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Old 16th July 2010, 03:29 AM   #1
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Default Buget Headphoneamp/Headphones

Hello all,

After experimenting with a small headphone amp called the "headbanger", I realized the importance of using a external headphone amp along with my computer and Ipod.

About a year ago i bought a pair of Bose in-ear headphones, It was my first taste of acceptable sound coming from a pair of headphones, at that time I hardly knew anything at all. One year later, I'm still using these headphones, Only with a new jack and hockey tape everywhere, I think it's time for a change. I've been playing arround with DIY audio for about a half a year so far (and general audio research), and i believe i have the experience to create my own headphone amp(and get some new cans).

I've looked at a couple of examples from AMB labs, DIYfourms and others. My budget is around $500(CAD), I should note that I am a student going into grade 12 and currently saving for higher education. I normally listen to Light rock to Metal (Dave Matthews band to Opeth). I don't particular know what headphones I would need to get in-order to get the optimum quality in this area.

As for headphone amps, I've complied a small list of the possibles:
-M3
-B22
-Starving student (I heard that it may damage sources, is this true?)
-Millett Hybrid MiniMAX

These are the only ones that have really impressed me, Visually, or I can only remember these at the moment, I'm open to suggestions...

For headphones, I've mostly been looking at brands like:
-AKG
-Grado Labs (I'd have to travel across the boarder to get these at a "Proper" price)
-Sennheiser
-Audio technica

I'm not quite sure how to narrow the results, Or how to discover other headphones that should deserve my attention, other then ask other people and there valuable opinions.

Thanks,
Kurts

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Old 16th July 2010, 05:05 AM   #2
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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I would suggest the Senn HD600 won't bust your budget and will put you firmly in "audiophile quality" headphones - they are basically competent and not strongly "colored"
I wouldn't get caught up in buying headphones for particular genre - you can always apply equalization to linear, low distortion headphones without big frequency response holes if you really need the emphasis

the HD600 can be driven competently by some DIP op amps so even the simplest DIY amp could be fine - I would like to see > +/-10 V of clean drive, requiring >30 mA output current

"Multiloop" IC or discrete buffer inside a op amp feedback loop would be the next possible quality step that is also a easy DIY project

see HeadWize Library - Projects

you could go to headfi.org and get many more subjective opinions but I would urge you to realize there is much enthusiasm but little justification of their dominant "just listen" rabid (and naive) subjectivism


(I predict this thread won't reach page 2 without someone complaining +/-10 V into HD600 "will make you deaf" - these people really should look up "dynamic headroom" - excellent recordings, capturing live event dynamics, can have 20 dB peak to average SPL range - no amplifier clipping with audiophile recordings seems very little to ask)

Last edited by jcx; 16th July 2010 at 05:13 AM.
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Old 16th July 2010, 09:16 PM   #3
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Default Thanks for the reply Jcx,

I think I'll try my luck at Headfi, I understand that this isn't the best place for more DIY Headphones/Amps (Not DIY headphones ).

Thanks for the tips for the headphone amp, A did quite a bit of research about dynamic headroom and looked up product reviews for the HD600's.

I'll keep researching,
Thanks!
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Old 17th July 2010, 09:00 PM   #4
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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An alternative view to that given by jcx:
It's worth while remembering that most folks listen at 70 - 80 dB, so if you do too then peaks of +25 are never going to take you above 105 dB. So why bother creating an amp that will allow your 'phones to reach 120 db when you will either never need it or need it for only 0.01% of your time. Your choice of course.

Regarding 'phones it is difficult to say, although I always find Grados uncomfortable. Certainly the HD600 is fine, as is the HD650. If you intend to use them for any length of time the comfort aspect is obviously going to be important, so buying something that you have tried and found comfy is better than buying blind on the recommendation of others.

To your list of amps consider adding the Cavalli-Kan Kumisa 3 (The Cavalli-Kan Kumisa III Stereo Headphone Amplifier). It is a neat open-loop design that works well.

Finally, if you choose 'phones that are quite sensitive, and have a source that can kick out 2V RMS, then you may not actually need voltage amplification, just impedance conversion. In which case look up 'source follower'. Here is a good thread: http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/headp...amplifier.html . You could try the simple circuit in post #1, or be a bit more adventurous and look to the circuit in post post #27.


Good luck.
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Old 17th July 2010, 10:31 PM   #5
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Default Thanks Gordy,

I was putting an order together on AMB for a mini3(for a friend), I'll give the Cavalli-Kan Kumisa 3 a go, I'm not in a huge rush to get parts. Expect it to be done some three to six months from now

I thought that most sources output 2Vs. I will mostly use my PC for audio, from there I will have the possibility to use a external DAC (using SPDIF) or use the internal soundcard. I was also going to make somekind of LOD for my ipod, unfortunately It's almost impossible to get digital out for it.

I'll attempt to see if i can listen to some HD 600's, I might do that after i get i finish the headphone amp. I wont try to keep a one track mind looking for just the HD 600's though. The more the merrier.

Thanks,
Kurtis
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Old 17th July 2010, 11:03 PM   #6
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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I do listen direct from computer or iPod with Sony SA5000, with lower Z and higher sensitivity they match lower V source unamped better than the HD600

but they are a little pricier and have some frequency response oddities - the very polarized love or hate opinion range on the SA5000 at head-fi may be justified
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Old 20th July 2010, 03:40 AM   #7
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The Sony SA5000 is only $351.18USD on amazon as opposed to the $699.99 on the sony style website.

Does anyone have any impressions for the AKG 701's? From what read, the seem to need to be burned in.
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Old 21st July 2010, 02:17 AM   #8
jcx is offline jcx  United States
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The K701 really need amplification - you shouldn't be happy listening direct from your iPod or PC motherboard heaphone out

due to low sensitivity they need both more V and I than many headphones
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Old 21st July 2010, 03:16 AM   #9
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Once I build a phenomenal headphone amp I will most likely never go unamped again

The CK2III, M3 and beta 22 have been mentioned many times in the same sentence as K701. I just need to decided between the three which i want to build, It seems that all three can drive any kind of headphone. The CK2III is most defiantly the easiest to build of the three, but i don't know if it's worthwhile to step up to the M3 or the beta 22... I generally don't like the design of the M3 for some reason, I'd rather build a 2 channel beta 22. The only downside is the beta 22 is expensive and a very large project...

I hope I'm not going overboard on this...
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Old 21st July 2010, 04:01 AM   #10
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I think you need to take more of a stepping tone before taking a leap like that..

bose in ear headphones are basically crap in comparison to all the other headphones you've mentioned.

Furthermore, you need to realize that the K701 and the HD600 are VERY VERY VERY (VERY) different.

Be sure to do all your research. I recommend you make some posts over at head-fi.org, where you will get better results in relation to these topics.


Furthermore, I may be ignorant, but I don't see many people with 2 channel beta22's... and most that do get them, end up selling them off in favor of 3 or 4 channel setups.
I would recommend you make a smaller amp... Maybe a millet (if you go with the K701's) before making something like the beta22.

Last edited by nullstring; 21st July 2010 at 04:04 AM.
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