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Do headphones($300 range) with amps always perform better than headphones w/o them?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have a budget for a headphone around $300. I'm pretty new to the audiophile world minus some low-fi gears. I have seen some reviews on some $300 cans(NAD viso HP50, PSB M4U1) that they sound the same with and w/o an amp. On the otherhand, there is the mad dog, which requires an amp.

 

These cans are all in the same price range. And reviews seems to show that they all have close performances. I'm confused about this point. Why should I bother buying an amp for headphones at this price range if I can get cans that don't need them and do just as well?

 

I'm looking for a closed full size headphone with neutral bass and treble(most accurate to the source). I want the best value for my money in terms of comfort, isolation and sound quality. I'd like to think that cans with amps would be what I need and that the mad dog fits this bill. Is correct?

post #2 of 5
Every headphone sounds different. You can't look at the specs or even the graphs and know exactly how a headphone will sound, or even which of two similar, but different headphones will sound better to *you*. There is no universal list ranking $300 headphones from #1 to #100. Get 20 audiophiles in the same room with 100 different headphones, and although they will probably agree that the top 25 headphones are in the top 25, they certainly will NOT agree on the order of the top 25.

So, the way to think about this is that you will like some headphones better than other headphones. Some of those headphones might be black in color and some might be silver - the color is simply an attribute of the headphone. Whether a specific headphone needs an amp or not is also just an attribute of a specific headphone - some will, and some won't. It doesn't mean the one that needs the amp is always better or worse - it's just one aspect of the headphone, just like the color. Pick the headphone, and if it needs an amp, then get an amp. If it doesn't need an amp, then don't. If you make NOT having an amp part of your requirements, then don't select a headphone that needs an amp.
Edited by billybob_jcv - 1/15/14 at 9:54pm
post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by tianshiz View Post
 

I have a budget for a headphone around $300. I'm pretty new to the audiophile world minus some low-fi gears. I have seen some reviews on some $300 cans(NAD viso HP50, PSB M4U1) that they sound the same with and w/o an amp. On the otherhand, there is the mad dog, which requires an amp.

 

These cans are all in the same price range. And reviews seems to show that they all have close performances. I'm confused about this point. Why should I bother buying an amp for headphones at this price range if I can get cans that don't need them and do just as well?

 

I'm looking for a closed full size headphone with neutral bass and treble(most accurate to the source). I want the best value for my money in terms of comfort, isolation and sound quality. I'd like to think that cans with amps would be what I need and that the mad dog fits this bill. Is correct?

What sources will you be plugging the headphones into?

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

What sources will you be plugging the headphones into?

just my laptop with cheap sound cards or a portable mp3 player. 

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by tianshiz View Post
 

These cans are all in the same price range. And reviews seems to show that they all have close performances. I'm confused about this point. Why should I bother buying an amp for headphones at this price range if I can get cans that don't need them and do just as well?

 

If a certain headphone has the tonality, PRAT, and imaging that you prefer, but it happens to do better with an amp, then you get the right amp for it. If the headphone with the tonality, PRAT, and imaging you want doesn't need an amp or you can't hear the difference, then consider yourself lucky :D

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