Why aren't people using studio amps over custom hi-fi amps?
Jun 28, 2010 at 7:33 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 38

agjios

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Hey everyone, just looking to the veterans to clear up some confusion.  I feel like I've searched a bit and understand the basics, but I have a few questions.
 
Cliff's notes:
1) Why are hi-fi amps reviewed, talked about, and traded more than studio headphone amps here?
2) Why are hi-fi amps more expensive than studio amps?
 
I have been researching headphone amps recently, and recently got a used Fostex PH-50 5-channel distribution amp off of eBay from a guitar shop.  If we are using studio/monitoring headphones for hi-fi, then what is wrong with studio amps as well?  Why are we getting 300 and 600 Ohm headphones that the professionals use for making music and then not trusting their amps to drive the phones, instead getting amps like the ones at Moon Audio or TTVJ?  If these hi-fi amps are superior, then in studios, why are rack-mount distribution amps good enough for the professionals, the ones that are actually mixing the music that we're listening to?  I'm just confused as to what some of these $2,500+ amps provide that the headphone companies don't.  Beyerdynamic, Grado, and AKG, for example, all have $600-$900 amps to be used with the headphones to be used at home.
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 7:57 PM Post #2 of 38

Crazyguy106

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Because studio amps are too "analytical" and "clean" for most.
 
Very often hi fi amps have a lot of added effects to the music and add something often termed as "musicality" which is enjoyed by audiophiles. The matter is that people are not really interested in having a sound which is similar in tonality and neutrality as in the studios; if they were they wouldn't be termed audiophiles in today's world.
 
One of the common trends is to have a reference CD such as Chesky's Audiophile CD to judge the musicality and abilities of each amp and headphone and whatnot. This is very different from pro engineers who look for accurate sound reproduction so that they can do their work and hear exactly what's happening.
 
Consumers and pros have different needs and wants, and therefore there's this huge disparity. And as for studio amps they can cost a bomb too. But because the hi fi world is a much bigger market than the pro audio world, the prices and disparity differ a lot.
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 8:02 PM Post #3 of 38

Spareribs

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I also feel that studio amps are made to be adequete enough for play back. If you want to hear more details of soundstage and such, the big power supplied audiophile amp with tubes would sound more appealing.
 
I read a report a while ago somewhere about how some audiophiles have rigs that sound better than how the original engineers have heard on the playback.
 
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 8:05 PM Post #5 of 38

moodyrn

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Quote:
Because studio amps are too "analytical" and "clean" for most.
 
Very often hi fi amps have a lot of added effects to the music and add something often termed as "musicality" which is enjoyed by audiophiles. The matter is that people are not really interested in having a sound which is similar in tonality and neutrality as in the studios; if they were they wouldn't be termed audiophiles in today's world.
 
One of the common trends is to have a reference CD such as Chesky's Audiophile CD to judge the musicality and abilities of each amp and headphone and whatnot. This is very different from pro engineers who look for accurate sound reproduction so that they can do their work and hear exactly what's happening.
 
Consumers and pros have different needs and wants, and therefore there's this huge disparity. And as for studio amps they can cost a bomb too. But because the hi fi world is a much bigger market than the pro audio world, the prices and disparity differ a lot.

Well said.
 
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 8:13 PM Post #7 of 38

moodyrn

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But also pro audio is just like consumer audio. You have some cheap pro audio and cheap consumer audio products. Some pro audio stuff sounds crappy just like a lot of consumer audio stuff. It depends on the design and parts used with both types of products.
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 8:30 PM Post #8 of 38

Head Injury

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Quote:
I also feel that studio amps are made to be adequete enough for play back. If you want to hear more details of soundstage and such, the big power supplied audiophile amp with tubes would sound more appealing.
 
I read a report a while ago somewhere about how some audiophiles have rigs that sound better than how the original engineers have heard on the playback.


"Better" or "different"? Of course, assuming there's a universally accepted "better".
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 9:20 PM Post #9 of 38

santacore

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From my experience having worked in many recording studios, there is not much importance put on headphones or headphone amps. As long as the amp is quiet and the headphones don't leak too much everyone's happy. Basically headphones are used for tracking and overdubs and that's about it. Plus they usually buy cheaper ($100 or so) phones because they get broken and replaced a lot.
 
I personally don't know any commercial studio engineers that do mixing with headphones. I've seen them in edit bays, or less then ideal rooms, but that's it. Most rooms are acoustically designed to monitor with speakers. I've been told by many engineers that you can't get a proper mix using just headphones. These are 20+ year veterans so I'll take their word for it.
 
The price difference is because audiophiles geek out on boutique parts and fancy cases. Studio gear is generally very utilitarian looking, functioning, and made to be put in a rack. Most engineers I've met laugh at fancy audiophile gear, especially cables.
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 9:21 PM Post #10 of 38

JB197

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Studio amps seem barely adequate. I think many of them have the same circuitry of a push-pull stage wraped in the feedback loop of an op-amp. The few I've tried sound clean to start with and then give you a headache.
 
Home amps vary from good value to mass produced dross to those with implied superiority owing to artificially raised price tags to pamper to audiophile aspiration.
 
Studio amps are a tool. Home amps are for an enthusiastic hobby.
 
: )
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 9:57 PM Post #11 of 38

haloxt

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Many hi-fi gear try to add even order harmonics which is said to contribute to the enjoyment of music.
 
I think that since audio reproduction lacks certain elements of real life audio, perfect audio reproduction doesn't have to be the same goal everyone strives for. A soft sound that can allow you to listen for many hours without fatigue may be a more important goal in audio reproduction. Or an engaging sound that compensates for the fact that there's a complete absence of visual stimuli. Sometimes my dad listened to tv with the screen off, and after trying it out myself, I noticed I became critical of sounds I otherwise wouldn't have been because I was caught up with visual stimuli. Not even a theoretical 100% accurate audio recording and reproduction will equate real life experience as some senses aren't utilized, and it's a one-way stream without feedback just like television. So given the shortcomings I don't think someone is wrong if he chooses not to listen to analytical equipment.
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 10:45 PM Post #12 of 38

Uncle Erik

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A lot of the studio gear is very good for home listening. For awhile, I owned the PreSonus Central Station which is a fine amp and DAC. The problem is that the studio gear isn't marketed towards the audiophile community.

And audiophiles are a lot more fashion-conscious than studios are. You won't get a 1/2" milled aluminum faceplate on a studio amp. It's not necessary, but a lot of audiophiles show off their gear, and a rackmountable steel box doesn't present as well.

Still, if you want good value and don't care about making an impression, go buy the pro gear. Most of it is well made and will get the job done. I'd rather have an unglamorous studio box than some of the cheap gear bandied around here. Admittedly, I do love the looks of the audiophile stuff, too, which is a draw for me. However, I usually make sure the product is worthwhile instead of just ordinary junk in a fancy case.
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 10:46 PM Post #13 of 38

moodyrn

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Quote:
A lot of the studio gear is very good for home listening. For awhile, I owned the PreSonus Central Station which is a fine amp and DAC. The problem is that the studio gear isn't marketed towards the audiophile community.

And audiophiles are a lot more fashion-conscious than studios are. You won't get a 1/2" milled aluminum faceplate on a studio amp. It's not necessary, but a lot of audiophiles show off their gear, and a rackmountable steel box doesn't present as well.

Still, if you want good value and don't care about making an impression, go buy the pro gear. Most of it is well made and will get the job done. I'd rather have an unglamorous studio box than some of the cheap gear bandied around here. Admittedly, I do love the looks of the audiophile stuff, too, which is a draw for me. However, I usually make sure the product is worthwhile instead of just ordinary junk in a fancy case.


Well said again.
 
Jun 28, 2010 at 11:58 PM Post #15 of 38

agjios

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Great, thanks for the replies.  I am a pretty skeptical customer when it comes to gear.  Having become fairly technically involved in a lot of hobbies, a lot of the jargon/mumbo jumbo that is thrown at general consumers falls on deaf ears when directed at me.  Also, I am a firm believer of form over function, given my upbringing and my current financial situation.
 
So, as a follow-up:
-How would you describe the "fun-ness" of the amplifier's sound reproduction?  More precisely, is there something added that could not be added by using the equalizer through an accurate-sounding amp?
 
-My current headphones, listed in my signature, were all purchased during deals, costing me no more than $100 each.  I'm pretty sure that my headphone search is pretty much finished.  I still keep my eye out for deals, but I'm not actively looking to add to my collection.  Seeing as there isn't a large-scale market for amps like there is for headphones, I'm not likely to find deals on amps like I did on headphones.  So, is there a fairly budget desktop amp that I will be happy with for the long haul?  I don't care whether it's solid state or tube, and I definitely don't care how it looks.  As listed, my headphone impedance is 32-75 Ohm, although the 32 Ohm cans and any future buds I get will just be straight from the iPod.  So, I'd need the amp for relatively low impedance cans.  I have a uDac to output sound, to it, and both my desktop and laptop have spdif.  I'd say my budget is about $200.  I couldn't imagine spending more on an amp than I did on two pairs of audiophile-quality headphones.
 
The M-Stage appears solid but costs too much.  The Xiang Sheng 708B is a little out of my price range, and more so, once you factor in the price of additional tubes, it's way too much.  Maybe something like the HiFiman EF2, but without the DAC, so that more of my money is going towards the amp circuit.  A Qinpu possibly, does it matter which one?  Would an E7 even come close to comparing to a desktop amp?  I'm definitely not averse to buying used to stretch my dollar, either.
 

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