How do I know when my headphones need amping?
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gaspir324

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I'm a total newbie so help me out. I would be buying XB1000s and I was thinking getting the FiiO E11 with it (315€ all together, say if overpriced). I would be using them from my iPhone and desktop. But I've heard that they (1000) don't really need amping but then again I've heard that they do need some at least. Any help appreciated.
 
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Austin Morrow

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Well, amps do two things:
 
1: They make the sound louder if the particular headphone is harder to drive.
2: Depending on the amp, they can make the sound better or worse in a particular frequency. 
 
I think the XB1000's could use some amping yes, and the E11 should suffice, or should I recommend the Electric Avenues PA2V2?
 
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Skanda

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From what I have noticed, amps make the sound more controlled and full. The amp is better able to control the flex of the drivers. What I mean is that in dynamic headphones the drives moves back and forth to create sound, the amp helps control that driver, making its back and forth movements/stops more precise. As a result I have noticed that with my beyers the bass is more controlled and the highs "dont get away" from the headphone. Alot of this also depends on amp-headphone synergy. As a general rule, I'd like to say an amp isnt necessary when using a dynamic driver headphone HOWEVER i do feel they improve the sound.
 
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Skanda

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As for the E11, I don't own it but I do own a few fiio products (e7/e9/l3) and I can safely say that they are great products with very reasonable prices
 
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Armaegis

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Amping is generally overhyped on these forums, and the differences are usually not noticeable to the casual listener when using a typical low impedance/high sensitivity headphone.  
 
Get the headphones first, listen for a while until you get to know their sound. Then try powering it from a home receiver and see if you notice a difference. If not, be happy with what you've got. If you do notice a difference, only then should you consider a dedicated headphone amp (or just stick with the receiver and don't spend any more money). 
 
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wakibaki

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When you can't get enough volume to be able to turn it up to the point where you want to turn it down again, that's when you need an amplifier.
 
You can tolerate a volume for a short time without damage that will be damaging in the long term. You can tolerate a volume without pain that will be damaging in the long term. How you ensure that you do not damage your hearing is problematic, but, for example, Canadian Health and Safety regulations require that all sound exposure down to 74dBA shall be included when calculating an employees 24-hour dosage.
 
w
 
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Skanda

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I agree Armaegis, amping is a bit over-hyped, however my experience is with 600 ohm headphones which, in my opinion, benefit greatly. I also believe that much of it comes down to peace of mind. Having an amp along with the headphone will keep you from wondering what an amp sounds like...but I would only suggest buying a cheaper amp in that case.
 
Aren't the XB1000's designed to be portable? 
 
Quote:
Amping is generally overhyped on these forums, and the differences are usually not noticeable to the casual listener when using a typical low impedance/high sensitivity headphone.  
 
Get the headphones first, listen for a while until you get to know their sound. Then try powering it from a home receiver and see if you notice a difference. If not, be happy with what you've got. If you do notice a difference, only then should you consider a dedicated headphone amp (or just stick with the receiver and don't spend any more money). 


 
 
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I noticed very little difference between my DT900 600Ω hooked up to a Music Streamer II and Little Dot MK2 vs just the DT990 hooked up to an iMac's headphone out.  So, ya.
 
 
 
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Quote:
I agree Armaegis, amping is a bit over-hyped, however my experience is with 600 ohm headphones which, in my opinion, benefit greatly. I also believe that much of it comes down to peace of mind. Having an amp along with the headphone will keep you from wondering what an amp sounds like...but I would only suggest buying a cheaper amp in that case.
 
Aren't the XB1000's designed to be portable? 
 
 

Which is why I said "typical low impedance high sensitivity consumer headphones". The heavies usually do want some more grunt behind them, not just for volume but for driver control and power requirements.
 
The XB1000 are huge. Tecnically anything can be portable, it just depends how much bag and head real estate you're willing to use. I've read of some guys who used to carry Stax transformers in a suitcase with them...
 
Quote:
I noticed very little difference between my DT900 600Ω hooked up to a Music Streamer II and Little Dot MK2 vs just the DT990 hooked up to an iMac's headphone out.  So, ya.
 
 

Well that's a bit surprising. If nothing else, there should be a very noticeable volume difference. Bass control is usually the most noticeable sonic difference in amping.
 
 
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Skanda

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Quote:
 
The XB1000 are huge. Tecnically anything can be portable, it just depends how much bag and head real estate you're willing to use. I've read of some guys who used to carry Stax transformers in a suitcase with them...

 

True but I meant impedance wise. I thought they were 32 ohm...
 
 
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Quote:
Well that's a bit surprising. If nothing else, there should be a very noticeable volume difference. Bass control is usually the most noticeable sonic difference in amping.
 


Well, in actual dynamics I mean.  Volume of course can get extremely loud with the Little Dot.  While I find the volume to be at a comfortable level around 70-80% on the iMac, with the Little Dot I never find myself putting the knob past 20%.  Of course since there's a dedicated dac, there's no computer interference if I'm doing stressful computational tasks as well.  The bass difference isn't that noticeable.  In fact I'd go so far to say that with just the iMac there's more bass quantity, but it's just because the bass is tighter with the Little Dot.  Definitely not much deep extension or impact though, unless you EQ bass.  Soundstage and detail retrieval is pretty much the same.  The other difference is less treble and thicker miss, but that's every bit to do with the tubes' sound signature, and nothing with dynamics.
 
 
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Skanda

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Huh, seems like a part of my last post got deleted. I was saying that your findings with the 990/600 are totally feasible because I have read that, despite the high impedance, they are very efficient and therefore can be amped properly using less powerful amps.
 
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