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How much of a difference will an AMP really make?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hey guys. I'm new to the forums. I'm just a kid who enjoys gaming and is looking to get into the audiophile world.

 

So my question is: Will a good AMP make a world of a difference in sound quality?

 

Allow me to elaborate. As mentioned above, I've never really had that much knowledge of hi-fi audio. I've always been interested in getting the highest level of audio quality but it seems I haven't really experienced that. Most of my decisions have been uninformed. I bought a pair of Astro A30s about 5 years ago and thought they sounded good. I'm a bit more enlightened now to know that most gaming headsets sound pretty bad compared to headphones by true audio companies. I want to experience true hi-fi audio. Being a kid, I've never really had that much money but I've recently been able to scrap together enough money for the AKG K7XX since Massdrop is offering what is supposedly a good deal on them. I've read reviews on this pair of headphones and one of the major things I've noticed is that most reviewers said the headphones didn't sound as good without proper amplification. I won't have enough money for a proper AMP after this purchase. I currently have an Astro MixAMP from 5 years ago but I'm not sure if it is actually a good AMP since I've never experienced "good". I'm expecting the headphones to still sound good since they should still be a serious upgrade but I just don't like the thought that I'm missing out.

 

If I do end up purchasing this pair of headphones, will I be missing out on a lot of sound quality without a good AMP or will the Astro MixAMP suffice? How much of a difference will it make? I'm definitely going to pick up a good AMP/DAC later down the line. I'm currently looking at the O2. But will my experience really take a large hit during my time without it? Thanks for any advice or recommendations I get. I'm looking forward to joining the community.

post #2 of 10
It COMPLETELY depends on the headphones you are driving. Different headphones provide a different load on the amp and the higher the load, the more power the amp is required to produce. The load varies with frequency, so some headphones might need more power to produce the lows or mids or highs - depending on how there load varies with frequency, and also depending on what volume level you require. A headphone that is very significantly under-powered will simply not be able to achieve the overall volume level you desire - even when cranked to the max. Or, if the amp is just barely adequate, then it might achieve the overall volume you want, but sound a bit flat or compressed because the amp can't provide all the power needed for the most dynamic sections.

Easy to drive headphones, like some IEMs that are made to be used directly from your phone, might not improve at all by adding an amp. In fact, if the amp's gain is too high, they might sound WORSE using an amp because the high efficiency, low-impedance IEMs might not provide enough load to the amp and the amp will distort.

My advice: Don't buy an amp to "improve" the sound. Select the headphones, then if they *need* an amp, buy an amp. If you are happy with the sound without an amp - then don't worry about what an amp might do or not do. At that point, you are only buying the amp because you are curious, not because you want to improve the sound. I don't know the mixamp - hopefully someone who does can tell you if it can adequately drive the AKG's on massdrop.
post #3 of 10

24 ohms is my gold standard for un amped goodness, and not a cent higher. I have the Sony H3 in ears, which are perfect for un amped Daps and am thinking of the 1A 'phones, which are also 24ohms, like my current over ears. More than enough superb detail sound stage and emotion, without the pesky expense of a box.

post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice! I think I'll buy the headphones and get a gage for what I think first and then purchase an AMP later if I decide the sound isn't what I want. 

post #5 of 10

Steer well clear of the refuse dump; Dr Dre and Beats.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackson 6 View Post
 

Steer well clear of the refuse dump; Dr Dre and Beats.

This much I know. :)

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JephreyL View Post
 

Hey guys. I'm new to the forums. I'm just a kid who enjoys gaming and is looking to get into the audiophile world.

 

So my question is: Will a good AMP make a world of a difference in sound quality?

 

Allow me to elaborate. As mentioned above, I've never really had that much knowledge of hi-fi audio. I've always been interested in getting the highest level of audio quality but it seems I haven't really experienced that. Most of my decisions have been uninformed. I bought a pair of Astro A30s about 5 years ago and thought they sounded good. I'm a bit more enlightened now to know that most gaming headsets sound pretty bad compared to headphones by true audio companies. I want to experience true hi-fi audio. Being a kid, I've never really had that much money but I've recently been able to scrap together enough money for the AKG K7XX since Massdrop is offering what is supposedly a good deal on them. I've read reviews on this pair of headphones and one of the major things I've noticed is that most reviewers said the headphones didn't sound as good without proper amplification. I won't have enough money for a proper AMP after this purchase. I currently have an Astro MixAMP from 5 years ago but I'm not sure if it is actually a good AMP since I've never experienced "good". I'm expecting the headphones to still sound good since they should still be a serious upgrade but I just don't like the thought that I'm missing out.

 

If I do end up purchasing this pair of headphones, will I be missing out on a lot of sound quality without a good AMP or will the Astro MixAMP suffice? How much of a difference will it make? I'm definitely going to pick up a good AMP/DAC later down the line. I'm currently looking at the O2. But will my experience really take a large hit during my time without it? Thanks for any advice or recommendations I get. I'm looking forward to joining the community.

 

Even without an add-on headphone amplifier, the AKG KXX should sound fairly good plugged into the Astro Mix-amp.

You could get a FiiO E11K headphone amplifier, $60, and daisy chain it off the Mix-amp.

Is the Astro Mix-amp being used with a gaming console or a PC computer?

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Even without an add-on headphone amplifier, the AKG KXX should sound fairly good plugged into the Astro Mix-amp.

You could get a FiiO E11K headphone amplifier, $60, and daisy chain it off the Mix-amp.

Is the Astro Mix-amp being used with a gaming console or a PC computer?

I'll be using the MixAMP with my custom PC. 

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JephreyL View Post
 

I'll be using the Mix-AMP with my custom PC. 

 

An Astro mix-amp is great for gaming consoles.

But it's about equal to the $25 PC sound card.

Sell the mix-amp and use the cash to buy a sound card

Sound Blaster Z sound card ($60-$80) has a more powerful headphone amplifier then the Mix-amp.

 

Do you know the make and model of your motherboard?

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

An Astro mix-amp is great for gaming consoles.

But it's about equal to the $25 PC sound card.

Sell the mix-amp and use the cash to buy a sound card

Sound Blaster Z sound card ($60-$80) has a more powerful headphone amplifier then the Mix-amp.

 

Do you know the make and model of your motherboard?

Yeah. I bought the MixAMP back when I was a console gamer. I have the Gigabyte Z97X-UD3H-BK. I believe its running Realtek ALC1150 for its on-board audio solution. I've also heard a lot of bad things about sound cards. I've heard most have high output impedance or something like that which actually lowers sound quality and are basically a gimmick. I've been told a desktop AMP/DAC is a better solution. 

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