what's the cost for the next level?
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thomasmiller

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Hi - thanks in advance for advice...

I'm driving a new set of HD595's at home. I've got 3 different "standard" amps around to drive them with, but am curious about two things:

first, theoretically, which of the three (below) "should" be the best headphone driver for the 50ohm lovelies?
Denon 3903
NAD 7175
Rotel RX960 bx

Yes, I should listen and choose with my heart, but by the time I finish moving, wiring and trying to match levels and the like, I'd be better off with a dartboard...

second question - at what price level comes a dedicated headphone amp that will clearly out-perform any of the above? I'm rather new to this part of the territory, so any advice is quite welcome and appreciated.
--tm



than
 
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jpr703

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I'm not familiar with all that specific equipment, but for $299 a Gilmore Lite will give you some real good sound out of just about any good set of headphones.
 
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braillediver

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“I'd be better off with a dartboard...”

Not at all. You have many components, which are unique to your system plus your using your own ears. There’s no way for anyone to tell you which would sound best unless they reproduced your system completely, but you still have a unique set of ears and musical taste so it can’t be reproduced entirely. You might like Polkas and someone else might be a headbanger.

Part of the fun is trying new things and evaluating them for yourself. Then as you change things the results can be appreciated.

Take the time to enjoy and compare what you have. If still not satisfied then try the manufacturers who have a 30-day money back guarantee to compare again.

The journey can be as much fun as the destination and if you learn what your tastes are during the journey you’ll be better prepared to make informed decisions in the future.


Mitch
 
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Mikey01

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Your a HeadFier now. HeadFiers have a history of doing whatever it takes to get the job done. So start at $600 to $700 for an amp. Work two jobs or sell blood, whatever it takes. Keep your new equiptment, when you get it, for at least two months before upgradeing again.
Oh, and welcome to HeadFi. Sorry about your wallet.
 
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thomasmiller

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heh heh... there we go... truth appears... <grin>

>>> one of my core questions is "will a $300 headphone amp really be much different, or, given my existing gear, should I actually skip straight to the $700 neighborhood?
 
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Mikey01

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It doesn't matter. You can upgrade away your mistakes. Use the "for sale" boards and let the 'bottom feeders" have it.
 
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Jahn

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None of those are dedicated headphone amps, right? And all three probably use an attenuated headphone out as an afterthought to toss a bone to headphone geeks like us. Therefore, the odds of any of those being as good as even a $300 dedicated headphone amp is...hit or miss. I've heard that some Fisher 500s and Marantz recievers are nice, but again there's no consensus. I'd recommend at least getting one headphone amp, then comparing them all to your other three. If your headphone amp cleans up, sell the rest and buy a monster tube headphone amp for a billion bucks!
 
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thomasmiller

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hey folks -- thanks for the comments. I like the new neighborhood!

now I have to figure out how to cloak an amp purchase to look like a visit to the lumberyard...

--tm
 
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jumping jupiters

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In my little experiment I compaired an old Denon DCD-9xx, an Audiolab 8000a (integrated amp) and the Musical Fidelity X-Can V3. All 3 having their own headphone jack (obviously the MF does!!!). Granted the previous 2 are 10 years old or thereabouts, but the MF is clearly superior. And that at $400. So I could believe any amp around $300 starts to nudge out the all-in-one solutions...of course I understand that Cary integrateds and a few others (Plinus I believe) truely paid attention to their circuts and deliver the goods for headphone listeners. Under the $300 range and you could probably just improve your music collection!
 
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thomasmiller

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that's exactly the comparative opinion I'm looking for. I don't want add a headphone amp for $200 if it's not going to get me *significantly* further up the ladder than NAD, Rotel or Denon is already giving me. I can definitely see what an Airhead (or similar) will do for my in-flight PC/etymotic system (I fly a lot for work) BUT I'm listening to hi-rez material at home with these 595's and I'd like to skip the $300 level if I'm not going to get an immediate WOW factor...

Any easy way to search the review archives specifically for amp comparisons?
 
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Melchior

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You won't get a "wow" factor unless there's already a problem with your system (not enough voltage to drive to listening volumes, current hungry(think Grado) phones that distort weaker headphone outputs, powerline noise that might be filtered out by a better amp's power supply) or if you're lucky enough for that amp to just synergize with your system, which while not likely the first time around is certainly possible. I'd see if you couldn't audition a dedicated amp first, either at a meet or with a manufacturer that lets you have a trial period to see if it's what you want.
 
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Enverxis

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depends on what kind of sound you are after, theres no point in purchasing an amp that will change the sound to your disliking.

I also recommend the two steps at a time method. Might as well shop around for a while, use the search button and find the right amp for you ... even go to a meet and check some out if you can, and then once you've found the right amp, smack the dosh on it.
 
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thomasmiller

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set me straight... 50ohm on the HD595, would that qualify for the "current hungry" catagory... guessing yes, if 120ohm is a standard .... further guessing that that requires the amp to deliver higher current, not so hard to drive, but harder to keep from clipping when the voltage goes up.

how do people test this from the jack? can a jury-rigged comparison be done with a multimeter and a modified 1/4" plug?
 
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Melchior

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I'm not sure if it can be tested without the load in question hooked up. Best solution= 30 day return policies and your ears, in this case I'd trust those more than measuring equipment.
 
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crazyfrenchman27

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You're better off investing in your source and headphones than in your amp.

Despite what people might say around here, the difference between a $300 and $700 headphone amp is negligible.

Just make sure that you own a headphone amp that can sufficiently drive your headphones.

I'd put the big bucks into your source because it's completely worth it up to $1000, at least.

-Matt
 
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