- Apr 24, 2016
Question about IE Match. I understand it's for high sensitivity IEMs. However I'm using the Signature mostly for supposedly power hungry planars (Hifiman Arya, T60 Argon) via the 4.4mm pentaconn output. In theory, I'd expect to be able to use the signature on turbo mode with IE Match off and still have a decent range of volume control. However, I'm finding that on turbo mode I hardly have any range past the channel imbalance point before it gets too loud. On the other hand, the output powers of normal and eco mode seem far too low on paper, even though the volume can still get way higher than my listening level regardless of gain mode.
I.E match (high sensitivity) seems to allow more range on the volume control while on turbo mode, but it's also quicker to cause distortion. Ultra sensitivity distorts even quicker.
What am I doing wrong here? More importantly what should I be doing to power my headphones properly and have a decent volume control range?
You're doing nothing wrong!
TLDR - Should IE Match be used with headphones or is it designed exclusively for IEMs?
IEmatch was designed for IEMs, but that doesn't mean it can't be used with headphones either. We know plenty of folks that use it with both.
For this situation, our suggestion would be to use turbo mode with high sensitivity or normal mode.
In terms of it being way too low on paper, I'd say trust your ears here. The Signature is a flexible beast that can provide a lot of power for pretty much anything that you can think of.
I'm not sure (hope iFi can chime in) but I think IEMatch is useful not just for IEM's but also for headphones that are very sensitive. Primary use case for IEMatch is if there is audible noise or if there is a lack of usable volume range.
Personally, I use my Sundara with IEMatch off and Normal mode and get to comfortable listening levels at around 12 or 1 O' Clock position. In turbo mode, volume range gets very limited at 10 or 11 O' Clock with no noticeable sound quality improvement. I tried using Turbo mode with IEMatch and noticed distortion after ~3 O' Clock position.
TL;DR Try IEMatch & Power combinations so you get desired volume level between 12 & 2 O' Clock position on volume pot.
I also noticed a slight change in frequency response when using IEMatch with some gear, but the change was not big enough to matter and also gave different results for different IEM's/Headphones.
Correct! Audible noise is the main goal of IEMatch for any setup when it comes to headphones or IEMs.
As @Johnfg465vd said brilliantly, experimentation is the key to finding out what variation of IEMatch and the power modes work best for you.
Thanks. I've had similar experiences with IE match on and turbo mode. But in order to use turbo mode and get to 12 o'clock without going deaf IE match has to be on.
Can ifi please explain how IE match and the gain switch interact?
By using IE match with Turbo mode, is the maximum power output of Turbo mode still available to the headphones?
Or is using both at the same time just boosting the gain on one hand and then reducing it on the other (in which case it may be better to just use the headphones in normal mode instead of turbo)?
The gain switch takes priority over IEMatch, and IEMatch will apply to all levels of gain based on whatever high or ultra setting you have selected.
No, that selection would theoretically be turbo mode with a notch of IEMatch, which would decrease the output power by matching the impedance of the said IEmatch setting.