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How much difference does an amp make?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey there. I don't own an amp but I have ATH-M50's and HD 558's. I might be getting 650's in the future.

 

How much difference does it make in having an amp to plug these headphones into? Does it sound that much better? Please explain.

post #2 of 25

In a nutshell yes it sounds better. Louder (up to a point) is better in that it allows you to hear more detail in your recordings.

post #3 of 25

depends on the amp but a properly done solid state won't change the sound of your headphones too much

post #4 of 25
Ive bought a sennheiser 580 jubilee (similar 300 ohm like hd650) some time ago together with a simple dynavox amp, the most obvious thing i noticed when i plugged the phones directly in eg a tablet, ipod player is that the volume isnt loud enough, so i found myself listening with the volume on the max, with the amp i get just the extra volume boost to make the phones sound wonderfull and more bodied.

Later i bought myself an Astell&kern ak120 which can provide 2times the volume level compared to the tablet, with this one i dont use the amp (havent heard a high end amp but this low end one doesnt do the ak120 justice)
post #5 of 25

Many people including me tell you Yes, because it needs voltage swing greater then portable player or soundcard provide.

 

However HD650 is not as demanding to amp as also many suggests here. however you can hear subtle difference between amps, because some of them are not designed to be linear and honest. Fiio E11 or O2 is two great choices. E12 also... (don't buy Magni for HD650 it makes ever darker them :biggrin: )

 

If you are open to another options consider other headphones also. After HD558, HD650 is not great upgrade, just more distorted bass.  

post #6 of 25

What you need depends on the speakers and the source. If you have relatively easy-driving headphones and a computer or device with a beefy card, then you probably don't. A demanding set with a weaker source, definitely.

 

Case in point: The Final Audio Pandora 6 has low impedance and high sensitivity, so I run it straight out of a Macbook Pro. Done and done. 

post #7 of 25

If you want to test it out for yourself just buy something cheap like a Fiio E6 or E11 and run it out of a cheap DAC (the ELE is like 18 bucks shipped) out of your USB port or maybe an LOD out of your I-device. It will be enough to convince you of the value of amplification.

post #8 of 25
I have the E11 and I've driven the M50's and HD518's (The 518's and 558's are very similar and have the same impendence)
It depends on your source. Almost any newer source can drive the M50's just fine. Something like the E11 will almost make no difference at all. It'll give it a bit of volume but that's pretty much it. However running from my iPod Mini (2004 model) they sound pretty bad and then add the E11 it helps out quit a bit. The 518's and 558's will benefit from a cheap amp a little. Adding the E11 adds a bit of detail,makes them a little less veiled sounding. But it's nothing major and most might not even be able to tell,I barely can. For the M50's and 558's skip the E11 unless you want that very very slight improvement. If you want more of a noticeable improvement from your headphones go for the E12 or O2. If you're running the HD600 (300 Ohms,the 558's are 50 Ohms and the M50's are 36) then the E11 will make a difference but for cheaper,low impendence cans I've never really seen the point of adding a cheap amp such as the E11 or E6.
post #9 of 25
Cheap amps like the E11 aren't meant to do anything really expect give high impendence headphones some extra juice. It's not until you get into something like the E12 ($120 compared to the E11's $60) that are really meant to improve sound quality,soundstage,etc.. And actually make them sound a bit better.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackened7 View Post
 

Hey there. I don't own an amp but I have ATH-M50's and HD 558's. I might be getting 650's in the future.

 

How much difference does it make in having an amp to plug these headphones into? Does it sound that much better? Please explain.

well as others have said Amps work best when paired with dacs, a very inexpensive Dac is the Beringher UAC 202, $30 shipped, you could also get something like the Fiio E18 which works with android and iPhones, which has both a dac and amp function, but the cheaper option would be to grab somethin like the E12 or E11, and use a USB Dac like the Beringher at home with ur PC then use a LOD cable with your iDevice

 

Amps work best when fed with a linear signal, and a Line out, is a linear [and by linear I mean un amped and single voltage'd] signal, it runs from dac without any amping, that clean signal allows the amp to do it's magic as they say 

 

using an amp with just a headphone out, is a little undesireable as that double amps what ever gear you have, even low impdeance headphones that dont need power get sound bloated and a little congested when over driven or double amped, and low impedance headphones do benifit from an amp driven with a Line Out signal, the don't ofc benifit as much as higher impedance headphones do 


Edited by Mshenay - 6/1/14 at 10:52pm
post #11 of 25
Which is why it's just best to get the something like the Fiio X3 and avoid all the Amp/DAC clutter an nonsense (Opinion)
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazyboy420x View Post

Which is why it's just best to get the something like the Fiio X3 and avoid all the Amp/DAC clutter an nonsense (Opinion)

True, but Apple may soon start offering High Res playback and music via iTunes, there for many people may want to keep their iPhone as a primary music source, for which a small amp like the E11 works nicely, espically if you get something like the Fiio LOD cable 

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mshenay View Post

True, but Apple may soon start offering High Res playback and music via iTunes, there for many people may want to keep their iPhone as a primary music source, for which a small amp like the E11 works nicely, espically if you get something like the Fiio LOD cable 
I really notice no difference at all between using the standard 3.5mm line out and the L9 LOD with my E11. Even on 3 different iPod models. Maybe I've just got bad ears..
That high res playback sounds great though! They should just start offering to let you download lossless FLAC files straight from the iTunes Store. Now the best you can get is 256AAC. 360kbps can only be achieved though putting your own CD's on there and putting FLAC files on your iPod now is much too much of a pain.
Edited by Lazyboy420x - 6/2/14 at 10:43am
post #14 of 25
Something like the X3 is still great though. It's a DAP with a better DAC than an iPod and it's pretty much got an E12 built into it. Just adding the E12 to my iPod (Which I think was VERY overpriced at $300) would make it over a $400 combo. Much more expensive than the X3.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lazyboy420x View Post

Something like the X3 is still great though. It's a DAP with a better DAC than an iPod and it's pretty much got an E12 built into it. Just adding the E12 to my iPod (Which I think was VERY overpriced at $300) would make it over a $400 combo. Much more expensive than the X3.

very true, but some people like Apple enough to enjoy paying for it 

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