USB Audio Output Level for Ext. Headphone Amp.?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jazz1, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. jazz1 macrumors 65816

    jazz1

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Mid-West USA
    #1
    After checking Head-Fi I see that I probably don't have a good match between my headphone amp. and cans.

    I've got a Headroom Headphone Total Bithead mobile Amp., 2.66 MacPro, and Sennheiser HD650's (that are hard to drive). The amp. has a high and low gain switch. The low gain sounds better, but I can't get enough vol. when on low gain. I've got iTunes level up as high as it can go. I've played around with Sound prefs. and the Audio/Midi sound levels. They all seem to actually be the same vol. control.

    I also see that iTunes, under "Get Info" has an individual vol. adjustment, but I'm not sure if I really want the sound files to be pumped up for when I use them on my iPhone.

    Is there any other output control that I could tweak the vol. up so I could use the low gain setting. If not I guess I've got to RMA this and get the next amp. up the line.

    The Headroom Total Bithead sounds great with my Audio-Technica Quiet Points by the way. Of course they are pretty efficient compared to the Senns.
     
  2. whatisthe macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Location:
    CT
    #2
    You might want to consider upgrading your source i.e. a usb or optical DAC to use more of the 650's potential.

    If you push the volume output too high it will add distortion and the low gain+high volume would probably sound worse than just using the high gain setting.

    I have the 650's and they're not the most difficult phones to drive but you may need more power, I don't have any experience with headrooms amps.
     
  3. jazz1 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jazz1

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Mid-West USA
    #3
    Your probably right. The 650's were left overs from my high flying days with higher end, non-computer audio equipment. There is no free lunch as they say. The whole audio chain has to be good for good sound.

    I'm going to give Headroom a call on Monday and listen to their recommendations. I didn't really give them a picture of what I was working with.

    Thanks for the response.
     
  4. jazz1 thread starter macrumors 65816

    jazz1

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Location:
    Mid-West USA
    #4
    Found the Sweet Spot

    Well is fairness to Headroom I've got to amend my report. I found the "sweet spot" by using the high gain, dropping the Mac's output down to notches from full out, and notching up the Bithead's vol. up a tad over half-way. Less harsh, better low end.

    I certainly could live with this as it is a huge improvement. But, I am probably going to look into their higher end stuff Monday.
     
  5. whatisthe macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2008
    Location:
    CT
    #5
    I'm glad to hear you found a solution in the meantime while you're waiting to upgrade. While Headroom offers some excellent products and support, they always seemed to be a bit overpriced to me.

    Right now I'm using a Meier Audio Corda Opera as a usb DAC+Amp with my 650's and it sounds pretty darn good. I've read that the amp section shines a bit more than the DAC which makes me want to upgrade the DAC but I'm satisfied with it overall. It was recently updated to the Corda Symphony which is even better than the Opera.

    Good luck on your upgrades, maybe you'll even get the new senn HD800's :)
     

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