Why use a portable headphone amp? · Oct 1, 02:21 PM
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about amps, in fact there’s a lot of misunderstanding about audio in general, but I’ll concentrate on amps for now.
What does an amp do?
Well, the short answer is easy : it makes things louder. The problem is, that’s not all an amp will do. The better any audio equipment is, the less it does to the signal (other than increase volume) and conversely, the worse the equipment is the more it does to the signal (you’ll always see me say that your audio setup only ever sounds as good as the worst component).
The headphone jack that’s built into your portable player is basically designed to “do the job” – it will drive headphones, and in fact it will probably provide enough volume to almost any (except high end/inefficient/high impedance models) headphones, but the problem is that it will actually fiddle with the sound while doing so, resulting in less than optimal sound quality.
Some of what your average headphone jack does is reduce the dynamic range and add some distortion, which leads to things sounding less than ideal. A good headphone stage will provide nice clean power resulting in good volume and overall clarity, maintaining important things like dynamic range.
Now I’ll deviate off topic for a second to address another thing that a lot of people seem to think, or argue, and that’s “I can’t hear a difference”. Actually unless you have hearing damage it’s generally very easy to hear the difference between good and bad audio equipment. It gets more difficult when you’re comparing super high end stuff, but I’d be surprised at anyone who can’t hear the difference between stock ipod buds and something decent, and the same goes for headphones straight from a headphone out on an iPod vs a decent headphone amp.
Anyway, back on track.
If you’re going to buy decent headphones for your portable device, it’s well worth considering a portable headphone amp. Something like the Corda XXS is a fantastic place to start.
BUT WAIT! There’s no point adding an amp to an amp (the headphone out on portables has to have a small amp circuit so it can drive headphones), if you’re going to use a headphone amp you need to be running it from a lineout (if your source has one). If you’re an iPod user you’re probably in luck as you can just use a LOD adaptor such as the ZY Cable to bypass the headphone out on your ipod (iPod -> Zy Cable -> Portable amp -> Headphones -> Happy Ears).
The search for perfection is never over. Or as I once said (unintentionally), I’m working on being a perfectionist, but I’m not quite there yet.
Is it uncool to have good hearing? · Jul 31, 08:36 AM
“If it’s too loud, you’re too old” and “wearing hearing protection makes you look like a dork” are statements that we come across often.
So how cool do you think you’re going to be wearing a hearing aid in your mid 30s?
If you enjoy music now, would you like to continue to enjoy it in 20 years time? 30? Longer?
Sunglasses are considered a fashion accessory, but they serve a purpose : to protect your eyes, why is hearing protection “uncool”?
Earplugs are almost mandatory these days for pubs, clubs, live venues and the likes.
This graph gives you an idea of safe levels of weekly exposure:
It’s pretty frightening when you consider after about 9 minutes of exposure to “blues bar” levels you’re suffering permanent hearing damage.
Let’s just emphasise that word: permanent. That’s right; that ringing in your ears that lasted 3 days? That’s your ears way of saying “hey, we’ve never going to work as well as we did before that gig you were at the other night”.
Ok, so you hate wearing earplugs because they muffle the sound and it’s just not the same and you can’t hear anything properly etc.
Well, that’s because you’re probably using the wrong earplugs.
Enter the Etymotic ER-20. The ER-20 is designed to reduce frequencies as evenly as possible without reducing overall sound quality or clarity. This means if you use them at a concert, you can still hear the band clearly, and in some cases MORE clearly than without the earplugs, but at a lower and safer volume level.
As for how much safer – that 9 minutes it was safe for becomes more than an hour.
We’ve tested these many times, and every single time the concert/pub/club etc is much more enjoyable with the ER-20 than it is without.
As for being “uncool” the ER-20 are low profile enough to hardly be noticed, to add to this when an attractive member of the opposite sex approaches you and offers to buy you a frosty beverage of your choice, you’ll actually be able to hear what they’re saying ;)
In 20 years time you’ll be listening to your favourite album thinking “I’m so glad I can still enjoy this album, thanks Headphonic!”.
Headphonic was established in 2002 and is responsible for bringing brands like Etymotic, Alessandro, Talisman and Meier Audio to the Australian market. Not only do we have the largest range of headphones and related accessories in Australia, we are TRUE experts and know just about all the products we sell inside out!
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