Edited by Zuckfun - 1/27/14 at 4:17pm
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Edited by Zuckfun - 1/27/14 at 4:17pm
How to know when you've been on head-fi too much...other members offer to correct your post, and they're right.
Yes, most desktop amps will drive a planar magnetic hp to a "loud" level, excluding the he4/6. But if all your looking for is loud you can do that for a lot less money and really with no amp for that matter.
For me, it's about finding the "right" amp for any headphone but especially for a planar. What is the signature of the hp? How does the amp complement or not complement the hp? Are there still enjoyable dynamics at lower listening levels or do you have to really crank the pot to get good dynamics. These are some of the things I consider when shopping for a desktop amp.
EF2A is 320mW at 32ohms. That isn't even enough to properly drive the HE400. Try 700mW for the he400 and 1500mW for the HE500. Those should give good dynamics.
Look to your own words for the explanation. You're conflating gain with power in your early sentences, but then you seem to recognize that fact later and even suggest the reason higher output power is desired.
Granted, that power must be clean. If the increase in power is of a higher distortion or noise level, then the advantages are wasted. In headphone gear, we're into micro-transients and as low a noise floor as physically possible. Assuming that's all equal (a big assumption), then that amplifier that has more power reserve is more desired.
In airplanes and cars, one can reach a physical limit in speed, almost completely dependent on the airflow limitations, instead of power. Yet, the vehicle with more power reserves is going to have more acceleration at that speed, enabling quicker turns, faster response, and the ability to maintain the achieved level in spite of external influences. Amplifiers are somewhat analogous - just don't carry it too far.
If you're satisfied with the EF2A and the HE400 paired then good for you.
The 1.5W was recommended by Fang of Hifiman. The 700mW for the 400 is an estimate by what people have tried. Think of it this way, the EF5 was used to showcase the more efficient 560 at CES and those are putting out 2W I believe. If the HE400i are more efficient than the HE400, why not use the 300mW EF2A to showcase it's efficiency?
Yeah, it's a 901 DAP through an EF5.
Here's a cut and paste of a cut and paste from another forum. It's seems like a fairly level-headed assessment.
Caveat: All listening was done via the Hifiman EF5 and the 901 DAP. There was an Emotiva CD player there but they refused to hook it up because they said it sounded so bad, it was only there for show I was told. The EF5 is a colored amp w/ some headphones and might have interesting synergy issues. IME, it tends to be tuned w/ Fang's headphones in mind, so keep that in consideration w/ impressions from it.
The 400i seems to have fixed the weird midrange distortion that some are able to pickup. They do sound better, more coherent overall signature and better clarity. Still less smooth and refined than the other Hifiman phones further up the range.
560 sounds quite a bit like the name implies a 500 adding a bit of 6 treble in the signature to brighten and open it up. Less warm than the HE500 with better clarity. Whether there are serious sibilance or treble issues is hard to tell as I have found in the past the EF5 to take the edge of such artifacts at times.
Overall, the HE6 had less of that full fleshed out bass compared to the 560, but every other technical metric apart from FR like speed, smoothness, refinement, imaging, were all superior on the HE6 still.
I always thought that the HE6 SQ was far away from others in the pack. I would be very surprised if HiFiMAN has a new model close to it. It now appears that the HE6 is still king of the hill at this time.