Best non-portable amp for <$150 ??
Mar 30, 2006 at 9:13 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20

egglick

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Hey guys, I'm new to head-fi, and I'm about to start setting up my first decent headphone system. I haven't bought a pair of cans yet (I was hoping to do some listening tests soon), but I'm trying to get everything else in order first.

I've got about $150 to spend on an amp, and I'm not going to be using it on any portable players. My source is a Klipsch DD-5.1 decoder/preamp, hooked up to the digital out on my Audigy2ZS. I'm mainly going to be listening to Mp3's and Mpc's, ripped from my own CDs and encoded at the highest settings.

I'd like to get the best all-around amp in that range, as I listen to many different types of music, including classical, new age, orchestra, etc.
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 11:13 PM Post #2 of 20

meat01

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get the cans first and then decide if you need an amp
smily_headphones1.gif


edit: Also, The search is your friend

type in $150 and amp in the amp forum and you will get lot's o' threads!
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 9:45 AM Post #3 of 20

egglick

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Wouldn't it be bad for my preamp to be powering higher end headphones?? It does do a very good job with my cheap pair (albeit with a limited volume range), but I was always under the impression that preamp/decoders were for converting signals, not for powering speakers.


In the few other threads which I've read, all of the amps recommended seem to be portable versions for ipods and such. Common sense tells me that performance is usually sacrificed in order to make something portable, which is why I made this thread specifying non-portable.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 1:48 PM Post #4 of 20

meat01

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Unfortunately, most non portable amps cost more than $150. I hate to be one of those people who says, "it's out of your budget, but you should look at the $300 Gilmore Lite", but that is the one that gets recommended the most for best bang for the buck. Even though it is one of the cheapest non portables, it is hardly the bottom of the barrel.

Another option would be the Little Dot II, which I know nothing about or the new Headfive which is $250 and won't be delivered until July.

Another option would be to buy used, although Gilmore Lite's hold a pretty high resale value. You could also buy a used integrated amp that has a headphone jack, which is what I use on my computer. A lot of people swear by old Marantz integrated amps.

Yet another option would be a Pimeta that is powered off a wall wart. It is a DIY that you could buy used, or have someone build for you.

Portables do not always sound worse than non portables. There is definitely something to be said for DC battery power versus AC. The problem is changing the batteries all of the time or recharging them.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 2:14 PM Post #5 of 20

rickcr42

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considering the power supply is most of the loot spent to build and amp (other than casing) it would seem a $150 portablerunning on batteries would kick the hell out of a $150 line operated amp all else being equal so why not just buy a good $150 portable and add a power supply adapter to power it ?
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 9:47 PM Post #6 of 20

studeb

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rickcr42
considering the power supply is most of the loot spent to build and amp (other than casing) it would seem a $150 portable running on batteries would kick the hell out of a $150 line operated amp all else being equal so why not just buy a good $150 portable and add a power supply adapter to power it ?


i second this thought.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 3:46 AM Post #7 of 20

egglick

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Thanks for all your suggestions. I suppose the amp doesn't need to be a non-portable version, I just figured that portable ones weren't quite as good. I realize I'm kinda scraping the bottom of the barrel with my tiny budget, but I'm trying to make the best informed choices with what I've got.

I'll see what I can find as far as used Gilmore Lite's. I'm also interested to hear opinions from anyone who's had hands-on experience with a Little Dot II amp.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 9:38 AM Post #8 of 20

Zenja

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There's wall adapter powered pimetas going for sale here all the time. I think there's one for $110 including the adapter there right now. I don't know how they compare to other amps though.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 9:53 AM Post #9 of 20

fewtch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Zenja
There's wall adapter powered pimetas going for sale here all the time. I think there's one for $110 including the adapter there right now. I don't know how they compare to other amps though.


IMO Pimetas stand up pretty well, particularly ones that are opamp rollable (most). To my ears, there's not a lot of 'wow factor' but they can solidly drive both low and high impedance headphones due to the buffered design and ability to run off 24v power. Even my power-hungry K501 is driven very effectively. Might be a little "blah, ehhh..." for some people though, sonically.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 11:50 AM Post #10 of 20

Zenja

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I guess I might as well ask here what's been on my mind since it's sort of related..

I'm going to start building a wall powered pimeta (transformer + tread in same case) to drive my MS-1 very soon, and my main concern before starting is whether an OPA2227 be quite noticably worse than OPA637's would for the L/R opamps? The OPA6*7's are so expensive and I don't know if I can justify the cost. However, I could maybe get the 637's used here (some went up for $16 for a pair a little while ago). If I were to use a cheaper chip like the 227 for the ground channel, would that greatly negate the 637's? I'm just concerned about using an inferior opamp to save a bit of money (although money is a concern with this build).
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 2:24 PM Post #11 of 20

thedoctor

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Zenja
I guess I might as well ask here what's been on my mind since it's sort of related..

I'm going to start building a wall powered pimeta (transformer + tread in same case) to drive my MS-1 very soon, and my main concern before starting is whether an OPA2227 be quite noticably worse than OPA637's would for the L/R opamps? The OPA6*7's are so expensive and I don't know if I can justify the cost. However, I could maybe get the 637's used here (some went up for $16 for a pair a little while ago). If I were to use a cheaper chip like the 227 for the ground channel, would that greatly negate the 637's? I'm just concerned about using an inferior opamp to save a bit of money (although money is a concern with this build).



there is other alternative compared to the OPA627/OPA637 pair. something like the AD8066/AD8065 and AD8620/AD8610 have better pricing to them. if you use other models of Opamps in the ground channel, there might be synch error since the speed/specs of the opamps isn't the same. but heck, you could try it out and post your results.

the OPA227 is a FET opamp while the OPA627/OPA637 is DiFET.
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 2:44 PM Post #12 of 20

rickcr42

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Quote:

there is other alternative compared to the OPA627/OPA637 pair. something like the AD8066/AD8065 and AD8620/AD8610 have better pricing to them


Pretty much about you get what you pay for.The OPA627 is arguably the best sounding op-amp in history and if there is a part holding a crown for as long I do not know about it and that alone says a lot-longevity in high end audio.

there are alternative devices but are they better or like so many things cost cutting methods ?
 
Apr 2, 2006 at 4:07 PM Post #13 of 20

Soundscape

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i was sorta in the same situation...looking for a home amp around or under 150, so i decided to have a little dot 2 built for 120 from the guys at little-tube.com. at first i was considering a pimeta, but i'm assuming/hoping the little dot 2 sounds noticably 'better'.
 

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