What factors contribute to an ideal headphone + amp pairing?
May 1, 2015 at 12:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

yorktronic

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Hi guys, 
 
I'm in the process of learning to program, and I have a pet project I want to start that involves figuring out, given certain factors, what headphones + amps will work well together. Now, I realize that a large percentage of things involving sound quality are subjective, but I also know that there are some general rules to pairing headphones with an amplifier, such as:
 
Damping factor - the damping factor is a calculated by dividing the input impedance of the headphones by the minimum output impedance of the amplifier (or just the output impedance, if it's fixed). I've read that a damping factor of 8 or better is considered ideal, though I would like some verification on this.
 
Efficiency - Some headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD650, are really inefficient, whereas others such as the Final Audio Pandora Hope VI are really efficient. Generally speaking, if you're using an inefficient headphone, you need more power, whereas if you're using an efficient headphone, you don't need as much power, and too much power is undesireable for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to the fact that you have very little volume control between silent and your maximum listening level.
 
Price - Obviously everyone has a budget, so that could be specified to list the best headphone / amp pairings, list of amps if you provide the program with a headphone, list of headphones if you provide the program with an amp, at or under a specified budget. 
 
The BIG PROBLEM  - I realize there are so many other things that can be considered: 
  1. Does a particular headphone sound bright? If so would you want to recommend an amp that is relatively neutral or not-so-bright to flatten out the sound?
  2. What kind of sound does the user prefer? Are they a bass head? Do they prefer completely flat frequency response? Grado-like highs?
  3. Is the user interested in tubes? If so, filter out all amps that don't have tubes
  4. Is the amp also going to be used as a preamp for speakers? Do you want something that has both a tube pre-out and a solid state pre-out? 
  5. Does the user need an amp or a DAC / Amp combo? Both-in-one or separate units?
  6. Should the user leave some money aside from their budget for decent interconnects?
 
The list goes on. And on and on. Obviously it's entirely possible that this kind of program can't be written with any reasonable certainty of accuracy. However, I still want to try it, as it will be a fun exercise and will require a lot of programming skills that I either need to learn or need to improve on. 
 
What I'm looking for: If you're willing, I'd like for the head-fi community to provide me with any other factors that I didn't mention above, particularly those that you consider vital to a good headphone + amp or headphone + dac + amp pairing. Ideally, one day someone who knows nothing about audio could plug some things in to this tool and get a general, ballpark idea of what gear he or she should be looking for, and then provide that list to head-fi for people to comment on. 
 
If nothing else, it will be a fun exercise for me. Anyway, I appreciate any help you all can provide! Thanks for your time reading this wall of text.
 
/yorktronic
 
P.S. if this should go in a different forum please move it or let me know and I'll delete the post and repost elsewhere.
 
May 1, 2015 at 12:46 PM Post #2 of 4

yorktronic

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If some of my assumptions are incorrect, please correct me :)
 
May 1, 2015 at 12:48 PM Post #3 of 4

Mr Rick

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Are you familiar with this?? It's a start.
 
http://www.audiobot9000.com/
 
May 1, 2015 at 12:51 PM Post #4 of 4

yorktronic

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Well crap, of course someone has done this already! Thanks, Mr Rick!
 

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