Not sure about the "whole different deal", but I agree speaker amps sound better in the ways you describe. However they are hardly essential, if one is willing to accept merely very good as opposed to exceptional performance. I've been using speaker amps with my HE6 for many months and agree it sounds best that way - and scales with the quality of the amp used. I agree that an amp of superior SQ to the ones I own may elicit even better performance from the HE6. I don't see anything unusual with this - good speakers scale the same way. Nonetheless, IMO, the HE6 can still sound very good driven by an adequate headphone amp. YMMV (and clearly does).