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What to connect my HD800s to?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey all, 

 

I have a pair of HD800s. I always read stuff about these "requiring" a good amp and whatnot, but why exactly is that? If I plug these in straight into my computer, using a thick to thin plug converter, what about the sound would be worse? I've read that amps turn up the sound, but can't I just turn up the volume to compensate? I currently have an Apogee Duet Firewire (silver one) audio interface for my music productions. Is this good for HD800s? I'm just not sure what an amp EXACTLY does to the sound. I've listened to music on my iPhone with my HD800s without an amp, and it doesn't sound bad at all. Much better than any headphone I've ever had in the past.

 

Thoughts?

post #2 of 7

You will definitely want a dedicated amp for the HD800s to push them to their full potential.

 

What is your budget?

 

If $250, then consider Schiit Asgard 2 or Matrix M-stage.

 

If $700, consider Woo WA6.

 

If $1000, consider Violectric V200.

 

If $1200, consider Woo WA2.

 

Just some suggestions.  The HD800s are top tier headphones, and you're not getting anywhere near the top performance from them by plugging them directly into your computer. 

post #3 of 7

How in the world did you get such headphones without any knowledge of audio equipment?  I'm also curious what your source is.  $10 it's all 128kbps mp3s or audio from youtube videos.

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginseng View Post
 

Hey all, 

 

I have a pair of HD800s. I always read stuff about these "requiring" a good amp and whatnot, but why exactly is that? If I plug these in straight into my computer, using a thick to thin plug converter, what about the sound would be worse? I've read that amps turn up the sound, but can't I just turn up the volume to compensate? I currently have an Apogee Duet Firewire (silver one) audio interface for my music productions. Is this good for HD800s? I'm just not sure what an amp EXACTLY does to the sound. I've listened to music on my iPhone with my HD800s without an amp, and it doesn't sound bad at all. Much better than any headphone I've ever had in the past.

 

Thoughts?

 

An amp isn't just about higher output, but also less distortion at that output, ergo less deviation from the signal. However, there is a possibility that you might actually like the sound less. First, if you're connecting it to an earphone output, there could be a mismatch between the output impedance of the output and the input impedance of the amp, and even without distortion, you might not have the patience to sort out the gain setting; not to mention that if you're using Windows volume control, you could reduce it well below 14bits if the gain on the output and the amp is too high (or the sensitivity of the headphone). Second, and this depends solely on your tastes, a system with an amplification that has a lot less distortion can be less enjoyable for those who enjoy certain distortion characteristics, in much the same way that there are people who really like cheap tube amplifiers for their "mellow treble" and think that really good (solid state) amps have "sharp treble and not enough bass."

 

If it works well out of your iPhone it might simply be that it isn't producing enough distortion, but for example my HD600 off an iPod Touch 3 has bloated bass at max volume (which is too weak otherwise), and grainy treble and midrange, so the added efficientcy on the HD800 might be helping you. The Firewire Duet I would suppose is good enough too; it isn't exactly equipped with the kind of power supply on real amps, but that should bridge the gap between the soundcard or smartphone and an amp. One thing you can try is see if you can get hold of a system with a proper amplification, headphone or speaker, then check anything you've mixed on these.* An easy indicator is if there is too much or too little bass, an indicator that you've probably been compensating too much depending on the distortion characteristics of your current gear. I have friends who wondered how their first discs sound great on the console (monitors and ATH-M50s) but sucked on iPod earbuds; then when they started compensating for the latter (and other affordable earphones) it was a little bass-heavy in the studio; in my system the older EPs actually sound better too, mostly because instead of following older standards, they went for the "current industry standard" known on audio forums as "the loudness wars."

 

 

 

 

*(make sure the speakers go down to around 40hz at least, so no compromise with standmounts, but look for speakers with tight bass

post #5 of 7

remember..headphone is same like speaker.they necessarily need a amplifier to support them.acctually your computer have a amplifier as well.but not as wll as those people talked about

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

An amp isn't just about higher output, but also less distortion at that output, ergo less deviation from the signal. However, there is a possibility that you might actually like the sound less. First, if you're connecting it to an earphone output, there could be a mismatch between the output impedance of the output and the input impedance of the amp, and even without distortion, you might not have the patience to sort out the gain setting; not to mention that if you're using Windows volume control, you could reduce it well below 14bits if the gain on the output and the amp is too high (or the sensitivity of the headphone). Second, and this depends solely on your tastes, a system with an amplification that has a lot less distortion can be less enjoyable for those who enjoy certain distortion characteristics, in much the same way that there are people who really like cheap tube amplifiers for their "mellow treble" and think that really good (solid state) amps have "sharp treble and not enough bass."

 

If it works well out of your iPhone it might simply be that it isn't producing enough distortion, but for example my HD600 off an iPod Touch 3 has bloated bass at max volume (which is too weak otherwise), and grainy treble and midrange, so the added efficientcy on the HD800 might be helping you. The Firewire Duet I would suppose is good enough too; it isn't exactly equipped with the kind of power supply on real amps, but that should bridge the gap between the soundcard or smartphone and an amp. One thing you can try is see if you can get hold of a system with a proper amplification, headphone or speaker, then check anything you've mixed on these.* An easy indicator is if there is too much or too little bass, an indicator that you've probably been compensating too much depending on the distortion characteristics of your current gear. I have friends who wondered how their first discs sound great on the console (monitors and ATH-M50s) but sucked on iPod earbuds; then when they started compensating for the latter (and other affordable earphones) it was a little bass-heavy in the studio; in my system the older EPs actually sound better too, mostly because instead of following older standards, they went for the "current industry standard" known on audio forums as "the loudness wars."

 

 

 

 

*(make sure the speakers go down to around 40hz at least, so no compromise with standmounts, but look for speakers with tight bass

Thanks for the really great help. I'm also wondering, if I buy the HDVD800 amp from sennheiser, how would I connect it to my computer? I currently have an Apogee Duet. Would I connect my headphone to the HDVD800 to the Duet, then to my computer? Or does an HDVD800 replace an Apogee Duet? 

 

Oh I should also mention, would an HDVD800 be ok to use as an input for my studio monitors? (I have a pair of JBL 4328, and two subwoofers with a similar model #; 4-something-something-something) 


Edited by ginseng - 2/26/14 at 12:43am
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ginseng View Post
 

Thanks for the really great help. I'm also wondering, if I buy the HDVD800 amp from sennheiser, how would I connect it to my computer? I currently have an Apogee Duet. Would I connect my headphone to the HDVD800 to the Duet, then to my computer? Or does an HDVD800 replace an Apogee Duet? 

 

You replace the Apogee duet. The HDVD800 has analog inputs, but it also has three digital inputs (hence, its own DAC - digital to analoque converter - circuit inside), one of them is USB. So you just hook up the computer via USB.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ginseng View Post
 

Oh I should also mention, would an HDVD800 be ok to use as an input for my studio monitors? (I have a pair of JBL 4328, and two subwoofers with a similar model #; 4-something-something-something) 

 

You mean an output going into the studio monitors? I checked the product page and the HDVD800 only has analogue inputs, no preamp output. Your Duet has a pigtail that gives it a proper preamp output going to monitors, correct? If you need studio monitors it might be better to just stay with the Duet. I'm not sure what it sounds like, but I'm one to think it may have a decent enough headphone amp circuit (at least for one powered by USB), and if you can't tell the difference between its DAC and headphone amp vs the soundcard, then you could probably stick with that one for a while until you get to listen to a an amp with its own power supply without buying it, and then you can tell for yourself if you can hear the difference.

 

The thing is, while it isn't exactly placebo, a better amp's changes will only be readily apparent if the device it is being compared to is absolutely horrible at your listening level (which doesn't need to be loud).* If your listening level for example gets no distortion, then listening at the same level with a better amp would probably have very subtle improvements in transparency, bass response/tightness and overall PRAT since the amp/soundcard/Duet you were previously using wasn't distorting yet. Worse yet, what if it actually is distorting, but you can't tell that there already is some distortion? At this point you would either be absolutely wowed by how much clearer it is, or you would not hear anything and hate everyone who told you to blow money on that amp, without much of a middle ground.




*Just an added example of how clean and how much reserve juice a real amplifier has, my brother once put his hand on my shoulder - totally did not see him walk past the flat window, nor heard him open the main door then the guest room door, and told me to put the headphone down on the desk. Guess what - I could use it as a speaker. I don't really even listen that loud, but when I turned it up for one of my favorite power metal songs, I turned waaaaaaaaaay up without realizing how loud it was just because my perception of loudness takes into account distortion. And I'm someone who would normally say, "the heck do you need that much power for?!" Checked the specs and apparently my amp also makes around 1watt per channel - something that wasn't mentioned in the reviews I read. This was on low gain though and when this happened I had it on full tilt; on high gain I can't get past 12:00 on the dial unless it's a low average level classical music CD.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 2/26/14 at 2:15am
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