Why are headphone amplifiers so expensive?
Jan 13, 2012 at 9:35 AM Post #16 of 113

NoodleBoy91

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Thanks for all the replies.
I just saved up enough for a Violetric V200 amp and a set of HD650's. I was all set to buy them. But now I am hesitant because all together it is going to cost around $1,700 for the set. Expensive for a student :p.
 
 
Jan 13, 2012 at 12:33 PM Post #17 of 113

2000impreza

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Quote:
Thanks for all the replies.
I just saved up enough for a Violetric V200 amp and a set of HD650's. I was all set to buy them. But now I am hesitant because all together it is going to cost around $1,700 for the set. Expensive for a student :p.
 


 
I  typically do not like to encourage students to spend large amounts on stereo equipment. However, it may save you in the long run if you have the money up front to spend on a good amp/dac. I find constant upgrading adds up and will end up costing more in the long run.
 
Jan 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM Post #18 of 113

JRG1990

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Not all amps are expensive as has been pointed out before they range from $20 like the fiios, the important things are the output impedance you want the lowest you can possibly get if it's too high it can completly mess up the sound quality, also you want to make sure the amp has enough power to drive your headphones. You can get a perfectly good amp for around $200 and with the higher end gear your mainly paying for the brand name and shiny enclosure.
 
Jan 13, 2012 at 1:15 PM Post #19 of 113

BlackbeardBen

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Quote:
 
This is a typical case of:- "I can't hear the difference, so nobody else can either...".
 
Please, take the time to train yourself to hear critically, and learn what the different audio terms mean.
 
Then please come back and engage in a meaningful and valid discussion.



No, rather, such blind testing is actually a typical (in fact, the only) case of actually using your ears and not your eyes and the dollar signs to judge.  Time and time again listeners, trained and untrained, professional and amateur, have failed to distinguish between sufficiently powerful, low impedance, low distortion (including IMD), and flat frequency response amplifiers under controlled conditions in ABX testing - even when that means listeners are unable to discern any difference between $200 and $2000 amplifiers.
 
This does not mean all amplifiers are indistinguishable.  Far from it, in fact.  Many amplifiers are designed (either intentionally, unknowingly by a poor designer, or in the past, knowingly out of an inability to do so) with characteristic flaws in objective performance which may add desirable distortions to the sound.  One of the most common things to do regarding this is to deliberately use a high output impedance amplifier with transducers that have a varying impedance curve, in order to change the frequency response of the transducer.  Sometimes the transducers are designed with this in mind.  But aside from this exception (or such a similar one as a transducer designed to be paired with a low output impedance amplifier with a non-flat frequency response), amplifiers that are distinguishable from each other in ABX testing with any sort of transducer load (while operated well within the amplifier's power range) are by their very nature flawed to the point of audibility.  Many (perhaps even most) amps fall into this category, and like I said, sometimes people like them just because of the distortions that the amplifier introduces.
 
For others here, I think the following thread would be a very interesting read:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/486598/testing-audiophile-claims-and-myths
 
Jan 13, 2012 at 6:33 PM Post #20 of 113

johnwmclean

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Amps differences are measurable. I grant that in may be hard to tell them apart under listening conditions. The “potential” to meet and transcend as well as built quality are paramount for me. Even if that “potential” does not equate to anything discerned sonically as least I know the equipment has gone above and beyond to deliver. Extravagance and overkill are a large part of the cost of high end equipment, just like a Rolex watch is a thing of beauty, made with remarkable skill a cheap $4 watch still tells you the time.
 
Jan 13, 2012 at 6:39 PM Post #21 of 113

Loevhagen

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This. FOTM is Cavalli. In March; who knows...
 
Quote:
Because the hobby is filled with rich people and the companies can get away with high prices.



 
 
Jan 13, 2012 at 6:51 PM Post #22 of 113

johnwmclean

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Quote:
Because the hobby is filled with rich people and the companies can get away with high prices.




 
Quote:
This. FOTM is Cavalli. In March; who knows...
 

 
Don’t follow trends, do the research, have a better idea of what constitutes for a good amp. Otherwise indeed the hype train will swallow you up.  
 
Jan 14, 2012 at 12:28 AM Post #23 of 113

Eric_C

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OP: the 650 is a good, safe choice. I've read so much praise for it (and the 600) over the years, both on Head-Fi and at many other websites...and most importantly, I keep seeing people satisfied with it in the long run. There is no guarantee you will love it, but trying buying it from a store with a good return policy? It will give you a very good idea of what you like or don't like, especially since it's easy to find people benchmarking other headphones against the 650.
 
As for the amp, you can see this is a debated issue. Maybe you could pick a cheaper, popular amp (e.g. the O2 or E9? Just throwing up names here, dunno how they pair with 650.)
Buying a popular amp may help you resell the amp, if you find that you don't like it.
 
Jan 14, 2012 at 12:39 AM Post #24 of 113

RexAeterna

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Because there are a lot of suckers of course, many of which actually believe the tired old platitude of "you gets whats you pays for". Too bad when blind tested the difference between just about all gear of all price ranges (save cans and speakers) is little to none; I've heard it myself time and again (volume matched and all) with many others who couldn't pick $2000 amps over $200.

Buy used and or build your own if you can. Even then you are getting ripped off, but then, what's a few hundred anyway? Not much these days.


what? can't be?! it must be the end of the world after all! another member of head-fi with common sense. there is hope after-all for these forums.
 
Jan 14, 2012 at 11:18 AM Post #25 of 113

Sardonyx

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Quote:
The rule of thumb for an audio company to succeed financially is that there is a 1:5 ratio between parts cost and retail price. This of course means that a $1,000 amp has $200 of parts cost. When you factor in that the case can cost half of that, the manufacturer has very little to spend on the important stuff. Obviously, as you move up in cost, the case costs proportionately less (though not always!). For desktop head amps, I would estimate that $1,300 to 1,500 is the sweet spot where the manufacturer has the luxury of making few sacrifices in parts cost in order to put together an impressive looking and sounding product. Let's take the Schiit stuff as an easy example; a casual glance under the hood reveals fairly inexpensive transformers. Frankly, it's amazing that they sound as good as they reportedly do at their price. The Musical Fidelity V-series of components with no-frills black metal casework is another example of a manufacturer dealing with the problem of parts cost. And naturally, this explains the abundance of DIY projects and individual (one man operation) start-ups. 


That 1:5 ratio is what covers all the other business expenses, not to mention profit.  More than a few head-fiers whine (not just in this thread) about mark-up over parts, as if that's the only cost.  Let's say I occasionally wanted to make an amp for some extra beer money, maybe that would be parts cost + $30.  Now, if I want to quit my day job to make amps for a living, I have to figure everything from office supplies to workshop rental to allowances for deadbeat buyers, and on and on and on.  So what do I charge in order to make a decent living when I can't make and sell in high volume?
 
It's sure not parts cost plus thirty dollars.
It's not even TOTAL cost plus thirty dollars.
 
It's either charge enough for internet wankers to be calling me a greedy person, or go back to the day job.
 
Jan 14, 2012 at 2:54 PM Post #26 of 113

obzilla

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Agree with Sardonyx.
The amp manufacturers are mainly businesses, some are hobbyists , some are somewhere in between, most are lucky to work in a field for witch they have passion. However the "cool factor" of doing something you enjoy doing wears off in any profession.
I used to want to do my job for free, because I thought it was so cool, but now, I make no concessions to my salary because my job is "fun".
 
Cool pays for exactly 0% of the bills.
Business is business no matter how enjoyable.
So, you make the product you want to make, cost be damned, or you make one that will yield the results you want sales wise, with sacrifices.
 
Dream products are expensive because they sacrifice nothing, except affordability. They have it all, from looks, to sound, to component pedigree. Precision machined metal, sleek form, exotic tubes and transistors and so on. These are "the expensive ones".
 
"Affordable" products have to chose, if they reach an intended lower price point, they can no longer have it all, no "over sized toroidal transistor" or "Sophia princess tubes" or laser etching on the chassis, etc. They hit the points important to the intended demographic (budget minded consumers), and that is where they stop, because anymore, and the bottom line would be compromised.
 
Then there is the question of "what is cheap, what is affordable, and what is expensive?". 
This is completely subjective and relative to the buyer, the defining numbers only relate to the individual or the market, but are not absolute in any way shape or form, and vendors know this, and have it in mind when going to the drawing board for a product. They really don't care that a college student can't afford their $5,000 amp. They are looking for the rarer big spenders.
Cheap amp manufactures don't care that the esoterics look down upon them, because they are selling them in bulk, the product is not meant for them.
 
Cheap is the amount you find trivial and below your standards, or does not offer that which you desire.
 
Affordable is the amount you can spend, and with which you feel that you receive a good value.
 
Expensive is precisely the amount of money that you ought not spend, or for which you must give up something else to obtain.
 
Too expensive is the amount that you cannot spend. It is beyond your means.
 
The Schiit Lyr for me was cheap. I wanted something that can do more, and I can easily afford to do so.
 
The Burson HA 160D, was not expensive for me, it was affordable. It was well within my allowance for my hobby, and what I think is a good value. Though for many, $1,250 is expensive.
 
The Cavalli Liquid Fire for me, is expensive, I ought not spend that much, that much "leisure money" spent takes away from things like other leisure activities. However with it's charms, performance, etc, I have been persuaded to make some sacrifices so that I can make it happen. $3,250 for me is a healthy chunk of change and I feel the financial reverberations in my bank account, and it influences whether or not I "want fries with that".  But it doesn't break the bank.
 
The Headamp Blue Hawaii, for me, is too expensive. I cannot justify that much of an expense. It would endanger my ability to function financially, to pay my bills, etc. I can rationalize it as being a rip off (poor value), inferior, overpriced, blah blah blah. It doesn't matter. I just can't have it, due to reality, or other financial desires or commitments. And the owner of Headamp doesn't, and shouldn't care. 
 
So enough business 101, amplifiers are expensive because A.) they can be. or B.) you find it to be a large percentage (quite possibly more than %100) of your budget.
 
This is a hobby, spend what you can within your limits and enjoy what you have. Just like out in the real world, it's not Ferrari's fault or a Ferrari owner's fault that you don't have a Ferrari. It's yours because you can't or won't spend the money. It makes no sense to feel disgruntled because of that, enjoy what you can or do have and make the most of it 
smile.gif

 
 
Jan 15, 2012 at 3:44 AM Post #27 of 113

scottie584

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Quote:
Agree with Sardonyx.
The amp manufacturers are mainly businesses, some are hobbyists , some are somewhere in between, most are lucky to work in a field for witch they have passion. However the "cool factor" of doing something you enjoy doing wears off in any profession.
I used to want to do my job for free, because I thought it was so cool, but now, I make no concessions to my salary because my job is "fun".
 
Cool pays for exactly 0% of the bills.
Business is business no matter how enjoyable.
So, you make the product you want to make, cost be damned, or you make one that will yield the results you want sales wise, with sacrifices.
 
Dream products are expensive because they sacrifice nothing, except affordability. They have it all, from looks, to sound, to component pedigree. Precision machined metal, sleek form, exotic tubes and transistors and so on. These are "the expensive ones".
 
"Affordable" products have to chose, if they reach an intended lower price point, they can no longer have it all, no "over sized toroidal transistor" or "Sophia princess tubes" or laser etching on the chassis, etc. They hit the points important to the intended demographic (budget minded consumers), and that is where they stop, because anymore, and the bottom line would be compromised.
 
Then there is the question of "what is cheap, what is affordable, and what is expensive?". 
This is completely subjective and relative to the buyer, the defining numbers only relate to the individual or the market, but are not absolute in any way shape or form, and vendors know this, and have it in mind when going to the drawing board for a product. They really don't care that a college student can't afford their $5,000 amp. They are looking for the rarer big spenders.
Cheap amp manufactures don't care that the esoterics look down upon them, because they are selling them in bulk, the product is not meant for them.
 
Cheap is the amount you find trivial and below your standards, or does not offer that which you desire.
 
Affordable is the amount you can spend, and with which you feel that you receive a good value.
 
Expensive is precisely the amount of money that you ought not spend, or for which you must give up something else to obtain.
 
Too expensive is the amount that you cannot spend. It is beyond your means.
 
The Schiit Lyr for me was cheap. I wanted something that can do more, and I can easily afford to do so.
 
The Burson HA 160D, was not expensive for me, it was affordable. It was well within my allowance for my hobby, and what I think is a good value. Though for many, $1,250 is expensive.
 
The Cavalli Liquid Fire for me, is expensive, I ought not spend that much, that much "leisure money" spent takes away from things like other leisure activities. However with it's charms, performance, etc, I have been persuaded to make some sacrifices so that I can make it happen. $3,250 for me is a healthy chunk of change and I feel the financial reverberations in my bank account, and it influences whether or not I "want fries with that".  But it doesn't break the bank.
 
The Headamp Blue Hawaii, for me, is too expensive. I cannot justify that much of an expense. It would endanger my ability to function financially, to pay my bills, etc. I can rationalize it as being a rip off (poor value), inferior, overpriced, blah blah blah. It doesn't matter. I just can't have it, due to reality, or other financial desires or commitments. And the owner of Headamp doesn't, and shouldn't care. 
 
So enough business 101, amplifiers are expensive because A.) they can be. or B.) you find it to be a large percentage (quite possibly more than %100) of your budget.
 
This is a hobby, spend what you can within your limits and enjoy what you have. Just like out in the real world, it's not Ferrari's fault or a Ferrari owner's fault that you don't have a Ferrari. It's yours because you can't or won't spend the money. It makes no sense to feel disgruntled because of that, enjoy what you can or do have and make the most of it 
smile.gif

 



If a Lyr is cheap to you, I suppose you wouldn't mind buying me one then? 
biggrin.gif

 
Jan 15, 2012 at 3:56 AM Post #28 of 113

Dubstep Girl

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Quote:
Agree with Sardonyx.
The amp manufacturers are mainly businesses, some are hobbyists , some are somewhere in between, most are lucky to work in a field for witch they have passion. However the "cool factor" of doing something you enjoy doing wears off in any profession.
I used to want to do my job for free, because I thought it was so cool, but now, I make no concessions to my salary because my job is "fun".
 
Cool pays for exactly 0% of the bills.
Business is business no matter how enjoyable.
So, you make the product you want to make, cost be damned, or you make one that will yield the results you want sales wise, with sacrifices.
 
Dream products are expensive because they sacrifice nothing, except affordability. They have it all, from looks, to sound, to component pedigree. Precision machined metal, sleek form, exotic tubes and transistors and so on. These are "the expensive ones".
 
"Affordable" products have to chose, if they reach an intended lower price point, they can no longer have it all, no "over sized toroidal transistor" or "Sophia princess tubes" or laser etching on the chassis, etc. They hit the points important to the intended demographic (budget minded consumers), and that is where they stop, because anymore, and the bottom line would be compromised.
 
Then there is the question of "what is cheap, what is affordable, and what is expensive?". 
This is completely subjective and relative to the buyer, the defining numbers only relate to the individual or the market, but are not absolute in any way shape or form, and vendors know this, and have it in mind when going to the drawing board for a product. They really don't care that a college student can't afford their $5,000 amp. They are looking for the rarer big spenders.
Cheap amp manufactures don't care that the esoterics look down upon them, because they are selling them in bulk, the product is not meant for them.
 
Cheap is the amount you find trivial and below your standards, or does not offer that which you desire.
 
Affordable is the amount you can spend, and with which you feel that you receive a good value.
 
Expensive is precisely the amount of money that you ought not spend, or for which you must give up something else to obtain.
 
Too expensive is the amount that you cannot spend. It is beyond your means.
 
The Schiit Lyr for me was cheap. I wanted something that can do more, and I can easily afford to do so.
 
The Burson HA 160D, was not expensive for me, it was affordable. It was well within my allowance for my hobby, and what I think is a good value. Though for many, $1,250 is expensive.
 
The Cavalli Liquid Fire for me, is expensive, I ought not spend that much, that much "leisure money" spent takes away from things like other leisure activities. However with it's charms, performance, etc, I have been persuaded to make some sacrifices so that I can make it happen. $3,250 for me is a healthy chunk of change and I feel the financial reverberations in my bank account, and it influences whether or not I "want fries with that".  But it doesn't break the bank.
 
The Headamp Blue Hawaii, for me, is too expensive. I cannot justify that much of an expense. It would endanger my ability to function financially, to pay my bills, etc. I can rationalize it as being a rip off (poor value), inferior, overpriced, blah blah blah. It doesn't matter. I just can't have it, due to reality, or other financial desires or commitments. And the owner of Headamp doesn't, and shouldn't care. 
 
So enough business 101, amplifiers are expensive because A.) they can be. or B.) you find it to be a large percentage (quite possibly more than %100) of your budget.
 
This is a hobby, spend what you can within your limits and enjoy what you have. Just like out in the real world, it's not Ferrari's fault or a Ferrari owner's fault that you don't have a Ferrari. It's yours because you can't or won't spend the money. It makes no sense to feel disgruntled because of that, enjoy what you can or do have and make the most of it 
smile.gif

 


very nicely said.
 
 
Jan 15, 2012 at 4:06 AM Post #29 of 113

Skin

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I think a better question is why are headphones so expensive, or rather why feel the need for such expensive headphones. I'd assume spend money on upgrading a source and using a cheaper headphone. If someone asks about a 1k headphone and thats the price range they feel comfortable in then Amps and DACs for it should not be expensive for said person.
 
Its like buying a nice high performance car then not thinking twice about putting retreads on it because you either cant or dont want to purchase new tires.
 
Jan 15, 2012 at 4:28 AM Post #30 of 113

sfoclt

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Quote:
 Extravagance and overkill are a large part of the cost of high end equipment, just like a Rolex watch is a thing of beauty, made with remarkable skill a cheap $4 watch still tells you the time.



The quality control for Rolex is really low.  They're not much better than other mid-level Swiss watches, certainly not a "thing of beauty".  They're the Beats by Dre of the watch world.
 
http://www.timezone.com/library/horologium/horologium0036
 
 
 

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