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Headphone Amp

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by tolmie, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. tolmie

    tolmie
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    Could someone explain in what situation you would use a headphone amp, I've got a Yamaha Ax 396 amp and marantz cd player with sennhieser 497 headphones, i plug my headphones right into my yamaha, is there anypoint in buying a seperate headphone amp.

    Cheers
     
  2. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    There are a number of situations where you might wish to have a headphone amp.

    The first is that you do not have any headphone socket on any of your equipment. Naturally, a headphone amp is one such way to get that facility.

    The second is if you have a portable device, soundcard or CD player with an inbuilt headphone jack that is very underpowered. If you have difficult to drive headphones then you might find that the resulting sound is weak and flat sounding. Adding a headphone amp in this situation can often provide better control and bass power, just a better sound altogether really...

    The third is if you have a headphone jack on an amplifier or receiver which has a high output impedance (as in 99% of amps and receivers). The reason for this is the headphone stage is often directly driven from the speaker stage and ran through step down resistors. A high output impedance is bad because it increases the power requirements, lowers the control of the headphones and can significantly alter the frequency response. This is quite often manifested in a sort of veiled, muffled sound with boomy bass and diminished treble response. Having said that some outputs are not at all bad, and many are happy - quite often these jacks still provide enough power, but for better headphones they are far from optimal. In this situation a headphone amp can provide a cleaner, more detailed and more sparkling sound.

    The fact is with your present headphones, I doubt there is all that much point in spending more on a headphone amp. When I had the 497's I did try them with a Corda headphone amplifier and there was little if any improvement over using my integrated amp.

    If you upgraded however to (for example) Sennheiser HD555, 580, 595, 600, 650, Beyerdynamic DT440, 531, 770, 880, 990 then you would definitely see a benefit from adding an amp.
     
  3. tolmie

    tolmie
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    Cheers for the reply, the sennheiser are the first real headphones iv bot and they have amazed me, would you say the ones you mentioned are better again and if so which ones exactly should i got for and what headphone amp. Thanks for the advice.
     
  4. WhyAyeMan

    WhyAyeMan
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    If your happy with yours ask yourself if you really want to upgrade first... the 497's are good starter cans and many would probably be happy with them full stop.

    The models I mention are all better however, as they should be given they usually cost 2x or more the price of the 497's. As for specific recommendations, it depends what type of music you listen to and whether you like laid back or more aggressive sound...
     
  5. tolmie

    tolmie
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    Im not bothered if they cost x2 the price, the music I listen to is bands like Radiohead, pink floyd,embrace,thirteen senses, iterpol, you get the idea. So what would you suggest
     
  6. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I'd have to agree with pbirkett.....if you have phones of the quality of the upper range Grados,Sennheisers and Beyers,it's well worth looking at headphone amps.
    There are amps to suit all budgets,from just over £100,to in excess of £2000,depending on what you want.
    At the sort of budget you're suggesting,you could look at MF X-cans,the Slee(esp in kit form),and the Creek.
    Moving up from there,the prices start to rise fairly sharply,and I wouldn't recommend going that high unless you really do a lot of H/phone listening.
    A search in this part of the forum should produce a lot of results on the various amps,and you may wish to take a look at iPod's site(have a look under www.ipodstudio.com ) for a look at some of the many amps available,plus www.headfi.org
     
  7. deanym

    deanym
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    Tolmie,

    You don't specify which Marantz cd spinner you have, but as my spare kit I have a 67se with x-cans v2 and hd600 'phones. the sound is excellent and only improves when I connect my x-ray using van den hul the first cabling. I listen to RHCP, PJ, system of down etc, and the systems copes with dynamics to spare.

    With more mordern cd players and perhaps 2 channel SACD the sound must be amazing. I agree with the other comments above - if you're happy with what you've got then stick with it. A headphone amp would give you an immediately improved sound and also gives more scope to upgrading your 'phones.
     
  8. tolmie

    tolmie
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    The marantz I have is the CD 5400, its a pretty decent cd player, wheres the best place to get headphone amps. i dont seem to see many about and how do you connect a headphone amp.
     
  9. deanym

    deanym
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    Hi tolmie,

    Ebay usually has x-cans v2 for sale - expect to pay up to 150 for a decent one. Or the new x-cans v3 can be had new for around 300. I've upgraded the valves in mine to get even better bass.

    You've got a good basis though. I have a second headphone amp (from richer sounds - cost around 50) that you can try - cover the postage and you can have it for free - if you can appreciate the immediate benefit then look into buying a superior one.

    To connect a headphone amp, use a phono interconnect from the pre-outs on your amp or direct from the cd player outputs to the input on the headphone amp.
     
  10. tolmie

    tolmie
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    That would be great mate, sure i would cover the postage. I would just like to see if there would be a difference before i invest, heres my email address and we can discuss futher details scotttolmie@hotmail plz no one send me spam.

    Thanks alot
     
  11. deanym

    deanym
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    Tolmie,

    Sent a mail to your address, will post the amp to you next thursday (I'm back up North for the holiday) so hopefully you should have it Friday or the 4th Jan. Send your address.

    Regards,
     

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