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Headphone AMP that is good for low/high impedance headphones?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm so green on all of this so please forgive my temporary ignorance.

 

If an amp has a Hi & Low Gain switch, as I see on the Asgard 2, is that for low and high impedance headphones/earbuds? 

 

I see some amps have 2 headphone jacks, 1 for hi and the other for low impedance cans...same thing as a hi/low gain switch just presented in a different way?

 

What would be a great stand alone amp under $300 that has a low and high headphone impedance option? Would like something that would work well with a cheap pair of IEM's all the way up to a hard to drive set of cans...if there is such a thing.

post #2 of 12
Not so much impedance. Some headphones may be more or less sensitive or more demanding on the amp in other ways.

Why do you need two jacks? There are headphone amps that are good at driving both low and high impedance headphones using only one jack. (Asgard 2 works well for that).
post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xpresser View Post
 

I'm so green on all of this so please forgive my temporary ignorance.

If an amp has a Hi & Low Gain switch, as I see on the Asgard 2, is that for low and high impedance headphones/earbuds? 

I see some amps have 2 headphone jacks, 1 for hi and the other for low impedance cans...same thing as a hi/low gain switch just presented in a different way?

What would be a great stand alone amp under $300 that has a low and high headphone impedance option? Would like something that would work well with a cheap pair of IEM's all the way up to a hard to drive set of cans...if there is such a thing.

 

Audio-GD NFB-15, $255+shipping, external DAC and headphone amplifier, can work with headphones from 12-Ohms to 600-Ohm.

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

post #4 of 12
As a stand alone amp, not an amp/dac, I like the Asgard 2. An Objective 2 should do the trick as well at well under $300. I've never listened to an O2 but from everything available it should do tge trick for you
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Not so much impedance. Some headphones may be more or less sensitive or more demanding on the amp in other ways.

Why do you need two jacks? There are headphone amps that are good at driving both low and high impedance headphones using only one jack. (Asgard 2 works well for that).

 

 

I never said I needed two jacks. I said, "I see some amps have 2 headphone jacks, 1 for hi and the other for low impedance cans...same thing as a hi/low gain switch just presented in a different way?"

 

Thank you for the Asgard recommendation. 

post #6 of 12

Most of the time the only reason to worry about output impedance is going to be when dealing with OTL (output transformer-less) tube headphone amps. These amps can sometimes have a high output impedance which will result in a lower frequency drop with low impedance headphones. Unless you're dealing with an OTL tube amp, you don't really have to worry about it.

 

If you want to be sure, apply the 1/8th rule. The amp's output impedance should be at most 1/8th the impedance of your headphones (so if you're for example using Grados which are 32ohm, you want an output impedance lower than 4ohm).


Edited by elmoe - 6/14/14 at 10:27am
post #7 of 12

NFB-11 >> NFB-15

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

Most of the time the only reason to worry about output impedance is going to be when dealing with OTL (output transformer-less) tube headphone amps. These amps can sometimes have a high output impedance which will result in a lower frequency drop with low impedance headphones. Unless you're dealing with an OTL tube amp, you don't really have to worry about it.

 

If you want to be sure, apply the 1/8th rule. The amp's output impedance should be at most 1/8th the impedance of your headphones (so if you're for example using Grados which are 32ohm, you want an output impedance lower than 4ohm).

Excellent...thank you for that info elmoe. Makes sense 

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam21 View Post
 

NFB-11 >> NFB-15

I spent some time last night looking at that NFB-15 and learning about the company. It does indeed look to be a very nice option

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoe View Post
 

Most of the time the only reason to worry about output impedance is going to be when dealing with OTL (output transformer-less) tube headphone amps. These amps can sometimes have a high output impedance which will result in a lower frequency drop with low impedance headphones. Unless you're dealing with an OTL tube amp, you don't really have to worry about it.

 

If you want to be sure, apply the 1/8th rule. The amp's output impedance should be at most 1/8th the impedance of your headphones (so if you're for example using Grados which are 32ohm, you want an output impedance lower than 4ohm).


Sorry, but this is not technically correct.  The reason an OTL amp would drop low frequencies is because all OTL amps require output coupling capacitors to block the DC to the load (headphones).  Unfortunately, the coupling capacitors and headphone load resistance form what's known in electronics theory as an RC circuit.  Such a circuit is frequency dependent on passing current.  Long story short, if the coupling capacitors are not big enough with low-impedance phones, you will get a loss of bass frequencies.  Typically, coupling capacitors get enormously expensive at high-voltages (typical with a tube amp), so it's not unusual to see capacitors that are sufficiently sized for bass frequencies of a 300 ohm headphone, but not so well sized for headphones that are lower in impedance.  However, the fact that the design is OTL is not the true cause - only the selection/expense of the coupling capacitors.

 

Similarly - and something no one's mentioned - solid state amplifiers most often run on very low voltages.  A high-impedance headphone is going to want to see high-voltage differences to perform well.  This is typically on the order of +or- 12V to 15V or more.  Very few typical solid-state amplifiers can supply that unless they are a high-quality desktop SS amp.

 

A true, output-transformer-coupled amplifier is optimized for both situations of low and high-impedance.  Depending on the design, this might be a Hi/Lo Z switch or, it could simply be two different headphone jacks wired to the different windings on the output transformers.  It's absolutely the same thing - switch vs. secondary headphone jack.  It's just a design decision in the end.

 

Anyway, hopefully that cleared up some things. ;) 


Edited by tomb - 6/14/14 at 4:16pm
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xpresser View Post
 

I spent some time last night looking at that NFB-15 and learning about the company. It does indeed look to be a very nice option

 

I bought my NFB-15.32 back on late October 2013, no regrets.

(except maybe that i should have gone for the NFB-11.32)

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by tomb View Post
 


Sorry, but this is not technically correct.  The reason an OTL amp would drop low frequencies is because all OTL amps require output coupling capacitors to block the DC to the load (headphones).  Unfortunately, the coupling capacitors and headphone load resistance form what's known in electronics theory as an RC circuit.  Such a circuit is frequency dependent on passing current.  Long story short, if the coupling capacitors are not big enough with low-impedance phones, you will get a loss of bass frequencies.  Typically, coupling capacitors get enormously expensive at high-voltages (typical with a tube amp), so it's not unusual to see capacitors that are sufficiently sized for bass frequencies of a 300 ohm headphone, but not so well sized for headphones that are lower in impedance.  However, the fact that the design is OTL is not the true cause - only the selection/expense of the coupling capacitors.

 

How does that go against what I've said? 

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