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post #16 of 211

You definitely need an amp, even if it's built into your playing device. The thing is there are junk amps and good amps. If your device has a poor amp, chaining another amp to it will not do any good. You would need to take the line out of your player and route that to a good amp and then your cans. If your player does not have a line out and its amp sucks, get a proper player. I left DACs out of this discussion for now.

Once you get to good amps, there is little difference in what can be truly perceived, even if you spend thousands of dollars. Yes some of you will get upset at what I just said, but you would need to learn about expectation bias, suggestion and the way we color our perception as well as the way auditory memory works. There are excellent studies on this topic.

So I would avoid the bad amps. Ones that are designed and built well are what you would be looking for. Don't expect much for $50 and you don't need to spend a grand or more either.

Be wary of some of the chit chat on the forums, you will find all sort of impossible claims and observations. Someone posted the below video in another thread, it is worth watching and will open your eyes to how brains work. Try the below link, it's worth it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ

post #17 of 211

This person tried a blind test between 2 amps (one of them I am considering buying) and said that he coudn't tell

http://www.head-fi.org/t/643368/schiit-modi-and-magni-comparison-to-bifrost-and-asgard

Shows how some high end stuff isn't always differentiable to low end stuff

post #18 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by syNRG View Post
 

This person tried a blind test between 2 amps (one of them I am considering buying) and said that he coudn't tell

http://www.head-fi.org/t/643368/schiit-modi-and-magni-comparison-to-bifrost-and-asgard

Shows how some high end stuff isn't always differentiable to low end stuff

I don't think anyone can tell the difference between .005% or .05% distortion (THD or IM) from an amp or DAC. Lab equipment can but humans cannot. Speakers and headphones produce much more distortion than quality amps, in fact they produce more distortion than a $100 Magni amp. Most decent amps have an FR that is flat way beyond what we can hear. Some headphones need more power than others, e.g., HE-6, however, many people take this overboard for most headphones and think that they need more power than a headphone truly needs, even with a generous allowance for headroom. Much of this is speculation and rumor, so we must carefully consider what others say or repeat as much of the chatter is anecdotal.

IMO amps are easy to characterize and arr based upon solid understandable engineering principles. On the other hand headphone design is more of an artform as there are acoustical conditions taht are less tangible and difficult to model. There are mechanical elements, even the flexing, movement an inertia of the diaphragm. How about the acoustics of the ear cups and the less tangible affect that our heads and ear canals have on the acoustics. These things are not so predictable or tangible as resistors and capacitors and circuits.

In the big picture I think amps are overrated and getting an excellent amp is not as difficult as some of us might think.

post #19 of 211

You could check say hydrogenaudio, sound science subforums here to an extent, if you're trying to find people of a certain mindset / skepticism.

 

 

Some might reference Richard Clark's amplifier challenge (read for yourself the conditions, stipulations, and results):

http://www.tom-morrow-land.com/tests/ampchall/index.htm

 

Also check this thread for assorted links:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths

post #20 of 211
The irony here is that amps make way more of a difference on sound quality than dacs, yet OP thinks it's the the other way around. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between two different Dacs in a double blind test, but amps are easy to differentiate
post #21 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzkammer View Post

The irony here is that amps make way more of a difference on sound quality than dacs, yet OP thinks it's the the other way around. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between two different Dacs in a double blind test, but amps are easy to differentiate

Other than junk amps that nobody wants or tube amps designed to produce even order harmonic distortion that some people want, one cannot not hear a difference between amps that are operating in their linear region (not overloaded). Good amps have distortion below what we can hear and flat FR's beyond our ability to hear. So excluding junk amps or certain classes of tube amps, how is it that one can hear the difference? Keep in mind I am not saying that tube amps that deliver a touch of even order harmonic distortion are bad, they serve certain people that desire this sound for reasons of personal taste.

The statement, "but amps are easy to differentiate" is not going to pan out.


Edited by StanD - 2/21/14 at 9:19pm
post #22 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by StanD View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jazzkammer View Post

The irony here is that amps make way more of a difference on sound quality than dacs, yet OP thinks it's the the other way around. You would be hard pressed to tell the difference between two different Dacs in a double blind test, but amps are easy to differentiate

Other than junk amps that nobody wants or tube amps designed to produce even order harmonic distortion that some people want, one cannot not hear a difference between amps that are operating in their linear region (not overloaded). Good amps have distortion below what we can hear and flat FR's beyond our ability to hear. So excluding junk amps or certain classes of tube amps, how is it that one can hear the difference? Keep in mind I am not saying that tube amps that deliver a touch of even order harmonic distortion are bad, they serve certain people that desire this sound for reasons of personal taste.

The statement, "but amps are easy to differentiate" is not going to pan out.


Distortion and frequency response are very limited-condition measurements and cannot describe the full picture of an amplifier's performance.  I don't necessarily believe that an amp has more of an effect on sound quality than a DAC, but implying that there are no audible differences between amps under varying loads/conditions/sources is simply not true.

 

I just left a thread where people were trying to describe what's known as slew rate.  You'd literally have to run a square wave response under varying loads of impedance/capacitance/reactance at every single frequency in the audio band (along with all the other common tests) to fully describe an amplifier's performance.  That's not only economically impractical, but perhaps impossible.  Specs and tests are a great guide to distinguish relative performance potential, but the final test is always in the listening with your own particular equipment.  

post #23 of 211
Thread Starter 
Yes I purchased an o2 amp connected it to the headphone jacks of my phone and laptop, it did absolutely nothing as confirmed by literally hours of very careful listening as I wrote on my review and there's nothing you can do to change that other than spout off unprovable nonsense; amps only make a difference if they are playing with the equalizer settings or acting as a hearing aid for people who lost their hearing. Otherwise they do nothing to the sound.
post #24 of 211

Well, you just said it made the sound louder, so it is doing something huh?

post #25 of 211
Thread Starter 
My volume button could do that lol.
post #26 of 211
Thread Starter 
P.s. I've always wondered how it would sound if you hooked up your headphones to the speaker connections of, say, a 100w plus receiver and played it with low volume. Not going to try that on my $1500 headphones but I was curious if anyone else did. Evil scientist stuff
post #27 of 211

Ok last try to explain it. Most good DAC output a low level signal, arround 2 V, which isn't enough/meant to drive directly a headphone. In order to get a good volume level and to drive the headphone properly from that good source signal, you need something to add gain to that signal, and the device doing just that is called an amplifier. 

So if you have a sufficient volume level from your laptop jack, YES, an external amplifier from that source will do absolutely nothing to the quality of the sound.

If you want to improve your sound, you need to start by changing your source, in your case, with a DAC or a CD player.

 


Edited by Rem0o - 2/22/14 at 9:47am
post #28 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post

P.s. I've always wondered how it would sound if you hooked up your headphones to the speaker connections of, say, a 100w plus receiver and played it with low volume. Not going to try that on my $1500 headphones but I was curious if anyone else did. Evil scientist stuff

I don't think you can do that with all receivers, since the sleeve on a single ended headphone is common grounded.  I don't *think* all receivers have common grounded speaker outputs. 

post #29 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 


Distortion and frequency response are very limited-condition measurements and cannot describe the full picture of an amplifier's performance.  I don't necessarily believe that an amp has more of an effect on sound quality than a DAC, but implying that there are no audible differences between amps under varying loads/conditions/sources is simply not true.

 

I just left a thread where people were trying to describe what's known as slew rate.  You'd literally have to run a square wave response under varying loads of impedance/capacitance/reactance at every single frequency in the audio band (along with all the other common tests) to fully describe an amplifier's performance.  That's not only economically impractical, but perhaps impossible.  Specs and tests are a great guide to distinguish relative performance potential, but the final test is always in the listening with your own particular equipment.  

The effects of a poor slew rate turn up in other measurements, If you have a flat FR and low distortion values, including transient distortion and operate in the linear region of an amp you will not hear a difference. If an amp is poorly designed or the manufacturer is not telling the truth then the amp will not meet expectations. One's imagination fills in the details, many times to satisfy expectation. That's how the human creature works.

post #30 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rem0o View Post
 

Ok last try to explain it. Most good DAC output a low level signal, arround 2 V, which isn't enough/meant to drive directly a headphone. In order to get a good volume level and to drive the headphone properly from that good source signal, you need something to add gain to that signal, and the device doing just that is called an amplifier. 

So if you have a sufficient volume level from your laptop jack, YES, an external amplifier from that source will do absolutely nothing to the quality of the sound.

If you want to improve your sound, you need to start by changing your source, in your case, with a DAC or a CD player.

 

 

2V is more than enough to drive most headphone to ear bleeding levels. It's the wattage you need to worry about.

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