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New to portable amps

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hello All!

 

I am new to portable amplifiers and I am currently saving up for some really nice headphones from Sennheiser. 

 

I heard that most computers will drive these no problem, but a mobile device like an Mp3 player or CD player or phone will not drive them as well. 

 

I was wondering what are the best portable amps out there and what they do?

 

Also what are the price range of them?

 

Thank you!

ClarinetsRock

post #2 of 18
I'm on similar terms as yourself but can't decide on what to get.

From what I've read, it depends on the ohms value on the headphones , higher value will require more oomph from your device. Otherwise Max volume on your, let's say iOS device will only drive the headphone to a certain volume.

Try looking at fiio and ibasso amps.
post #3 of 18

Ok guys so with portable amps you can either spend a fairly modest amount $150-150 or substantially more, $600+, and anywhere in between. If either of you are looking for an amp thats cheaper I recommend the C&C BH2 which is $100 or one of the FiiO models which is also around $100-120.

 

If money is no object and you need a powerful amp I'd look at the ALO Audio MK3-B+ ($650) or the Triad Audio L3 ($800). Will the powerful amps make even cheap headphone sound better? Absolutely. That being said, if your just getting into them I'd recommend getting a cheaper mode such as the C&C BH2 and sinking some funds into better headphones or possibly a portable DAC (also quite expensive).

 

Amps are great and certainly help but if your dropping a significant amount of cash on one make sure you've got headphones that are high end too, otherwise your best just getting superior cans. 

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shuggy81 View Post

I'm on similar terms as yourself but can't decide on what to get.

From what I've read, it depends on the ohms value on the headphones , higher value will require more oomph from your device. Otherwise Max volume on your, let's say iOS device will only drive the headphone to a certain volume.

Try looking at fiio and ibasso amps.

Okay! I will check them out!

 

Thank you!

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattAnthony1990 View Post
 

Ok guys so with portable amps you can either spend a fairly modest amount $150-150 or substantially more, $600+, and anywhere in between. If either of you are looking for an amp thats cheaper I recommend the C&C BH2 which is $100 or one of the FiiO models which is also around $100-120.

 

If money is no object and you need a powerful amp I'd look at the ALO Audio MK3-B+ ($650) or the Triad Audio L3 ($800). Will the powerful amps make even cheap headphone sound better? Absolutely. That being said, if your just getting into them I'd recommend getting a cheaper mode such as the C&C BH2 and sinking some funds into better headphones or possibly a portable DAC (also quite expensive).

 

Amps are great and certainly help but if your dropping a significant amount of cash on one make sure you've got headphones that are high end too, otherwise your best just getting superior cans. 

Okay, thank you for the information Matt, 

 

So, what do these amps do besides allow you to use high impedance headphones with mobile devices like phones and etc? Also do you have to know exactly how many Ohms the headphones are and have a different amp for higher ones than lower ones?

 

Do they make the sound quality better?

 

I really don't know much about them and I just heard about them this week when I was looking through this website and I am just confused about what they do. 

 

Thank you for your help!

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClarinetsRock View Post
 

Okay, thank you for the information Matt, 

 

So, what do these amps do besides allow you to use high impedance headphones with mobile devices like phones and etc? Also do you have to know exactly how many Ohms the headphones are and have a different amp for higher ones than lower ones?

 

Do they make the sound quality better?

 

I really don't know much about them and I just heard about them this week when I was looking through this website and I am just confused about what they do. 

 

Thank you for your help!

Well a better amp is improved, higher quality circuitry too so it does help the SQ. The difference isn't gigantic but it is definitely there. Aside from allowing the use of higher impedance headphones it bypasses the music player's/phone's internal circuity and its substandard headphone jack. The amp will also allow greater clarity at higher volumes.

 

You do not need to know how many Ohms go with an amp. A wide range of headphones are 32 Ohms or less, with pairs like these you can drive them with any of the cheaper amps absolutely no problem. Headphones with a higher impedance will demand more powerful, expensive amps. The Ray Samuels line, ALO Audio's line of amps, and several other brands will all suffice, it just takes doing some homework. Some amps sound different than others, some are far smaller, it just depends on personal preference to a degree. There is no concrete "best portable amp" despite what people argue. There is a litany of options on the markets and what one is best for you will likely depend on price, power, and size of the amp itself.

 

Hope that helps. Happy to help! :)

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattAnthony1990 View Post
 

Well a better amp is improved, higher quality circuitry too so it does help the SQ. The difference isn't gigantic but it is definitely there. Aside from allowing the use of higher impedance headphones it bypasses the music player's/phone's internal circuity and its substandard headphone jack. The amp will also allow greater clarity at higher volumes.

 

You do not need to know how many Ohms go with an amp. A wide range of headphones are 32 Ohms or less, with pairs like these you can drive them with any of the cheaper amps absolutely no problem. Headphones with a higher impedance will demand more powerful, expensive amps. The Ray Samuels line, ALO Audio's line of amps, and several other brands will all suffice, it just takes doing some homework. Some amps sound different than others, some are far smaller, it just depends on personal preference to a degree. There is no concrete "best portable amp" despite what people argue. There is a litany of options on the markets and what one is best for you will likely depend on price, power, and size of the amp itself.

 

Hope that helps. Happy to help! :)

Yes thank you! THat helps a lot! 

 

What if I had two different types of headphones, one at 32 Ohms and the other at 150?

 

Could I use the same amp or would I need a different one for the higher powered Ohms?

 

Thank you again!

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClarinetsRock View Post
 

Yes thank you! THat helps a lot! 

 

What if I had two different types of headphones, one at 32 Ohms and the other at 150?

 

Could I use the same amp or would I need a different one for the higher powered Ohms?

 

Thank you again!

 

You can use the same amp. The FiiO E11 should be able to run both the 32 and 150 Ohms, its a basic entry level amp, cost effective, durable, and it has multiple gain settings. 

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattAnthony1990 View Post
 

 

You can use the same amp. The FiiO E11 should be able to run both the 32 and 150 Ohms, its a basic entry level amp, cost effective, durable, and it has multiple gain settings. 

So what do the multiple gain settings do and how do I know which to set them on? 

 

I am used to the term gain on a soundboard and that adjusts the sensitivity of the microphones. Is the gain on the amp a similar concept? 

 

Thank you again for your help!

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClarinetsRock View Post
 

So what do the multiple gain settings do and how do I know which to set them on? 

 

I am used to the term gain on a soundboard and that adjusts the sensitivity of the microphones. Is the gain on the amp a similar concept? 

 

Thank you again for your help!

The gain setting on a portable amp basically correlates to how much power you'll be using. Amps typically have multiple settings because different sets of cans need different levels of juice. How you know which one to use is simply trial and error. If you use Low Gain with your 150 Ohms headphones and still can't quite get the volume you want, try medium or high gain (some have 3 switches, some just low and high). The various gain settings specifically cater to users that utilize a variety of headphones.   

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattAnthony1990 View Post
 

The gain setting on a portable amp basically correlates to how much power you'll be using. Amps typically have multiple settings because different sets of cans need different levels of juice. How you know which one to use is simply trial and error. If you use Low Gain with your 150 Ohms headphones and still can't quite get the volume you want, try medium or high gain (some have 3 switches, some just low and high). The various gain settings specifically cater to users that utilize a variety of headphones.   

and happy to help :)

post #12 of 18
What I'm looking for is a portable amp for use on my mobile device. I was looking at the fiio e17 as its a amp and a DAC in one. Although I don't listen to music on my laptop or PC, I was thinking it would be best for future proofing it?

I think the gains and settings you will know upon listening. You can up the gain for the volume in dB and have bass boost if you require more base from your cans, I think! It is probably best if you first decide on what headphones you want, then you can pick a suitable amp/DAC based upon what you require.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by shuggy81 View Post

What I'm looking for is a portable amp for use on my mobile device. I was looking at the fiio e17 as its a amp and a DAC in one. Although I don't listen to music on my laptop or PC, I was thinking it would be best for future proofing it?

I think the gains and settings you will know upon listening. You can up the gain for the volume in dB and have bass boost if you require more base from your cans, I think! It is probably best if you first decide on what headphones you want, then you can pick a suitable amp/DAC based upon what you require.

The E17 would work well for your needs, its a bit more than the E11 but you do get a somewhat decent DAC. 

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattAnthony1990 View Post
 

The E17 would work well for your needs, its a bit more than the E11 but you do get a somewhat decent DAC. 

Thank you for all of your help by the way! 

 

ClarinetsRock

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClarinetsRock View Post
 

Thank you for all of your help by the way! 

 

ClarinetsRock

no problem, happy to help a fellow hi-fi'er

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