I guess I'm one of those who prefer harmonic distortion and euphonic presentation to help me feel the music and not just hear it. In the end, it's about enjoyment. No apologies.
"Feel free to listen to music the way you like best. I'm just explaining what's happening if you add an amp to the Mojo – which is a capable amp itself. You use it as a (highly unflexible) effect device, which it isn't designed for. There are better, more powerful methods for tayloring the sound to your own preferences, without the loss of transparency and purity, if you just dare to take notice of them."
With respect, you're explaining what you think is happening if you add an amp to the Mojo. Do you design audio electronics professionally?
I understand that Rob and John feel the Mojo can drive virtually any headphone adequately, which would be great. In practice, it will be up to the listener to determine whether the Mojo sounds best with their setup on its own or with an amp.
I will say that I totally respect the design philosophy that says "we have taken this approach and believe this is the best way" and the passion and engineering behind it. I will always go for this over the "designed by committee to be unoffending and the 80% solution" because it will give you the single malt rather than the blend. Your job to determine if it's right for you and your system. From a product perspective, I want the ultimate expression of the designers' views. But, that doesn't mean my implementation will be the same as the designers' in all cases.
: "Not even the designer forbids the use of an additional amp – he just explains the consequences for the music signal and the sound in technical terms. It's up to you if you can or want to live with the reduced transparency and added coloration. Just don't pretend for driving Headphone XY to its full potential the Mojo needs an external amp as an absolute truth! From a technical point of view it's the opposite"
Could you elaborate on those technical terms, this thread's so big I missed them.
I appreciate the principle of keeping the signal path as simple and clean as possible,.. but you are wrong. Most headphone and virtually all speakers need amplification. The design and quality of components determine how an amplifier will affect the sound.
"Of course all sound transducers need an amplifier. The Mojo comes with one – it's just not a dedicated headphone amplifier like you're used to. In fact it's even better than most of them – from the technical data."
Could you provide a quantitative comparative example please.
People often select amplifiers for a particular coloration... but it's also possible to build amplifiers which are pretty close to wire with gain.
So show me some neutral amplifiers! This pretension is just hot air, absolutely unsubstantiated. I'm sure many Head-Fiers have experienced themselves how different the different amps sound (despite the fact that they all sound the same according to the Sound Science Forum). And a few of them are considered neutral? I would accept the characterization «passably neutral», but that still wouldn't exclude very noticeable signal degradation. Rob Watts' experiences have revealed to him how every single electronics component (resistors, capacitors, wires, solder joints, connections, transistors...) degrades or colors the signal, so extrapolate that to a box full of electronics components like a headphone amp.
But didn't you say in your first response "There are better, more powerful methods for tayloring the sound to your own preferences, without the loss of transparency and purity
, if you just dare to take notice of them." Either ANY amp is coloured or it's not?
If source direct is always best, why was there a popularisation of headphone amplifiers in the first place (when you could just as easily use the jack in the CDP, speaker amplifier, or MP3 player)?
You can absolutely use those headphone jacks, some of them probably aren't even bad, but they are certainly not designed for audiophile demands (with exceptions). Therefore the use of dedicated headphone amps among demanding music lovers. If you attach them to those devices via line out, you bypass their own headphone amps. Mojo and Hugo on the other hand use the amplification stage of the DAC to drive headphones, so there's no possibility to bypass it, hence you'd use the same signal for driving an external amp that you'd use for driving headphones. So there's nothing to gain in terms of signal accuracy. Fortunately this built-in amplification stage is of very high quality, has extremely low distortion (much lower than typical headphone amps) and an exemplarily low output impedance.
Actually the Naim DAC V1 also does this. It uses its output stage for both headphone use and to drive an external power amp. The DAC V1 is ostensibly a digital pre-amp and makes use of variable gain to power the headphone socket.