Revox Integrated Amp + Fiio X3 + Oppo PM-3= Possible Setup?
Oct 25, 2015 at 10:25 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 6


Sep 10, 2015
Hi There,
I currently own the components listed in the title, and I wanted to be sure that they could be used together, and is this a recommended setup? I have just started to get into hi-resolution audio in the past four months, so I bought a used Fiio X3 and the Oppo PM-3.  The sound I get is better than anything I've ever experienced, especially if I'm listening to one of the DSD albums I've purchased from Blue Coast Music. However, I just remembered that I also own a Revox integrated amp that my brother gave me more than ten years ago, so I started thinking about connecting my X3 to the integrated amp and then listening to music through the PM-3s. What would I need to connect the X3 to the Revox, and is this set up even a good idea? Since the X3 is already a DAC, would the extra power from a big amp like the Revox  improve my sound? Forgive me for being so ignorant about this, but I really could use some suggestions.
Oct 25, 2015 at 2:12 PM Post #2 of 6
That is not a good idea at all. Speaker amplifiers usually have very high impedance for their headphone outputs (100 Ohms is not uncommon) and that doesn't pair well with headphones. It would be most apparent with low impedance headphones like the PM-3. All portable headphones have a low impedance to be easier to drive with portable devices. Some headphones have a very high impedance like the Beyerdynamic T1 (600 Ohms) and those will pair easier with speaker amps because of a higher ratio (HP imp)/(Amp imp). There are much more detailed descriptions of the change in sound because of wrong impedance pairing in the sound science forum (under "Equipment Forums").
The output impedance of the Fiio X3 is 0.4 Ohm and that is very good. The X3 + PM-3 combination you have is great. The amp in the X3 is more than capable of driving those headphones. I think there is little room for improvement in your current setup.
By the way: be careful with hi-res music because some artists still use relatively poor mastering with the hi-res formats. That means it makes no sense paying extra for the hi-res equivalent. Looking at the dynamic range of an album can give a good reference on the sound quality of the master. Have you ever heard of the 'loudness war'? If you haven't I'd be glad to tell you more about why most modern music sounds worse than it should.
Oct 25, 2015 at 2:59 PM Post #3 of 6
Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. I confess that I know very little about impedance and the technical aspect so music. I purchased the X3 and the PM-3s based on reviews, and I'm looking for whatever will give me the most clarity when listen to acoustic music (I love the acoustic guitar).

As for what I listen to, I've found that I really like anything recorded or / and engineered by Cookie Morenco at Blue Coast Music. I'm happy to learn from those who know more than I, though, so I'll gladly take your suggestions. I don't know what the 'loudness war" is; would you tell me about it?
Oct 25, 2015 at 5:52 PM Post #4 of 6
You are very welcome. I was helped by the Head-fi community many times too, so I'm glad to now be able to help others myself.
Now I'll give you a short introduction to the 'loudness war'. I'm glad I piqued your interest for this topic. It's something most people are unaware of and it's one of the main issues with modern music.
There are studio engineers who try to do otherwise, but most musicians don't want their songs to sound less loud that the competition because for the average consumer louder means better, so loudness leads to more sales. More detailed information on the effect of perceiving louder as better can be found on the Wikipedia page on psychoacoustics:
Making the music louder comes at a cost because a great part of the dynamics and details in the music is lost. 
A very simple explanation can be seen and heard in this video:

A more in depth, chronological explanation of the start and growth of the loudness war can be seen below. It is very interesting if you ask me.

There are many examples of good and bad recordings / masters. The next video is from one of my favourite bands: Radiohead. It is one of their best recorded and mastered songs. It's still YouTube, so I can't avoid some quality degradation.

And as a fan of acoustic guitar music, you have to hear this:

An example of a terribly mastered song (it hurts my ears!):

Not an unknown band. And they are not the only ones who mess up their music, but this is a perfect sample of how it can go horribly wrong.
And now to compensate for the abomination from the previous video, I give you a song from one of the best recorded albums ever made:

You probably had to turn up the volume for the last one. That makes perfect sense because this song uses almost the full dynamic range available in (common) CD's, so the quiet beats are much quieter than the peaks of the drums. I am a huge fan of Flim & the BB's and I am lucky to own most of their music. Only their very first album that came out in vinyl is not in my collection.
There is an internet database where you can look up many different albums. This database can be found at It grows like a wiki with the input from users of the freeware that can be downloaded to measure the dynamic range of the music. The software to make the measurements yourself is called TT DR Offline Meter.
I managed to find an album from Blue Coast Music and it scores pretty well:
For reference, here are links for the albums from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Flim & the BB's: (Notice that this album came as hi-res from HD-Tracks!) (No hi-res here, but it sounds way better than hi-res of modern music)
Oct 28, 2015 at 10:35 AM Post #5 of 6
Hi There,
I'm grateful to you for the time you took to write such a thoughtful response. I've read it several times, and I've been looking through the database of albums. Many of the albums there are on CD, which I had suspected were of higher quality than the songs I had downloaded from iTunes (and this is what has made me invest too much time and money in a good set of headphones and a DAC). The quandary I now find myself in is searching for well-recorded music that is not on CD because I no longer own a CD player, and my computer doesn't have a DVD / CD drive. Do you know of a resource where I can find reviews of albums that I can purchase for digital download? The database is a good one, but I'm not exactly sure what all of the DR measurements mean.
Again, thank you so much!
Oct 28, 2015 at 5:43 PM Post #6 of 6
Most of the music I have comes from CDs, so I have realtively little knowledge of sources of music with high quality recordings and masters. Nowadays there are many artists who offer their music directly online and that should have made life easier. Many of these sources let you listen to the music before purchasing it. In the end it's about whether you enjoy the music or not. There are a few songs with a very low dynamic range which I still can enjoy. When I listen to tracks with a high dynamic range, the music feels more lifelike, but not all genres need to feel that way. Some electronic music does not need a high dynamic range to sound good.
The music you listen to can really profit from good recording and mastering. If you can find many CDs you would like to buy, you might want to consider buying an external USB CD/DVD player. Those are not too expensive ($25 for  a good one) and you can rip any CDs you buy to your hard drive. You can copy those files to a micro-SD card and use it with your Fiio X3.
The DR measurements are basically a measurement of the difference between the average loudness of the music and the peaks in the music. The higher the number, the better the recording and mastering were done. When compression is applied during mastering, clipping occurs. Clipping is a form of distortion in which the peaks are flattened. Audacity is a program that can show you the waveforms of the music and it can also show any clipping in the music. To illustrate what the difference can be between a low and a high quality recording I made a few screenshots you can see below.
Which one do you think sounds better? The one below is a full 7dB louder!
This is what using of the full dynamic range available on CDs looks like!
Not all electronic music is poorly produced. The red lines show where clipping occurs. The first song shows clearly a very wide dynamic range while the song below is by far the most compressed song I own.

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