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Blind Virtual Audition of Several Headamps
Blind Virtual Audition of Several Headamps
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View Poll Results: Which amp provides the presentation that you like the best ?
A 1 5.00%
B 7 35.00%
C 1 5.00%
D 1 5.00%
E 2 10.00%
F 4 20.00%
G 2 10.00%
H 2 10.00%
Voters: 20. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 6th February 2017, 05:30 AM   #1
xrk971 is offline xrk971  United States
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Blind Virtual Audition of Several Headamps
Default Blind Virtual Audition of Several Headamps

Update Jan 8, 2017 - person who identifies the most clips with its respective amp gets a free Pocket Class A Headamp as a prize. Details here.


I have collected over a dozen headamp builds over the past few months, always in search of the ultimate sounding one. I frequently get asked via PM, which one is my favorite, or which one do I think is the best. Following a similar approach that I took over in the Fullrange Speaker forum for blind testing of speaker drivers using mp3 files recorded with the setup, I present here, the recorded sound clips of 8 different headamps for you to listen to.

They were all recorded using the same setup, same source, level matched to within 0.5dB, and using the same 270ohm resistive load meant to simulate my DT880-250 headphones.

The signal was provided and recorded by a Focusrite Scarlett Solo 2G audio interface running at 48kHz and 24-bit wit the conversion to a 320kbit mp3 file done by Audacity.

The clip is an mp3 of Anne Bisson's September in Montreal (45 seconds long).

So the idea is that everything in the chain is constant except the DUT (device under test). So whatever you hear that sounds different has to be the result of the changes in the DUT.

Here is a photo of all the amps lined up on the bench getting tested.

Click the image to open in full size.

From left to right (far left box in red is Focusrite Solo 2G audio I/O unit):

1. Agdr's Super CMOY 1688,
2. my Pocket Class A,
3. a brand new Fiio A5 (Muses02/LME49600 based),
4. Aksa's CFP with BF862-2SA1837,
5. SRPP with 4 pairs of BF862,
6. Salas' DCG3,
7. Aksa's CFP with BF862-BD140, and
8. Juma's BF862 preamp paired with an LU1014D source follower with an IRFP240 cascode.

Most of the amps can be found in the following threads:

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/solid...r-headamp.html

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/headp...hout-heat.html

OPA1688 Super CMOY, 2x 9V with real ground and headphone relay - PCBs

MOSFET follower headphone amplifier

The sound clips are labeled only as A, B, C,.. H and will remain anonymous until the poll is over. The poll just asks you the simple question: "Which amp provides the presentation that you like the best?"

Also included is the reference mp3 source used for the test.

You need to change the extension .asc to .mp3 to listen.

Have fun...

EDIT Jan 7, 2017: Please use the sound clip for B found here - the one in Post 1 has an error (clipping artifacts).


Spoiler Alert: answer key here.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Amp-Comparo-Setup-Photo-1.jpg (85.6 KB, 2920 views)
Attached Files
File Type: asc Amp-A-Clip-1.asc (1.72 MB, 198 views)
File Type: asc Amp-B-Clip-1.asc (1.72 MB, 115 views)
File Type: asc Amp-C-Clip-1.asc (1.72 MB, 120 views)
File Type: asc Amp-D-Clip-1.asc (1.72 MB, 102 views)
File Type: asc Amp-E-Clip-1.asc (1.73 MB, 97 views)
File Type: asc Amp-F-Clip-1.asc (1.72 MB, 104 views)
File Type: asc Amp-G-Clip-1.asc (1.73 MB, 91 views)
File Type: asc Amp-H-Clip-1.asc (1.71 MB, 97 views)
File Type: asc Headamp-Compare-Reference-Clip-1.asc (1.72 MB, 94 views)

Last edited by xrk971; 2nd March 2017 at 11:42 PM.
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Old 6th February 2017, 06:29 AM   #2
Max Headroom is offline Max Headroom  Australia
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According to Foobar peak meter file B is significantly higher level than the others.
One of the others (D ?) is slightly higher level too.

Dan.
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Old 6th February 2017, 06:36 AM   #3
xrk971 is offline xrk971  United States
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Blind Virtual Audition of Several Headamps
That's strange because I applied -0.5dB (forced final peak value) amplification on all files when processing. Let me look at it - thanks.
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Old 6th February 2017, 06:39 AM   #4
Max Headroom is offline Max Headroom  Australia
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Location: West Australia, near to the beach, natural ambient sounds mostly.
I'm talking about the initial few seconds, I didn't scan all the way through or open the files in an editor.
What was your process please, you may be doing it wrong.

Dan.
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Old 6th February 2017, 07:08 AM   #5
weitian is offline weitian  Taiwan
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What I will be hearing, is the effect of your amps on a pure resistive (270R) load, super-impose on my headphone amp driving my headphones.

Rating amps by such virtual audition is inaccurate, to say the least .
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Old 6th February 2017, 07:14 AM   #6
AKSA is offline AKSA  Australia
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Inaccurate how, Weitian?
From the point of THD, yes.
From the point of music, rather than sound, is it meaningful?

HD
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Old 6th February 2017, 07:40 AM   #7
weitian is offline weitian  Taiwan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKSA View Post
Inaccurate how, Weitian?
It doesn't say anything about how those amps would drive reactive loads;
It doesn't tell if the amps may oscillate or not;
If those amps are bass light and my amp is base heavy, it ends up being right, impacting music perception;

Quote:
Originally Posted by AKSA View Post
From the point of music, rather than sound, is it meaningful?
Definitely not for me, but we can disagree on this if you insist.
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Old 6th February 2017, 07:43 AM   #8
nicoch58 is offline nicoch58  Europe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weitian View Post
Rating amps by such virtual audition is inaccurate, to say the least .
well build all amp and test for yourself !
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Old 6th February 2017, 07:44 AM   #9
AKSA is offline AKSA  Australia
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Never any point in trying to change a man's point of view when he thinks he is correct......!!

BTW, this is driving headphones, not speakers. The reactance issues, excepting electrostatics, are not so important.

Cheers,

HD
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Old 6th February 2017, 07:52 AM   #10
abraxalito is offline abraxalito  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Headroom View Post
According to Foobar peak meter file B is significantly higher level than the others.
Subjectively B sounds louder.
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