most detailed/analytical headphone amp under 200$
Oct 13, 2009 at 2:46 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

unifd

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just looking for an answer so i dont make the wrong purchase --

whats the right home/desk amp for my etymotic er-4s? i like detail. (and soundstage)

thank you
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 3:24 PM Post #2 of 18

Uncle Erik

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You don't need an amp for IEMs. I run them straight out of an iPod.

If you want detail and soundstage, make sure you have very well recorded, engineered and produced music. Go for vinyl, SACD, DVD-A, reel, or 24/96 downloads if you can.

If you can't go hi-rez, then use lossless Red Book and avoid "Loudness War" discs and badly recorded ones.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 7:47 PM Post #4 of 18

unifd

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most places ive looked seem to say that the er-4s need an amp, but i guess ill wait till they arrive and see how they sound..

if they dont need one thats good news though, the less stuff in the signal path i have to worry about the better, really..

BUT isnt the jack in my computer/ipod/stereo just a poor quality headphone amp in itself? wouldnt a better amp sound better? or do IEMS need such little amplification that it really doesnt matter what you use?
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 8:04 PM Post #5 of 18

episiarch

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I certainly prefer my ER-4S amped. I greatly prefer it that way.
For a superb amp on a budget that doesn't roll off the details on this phone, I would point you to the Mini3 in its "high peformance" (AD8387/OPA690) configuration. For home use, leave it plugged in.
etysmile.gif
Seriously, while I have not heard all the <$200 amps out there, and haven't heard the EF2 in particular, there's no $200 amp I've owned or heard, wall-powered or not, that I preferred to the Mini3 for driving an ER-4S without robbing details or adding warmth.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 8:15 PM Post #6 of 18

AmanGeorge

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Quote:

Originally Posted by unifd /img/forum/go_quote.gif
BUT isnt the jack in my computer/ipod/stereo just a poor quality headphone amp in itself? wouldnt a better amp sound better? or do IEMS need such little amplification that it really doesnt matter what you use?


Yes, the jack in your computer and your iPod (but not necessarily the outputs of your stereo system) include not-great-quality headphone amps. The problem is that if you connect these straight into another amplifier, you're not bypassing the poor-quality amp, you're just further amplifying its signal.

The only way to bypass the amp altogether is to get a line out signal straight from a DAC; there's no way to do this straight from a computer (which is why people buy external DACs), and the only way to do it from an iPod is to mod it.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 8:40 PM Post #8 of 18

unifd

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i guess i have to consider the mini 3 since it seems so well recieved, but the battery power and the small size is like totally useless to me, this system is for a home listening station.. i dont want to pay extra for a portable amp that will sound worse at the expense of size, is what im getting at.

at the moment im between the head direct ef-2, the mini 3, and the little dot i+ hybrid amp.. need some more opinions to consider.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 8:56 PM Post #9 of 18

AmanGeorge

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Between the three you mentioned, I think I'd go for the EF-2, with the caveat that I've never heard a Mini^3. The EF-2 has a built-in DAC, which is a big plus (although it's not supposed to be the best DAC around); also, if you're looking for detailed, I would definitely go with the EF-2 over the Little Dot... I owned the Little Dot briefly, and while it was nice and added a touch of warmth to sound, the sound was also noticeably blurred relative to other amps I have heard (and relative to the Little Dot MKV I owned at the time).
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 9:03 PM Post #10 of 18

K3cT

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Quote:

Originally Posted by AmanGeorge /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Between the three you mentioned, I think I'd go for the EF-2, with the caveat that I've never heard a Mini^3. The EF-2 has a built-in DAC, which is a big plus (although it's not supposed to be the best DAC around); also, if you're looking for detailed, I would definitely go with the EF-2 over the Little Dot... I owned the Little Dot briefly, and while it was nice and added a touch of warmth to sound, the sound was also noticeably blurred relative to other amps I have heard (and relative to the Little Dot MKV I owned at the time).


I would also have recommended the EF-2 if the OP doesn't insist on neutrality and details.
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Although I haven't heard the EF-2, I've heard the EF-1 and it was rather euphonic, sweet and lush sounding. It's definitely very far from neutral.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 9:26 PM Post #11 of 18

unifd

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Quote:

Originally Posted by K3cT /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I would also have recommended the EF-2 if the OP doesn't insist on neutrality and details.
tongue.gif


Although I haven't heard the EF-2, I've heard the EF-1 and it was rather euphonic, sweet and lush sounding. It's definitely very far from neutral.



well, i didnt insist. euphonic, sweet and lush are definitely nice words, and the built in dac is a plus. the ef-2 sounds like a nice compromise. thanks everyone.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 9:52 PM Post #12 of 18

AmanGeorge

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To be fair, the OP said he wanted details and soundstage, not neutrality. I don't feel like I lose details with my EF1 (unlike my LD I+) and its soundstaging capabilities are excellent.
 

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