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Headphone amplifier - B&W P5's

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Hi there,


this is my first post on this forum. This is my second day on the forum and normally I don't register quick on forums, but this one seemed to be very helpful and interesting. Not sure this is the right place for a headphone question, but I think it is.


I bought a pair of B&W P5's Headphones. I'm very pleased with them, better than other headphones I listened to: Sennheiser PMX 100, PX 100, HD238 Precision and Bose On Ear. Of course these are, except for the Bose al low-range headphones. On the other hand it's strange to hear the sound without 'bass enhancement' an all that. The only thing I don't like is that things sound flat, but that's in general for my Macbook. Not as flat as with the other headphones, but playing with the equalizer can make parts sound better. Although it does more worse than good. I downloaded the Amara Mini Player and I can hear a subtle but welcome difference. Of course that is a lot of money for a slight difference.


I was wondering what the exact function of a headphone amplifier is. Does it help driving the music or does it drives the music on its own instead of my Macbook Pro' soundcard or do I need an external soundcard for that? And is it going to make a big difference? Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased with my headphones, they are much better than the other ones I used and I needed headphones I can use with both my laptop and iPod. I just think there's more in it.


Hope I didn't say anything stupid.


Thanks , G.


Macbook Air (2011) /Playstation 3 —> Eastern Electric Minimax Dac Plus —> Naim Nait XS —> Dynaudio Focus 140

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Hi G - Headphone amplifiers are a must in my opinion. Better yet, a device like the Wavelength Audio Proton USB DAC & Headphone Amplifier is an awesome solution. I use one at a local tea shop all the time. The internal MacBook Pro amp and DAC are not even close to the quality gained from external devices.


A headphone amp alone will accept the analog signal from your Mac and amplify the level much better than the Mac's amplifier.


An external DAC alone would accept a digital signal from your Mac and convert is to analog. This can be considered an external sound card.


A combination external DAC and headphone amp does both and relieves the MacBook from these duties. This can also be considered an external sound card.


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...interesting. That is the answer I was hoping for.


So you say a headphone amplifier is a must and a DAC is optional but also increases sound quality.

Does a DAC has the same effect as an amplifier on the quality? I understand that most people used these two combined.


How much should I save to get some decent gear? And what connections are used? USB, Firewire, optical,...?


Thanks for the quick reply.




Macbook Air (2011) /Playstation 3 —> Eastern Electric Minimax Dac Plus —> Naim Nait XS —> Dynaudio Focus 140

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Hi !


I'm also very interessed in this headphone, but I haven't seen it anywere live, thus no way to test it before to buy, and I've already been so much dissappointed by headphones that I'm a bit scared, it's not really a cheap one...

You said it has a flat sound, that's good, but when you listen to music with deep bass or powerful medium, does it reproduce properly ?

Is it well closed ? Does it isolate from surrounding noise a bit or not at all ?

Have you already tried the Apple earphones (normal and in-ear), Koss PortaPro, Sennheiser HD280 Pro as well for my comparison ?

Is it as strong as it looks ? It gives an impression of solidity on the pictures I've seen, as the Koss PortaPro does.


Thanks !



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Well, I'm not really familiar describing how headphones sound.


Bass is softer than the other ones I tried.I tried both the Apple Ears, the ones delivered with the iPod and the in-ears. Both are horrible in my opinion.


The noise isolation is comparable to Bose On-Ear, it's passive isolation and it does this pretty good. I haven't use it in public spaces, so I'll tell you more about that as soon as I do.


For the deep bass. Could you give me an example of a sing with deep bass.


(I listen to rock: Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Rolling Stones, Metallica, Black Label Soctiey, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd.)


If you now a song in my library which would be proper to test it with, let me know, I'll try it.


You can test them in the Apple Store on Regent Street, but that's only in the U.K.




Macbook Air (2011) /Playstation 3 —> Eastern Electric Minimax Dac Plus —> Naim Nait XS —> Dynaudio Focus 140

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I'm listening everything, but I'm not sure that you would find deep bass in rock. Take a look here http://www.ninjatune.net/bonobo/eflyer.php there's a free track, it's kind of dub/drum&bass

I've already tried recently the Monster Beat Dr Dre Solo headphone, I was extremely dissappointed, it's fuzzy, there are no medium, only bass, and so were the V-Moda for iPhone, I've bought them, and sold them immediately...

You can also listen to the first track of the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, or to Big Blue Ball of Peter Gabriel (or any of his latest album, he's does a pretty well balanced music in term of sound).


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I noticed the deep bass you were talking about, although it's rather soft in that song.

If the first song of Slumdog Millionaire 'Jai Ho' is, I would say it's an ideal song to test them, very — I don't know how you say this — multidimensional(?) sound. You can recognize the instruments, it sound if you hear them individual instead of as one.


Macbook Air (2011) /Playstation 3 —> Eastern Electric Minimax Dac Plus —> Naim Nait XS —> Dynaudio Focus 140

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It's the right song yes ! Another of the same composer (A.R. Rahman) is the first song of the soundtrack of Inside Man (http://bit.ly/b0NIxI). It's really impressive on 5.1, percussions and bass are really powerful. It's not that impressive through a balanced headphone like my Sennheiser HD280Pro, I don't know how it sounds on the P5.

The more you talk about it, the more I want to order it. The only thing that stops me for instance, is following customer review on the mentionned store.apple.com/uk :


"But, and this is a big one for me, the headband is small so if you have a slightly larger head like myself then they are a uncomfortable to wear for prolong periods since it does not sit nicely on top if you want your ears to be properly covered. This is a real shame since it would have gotten the five stars which it no doubt deserves. Alas, if only they made the headband bigger. I recommend you try them on first before rushing to buy."


Do you confirm this ? I don't want you to reveal the whole world if you rather have a large or small head, but I would be interested to know how it fits ;-) I rather have a large head.


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Headroom.com makes their own amps and dacs designed from the laptop to the desktop as well as selling other makers. They also sell various headphones from many popular makers and various cables, too. They also have a return policy: I tried the Headroom Balanced Desktop Amp/Dac with Sennheiser 650 as well as AKG 701 (both balanced with Cardas cable). I kept the Amp and Senns and returned the AKGs. Cable: I use usb from the computer, optical from the satellite and coax from the cd player. There is so much out there to choose from, that this may be a good place to start.



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