Originally Posted by NA Blur
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Your questions is very valid and people out there not fully understanding their gear should take strides in understanding why an amp may or may not help an audio experience.
Personally I know an amp has improved my listening experience, but I always do side by side comparisons. If it does not measure better or sound better than my previous gear then I do not settle for it.
Without having the specific measurements between the two pieces of gear you may be comparing I suggest doing a listening test. Be sure to test multiple volume levels, genres of music, and types of headphones if possible.
I would like to year your opinions and some specific examples of how you think the amp may be helping/hindering your listening experience.
Those are all good points, please read what he suggested. Also, think of amps like the cooking method for food. Essitanally everything you plug your headphone into has an amp and a dac, your celluar phone has them both integrated into it, the Dac makes the 0 and 1's into an analog signal, the amp drives that signal to the headphone. The amp also determines how loudly that signal is driven, or rather the amp allows you to control the loudness or lack there of of that signal.
Warning: Sciency stuff (Click to show)
So sound is a wave, an amp allows you to control the amplitude of that wave. A dac will out put a sound wave with a fixed amplitude, or only one volume level. Yes the song it self will get quiete and louder on it's own, but the DAC will still only output one amplitude
WIth an amp you can raise or lower that amplitude allowing you to control the volume, and yes amp's to more than that.
ALSO see Exception at the bottom please before your correct my post :3 corrections are welcome and please be tactful
So going back to food, let's assume our music is the food. Just as you cook different food with different cooking methods. Such as Baking, grilling, [non heath methods such as simply Chopping, or mashing] your amp is going to "cook" your music a little differently. This should be a positive thing! But it can be a negative, one thing I prefer to avoid my self is double amping.
Like sending the headphone jack on my Cellphone straight into an amp, it's like mirco waveing left over steak. Yea it's edible and it might be down right GOOD...but I think we can all agree that steak is best when it's RIGHT off the grill. Or it's best when it's only been cooked once. [where as mircowaveing it the second day cooks it again]
Going back to music, ideally again you want you music to pass through only one Amp. If you take an already amplified single and then amp it you run the risk of distortion, or going back to food, you run the risk of it not tasteing as good as it should, or could.
Additionally, the taste of food changes depending on how you cook it, or what you cook it with. So like wise, amps can color music or add small changes to how your music sounds. Like food, some food is best enjoyed... raw [or plain cooked] or without anything added to it, and other foods are best when you SUMTHER THEM in butter and brown sugar. So depending on the design of the amp [how much color it adds, some add alot some very little] AND depending on your personality or what you like. Some amps will sound better to you with your headphones than others will. Just like how I prefer my Steak Meduim-Rare, and my father like's his steak... Au-Bleu [or warm on the outside cold on the inside]
TO EACH HIS OWN
So... yea headphones sound better when plugged into an amp, the best way to make your headphones sound better is to upgrade you amp and the DAC that is feeding your amp! Crap in = Crap out!
Warning: Those Pesky Exceptions [Or More information, Could Confuse] (Click to show)
Edited by Mshenay - 12/17/13 at 10:31am
I have not fully tested it nor do I even care to get into it, I'll let some one else do that
I don't fully understand it my self but, your Computer can adjust the amplitude of the wave while it's still in 0's and 1's. I wouldn't say this is cooking as it's a modification to the data not the actual wave, but seeing as the data for the music "streams" or is decoded per second you can change the volume of music straight out of a dac. This is how ever again not entirely ideally, there is even software that restricts you from doing this, or rather soft ware that set's your Computer to output "line level out" volume onto the bits of data i[or your music] that it is streaming into your dac. Do those LINE level software make a differance... yea... but I just set windows Volume to max and move on with my life. I'll use the "line level out software"when I'm doing a critical listen, for the sake of keeping the music free from distortion.
Sorry no food illsutration for that