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Intro and confusion

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

I just signed up here in the hope of getting some information and being pointed in the right direction.

I'm not sure how I would describe my aural capabilities, I know my hearing has deteriorated with age but I can still hear differences with different equipment, or at least I thought I could.

 

Recently I purchased a MacBook Pro and together with Audirvana I have been discovering the delights of 24/96 audio. Just before I discovered this I had been looking for a good pair of noise cancelling headphones and after listening to them I bought a pair of Bose QC15's They sound really good to me and when I'm traveling, something I do a lot of, they really come into their own. I appreciate they might not be the finest headphones but nor do I think they are the worst, probably a capable all round mid range job might sum them up.

 

As a next step I have considered going the external DAC route and here is where I've come a little unstuck. I visited Jet Live here in Bangkok and must say they have a great selection of almost everything a Head Fi nut might want, and more. I auditioned an FiiO Alpen E17 with a variety of source material and using the Bose QC15 phones. Switching back and forth between the iMac and the E17 I could discern absolutely no difference in the sound in any way. This left me more than a little disappointed, though perhaps less so than I had I bought it untested.

 

I'm curious what I'm doing wrong or at least what I should consider changing in order to actually hear a difference. I don't think I'd want to spend more than say about $500 at this point but is it unreasonable to expect finding an external DAC and headphone amp that will sound different, in a better way? The very nice man in the shop suggested that the QC15's character is such as to mask any differences, is that really right? Just a nice way to say they are completely incapable?

 

Many thanks for any thoughts and ideas.

 

Martin

Bangkok, Thailand (Most of the time)

post #2 of 9

The macbook pro has a decently good sounding headphone output jack, especially with lower impedance headphones... Grado, Denon, Sony..etc.

 

My K701 most clearly presents the sonic differences between my macbook and external DAC (an OPA2107 modded Entech).  its not a night and day difference, but it is one worth noting... IMHO.

 

The bose QC headphones are not going to be detail revealing enough to hear sonic differences between the equipment in contention here.  Before others accuse me of Bose bashing (like I admittedly have done in the past)... I own an AE2 and use it periodically for its strengths, while my RS1, K701 and HD650 sit idle.  In all objectivity, detail resolution is not a Bose strength.


Edited by kramer5150 - 4/3/14 at 12:45am
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick and thoughtful response. I was surprised when I learned that the MBP can do 96kHz itself without the need for extra hardware and I'm guessing that is perhaps more the problem, the laptop is good enough and perhaps the headphones less so such that anything in between is going to get a bit lost. Perhaps I will have to consider other phones for more static listening pleasure.

post #4 of 9

I have not heard the QC15, but at a place with almost everything a HeadFi might want I would test other headphones - including expensive ones, whether in my budget or not - prior to testing amps/dacs. In any case you can check gear higher than the E17 and see if you hear a difference.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

That would have been my next move, ran out of time on that occasion but I'll be back for some more. Just wondering if I'm going about things in the right way. Will have to rethink this a bit. A more competent headphone might indeed be a better starting point.

post #6 of 9

I suggest you some reading on digital audio and maybe visit the sound science forum. You'll save a lot of money that way.

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by zednut View Post
 

That would have been my next move, ran out of time on that occasion but I'll be back for some more. Just wondering if I'm going about things in the right way. Will have to rethink this a bit. A more competent headphone might indeed be a better starting point.

Generally the headphone is the most significant contributor to the quality you hear.  You are already into 16 - 24 bit lossless audio and a macbook for amplification.  Thats definitely a good enough quality level to justify a headphone upgrade.  I tried to google it but could not dig up what DAC chip-set apple uses for the macbook pro, but there are lots of users out there that agree with what  I have been saying in regards to the MBP headphone jack sound quality

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by zednut View Post
 

 

 

As a next step I have considered going the external DAC route and here is where I've come a little unstuck. I visited Jet Live here in Bangkok and must say they have a great selection of almost everything a Head Fi nut might want, and more. I auditioned an FiiO Alpen E17 with a variety of source material and using the Bose QC15 phones. Switching back and forth between the iMac and the E17 I could discern absolutely no difference in the sound in any way. This left me more than a little disappointed, though perhaps less so than I had I bought it untested.

 


I would go back to that store and try listening to various equipment with different headphones. Try some headphones you could afford, try the most expensive headphones they have, and see if you hear any differences. That should answer your question better than what anyone here could tell you. 

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by zednut View Post
 

Hi,

 

I just signed up here in the hope of getting some information and being pointed in the right direction.

I'm not sure how I would describe my aural capabilities, I know my hearing has deteriorated with age but I can still hear differences with different equipment, or at least I thought I could.

 

Recently I purchased a MacBook Pro and together with Audirvana I have been discovering the delights of 24/96 audio. Just before I discovered this I had been looking for a good pair of noise cancelling headphones and after listening to them I bought a pair of Bose QC15's They sound really good to me and when I'm traveling, something I do a lot of, they really come into their own. I appreciate they might not be the finest headphones but nor do I think they are the worst, probably a capable all round mid range job might sum them up.

 

As a next step I have considered going the external DAC route and here is where I've come a little unstuck. I visited Jet Live here in Bangkok and must say they have a great selection of almost everything a Head Fi nut might want, and more. I auditioned an FiiO Alpen E17 with a variety of source material and using the Bose QC15 phones. Switching back and forth between the iMac and the E17 I could discern absolutely no difference in the sound in any way. This left me more than a little disappointed, though perhaps less so than I had I bought it untested.

 

I'm curious what I'm doing wrong or at least what I should consider changing in order to actually hear a difference. I don't think I'd want to spend more than say about $500 at this point but is it unreasonable to expect finding an external DAC and headphone amp that will sound different, in a better way? The very nice man in the shop suggested that the QC15's character is such as to mask any differences, is that really right? Just a nice way to say they are completely incapable?

 

Many thanks for any thoughts and ideas.

 

Martin

Bangkok, Thailand (Most of the time)

 

The Bose QC15 has active noise cancellation, meaning whatever signal that goes in regardless of the noise level will go through its own processing circuit, as its microphones measure the noise and then play a signal through the earphone that cancels them out, effectively negating what little difference there is between the DAC on the Macbook and the on the E17. Also, as much as the E17 might have a much better amp than the Macbook, the QC15 might not need that much power to begin with (or regardless of the damping factor would be deafening and therefore useless by the time either amp circuit produces distortion or is unable to control the driver excursion), or depending on how that noise cancellation system works, it might have its own amplifier built into the earcups, through which the active cancellation system introduces and plays the signal that cancels outside noise.

 

If you're going to change anything to hear differences, then change the headphones. However, if you like the Bose now and as it is you did not even identify anything wrong with the sound, why spend on replacing it? I might know a lot more about what I don't like about its sound, but we can't just go with that; you'd have to hear for yourself at some point. Since there's a shop there with headphone gear I suggest you hang out there a bit more, listen and maybe you might find something else that you like. That's already a lot better than most cities in N. America, where their access to online shopping and finance is offset by the lack of brick and mortar stores as well as larger distances between Head-Fi-ers that make meets grand but far-between (in cities here, like Manila and Davao, all it takes is for someone to post in a local forum about a "mini-meet," and one happens after work).

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