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Ops Amps - why some don't like them, and portable rig question

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi,  still new to the world of head fi.  I'm considering a portable rig using RSA Intruder,  or  RSA SR-71B (Amp) + CypherLabs Algorthm Solo-db (DAC).

 

in the process, I have seen posts about 'op amps' implying they are not desirable. Is this simply a tube vs. ss debate?  is there something I should know about ops amps when considering products for a high-end portable rig that can drive planar headphones, IEMs, and also provide an output to active desktop speakers? 

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by qveda View Post
 

Hi,  still new to the world of head fi.  I'm considering a portable rig using RSA Intruder,  or  RSA SR-71B (Amp) + CypherLabs Algorthm Solo-db (DAC).

 

in the process, I have seen posts about 'op amps' implying they are not desirable. Is this simply a tube vs. ss debate?  is there something I should know about ops amps when considering products for a high-end portable rig that can drive planar headphones, IEMs, and also provide an output to active desktop speakers? 


Opamps are like everything else in audio electronics.  There are good ones and not-so-good ones.  Even with the good ones, it takes special considerations with the surrounding circuit and PCB layout to allow them to operate to full potential.  That leaves a lot of variance out there in the market.

 

Stable opamps are generally a lot more forgiving and can be "rolled" into audio circuits similar to tubes - meaning they can be swapped in and out for subtle changes in sound.  This is because almost every opamp differs in its own internal circuitry.  However, stable opamps can sound "tame" compared to their discrete equivalent (separate transistors, etc.)  Often, such opamps will also have elaborate protection circuitry.  These things have an impact on audio quality.

 

Generally speaking, though, whether tube, opamp, or discrete electronics - when properly implemented, they can sound as good as the best audio.  When implemented with a bit less care (or expense), results can vary widely.

 

Keep in mind that most likely pursuing a journey to find a "portable" rig that can drive planar headphones or desktop speakers is not going to have a good end.  Maybe "active" desktop speakers would make a difference, but that seems more a question of music source - not amp.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

 

Keep in mind that most likely pursuing a journey to find a "portable" rig that can drive planar headphones or desktop speakers is not going to have a good end.  Maybe "active" desktop speakers would make a difference, but that seems more a question of music source - not amp.

 

Thanks Tomb,   I am thinking now that my desktop computer speakers - even pretty good ones - would be active and receive line out from the iMac headphone jack.  

 

For more critical listening, I am hoping that a  portable system (ipod or A&K + DAC-Amp) would be practical and more than satisfying for me - so that I can listen critically not only at my desk, and could take this with me to demo headphones etc.

 

Reviews of products from cypherlabs, RSA, ALO, Centrance, and others indicate that they are very capable.    Do you feel that none of the 'portable' products would produce satisfying results through headphones like  Alpha Dogs,  LCD-X et al?     Do you have any recommendations 

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by qveda View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 

 

Keep in mind that most likely pursuing a journey to find a "portable" rig that can drive planar headphones or desktop speakers is not going to have a good end.  Maybe "active" desktop speakers would make a difference, but that seems more a question of music source - not amp.

 

Thanks Tomb,   I am thinking now that my desktop computer speakers - even pretty good ones - would be active and receive line out from the iMac headphone jack.  

 

For more critical listening, I am hoping that a  portable system (ipod or A&K + DAC-Amp) would be practical and more than satisfying for me - so that I can listen critically not only at my desk, and could take this with me to demo headphones etc.

 

Reviews of products from cypherlabs, RSA, ALO, Centrance, and others indicate that they are very capable.    Do you feel that none of the 'portable' products would produce satisfying results through headphones like  Alpha Dogs,  LCD-X et al?     Do you have any recommendations 


There is nothing whatsoever wrong with the goal of pursuing high-quality audio with a portable amp and IEMs.

 

When it comes to pairing portables with something like Alpha Dogs or Audeze, that's a totally different matter.  Unfortunately, there are many around here who will probably tell you an Asus sound card or iPod will work just fine with an LCD-X.  The truth is far from that, though, especially when talking about orthos.  There are compromises made with portable amps that will never allow them to compete with a desktop.  That doesn't mean you can't get very high-quality listening with a great portable and great "portable" heapdhones (need not be IEM's).  You just have to be careful in your selection.  Get a pair of headphones that are optimized for portables - very efficient, low impedance, etc.

 

Meanwhile, you might read this thread - it was started by a very respected and long-term Head-Fi participant:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/419349/before-you-buy-headphones-a-hopefully-helpful-guide-for-newbies

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for that link.  I understand and point well taken.  My main reason for starting with portable is that I don't have a room at home that is (yet) suitable to set up a home system in.  A portable system would allow me to listen in more than just one room.    Eventually I do expect to be able to set up a nice office/listening room for critical listening.    

 

In the meantime, my portable system will be intended for the best critical listening I can manage.   And I'd prefer not to start low and upgrade repeatedly to get to where I expect to end up.  So was thinking about starting with headphones that would be suitable for a variety of systems 

 

What i hear you saying , and from the link, is that I would be well advised to consider headphones or IEMs that are 'forgiving' for use with ipod-based , AK, etc player/amp combo. - which might be ones that are less revealing (and expensive) as ones I was thinking of ( Audeze, for example).  Perhaps some dynamics rather than planars for example.


Edited by qveda - 5/10/14 at 12:40pm
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