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I just got mine today and already had a balanced cable ready to go. They sound excellent out of my Jotunheim/V200/Phonitor Mini. I've never owned a planar before, so I was expecting these hard to drive headphones, but these are super easy to drive. I never have to go higher than 10 o'clock on my amps to get them to a good volume.
I'm curious what a balanced cable is. Thank you!
A balanced cable is a cable that has 2 signal wires and 2 ground wires. You need a 4 Pin XLR amp to drive them.
A balanced setup is like having an amplifier dedicated to each ear.
Hey man, got a front page feature! Tell us more about the sound, when you get a chance ;) I’ve never heard this headphone or the HE-400i/s before.
Really, a lot of headphones are terribly inefficient. There are full sized speakers running loudly on 3W and the Jot can do 7.5W into 16Ohms. Not sure why efficiency is so lacking, but easy to drive is definitely relative.
Relative to a truly difficult to drive planar like the HE6, these are cake. Relative to a Grado, these things are horrible. Without an amp that spews power, these are sort of hard to drive, but the "planars are hard to drive" claim is not true so much as it used to be. With the tech being focused on so much more heavily, it's definitely come closer to your average large dynamic.
With a competent amplifier that can cope with higher end headphones needing weird amounts of power, you should be able to drive a lot of planars fine.
An "unbalanced" amplifier has an amplifier dedicated to each channel too. You're sharing a ground, not amplification. But, even my 100% independent monoblock amplifiers that don't have any common connections are "unbalanced." My old dual mono power amplifier had 100% independent signal grounds too, still "unbalanced."
You have two amplifiers per channel in "balanced" operation, where "unbalanced" amplifiers only need one. "Balanced" is frankly a dumb name for it. It's differential amplification. You run a signal and an inverted signal simultaneously, which apparently equates to "balanced." The purpose is noise rejection, but some claim it helps sound. It can mean more power than another amp, it can mean lower distortion than another amp, it can sound better than another amp, but none of these are automatically true just because it's used.
Personally, I don't believe it helps, but I have nothing against its use. I just think it's worth knowing what's going on if you decide to go that route.
actually two amps ;) each amp drives half a driver and should cancel the signal out !
Well in a way the HD-4XX sounds kinda like a brighter HD600 with more bass to me. It's bass is well controlled with excellent slam. Treble is more detailed and airy, but is somewhat bright with some of my metal. Nothing too bad though, at least not as bright as my DT990. Midrange is actually nicely detailed though perhaps a tiny bit recessed. Overall is a warmer and bassier HD600 to my ear. Well not exactly like a HD600, but the closest thing I have that sounds like the HE-4XX.
The Phonitor Mini and Jotunheim drive them the best out of my amps though some of them are higher end. The V200 is pretty damn close though. The balanced drive of the Jotunheim delivers a lot more power to the planars and it can be heard. Single ended operation on the Jotunheim is no slouch either in delivering power. The Phonitor Mini is a colder amp but offers a more detailed or analytical sound. I like the more detailed sound but the power of the Jotunheim really makes a difference with the bass on the HE-4XX.
Heck, even my Audio-GD ROC sounds really nice with them, but low end control is a tad lacking. It's not entirely the amps fault though. The HE-4XX may be low impedance and easy to drive, but feeding them more power really makes them shine. The power output of the ROC is't quite enough to make these shine.