accurate headphone amp
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Could anyone tell me what is the cheapest accurate reference quality headphone amp (single channel). I'm looking for under $200.
 
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bifcake

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Try Creek OBH-11. It's the best amp I've been able to find for under $200. I don't know how accurate it is since I've never seen its measurements, but I use with the HD580 phones and I'm extremely happy with the combo.
 
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kelly

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www (wow, we have a www and a zzz!)

Most amplifiers and generall all solid state amplifiers measure flat with test tones. Accuracy, then, cannot really be determined by frequency response. Unfortunately, we all have a difficult time agreeing on the rest of what makes something accurate.

There are a LOT of amplifiers to choose from and not one of them is perfect. A better idea would be if you could post what your priorities are (ie, what qualities can you not live without, which ones are less important to be perfect).

If you only have $200 to throw at this, I really strongly urge you to consider going DIY. Either take on a project yourself or see about getting someone else to build one for you. The META42 is getting quite a following these days and I have to think you'd be better off going that way than with a Little, Creek or Grado RA-1.
 
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Magic77

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The Creek OBH-11 is definitely a good choice for just under $200. But, if you can spend up to $259 check out the HeadRoom Little which I feel is better than the OBH-11.
 
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dhwilkin

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Quote:

kelly said...

(wow, we have a www and a zzz!)


It's only a matter of time before a xxx shows up...


On topic, I second looking into building or having somebody build a Meta 42.
 
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elrod-tom

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Quote:

Originally posted by Magic77
The Creek OBH-11 is definitely a good choice for just under $200. But, if you can spend up to $259 check out the HeadRoom Little which I feel is better than the OBH-11.


I'll second Magic77 on this one...I just bought the Little, and I'm absolutely thrilled with the value I've received. The nice thing is that it's upgradeable (premium electronics, "more power").

If you can squeeze another $60 or so, I'd get the little. However, having heard the Creek, you really won't go wrong there. I just think that you'll have a better potential upgrade path with the Little.
 
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BoardC3

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from what ive heard nothing can beat the meta for under $200 search for Meta42 reviews to learn more about it
 
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Hello

kelly,

Most important thing is accuracy/transparency (they are the same thing, right?).

Power is less important.
 
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TimSchirmer

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Check out the Rega EAR headphone amp. I heard one at a hifi shop with HD600's and the sound was quite decent for the price.
 
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Quote:

Most important thing is accuracy/transparency (they are the same thing, right?).


No, accurate is when you put in 20-20000 Hz in, you get 20-20000 Hz out, with no rolloff or humps or dips.

Transparency is a different thing entirely. It has more to do with having a fast slew rate than anything else. Slew rate is a measure of how fast an amplifier can "swing" from 0V to a full signal level. The faster it swings, the more accurate it will be able to track the input signal, which means it will pick up on the tiny details in the signal. If you miss those details, you begin to lose room ambience, instrument attacks, etc.
 
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kelly

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tangent
If this is true then, why do I so often see amplifiers described as having fast swing that when I listen to them sound as if they have far less texture and ambient detail?
 
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tangent

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How fast is "fast"?

Even if you get a reasonable slew rate, there are other things you can do to screw up transparency, like putting lots of capacitors in the signal path. But slew rate is paramount -- you can't have a transparent amp if slew rate is miserable.
 
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eric343

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I think it's because you're reading reviews, not datasheets. I know that the AD8610 (slew rate 50V/uS, settling time 350ns, bandwidth 25MHz[GBP]) sounds a heckuva lot more transparent than the AD823 (slew rate 22V/uS, settling time 350ns, bandwidth 16MHz[GBP]) and the AD823 is more transparent than the OPA2132 (slew rate 20V/uS typical, settling time 1uS [1000ns], bandwidth 8MHz[GBP])
 
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eric343

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By the way, some people have reportedly gotten ultra-reference transparency using DSL line drivers - opamps with slew rates in excess of 470V/uS, bandwidth of 350MHz (gain = 10), and settling time of 145nS.
 
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kelly

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Let me be more explicit (apologies to Headroom and erix)

Quote:

erix (in another thread) said:
My own amp, which I love so much I haven't built a new one to replace it in 4+ months of listening, couldn't match the swing that the Max had.


The Max, to me, ranks well below a handful of other amplifiers in terms of texture and ambient detail. Don't get me wrong, the Max has other traits that make it worthy but that's just not one of them in my experience. So then, where is the inconsistency? Does the Max really not have "good swing"/"high slew rate" compared to other amps?

I had previously blamed this quality on the Max running AB instead of Class A. What's really going on?
 
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