The Unamped Myth: A500 and PA2V2
May 9, 2006 at 1:18 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 34

penguindude

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So yea, I don’t wanna offend anyone, but i really feel the need to point this out. Recently I’ve been doing the same thing, making comments and advice to people about which headphones need or don’t need amps. I was wrong.

I recently purchased the ATH-A500 from Audiocubes (I must say, their sales service is fantastic and im very happy with them). I bought this can ‘cause I wanted a closed one with a rather big soundstage for gaming and one that doesn’t need an amp. After reading reviews, I went for it. If you search for old threads, you’ll probably find my review for them with a pretty impressive rating considering the price ($100).

I also own a pair of KOSS HV/1 (oldschool). My source is a creative notebook soundcard. And after I did some reading, I found that my HV/1 has an impedance of 120ohms. So, I decided to go ahead and buy a portable amp to drive these oldies. I ended up getting the PA2V2 from Electric-Avenues.com.

After plugging the HV/1 into the amp, I felt the sound signature of the HV/1 did not change – a still rather small soundstage and forward and bright sound. If I listen very closely, I can probably tell the amped sound is LESS bright and more bass than the unamped one.

After all the talk about how the A500 doesn’t need an amp or how it wont benefit much from one, I decided to break these “stereotypes” and go ahead and hear how they sound through the PA2V2. And then
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The sound signature of the A500 was very much improved. The lack of mids which I previously wrote about became much more evident in the amped version. The sound came forward and became MUCH warmer. When switching back and forth (amped/unamped), the unamped A500 sounded much more shallow and “cold.” Listening to songs with high male vocal (Andrea Bocelli): unamped lacked mids, laid back, cold, and “shallow,” whereas amped sounded much more forward, warmer, and engaging. Highs sounded great and clear, and the bass remained punchy.


Impression and feel of Gary’s Pocket Amp2 Ver2

All I thought when I opened the package was “Wow, this is SMALL.” Very well constructed. The soft-touch knob was smooth and accurate. At first, when the volume knob was turned, a hiss was present. However, after 5 minutes of warming up, the hissing went away. Some people complained about the noise when AC adapter is plugged in, I experienced NO such thing. Sound and volume remained the same whether it was DC battery or AC adapter operated. The small AC Adapter is Japanese made and the amp is Canadian made (by Gary!)
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I definitely feel the need to compliment Electric-Avenues on this sale. The transaction went smooth; Gary and I had GREAT communication, time and manner wise; and Gary even personalized a sticker on the bubble-wrapper for his customers! Considering this is only $60, I’m very pleased with my purchase. Everything feels solid and its portability will without question, become a NEED for my everyday music/movie/game listening.

So what's the conclusion? Don't repeat what others say on Head-fi. If you havnet tried a specific phones and compared them amped/unamped, then don't use those comments in your advice to others!!
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May 9, 2006 at 1:26 AM Post #2 of 34

Wmcmanus

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Nice write up. And (of course) I'm sure everyone will agree with your conclusion. It should be a 'given' that people don't post about gear they haven't heard, but unfortunately that's not always the case.
 
May 9, 2006 at 2:05 AM Post #3 of 34

aluren

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nice post there. i just ordered the PA2v2 yesterday and reading your post will make the wait even longer!! i can't wait to try them with my shure e3c's. i also thought that gary's customer service was excellent. when i first got an email from him, i thought it was automated when i first saw the long email he had sent me. i'm new to amps, so i thought $60 was worth a try. i read around head-fi for reviews of amps and stumbled upon some of ray samuels' portable amps - SR71 and hornet. however, they were way too expensive for me. so i hope gary's amp will be a nice way to break me in.
 
May 9, 2006 at 2:33 AM Post #4 of 34

The_Duke_Of_Eli

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Yes, as most people will tell you the PA2v2 is quite the bargain and my hat goes off to Gary for providing it to the general community. I would however upgrade the interconnect cable. It not only helps the sound a bit but it makes it look sleeker too.
 
May 9, 2006 at 3:09 AM Post #5 of 34

EscaBoi

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Quote:

Originally Posted by The_Duke_Of_Eli
Yes, as most people will tell you the PA2v2 is quite the bargain and my hat goes off to Gary for providing it to the general community. I would however upgrade the interconnect cable. It not only helps the sound a bit but it makes it look sleeker too.


i dunno about the sound portion, i bought the Cardas HPI before my PA2V2 came in to hopefully counter this problem that i've read online...didn't seem to make much difference to be honest...i guess unless you go out and buy something like a Black Dragon

However, it does look alot better than the stock mini-to-mini
 
May 9, 2006 at 3:13 AM Post #6 of 34

Esidarap

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Damn... I shouldn't have read this. Now I'm wondering exactly how much I'm missing from my A900s.
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May 9, 2006 at 3:30 AM Post #7 of 34

Cyrilix

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I guess from your conclusion, it would seem that even cheaper headphones benefit a bit from amps, but I think what people usually say is that an amp will show a more marked improvement on higher-end headphones. Whether or not that is true is a mystery, but it seems to be the feeling I get from the posts made here at head-fi.
 
May 9, 2006 at 3:37 AM Post #8 of 34

dudley doright

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Quote:

Originally Posted by The_Duke_Of_Eli
Yes, as most people will tell you the PA2v2 is quite the bargain and my hat goes off to Gary for providing it to the general community. I would however upgrade the interconnect cable. It not only helps the sound a bit but it makes it look sleeker too.


.....and made the sound a bit better. I made the interconnect using Radio Shack gold plated 1/8" plug and a 4 wire shielded cable.
It was actually harder than I thought because the pins where you solder was so small, I had difficulty making the solder right. It worked out in the end and the sound was amazing. Make sure you use heat shrink if you are thinking of making one, the heatshrink will isolate the solder connections.
 
May 9, 2006 at 3:45 AM Post #9 of 34

penguindude

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Cyrilix
I guess from your conclusion, it would seem that even cheaper headphones benefit a bit from amps, but I think what people usually say is that an amp will show a more marked improvement on higher-end headphones. Whether or not that is true is a mystery, but it seems to be the feeling I get from the posts made here at head-fi.


yea, a lot of people assume that only high-end phones benefit from amps. My experience tells me tis not true. I guess amp sort of modified the sound signature for specific headphones and in my case, improved it!
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Quote:

Originally Posted by dudley doright
.....and made the sound a bit better. I made the interconnect using Radio Shack gold plated 1/8" plug and a 4 wire shielded cable.
It was actually harder than I thought because the pins where you solder was so small, I had difficulty making the solder right. It worked out in the end and the sound was amazing. Make sure you use heat shrink if you are thinking of making one, the heatshrink will isolate the solder connections.



Does better cabling really improve the sound? If so, i think ill be upgrading some!
 
May 9, 2006 at 3:53 AM Post #10 of 34

brn80

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I had quite an quite the opposite effect using the AD900 and PA2V2. I found it muddled up the clarity and airiness that I'm quite fond of in these cans. Then again these are known to lend a warmer sound. Although you may want to take my point with a grain of salt as I remember another headfier found the PA2V2 matched nicely with his AD700. I found the amp great with my DT770's though. *shrug* I think few things to note here: Mine were the open AD variety, also possibly different models in the same line may respond differently to amping.. and last but most important point which I have learnt in my brief time on these forums, and agree wholeheartedly with the OP... trust your ears, you'll have to check it yourself, they're your best and ultimate review
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May 9, 2006 at 4:07 AM Post #12 of 34

EscaBoi

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hooking up the A900's with my PA2V2 sounds similar...but at the same time it just sounds so much better, despite minor differences, i guess it gives me more reason to listen louder
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However, I do notice a slightly better bass response, there's more punch to the bass which the PA2V2 is known to improve upon. The mids are a bit more clear as well, which the A900's are known to lack.

Though the differences are minor, i just love amping my A900's.
 
May 9, 2006 at 4:13 AM Post #13 of 34

Ypoknons

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Indeed my forays into amp territory were done with the lowly HD465 because I want to wait until I go back to Hong Kong to buy cans (cheaper AKG's and Beyers for the most part - not really that true, but it's my personal brainbug), but the move to CMoy was definately quite a jump in terms of spaciousness and definition, but the move to Micro gave me an eargasm. I've heard AKG701's and DT880s-2006's (balanced) through the Headroom Max before, and the Micro is a huge step towards that sound even on $50 headphones.
 
May 9, 2006 at 4:17 AM Post #14 of 34

penguindude

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Ypoknons
Indeed my forays into amp territory were done with the lowly HD465 because I want to wait until I go back to Hong Kong to buy cans (cheaper AKG's and Beyers for the most part - not really that true, but it's my personal brainbug), but the move to CMoy was definately quite a jump in terms of spaciousness and definition, but the move to Micro gave me an eargasm. I've heard AKG701's and DT880s-2006's (balanced) through the Headroom Max before, and the Micro is a huge step towards that sound even on $50 headphones.


The Micro should make even $50 phones sound good 'cause the cost is 6 times that amount.
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May 9, 2006 at 5:15 AM Post #15 of 34

dave al'orange

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You guys are never gonna believe this
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My beautiful modded Koss Plugs sound quite good through my pa2v2! Yes, the pioneering spirit is alive and well over here so I plugged these little beauts into the amp and cued a couple recent favorites and ah yes, there came my $10 wonders trotting up the path like a faithful old dog:

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The biggest improvement to me was the highs--they smoothed out noticably. The low end seemed quicker and more defined.

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