Best Amp for UM2's: Under $200
Mar 10, 2006 at 9:10 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

ckhirnigs113

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I recently discovered the vast improvement of using the line-out on my 4g iPod, even when using only a Pocktdock and in-line attenuator for volume control with my UM2's. This has lead me to reconsider getting an amp.

What is the best match for the UM2's that is between about $75 and $200? I'd like the amp to bring out the treble without bloating the bass. I have looked into Xin's offerings such as the SuperMini-III and SuperMicro-III. Are there any other viable options that suit the UM2's specifically?

I appreciate any advice that you guys might have. -CK
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 9:58 PM Post #2 of 10

wakeride74

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The Super Mini would probably be your best bet but you may want to search the threads in Xin's forum for something that would advise on the best opamp synergy for the UM2. I had his SM3 with the NE5534 in class A and it was not a good match at all.
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 10:02 PM Post #3 of 10

grawk

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I find the ipod shuffle to be a great match for the um2s. And you get a free usb memory key and mp3 player with the amp...
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 10:11 PM Post #4 of 10

ckhirnigs113

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wakeride74: Thanks for the help. I have always heard great things about Xin's products, but with the endless opamp options, it's hard to know what will work best with the UM2's. Did you ever find a good match for your UM2s?

grawk: Haha, I bet the Shuffle sounds great with the UM2's but I already have a source. Do you have any amp advice for me?
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 10:50 PM Post #6 of 10

wakeride74

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Well I was able to listen to the UM2's first by the generosity of gwark and that was when I did some AB testing amped, unamped, and vs. the E4C. I went minimalist for a while and sold my SM3 and E4C, bought the UM2 and really do enjoy them straight out of my iRiver. The reason I started searching for an amp is because I missed the separation and warmth from the E4C/SM3 combo. So long story short all I can tell you is the NE5534 in class A and the AD797 is no good. Maybe something in the 8??? class??

Really your best option is to post a thread in Xin's forums and ask but the UM2 IMO is one of the IEM's that benefit little from amping. With that said I am still waiting for a line-out from TURBO so my opinion on that may change once I can get around the internal amp in my iPod.
 
Mar 10, 2006 at 11:20 PM Post #7 of 10

ckhirnigs113

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wakeride74: The more I read past posts about this same issue, the more I see that the dominant choice for the UM2 is either the SR-71 or Hornet, both by Ray Samuels. The problem with those two for me is the price: both being >$350! I really don't think I can justify spending that much when I'm already very satisfied with the sound of my UM2s.

Also, if you haven't used the iPod's line-out, then you haven't really seen its true potential. Yesterday was the first day I decided to listen to my UM2s directly from the line-out using a $5 in-line volume adaptor from Radio Shack. I have reserved the use of the line-out up until now for plugging the iPod into my home theater or car stereo. Let me tell you that this is probably about the best the UM2's can sound without an amp. When you get your TurboDock, give this little experiment with the in-line attenuator a try and you might be surprised with the difference you notice. The sound is cleaner, each note is more articulated, and the separation seems improved as well!

I have heard that the TurboDock produces an even cleaner sound than the Pocketdock, so I might have to get one from TURBO!

Let me know how your testing goes when your setup is ready. -CK
 
Mar 11, 2006 at 12:26 AM Post #8 of 10

wakked1

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Its a bit out of your budget but they work well with the GL, tends to open them up. They don't do well with darker/warmer equipment. The other thing I really like them with is just straight out of my Nano with treble booster on (assuming I'm using the trimmed triflanges).
 
Mar 22, 2006 at 10:46 AM Post #9 of 10

swcwong

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I've got the same set-up (Photo iPod and UM2s) and went through the same decision process that you're going through now. After some burn-in time I have always thought that the UM2 sounded good out of the iPod headphone jack, but the volume needs to be a bit on the high side to get rich sound, especially with music with lots of instruments.

Anyway, to make a long story short I got a Supermini-3 (standard AD8397). The sound is noticeably richer and the sound stage is relatively wider and encompassing. I haven't had alot of experience with headphone amps (a Xenos and a couple of tube amps), but in my humble opinion the synergy is quite good. The bass is cleaner with weight and the vocals are more balanced (more upfront). One great thing is the background is completely black (my UM2s always picked up some background static straight out of the iPod). However, its alot to carry around with the pocketdock and cable sticking out. Also, the volume is very sensitive. If zero volume 12'oclock, the max is can go to is about 2'oclock.
basshead.gif


To sum it up, in the office and at home the improvement is fantasic but on subways and the like its not worth the trouble.

By the way, the battery lasts forever. I use rechargeable 1000mA NiMH batteries.
 
Mar 22, 2006 at 7:47 PM Post #10 of 10

ckhirnigs113

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Hey swcwong,

Thanks for the info. I am still going back and forth between whether I should get an amp or not. I do most of my listening on the go, and I don't think I will ever want to carry an amp, iPod w/Pocketdock, and bulky interconnect with me to class. That's just to much hassle for me right now.

I do think that if I ever decide to get an amp for my UM2's, then it will be Xin's SuperMini. It is so small and feature-packed that I may one day justify the extra hassle of lugging it around.

Right now, I have become quite satisfied with the UM2 straight out of the headphone out (with a in-line attenuator to get rid of that nasty hiss). But I'm sure if I stick around Head-Fi, I won't be content for long!

Thanks again for the advice, CK
 

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