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Will headphone amp (eg Fiio E6) improve SQ from PX100+BBerry? (MP3 320, Was “headphone amps”, posted in General Audio (TOS #6)
lear01
post Feb 2 2012, 15:41
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I listen to music through my Blackberry Curve 8520 and a pair of Sennheiser PX100. Music format is mp3 320. Generally it sounds pretty good but would a headphone amp improve the sound quality? Specifically I'm looking at the fiio e6. Thanks for any advice.
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Engelsstaub
post Feb 2 2012, 15:59
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I don't believe it would make a great difference unless you just want it to be a bit louder. I have an old pair of PX100s laying around and I found them to be very lacking in detail and far from "full-sounding."


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halb27
post Feb 2 2012, 16:18
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I use the FIIO E6 together with my Nokia C7 smartphone and Bowers&Wilkins C5 earphones, but I do so only because I have some music videos on the C7 which are not loud eneough otherwise (and because the FIIO E6 is so cheap).
Listening quality is excellent also without the additional amp, and the amp doesn't improve it further.

I think this is true for other devices as well usually, and the headphone amp hype is one of the audiophile voodoo stuff, as the mobile devices provide an excellent quality. There may be exceptions to this for specific devices, but even then it's not clear whether you can get an improvement as you usually have to feed the amp with the same output signal your stand-alone headphone gets (there can be a difference though as the headphone amp is an easier load for the device under investigation than is a headphone).

So if you're happy with the quality you have (compare it to the quality your headphone delivers on a full-fledged stereo system), and if you don't need a higher volume I wouldn't use an extra amp.

The E6 provides some special equalizer settings boosting bass, or bass and treble, but it's much too coarse and too strong - it affects not only low bass and high treble. From a HIFI perspective they're not usable IMO despite some positive reviews I read about them.

As Engelsstaub wrote: when it's about improving quality I'd also think of another headphone in the first place in case you are not content with the quality you have.

This post has been edited by halb27: Feb 2 2012, 16:30


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Engelsstaub
post Feb 2 2012, 16:25
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QUOTE (halb27 @ Feb 2 2012, 09:18) *
I use the FIIO E6 together with my Nokia C7 smartphone and Bowers&Wilkins C5 earphones...


Now those are some efficient headphones in my experience. smile.gif

lear01: if you can justify the asking price, I highly recommend those for portable use.


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halb27
post Feb 2 2012, 16:37
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QUOTE (Engelsstaub @ Feb 2 2012, 16:25) *
QUOTE (halb27 @ Feb 2 2012, 09:18) *
I use the FIIO E6 together with my Nokia C7 smartphone and Bowers&Wilkins C5 earphones...


Now those are some efficient headphones in my experience. smile.gif

lear01: if you can justify the asking price, I highly recommend those for portable use.

Yes, and volume has always been fine with my music archive on the C7 (though it's replaygain decreased loudness). Not so unfortunately with those music videos I mentioned. Probably the music player on the C7 can provide for a much louder output than does the video player.

And, yes, the Bowers&Wilkins C5 are great!

This post has been edited by halb27: Feb 2 2012, 16:46


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Speedskater
post Feb 2 2012, 16:41
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For a lot of reading on headphone amps and headphones see:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/

http://www.innerfidelity.com/

The first link is a member of the forum.
The second link is very subjective but they do have a lot of product information.


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Brand
post Feb 2 2012, 16:58
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I used to think headphone amps are a useless gimmick (kinda like expensive DACs), but looking at some RMAA test results you can see that sometimes a headphone load can noticeably impact the sound. See for example the RMAA test of HTC Desire HD (at the bottom), especially how the "Stereo crosstalk" gets messed up with headphones attached.

BTW, the Blackberry Curve 8520 mentioned by OP has a nasty drop in the lower frequencies (without headphones).

This post has been edited by Brand: Feb 2 2012, 16:59
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lear01
post Feb 2 2012, 19:53
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Ok guys. Appreciate all the advice given. Realise that the Curve and PX 100's are not the perfect combo, although for the money I think the PX100's perform well. I think the way to go then will be to upgrade the cans. Presume a decent dedicated media player would produce better sound quality as well? I don't have an issue with loudness. The Curve has an 'audio boost' which I think is just a delimiter. Also, I convert from FLAC to mp3 in fb2k and it's replaygain settings allow you to increase loudness. Not sure if this is advisable but doesn't appear to affect quality. Will take a look at the links provided for a bit of light reading.
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Engelsstaub
post Feb 2 2012, 23:15
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QUOTE (lear01 @ Feb 2 2012, 12:53) *
Presume a decent dedicated media player would produce better sound quality as well?


Probably. ...but I couldn't be too certain not having any experience with your current player. It's probably OK. I mean it really is just casual listening. I wouldn't consider my iPods and Zune reference systems either laugh.gif

The nice thing about those PX100s is their light weight. They're very comfortable. And you're right: they are a good value for the money.


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