You are here

Quality headphones and amplification

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Quality headphones and amplification

Postby smandersloot » Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:40 pm

I'm planning on investing in quality headphones, but I can't afford to buy a quality dedicated headphone amp right away. Any thoughts on using for example the Sennheiser HD650 with a Mackie Onyx Blackjack small desktop interface for mixing and also audio editing/mixing for video?
Thanks in advance!
smandersloot
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:00 am

Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:08 pm

The biggest gain in quality is in buying the HD650s. Well designed dedicated headphones amps can deliver a small and incremental improvement over most equipment's built-in headphone amps, but in most cases it's icing on a cake and an expensive luxury that only the most dediated will be happy to justify.

The HD650 is a fantasically good headphone and will work very well with your Onyx Blackjack.

Hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 16934
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby smandersloot » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:39 pm

hi Hugh,
Thanks for your reply. Glad to hear that buying 'just' the headphones is still worth the investment. I got scared by a few discussions on the internet stating otherwise.
smandersloot
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:00 am

Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby Guest » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:46 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:

The HD650 is a fantasically good headphone.....

Hugh

+1

Over the years I have fallen in love with these 'phones.
Guest

Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:50 pm

smandersloot wrote:I got scared by a few discussions on the internet stating otherwise.


I'm not surprised. There's a lot of BS about...

Modern headphone amp electronics are astonishingly good, and the technical, measurable differences between the ordinary budget stuff and the esoteric are vanishingly small. It's the law of diminshing returns -- pay more and things get better because of small improvements in power supplies, headroom, current capability and so on -- but only a tiny bit better. You might appreciate the difference if everything else in the signal path is perfect, or if the headphones are technically difficult to 'drive', but generally the improvements are negligible. The HD650 are not difficult to drive...

On the other hand, electro-mechnical devices like headphones are the weak links in the chain, and spending more money brings very obvious sonic improvements.

hugh
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 16934
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:26 pm

My own experience is that a good headphone amplifier can better the sound by what I would loosely quantify as 15pct in a worst case comparison (i.e.a JRC2068 run off of a USB power line), thats a worthwhile difference in clarity for critical audio listening.

I can see where Hugh is coming from because there are a lot of very expensive "audiophile" type products at £500.00 + but if you are willing to investigate you can find very good sounding products at around £200.00. Maybe that can be considered later on.

It is right that the headphones will make the larger difference.

SafeandSound Mastering
User avatar
SafeandSound Mastering
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1032
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:00 am
Location: London UK

Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby smandersloot » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:31 pm

Thanks for all of your advice! Meanwhile I've bought the HD650 and I'm very happy with them. I will definitely look into more affordable headphone amps soon, have you used an affordable amp in particular which you can recommend?

Stefan
smandersloot
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:00 am

Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:45 pm

I recently upgraded to a Lehmanaudio StudioCube which I'm enjoying and is an incremental step up from the headphone amp I was using in an Alesis mixer and also the headphone amp on my MOTO 8pre. But as Hugh says, these differences can be minor.

Bob
User avatar
Bob Bickerton
Frequent Poster
Posts: 2899
Joined: Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:00 am
Location: Nelson, New Zealand

Re: Quality headphones and amplification

Postby SafeandSound Mastering » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:15 pm

Hi there, the headphone amp I used required some modifications for various reasons so it is not an ideal recommendation to be honest.

You can also consider running a DAC/Headphone amplifier which is driven by a spare SP/DIF source if you have one. (though you then bring the fedelity ambiguities of clocking into the equation)

SafeandSound Mastering
music mastering
User avatar
SafeandSound Mastering
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1032
Joined: Sun Mar 23, 2008 12:00 am
Location: London UK


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests