No difference in sound when trying various amps??!?!?!
Nov 24, 2014 at 11:17 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 82

Cobaltius

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Hi, I've stumbled upon something odd (Atleast for me)
I have tried various amps with my HD 600's and my headphones still sound the same without any improvement.
I currently have the Schiit Asgard 2 and FiiO E70K. I compared them, also did A/B testing and noticed no difference in sound what so ever.... A matter of fact, I tried my headphones unamped using my phone (Lumia Icon) and heard no difference... They all sounded the same (phone audio was just quieter due to not enough power)
So whats up..... I'm pretty worried about me getting a new DAC because I plan on upgrading my Schiit Modi to the Schiit Bifrost Uber and feel like there will be no difference in sound.
Anyways, does anyone have same thing as I do or is it just me... I don't have bad/untrained ears because I can hear things people can't hear in certain pieces of music
 
Thanks!
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 2:42 PM Post #2 of 82

erdawe

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Do you have hearing problems?

A decent amp IMO in general makes less a difference than differences between headphones when given enough power and proper damping factor.
 
Perhaps, at the state of your hearing this could be wonderful think, think of all the money you can now save from future upgrades and sidegrades!
wink.gif

 
Nov 26, 2014 at 6:43 PM Post #3 of 82

Cobaltius

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I don't have hearing problems at all
I seriously just don't notice a difference at all. To me there isn't a difference
Like no tonal difference or anything

Will a DAC for sure have a difference??? (Modi to Bifrost Uber)
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 9:59 PM Post #4 of 82

ProtegeManiac

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I don't have hearing problems at all
I seriously just don't notice a difference at all. To me there isn't a difference
Like no tonal difference or anything

 
An amp isn't supposed to have any influence on the tonal qualities - all it does is amplify the input signal. The best an amp is supposed to do is deliver all the power the headphone needs based on impedance and efficiency with as little distortion as possible. Note though that "impedance" here doesn't just cover the nominal impedance stated on the headphone specs - some transducers have an impedance shift depending on the frequencies being played. The 300ohm Sennheisers for example are notorious for having an impedance spike above 100hz.
 

 
In some cases that impedance spike is what causes the most common complaint people have about bass "response" - it's either too much or too lose/lacking articulation, "too slow," or too thin - however it happens it's some kind of distortion in the amp (note that you don't necessarily need anything more powerful than the Asgard to deal with that) interacting with a non-linear response (ie making it worse). However the depth of the effects aren't always uniform - they're more noticeable in some recordings more than others (that assumes minimum of 320kbps VBR; but preferably CD or lossless) even with trained ears. I got our drummer and bassist into hi-fi playback and both of them gravitated immediately to the immediacy of percussions in Grados; took the bassist a while to appreciate the subtle but very detailed way that my HD600 driven by a Cantate.2 handles the double bass in Jane Monheit songs for example, or the precise imaging in the center vs the deceptively "wide" stage on my SR225.
 
 
Will a DAC for sure have a difference??? (Modi to Bifrost Uber)

 
Not a lot and especially not for the money you'll spend on that upgrade. When you notice huge difference in DACs, chances are that's because one of them is highly flawed. Usually all you should notice when upgrading the digital source is more precise imaging and maybe a larger soundstage if the upgrade means higher channel separation.
 
In some cases, some DACs - not always the cheaper one, mind you - are basically cheating. They'll sound more dynamic but that's because the output level is higher than the other DAC's - Sony standard is 2v but some DACs and CDPs output much higher than that. If your amplifier has enough clean output to spare and the total THD of the system and output level on either DAC are at comparable levels, you're not likely to hear any difference. Other DACs deliberately use their analog output stages to color the sound, and of course to capture a wider market some manufacturers offer alternate configurations (usually user-swappable), so if you get a DAC that has such options choose the middle ground. Given your Modi I wouldn't really worry about its sound - upgrade only when you need other features like SPDIF compatibility, multiple inputs and output options, etc.
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 10:46 PM Post #5 of 82

Cobaltius

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An amp isn't supposed to have any influence on the tonal qualities - all it does is amplify the input signal. The best an amp is supposed to do is deliver all the power the headphone needs based on impedance and efficiency with as little distortion as possible. Note though that "impedance" here doesn't just cover the nominal impedance stated on the headphone specs - some transducers have an impedance shift depending on the frequencies being played. The 300ohm Sennheisers for example are notorious for having an impedance spike above 100hz.




In some cases that impedance spike is what causes the most common complaint people have about bass "response" - it's either too much or too lose/lacking articulation, "too slow," or too thin - however it happens it's some kind of distortion in the amp (note that you don't necessarily need anything more powerful than the Asgard to deal with that) interacting with a non-linear response (ie making it worse). However the depth of the effects aren't always uniform - they're more noticeable in some recordings more than others (that assumes minimum of 320kbps VBR; but preferably CD or lossless) even with trained ears. I got our drummer and bassist into hi-fi playback and both of them gravitated immediately to the immediacy of percussions in Grados; took the bassist a while to appreciate the subtle but very detailed way that my HD600 driven by a Cantate.2 handles the double bass in Jane Monheit songs for example, or the precise imaging in the center vs the deceptively "wide" stage on my SR225.



Not a lot and especially not for the money you'll spend on that upgrade. When you notice huge difference in DACs, chances are that's because one of them is highly flawed. Usually all you should notice when upgrading the digital source is more precise imaging and maybe a larger soundstage if the upgrade means higher channel separation.

In some cases, some DACs - not always the cheaper one, mind you - are basically cheating. They'll sound more dynamic but that's because the output level is higher than the other DAC's - Sony standard is 2v but some DACs and CDPs output much higher than that. If your amplifier has enough clean output to spare and the total THD of the system and output level on either DAC are at comparable levels, you're not likely to hear any difference. Other DACs deliberately use their analog output stages to color the sound, and of course to capture a wider market some manufacturers offer alternate configurations (usually user-swappable), so if you get a DAC that has such options choose the middle ground. Given your Modi I wouldn't really worry about its sound - upgrade only when you need other features like SPDIF compatibility, multiple inputs and output options, etc.

So if I upgrade my Modi to the Bifrost Uber I would notice slight differences in sound right? Will it perhaps smoothen out the higher frequencies just a little bit and maybe have little bit more refinement and detail? My headphones sound pretty bright in the higher frequency's so I'm looking for something that would smoothen out that brightness very very slight (I'm not interested in HD 650 I prefer neural sound)
Thanks
 
Nov 26, 2014 at 11:09 PM Post #6 of 82

ProtegeManiac

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So if I upgrade my Modi to the Bifrost Uber I would notice slight differences in sound right? Will it perhaps smoothen out the higher frequencies just a little bit and maybe have little bit more refinement and detail?

 
Hard to tell - Schiit DACs aren't tuned to smooth over the sound, although of course the Bifrost should be smoother but the problem is whether that will be worth $200+ to you. You might be better off dealing with peaks in the HD800's response with EQ. The harshness there could be coming from the relative diffference in sound - look at how much louder it is at 6khz to 9khz vs 2khz. 
 
 

 
 
 
 
(I'm not interested in HD 650 I prefer neural sound)
 
 

I just included the HD650 in the graph to illustrate the impedance spike across the 300ohm Senns, but for the most part it's not so much that they're too warm either. If you're on brand new earpads it's jsut that they're really smooth, the problem is that the chassis design of the HD800 makes it less susceptible to negative effects from earpad wear so if you go into a meet for example and try on a couple of them with reasonably used earpads (including several people ahead of you on that day), the HD650 (also the HD600) tend to sound a lot warmer by comparison.
 
Nov 27, 2014 at 3:46 AM Post #7 of 82

amnesiac75

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I used the modi dac for about a year and upgraded to the gungnir and found that even though the improvements were subtle when paired with better amps the gungnir clearly sounds better to my ears. Another thing to keep in mind is that at least in my experience in order to really know if an amp/dac sounds better you need to listen to it for a few weeks and than go back to your old set up.
 
Nov 27, 2014 at 4:47 AM Post #8 of 82

Megalomaniak

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If the amplifier doesnt not add a signature firm of the house it comes, it doesnt change anything from the signal source, or its not supposed to do it.
 
If you try some high-end amplifiers which have a certain tonal firm like my Violectric V281 or the other V220 and V200 models, you'll find a richer and fuller sound with an easy listening trebble. But if you get the V100 or V90, you'll find that they are neutral.
 
Other cases as Schiit Valhalla or Lyr do change the sound a little since they use tubes and you can roll them looking for a specific sound.
 
But the rest, it just comes to power and output impedance (assuming that they have low thd, perfect balance, low distorsion, etc), if the output impedance is close (and in your HD600s doesnt matter much since is 300 ohm), they have enough power and they are farily simmilar in neutrality, no differences will be found.
 
Other case for example would be if your headphone had like 20-30 ohms of impedance, and you used a Matrix M-Stage like mine with those and then the Asgard 2, the main difference would be bass and trebble control. Even if the headphones do have high sensitivity and low impedance, output impedance does matter when power doesnt.
 
Nov 27, 2014 at 11:42 PM Post #10 of 82

ProtegeManiac

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  What would make my setup sound better without new headphones?

 
1. EQ - flatten sharp peaks and fill in drops in the response
 
2. New music. If what you're listening to for any reason (that's how it is, or is improperly recorded, etc) doesn't have much dynamic range nor that many instruments in it, then the system isn't stressing during playback; by contrast those who report improvements could be listening to music that is busy with too many instruments if not also recorded with proper dynamic range, so whatever they were coming from had too much distortion that easily affected the music particularly with playback transparency and dynamics.
 
3. New earpadsif the current earpads are worn out.
 
Nov 28, 2014 at 12:17 AM Post #11 of 82

Cobaltius

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1. EQ - flatten sharp peaks and fill in drops in the response
 
2. New music. If what you're listening to for any reason (that's how it is, or is improperly recorded, etc) doesn't have much dynamic range nor that many instruments in it, then the system isn't stressing during playback; by contrast those who report improvements could be listening to music that is busy with too many instruments if not also recorded with proper dynamic range, so whatever they were coming from had too much distortion that easily affected the music particularly with playback transparency and dynamics.
 
3. New earpads, if the current earpads are worn out.

Oh hell no I'm not dealing with that. I had a lifetime struggle with EQ a while ago. I used a 68-band EQ and it was hell for me... I was never satisfied with the sound I EQed and had major OCD over each frequency spectrum. Yes I could just drop down and flatten peaks but that colors the sound and I've started to hate colored sound, because I'm more into accuracy.
 
What I find cool is if I push my headphones slightly where the front ear cushions are almost over my ear, I get a nice relaxed warm sound with darker highs. Pretty unique... 
 
How about Analog cables. DIY made cables
I'm thinking about better Interconnects and better HD 600 cable
I also want so other crap that you would say as a waste of money:
AudioQuest Cinnamon (Need a sexy USB cable because why not and OCD)
AudioQuest NRG-x3 Power cable (I don't know audiophiliac OCD I guess)
Schiit Wyrd (Paranoid over USB ports even though they're probably fine)
 
 
I dont hook my FiiO E07K to my Asgard I just use it separately when Im upstairs in my room or when I'm bored. 
Still doesn't make any difference in soundstaging or anything Modi and E07K's DAC sound no different (even my phones built in amp and DAC make no difference)
 
Nov 28, 2014 at 12:40 AM Post #12 of 82

ProtegeManiac

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  Oh hell no I'm not dealing with that. I had a lifetime struggle with EQ a while ago. I used a 68-band EQ and it was hell for me... I was never satisfied with the sound I EQed and had major OCD over each frequency spectrum. Yes I could just drop down and flatten peaks but that colors the sound and I've started to hate colored sound, because I'm more into accuracy.

 
Technically speaking, due to the reality that no transducer even when working in tandem with any number of other transducers as well as with their enclosures taken into account, produces a perfectly flat response, EVERY system in the world is colored by the headphone or speaker. A proper digital level paremetric EQ just colors it at the opposite end. Think of it this way: if you have peaks and valleys in the response, and assuming it isn't due to room modes (or the equivalent factors in headphones, like earpad wear), how else can one deal with those problems then? Upgrading a DAC just gives you an even flatter DAC at maybe a higher output voltage, which will only be an improvement if the previous DAC had non-linearities at the exact places where the headphone has issues, thus making them worse.
 
Besides, a 68-Band EQ? What EQ was that? If it was a graphic EQ, a digital parametric EQ works better since you can choose the center frequency and the Q factor (width).
 
 
What I find cool is if I push my headphones slightly where the front ear cushions are almost over my ear, I get a nice relaxed warm sound with darker highs. Pretty unique... 

 
Not that unique, that's how headphones are supposed to be worn, except by headphone "purists" who love Grados and the Beyer DT48 and such and argue for the "natural headphone sound" that has a strong L-C-R response with weaker signal/pushed back imaging between L-C and C-R, thanks to how they want the drivers smack on top of their ear canals. It's basically a simulation of speaker toe-in.
 
Brown diamonds - speakers in rough toe-in angle; red - conventional headphones; blue - angled headphone driver mounts/earpads (AKG K701/2/12/812, Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD800, etc). HD600 with the rear of the pads against the earlobes for example is closer to blue than red.

 
 
 
 
How about Analog cables. DIY made cables
I'm thinking about better Interconnects and better HD 600 cable

 
If the interconnects make a lot more difference than the amp, you're using an interconnect whose properties are having an EQ effect, which is another way of "coloring the sound," which in turn is something you just said "oh hell no" to.

Unless what you're currently using is actually doing that, so going for one that conducts better and has not EQ effect will be a huge improvement. I used to have some Audience cables and they were too warm vs some Beldens I had terminated with Amphenols. The Beldens sounded a lot more like live music but with solid bass (as in you get all the airiness of a live performance on a studio album, but without how crappy the bass drum usually sounds on actual live recordings). I'd suggest just getting Blue Jeans Cable for this - it will save you a ton of money and they're basically like that interconnect. MY Audience at least came as a freebie with some Wharfedale Pacifics that I bought so at least I didn't blow any money on those.
 
 
AudioQuest Cinnamon (Need a sexy USB cable because why not and OCD)
AudioQuest NRG-x3 Power cable (I don't know audiophiliac OCD I guess)
Schiit Wyrd (Paranoid over USB ports even though they're probably fine)

 
I'd get a USB cable for the same reasons, but no there won't be any difference in sound. Prior to that there were cases of audiophile USB cables that actually introduced some noise in the circuit, more than what having a power conductor does, thanks to how the geometry didn't follow USB standards. Audioquest is safe enough for that to not be a problem. Get the Wyrd as the last addition though if you're not having any issues right now.
 
As for the power cable...check with DIYers first. I'd much sooner use the same kind of industrial-grade power cables used inside the walls of my house than any expensive cables out there, and if I do use anything more than what I can get out of a bin at a computer parts store (or came free with my amp), it's primarily for the plugs. I use hospital grade plugs on my gear because I never know when the housekeeper might accidentally tug/trip+tug on one of them or when I or the housekeeper neglects to keep the door closed and the cats and dogs get into the rooms where my audio system and computer are.
 
---
 
In any case, you do realize that for the cost of all those cables you could just upgrade the headphones? Or even a "side"-grade to get one with the kind of sound you really want?
 
 
Nov 28, 2014 at 12:44 AM Post #14 of 82

Cobaltius

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Technically speaking, due to the reality that no transducer even when working in tandem with any number of other transducers as well as with their enclosures taken into account, produces a perfectly flat response, EVERY system in the world is colored by the headphone or speaker. A proper digital level paremetric EQ just colors it at the opposite end. Think of it this way: if you have peaks and valleys in the response, and assuming it isn't due to room modes (or the equivalent factors in headphones, like earpad wear), how else can one deal with those problems then? Upgrading a DAC just gives you an even flatter DAC at maybe a higher output voltage, which will only be an improvement if the previous DAC had non-linearities at the exact places where the headphone has issues, thus making them worse.
 
Besides, a 68-Band EQ? What EQ was that? If it was a graphic EQ, a digital parametric EQ works better since you can choose the center frequency and the Q factor (width).
 
 
Not that unique, that's how headphones are supposed to be worn, except by headphone "purists" who love Grados and the Beyer DT48 and such and argue for the "natural headphone sound" that has a strong L-C-R response with weaker signal/pushed back imaging between L-C and C-R, thanks to how they want the drivers smack on top of their ear canals. It's basically a simulation of speaker toe-in.
 
Brown diamonds - speakers in rough toe-in angle; red - conventional headphones; blue - angled headphone driver mounts/earpads (AKG K701/2/12/812, Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD800, etc). HD600 with the rear of the pads against the earlobes for example is closer to blue than red.

 
 
 
 
If the interconnects make a lot more difference than the amp, you're using an interconnect whose properties are having an EQ effect, which is another way of "coloring the sound," which in turn is something you just said "oh hell no" to.

Honestly I'm just looking for more refinement and detail.
and maybe a blacker sound stage (I'm sure thats what a good DAC comes in hand for...)
 
Nov 28, 2014 at 12:46 AM Post #15 of 82

Cobaltius

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Technically speaking, due to the reality that no transducer even when working in tandem with any number of other transducers as well as with their enclosures taken into account, produces a perfectly flat response, EVERY system in the world is colored by the headphone or speaker. A proper digital level paremetric EQ just colors it at the opposite end. Think of it this way: if you have peaks and valleys in the response, and assuming it isn't due to room modes (or the equivalent factors in headphones, like earpad wear), how else can one deal with those problems then? Upgrading a DAC just gives you an even flatter DAC at maybe a higher output voltage, which will only be an improvement if the previous DAC had non-linearities at the exact places where the headphone has issues, thus making them worse.
 
Besides, a 68-Band EQ? What EQ was that? If it was a graphic EQ, a digital parametric EQ works better since you can choose the center frequency and the Q factor (width).
 
 
Not that unique, that's how headphones are supposed to be worn, except by headphone "purists" who love Grados and the Beyer DT48 and such and argue for the "natural headphone sound" that has a strong L-C-R response with weaker signal/pushed back imaging between L-C and C-R, thanks to how they want the drivers smack on top of their ear canals. It's basically a simulation of speaker toe-in.
 
Brown diamonds - speakers in rough toe-in angle; red - conventional headphones; blue - angled headphone driver mounts/earpads (AKG K701/2/12/812, Beyer T1, Sennheiser HD800, etc). HD600 with the rear of the pads against the earlobes for example is closer to blue than red.

 
 
 
 
If the interconnects make a lot more difference than the amp, you're using an interconnect whose properties are having an EQ effect, which is another way of "coloring the sound," which in turn is something you just said "oh hell no" to.

Yup I was pretty crazy how things sounded and yes it was a graphic EQ I used on my computer
 
I was going to have a friend make me good interconnects using Double-Helix Cables Nucleotide wires that are said to be "neutral" lol
 

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