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Will it make a difference?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I had some questions about my current setup vs the new dac+amp I'll be receiving thursday/friday-ish.

 

 

I currently have hifiman he-500's and a Fiio d3 dac, and fiio e5 amp.   The 500's sound absolutely wonderful, but don't seem to get to "max volume" I'd say maybe 75% of what they could probably do (Compared to my AD-900x at max volume).

 

I ordered an objective 2 + ODAC combo from my friend @ MayflowerElectronics, and while I know they'll be able to get to full volume with the new amp, there should also be better sound quality in theory as well right?

I know the d3 DAC will be slightly worse than whatever DAC is in the fiio e10, which the ODAC is superior too, and not far off the DAC 1. It's only by a tiny bit though, I'm unsure if I'll notice a difference in the sound quality from that.

 

But on the amp side of things, I don't see much... "Amp measurement readings" for what higher end amps do to the music vs mid range/ lower end range amps.

People like to say their $5,000 amp outperforms a cheaper solution, but is there any actual measurements done to prove these claims? Or is it just snake oil?

 

 

I think I'll notice a difference, but a few of my friends also say I may not notice a difference (other than volume).   I have a friend that went from an o2 + odac to a "Syba dac amp" ($45) and said he noticed no difference in sound quality on his entire range of headphones.  (AKG 612, HD 650, many others)

post #2 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenLays View Post
 

I had some questions about my current setup vs the new dac+amp I'll be receiving thursday/friday-ish.

 

 

I currently have hifiman he-500's and a Fiio d3 dac, and fiio e5 amp.   The 500's sound absolutely wonderful, but don't seem to get to "max volume" I'd say maybe 75% of what they could probably do (Compared to my AD-900x at max volume).

 

I ordered an objective 2 + ODAC combo from my friend @ MayflowerElectronics, and while I know they'll be able to get to full volume with the new amp, there should also be better sound quality in theory as well right?

I know the d3 DAC will be slightly worse than whatever DAC is in the fiio e10, which the ODAC is superior too, and not far off the DAC 1. It's only by a tiny bit though, I'm unsure if I'll notice a difference in the sound quality from that.

 

But on the amp side of things, I don't see much... "Amp measurement readings" for what higher end amps do to the music vs mid range/ lower end range amps.

People like to say their $5,000 amp outperforms a cheaper solution, but is there any actual measurements done to prove these claims? Or is it just snake oil?

 

 

I think I'll notice a difference, but a few of my friends also say I may not notice a difference (other than volume).   I have a friend that went from an o2 + odac to a "Syba dac amp" ($45) and said he noticed no difference in sound quality on his entire range of headphones.  (AKG 612, HD 650, many others)

The answer is BOTH.  Most definitely there are measurements out there for harmonic distortion and freq response/linearity.  I have seen these kinds of measurements across a wide price range of products, as low-end as a Sansa Clip and Ipod shuffle (off the top of my head).  But theres also a lot of subjective impression and bias too.  Its not an all or nothing / black and white field of information.  Its a mixture of both.

 

Then on top of that, theres the running dispute of what really "sounds better"?  To many, harmonic distortion and frequency response colorations sound better to the ear and by that standard "outperform" other circuits that measure lower levels of both.  There are others, who prefer neutrality, and to their ears less "color" sounds better.  So what measures better on paper often times does not sound better to the ear.  It would not surprise me the least if you find a "better amp" (like your O2/ODAC) to sound less preferable.

 

The best thing is for you to try it out and hear for yourself.  You mention your friend has a Syba DAC... meet up with him and do a blind ABX test with your HE500.  See if you really can hear a difference and which sounds better to you.

 

For me personally on a blind ABX I can hear the (sometimes slight) differences between all my amps.  I generally cycle them in/out of the mix depending on my mood and the cans I am listening to at the moment. 


Edited by kramer5150 - 5/10/14 at 9:00am
post #3 of 7
I think you will notice a difference, and you will appreciate the improvement since the E5 is about as budget as one can get for amplifier.

However, since you already ordered the O2 + ODAC, you are definitely going to find out. Might as well ignore the buyer's remorse attack and wait patiently smily_headphones1.gif
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenLays View Post

 

But on the amp side of things, I don't see much... "Amp measurement readings" for what higher end amps do to the music vs mid range/ lower end range amps.

People like to say their $5,000 amp outperforms a cheaper solution, but is there any actual measurements done to prove these claims? Or is it just snake oil?

 

 

I think I'll notice a difference, but a few of my friends also say I may not notice a difference (other than volume).   I have a friend that went from an o2 + odac to a "Syba dac amp" ($45) and said he noticed no difference in sound quality on his entire range of headphones.  (AKG 612, HD 650, many others)

 

If you don't need that much volume (you don't like it THAT loud, you have a very quiet neighborhood and/or it's cold enough you don't need artificial ventilation with the windows closed, etc) then assuming you can get to a soft listening volume you like nearly any amp or source with a headphone amp can be enough. However you don't need to get to deafening SPL to notice the difference between a $100 tiny amp using a tiny battery or USB-powered amp and a proper $250 amp with a real power supply with huge capacitance, particularly when you're using them with low imepdance headphones that need more current or high impedance headphones that need a lot of voltage output (some amps do a lot better on just one of these). So basically my first point is not to use a $5,000 amp for comparison especially these days when you can get a decent amp for $250 to $500 from Schiit (discrete, pure, old school tech) and Meier (great op-amp implmentation, now with digital volume control with an analog knob control).

 

As for measurements, there actually is one way to see why an amp with a real power supply is necessary. Find any impedance to frequency graphs on your headphone; now think about how real music is compared to a sine sweep used to create that graph. Some frequencies can deviate from the nominal impedance, and in real music, every microsecond moment you have a wide range of frequencies playing. If your amp can't provide the current necessary to keep up with that, even if it does provide enough voltage for listening to those headphones at a more elevated listening level, a true high current amp* will provide better dynamic range where the louder sounds will "pop" out more over the softer sounds (provided it was recorded properly), percussion will hit harder, the attack on notes will be better defined while decay will not linger too long, etc. If your amp or source for example (these are very rough figures) makes 30mW at 32ohms wtih 0.5% THD, and you use a 56-ohm headphone with an 88db sensitivity but impedance swings  a bit wide, how much more power does it have over the nominal output on tap for dynamic notes at only 0.1% (or less) THD? 


*Do not confuse this with "current drive" amps - some amps are voltage drive designs, and provide a lot of current to high impedance headphones, like OTL tube amps; they make a lot less power (rms and dynamic) at lower impedance though, hence current drive designs (speaker amps tend to be more similar to current drive)

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

If you don't need that much volume (you don't like it THAT loud, you have a very quiet neighborhood and/or it's cold enough you don't need artificial ventilation with the windows closed, etc) then assuming you can get to a soft listening volume you like nearly any amp or source with a headphone amp can be enough. However you don't need to get to deafening SPL to notice the difference between a $100 tiny amp using a tiny battery or USB-powered amp and a proper $250 amp with a real power supply with huge capacitance, particularly when you're using them with low imepdance headphones that need more current or high impedance headphones that need a lot of voltage output (some amps do a lot better on just one of these). So basically my first point is not to use a $5,000 amp for comparison especially these days when you can get a decent amp for $250 to $500 from Schiit (discrete, pure, old school tech) and Meier (great op-amp implmentation, now with digital volume control with an analog knob control).

 

As for measurements, there actually is one way to see why an amp with a real power supply is necessary. Find any impedance to frequency graphs on your headphone; now think about how real music is compared to a sine sweep used to create that graph. Some frequencies can deviate from the nominal impedance, and in real music, every microsecond moment you have a wide range of frequencies playing. If your amp can't provide the current necessary to keep up with that, even if it does provide enough voltage for listening to those headphones at a more elevated listening level, a true high current amp* will provide better dynamic range where the louder sounds will "pop" out more over the softer sounds (provided it was recorded properly), percussion will hit harder, the attack on notes will be better defined while decay will not linger too long, etc. If your amp or source for example (these are very rough figures) makes 30mW at 32ohms wtih 0.5% THD, and you use a 56-ohm headphone with an 88db sensitivity but impedance swings  a bit wide, how much more power does it have over the nominal output on tap for dynamic notes at only 0.1% (or less) THD? 


*Do not confuse this with "current drive" amps - some amps are voltage drive designs, and provide a lot of current to high impedance headphones, like OTL tube amps; they make a lot less power (rms and dynamic) at lower impedance though, hence current drive designs (speaker amps tend to be more similar to current drive)

 

 

 

Where do I get my hands on a Meier concerto? I saw a few people saying it's one of the best amps they've ever used with LCD-2 and HE-500,  and I'm actually looking to return my HE-500 and buy LCD-2.  Obviously I'll try my o2+odac first with them, then upgrade if I see fit.  

 

( I wanted LCD-2 in the first place, but couldn't afford.  But I found a great price on them "B-stock" so I figured I'd get em)

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarrenLays View Post
 

 

 

 

Where do I get my hands on a Meier concerto? I saw a few people saying it's one of the best amps they've ever used with LCD-2 and HE-500,  and I'm actually looking to return my HE-500 and buy LCD-2.  Obviously I'll try my o2+odac first with them, then upgrade if I see fit.  

 

( I wanted LCD-2 in the first place, but couldn't afford.  But I found a great price on them "B-stock" so I figured I'd get em)

 

The Concerto is out of production, but the new Classic AFAIK is even better. As much as you can get a Concerto for a lot less, in case you're gonna use a Meier DAC too, best to get the Classic. The Concerto and StageDAC or the newer DACcord don't have the same size chassis; however the Classic now uses the larger chassis used on the DACs.

 

http://www.meier-audio.homepage.t-online.de/amplifiers.htm

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I think you will notice a difference, and you will appreciate the improvement since the E5 is about as budget as one can get for amplifier.

However, since you already ordered the O2 + ODAC, you are definitely going to find out. Might as well ignore the buyer's remorse attack and wait patiently smily_headphones1.gif

Agree'd I think the o2 oDac combo will be a noticeable improvement, for me with each DAC upgrade I've made I've noticed some new details in my music which is imo pretty cool! 

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