Originally Posted by GlobalDeveloper
I've looking for headphones to buy for almost 5 months now and I still cann't make up my mind. I'm torn between the Sennhiser HD 558 and the ATH-M50 (and, although with less enthusiasm, the Sennheiser HD 439). I really like the sound of my great sounding and unbelievably uncomfortable AKG K518LE. The thing is that the ATH-M50 give a very flat responce, while the HD 558 and K518 emphasize the parts I like. Can an amplifier be used to highlight some sounds, thus making studio headphones feel like Hi-Fi or DJ headphones? Do you think it's worth it, or that there are better ways?
If an amp is deliberately highlighting some sounds, it's not really high fidelity, which by definition means you have to stay true to the input signal the same way you don't cheat on your wife with someone who has fake boobs. An amplifier's job is to amplify the input signal, and to do so while providing the adequate amount of power to a given speaker or headphone. Basically the only difference between one good amp vs a more expensive one, ideally anyway, is that one amp makes more power (voltage and/or current) but still at the same or even lower level of THD. If for example you have a powerful enough amp, you can always EQ the bass depending on the source you're using, and the higher current of that amp will have more headroom before it distorts. Take note that boosting the EQ isn't infinite - a powerful amp and a headphone driver that can't handle such frequencies regardless of current and damping factor will still distort if you go too far, the same way a 1,000watt amp driving a 15" subwoofer will distort if you EQ the music so you can blow your windshield off playing Lil Jon. In headphones, I've only experienced bass distortion and dynamic driver over excursion (it makes a "thwack! thwack!" sound along with the loud bass notes) with a NuForce HDP, but that was from the response of its DAC and possibly its amp or the PSU, not from my playing around with an EQ.
That said you can always find amps that were designed to deliberately color the sound, like tube amps, or some amps that have the option to do so, like one that has bass boost. I think Fiio DAC-Amps have bass boost on them, but I'm not sure if they work if only used as an amp; their amps might still have this feature though.
Edited by ProtegeManiac - 3/19/14 at 8:05pm