Would I want an amp?
May 6, 2017 at 3:48 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

Shavit

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Hey guys, got a topic of discussion for if I need/want an amp.
So I got a receiver, and to that receiver are hooked up a pair of monitors and a DVD for cd's.
I sometimes hook up my headphones (ATH M-50x) to my receiver to listen to music and not disturb my family.
Would hooking up an amplifier between the receiver and the headphones be possible and would benefit my experience?
 
May 6, 2017 at 4:33 PM Post #2 of 9

Mr Rick

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If your receiver has a headphone output, it's probably all you need.
 
May 6, 2017 at 11:13 PM Post #3 of 9

ProtegeManiac

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Hey guys, got a topic of discussion for if I need/want an amp.
So I got a receiver, and to that receiver are hooked up a pair of monitors and a DVD for cd's.
I sometimes hook up my headphones (ATH M-50x) to my receiver to listen to music and not disturb my family.
Would hooking up an amplifier between the receiver and the headphones be possible and would benefit my experience?

You can drive it with the receiver. Output impedance is a likely problem, ie, it will likely EQ the sound, but the M50's sensitivity would not require a lot of power (in cases where this and similar headphones are not loud enough it likely has more to do with gain).

Basically, if you have no problem with the sound, then just use it that way, especially if it's not a reference system but just for late night listening.
 
May 6, 2017 at 11:45 PM Post #4 of 9

Shavit

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If your receiver has a headphone output, it's probably all you need.
You can drive it with the receiver. Output impedance is a likely problem, ie, it will likely EQ the sound, but the M50's sensitivity would not require a lot of power (in cases where this and similar headphones are not loud enough it likely has more to do with gain).

Basically, if you have no problem with the sound, then just use it that way, especially if it's not a reference system but just for late night listening.
Alright, thanks. Solved my questions
 
May 8, 2017 at 9:02 AM Post #5 of 9

MahlerJeff

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I've been wondering the same thing. I just got a Marantz SR5011 receiver and the Focal Elear headphones. I absolutely love the headphones, but at the store where I tried them a Marantz CD player and Beyerdynamic amp were used. With that setup I remember the headphones sounding more focused and a little bit clearer than on my system. Honestly the difference is probably only 1-2% and I'm still amazed at what the Elears can do every time I put them on. (I play music through an Integra DPS 8.3 CD player.) When I play streaming files or Apple Lossless from my computer, connected with an optical wire to the Marantz receiver, the Elears sound somewhat dull and lifeless. From this I deduced that I need really high quality, uncompressed music files to fully take advantage of the Elear. I also have the Sennheiser HD598 headphones and they sound like absolute garbage in my receiver. The bass is too boomy and undefined and the overall sound is muffled. But these same headphones connected to my iPhone 6s plus and the Dragonfly red sound great when I'm streaming music. So I'm wondering if I should get a dedicated headphone amp to bring out the full capability of the Elear.

I'm new to the high fidelity world so forgive me if I'm using wrong terminology or sound a little bit unclear. I have a lot to learn. Also, my favorite music to listen to is orchestral music and I've heard that the Sennheiser HD800s is phenomenal for that genre because of its big soundstage, so I would love to try those someday. Unfortunately I don't know anybody local who carries them and I want to be careful before shelling out $1700 on new headphones before hearing them first.

I'm also wondering if maybe the perceived tiny difference between my setup and the store's is entirely in my head. In the 1 week that I've had the Elears I've noticed that when I find the correct volume it just "clicks". Also some people have said that the Elears sound better after about 200 hours of break-in time. In all honesty the Marantz receiver probably does a capable job of driving the Elears. I'm not sure why the Sennheiser 598 sounded so bad in the Marantz, however.
 
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May 8, 2017 at 12:53 PM Post #6 of 9

Timoteo80

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I've been wondering the same thing. I just got a Marantz SR5011 receiver and the Focal Elear headphones. I absolutely love the headphones, but at the store where I tried them a Marantz CD player and Beyerdynamic amp were used. With that setup I remember the headphones sounding more focused and a little bit clearer than on my system. Honestly the difference is probably only 1-2% and I'm still amazed at what the Elears can do every time I put them on. (I play music through an Integra DPS 8.3 CD player.) When I play streaming files or Apple Lossless from my computer, connected with an optical wire to the Marantz receiver, the Elears sound somewhat dull and lifeless. From this I deduced that I need really high quality, uncompressed music files to fully take advantage of the Elear. I also have the Sennheiser HD598 headphones and they sound like absolute garbage in my receiver. The bass is too boomy and undefined and the overall sound is muffled. But these same headphones connected to my iPhone 6s plus and the Dragonfly red sound great when I'm streaming music. So I'm wondering if I should get a dedicated headphone amp to bring out the full capability of the Elear.

I'm new to the high fidelity world so forgive me if I'm using wrong terminology or sound a little bit unclear. I have a lot to learn. Also, my favorite music to listen to is orchestral music and I've heard that the Sennheiser HD800s is phenomenal for that genre because of its big soundstage, so I would love to try those someday. Unfortunately I don't know anybody local who carries them and I want to be careful before shelling out $1700 on new headphones before hearing them first.

I'm also wondering if maybe the perceived tiny difference between my setup and the store's is entirely in my head. In the 1 week that I've had the Elears I've noticed that when I find the correct volume it just "clicks". Also some people have said that the Elears sound better after about 200 hours of break-in time. In all honesty the Marantz receiver probably does a capable job of driving the Elears. I'm not sure why the Sennheiser 598 sounded so bad in the Marantz, however.

If you go with the HD800 you will for sure need a quality amp. If you don't want to invest in a $2500+ rig I'd go with HD600 & a Bottlehead Crack amp (w/Speedball). That will get you a LOT for your hard earned money & give you an incredible musical experience. You can get all that for approx $700-$800 total!!
 
May 8, 2017 at 12:53 PM Post #7 of 9

ProtegeManiac

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I've been wondering the same thing. I just got a Marantz SR5011 receiver and the Focal Elear headphones. I absolutely love the headphones, but at the store where I tried them a Marantz CD player and Beyerdynamic amp were used. With that setup I remember the headphones sounding more focused and a little bit clearer than on my system. Honestly the difference is probably only 1-2% and I'm still amazed at what the Elears can do every time I put them on.
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I'm also wondering if maybe the perceived tiny difference between my setup and the store's is entirely in my head. In the 1 week that I've had the Elears I've noticed that when I find the correct volume it just "clicks".

That has a lot to do with the 104dB/1mW sensitivity of the Elear, ie, they don't need a lot of power. Using something like a Schiit Lyr for example on the Elear is kind of like using a B.A.T. dual mono amplifier on a horn speaker that is otherwise used with flea amps.

That said, the Beyerdynamic amp has a high output impedance, and likely the Marantz also. So if you ever try an amp, you don't need one with a lot of power, so just get anything with a low output impedance and low noise, like the Corda Rock. This actually still has a lot more power than what the Elear needs, but you'll get that with low noise and for not a lot of money. For even less money there's the JDS Labs O2.

Note though that you might like the sound of the Meiers and the O2 a lot less since the low output impedance also removes the EQ effectthat typically can either boost or trim the low end on low impedance headphones (and boost the midrange on high imepdance headphones).

I'm not sure why the Sennheiser 598 sounded so bad in the Marantz, however.

For its price, the Elear should very well sound better off the bat than the HD598. So just in their natural response, assuming the amp isn't having any effect on the response, the Elear is already at an advantage.

Second, the sensitivity of the Elear is also markedly higher, and so is the impedance. That means the output impedance of speaker amps' headphone outputs will affect it less, on top of which, you would need less power from them and therefore be farther from the point where they'll pile on noise and distortion. Normally a cheaper headphone would typically go for high sensitivity at the cost of other specs, while going up the ladder typically will have some engineers prioritizing a smoother response curve over sensitivity/efficiency, but in the case of the Elear, such a compromise wasn't made.
 
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May 8, 2017 at 3:25 PM Post #8 of 9

MahlerJeff

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Somebody here had an HD800S, lightly used, for sale for $1050. I bought it on the spot because I knew that I was going to get one at some point anyways, and the price was good. How will it sound out of the headphone jack of a Marantz receiver? I'm getting this for $600 less than regular price, so I figure I can put that $600 towards a new amp. I have a large CD collection, so I'll just be listening to CDs for now, and at some point I'll get a DAC.

Thanks for the replies. I'm learning a lot! The reason why I got into all of this audiophile stuff is because I invested a lot of money in my music collection, and it's a shame that I was listening to it on antiquated stereo equipment.
 
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May 8, 2017 at 11:25 PM Post #9 of 9

ProtegeManiac

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Somebody here had an HD800S, lightly used, for sale for $1050. I bought it on the spot because I knew that I was going to get one at some point anyways, and the price was good. How will it sound out of the headphone jack of a Marantz receiver? I'm getting this for $600 less than regular price, so I figure I can put that $600 towards a new amp. I have a large CD collection, so I'll just be listening to CDs for now, and at some point I'll get a DAC.

I can't speak of the HD800S in detail, but in general the Marantz headphone outputs aren't going to do badly on them. When my CD80 was still working (and USB DACs weren't that common) I used my HD600 straight out of its headphone output. Preferred it over my Little Dot MkII actually. The MkII was warming up the sound too much that Norah Jones sounded like she needs to snort hot oil (dumpling seasoning or hair shining oil, either way, it was that bad) to clear her sinuses.

That said, the Meier Cantate.2 I got later on was still a solid improvement over the Marantz. While the latter was tonally neutral, when you increase the volume, the signal was only just clean enough because there wasn't any obvious noise or bad distortion, but even at elevated output levels the sound was for the most part still somewhat "sleepy and lacking oomph." The Cantate was very similar tonally, but crank it up, and the percussion gets as loud (and clearer, better defined) as everything else rather than just the vocals and guitars getting louder faster.

You can go for something as low priced as the Corda Rock or Schiit Vali2, or you can still save a fair bit of cash and get the Jazz FF. No need to rush getting the headphone amp though, like I said it's not like the Marantz will struggle badly. Take that time as an opportunity to try out an amp without buying it - like maybe go to a CanJam, or look for anybody on this site who is within reasonable driving distance from where you are.
 

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