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

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post May 11 2013, 04:56
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Ok, so i was going through the forums, looking for power supply designs for Headphone amps, when i came across this thread,

I am really sorry for reviving this old thread, but, through this, i realized something,

DVDdoug, in his reply to the OP, said "But, when someone says, "This headphone has more detail", I don't know what that really means, and I'm not sure anybody knows what it means in scientific terms or specifications".
With all due respect, I want to question this, is it that you don't believe that one headphone can reveal more detail than another? or is it that because there is no scientific way of measuring The detail reproduction/resolution of a speaker, a speaker cannot be more detailed than another. Please don't mind, i do not know of any other way to put up the question.

To the OP, i have not listened to your particular model, but i have been in the audio hobby for quite some time now. The weakest link in the chain, are actually the phones. Headphones, earphones. I have tried to listen for differences between 320kbps and FLAC files, and found no difference whatsoever. But when i go to 128kbps on my setup, even 192kbps, the difference strikes very very clearly. Its actually hard not to hear the artifacts. I say this because you mentioned that "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."
Fore me, i have a portable setup and use IEMs, and i do not have to A/B tracks to check for artifacts, i can listen to a track just once and tell if its 128kbps. What the whole point is, i am a firm believer in Headphones being more detailed than others. Headphones having more resolution than another model of the same brand or the other. So maybe, if you want to go the detailed way, you would like to try other headphones or who knows a couple of IEMs (rather than looking at power supply options). Please also note that i am not in any way saying that Power Supplies do not make a difference, but merely that if the Headphones being used are not detailed enough, how are u gonna hear whats missing??

My setup if you are wondering, is Sansa Fuze (Line Out)>Mini^3>RE272s and Ultimate Ears TF10s.
The Mini^3 i use because it has more punch and power, and i like what it does to my TF10s, i.e, Opens them up, widens the Sound Stage.
The RE272s are one of the most detailed IEMs i have heard. Listening to 128kbps songs on them, and u wont be able to un-hear what u are going to hear.


This post has been edited by psgarcha92: May 11 2013, 04:58
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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

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