Does it really makes sense to use a desktop amp with a portable player?
Aug 10, 2009 at 1:33 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

Agent_Moler

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Hello,
I've just recently gotten into the listening to music with headphones hobby. I've bought a cowon s9 and a slimx 550 and I've been listening to them with a corda 2 move amp. When posting in the forum and asking questions about buying new headphones I often am told that I should buy a desktop amp to drive certain headphones ( ex. Sennheiser HD 600). For the most part, it seems that a good desktop amp's cost is on par with or vastly more expensive than a good portable amp but, a desktop amp provides the listener with most power to drive their headphones.

At the moment, I'm looking into buying Denon ahd 5000s next month. I'm trying to figure out if it makes sense for me to invest in a portable amp (right now the Ibasso D10 is on my mind) or a desktop one.

The way I'm looking at this situation is that, I'm mainly using portable sources (an mp3 or my cd player) but occasionally I'll hook up my amp to my computer. My portable players have limited power output and I'm wondering if its a good investment for me to get a "powerful" desktop amp to run them through? Besides allowing me to drive higher impedance cans, will it net me much benefit in SQ if my sources are low powered themselves?
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 1:58 AM Post #2 of 11

qusp

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well the denons dont really require much power, they do sound slightly better via a home amp, but the improvement is actually pretty minimal vs a very good portable IMO. now a home source, thats another thing. the D10 is a great little portable dac/amp and with upgraded higher power opamps) will do wonderful things with your denons, not enough power really to do great things with HD600 though. I would not suggest amping the output of your laptops soundcard, it will be noisy as hell, you need a dac like the D10 or otherwise, that you can use to supplant the soundcard. that being said, you can do much better when it comes to home dacs, more money, but also more resolution too.
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 2:08 AM Post #3 of 11

Agent_Moler

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thanks qusp.
My 2 move has a DAC and it sounds good but I'm wondering if for my future purposes it makes sense for me to get a desktop amp. I guess your opinion is that the benefits are really that much with Denons at least.
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 2:21 AM Post #4 of 11

Uncle Erik

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You have to buy an amp that matches your headphones, not an amp that matches your source.

In my early days here, I ran an iPod into a desktop amp because it was an appropriate amp for a HD-650.

Though desktop sources offer benefits, too. A CD player that plugs into the wall offers more output power than an iPod that was engineered for maximum battery life. Batteries aren't a consideration with my CD player, so it was engineered to offer a good amount of output to a preamp or headphone amp.
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 2:30 AM Post #5 of 11

qusp

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unkle erik has a good point re: headphones->amp synergy; though I tend to follow the 'source first' principle
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 4:22 AM Post #6 of 11

Agent_Moler

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik /img/forum/go_quote.gif
You have to buy an amp that matches your headphones, not an amp that matches your source.

In my early days here, I ran an iPod into a desktop amp because it was an appropriate amp for a HD-650.

Though desktop sources offer benefits, too. A CD player that plugs into the wall offers more output power than an iPod that was engineered for maximum battery life. Batteries aren't a consideration with my CD player, so it was engineered to offer a good amount of output to a preamp or headphone amp.



I wonder if using the AC adapter instead of batteries with my cd player would have any effect on improving the SQ in any noticable way?
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 12:39 PM Post #7 of 11

Booda

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Agent_Moler /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Hello,
I've just recently gotten into the listening to music with headphones hobby. I've bought a cowon s9 and a slimx 550 and I've been listening to them with a corda 2 move amp. When posting in the forum and asking questions about buying new headphones I often am told that I should buy a desktop amp to drive certain headphones ( ex. Sennheiser HD 600). For the most part, it seems that a good desktop amp's cost is on par with or vastly more expensive than a good portable amp but, a desktop amp provides the listener with most power to drive their headphones.

At the moment, I'm looking into buying Denon ahd 5000s next month. I'm trying to figure out if it makes sense for me to invest in a portable amp (right now the Ibasso D10 is on my mind) or a desktop one.

The way I'm looking at this situation is that, I'm mainly using portable sources (an mp3 or my cd player) but occasionally I'll hook up my amp to my computer. My portable players have limited power output and I'm wondering if its a good investment for me to get a "powerful" desktop amp to run them through? Besides allowing me to drive higher impedance cans, will it net me much benefit in SQ if my sources are low powered themselves?



If only judge from the headline of your post, what your need is the portable amplifier than not the desk top rig. You can hook the mp3 player to a superior portable amplifer (as you have mentioned the IBASSO D10, Or AMP3, to pair a suitable impedence headphone will be worth to have a try.
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 1:11 PM Post #9 of 11

upstateguy

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orig.jpg
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 3:44 PM Post #10 of 11

Uncle Erik

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Agent_Moler /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I wonder if using the AC adapter instead of batteries with my cd player would have any effect on improving the SQ in any noticable way?


It'll keep it from sagging when batteries run low, but that's about it. Devices with batteries are typically engineered to make the batteries last as long as possible. The easiest way to do that is to cut back on output power since you can't cut power to the DAC or motor. When something plugs into the wall, then the engineer doesn't have to worry about draining the battery.

As for the source first... well, that's contentious. That "philosophy" got its start with Linn (scroll down for details) in the 1970s as a marketing campaign.

Back then, sure, a Linn was a damn good source that made a lot of difference. The LP12 is still a fine turntable.

But back in the 1970s, you could not buy a $19 DVD player with vanishingly low figures for distortion. Since Linn started that marketing campaign, digital took off and has continually improved while getting cheaper. Source first might have been one of the most successful ad campaigns ever, but it just isn't true today.

The best way to demonstrate this is to yourself. If you go to a meet, pick up a pair of $10 headphones and bring them. Plug them into an amp and source worth several thousand dollars. You can hear them sound like crap. Just as crappy as when you plug them into some $12.99 CD player.

Then take a pair of good headphones and plug them into a "cheap" digital source into an amp.

You'll notice that crappy headphones sound like crap even plugged into five figures of equipment. You'll also notice that good headphones soung good when plugged into $10 of equipment.

If source first was true, then the $10k turntable sitting over to my right would make the iBuds sing. But the iBuds still sound pretty much like iBuds off it. Same with the Sony beaters I use to test new amps. But the 20 year old Kenwood receiver worth maybe $25 or $30, driven by an iPod with AAC files, sounds pretty damn good with the HD-800.

Try it out for yourself. Draw your own conclusions, but I think Linn's old marketing campaign should be retired.
 
Aug 10, 2009 at 4:41 PM Post #11 of 11

Agent_Moler

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Thanks Uncle Erik.
Your post is really hitting on the question. I guess you're saying that besides synergy, having good headphone/equipment is more important than having an expensive dedicated source. I guess this begs the question, how much of an improvement do you notice using a portable lossless music device vs a home unit?
 

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