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Amps? What role do they play?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
What purpose does an AMP have if you're just using headphones?

For example I'm buying Creative Titantium and Senheisser PC 350 Special Ed.

Do I need an AMP? Will it help any?

Thanks!
post #2 of 7
You're using an amp right now, you just don't realize it. What you're talking about is a dedicated headphone amp. Basically, a perfect amp should do nothing but amplify the signal from a DAC (digital-to-analog converter). Of course, an amp DOES degrade the sound, even if it's not audible. You only need a dedicated amp if the headphones you have are too inefficient to get sufficiently loud without one. Your current headphones would get no benefit from an amp. Anyone who tells you they noticed a difference in sound quality (a positive one, mind you) when using an amp with efficient headphones is falling victim to the placebo effect.
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockgod213 View Post

You're using an amp right now, you just don't realize it. What you're talking about is a dedicated headphone amp. Basically, a perfect amp should do nothing but amplify the signal from a DAC (digital-to-analog converter). Of course, an amp DOES degrade the sound, even if it's not audible. You only need a dedicated amp if the headphones you have are too inefficient to get sufficiently loud without one. Your current headphones would get no benefit from an amp. Anyone who tells you they noticed a difference in sound quality (a positive one, mind you) when using an amp with efficient headphones is falling victim to the placebo effect.

I see.

But the PC350 though, it would be a good idea to at least get a good Sound Card right?

I do have a Fatal1ty Z77 and it's supposed to have a built in THX sound card?
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by HaunteR View Post

I see.

But the PC350 though, it would be a good idea to at least get a good Sound Card right?

I do have a Fatal1ty Z77 and it's supposed to have a built in THX sound card?

The Creative Titanium you just bought is perfect for those headphones. It has a great built in DAC and should keep you set even if you upgrade headphones later on.
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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rockgod213 View Post

The Creative Titanium you just bought is perfect for those headphones. It has a great built in DAC and should keep you set even if you upgrade headphones later on.

Oh awesome thanks! thumb.gif
post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by HaunteR View Post

I see.

But the PC350 though, it would be a good idea to at least get a good Sound Card right?

I do have a Fatal1ty Z77 and it's supposed to have a built in THX sound card?

I would say the biggest reason for a sound card is virtual surround sound. Not exactly for better quality. There however is other features in good sound cards that improve your overall experience while playing games.
post #7 of 7
Depending on headphones, some might not get loud enough without a proper amplifier. Then again, some headphones that get loud enough but have a very varying impedance curve can suffer from an output with an impedance more than 1/8 of the headphone nominal impedance. In short, the too big output impedance and too low headphone impedance start interfering with how much voltage gets to the cans at what frequency, and the bad (too high) output impedance starts acting as a voltage divider just like resistors in series do.

Only magnetoplanar headphones are an exception, as they have a flat impedance curve. Then again they tend to be inefficient so you will need an amp anyway. In short, make sure your amp has an output impedance smaller than one eighth of your headphones nominal impedance, after that any improvement is diminishing results. There are amplifiers with near zero output impedance if you want to be sure you can drive any pair of cans or even custom in ear monitors.

And oh, some older headphones were designed to run on way bigger output impedances but you'll have to deliberately seek for them to run into one, so don't worry about that and just go for near zero, like the NwAvGuy Objective or FiiO E7, E17, E11, E9 and what have you.

Varying output impedances between amps would explain some weird ass theories about amps having different "sounds", when the reactive load of headphones tested will interact differently from amp to amp.
Edited by seepra - 5/16/13 at 9:52am
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