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HEADPHONE AMP----WORTH THE MONEY?

jeffro

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Jan 5, 2008
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I have recently upgraded my headphones from the Grado sr80i to the sr325is and the difference in sound is quite remarkable with a much smoother bass.

As i listen to 90% of my music with headphones i was wondering is it worth me investing in a headphone amp at about £230

My local hi fi dealer says i would notice a marked difference

My set up is the Marantz 6004 amp & Cd player

Any advice would be most helpful
 

jeffro

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Jan 5, 2008
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Overdose said:
jeffro said:
My local hi fi dealer says i would notice a marked difference
A 'marked difference' in what? Also compared to what?
he was refering to an improved sound with the headphone amp against not using one!!

Does anybody else have any constructive comments

thanks
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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jeffro said:
Overdose said:
jeffro said:
My local hi fi dealer says i would notice a marked difference
A 'marked difference' in what? Also compared to what?
he was refering to an improved sound with the headphone amp against not using one!!

Does anybody else have any constructive comments

thanks
And what are you currently using? I assume some sort of headphone amplification, ie from either the CD player or amp.
 

jeffro

New member
Jan 5, 2008
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Overdose said:
jeffro said:
Overdose said:
jeffro said:
My local hi fi dealer says i would notice a marked difference
A 'marked difference' in what? Also compared to what?
he was refering to an improved sound with the headphone amp against not using one!!

Does anybody else have any constructive comments

thanks
And what are you currently using? I assume some sort of headphone amplification, ie from either the CD player or amp.
Headphones plugged into Marantz 6004 amp
 

jeffro

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Jan 5, 2008
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bigboss said:
I seriously doubt if a dedicated headphone amplifier is going to beat the amplification of Marantz, assuming you don't buy one costing more than the Marantz itself!
Thanks bigboss for your comments

I was wondering that myself,does the marantz have a so called headphone amp bulit in, and if so, the question is, would an external dedicated headphone amp out perform the internal one
 

bigboss

Moderator
jeffro said:
bigboss said:
I seriously doubt if a dedicated headphone amplifier is going to beat the amplification of Marantz, assuming you don't buy one costing more than the Marantz itself!
Thanks bigboss for your comments

I was wondering that myself,does the marantz have a so called headphone amp bulit in, and if so, the question is, would an external dedicated headphone amp out perform the internal one
Yes, the Marantz has an amplified headphone output. Yes, there are dedicated headphone amps which can potentially outperform the Marantz, but as far as I'm aware, you'll hardly notice a difference with your Grados, because they're so good.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Generally, dedicated (and well designed) headphones amplifiers will give you much better impedance and voltage/current/gain to drive headphones than the output from amplifiers.

If you are interested in reading about headphone amplifiers in general I'll point you to NwAvGuy's blog, he's a fountain of knowledge when it comes to headphone engineering and has got some great articles about headphone amplifiers, how they measure, impedance matching, snake oil in the industry, etc. http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/

He has actually designed a headphone amplifier that is making waves in the headphone community, designed to give the best performance and measurements possible at the low cost. His design is completely non profit, but I think there are some distributers in the UK. It's called the objective 2 (o2) headphone amplifier, and is well worth looking into if you are considering purchasing an amp.

The second recommendation I would give you (keeping an open mind) would be a chinese made clone of the Lehmann Black Cube Linear called the Matrix M-Stage. It's something like a quater of the cost of the original and offers pretty much the same level of performance, with a pretty decent build quality. Again I think there were some distributers in the UK.

Saying all this, I think the grados are low impedance and fairly easy to drive, so it might not be worth it. Hope this has been helpful and good luck!
 

Al ears

Moderator
I agree with bigboss. If you continue to use efficient headphones then the Marantz is perfectly adequate and it is not worth shelling out for a headphone amp that you may not be able to hear any difference from.
The only time you might consider an amp is if you move away from Grado's to something like inefficient Sennheissers or the like.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Go and demostrate one, with your headphones and music you are familar with.

I'd be suprised if there wasn't a marked improvement in performance using a dedicated headphone amp.

But a demo will tell you all you need to know!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I own a pair of Grado SR125s so out of interest I have just measured their impedance curve.

The result is a pretty flat curve of 30 ohms in the midband, rising gently to 32 ohms at 10kHz and 35 ohms at 20kHz. In the bass there is a fairly well damped resonance at 80Hz, where the impedance peaks at 38 ohms, falling back to 34 ohms at approximately 55Hz and 140Hz, and 30 ohms at 20 Hz.

Grado quote 32 ohms nominal - that seems about right. Their whole range is pretty similar in terms of impedance as far as I can see.

The best headphones amplifiers have a very low output impedance (say less than 1 ohm) and this will give a small lift in the bass resonance region and at the extreme treble, compared with an amplifier with a highish output impedance.

I would say that in this instance, from a technical standpoint, that there is little to be gained by using a specialist headphones amplifier, provided Marantz have done a competent job with their internal one (as I would expect).

Hope his helps.

Sincerely,

John Dawson (Arcam)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Just out of interest is there any appreciable benefit in using the headphone socket on the CD player as opposed to the amp? I use the socket on my Marantz CD6003 in the assumption that there's less sound degradation using the source component however if the amp is a better option I'll give it a go!
 

jeffro

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Jan 5, 2008
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Thanks to all for your responces,especially John for the technical side of things

So it look's like i might get a very slight improvement but at a considerable cost if i go for a known make such as the

Graham Slee Novo.

Has anybody out there got a pair of Grado's with a headphone amp who can give me a view or it look's like i need to test one myself at my local hi fi dealer to satisfy my curiosity
 

shafesk

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Sep 18, 2010
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I'd advise you against the headphone amp, again as everyone else have said already its because the Grado's are so efficient and because the Marantz is known to have a good headphone out. I have an sr 60 and a k702, it might be worthwile knowing that I do not connect the sr 60s to my x-cans....they actually sound worse through the x-cans. The more ineficient AKG K702s sound much better through the x-cans, I can only conclude this has something to do with the output impedance of the x-cans. You can always audition to satisfy your curiousity.
 

shafesk

New member
Sep 18, 2010
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jeffro said:
Thanks to all for your responces,especially John for the technical side of things

So it look's like i might get a very slight improvement but at a considerable cost if i go for a known make such as the

Graham Slee Novo.

Has anybody out there got a pair of Grado's with a headphone amp who can give me a view or it look's like i need to test one myself at my local hi fi dealer to satisfy my curiosity
Forgot to mention that I did try the Grados with the Slee Novo and it sounded nice, detailed and sweeter than the headphone out of my macbook pro. Certainly a much better match than my x-cans. Although, I don't know if the marginal improvement would be worth to you. Mind you, I'm talking about the sr60 here, although similar to the 325, you should be able to hear more of a difference with the Novo.
 

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