SR-71 vs. Headroom Micro vs. Headroom Total Bithead?
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cgetman

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I'm evaluating which amp may be a better option for my use.

I would be using the amp with a IPAQ 3955 running music off of a SD card and I would also be using it with my Dell 9300 laptop.

The IPAQ would be an analog connection and the 9300 could be either analog or USB.

I'm looking for a portable amp. I have also considered the Shellbrook Ascent.

Any opinions would be appreciated. This would be my first headphone amp. I currently have a pair of Grado SR125 headphones. (I'm trying to resist the pull of the darkside to purchase a pair of Etymotic 4S's)

Thanks for any and all opinions!

Curt
 
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elrod-tom

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Hmmm....well, I think we're talking about apples and oranges to some extent.

If you're going to run off your laptop sound card, then you want the amp (I assume so, at any rate) that sounds the best. That would be the SR-71 IMHO. My objection (that's a stronger word than I'm looking for, but the only one that fits) to the SR-71 is that it has no crossfeed. In an environment where one is doing extensive listening, that's a factor for me. But, in terms of sonics, the SR-71 will best the HeadRoom Micro Amp by a bit, and the Total AirHead (Total BitHead without using the DAC) by a length (that's a horseracing term
)

If you're going to use digital out, and use the DAC in the Total BitHead (or acquire a Micro DAC...you weren't clear about that), it would depend on how important portability is. The Micro line is very portable, but not to the degree that the Total BitHead is. Now, you pay something of a price for that portability in sound quality, but it's also significantly cheaper.

Hope that helps...maybe if you could clarify a bit??
 
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cgetman

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The analog audio out of the 9300 seems pretty clean when not playing music directly from CD. The only reason I was thinking of the USB option was if I couldn't get "clean" audio out of the 9300.

The audio out of my two devices seem quiet so the USB option is probably not required. I guess then I'm looking at SR-71 or Headroom micro (without the DAC addon unit).

Your point about crossfeed is interesting. As I haven't tried anything with crossfeed I don't have anything to compare to. The general opinion seems to be that the crossfeed makes listening less tiring over extended periods of time. Would that be an accurate deduction?

Anyone with experience with the "Ascent" versus the above two options?

Thanks Again!

Curt
 
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cpw

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I agree w/ ET.
If you're mainly using it w/ computer and somewhat lossy files (ie. mp3) the convenience of the TBH is tough to beat. It'll also be powered thru the usb port so few battery issues.
I use mine a lot even though I also have an SR-71.
The SR-71 is a clear winner in the sound quality dept. I haven't heard a Headroom Micro but it has the advantages of crossfeed and AC pwr option.
All I can say about the SR-71 is that the quality (all areas) is shockingly good.
CPW
 
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TwoFiveOne

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I assume your 9300 uses the same SigmaTel audio as my Dell I-6000, which has the best headphone jack I've heard on a laptop. So my advice would be don't spend the big bucks on a SR-71 unless you send it digital-out, either via USB (M-Audio Transit, HR Micro DAC) or something like an Airport Express (not as convenient but better IMO.) The noise floor, though small on a 9300, will simply disappear.

Since this will be your first headamp why not start out with a PA2 or Go-Vibe and a Transit (for the 9300) at about $150 total and huge bang for the buck.

Crossfeed is great but it only comes into play for me on older recordings, like pre-1970.

Good luck and enjoy...
 
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cgetman

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You are correct about the Sigma Tel audio on the 9300. Total Bithead may be a more economical way to go rather than springing for the new HR microdac.

The HR micro would probably be the next audio quality level up from the Bithead but the bithead is apealing being an all in one solution.
 
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jpelg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cgetman
You are correct about the Sigma Tel audio on the 9300. Total Bithead may be a more economical way to go rather than springing for the new HR microdac.


If you are going to use the internal analog audio of both devices (PDA & laptop), then why get a Bithead or MicroDac at all? The Bithead uses the same amp section as the Airhead. If going analog, then just get the basic amp.

What I am wondering is if a Pocket PC can output a digital audio signal thru it's USB port? If it can (somehow), then I wonder what would happen if you connected the PDA's USB to a Bithead's USB? Anyone have any ideas on this?
 
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elrod-tom

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jpelg
What I am wondering is if a Pocket PC can output a digital audio signal thru it's USB port? If it can (somehow), then I wonder what would happen if you connected the PDA's USB to a Bithead's USB? Anyone have any ideas on this?


Oooh!! Good question!! Anyone have any ideas??
 
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rickcr42

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USB is USB so there is no reason why it would not work but my worry would be battery drain on the pocket PC
 
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jpelg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rickcr42
USB is USB so there is no reason why it would not work


On a PC - yes. But I don't know what the PocketPC OS is capable of doing with this. Would this require a special driver for the PDA's OS? Quote:

my worry would be battery drain on the pocket PC


True. But if you used batteries in the Bithead, rather than powering it off of the PDA's USB port, you'd get the same battery life as using the PDA alone (which is far less than most DAPs, I know).

Somebody with a Pocket PC order a Bithead and try it!
 
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Hello

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"Would this require a special driver for the PDA's OS?"

Yep. So, I really doubt that it will work. But, there's no harm in trying.
 
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chesebert

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USB can have different current carrying characteristic, desktop USB would be different from portable use. different amp rating. although they would be at the same voltage I believe. for PDA you need to power the processor, the LCD DSP, LCD screen, SD card reader, SD card itself, memory, and possibility video procssor. so the power is hardly adquate from a USB port. I think bithead draws the max allows from the desktop USB port. Dos it even run off a hub or you have to connect it directly to the machine?
 
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YngwieJMalmsteen

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ha ha... I was wondering when this was going to come up. There has been success adding drivers for USB devices to PDAs, though no audio devices that I have heard of. I'm pretty sure it's possible if you know what you're doing and your PDA has USB-host (which most don't). Don't hold him to it, but Tyll told me in a PM that the Archos PMA 400 is supposed to have support for their products soon. Apparently the software for it is open source and somebody is working on it. Also, take note that the iPod photo dock makes the ipod a USB-host, however incorporating drivers into its' firmware will probably prove much harder. Portable DAC's are lookin like a better and better idea every day.

Also, don't forget that the coda/micro amp has new modules, and we have yet to hear how they stack up against the SR-71.
 
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cpw

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As Mr. Malmsteen said, it depends on the PDAs ability to function as a host.
USB is USB but one of the devices must have the ability to function as the host. Jamey explained this once in another thread to a similar question.
Cool that there is some stuff on the horizon.
CPW
 
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Quote:

If you're going to run off your laptop sound card, then you want the amp (I assume so, at any rate) that sounds the best. That would be the SR-71 IMHO. My objection (that's a stronger word than I'm looking for, but the only one that fits) to the SR-71 is that it has no crossfeed. In an environment where one is doing extensive listening, that's a factor for me. But, in terms of sonics, the SR-71 will best the HeadRoom Micro Amp by a bit, and the Total AirHead (Total BitHead without using the DAC) by a length (that's a horseracing term )


I noticed you had a chance to demo the new Micro amp and was wondering which module you are referring to when stating the above. Headroom put that amp out to be a specific competitor in the SR-71 category, it seems surprising that they would come out of the gate with a lesser amp though I have yet to receive my Micro. If it does "best" the Micro can you hear $100 difference between the two?
 
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