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post #61 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post


I did very careful and meticulous hearing test on the objective 2 and it absolutely does not alter the sound in any way. What happened to you most likely is that you played the music at a higher dB volume when using the amplifier or had gain on in your system (which actually distorts the sound). What default gain does your o2 have?

If you would like please point to a specific (minutes and seconds) part of the song and a specific thing (e.g. an instrument) that you heard with the amp that you could not hear without the amp. I would be happy to listen to that song on Spotify 320k to confirm. However if all you have is vague comments about it being fuller or soundstage then you are either lying to yourself to justify the purchase or you simply played it at a higher dBm level.

By the way, I noticed that nobody commented on the scientifically probable fact that most people who can afford to buy expensive anps no longer have the ability to hear subtle sound anymore due to their age. I've always found it hilarious when a 40+ or even 60! year old wants to teach a 20 year old about audiophile stuff when in any objective test on a simple system the 20 year old's hearing would blow the other's away.

Truth and science people. Spend your money on headphones not amps.

41 year old here and my hearing (confirmed by an audiologist last week, not by some internet test) still extends to 17 kHz.  Have been listening to classical since age 15 on headphones but fortunately been wise with the volume and had the good sense to walk out of clubs where they jack up the dB level to insane heights.  But I'll stipulate to being in the minority.  Nevertheless, enjoying music and audiophile experience can't simply be reduced to the ability to hear high frequencies.  It's also a matter of getting to know a genre, becoming familiar with the harmonics of a sound etc etc. A good friend of mine is a conductor, he's 63 now and I'm sure his hearing isn't like mine anymore but he's forgotten more about music and musical appreciation than I'll ever know.

 

I have the O2 on my desktop.  It's good for what it is, terrific value and virtually distortion free IF and only if you use it with headphones of reasonable sensitivity and at moderate volume.  Once you add extra gain, use inefficient headphones or even at moderate volumes, listen to high dynamic range music it craps out quickly.  It has a terrible slew rate (ability to very quickly deal with sudden power demand shifts) and that shows in transient response, muddling of the tone and distortion.  Don't believe me?   Just put on eg. Stravinsky's 'Rite of spring', the 'infernal dance' movement, boost the volume, listen to the strings and the trumpet notes.  Or to some of Copland's dynamic piano playing, piano notes are a dead giveaway as they tend to lose timbre when the amp can't follow.  It's very noticeable on headphones like an HD-800 and certainly if you compare it to a higher quality amplifier.  Not bashing the O2 but it comes at a cheap price and has its limitations (which is not the same as saying that expensive=always better).

 

There's a reason why in audio it's about source quality first, then headphone or speaker quality, then come the amp and the dac and finally all the rest.  Which is why I have a ton of diskspace taken up by studio master flac-files (if you think a 320 mp3 file is largish, take a look at those).

 

As to amplifying an amp (a later post in the thread):  if you listen to speakers a pre-amp can make a lot of sense, depending on your setup.  Not all amplifiers are about providing gain, BTW, take a look at the FirstWatt F4 for instance, that's essentially a current buffer, it boosts the current of the pre-amp's signal without adding gain (technically it actually has -.5 dB gain) and is essentially a transparent window  to what comes out of the pre-amplifier.  But generally I agree that the shorter the chain, the better.  Once the 0 and 1's of a digital input have been transformed into an analog signal, whatever you do can at best maintain the quality, never improve it.

 

Anyway, garbage in=garbage out on a GOOD system.  What you need to do is pick the elements in the chain so that quality in doesn't become garbage out.  Most of what I mentioned about amps will only come into play if your source is good and if you listen to good quality headphones that are at least in principle able to provide a correct sound reproduction.  Remember the weakest link in the chain thing.

post #62 of 211

I've usually been able to hear the difference between amps as well. I compared an iBasso D12 and Objective2 and could easily tell the difference every time. The D12 had a bigger soundstage and was less shrill than the O2, and my SA-31 most definitely sounds different from the O2 in that minor details that were slightly murky with the O2 became clearer with the SA-31. Timbre was most definitely more realistic with the beefier amp as well. 

 

I mean, I doubt the OP is going to change his mind about this, no matter what we tell him, but I've usually been able to hear at least some difference between two different amps. I can't exactly explain why I can hear it, but I'd honestly rather not be able to hear a difference. My EHHA takes up most of my desk and it'd be nice to have something smaller, but the thing sounds too good to not keep using.

post #63 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post

I did very careful and meticulous hearing test on the objective 2 and it absolutely does not alter the sound in any way. What happened to you most likely is that you played the music at a higher dB volume when using the amplifier or had gain on in your system (which actually distorts the sound). What default gain does your o2 have?

If you would like please point to a specific (minutes and seconds) part of the song and a specific thing (e.g. an instrument) that you heard with the amp that you could not hear without the amp. I would be happy to listen to that song on Spotify 320k to confirm. However if all you have is vague comments about it being fuller or soundstage then you are either lying to yourself to justify the purchase or you simply played it at a higher dBm level.

By the way, I noticed that nobody commented on the scientifically probable fact that most people who can afford to buy expensive anps no longer have the ability to hear subtle sound anymore due to their age. I've always found it hilarious when a 40+ or even 60! year old wants to teach a 20 year old about audiophile stuff when in any objective test on a simple system the 20 year old's hearing would blow the other's away.

Truth and science people. Spend your money on headphones not amps.

It's default set to lowest gain (2.5/1.0x), and I was careful to match volumes. I listened to the first movement of Mozart's G minor quintet K. 516, the whole movement, at my normal listening volume, which is low. I wish somewhat there were no difference so I wouldn't be missing anything if I were lazy about amping.

On the other point, it seems to me that you might be confusing how well one can hear with how well one can listen. That applies to more than just that point. Good bye and God bless.
post #64 of 211

Not sure what you would want the newsletter to say, perhaps, you belong to a select few 'wise/sagious' beings who have figured it out.

 

What this thread shows is that there is a large delta between needing an amp, and getting a correctly built one.

We all need amplification.

A well built amp, whilst a common need (to forum goers' here) isn't commonly delivered.

 

I couldn't believe the Sony Vita didn't include their S-Master amp, as it had a great DAC and excellent sound processing (hardware ray tracing/occlusion I believe), yet coupled with only Bluetooth 2.1 (forcing Bluetooth

headsets a highly compressed and artificial sound, yet leaving them to do the amping), no real line out (without using a dock), not allowing an amp a fairly pure source, most people were going to use headphones as their sound source (the speakers being stupidly underneath where the hands rest whilst at play). I saw this as a missed opportunity on Sonys part for a high priced item which had an OLED screen. It could have been a killer useful tool, albeit large, but might had delivered top class sound with expandable storage and long

battery life (for high impedance headphones/music or movies).

 

I only give the vita as an example due to the designer at Sony a

udio explaining the difficulties of finding an audio grade SOLDER after lead was banned from the market. He came up with over 40 'recipes' before settling on a solder that sounded right.

 

See he admitted the challenge of building a class d amplifier that sounded good and was going

to be a flagship product (circa 2000) was a silly idea, but certainly a challenge (that he met with the S Master design).

 

You see all these modern amps with new features come at a,cost, and manufacturers don't want to raise

costs in a competitive market so things need be compromised.

 

My most sound understanding of why valves sound good is that their circuit design allows reducing a large number of components, a few of which alter the sound quite horrible if not done right.

 

I have a Quad 303 solid state amplifier (Floyd used as their reference during their DSOTM days) who's

advertising line was (not verbatim) if any amp before this or after this sound different they are built wrong.

 

What is important to note here is the timeline, this was when solid state was replacing valve, and solid state had something to achieve if they were going to do so with equal sound quality not just more quantity-Solid state started a wonderful numbers game of giving more watts, a diatribe I will save for another time/thread perhaps.

 

So, good amp design, I agree, all things being equal is the simple premise our pundits here take onboard.

 

I myself lean towards neutral equipment at every level of my playback experience, meaning a ***** recording in equals a poor output. YES THIS REQUIRES SEVERAL SETUPS, ONE BEING FOR MAINSTREAM JUNK.

 

sorry was my caps on just then...

 

Anyhow I have a nakamichi cassette deck that sounded as good as reel to reel before it. Once people accept that it can be done, most people either due to casual listening/background, or being without the funds, forget to 'check in' with the state of sound every so often.

 

 

I am not old, my hearing is fine, and yes I collect gear from generations past.

 

I find that flagship parts where cost beared no expense on design choice/implementation seem to consistently sound the best. It might just be a simple as a capacitor being of a higher grade or greater refinement, but these parts from even fifty years vintage allow me to hear top tier sound, that not having a budget in the modern world to spend on the equivalent (I have a daughter I'd rather give things too), I have learned to experiment, to understand, to have an open mind and to take on board from people who have been doing this for a long time. Sometimes their experiences can take off our blinders and open up a whole new doorway/path to set upon.

 

The mac might have the best internal amp of any laptop in the world being made at a minimal cost point in the moment. Certainly some hold this assumption to be true. It is, however still an amp in a very noisy, hard to isolate electrical environment that is designed with battery life consideration in mind.

 

If you wish to believe that there are not better amps than that around and the rest of the world,has cotton wool (excellent song by lamb btw) in their ears, so be it.

 

I would like to believe that running an external DAC your amp went up in dividends by using one built into it, hopefully made by an audio focused (bread and butter business to em) company. Apples heritage and preference by recording artists/engineers and their solid sound hardware back when PCs were a format mashup gave them a market lead and brand loyalty, and I personally think OS X was the best thing to happen to the world of computing re: OSs... But I am no apple (or Microsoft or Sony) fan.

 

I personally believe you have headphones revealing enough to show you changes in upstream equipment. Perhaps getting away from compressed sound files might allow for se of the equipment improvements to shine on through... Remember; garbage in, garbage out.

post #65 of 211

OP, two issues I can think of in your setup:

 

1. You're amping the HD 800 with a freakin' O2. Although some say that combo works well, and it should certainly be better than your laptop's amp, I doubt the O2 is driving the HD800 to it's potential (keep in mind, I've never heard the HD800). Why don't you audition some higher-end amps? The O2 works miracles on many cans, but I doubt as tricky a pair as the HD800.

 

2. I take it you're not using a DAC, just going Laptop 3.5mm jack > O2 > HD800. "Garbage in, garbage out," as people have said.  Effectively, the HD800 is more sufficiently amped by the O2, but any negative audio effects of your laptop's jack are still in the chain (distortion, coloration, presentation, etc).  Pic up a DAC, and try that in the chain.  I guarantee an improvement (Most people, myself included, put a DAC higher in the upgrade priority list than an amp. "Garbage in, garbage out.").

post #66 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer5150 View Post
 

So deep rooted in the discussion is the ability to perceive the differences on a blind A/B.  So my stance has always been, if I can hear the difference on a blind A/B then the difference exists, if I can't then it doesn't.

 

Same here.    There is so much unadultered BS that floats around unchallenged in the hifi world, all under the guise of individual preferences.    Some people claim to hear a wider soundstage with a different firmware version, someone else is saying a mid-priced DAP is going to be "orders of magnitude" better than an iPod, etc. etc.   And dont even get me started on cables.   Why stop at cables?   Why not the PCB material?    Or quality of solder?   

 

People should understand the effect of placebo, confirmation bias, as well as differences in volume, in how sound is perceived, before making claims about the differences that they KNOW they are hearing.


Edited by vkalia - 2/24/14 at 10:53am
post #67 of 211

Funny cause PCB material does, as does the cables' sleeve.

Why stop anywhere whilst ever there are improvements to be noted?

It certainly depends on system outlay.

 

I come from a hifi world, where a 'panel' can sit and enjoy a piece of kit.

It has given me years of finding out truths for myself, and allocating worth to a given statements meaning.

 

So the people who devoted years figuring out which cable sleeve material avoid a charecteristic bump, and manufacturers who use glass pcbs/ change internal structures to reduced sound affecting chassis' resonance, or a range of sound deriding issues and ways to fix them... Are they worth it or even detectable in the avearge system? NO WAY

Do the law of returns justify this stratosphere of spending? Not really.

 

Have I become an expert at putting together a coherent system at any budget (using mostly second hand parts)that sounds tiers above the given pricepoint? Absolutely!

 

In hifi circles the Nad 3010 amp (circa 1980) is hailed as a great amp. The reality is this is a price point acknowledgement. It was budget. But it had current to spare, drove 2 ohm speakers. It may have been rated around 30watts of power,.. But still today it has a great sound. Is it the deserve power capacity (headroom), or a damping factor or slew rate that made it brilliant? People can draw any notions they wish or reach any conclusions they want, I don't wish to one person arguing the esoteric worth of meaningless mumbo jumbo (aka voodoo). It had wide copper tracts for the sound to pass through and a straight forward circuit design (sure a nice phono inpit as well).. PERHAPS the reason it sounds so good even by entry level modern amplifiers is to do with the matters reliance on ICs (integrated circuits). Many audio enthusiasts note the 'death' of hifi around 1988 when ICs in amps became the norm.

 

I have had to return award winning amps, 2 channel, that to my ears sound horrible, in a way I ascribe to a digital shrillness, and it is to do with what the market accepts as fair for that price point, but I do not understand why the market accepts it at all when cheaper amps (entry level) out music them simply for being

older and built at a time when people listened/had sources that gave 'music'.

 

Don't read me wrong, 24bit files at 96khz playing of an old galaxy s running a voodoo sound mod (direct access of software to the DAC) sound awesome. I am not an equipment/medium snob, and am happy to go to wherever good music can be found, and the best piece of music off an am radio in a 30 year old car is still going to be more listenable, to me, than an awesome recording on an megabuck and exceptional setup playing s hit e/ crapp e musiq.

 

so I do believe that bang/buck is important.

 

I concur that a DAC for the mac is going to help the Op most. I do believe the op has a belief than most any modern phone has a great DAC in it. This is not to say that their circuit/design/software is optimal, and not to forget that there are different 'binning' of parts.

 

I believe a lot of DACs are, if including a headphone output, going to have a vastly cleaner and improved sound. If they offer a line level output, then super, THAT might be something worth amping.

post #68 of 211

will it be overtly noticable running compressed sound files. Perhaps not so much.

 

when we start varying DACs we are talking about the final 'bit' ('scuse the pun) of what matters.

yes, anything to improve on a laptop output (for HD800s) should be worthwhile, I would suggest.

 

 

 

I apologize to all for my atrocious miskeying and lack of previewing. I do my replies on a winphone, no app for headfi, only one webbrowser (

engine) on the platform at it behaves very poorly.

 

eg enter key will grab from midway the previous line and carriage return my text on. And I have lost a few, in my opinion, thread following replies with it losing itself in the process of "submit=>preview=>ok", so I just get my words up any which way that works.

 

if a score of people have to waste a minute of life trying to interpret a sentence cause a key word got phone spellchecked to something other (eg previous post had the word 'matters', should have been "latters'"), my sincere apologies.

Know I suffer on the input, so I thank ye for enduring my output!

post #69 of 211
Thread Starter 

Well. Since it doesn't affect the sound in any way, I hooked up the O2 playing at low gain in my default setup, instead of connecting the headphone to the computer.

 

I also ordered a preposterously expensive pair of cardas headphone wires for the HD800. Holy s*** this is a ridiculous hobby. Sigh.

post #70 of 211

Seriously!?

 

Given your front end sources and source files, cables?

 

Alot of people might swap out cables for the last lil squeeze of sound adjusting. The people that do have the ears to hear (more so the brain to notice) the lol things that are brought about. Will your source files have anything left to be squeezed out of them (given your playback chain also being very low fi by forum standards); will you be even the remotest bit likely to notice what others here may? NOT BLOODY LIKELY

 

Will you become a huge skeptic and spew forth your sagious take at which point, tryi.g will all your might to educate other away from,such projects, and given how vocal you seem to be, will you suceed in heavily taking away credibility of the site as a whole. Yes; most likely. And this is what scares me.

 

oh and amping done wrong can kill dynamics and introduce a whole range of issues.

 

If you are so happy with your recent headphone purchase (to me it seems you just want expensive bragging rights), why mod at all.

 

Real head fi ers have already taken te to respond kindly, with enthusiasm, some care and others empathy for your listening plight.

 

A few have suggested, quite correctly, that a DAC, is the place to start.

post #71 of 211
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whitedragem View Post
 

Seriously!?

 

Given your front end sources and source files, cables?

 

Alot of people might swap out cables for the last lil squeeze of sound adjusting. The people that do have the ears to hear (more so the brain to notice) the lol things that are brought about. Will your source files have anything left to be squeezed out of them (given your playback chain also being very low fi by forum standards); will you be even the remotest bit likely to notice what others here may? NOT BLOODY LIKELY

 

Will you become a huge skeptic and spew forth your sagious take at which point, tryi.g will all your might to educate other away from,such projects, and given how vocal you seem to be, will you suceed in heavily taking away credibility of the site as a whole. Yes; most likely. And this is what scares me.

 

oh and amping done wrong can kill dynamics and introduce a whole range of issues.

 

If you are so happy with your recent headphone purchase (to me it seems you just want expensive bragging rights), why mod at all.

 

Real head fi ers have already taken te to respond kindly, with enthusiasm, some care and others empathy for your listening plight.

 

A few have suggested, quite correctly, that a DAC, is the place to start.


The cables will be a good buy regardless, because they're short. Unless they hurt the sound, of course, which doesn't seem likely.

post #72 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 


The cables will be a good buy regardless, because they're short. Unless they hurt the sound, of course, which doesn't seem likely.

It's yours to spend so do as you please but given your setup, cables would be the LAST item I spend cash on.

post #73 of 211
Thread Starter 

They're short 5 foot cables. I couldn't find 5' 1/8" HD800 cables any cheaper and I looked. If you can link to one let me know and I'll cancel the order.

post #74 of 211
Thread Starter 

Besides. Scientifically speaking, wouldn't cables make a difference in the sounds regardless of the source quality? I mean, even if the source is of bad quality, the cables would alter the sound just like they would alter the sound of a good quality source, no? It's not like the cable has the ability to know what kind of dac/bitrate you're playing.

post #75 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by ag8908 View Post
 

Besides. Scientifically speaking, wouldn't cables make a difference in the sounds regardless of the source quality? I mean, even if the source is of bad quality, the cables would alter the sound just like they would alter the sound of a good quality source, no? It's not like the cable has the ability to know what kind of dac/bitrate you're playing.

That's odd science.  If you have a reference to support that premise I'd be interested in getting a link.  

 

Even most of the die-hard cable adepts on this site will probably agree that if you want to get the best sound and best bang/buck possible the cascade is:

 

-First of all source material quality.  If the recording/mp3/flac...whatever is intrinsically bad then nothing you do will be able to improve it.

-Then headphones because in the end they determine how the signal will be translated into a sound wave and because individual tastes in reproduction (crisp/mellow/dark...) are of paramount importance.

- Then DAC/Amp, opinions as of which is most important vary and there are good arguments from both sides.  Personally and given a limited budget I would favour the amp as DAC technology has tremendously evolved and will likely continue to evolve, not so with amplifiers.  This means that any investment in a DAC will imo be subject to faster depreciation (on a side note, this is also why I'm in favour of purchasing separate units, despite the extra desk space they occupy).

- Then all the rest (balanced setup or not... for cables my personal opinion is that if you have a well constructed basic cable that's enough, some people claim to hear vast differences between a stock cable and a 2000 USD pair, all I can say is that I never experienced this but it's a  contentious topic).

 

It's been said multiple times already:  Garbage in = garbage out.  With a bad setup you might get Quality in = garbage out.  But a combo I've never yet encountered is garbage in=quality out.

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