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Thread: Headphone amps, are they bollocks?

  1. #21
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: Valley of the Hazels

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    I'm AMusicFanNotAnAudiophile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RMutt View Post
    Chris. I’ve got HD 700’s your are more than welcome to try for week or so if you wish.
    Thanks Andrew.
    I shall take you up on your kind offer.
    It will be most interesting if their response is more akin to that of my AKGs
    Chris



    Once we've made sense of our world, we wanna go fuck up everybody else's because his or her truth doesn't match mine. But this is the problem. Truth is individual calculation. Which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn't one singular truth, is there?

  2. #22
    Join Date: Oct 2016

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    I'm Andrew.

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    The simplest/cheapest way to add a headphone output to an integrated amp is to use a big potential divider across the loudspeaker outputs and feed that to the headphones so the voltage is reduced enormously.
    The next level in sophistication is to have a dedicated headphone amp built into the integrated amp. There are lots of ways to do that, but there are a couple of ways that are most likely and they are the same types of circuit that are most often seen in standalone headphone amps.
    The problem with any headphone output is that there's a good chance it will be short circuited at sometime, either momentarily as the headphones are plugged in and out or by someone putting a mono jack into a stereo socket. So how do you prevent the amp from blowing up? The most common way is to put a resistor in series with the output so that even if the socket is shorted the amp still sees some resistance. That's cheap and effective, but it also means the amp now has a high output impedance - or at least well above zero - and consequently the frequency response will follow the headphones' impedance curve, ie any low frequency resonance in the drivers or rise in impedance due to the inductance of the drivers will appear as a hump/rise in the frequency response. The non-flatness will depend on the size of the resistor used to protect the amp from shorts, and the audible effect will depend on the impedance curve of the headphones used.

    The best way to make a headphone amp would be to have no "safety" resistor, but instead use some other kind of protection. That's a lot more complicated and more expensive, so is rarely done.

    Anyway, the obvious differences between headphone amps are probably due to the use of the "safety resistor" and the value chosen for it. The effect will be different with different headphones, so claiming that a certain headphone amp sounds bassy may be perfectly true - but only with certain headphones. It may be a lot less bass-heavy with different headphones with a different impedance curve.

  3. #23
    Join Date: Apr 2009

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    I'm Dave.

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    Excellent explanation.

  4. #24
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: Notts

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    I'm Geoff.

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    To answer your question you need to consult an expert on big nuts: the Namibian Ground Squirrel

    These are bollocks!

    squirell nuts.jpg

    Geoff
    Last edited by Sherwood; 31-03-2018 at 17:30.

  5. #25
    Join Date: May 2016

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    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stratmangler View Post
    The raucous bit is interesting.
    My friend with the NAD3020 has the HD-560s, and he hated them driven by the NAD. Said that they ripped his head off.
    We stuck a decent headphone amp in front of them (ie my Graham Slee Solo SRG II) and he was quite literally blown away - the grip and dynamics were something he'd never heard before, and the cans no longer made a sound to rip his head off.

    Just to pour a bit more petrol on the flames, I use AKG K702s, because they have a pretty flat response and sound right to me.
    The HD-650s on the other hand sounded as thought someone had dropped a blanket on them. To get any detail out of them in the high frequencies I had to turn them up, and then they were too loud and made my ears ring after listening to an album. Could be where the Sennheisers developed a reputation for needing a grippy stage.

    I had the opportunity to hear some HD-700s up at wee tee cee's place a few months back - I wish I'd given them a drive ....
    Did you ever find him again?

    Geoff

  6. #26
    Join Date: Nov 2008

    Location: Valley of the Hazels

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherwood View Post
    Did you ever find him again?

    Geoff
    Eventually.
    He was under a bush down the bottom end of the garden
    Chris



    Once we've made sense of our world, we wanna go fuck up everybody else's because his or her truth doesn't match mine. But this is the problem. Truth is individual calculation. Which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn't one singular truth, is there?

  7. #27
    Join Date: Jul 2009

    Location: Schleswig-Holstein (north sea coast), Germany

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    I'm Werner.

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    Steve,
    Quote Originally Posted by Floyddroid View Post
    the stand alone headphone amps I have listened to sound no better than on board headphone outputs. Starting to think there is a little snake oil in it all to be honest.
    this opinion has a lot of its own. I think the main target audience for headphone amplifiers probably has no typical stereo system (receiver and/or amplifier) available. Typical sources are laptops, tablets and smartphones, and there’s no doubt that stand-alone headphone amplifiers offer a much better performance than the built-in headphone jacks of these source devices.

    Werner.
    Mac OS X iTunes → Schiit Bifrost DAC → SPL Phonitor 2 → Yamaha AX-592 → Triangle Zays XS Grand Angle | AKG K712 Pro headphones | my last.fm profile

  8. #28
    Join Date: May 2016

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    I'm Geoff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Werner Berghofer View Post
    Steve,this opinion has a lot of its own. I think the main target audience for headphone amplifiers probably has no typical stereo system (receiver and/or amplifier) available. Typical sources are laptops, tablets and smartphones, and there’s no doubt that stand-alone headphone amplifiers offer a much better performance than the built-in headphone jacks of these source devices.

    Werner.
    Other instances too where a headphone amp is useful. I have a good hifi setup and recently added a pair of Hifiman HE400i headphones. Irritatingly, they come with a 1.2m cable which required me to sit beside my DAC to use them. Just acquired a pre-owned budget headphone amp which allows me to use a long digital cable from my DAC to the headphone amp on the coffee table beside my listening chair. Problem sorted!

    Geoff

  9. #29
    Join Date: Feb 2011

    Location: glasgow

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    I'm tony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stratmangler View Post
    Thanks Andrew.
    I shall take you up on your kind offer.
    It will be most interesting if their response is more akin to that of my AKGs
    Chris,
    I found with both 650s and 700s removing the inner foams make a significant difference.

    HPAs make a very real difference sonically-Stans Capella is fantastic in the ability to tune it to different cans for sensible money.

    Ive had several HPAs all sounded different but really helped to drive cans properly.

    Stans SEG has a variable gain switch behind the volume knob that lets you tune the output to your cans of choice.

    Let us know how you get on with 700s-they are a tremendous evolution of the 650s-worth every penny IMHO!

  10. #30
    Join Date: Feb 2013

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    I'm Grant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherwood View Post
    Other instances too where a headphone amp is useful. I have a good hifi setup and recently added a pair of Hifiman HE400i headphones. Irritatingly, they come with a 1.2m cable which required me to sit beside my DAC to use them. Just acquired a pre-owned budget headphone amp which allows me to use a long digital cable from my DAC to the headphone amp on the coffee table beside my listening chair. Problem sorted!

    Geoff
    like to get some hifiman cans to see if they are better than the oppos. anyone tried the he350 massdrop?
    Regards,
    Grant ....

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply-doesn't-work
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