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Headphone amps of media players

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Headphone amps of media players

Postby Anonymous » Wed May 01, 2013 12:05 am

I've recently been comparing the headphone outs of my iPod, cd Walkman through headphones and speakers.

My question is how do they deal with the audio signal and how are cheaper ones differ
from the more expensive ones?

The first generation iPod produces some great mid range sounds when put through an expensive amp and Martin audio speakers whereas my Sony cd Walkman D NE800, is absolutely beautiful in all ranges over my sound MDR Headphones (a very balanced sound). Further to that a couple of cheap cd Walkmans are quite harsh and fluffy in the bass.
How is the sound affected by the amps?

Is there any info on how these are built and what they look like?


Re: Headphone amps of media players

Postby The_BPP » Wed May 01, 2013 7:18 am

The iPod uses a Wolfson DAC, if I remember. These are quite reasonable for a portable device, but the compromise will always be the limited power available to them.

If you're wishing to listen to your iPod through an external amp, your best bet is to buy a compatible external DAC.
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Re: Headphone amps of media players

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Wed May 01, 2013 11:21 am

Music Manic wrote:How is the sound affected by the amps?

It's about everything that makes up good analogue circuit design, really. The DAC employed will make some difference, especially if you are talking about a very early CD walkman before the days of delta-sigma DACs, but in general the DAC performance will exceed the analogue circuitry performance and isn't the weak link at all.

The problem with the analogue circuitry in something like an iIPod is that the power supply capacity is pretty limited, and so the circuitry has to be desigend to run on very low power levels. The power rail voltages aren't usually very high, which limits headroom, and the available current is low too. Feeding an external preamp with a line level signal is easier than driving headphones, but often the only output is through the headphone socket and an often less than stellar headphone amp stage!

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