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Old 11-26-2009, 04:20 AM
EddieE's Avatar
EddieE EddieE is offline
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Default Is A Proper Headphone Amp Justified With My Headphones?

Something I'm interested in is a proper portable headphone amp. Not to say the E5 isn't a "proper" amp, but you know what I mean. I've been doing some research and it's quite confusing sometimes.

If you browse headfi it might seem you absolutely need one, but those guys are hard-core, many others will say they make little difference, unless your headphones really need one. I don't think any of mine do, so will it really do much to the sound any of my headphones (see signature)?
I hold my hands up to not knowing much about all this technical stuff, but I'm doing my best to learn; all that is really important to me is making the sound quality on my music collection as good as is possible with the funds I have.

If the answer is yes, it would improve things SQ wise, which of the following would you most recommend, or do you have other reccomendations? There always seem to be headphone amps for sale on head-fi classified so if I knew which amps were good I could probably save some money.

iBasso D2
I really like the look of this, especially as it is also a DAC and most of my music collection is on a harddrive. Also has a two position gain switch, like I said I don't know much about this stuff, but does this mean you can increase/decrease the amplification of current so you get less sibilance with phones that need less power? Or am I getting this wrong? Has a rechargeable battery too. All in all this looks like a pretty good option, and am leaning heavily towards it, it's reasonably priced compared to a lot of the amps out there at £170 odd.

Corda Headsix
Limited edition but the Meier site still lists it so I'm guessing he still has some left. This is a much cheaper option at £130 odd and I've heard a lot of good things about it. It doesn't have a dac though. No gain switch either, but it's what you expect for the price. What I don't like is, if I have it right, this doesn't have a built in rechargable battery.

Corda 3 Move
Meiers model with a DAC comes in at pretty much the highest I'd spend - £205 odd. As far as I can see it has no gain switch but it does have "natural crossfeed" which sounds interesting and makes sense when I read the rundown on it. To be honest the lack of a built in rechargable battery is really turning me off the Corda models.

Pico Amp / Headamp AE-2
Both on the same site, both with gain switches (the pico with 2 positions and the headamp with 3 positions), both the same price, both with rechargeable batteries. Which of these is better? Both are at the limit of what I'd spend - £200 odd - are they worth it when the iBasso D2 offers a DAC as well for £30 less? To get the pico with a DAC included is £300! Why the expense and is it worth it?

The other option is the as-yet-unreleased Pico Slim - very appealing in terms of size, battery life and touted suitability for IEMs as well as cans. Something tells me it's going to cost more than the regular Pico though, so that could push it well over budget.

Finally a wildcard option - this guy in London is an electronics engineer and selling his own version of the cmoy on ebay and claims it performs to the same standard as the sort of amps listed above. A sales pitch or does it sound like the guy knows what he's talking about? Just an amp - no DAC. No gain switch or anything like that but it's clearly very well built and put together from the pictures. Basic model is £58, but he offers a choice of three different opamps the best quality being a AD8620 which brings the cost to £71. That's a big saving on the other options if this is any good: dioTVElectronics_HomeAudioHiFi_Amplifiers?hash=ite m20adf16e9e

EDIT: He also sells a dual op amp option which looks pretty tasty:

£70 with two OPA134
£85 with two AD8610

In regular use...
Sansa Clip +|Foobar2k|FiiO E7, E9, A1|Stax SRM-XH|beyerdynamic N1000
Stax SR303|YamaLux HP-1|beyerdynamic ET1000|Ultrasone HFI-780|Phonak Audeo PFE112

Last edited by EddieE; 11-26-2009 at 05:04 AM.
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