External headphone amplifier for the Audient ID4 MkII

howltt

Active member
Jan 15, 2022
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Hello.

I recently got an audio interface for my super basic home studio (Audient ID4 MkII). What I didn't realize is that its headphone output has quite high an impedance (22 Ohms @ 1khz), while my Shure SE535 IEMs have impedance of just 36 Ohms @ 1khz, dropping as low as 8 Ohms at some frequencies. Unfortunately, I don't *really* like the sound of SE535 through this audio interface, probably because of the distortion due to insufficient impedances ratio. I tested these IEMs on an iPad, which supposedly has a lower impedance, and the sound was just better and more in line with what I would expect.

I don't want to replace Audient ID4 MkII completely, but I'm considering buying a low-impedance headphone amplifier with RCA inputs (such as Topping A50S) to connect it to Audient ID4 MkII's monitor outputs and listen to Shure SE535 that way. Would that kind of setup make sense? I think the other acceptable solution that does involve ditching Audient ID4 MkII is to replace it with Motu M2, which is a decent interface and has near-zero headphone output impedance, but I'm not sure these are the simplest/cheapest solutions to the impedance problem

Cheers
 

howltt

Active member
Jan 15, 2022
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I'm looking through these hifi/audiophile threads with people spending good money trying to find an ideal combination of DACs/amps/preamps/headphones and reporting that sound is flat or "<audiophily thingy> is missing/too much" before moving on to the next combo, and I don't want to become that haha. Maybe another solution is to listen to music through airpods, because I can't imagine anyone releasing music without checking if it sounds at least okay on those
 
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Gray

Well-known member
Hello
Of course, the no-cost option would be to already own a different pair of headphones for use with your interface (y)
But those Shure's are expensive (so they must be good? :unsure:)
Assuming it must be the Shure's, then it seems to me that it comes down to your choice between the Audient and the Motu (if , as you say, that has the necessary low impedance).

As a Topping A50S owner, I can recommend it without hesitation - because it does what an amp should do - takes and boosts what you give it without adding any noticeable character of its own. As you've probably seen, it has an output impedance of 0.1ohm.
But....the cheapest and most elegant (single box) solution of your two options, would surely be to go for the Motu. Depends how much you like the Audient / fancy a Motu....
 
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Vincent Kars

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Mar 6, 2021
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Damping ratio of 8 to 10 is an often recommended minimum.
You probably have some bloated bass.

Nothing wrong with Motu but the headphone out might be a bit underwhelming


Maybe a JDS Atom: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-new-jds-labs-atom-headphone-amp.5262/
 
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howltt

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Jan 15, 2022
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After reading a lot more on this topic (including the threads you linked) I decided to keep using Audient ID4 MkII and get a dedicated headphone amplifier, because the consensus online seems to be that headphone outputs are "barely adequate" on most audio interfaces, including pricier ones like Apollo Twin, and the most commonly mentioned solution is to get an amp. If I were to buy an audio interface now, I would maybe go for Motu M2 or even M4, but since I already have an audio interface that is okay, a headphone amplifier seems to me like a more useful purchase at this moment.

I'll probably buy JDS Atom Amp+, even though the shipping to my third-world country will run me $40, because I don't have many locally available alternatives that I like, and because while Topping A50S is better on paper, just thinking of Topping's L30 fiasco makes me uncomfortable.

Thank you both, you were helpful :)
 
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elsidy

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Apr 13, 2022
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After reading a lot more on this topic (including the threads you linked) I decided to keep using Audient ID4 MkII and get a dedicated headphone amplifier, because the consensus online seems to be that headphone outputs are "barely adequate" on most audio interfaces, including pricier ones like Apollo Twin, and the most commonly mentioned solution is to get an amp. If I were to buy an audio interface now, I would maybe go for Motu M2 or even M4, but since I already have an audio interface that is okay, a headphone amplifier seems to me like a more useful purchase at this moment.

I'll probably buy JDS Atom Amp+, even though the shipping to my third-world country will run me $40, because I don't have many locally available alternatives that I like, and because while Topping A50S is better on paper, just thinking of Topping's L30 fiasco makes me uncomfortable.

Thank you both, you were helpful :)
Hey, did you buy the headphone amp. I was thinking for the same setup. How did to plan to connect the balanced TRS output of ID4 MkII to RCA (unbalanced). I am confused on this only, I am unable to find a balanced TRS to RCA connector in my country. Can you tell about the cable that you are using for connecting amp to audio interface?
 
Hey, did you buy the headphone amp. I was thinking for the same setup. How did to plan to connect the balanced TRS output of ID4 MkII to RCA (unbalanced). I am confused on this only, I am unable to find a balanced TRS to RCA connector in my country. Can you tell about the cable that you are using for connecting amp to audio interface?
Does balanced TRS to RCA even exist? Don't see how this would or what benefits it might have. Balanced TRS is to connect a pair of headphones as far as I am aware.
If you need to connect to something else there is an unbalanced headphone output socket isn't there?
 
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Vincent Kars

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Gray

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Gray

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"How did to plan to connect the balanced TRS output of ID4 MkII to RCA (unbalanced)."
that's not how I read it......
Yes, he thought it was balanced out.
I thought I saw that it was balanced out - as it is on other interfaces.
But, as Vincent pointed out, in this case they're using a single TRS socket to output 2 (unbalanced) channels - saving themselves a socket in the process.
 
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elsidy

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Apr 13, 2022
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Yes, he thought it was balanced out.
I thought I saw that it was balanced out - as it is on other interfaces.
But, as Vincent pointed out, in this case they're using a single TRS socket to output 2 (unbalanced) channels - saving themselves a socket in the process.
Hi, I might be wrong but in the official manual provided by Audient, it is mentioned that the ports at the back are TRS balanced port. Attaching a screenshot and link of the manual for the same (page 9 of the pdf).screenshot_audient.png
 
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Gray

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Hi, I might be wrong but in the official manual provided by Audient, it is mentioned that the ports at the back are TRS balanced port. Attaching a screenshot and link of the manual for the same (page 9 of the pdf).View attachment 3476
That linked manual is the one I saw 👍
Very much describes the DAC output as a balanced TRS......no mention of both channels (there at least) on a single socket 🤔

The 'Loudspeaker Outputs' are balanced TRS.
The company is certainly ambiguous with its descriptions.
OK, we know there are no actual loudspeaker outputs, but not every purchaser would.
 
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Friesiansam

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I've not looked at the manual but, the specification I linked to earlier, clearly states there is a ¼ inch trs line output, trs cannot be balanced. It makes me wonder if, whoever was responsible for the manual and the online spec sheet, got a bit confused...
 

Gray

Well-known member
I've not looked at the manual but, the specification I linked to earlier, clearly states there is a ¼ inch trs line output, trs cannot be balanced. It makes me wonder if, whoever was responsible for the manual and the online spec sheet, got a bit confused...
It's been said that writing a user manual is as much of a skill as product design.
Certainly helps when done correctly.

(Some of the Chinese ones can be entertaining though).
 

Vincent Kars

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Mar 6, 2021
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Gray turned out be right.
I simply misread the specs as even there they state Tip (Hot), Ring (Cold) & Sleeve (Shield) so a 3 wired hence balanced connection from DAC to amp.
 
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Gray

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