HE-500, LCD2, D5000, DT770, SR80, on a speaker amp (Emotiva mini-X A-100) Project
Apr 23, 2013 at 6:54 AM Post #1,036 of 3,819

nigeljames

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So what actually causes the hiss/noise when using a speaker amp with headphones?
 
Is it that the amp just has too much noise which becomes more obvious with headphones than with speakers.
Is it the typical high gain of the speaker amp magnifiing any noise in the system as a whole.
Or is it an impedance mismatch due to the amp driving much higher impedance loads than it is designed for.
Or is it another reason I have not even thought about or even a combination of the above.
 
I ask because I am also interested in a speaker/power amp for my headphones,especially but not specifically for the HE6's. I love the way they sound now out of my Master-6 so would not expect a 'cheap' amp to be better so I am looking for something a bit more adventurous and more expensive but I will also like to run other phones, especially LCD2's and very high impedance phones like HD800 and maybe T1's.
 
However I am concerned about noise levels & fine volume control. As anyone tried attenuators between pre and power amp?
 
The power amp I am looking at are rated @250 wpc into 8 ohms. I know people are going to say that it's total overkill, maybe even for the HE-6's, but if it sounds really good with no noise issues with a variety of phones then IMO it's no more overkill than $3000 - $4000 headphone amps.
I don't have any low impedance sensitive phones to worry about.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 8:57 AM Post #1,037 of 3,819

preproman

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Quote:
So what actually causes the hiss/noise when using a speaker amp with headphones?
 
Is it that the amp just has too much noise which becomes more obvious with headphones than with speakers.
Is it the typical high gain of the speaker amp magnifiing any noise in the system as a whole.
Or is it an impedance mismatch due to the amp driving much higher impedance loads than it is designed for.
Or is it another reason I have not even thought about or even a combination of the above.
 
I ask because I am also interested in a speaker/power amp for my headphones,especially but not specifically for the HE6's. I love the way they sound now out of my Master-6 so would not expect a 'cheap' anp to be better so I am looking for something a bit more adventurous and more expensive but I will also like to run other phones, especially LCD2's and very high impedance phones like HD800 and maybe T1's.
 
However I am concerned about noise levels & fine volume control. As anyone tried attenuators between pre and power amp?
 
The power amp I am looking at are rated @250 wpc into 8 ohms. I know people are going to say that it's total overkill, maybe even for the HE-6's, but if it sounds really good with no noise issues with a variety of phones then IMO it's no more overkill than $3000 - $4000 headphone amps.
I don't have any low impedance sensitive phones to worry about.

 
Are you looking at the Master 3?  If so, I've heard that amp with the HE-6.  "Very Good"
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 9:10 AM Post #1,038 of 3,819

nigeljames

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Quote:
 
Are you looking at the Master 3?  If so, I've heard that amp with the HE-6.  "Very Good"

 
Actually no.
I am actually looking at a pair of mono blocks. I always had a fondness for mono blocks from the days when I had a speaker set up.
 
Did you get the chance to compare the Master-3 to your First Watt amp with the HE6's?
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 9:36 AM Post #1,039 of 3,819

khaine1711

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Quote:
 
Actually no.
I am actually looking at a pair of mono blocks. I always had a fondness for mono blocks from the days when I had a speaker set up.
 
Did you get the chance to compare the Master-3 to your First Watt amp with the HE6's?

Hmm lemme guess, the Hypex Ncore Mono? If I remember correctly they are rated at 400W@4 ohm and 250W@8 ohm.
 
Noise/hiss with speaker amp is usually caused by too high gain.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 10:02 AM Post #1,040 of 3,819

nigeljames

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Hmm lemme guess, the Hypex Ncore Mono? If I remember correctly they are rated at 400W@4 ohm and 250W@8 ohm.
 
Noise/hiss with speaker amp is usually caused by too high gain.

 


No wrong again. I am actually looking at the Emotiva XPA1-L. The reasons being:
1. Fully balanced and discrete like my source and pre amp. Might as well continue the theme.
2. Cheaper Emotiva amps (mini-X100 and XPA-200) seem to do a very good job so what could be possible with the lower noise higher performing XPA1-L
3. I know someone who is in love with his XPA-1 mono blocks with speakers and he has used some very expensive equipment in the past so his standards are pretty high.
4. Class A, which can't be a bad thing, except for the electric bills.
 
So high gain is the main culprit for hiss/noise.
So what is the best way of dealing with this, an attenuator at the input to the power amp or attenuation at/on the the speaker output?
I have been told that a -20db attenuation on the power amp input would reduce input to 1/10 of the pre amps output.
 
PS. I have done a little read up on the Hypex NCore amps. Seem very impressive but are they actually available to buy, not interested in DIY, and if so any idea on price. They could be an option I had not thought about.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 10:21 AM Post #1,041 of 3,819

khaine1711

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Quote:
 


No wrong again. I am actually looking at the Emotiva XPA1-L. The reasons being:
1. Fully balanced and discrete like my source and pre amp. Might as well continue the theme.
2. Cheaper Emotiva amps (mini-X100 and XPA-200) seem to do a very good job so what could be possible with the lower noise higher performing XPA1-L
3. I know someone who is in love with his XPA-1 mono blocks with speakers and he has used some very expensive equipment in the past so his standards are pretty high.
4. Class A, which can't be a bad thing, except for the electric bills.
 
So high gain is the main culprit for hiss/noise.
So what is the best way of dealing with this, an attenuator at the input to the power amp or attenuation at/on the the speaker output?
I have been told that a -20db attenuation on the power amp input would reduce input to 1/10 of the pre amps output.
 
PS. I have done a little read up on the Hypex NCore amps. Seem very impressive but are they actually available to buy, not interested in DIY, and if so any idea on price. They could be an option I had not thought about.

Well you could commission someone to build it for you for around 1500 a pair (with the best PSU). Still you should assemble them yourself. Those Ncores are like lego, just connect A to B - it's not like other project where you have to populate a circuit board and soldering and stuff. You can even save cost by putting those Ncores in a shoes box, and using a PSU for both blocks instead of 1 for each block. The Ncores are also fully balanced and discrete.
 
The main problem I see with using really high output monoblock is the volume control. With standard source outputting 2V via RCA; or even higher if you use XLR; you won't have much, if any volume adjustment.
 
Also, most high power amplification is designed for err non-audiophile application, where you need power/volume more than refinement. "Proper" high power amplification for insensitive speaker is very expensive (Plinius SA series which starts at 4k I recall I think, and Krell/ML stuff). Besides, you don't need that much power anyway - some speakers need that to go loud in a large room, the He-6 won't ever need that much though. You would be better looking at low power but quality solution (1st Watt/Pass labs, SET amps or even mosfet/valve hybrid, pushpull stuff)
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 10:30 AM Post #1,042 of 3,819

preproman

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Quote:
 


No wrong again. I am actually looking at the Emotiva XPA1-L. The reasons being:
1. Fully balanced and discrete like my source and pre amp. Might as well continue the theme.
2. Cheaper Emotiva amps (mini-X100 and XPA-200) seem to do a very good job so what could be possible with the lower noise higher performing XPA1-L
3. I know someone who is in love with his XPA-1 mono blocks with speakers and he has used some very expensive equipment in the past so his standards are pretty high.
4. Class A, which can't be a bad thing, except for the electric bills.
 
So high gain is the main culprit for hiss/noise.
So what is the best way of dealing with this, an attenuator at the input to the power amp or attenuation at/on the the speaker output?
I have been told that a -20db attenuation on the power amp input would reduce input to 1/10 of the pre amps output.
 
PS. I have done a little read up on the Hypex NCore amps. Seem very impressive but are they actually available to buy, not interested in DIY, and if so any idea on price. They could be an option I had not thought about.

Ah yes the new XPA1-L.  First 30 watts into Class A then switches to Class A/B  Also has a Class A / Class A/B switch.  
 
I was looking at a pair of first Watt F4s when I was looking into Mono Blocks.
 
Yes did a comparo with the Master 3 and the F1J - My findings:
 
Master 3:
More intimate, smaller soundstage, warmer, not extended fully, very good bass, not transparent - adds a tad bit of it's house sound.
 
F1J:
Larger soundstage, more airy and space, better at retrieving detail, very good clean bass, transparent. 
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 11:59 AM Post #1,043 of 3,819

nigeljames

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Quote:
Well you could commission someone to build it for you for around 1500 a pair (with the best PSU). Still you should assemble them yourself. Those Ncores are like lego, just connect A to B - it's not like other project where you have to populate a circuit board and soldering and stuff. You can even save cost by putting those Ncores in a shoes box, and using a PSU for both blocks instead of 1 for each block. The Ncores are also fully balanced and discrete.
 
The main problem I see with using really high output monoblock is the volume control. With standard source outputting 2V via RCA; or even higher if you use XLR; you won't have much, if any volume adjustment.
 
Also, most high power amplification is designed for err non-audiophile application, where you need power/volume more than refinement. "Proper" high power amplification for insensitive speaker is very expensive (Plinius SA series which starts at 4k I recall I think, and Krell/ML stuff). Besides, you don't need that much power anyway - some speakers need that to go loud in a large room, the He-6 won't ever need that much though. You would be better looking at low power but quality solution (1st Watt/Pass labs, SET amps or even mosfet/valve hybrid, pushpull stuff)

 
I agree, I would much prefer it if the amp was less powerful say 80 - 120 wpc.
My pre amp had a max output level of 19 volts and the XPA1-L requires just 1.8 volt for full output but if I use the -20db attenuators and the 1/10 ratio is correct it would bring the pre amps output down to a max of 1.9 volts.
As I don't expect to get anywhere near the pre amps max level the voltage would be well below the input level required for max output.
So I would hope, and that's all I can do at this stage, that I would have sufficient play with the volume.
I have considered some of the low powered amps. However as I already have the Master-6 which outputs 7 wpc into 50 ohms many of these amps would actually have less power into 50 ohms which makes the whole idea pointless.
The XPA-200 mentioned in this thread has 150 wpc with zero noise (for most users) and the XPA1-L should be quieter, at least in theory, so volume play is my main concern.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM Post #1,044 of 3,819

nigeljames

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Ah yes the new XPA1-L.  First 30 watts into Class A then switches to Class A/B  Also has a Class A / Class A/B switch.  
 
I was looking at a pair of first Watt F4s when I was looking into Mono Blocks.
 
Yes do a comparo with the Master 3 and the F1J - finding:
 
Master 3:
More intimate, smaller soundstage, warmer, not extended fully, very good bass, not transparent - adds a tad bit of it's house sound.
 
F1J:
Larger soundstage, more airy and space, better at retrieving detail, very good clean bass, transparent. 

 
Yeh I remember reading a post where you said you were interested in then yourself. Just wish they would get over the current issues so I can get some feedback.
 
Certainly works out a hell of a lot cheaper than a pair of F4's.
Are you still interested in trying then out? The shipping cost for me to just try then out would be excessive.
How does your FW compare to your old Mini-X with the HE-6's? I assume it's a big difference.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM Post #1,045 of 3,819

khaine1711

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And here I thought we have some secret dealers for Emotiva in the UK that you just uncovered 
wink.gif
; shipping from the US is a pain. I remember getting quoted 60 bucks for just the Emotiva A100 alone.
 
I think a perfect compliment to your stable would be an OTL for the 800/T1 - The EC Zana Deux, or if you prefer EU based stuff there's the long forgotten Trafomatic Headone (quite cheap used too). Or a nice SET design from EC (the BA, the 2A3) or the DNA Stratus.
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 4:58 PM Post #1,048 of 3,819

modulor

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Quote:
I haven't, but I've kept up on this thread from day one, and MalVeauX has made it clear he prefers the Emotiva over both the Asgard and the Lyr. So if that's any indication, it's likely the Emotiva is in another league than the Magni.

Indeed...I'll also note that I had the Magni before the Mini-X.  Though I didn't compare them directly, I did noticed an improvement with the extra power to my HE-400... but the Magni was no slouch for that headphone.  For $100, the Magni is an excellent bargain.  Mal also mentioned a noted improvement with the HE-400 and Mad Dogs, but a larger improvement with the HE-500 and LCD-2 in comparison (and I imagine it would work well with the HE-6).  I would say the Mini-X is a better investment overall, as I got mine not only to futureproof for future planar acquisitions, but also to run some passive monitors for my desk setup - of which it does very well.  It also has a preamp out, so you could use active speakers if you have them.  Like most receivers and speaker amps, it has a higher level of gain than a headphone amp, so you'll probably want an adapter with resistors to lower the noise floor as mentioned over the last few pages.  I'd also say it's slightly less bright on my HE-400 than the Magni was.  It all boils down to what you'll be using the amp for, budget and the headphones you'll be driving.
 
beerchug.gif

 
Apr 23, 2013 at 8:24 PM Post #1,049 of 3,819

Headphoner

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Like most receivers and speaker amps, it has a higher level of gain than a headphone amp, so you'll probably want an adapter with resistors to lower the noise floor as mentioned over the last few pages.  I'd also say it's slightly less bright on my HE-400 than the Magni was.  It all boils down to what you'll be using the amp for, budget and the headphones you'll be driving.  
beerchug.gif

I will be using the HiFiman HE-500 with the emo.  Others in this thread have attached the HE-500 directly to the emo, without extra resistors, and the noise floor was not audible.  I hope this will work for me also.  But I do have a question:  My setup will be computer playback > DAC > emo > phones.  If there is an audible noise floor, what is the best way of reducing it?  With resistors between the phones and the amp or with a line-level attenuator between the amp and the DAC?
 
Apr 23, 2013 at 11:52 PM Post #1,050 of 3,819

haquocdung

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Hi MalVeauX,
 
Can you please direct me to your comment about this amp with LCD2.
And have you ever tried this with Sen HD800 by any chance?
 
Thank you.
 

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