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New AKG Q701.....is it worth buying a dedicated headphone amp?

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eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
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fidelity audio said:
Hi

The HPA-100, HPA-200, PRE-120, all the psus, clocks , low noise regs etc are our own design and build. They are taking up to two weeks from order due to a high demand thanks excellent magazine reviews.

The DAC-150 is in fact built by HLLY for Fidelity Audio to our design change and specification (we were impressed by the HLLY version and set about changing it to meet the sound quality we were looking for). There are changes to the power supplies, opamps and many different capacitors. We also re engineered the USB input to use the 24bit chip. Hlly simply build it for us. They have however been a bit naughty and started stating a few of our specs on their own version eg the 24bit USB. All other aspects of the unit remain different. We have gone down a legal route with them but it is proving difficult.

Fidelity Audio is open and frank on the phone about all our products as honesty is always the best policy.

regards

Brent

Fidelity Audio
Thanks for clearing that up for us.

I contemplated buying one of the HLLY DAC's many moon's ago hence I recognised it as soon as I see your DAC-150.

So has HLLY actually changed their unit to accomodate 24Bit over USB as that would require a chip change wouldn't it ?
 

fidelity audio

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Dec 6, 2010
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eggontoast said:
Thanks for clearing that up for us.

I contemplated buying one of the HLLY DAC's many moon's ago hence I recognised it as soon as I see your DAC-150.

So has HLLY actually changed their unit to accomodate 24Bit over USB as that would require a chip change wouldn't it ?
Yes it required a complete IC and circuit redesign for the USB, micro processor control and changes to the voltages of the psu to work with the new ic (99% of ICs are not pin compatible).

Brent
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
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fidelity audio said:
Yes it required a complete IC and circuit redesign for the USB
If it required a new track layout with an up-issue to the PCB, it would make sense to use the same PCB for both products once their old issued PCB's were depleted wouldn't it. They would be able to buy them in greater quantity at a reduced price. I can't see how you could have any claim considering the original design was theirs, it would be different if you had commissioned them to build your original design and they blatantly ripped it off.
 

fidelity audio

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We commissioned the changes to the usb and of course the other areas for Fidelity Audio no one else including Hlly.

Brent
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
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fidelity audio said:
We commissioned the changes to the usb and of course the other areas for Fidelity Audio no one else including Hlly.

Brent
TBH from your description I'm not surprised you haven't been able to pursue it legally not unless you brought the rights to the original design, just my opinion though.
 

Womaz

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Dec 27, 2011
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Well now that I have Fid Audio commenting on this thread.......would it be cheeky to pick your brains.

If you read through my original posting I still feel unsure about whether I will get much improvement with a dedicated amp.

My Arcam amp was about £800 from what I remember and was What Hif award winner in 2002/03......so will I get much better than this.

Why would a headphone amp give an improved performance over this.?....the cute beyond certainly did not, mind it was a nice piece of kit and good sound qua;ity for the price.

I have to demo at home so with the return postage this costs me about £10.....so well worth it.

I would be very interested in your views.
 

fidelity audio

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Dec 6, 2010
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Womaz said:
Well now that I have Fid Audio commenting on this thread.......would it be cheeky to pick your brains.

If you read through my original posting I still feel unsure about whether I will get much improvement with a dedicated amp.

My Arcam amp was about £800 from what I remember and was What Hif award winner in 2002/03......so will I get much better than this.

Why would a headphone amp give an improved performance over this.?....the cute beyond certainly did not, mind it was a nice piece of kit and good sound qua;ity for the price.

I have to demo at home so with the return postage this costs me about £10.....so well worth it.

I would be very interested in your views.
The problem with amplifer headphone outputs is that it is either taken straight from the output of the amp and dropped through resistors to lower the power, the amp is designed to power speakers in an open environment so the sound signature when played through headphones is not ideal. Sometimes the amplifier is fitted with a dedicated headphone circuit but this is usually a simple single opamp based output with shared voltage rails with the main amplifer output stage. Again not ideal.

With a good dedicated headphone amplifier you get a dedicated power supply and output stage designed for driving headphones. Some headphone amps use single opamp outputs or are discrete and can sound very good with the correct headphone. We have designed ours with over sized power supplies (this helps lower power rail noise) dual mono output stages with a buffered final output drive, this enables the HPA headphone amps to drive pretty much any load.

Brent
 

Womaz

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Dec 27, 2011
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I know my Amp has a class A headphone socket??....whatever that is.

I guess the only way to find out is to keep trying. Thanks for the reply Brent, much appreciated.
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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I have enquired Leema Acoustics about its Tucana II's headphone output design including its performance when compared with stand alone headphone amplifiers. I got the following reply and Leema also advised me that they will soon launch its headphone amplifier with a price tag of about £500.

QUOTE

Yes the Tucana does have its own however it is a simple amplifier. A dedicate headphone amplifier would produce better sound quality and a more pleasurable listening experience. We are about to launch, in the next month or so, a small dedicate headphone amplifier that will supply a much more optimised headphone experience. The sound characteristics of any speaker system, headphone or free standing speakers will sounds different. No two pairs of headphones sound the same yet alone compared to speakers. We have spent a lot of time and many hours listening in developing our new headphone amplifier and I am sure you would enjoy the sound experience they offer. The retail price has not been fixed yet but I expect the retail price to be approximately £500.
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
451
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18,895
Inter_Voice said:
I have enquired Leema Acoustics about its Tucana II's headphone output design including its performance when compared with stand alone headphone amplifiers. I got the following reply and Leema also advised me that they will soon launch its headphone amplifier with a price tag of about £500.

QUOTE

"Yes the Tucana does have its own however it is a simple amplifier.
A dedicate headphone amplifier would produce better sound quality and a more pleasurable listening experience. We are about to launch, in the next month or so, a small dedicate headphone amplifier that will supply a much more optimised headphone experience. The sound characteristics of any speaker system, headphone or free standing speakers will sounds different. No two pairs of headphones sound the same yet alone compared to speakers. We have spent a lot of time and many hours listening in developing our new headphone amplifier and I am sure you would enjoy the sound experience they offer. The retail price has not been fixed yet but I expect the retail price to be approximately £500."
TBH that's quite an unusual design, not many integrated amplifiers have a separate headphone stage. I would say 85% of them are just dropped off the main power stage. Explains why you can't drive you AKG's though.

fidelity audio said:
The problem with amplifier headphone outputs is that it is either taken straight from the output of the amp and dropped through resistors to lower the power, the amp is designed to power speakers in an open environment so the sound signature when played through headphones is not ideal.
?

fidelity audio said:
Sometimes the amplifier is fitted with a dedicated headphone circuit but this is usually a simple single opamp based output with shared voltage rails with the main amplifier output stage. Again not ideal.
Bit of generalisation here for sure. Is there something wrong with these power rails anyway.

fidelity audio said:
We have designed ours with over sized power supplies (this helps lower power rail noise)
These are different from the over-sized ones in your integrated amplifier which you just said were no good.

fidelity audio said:
dual mono output stages with a buffered final output drive, this enables the HPA headphone amps to drive pretty much any load.
The same as evey other headphone amplifier manufacturer then.......is this just a sales pitch.
 

Inter_Voice

New member
Oct 5, 2010
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eggontoast said:
Inter_Voice said:
I have enquired Leema Acoustics about its Tucana II's headphone output design including its performance when compared with stand alone headphone amplifiers. I got the following reply and Leema also advised me that they will soon launch its headphone amplifier with a price tag of about £500.

QUOTE

"Yes the Tucana does have its own however it is a simple amplifier.
A dedicate headphone amplifier would produce better sound quality and a more pleasurable listening experience. We are about to launch, in the next month or so, a small dedicate headphone amplifier that will supply a much more optimised headphone experience. The sound characteristics of any speaker system, headphone or free standing speakers will sounds different. No two pairs of headphones sound the same yet alone compared to speakers. We have spent a lot of time and many hours listening in developing our new headphone amplifier and I am sure you would enjoy the sound experience they offer. The retail price has not been fixed yet but I expect the retail price to be approximately £500."
TBH that's quite an unusual design, not many integrated amplifiers have a separate headphone stage. I would say 85% of them are just dropped off the main power stage. Explains why you can't drive you AKG's though.
That may also explain why I found my £30 high sensitivity headphone has better SQ than my K702. Most probably the opamp output of the headphone stage is insufficient to drive the K702.
 

fidelity audio

New member
Dec 6, 2010
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eggontoast said:
Inter_Voice said:
I have enquired Leema Acoustics about its Tucana II's headphone output design including its performance when compared with stand alone headphone amplifiers. I got the following reply and Leema also advised me that they will soon launch its headphone amplifier with a price tag of about £500.

QUOTE

"Yes the Tucana does have its own however it is a simple amplifier.
A dedicate headphone amplifier would produce better sound quality and a more pleasurable listening experience. We are about to launch, in the next month or so, a small dedicate headphone amplifier that will supply a much more optimised headphone experience. The sound characteristics of any speaker system, headphone or free standing speakers will sounds different. No two pairs of headphones sound the same yet alone compared to speakers. We have spent a lot of time and many hours listening in developing our new headphone amplifier and I am sure you would enjoy the sound experience they offer. The retail price has not been fixed yet but I expect the retail price to be approximately £500."
TBH that's quite an unusual design, not many integrated amplifiers have a separate headphone stage. I would say 85% of them are just dropped off the main power stage. Explains why you can't drive you AKG's though.

fidelity audio said:
The problem with amplifier headphone outputs is that it is either taken straight from the output of the amp and dropped through resistors to lower the power, the amp is designed to power speakers in an open environment so the sound signature when played through headphones is not ideal.
?

fidelity audio said:
Sometimes the amplifier is fitted with a dedicated headphone circuit but this is usually a simple single opamp based output with shared voltage rails with the main amplifier output stage. Again not ideal.
Bit of generalisation here for sure. Is there something wrong with these power rails anyway.

fidelity audio said:
We have designed ours with over sized power supplies (this helps lower power rail noise)
These are different from the over-sized ones in your integrated amplifier which you just said were no good.

fidelity audio said:
dual mono output stages with a buffered final output drive, this enables the HPA headphone amps to drive pretty much any load.
The same as evey other headphone amplifier manufacturer then.......is this just a sales pitch.
I am very sorry but this is the reason why manufacturers do not post on forums! I am an engineer not a sales person, we do not even have a sales person working for us.

If anyone would like any help regarding any of the above please do not hesitate to ring Fidelity Audio.

Brent

I
 

Womaz

New member
Dec 27, 2011
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@Eggsontoast

I for one was very pleased that Brent come on here and contributed to the thread, so I do think its a little harsh to have a pop at him.

I learn so much from these forums, and people have to feel confident enough to reply.
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
451
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18,895
Womaz said:
@Eggsontoast

I for one was very pleased that Brent come on here and contributed to the thread, so I do think its a little harsh to have a pop at him.

I learn so much from these forums, and people have to feel confident enough to reply.
I didn't realise I was having a pop at him, must be of the sensitive nature. I think all manufacturers should participate in web discussions, it enables them to get good feedback and also squash any BS at source. They may even get design ideas or improvements for future products.

I just wanted him to expand a bit as there was some pretty big generalisations in his reply. Just because someone from the company posts on a forum doesn't mean the information is fact, at the end of the day they do want to sell units/services.

You have to admit that the last bit did sound like a sales pitch. Brent fully well knows that most headphone amplifiers are built designed to that format, even most integrated amplifiers have symmetrical layouts for left and right channels but share a common power supply.

Here's to Brent :cheers: It might make him feel better.
 

Inter_Voice

New member
Oct 5, 2010
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Womaz said:
@Eggsontoast

I for one was very pleased that Brent come on here and contributed to the thread, so I do think its a little harsh to have a pop at him.

I learn so much from these forums, and people have to feel confident enough to reply.
I am very grateful to Brent of Fid. Audio of clarifying the difference of DA-150 and HLLY DAC as well as providing his view on headphone amplifiers. I can understand what Brent had said about headphone amplifiers. TBH it is not easy to have a full debate on very technical issues by just expressing in a few lines here unless both parties have similar electronic knowledge. As Brent said if we have anything that we would like to discuss just give him a ring.

From my persoanl experience I can only say Fid. Audio and Leema Acoustics both provide very fast response to my enquiries. They are all UK companies and I have all the confidence in them.
 

Womaz

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Dec 27, 2011
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An update for anyone who is interested.

I popped in to my local dealer this morning and asked for ides on a headphone amp.

He gave me the Musical Fidelity M1 HPA to try for a week at home.

I dont need the week, it sounds really really good. I suppose it should as its over £600 for the amp and the interconnect :)

This is what I was looking for when I wanted to feel the wow factor for the amp....or I was just going to stick with the Arcam.

This immediately sounds much better in my opinion, and it will get even better once it is run in apparently, and after my experience with the AKGs I now believe in the "run in " philosophy.

So I am happy................for now :)
 

datay

New member
Nov 19, 2008
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The warmth of the MF M1 HPA will suit the AKGs well. Interesting to see you are now firmly in the "headphone amps are often necessary camp."

Given that, if I was spending £400+ I'd be looking at the Heed Canamp, lots of positive reports on synergy with K/Q701/2. Still, the MF M1 does also have a preout and usb input so you do get quite a bit for the money.
 

Inter_Voice

New member
Oct 5, 2010
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Womaz said:
An update for anyone who is interested.

I popped in to my local dealer this morning and asked for ides on a headphone amp.

He gave me the Musical Fidelity M1 HPA to try for a week at home.

I dont need the week, it sounds really really good. I suppose it should as its over £600 for the amp and the interconnect :)

This is what I was looking for when I wanted to feel the wow factor for the amp....or I was just going to stick with the Arcam.

This immediately sounds much better in my opinion, and it will get even better once it is run in apparently, and after my experience with the AKGs I now believe in the "run in " philosophy.

So I am happy................for now :)
Glad to hear you love the SQ of Musical Fidelity. It has also proved that a stand alone headphone amplifier sounds much superior than that from the phones of your integrated amplifier.

My Fidelity Audio HPA-200 is in the process of production and it should be ready for shipment this week. Will report its performance when in hand.
 

eggontoast

Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
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18,895
Er no, it just means he likes the sound of this amp.....and at £600 for a headphone amp you would sincerely hope it does sound good.

So you struggled to make any waves over on Head-Fi or even a ripple so you thought you would try over here instead lol
 

Womaz

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Dec 27, 2011
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I think eventaully after my short list become a long list and then a longer list....I decided to pop to local dealer and actually make some decisions.....I eventually did that, although it was supposed to be a weeks audition, but I like it that much its done and dusted.

I doubt I will use the pre out as I already have Arcam A85 and Arcam P85, so doubt I will benefit. The USB may get used in the future, when I understand all that stuff :)

Good luck with the Fid Audio too, as that was on my long and extra long list too :)

So in the end it was worth looking for a headphone amp , but I have had to spend £499 to get the sort of scale of improvement I was looking for. The £100 amp I actually thought sounded worse than my A85 headphone socket.

Looking forward to see if the M1 HPA gets better over the next week or so as that would be a real bonus.

Should I have spent more on my headphones I now wonder :)
 

Womaz

New member
Dec 27, 2011
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Egg on toast



RE: buying a dedicated headphone amp?

Er no, it just means he likes the sound of this amp.....and at £600 for a headphone amp you would sincerely hope it does sound good.

So you struggled to make any waves over on Head-Fi or even a ripple so you thought you would try over here instead lol

Not sure what you mean......this is the only forum I am on as I am not a hifi buff :)
 

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