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Influence of cold/analytic DAC/AMP on warm sounding cans

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by batou069, Dec 8, 2013.
  1. BaTou069
    I have two Cans on their way to me, HiFiMAN HE-400 and NAD VISO HP50.
    I am also a backer of the Geek Out on Kickstarter and the Geek Pulse on Indiegogo.
    There aren't any impressions on their sound/performance, and for the meantime I also ordered a FiiO E18 DAC/AMP.
    I'm reading a lot here in Head-Fi on a daily basis. From what I did read I understood, that the HiFiMAN HE-400 is a warm sounding can, maybe not dark but defenitely warm.
    I'm also considering buying a Schiit DAC+AMP Combo, I'm not sure yet.
    My Question: If coupled with a cold or analytic sounding DAC, how much do you influence the warm sound that a can naturally produces?
    Is it better (or does it make more sense) to couple a cold/analytic DAC/AMP with a cold/analytic Can? And a warm can with a warm DAC/AMP, or will this produce an even "warmer" sound?...that may or may not be desired..
  2. derbigpr

    Its very slippery ground calling a DAC or amp cold or warm. A good piece of equipment will always stay as close to flat as possible, and the warmth or coldness that people describe is so tiny and insignificant it has very little effect on changing the character of the headphones. Choose your headphones to have the sound that you want, don't buy warm headphones and then try to make them bright by using "cold" amps and DAC's, it wont work.
  3. i019791
    My "warm" may be "cold" for you or vice versa. Cold & analytic gear for me may be perfectly neutral for you or vice versa. It makes sense to use those terms only comparatively (e.g. Hifiman HE400 is warmer than Akg K702 and colder than Sennheiser HD650) when discussing headphones, dacs or amps.
    You have to hear various gear combinations in order to be sure of your personal tastes, so I cannot offer much of an advice.
  4. BaTou069
    That's not my intention. I'm interested if a "warm" AMP/DAC in combination with a warm Can is desirable , or would it make more sense to use a flatter one
    Thank You
    All of the mentioned above makes a lot of sense.
    If you would have two Dacs, one you'd consider analytic and another very warm compared to the first one - and have a warm sounding headphone (lets say the HiFiMAN HE-400).
    Would you prefer to pair it with the colder or warmer Amp/Dac?
  5. i019791
    I have not heard the HE400.
    For comparison, I would tend to go "warmer" with Akg K701 & Hifiman HE500, colder with Sennheiser HD650. But that's just me.
  6. lup1
    In my Opinion you should keep your DAC/AMP perfectly flat as they were meant to be. Then the only thing you will have to worry about will be the sound character of your Headphones and not whether each part of your chain will be synergetic with other parts etc. . Amps by design should have flat frequency responce so its better to buy one which is neutral and most of the time the differences in DACS are so small that you might not even hear its slight warmness/coldness . I would go neutral
  7. lup1
    Also dont let the reviews of DACS fool you. For example on "What-Hifi the reviewer likes to use big words and exaggerate the differences but really differences between D/A converters are smaller than you might think and if you dont have a transparent enough setup you might have even hard time noticing them. 
    montanari likes this.
  8. proton007
    I'm sorry, but its the wrong approach.
    X (number of different sounding DACs) x Y (number of different sounding amps) x Z (number of different sounding headphones) = XYZ combinations.
    You'll keep trying to find that golden combination, and after losing lots of money and time, you'll still be searching.
    The best way is to remove the first two from this equation by ensuring they're transparent (meaning no audio signature). Focus on the headphones, that's where the difference lies.
  9. StanD
    IMO if one's DAC or Amp is coloring the sound, one bought the wrong equipment. Headphones have mechanical and acoustic components which are harder to design as these are less tangible than circuit design which is well understood. Geeting a good sounding set of cans will do one more good than fiddling with amps. I think that far too many people with too much time on their hands are making hay of this, they have too much fun and that's OK with me as long as the myths don't mislead others.
    As far as amps go, one needs the following:
    1. Able to drive your cans with adequate headroom and damping ratio (low enough impedance)
    2. Flat frequency response throughout the audio spectrum.
    3. Low steady state distortion, THD and IMD.
    4. Low Transient distortion, TIMD
    Most of the magic is in the headphones.
  10. i019791

    This assumes there is a perfect headphone for your tastes. For many such a headphone does not exist in practice
    In this case you may pick up the one(s) closest to your tastes and see if you can find specific colorations upstream to push the sound towards your ideal.
  11. proton007
    May I ask how do you know what your 'ideal' sound is?
  12. i019791

    From experience with good speakers - minus soundstaging and bass feeling not technically possible with headphones.
    In practice, based on the cans I have heard and keeping what seemed most satisfactory for me on each of them.
  13. proton007
    So you think your tastes will always stay the same?
  14. i019791

    Likely yes - note that I am over 50...
  15. StanD
    Adding distortion is IMO not the answer. Since removing distortion is not a possible answer, the only remaining practical possiblility is EQ which has nothing to do with tubes, SS, cables, etc. Special effects are best left to musicians not the audience.
    lup1 likes this.

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