IPB

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

Headphone amps, external power supplies: what difference do they make?, was: "First post here, Hi."
1096bimu
post Dec 7 2012, 00:35
Post #1





Group: Members
Posts: 2
Joined: 6-December 12
Member No.: 105013



Ever since I was told that it is possible to tell 320kbps CBR from loseless, I've had some interest in hi-fi, and that was a few years ago. Today, I use an ASUS Xonar Essance sound card and an AKG Q701 headphone. I am pretty confident that it sounds better than all the cheaper alternatives I've had before, and I am quite proud of my own ability to eliminate biases without blind testing (because of lack of equipment). However, 320kbps MP3 is still transparent to me. The absolute best I can do is tell 128kbps, and it is extremely difficult as I have to go through the samples multiple times to try and spot one or two obvious distortions, and tell from that. If I couldn't find any than they sound identical to me. I have read through many of the FAQs, compilation of test results and older posts so I know this isn't uncommon and isn't what I am worried about. I keep everything loseless even though I can't tell the difference because I don't have that many music, only a few gigs which isn't a problem for today's mobile devices (exported selected few from CD images).

The biggest problem is I keep running into this claim that headphone amps are supposed to make ginormous differences, especially with the AKG Q701. Some people say there is more difference with the K701 but aren't they identical except the colors? Of course nobody could show any blind test results and they are nothing more than testimonies. I am not a hard core audiophile I don't have any audiophile friends so it's not possible so it is not possible for me to try out stand alone amps. It just seems to me that many of these audiophiles believe in some kind of mystical superiority of external boxes. You gotta have an external DAC, and an external amp and you have to connect them together. I mean today they are just intergraded circuits why do they have to be external? The Xonar Essance says "Headphone amp card" and it does have an amplifier chip as well as those small ones that you can swap out and everything, so What's the difference?
In fact, I tried the Q701 on my cell phone, iPad, on-board intergraded audio, and even an iPod shuffle. They sound slightly worse I would say, the difference is quite subtle when compared to the Xonar. And I could not tell any difference between my phone, iPad and iPod shuffle.

I've also heard that you have to use an external power supply (it has a port that plugs into the computer power supply) for the Xonar to "bring out its full potential". Again, what's the difference? are computer power supplies not stabilized? I guess I also count as an overclocker so I know how voltages in the computer are set to two or three digits after the decimal, it is really sensitive stuff. I mean maybe the computer with its variable power requirement will destabilize the power source, but I don't listen to music while playing games or anything, I leave the computer idle for that. Also being a fairly high-end spec, the -12V power supply has a capacity of 650W (for 12V alone) , isn't that enough head room for small fluctuations?

Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
 
Start new topic
Replies
Klipspringer
post Jun 14 2013, 20:28
Post #2





Group: Members
Posts: 4
Joined: 14-June 13
Member No.: 108663



Hi Folks,

This is my first post and I'm very interested in this topic.

Would the previous discussion also be applicable to electrostatic amplifiers for headphones like Stax. That is, would any given electrostatic amplifier operating within normal parameters (i.e all the circuits running within spec) be able to adequately drive the transducer and produce sound from the transducer that would be indistinguishable from any other electrostatic amplifier.

Has anyone ever done a DBT on this or can anyone point me to some literature where this might have been attempted?

Aside for the different principles of operation, is there anything at all special about the amplification needs of these transducers that would distinguish them from the amplification needs of dynamic headphones?

I hope I've conveyed my question clearly and those who have researched Stax headphones can probably understand my curiosity!
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
saratoga
post Jun 14 2013, 20:47
Post #3





Group: Members
Posts: 4972
Joined: 2-September 02
Member No.: 3264



QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 15:28) *
Would the previous discussion also be applicable to electrostatic amplifiers for headphones like Stax.


No, that is a radically different technology with no relationship to what has been discussed in this thread.

QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 15:28) *
Aside for the different principles of operation, is there anything at all special about the amplification needs of these transducers that would distinguish them from the amplification needs of dynamic headphones?


Yes, they require an enormous drive voltage.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Klipspringer
post Jun 15 2013, 00:57
Post #4





Group: Members
Posts: 4
Joined: 14-June 13
Member No.: 108663



QUOTE (saratoga @ Jun 14 2013, 11:47) *
QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 15:28) *
Would the previous discussion also be applicable to electrostatic amplifiers for headphones like Stax.


No, that is a radically different technology with no relationship to what has been discussed in this thread.

QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 15:28) *
Aside for the different principles of operation, is there anything at all special about the amplification needs of these transducers that would distinguish them from the amplification needs of dynamic headphones?


Yes, they require an enormous drive voltage.


Thanks Saratoga for the reply. Yes I'm aware of the difference in technology. I'm curious though if an electrostatic amplifier has a sound profile that the transducer reflects, one that is obvious and could be easily identified in a DBT.

My understanding from reading is that a properly operating amplifier just amplifies a signal and thus should not impart much if any sonic change on the transducer. Also, I've made a little test between different amplifiers on my dynamic headphones and had difficulty telling any appreciable difference between say an iPod's amplification and more expensive amplifiers. This test wasn't controlled and was only level matched through hearing. Regardless, I couldn't really pick one for the other (I hope the previous statement doesn't violate a TOS!).

I ask because there are a wide variety of choices for electrostatic amplification ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. I would like to purchase some nice electrostatic headphones, but am hesitant to move forward because I cannot adequately evaluate the claims of others in regard to amplification.

If amplification of electrostatic headphones is indeed critical, then I must further examine the amplification element of this purchase. Otherwise, I'll just get the best transducer I can afford and something economical that swings an adequate amount of voltage to drive them.

Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Arnold B. Kruege...
post Jun 15 2013, 14:42
Post #5





Group: Members
Posts: 3797
Joined: 29-October 08
From: USA, 48236
Member No.: 61311



QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 19:57) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Jun 14 2013, 11:47) *
QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 15:28) *
Would the previous discussion also be applicable to electrostatic amplifiers for headphones like Stax.


No, that is a radically different technology with no relationship to what has been discussed in this thread.

QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 15:28) *
Aside for the different principles of operation, is there anything at all special about the amplification needs of these transducers that would distinguish them from the amplification needs of dynamic headphones?


Yes, they require an enormous drive voltage.


Thanks Saratoga for the reply. Yes I'm aware of the difference in technology. I'm curious though if an electrostatic amplifier has a sound profile that the transducer reflects, one that is obvious and could be easily identified in a DBT.


Hard to say since virtually every electrostatic headphone comes integrated with its own power amp. All things considered, that is probably how things should be.


QUOTE
My understanding from reading is that a properly operating amplifier just amplifies a signal and thus should not impart much if any sonic change on the transducer.


All true but that mostly relates to loudspeakers that are designed to work any good amplifier. I don't know of any electrostatic headphones that play by that rule book.

QUOTE
Also, I've made a little test between different amplifiers on my dynamic headphones and had difficulty telling any appreciable difference between say an iPod's amplification and more expensive amplifiers. This test wasn't controlled and was only level matched through hearing. Regardless, I couldn't really pick one for the other (I hope the previous statement doesn't violate a TOS!).


And if you make a reasonable extrapolation of that to electrostatic headphones?


QUOTE
I ask because there are a wide variety of choices for electrostatic amplification ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. I would like to purchase some nice electrostatic headphones, but am hesitant to move forward because I cannot adequately evaluate the claims of others in regard to amplification.


The wisdom I receive from sophisticated technicans with the resources to check this out is that electrostatic headphones have no inherent advantages over the best conventional headphones.


QUOTE
If amplification of electrostatic headphones is indeed critical, then I must further examine the amplification element of this purchase. Otherwise, I'll just get the best transducer I can afford and something economical that swings an adequate amount of voltage to drive them.


IME there are a number of very good alternatives in the top performance rungs of the ladder, but no clear overall winner.

A lot of money can be wasted chasing the one very best, while in fact any of several very good alternatives can be highly satisfying.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Posts in this topic
- 1096bimu   Headphone amps, external power supplies: what difference do they make?   Dec 7 2012, 00:35
- - DVDdoug   QUOTE The biggest problem is I keep running into t...   Dec 7 2012, 03:05
|- - 1096bimu   QUOTE This could be a voltage issue. I don't r...   Dec 7 2012, 05:19
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Dec 7 2012, 03:05) But, ...   Dec 7 2012, 09:04
||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Nessuno @ Dec 7 2012, 03:04) QUOTE...   Dec 7 2012, 14:44
||- - bennetng   QUOTE (Nessuno @ Dec 7 2012, 16:04) QUOTE...   May 11 2013, 09:42
||- - Nessuno   QUOTE (bennetng @ May 11 2013, 10:42) QUO...   May 11 2013, 11:00
||- - bennetng   QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2013, 18:00) In b...   May 11 2013, 13:51
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Dec 6 2012, 21:05) QUOTE...   Dec 7 2012, 14:40
|- - CSMR   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Dec 6 2012, 18:05) If yo...   Dec 14 2012, 02:06
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (DVDdoug @ Dec 6 2012, 22:05) I don...   May 13 2013, 17:33
- - arward72   http://www.stereophile.com/computeraudio/a...ards/...   Dec 10 2012, 21:48
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (arward72 @ Dec 10 2012, 15:48) htt...   Dec 11 2012, 01:03
- - arward72   The external power connector for the ASUS Xonar is...   Dec 10 2012, 23:23
- - J.Philippe   Doesn't the Essence card already have a headph...   Dec 14 2012, 08:36
- - psgarcha92   Ok, so i was going through the forums, looking for...   May 11 2013, 04:56
- - saratoga   ^^^Amping a fuze to use with iems makes zero sense...   May 11 2013, 06:48
|- - psgarcha92   QUOTE (saratoga @ May 11 2013, 11:18) ^^^...   May 11 2013, 07:59
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (psgarcha92 @ May 11 2013, 08:59) Q...   May 11 2013, 09:20
- - skamp   psgarcha92: this isn't head-fi, you have to ab...   May 11 2013, 08:34
|- - psgarcha92   QUOTE (skamp @ May 11 2013, 13:04) psgarc...   May 11 2013, 08:40
||- - skamp   QUOTE (psgarcha92 @ May 11 2013, 09:40) T...   May 11 2013, 10:28
||- - bennetng   QUOTE (skamp @ May 11 2013, 17:28) FWIW, ...   May 12 2013, 06:17
|- - db1989   QUOTE (skamp @ May 11 2013, 08:34) psgarc...   May 12 2013, 02:17
|- - skamp   QUOTE (db1989 @ May 12 2013, 03:17) Thank...   May 12 2013, 10:21
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (skamp @ May 12 2013, 05:21) QUOTE ...   May 12 2013, 14:31
- - psgarcha92   Skamp, How am i supposed to ABX Headphones? My Re...   May 11 2013, 19:52
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (psgarcha92 @ May 11 2013, 14:52) S...   May 11 2013, 20:51
- - psgarcha92   Respected Moderators, I am sorry that i did not r...   May 12 2013, 20:55
- - saratoga   ^^ unless something is really screwy with that amp...   May 12 2013, 22:36
- - saratoga   Any sound card will use a regulated voltage anyway...   May 13 2013, 22:41
- - Klipspringer   Hi Folks, This is my first post and I'm very ...   Jun 14 2013, 20:28
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 15:28)...   Jun 14 2013, 20:47
|- - Klipspringer   QUOTE (saratoga @ Jun 14 2013, 11:47) QUO...   Jun 15 2013, 00:57
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 14 2013, 19:57)...   Jun 15 2013, 14:42
- - Klipspringer   Thanks Arnold for the thorough reply. I can't ...   Jun 16 2013, 08:47
- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 16 2013, 03:47)...   Jun 16 2013, 10:23
- - Klipspringer   QUOTE There's not a lot to understand. Making ...   Jun 16 2013, 18:54
- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (Klipspringer @ Jun 16 2013, 13:54)...   Jun 17 2013, 12:32


Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 



RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 23rd September 2014 - 08:14