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Cheap balanced amp? - Page 2

post #16 of 63

I think a lot of that has to do with just how much voltage swing the music and the headphones demand and can make use of. If for example you're comparing a CMOY or even a desktop amp with a voltage swing of, say, 6v or below, the balanced amp making 18v peak to peak would sound spectacular. Next to an amp that does 12v peak to peak, which is about all the music and headphones need, there won't be any additional improvements; except maybe if you run a bassy song and up the EQ then the balanced amp might show an advantage.

post #17 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

I think a lot of that has to do with just how much voltage swing the music and the headphones demand and can make use of. If for example you're comparing a CMOY or even a desktop amp with a voltage swing of, say, 6v or below, the balanced amp making 18v peak to peak would sound spectacular. Next to an amp that does 12v peak to peak, which is about all the music and headphones need, there won't be any additional improvements; except maybe if you run a bassy song and up the EQ then the balanced amp might show an advantage.

You can easily build a headphone amp that uses single-ended amplification that will output 18v pp. Balanced amplification is just more efficient. You can't say balanced amps have an output advantage and will sound better at high volume compared to single-ended amps. In fact many believe the ultimate audio amplifier uses single-ended Class A amplification since there's no crossover distortion. Keep in mind an amp that uses single-ended amplification can be designed with your choice of balanced or single-ended input and/or output.

post #18 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

I think a lot of that has to do with just how much voltage swing the music and the headphones demand and can make use of. If for example you're comparing a CMOY or even a desktop amp with a voltage swing of, say, 6v or below, the balanced amp making 18v peak to peak would sound spectacular. Next to an amp that does 12v peak to peak, which is about all the music and headphones need, there won't be any additional improvements; except maybe if you run a bassy song and up the EQ then the balanced amp might show an advantage.


 



The real answer is:
....it depends.
What are we actually trying to do?

One disadvantage of a headphone amp with a balanced output is more complexity, hence, more cost and reduced reliability.

One advantage of a properly designed headphone amp that accepts balanced inputs is improved noise immunity.

You could argue that a cost effective solution would be a headphone amp with a balanced (i.e differential) input and Singel ended output.

One (claimed) advantage of headphone amps with balanced output is improved (i.e reduced channel to channel) crosstalk.

A balanced output amp (or bridged output amp or whatever we are calling it today) can potentially provide more voltage, but it DOES NOT provide more current.
post #19 of 63

You guys are confusing balanced amplification with balanced output. Input/Amplification/Output are three distinct circuits in an amplifier. It's very easy to implement balanced input and output with an amp that uses single-ended amplification.

 

Many modern high-end amplifiers that use balanced push-pull amplification use single-ended output (speaker negative terminals are grounded) for safety and liability reasons. If you look at the amp's schematic you'll see the ground symbol attached to the negative speaker terminal.

post #20 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by robrob View Post
 

You guys are confusing balanced amplification with balanced output. Input/Amplification/Output are three distinct circuits in an amplifier. It's very easy to implement balanced input and output with an amp that uses single-ended amplification.

 

Many modern high-end amplifiers that use balanced push-pull amplification use single-ended output (speaker negative terminals are grounded) for safety and liability reasons. If you look at the amp's schematic you'll see the ground symbol attached to the negative speaker terminal.

 

I didn't make the distinction because the OP was looking for a "cheap balanced amp." There are only cheap balanced output SE amps, unless of course he has DIY skills to run four channels (L-,L+,R-,R+) made of relatively cheaper parts.

post #21 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

I didn't make the distinction because the OP was looking for a "cheap balanced amp." There are only cheap balanced output SE amps, unless of course he has DIY skills to run four channels (L-,L+,R-,R+) made of relatively cheaper parts.

His passive/ aggressive routine does get a bit tiring at times......
post #22 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post


His passive/ aggressive routine does get a bit tiring at times......

 

I didn't get that impression, but he is missing the point that I was using actual figures of actual amps I've tried. Of course the SE amp will have a lower peak to peak rating because the point I was getting at precisely was, "at what point do your headphones and music not need more than this much voltage?" :p

post #23 of 63
Quote:
 If for example you're comparing a CMOY or even a desktop amp with a voltage swing of, say, 6v or below, the balanced amp making 18v peak to peak would sound spectacular.

 

This statement is just as valid:

 

"If for example you're comparing a desktop amp with balanced amplification with a voltage swing of, say, 6v or below, the single-ended amp making 18v peak to peak would sound spectacular."

 

You can design an amplifier using single-ended amplification to output as much voltage as one using balanced amplification.

 

The best option for inexpensive balanced headphone use is a small speaker amplifier and a headphone cable adapter. I have a couple of Tripath TA2024 based speaker amps (single-ended input/true balanced push-pull solid state amplification/true balanced output) and they sound spectacular when paired with the HE-500 and modified T50RP headphones.

TA2024Schematic.jpg 

post #24 of 63

Yeah and I'd be curious to know what the OP's feedback will be on using a relatively lower cost T-amp vs the HDP and Ultra (although of course there are 3ch/active ground amps that cost less than that, and from my listening actually does help a bit given what is otherwise a similar circuit).

post #25 of 63
Robrob,

I have to respectfully disagree. Having owned a Fiio e11 then an O2 single output amp then moving to Ray Samuels superb balanced amps (Protector and now the Lightning) the difference is striking. With an RSA balanced amp the clarity improves and soundstage opens up. To me the 3D imaging is is nothing short of surround sound.
post #26 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by spook76 View Post

Robrob,

I have to respectfully disagree. Having owned a Fiio e11 then an O2 single output amp then moving to Ray Samuels superb balanced amps (Protector and now the Lightning) the difference is striking. With an RSA balanced amp the clarity improves and soundstage opens up. To me the 3D imaging is is nothing short of surround sound.

I have a lot of respect for Ray Samuels work.

I suspect much of what you are hearing is due to the superior design and execution of the Ray Samuels design.
I have some FiiO gear, it is good, but I got what I paid for.
post #27 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

I didn't get that impression, but he is missing the point that I was using actual figures of actual amps I've tried. Of course the SE amp will have a lower peak to peak rating because the point I was getting at precisely was, "at what point do your headphones and music not need more than this much voltage?" tongue.gif

The voltage discussion is a blind alley.

You can always design a single ended output headphone amp with enough output voltage to drive any headphone.
You could argue that 20 Vp-p is enough for any headphone.
Edited by Chris J - 2/14/14 at 4:57am
post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris J View Post


I have a lot of respect for Ray Samuels work.

I suspect much of what you are hearing is due to the superior design and execution of the Ray Samuels design.
I have some FiiO gear, it is good, but I got what I paid for.

 

Exactly. You could do the opposite and compare a $17 generic TA2024 chip amp with balanced amplification and balanced output with a high end single-ended amp and be blown away by the sq improvement.

 

I'm not against balanced gear as all my headphones have balanced cables but you cannot say balanced amplification is better than single-ended amplification, it's just not true.

post #29 of 63
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the info guys! Unfortunately I understand only about 30% of it >_<

 

I'm considering the Schiit Mjolnir, which has a dual 3pin XLR AND a 4-pin XLR, which is what I'm looking for; however, it's only slightly out of budget and doesn't have the 1/4" jack I'm looking for.

 

Ideally I would spend up to $1000 IF it has all the outputs and inputs I'm looking for (Dual 3XLR + Single 4XLR + 1/4"). I've yet to find any amp that does that. 

 

 

I know this is a noob question (I'm planning to move 1/2 my headphones to balanced cables), but how does a dual 3-pin XLR input work? How do I connect that to my computer? Do I have to use a DAC with dual 3-pin XLR, or can I just use the chip on my Mac Pro Desktop (which has a good DAC chip in it anyways)?    

post #30 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by gradofan1 View Post
 

I'm considering the Schiit Mjolnir, which has a dual 3pin XLR AND a 4-pin XLR, which is what I'm looking for; however, it's only slightly out of budget and doesn't have the 1/4" jack I'm looking for.

 

I know this is a noob question (I'm planning to move 1/2 my headphones to balanced cables), but how does a dual 3-pin XLR input work? How do I connect that to my computer? Do I have to use a DAC with dual 3-pin XLR, or can I just use the chip on my Mac Pro Desktop (which has a good DAC chip in it anyways)?    

 

You will need a DAC that offers balanced output (usually using 3-pin XLR) to interface with the Mjolnir. The least expensive balanced DAC I've seen is $300.

 

3-Pin XLR Info

 

3_Pin_XLR.jpg

Pin # 1 does not need to be connected to ground for headphone use, just leave it disconnected.

 

Many headphone amps have a pair of 3-Pin XLR connectors. For the Left XLR connector you connect the L+ to Pin 2, L- to Pin 3 and the cable shield to the XLR connector's ground lug. Connecting the cable shield to the ground lug will provide RFI noise protection for the cable. Pin 1 does not need to be connected to ground for a headphone cable (it's there for microphones and other audio gear). The Right XLR connector would be R+ to Pin 2, R- to Pin 3 and the cable shield to the ground lug.

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