Yet another headphone thread

To update, I ended up using a tiny bit of gel super glue on the HD 428 in order to securely attach the adapter to the headphone. It makes a perfectly solid connection now. I also put a touch on the wire inside to alleviate stress on the solder job (I'm still a bit surprised my solder job is working perfectly). All in all, it was worth the small amount of time, and I should get some more life out of the headphones.

JRiver, my AKG K702s, and my Maverick Audio D2/A1 combo are working perfectly and are everything I hoped they would be. I'm really happy with everything. The only issue I had was some stuttering/distortion occurring when I started songs using JRiver. Restarting the song once or twice would fix this. I asked Jeff-66 about it, and fortunately he had encountered the exact same problem. So, he saved me some research time by telling me to switch from WASAPI digital output to WASAPI - Event Mode digital output. That fixed the problem.

The only thing I have left to do is hook up the bookshelf speakers I got to the D2/A1, but I'm going to have to wait for a bigger table or till I put a shelf up on the wall.

Edit: Well, I became impatient and hooked up the bookshelf speakers to the Maverick A1. I am extremely surprised at how much power the little amp has. I can't even turn it up halfway before it gets to loud usually. 1/3 up seems to be about right. I tried listening to my lossless rip of The Beatles - Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band - A Day in the Life, and it sounds pretty darn good. The bass is nice and punchy like it should be, but not overwhelming for my little room in an apartment. If I don't have anything playing, I can turn the volume knob about 2/3 of the way up before I hear any hiss or anything which is good. All in all, I'm pleased. They'll be great once I get my desk/shelf situation sorted. I do have a question about amp/speaker power.

The specs on the amp's speaker power output are:

20 watts per channel (into 8 ohms), 40 watts per channel (into 4 ohms)

The specs on the speakers are:

POWER HANDLING: 40W continuous / 200W peak

Does anyone know how that works? My little amp should be outputting 20 W per channel at 8 ohms to the speakers, and they can still get ridiculously loud. Is there more distortion or something at loud volumes when the amp's power output is so low? I imagine it's a complicated answer, but if anyone wants to have a go at it, I would love to hear some information.

Amp power is almost all marketing. You don't actually need 100 watts per channel, not even close.

Why? Human hearing is logarithmic. For a sound to be perceived as twice as loud, it takes ten times as much actual energy delivered to whatever's making the sound. That means to double the apparent volume on a 100 watts per channel amplifier, you need a thousand watts per channel. Conversely, if you power the speakers with just 10 watts per channel, the volume will be about half as loud -- and it's still quite loud.

20 watts per channel is more than enough for normal volume levels. The biggest thing to worry about is clipping, which can damage speakers. Just play it at normal levels, and you're fine. If you like to listen really loud, well, don't... put a bigger amp on it first.

It's even better if you have a powered subwoofer; bass takes most of the energy to reproduce. With a good powered sub, you need very little speaker power. 5 watts per channel would probably be enough for most uses.

Oh, I should also say that part of the reason you're detecting the volume as being 'too loud' is because the amp is being driven to clipping. If you had a bigger amp, you could probably run it at the same real volume levels without it SOUNDING LIKE it was as loud. Same overall sound pressure level from both, but the clipping amp will sound loud, where the non-clipping amp won't.

As long as the music sounds good to you, in other words, you're fine.

Malor wrote:

As long as the music sounds good to you, in other words, you're fine.

That was my conclusion. I had assumed the little amp would be just fine, but I was curious how the power worked. Thanks for the info!

I donated ten bucks or so to the guy who made EAC awhile back, and I just received an email of thanks! I'm sure he's got a big old list of emails, but I'm still surprised he'd make the effort. He's a rad guy!

Having used the modmic for a while now, I give it a big thumbs up. I still think it's a little over priced, but it works great.

Edit: It seems Ryan's suggestion fixed the problem. Only read the wall of text if you are bored and interested. The apparent solution is at the bottom.

Well, I have a doozie of a problem. I started noticing some noise in the Maverick A1 headphone amp, it's very faint and occurs at low and high volumes. It's a slight static and then a faint beep every 5 seconds or so. I don't know if it was there initially, or if I just started noticing it. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there before. I've done extensive troubleshooting, and rather than repeat what I've already put in my support ticket, I'll just quote it.

Me: I recently bought a D2 and an A1 (Order #******). I've been using AKG K702 headphones and Klipsch WB-14 Icon – W Series bookshelf speakers with the combo.

First off, when the unit arrived, and I hooked everything up, one of the tubes was not getting power. Assuming that the tubes had shifted out of place or something during shipping, I popped the top off of the A1 and made sure everything was seated okay. I barely even touched the tube that wasn't getting power (not with bare hands), I plugged it in and everything was fine. I've been using it for a couple weeks now, and I just noticed a problem. At low volumes and high volumes, I can hear a slight click/beep combination every 5 seconds or so. It's almost inaudible. At high volumes it's a little more noticeable. I can also hear a bit of noise in between the click/beeps especially at higher volumes. It's quiet enough not to be noticeable when playing music, but when it's not playing anything it's very noticeable. It will come through both the speakers and the headphones, so I'm guessing it doesn't have to do with the tubes because I was under the impression that those are a separate solid state circuit from the headphone amp. I've tried powering off the DAC and leaving the A1 on, and the problem still occurs without any analog input. When I unplug the RCA cords from the headphone amp, it stops. I've tried 3 different RCA cords, so I don't think that's the issue, plus with the DAC off, there shouldn't be any analog input into the A1. I tried placing a microphone by the headphones to record the issue, but it's very subtle and I don't own a good microphone at the moment unfortunately.

I really like everything else about the purchase, but this slight beeping and noise is driving me crazy. Is this a problem that has occurred with other people? Are there any steps I can take to fix it?

Me: I did some further testing to see if it was possible that there is some device interference. I took the A1 into another room (without electronic devices) with the headphones and RCA cables plugged in. I didn't hear the noise when I did that. Are there wireless devices that can interfere with headphone amps? Is it a common problem? This probably isn't a question for you guys, but since I've gone this far, I figured I'd ask. I've got the A1 sitting on top of the D2 on my desk with my PC underneath.

I think the A1 is probably fine, but any advice would be appreciated.

Them: Interference is hard to diagnose. Sometimes it comes from the power source, sometimes it comes from the electronics devices.
Since you can not hear noise in another room, will you be able to find some audio devices to hook the A1 up to see if there is any noise from it?

- There is one way you can try:
- The power cord comes with the A1, you see two flat pins and one round pin. If you can find a power cord with only two flat pins (no ground pin), you can try that power cord. If not, you can use pillars to get rid of the round pin. It will cut the ground line, and possible to cut the interference from the power source.

Let me know and I will help you further.

Me: Thank you for the quick response! I continued testing it last night and tried leaving the D2 and A1 on while shutting off my desktop computer (right below the table where the D2 and A1 are sitting). Once the desktop computer powered off, there wasn't any noise at all. Earlier, I had tried unplugging the wireless internet adapter to see if that was causing the issue. It did not seem to have an effect. So, I believe something else in my desktop PC is causing interference. As they sit, the A1 and D2 are about a foot and a half away from my PC. I'm going to try using a longer USB cord this evening to see if moving the A1 and D2 to the other side of my desk will be far enough to get rid of the noise. Moving them will give about 4-5 feet of distance between the units and my PC. If that doesn't work, I'll try taking it to another room and hooking it up to a laptop just to see what happens.

I will let you know what my results are in case this issue comes up with someone else.

Me: I tried moving the A1 and D2 to the other side of my desk so they are about 4 or 5 feet from my desktop tower. I still have the noise problem when they are at that location.

I then took the A1 and D2 out to the kitchen and hooked them up to a laptop. The unit is perfect in that situation and completely silent when there isn't anything playing. I must say, I'm stumped. I think it must be something in the desktop tower that is interfering with the amp. Is it possible that the power supply is interfering with it? Maybe it's the HDDs? I know those have a magnetic component to them, but I wouldn't think it would be a problem. I've tried removing the wireless adapter, and that didn't make a difference. Also, it seems the wireless adapter in my laptop did not interfere with the unit. Has this occurred to anyone else? Can you think of any other possible causes?

Me: I forgot to mention that I haven't tried removing the ground pin on the power cord. I will see if I have an extra one lying around that I can use.

Ryan has been very quick to respond and helpful, so no complaints there. If anyone has any ideas, I would appreciate it. I'm grasping at straws here. I guess I'll try removing the ground pin on a power cord to see if that fixes the issue.

Edit: Whoops! Well, cancel the question, removing the ground pin on the power cord actually seems to have worked! I should have done that from the start. I'm dumb. I'm not picking up any noise anymore. Hopefully that continues to be the case.

Question: Have any of you had issues with the band on your Senns breaking? The lower portion on the right side cracked all the way through on mine today.

For reference, it looks like this:


However, with mine, the crack has gone horizontal across the width.

I would suggest replacing the 555s with some AKG K702s. That's a bummer. The 428s that I have feel like there are a lot of plastic parts that could very easily break, but those are on the cheaper end of Sennheiser. For me, the cord was the thing that died (see previous posts). You could at least email Sennheiser support to see if there's anything they can do. It's worth a shot.

Those are a bit rich for my blood As for the headband, they're still in warranty, but I don't know that I want to deal with that hassle. I'll probably wind up supergluing it back together.

AnimeJ wrote:

Those are a bit rich for my blood As for the headband, they're still in warranty, but I don't know that I want to deal with that hassle. I'll probably wind up supergluing it back together.

That plus soldering ended up being my solution on the 428s. Hurray for super glue! It's...super.

I don't know if it's true of the lower-end headphones or not, but on at least the better cans, you can order every single piece individually from the Sennheiser website.

Malor wrote:

I don't know if it's true of the lower-end headphones or not, but on at least the better cans, you can order every single piece individually from the Sennheiser website.

Drivers and the cord only for these, sadly.

I decided to take some glamour shots today.











I am still absolutely loving my setup. Everything about it is perfect for me. Thin_J, have you looked into the lifespan of vacuum tubes? I know they will have to be replaced eventually, but I'm curious how many years I will get. Both the A1 and D2 have tubes in them (I don't use the ones in the D2 because it's a preamp circuit, but they still power on). I tend to leave the units on all night because I like to listen to music as I fall asleep. I would estimate that the units are on 14 hours per day on average.

I just want to know if I should buy some replacements from Maverick in case the current ones crap out 2 years down the road. I know I could get them other places, but I like the current ones and would like to have a backup just in case. They tend to offer different ones as they sell out, and I imagine that the ones I have will be gone pretty soon.

Different tubes will have different lifespans depending on the application, but I've seen quotes at around 5,000 hours average for the tubes in my Little Dot.

Thin_J wrote:

Different tubes will have different lifespans depending on the application, but I've seen quotes at around 5,000 hours average for the tubes in my Little Dot.

Good to know. I'll definitely stock up on some tubes then.

I'm totally jelly.

But since I've got a pair of V-Moda Crossfade M-80's coming in tomorrow, I think I'll be ok.

As a kid, we had a tube TV that seemed to break about, oh, once a year. My father would take all the tubes out of the TV, take them down to a tube test machine in the local drugstore, and buy whatever needed replacing. And that would fix it for a year. So they definitely do wear out, but it's not that intrusive, and they were very cheap to replace... I remember them as being something like a dollar in the mid to late 70s.

When/if you do need tubes, you can get most of them at The Tube Store. I already have a full set of spares for my Little Dot from there.

Any thoughts on the Asus Xonar Essence STX? I'm thinking about a tax return treat for myself. I'm running HD-555 right now for headphones.

Hemidal wrote:

Any thoughts on the Asus Xonar Essence STX? I'm thinking about a tax return treat for myself. I'm running HD-555 right now for headphones.

Aren't 555's easy to drive?

Oooooo nice glamor shots tuffalo.

It's an excellent sound card with a good headphone amp. It will sound absolutely marvelous.

You don't need the dedicated amp, however, to drive 555s, and honestly, you'd probably get just about the same perceptible sound quality on a regular $70 Xonar DX. You'd probably find it impossible to differentiate the two cards on 555s, and the DX is much cheaper. Plus, you can actually use it as a real 7.1 soundcard.

Pairing an Essence with 555s, in other words, is overspending on electronics, and underspending on the headphones. You'd probably only want an Essence if you were doing 600-class Senns or better. If you're not buying high-impedance cans, don't worry about a headphone amp.

600s are in the future as well, just not for a few of months. I like to buy things once and not do the step at a time. My thoughts being, I buy this now and I don't have to think about what headphones I connect to it in the future. I go with the DX and then I may need an amp or the Essence if I get some high-impedance cans later on.

A typical A/V reciever will run the HD555 fine. I was always happy with the result when listening to music and playing games.

Well, if you're headed for 600s, then yes, the Essence would be an excellent purchase. If you want to game through the same card, you could look into a DX or D2X with an external amp -- the D2X in particular is more or less a 7.1 channel version of the Essence, minus headphone amp.

But it'd probably be a little cheaper to just buy the Essence, and then use motherboard sound for gaming. That hardly ever has to sound all that great.

Obviously my ears aren't used to the sound signature yet, but I can just tell that I'm going to love these...


Nice jollyeskimo!

I love the way the V-Moda's look. If I ever end up in the market for another pair of closed cans, maybe to replace the aging 280 Pro's I keep in my laptop bag, they'll be on the short list.

Thankfully my 280's are still perfectly fine.

I'm actually surprised by how subtle the red accents are on the M-80's, given how red all V-Moda's ads/publicity material are. That was probably one of the bigger concerns as far as aesthetics go as there was absolutely no way to see/test them in person before buying a pair.

These are almost like a closed and "tankier" version of my previous Alessandro MS-1's, much more revealing than the the Alessandros without the sibilance, and almost as wide a soundstage. Will need to do some more A-B comparisons, but I'm very pleased so far.

Toms Hardware just reviewed some headsets, pretty good read.