPQ

 

should work and comes out to be about $20.

 

 

 

Thanks for the comparisons. It is helpful to know the options.

 

Do those cables sure work with the Emotiva with no further addons and while maintaining the original HE-500 cables?

 

Also Emotiva website says the amp is fully balanced. So is it possible to pursue a balanced listening with the Emotiva if the cabling is done that way and with the help of a balanced DAC?

post #23 of 45
The emo is not balanced
post #24 of 45
Thread Starter 
Only problem I see are those banana plug ends not fitting and you would have to break them apart.
post #25 of 45

Sonido,

 

Did you use an upgraded 5A power supply on the Lepai? The 2A one included with it doesn't provide enough power.

 

I'm wondering if it will significantly change your impressions, as there is a slight difference to me.

post #26 of 45
Thread Starter 

Mine actually came with a 3A one.

post #27 of 45

If it were just the comparison between different speaker amps and how they drive the HE-500 then ok, I could live with that and it's much appreciated.  But I'm having a REALLY hard time believing the bold assertion that any reasonably powerful headphone amp such as the (small though it is) O2 couldn't drive the HE-500 well.

 

The cans are rated with a sensitivity of 89 dB by the manufacturer.  Compare with the HE-6's 83.5 which makes a huge difference, the scale being logarithmic.  Tyll's measurements specify 0.310 Vrms to reach a 90 dB SPL.  The O2 outputs 0.630 mW into 33 Ohm (HE-500 is 38 Ohm), that works out to about 4.5 V (limited to avoid damaging low impedance cans) or about 1.5 Vrms.  Don't have time to go into detail but look at the specs and do the math...it'll drive 'em with room to spare.  I'm confidently asserting this not only because I trust Tyll, the designer of the O2 and calculations but also because I happen to own the epiphany acoustics O2 dac/amp combo, have an HE-500 on loan and actually own a HE-6 (for which the O2 indeed lacks power).  

 

The HE-500 are driven just fine, even without extra gain.  Volume rarely goes past 11 'o clock and I listen to classical which has a huge dynamic range.  Some of the pieces I listen to I've heard multiple times live so I have a pretty good idea of how they should sound and I do recognize clipping and failing bass.  The epiphany acoustics O2/DAC is my setup at the office, at home I drive the cans with a Violectric V800 DAC, coupled balanced to a V200 amp and that setup outputs 2000 mW at 7Vrms into a 32 Ohm load.  Also sounds fine of course, matter of fact I use this to drive the HE-6.  But  just to say that this is a comparison point and I can confidently say that even just going by ear, the O2 also drives the HE-500 well.  Also, as someone else remarked, Woo audio showcase the HE-500 with one of their amps.  I'm not into tubes but I credit the guys at Woo audio with not being cretins....

post #28 of 45

The O2's distorrtion rise pretty bad from 200-and-something mW up to around 600mW where it reaches 1%, so peaks under some 200-300 mW should pose no problem with the O2. Again, it all depends on how loud and what you listen to. 20-30dB of dynamic range in a calssical piece while you listen loudly could perhaps make you come up there..


Edited by davidsh - 10/23/13 at 1:23am
post #29 of 45

Well, I see that I stated the HE-500 impedance at 38 Ohm (which is the HE-6') while it's 47 in reality so performance with the O2 should be better than what I stated.  About distortion:  even admitting 1% THD (which I really don't think comes into play, at least not at my listening levels), I notice that the OP's favourite amp is the baby Sophia, which is a tube amp.  Couldn't immediately find figures on it but I'd like to see the THD on that one....

post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xenophon View Post
 

Well, I see that I stated the HE-500 impedance at 38 Ohm (which is the HE-6') while it's 47 in reality so performance with the O2 should be better than what I stated.  About distortion:  even admitting 1% THD (which I really don't think comes into play, at least not at my listening levels), I notice that the OP's favourite amp is the baby Sophia, which is a tube amp.  Couldn't immediately find figures on it but I'd like to see the THD on that one....

Also, Tyll measured his HE-500 to be less efficient than spec btw. Anyway, THD isn't just THD. The sound of distortion can and will be different at the same THD with different amps, and there's also other kinds of distortion anyway. You kinda don't get the hole picture just looking at THD. Distortion can sound good after all... and bad.

 

Anyway, I don't really disagree with you on the ability of the o2 to drive the HE-500's, but personally I'd get an amp with more headroom as it isn't impossible to encounter distortion that wouldn't be there if the o2 could push some more juice. Never tried the amp, actually.

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