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Amp vs Receiver

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

So I plan on getting some Alpha Dog headphones, and pretty much everyone has universally said I am going to want an Amp. I have an ASUS STX sound card, with a headphone amp built in. It outputs 1.2W @ 32 ohms

 

it has also been recommended I try them on the sound card first, and then test out headphone amps. However where I live does not have a wide selection of places to try out headphone amps. I have a receiver I pulled from my home theater sitting in my closet (Denon AVR-3803), and wanted to know the following:

 

If I hooked it up to my computer, and ran my headphones through that receiver, how well would it represent the experience of owning a dedicated headphone amp? Should I expect similar performance?

 

Thanks in advance,

Jeremy

post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyR View Post
 

So I plan on getting some Alpha Dog headphones, and pretty much everyone has universally said I am going to want an Amp. I have an ASUS STX sound card, with a headphone amp built in. It outputs 1.2W @ 32 ohms

it has also been recommended I try them on the sound card first, and then test out headphone amps. However where I live does not have a wide selection of places to try out headphone amps. I have a receiver I pulled from my home theater sitting in my closet (Denon AVR-3803), and wanted to know the following:

If I hooked it up to my computer, and ran my headphones through that receiver, how well would it represent the experience of owning a dedicated headphone amp? Should I expect similar performance?

I like using my receiver for driving headphones, but I doubt your Denon receiver drives headphones better then the Essence STX.

But your welcome to try the receiver to compare and post back the comparison.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

So now I am all kinds of confused. Let me ask the question in a different way.

 

If I hooked my receiver up, and listened to a pair of Alpha Dogs, or a hooked a Schiit magni up, would one outperform the other? If so, why?

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

I pulled the receiver out, and yea, it sounds better. A lot better actually with just my M50's. I have room for it, I might just stick with this. I guess I mine as well hook my speakers up to it as well :)

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyR View Post
 

So now I am all kinds of confused. Let me ask the question in a different way.

 

If I hooked my receiver up, and listened to a pair of Alpha Dogs, or a hooked a Schiit Magni up, would one outperform the other? If so, why?


The Schiit Magni was designed for just driving headphones.

The Denon receiver was designed to drive speakers, but the Denon also uses the same speaker amplifier(s) to drive headphones.

You have to spend a lot more money (then what the Denon cost) to get a receiver with a separate built in dedicated headphone amplifier.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 


The Schiit Magni was designed for just driving headphones.

The Denon receiver was designed to drive speakers, but the Denon also uses the same speaker amplifier(s) to drive headphones.

You have to spend a lot more money (then what the Denon cost) to get a receiver with a separate built in dedicated headphone amplifier.

 

So a $99 headphone amp outperforms a $1200 receiver at driving headphones? Interesting. I would love to know the technical reasons why. Time to Google :)

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyR View Post
 

 

So a $99 headphone amp outperforms a $1200 receiver at driving headphones? Interesting. I would love to know the technical reasons why. Time to Google :)


I assumed the Denon AVR-3803 did not cost a lot brand new because they sell used on eBay for $200.

I never said the Schiit Magni outperforms the Denon 3803, just that I would not think the Denon 3803 (in general) would drive headphones any better then the Essence STX (or Schit Magni).

Also there is an impedance (Ohm) issue, receiver's headphone outputs usually have a high impedance, but for best audio quality, you want a headphone's impedance that is 8 times (or more then 8 times) the impedance of the amplifier they are plugged into.

The Magni has less then 1-Ohm impedance, the Essence STX has a 10-Ohm impedance, where as the Denon's headphone output impedance could be 50-ohms or 75-Ohms or 100-Ohms, etc.

Receiver manufacturers usually do no publish the headphone output impedance, I'm guessing because the truth would not help sales, so all you really can do is guess.

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 


I assumed the Denon AVR-3803 did not cost a lot brand new because they sell used on eBay for $200.

I never said the Schiit Magni outperforms the Denon 3803, just that I would not think the Denon 3803 (in general) would drive headphones any better then the Essence STX (or Schit Magni).

Also there is an impedance (Ohm) issue, receiver's headphone outputs usually have a high impedance, but for best audio quality, you want a headphone's impedance that is 8 times (or more then 8 times) the impedance of the amplifier they are plugged into.

The Magni has less then 1-Ohm impedance, the Essence STX has a 10-Ohm impedance, where as the Denon's headphone output impedance could be 50-ohms or 75-Ohms or 100-Ohms, etc.

Receiver manufacturers usually do no publish the headphone output impedance, I'm guessing because the truth would not help sales, so all you really can do is guess.

 

Thanks. Yea, I got to the impedance thing with Google (mainly reading your posts from 2011). I then tried to look it up on the Denon, and could not.

 

As for the cost, I bought it new back in 2002-2003. The reason it's so cheep is because it's old now. You probably know this, but the way Denon numbers there receivers, is the last two digest is the model year.

 

Anyway, mystery solved. Impedance. Now my next question (because I like to learn). Why does Impedance matter? 

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

Thanks. Yea, I got to the impedance thing with Google (mainly reading your posts from 2011). I then tried to look it up on the Denon, and could not.

As for the cost, I bought it new back in 2002-2003. The reason it's so cheep is because it's old now. You probably know this, but the way Denon numbers there receivers, is the last two digest is the model year.

Anyway, mystery solved. Impedance. Now my next question (because I like to learn). Why does Impedance matter? 

I'm not sure I'm knowledgeable enough about "impedance" to explain more then the very basics.

But there is something about a high impedance on the headphones, that makes for better control over the diaphragm, that is inside the headphone cups.

The higher the impedance, the more voltage is needed for driving the diaphragm

But in these modern times, I believe they are using lighter materials in the diaphragm that allows for good control over the diaphragm, using less voltage, a lot of the headphones (like IEMs) designed for use with portable audio, have a very low impedance.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

interesting read on the subject.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-impedance

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