Headphones matched to amp?

Discussion in 'Ask The Experts' started by MikeyD, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. MikeyD

    MikeyD Casual Listener

    Feb 8, 2012

    I have the original AKG K240 600 ohm headphones, my amp is an old Technics SU-A900 mark II with headphone output spec. 540mV/330 Ohm. I bought the AKG because I wanted something light, comfortable, and at the time needed an open back. However I never feel they provide the performance I need especially bass.

    My query: is the impedance of the headphone too high for the amp? If so should I purchase another pair of full size (lightweight+comfortable) headphones this time with closed back, budget up to £130, or is it effective to purchase a headphone amp with optical in/phono out?

  2. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

    Apr 28, 2010
    Hi MikeyD

    It is hard to say whether power is the real issue with your AKGs. In my experience AKG headphones are very much affected by the device that is driving them - some headphones feel almost the same no matter what amp is driving them - it is not necessarily the case that the amp isn't powerful enough it could just be a bad combination.

    If you have a really nice source, and it has the ability to give a digital output, a DAC is a great way to get a bit of an improvement into your system. Normally the greatest gain is in the detail and texture of the sound but they also tend to clean up the background by stopping some low level distortion.

    Closed back headphones normally have slightly elevated bass response and a closer more contemporary overall sound. The headphones dictate the maximum fidelity possible so I always urge people to spend the money here first and improve backwards towards the source. The source needs to be good if you are going to get anywhere but most people have something (laptop, decent CD player, nice MP3 player) which is pretty good. A laptop plus a decent DAC is a great way to get amazing quality sound for not much as most people have a laptop and DACs have really come down in price. Optical appears on less of the cheaper DACs - the Fiio D3 (which sound surprisingly good for £20) can be used in combination with amplifierd to give an optical connection, I would get a very nice cable to connect it to an amp though or you migh be losing more fidelity than you gain.

    If your source is a PC (or Mac) then this would be an excellent combo -

    Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO Closed Back Headphones 80Ω (DT 770)
    FiiO E7 Headphone Amplifier & USB Audio Decoder (DAC) in Black

    The headphone outputs in integrated amps are not normally that great - they are nearly without exception just stepped down from the main amp and perform badly in comparison to purpose built headphone amps.

    Let me know if that helps:)

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