Amp connected to a headphone jack on a computer. What to expect?
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

Borus

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Buying a portable amp I forget that my Power Book G4 has a headphone jack only, so there is no line out. Addition of the amp made the sound fuller and richer, but at the same time it is not as open and transparent compared to what I have directly from the headphone jack.
Is it what should be expected?
Thank you.
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 12:41 AM Post #2 of 10

ComfyCan

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I'm new, but it sounds like you need a DAC before your amp will really do it's job. Assuming your laptop has a PMCIA slot, you could add a soundcard and connect your portable amp to that. Indigo cards are decent; I am currently stuck with a Creative Audigy 2 card but I'm not happy with it for music. If I were going to use buy another sound card, I'd go with an Indigo; they sound MUCH better for music.

Alternatively, you could use a DAC that connects via USB.

I'm going to buy a Bithead for an integrated DAC/Amp solution for my laptop in all probability, although I remain tempted by the looks of the Dared MP-5.

If I'm wrong, I trust that someone with more experience (most people here) will correct me. Good luck.
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 12:47 AM Post #3 of 10

bobfa

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I have been using an iMic to run my headphones to help with the noise and sound quality. While it did help it was not enough so I just got a TotalBitHead DAC/Amp that is playing away right now. I will know more later.

USB DAC and some PCMCIA DACs really help with getting better sound out of the computer and to stop all that noise.

YMMV
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 10:37 PM Post #5 of 10

sbulack

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If what you're hearing from the headphone jack through an amp (really through an IC and an amp) is not as open and transparent as what you're hearing directly from the headphone jack, I'm thinking two things.
1) How many hours of use have you put on the amp and IC (from computer to amp)? If under 150, this could be as simple as a symptom of burn-in time needed.
2) If you've been using the amp and IC for over 150 hours, and what you are getting from the headphone jack (through the IC and amp) is less open and transparent than what you hear from the hp jack itself, then the openness and transparency is being lost in the IC and/or the amp.
Do you have another rig which sounds good to you already?
If so, you could put the amp into that audio path to see what it's effect is.
You could do the same thing with the IC to see if that is contributing to the loss of openness and transparency you are hearing.
I find that it is pretty amazing how much the IC contributes to (and, conversely, can detract from) the openness, spaciousness and transparency of the sound through an audio path. To my ears, the IC can contribute as much to these aspects of the sound as the amp.
 
Apr 1, 2006 at 11:49 PM Post #7 of 10

Chri5peed

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Same as amping a headphone-out on a DAP...lots of people do it.

The quality of the amp is a concern. The point of an amp is to strengthen the signal and remain as transparent as possible. However many amps will add their own colouration to the signal, so bear that in mind.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 9:31 AM Post #8 of 10

fjf

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Depends on your onboard soundcard. Mine is an AC97 chip that has background hiss, pops and cracks, and is REALLY annoying. Maybe yours is better. You'll have to try.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 3:52 PM Post #10 of 10

Borus

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Thank you guys all for your inputs, I appreciate it.
Now about my situation. When away from my home rig, I use my PowerBook (with files ripped from CDs on the hard drive in lossless AIFF format) and Senn. PXC-250 (excellent for air-traveling and not so bad just for listening to music). The sound coming directly from hp jack though satisfactory in most cases is thin and sketchy. To add some flesh to it and being certainly incited by this forum I bough a mini amp. I chose Shellbrook Audio lab Maxi Moy (or as it is called now Maxi Head) Signature because of the price, its dual Burr Brown OPA-627 (or you can choose 637) and because of its looks. It is a gem to behold and a pleasure to use (need to post the pictures). The price ($225.00) besides shipping, included an interconnect, made out of Neglex 2534 microphone cable, Mogami, Japan (thick like a pencil). I know that interconnects should be taken (and paid) seriously, but in this case I did not want to invest more.
You were right, I did not burned it in for long enough, listen to just out of the box and the second time after 50 hours of burning in. I know that for any serious conclusions it should be burned for at list 5 days, but I did not hear any difference after 50 hours of burning-in and would not expect the sound to be transformed later dramatically. The sound from the amp though thick and fleshy (and I liked it) was also so muffled that it lost any excitement and after several trials I preferred to listen connecting the headphones directly to hp jack.
Beside Senn. PXC 250 I also tried AKG K701 (just came) with the same effect, eventually preferring thin but transparent sound out of the hp jack to thick and fleshy but muffled from the amp connected to the hp jack.
No, I do not have anything with a line out at hand to check out how the amp sounds from a right source, and I think it is a shame since even now the sound is very promising (rich and lush) and if transparency is restored it would be a treat. As to coloration, from what I can tell this amp does not color the sound too much, to my ears it is more neutral than the one I have in my home rig (Emotion+ from Blueberry Audio).
I think you guys are right, a PMCIA or USB DAC (or at least iMic) should help the situation, and I would consider it seriously but in the current situation (expecting to be back soon to my home rig) I do not want to spend anything extra and will probably send the amp back for a refund.
 

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