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Old February 28th, 2013, 04:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Audio preamp in system vs. hardware headphone amplifier

Hello everyone,

I am wondering... I have an entry level audiophile headphones with 50 ohm impedance and the volume is all default settings too low. I have Samsung i9300 running SlimBean ROM.

So I can
1) Preamp the audio in my music player and/or use Volume+ which I do but I am not really satisfied with the sound.

2) Buy something like Fiio E11 and amplify by using another device.

I would like to know if there will be a difference in sound quality. Does Preamp in the phone physically increase the phone output power and is the result +- the same as if it was amplified externally? Or is the external amplification at another level in the terms of quality?

Thanks for all opinions.

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Old February 28th, 2013, 05:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Most definitely a real outboard amplfier like the Fiio. Because if the phone's internal amplifier is weak and can't drive low-impedance audiophile grade headphones properly, there's no way software alone can fix that. I'm sure many phone's internal amps were only ever designed to drive the bundled default tinny earbuds, to keep costs down.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 06:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you mikedt, this is the confirmation I needed to buy the external one. I guess I will go for FiiO E6 since better ones are a bit too big for easy portability.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 07:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Fortunately with something like a Samsung, the sound quality should be top notch and hooking up an external amp will give good SQ and sufficient volume on quality headphones.

However with off-brand cheapo Android devices, the SQ can be rather dreadful due to the very cheap B and C grade analogue audio components used. There's no way an amp can fix poor SQ from the analogue audio out. This has come up a few times with cheap Android TV devices, where people have connected them to decent audio systems using the analogue audio outs. They frequently get poor sound quality. It's usually muffled with poor bass. Usuallly recommend them to use the digital HDMI outputs instead.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 08:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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My i9300 (International version) really has a top notch Wolfson chip, on the other hand the US version had worse Qualcomm (still good though I guess) and I remember audio chip in S2 was quite bad, worse than in S1.

Anyway I wouldn't want to listen to some low end model :)).
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