Man, did I just buy a Total Airhead for nothing? Help please.
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deckard

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Greetings all, first post here (and something tells me I should have researched here long ago). Anyway, here's my story.

Picked up a Dell DJ20 and have loved every minute of it. In fact, I found the sound quality SO good I decided to invest in a portable Hi-Fi setup for it. After doing some (admittedly brief) research I decided on what seemed an unbeatable combination - Sennheiser HD580's and a Headroom Total Airhead. I have NO complaints about the Senny's, none whatsoever.


Here is the problem then. I just got the TAH today and figured when I plugged it in it would unlock hidden magic in my Senny's and I'd be knocked immeidately unconscious. However, it just didn't happen. The audio processor seems to be fine, it's subtle but noticeable and an improvement over just plugging the cans directly into the DJ. No, It's the amplification that troubles me. At best I noticed merely a few db gain with the TAH at max volume. I figured I would be able to turn my DJ's volume way down and the TAH would really drive it but that just isn't happening. I dug a little deeper on the net and found a couple articles talking about how they hooked the TAH up via the line-out on their players (like the Creative Nomad) and seemed to be getting the proper experience one would expect.

Well, my DJ has no line-out jacks. I also have a Sony CD Walkman and found that it too has no line-out. From what I've read, putting the TAH in-line with the headphone output simply uses the player's amp, pretty much defeating the TAH. Folks, am I as SOL here as I feel I am?
 
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ampgalore

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Which total airhead did you buy? 2004 production run (new version) or pre-2004 production run?
 
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Pappucho

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Quote:

Originally Posted by deckard
Greetings all, first post here (and something tells me I should have researched here long ago). From what I've read, putting the TAH in-line with the headphone output simply uses the player's amp, pretty much defeating the TAH. Folks, am I as SOL here as I feel I am?


Well, not exactly. You are still amplifying a signal louder than the orginal but it won't be as clean as amplifying a line level signal. You will still getting any of the weaknesses of the internal amp out to your headphones by using the headphone out to your amp. The line level output is always preferable when using a dedicated headphone amp. Also, you should be aware that some line outs are simply an extra jack coming from the headphone output anyways and not a true line out. Don't know which models do this but a search here will reveal a few of these players. So, you could connect the TAH to the headphone out and you should get a louder volume but you won't get the full benefits of using an external amplifier.
 
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deckard

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Pappucho
Well, not exactly. You are still amplifying a signal louder than the orginal but it won't be as clean as amplifying a line level signal. You will still getting any of the weaknesses of the internal amp out to your headphones by using the headphone out to your amp. The line level output is always preferable when using a dedicated headphone amp. Also, you should be aware that some line outs are simply an extra jack coming from the headphone output anyways and not a true line out. Don't know which models do this but a search here will reveal a few of these players. So, you could connect the TAH to the headphone out and you should get a louder volume but you won't get the full benefits of using an external amplifier.


Gods, that's what I figured. I'm simply amplifying my portable's amp. Very frustrating, not at all what I had in mind when purchasing an amp.

To the other fellow, I have an older one, gotten from auction on eBay, it's a grey plastic one that takes 3 AAA batteries and has only one headphone output and 1 green power LED.

I suppose it's a good thing the TAH has the audio processor which DOES have a nice effect, otherwise it'd be hard to justify even using the TAH at all. Otherwise I might as well just drive it with the DJ20 alone. Y'know this seems a very important fact for people interested in these portable amps who are novices like myself and don't have total understanding of all the nuances of amplification. I don't think the portable player crowd can just take for granted their devices will have line-out in the way that the home audio crowd usually can.
 
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ServinginEcuador

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deckard,

Amps aren't magic boxes that suddenly transform the signal coming into them from bad to good. They amplify the incoming signal to varying degrees of fidelity, adding their own signature to that signal, and then send it on. In some cases the sound coming out of your cans will sound better, but that's limited to times when the amp or source simply can't drive the cans properly. If you get decent sound out of the Dell, and have no line output available, sell or return the AirHead.
 
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deckard

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Thanks, but I like magic boxes! Seriously though yes, I will have to think about whether I will hang onto the TAH (knowing it's a great product) until I upgrade my DAP or just turn back now and sell it on good old eBay. Thanks for the great info folks, I appreciate it.
 
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ServinginEcuador

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Quote:

Originally Posted by deckard
Thanks, but I like magic boxes!


We all do, and we all wish the amps we had did some of their magic a little bit better in some region of sound. Thankfully, we all one day also wake up to a couple of facts: nothing is perfect; and without a good source we will never have great sound.
 
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sbulack

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Quote:

Originally Posted by deckard
Folks, am I as SOL here as I feel I am?


You're not SOL at all. The absolute BEAUTY of Headroom is its 30 Day Money Back Return Policy. I'm assuming that you got the TAH from Headroom, right? If you decide that the TAH just isn't pulling its weight for what you paid for it, carefully pack all of its pieces back up with all of the little bags and twist ties, follow the return instructions, and you're only out two way shipping. Not bad, really.

I'm not sure from your post if you don't want an amp at all or if you don't want to pay $200 for one, given that you don't have a line out to get the maximum benefit from one. If you wouldn't mind paying, say $65, for a very fine portable amp that sounds really good, you may want to check out the Vibe at www.headsave.com

Or, you may prefer NOT to. But in any case, Headroom has a very nice return policy, should you decide to exercise it in time.
 
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gpalmer

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sbulack
You're not SOL at all. The absolute BEAUTY of Headroom is its 30 Day Money Back Return Policy.


He bought an old model used from EBay, so this doesn't apply.
 
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sbulack

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Quote:

Originally Posted by gpalmer
He bought an old model used from EBay, so this doesn't apply.



Aw, sorry to hear that, man. Well, you know that it can be sold on e-Bay, and about what it can be sold for. So, again, you're not entirely what I'd call SOL. An e-Bay sale IS more effort than a Headroom return, though.
 
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Don't forget our FS/FT forums here.
 
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Joe Bloggs

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Wait a minute here... what is your chief complaint? That the sound quality improvement is not as much as you expected... or that the sound *volume* imporvement is not as much as you expected?

Also, to get the best out of your amp in the current situation, you should not turn your DJ20's output down. At least leave it at normal listening levels, if not higher--some players turn into line out mode when the volume is turned to maximum, you could try this. In fact, in theory it is good to have the volume output of your DJ20 at maximum, to maximise the signal-to-noise ratio--turn down the volume on the TAH to match your desired final volume. However the amp in the DJ20 may clip (distort) at maximum volume, in which case you should turn it down some.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Joe Bloggs

Also, to get the best out of your amp in the current situation, you should not turn your DJ20's output down. At least leave it at normal listening levels, if not higher--



Yes I agree, leave your DJ20's output to about 3/4 of its volume level and control the volume using the TAH.
 
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markl

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You really need a source with a line out to get anything out of an outboard amp. As it is, you are still using the amplification section of your Dell, and then sending it on to be amplified yet again by another amp. As you mention, in your set-up, in many ways defeats purpose of amping which is to bypass the typically crummy headamp section of most components.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by markl
You really need a source with a line out to get anything out of an outboard amp.


I can't agree with that. I have a G2 iPod with no line-out, but there is a marked difference in sonic quality between the unamped output, the output amped by my SuperMini, and the output amped by my JMT Pimeta. The results might well be better still with an line-out, but a regular earphone/headphone jack can certainly benefit very audibly from a good amp.
 
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