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An audio interface driving a 250 ohms DT-990 without an amp ? Audio Interfaces
Old 20th July 2014
  #1
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An audio interface driving a 250 ohms DT-990 without an amp ?

Hi everyone,
I've been looking for an answer to that question for several days without finding any.

I own a BD DT-990 Pro in its 250 ohms version and my fairly-old M-Audio MobilePre MKII interface can correctly "drive" it but I have to crank the headphone volume up to 100% every time.

I'm looking for an audio interface that could give me some more power for these headphones. I saw a lot of interesting ones like the Scarlett 2i2, the Steinberg UR-22, Roland Quad Capture etc.. But i'm not entirely sure these will be able to provide a little more juice than my M-Audio does.

Keep in mind that I'm not necessarily trying to drive them at their full potential, because that would mean buying an amp and I'd like not to (i'm a little bit on a budget actually), i'm just trying to find a better audio interface that could give me a decent "margin" ? (instead of pushing it all the way up all the time).

The question is : do you know any interface that could do that ? After doing a lot of research, I couldn't find any. I've red that the UR-22 couldn't, but the Scarlett 2i2 could in some way.

Thanks a lot for your answers, I apologize if some english mistakes were made, I'm from France.
Thank you guys.
Old 20th July 2014
  #2
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spambot_2's Avatar
Can't really know for sure until you try it since they don't usually release specs for the headphones output, though I kinda have a question:

you wrote "can correctly "drive" it but I have to crank the headphone volume up to 100% every time."

So, what is the problem in turning the output gain all the way up if it works?
Old 20th July 2014
  #3
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Quote:
So, what is the problem in turning the output gain all the way up if it works?
There's absolutely no problem but I was just wondering if there was a better audio interface on the market for high impedance headphones
In other words, driving them even better that they currently are.

EDIT : OR, maybe the solution for me would be to buy a DT headphone with 80ohms impedance and keep my current interface ?
I've never used a closed back pair so I'm a little bit afraid but I've red excellent reviews about this one : http://www.thomann.de/gb/beyerdynami..._pro80_ohm.htm

What do you think ?
Old 21st July 2014
  #4
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LeeYoo's Avatar
 

There are several posts on GS explaining that a USB powered interface hasn't got what it takes to drive high impedance cans to a high volume level.
It has to do with the limited voltage and power of a USB port.
Generally speaking, their maximum power transfer is in the 32-75ohm range (read the specs of your interface), so 80ohm cans are just ok for a USB powered interface.
Same story for mobile devices.
Higher impedance cans are better suited for mains powered devices.
And ofcourse volume not only depends on power transfer, but also on the sensitiviy of the cans.
Leo..
Old 21st July 2014
  #5
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I wouldn't see why you would sell your headphones if you like them and you can properly drive them already.

The scarlett has worse pre's than the m audio fast track pro, which I suppose being the same as the ones in the mobile pre, and waaay better converters, again supposing the fast track pro and the mobile pre have the same converters.
I wouldn't get one.

I'd instead spend a bit more money and get myself a used first gen apogee duet.
Old 21st July 2014
  #6
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Hey guys, thanks for the feedback

I didn't plan on selling my DT-990s, just wondering if it would be a good alternative to buy a 80 ohms version (pity there's only the closed back ones with this impedance).

You convinced me to keep my MobilePre and that's what I'm gonna do
As for the Apogee, I've heard good things about it but it is way over my budget range right now.

Got it, so the only way to properly deliver some more power is to get an interface with an external power supply. I'll keep that in mind, and probably going to save some money to buy something viable in the future (like the Apogee).

I'm going to keep all my current gear and maybe just take a pair of those new Mackie studio monitors (the CR4s).

Again, thanks for the advices, very much appreciated.
Old 21st July 2014
  #7
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spambot_2's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0rpheuS View Post
Got it, so the only way to properly deliver some more power is to get an interface with an external power supply.
Not even.
It's just that it doesn't have to only have USB powering.
It may as well be powered by thunderbolt or firewire and nothing else - as the first gen duet for example.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0rpheuS View Post
I'm going to keep all my current gear and maybe just take a pair of those new Mackie studio monitors (the CR4s).
I'd highly suggest against them.

They may be shiny and all, but they look to me like led filled computer speakers marketed as "all arounder speakers AND reference monitors".

If you want to reference stuff use your car, your TV, cheap earphones you have lying around, or an avantone mixcube pair or an NS10 pair if you absolutely wanna get new stuff.
Old 21st July 2014
  #8
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Quote:
It may as well be powered by thunderbolt or firewire and nothing else - as the first gen duet for example.
I understand, but I'm exclusively working on PC, that's why I didn't mention FW or Thunderbolt


Quote:
I'd highly suggest against them.

They may be shiny and all, but they look to me like led filled computer speakers marketed as "all arounder speakers AND reference monitors".

If you want to reference stuff use your car, your TV, cheap earphones you have lying around, or an avantone mixcube pair or an NS10 pair if you absolutely wanna get new stuff.
Well, there's some things I forgot to mention :
I'm a music composer living in a small flat in Paris but my main home is 900km away from it. There, I have a pair of Mackie MR5 MK2 that I use to mix my soundtracks but here in Paris, I only have my MIDI keyboard with my DT-990 and the MobilePre. As far as I know, mixing with headphones is not recommended, that's why I brought this Mackie CR4 idea up.
Having a small/compact pair of monitors could help me verify my mixes (and using the DTs to team up with them) at a relatively low price.

Sorry for the novel here, I had to clear some things out to explain my choices better
So.. you think they're not a good choice ?
50W and 70Hz-20KHz of frequency bandwidth seems enough for a small home-studio/on-the-go configuration. But I'm not sure about anything.
Old 21st July 2014
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0rpheuS View Post
I understand, but I'm exclusively working on PC, that's why I didn't mention FW or Thunderbolt
Unless it's a laptop you may wanna consider getting a firewire PCIe card.
They're not even expensive, though you gotta find one compatible with what you wanna use.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0rpheuS View Post
So.. you think they're not a good choice ?
50W and 70Hz-20KHz of frequency bandwidth seems enough for a small home-studio/on-the-go configuration.
That
1. doesn't really tell you how they sound at all
2. isn't much good.

If I were to get a pair of small monitors I'd get a pair of HS5, mix with them, and use the DT990 for referencing.

The CR4 might even sound good, but they AFAIK they don't even sell them already so nobody actually knows how they sound, previous mackie monitors didn't really perform well and not much people liked them, and the marketing around them makes them look like overglorified, average sounding computer speakers to me.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #10
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Yes, it's a laptop, that's why I didn't look at any of these

I know the HS5 are really good monitors but unfortunately I just can't afford them. I'm on a budget and after doing a lot of research, there's a lot of people talking about the M-Audio BX5 D2 monitors as being one of the best possible studio monitors at that price (and they apparently beat some higher-end/more expensive monitors on the market).

As for the CR4s you're totally right about the fact nobody knows how they sound because they were just released, like 5 days ago.
But I can tell you the MR5 MKIIs are great sound quality studio monitors (if you were talking about them when you said "previous mackie monitors"), but that's not really the point, I'm being a Mackie fanboy right now (even if I think what I just said)

Ultimately my shopping cart goes up to 250€ and my budget is 300 (which is about 405$ if I'm not mistaken).
I might go with those BX5 D2 for my small flat as they are described to be the best flat-responsive monitors at that price.. but I can never know if I'm in the right.

No matter what I choose, I'm greatful for your advices and the time you took to read and answer me. Thanks dude
Old 22nd July 2014
  #11
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The SPL Crimson has enough power to drive these headphones and has the best headphone amp on an interface I've experienced so far, but the Crimson always needs to be powered by a power suppy. The Focusrite Forte is not as powerfull, but powerfull enough when powered by a power supply.
Like other posters have mentioned before: it's not so much a question of the quality or design of the interfaces, it's about how to get the most of the power usb delivers. So both interfaces I know and have mentioned use an aditional power supple (Crimson) or only have phantom power and deliver more volume through the headphone-amp when a power supply is used (Focusrite Forte).
Dirk
Old 22nd July 2014
  #12
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The problem with high impedance headphones is that they need more voltage swing for the same volume.
I had a look at the specs of the Focusrite forte, and it's the same as any other USB interface I've seen. +9 dBu.
To me, this means that the internal headphones amp is powered from a 5volt rail, regardless of getting the power from the USB socket or from the external 5volt supply.
Generally speaking, only interfaces that are powered from e.g. 12volt (like the SPL Crimson) will have more headroom (7-12db more).
Leo..
Old 22nd July 2014
  #13
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i run a pair of 770 pros on my focusrite pro26. they're 80 ohms, and honestly, you don't get a lotta drive out of them. little opamp canamps just don't have that much power, particularly into higher impedances, and i've pretty much gone to a headphone amp for live tracking. for mixing, it'll work fine at low volume, but you just can't get a ton of output.

for REALLY loud situations, i actually use in ears, and with the added isolation, i can drive them well enough to hear.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #14
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MarkF48's Avatar
Anything exist such as an impedance matching transformer for headphones (that costs less than a new set of cans)? Don't have a clue if this would work.
Old 22nd July 2014
  #15
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I might keep my current configuration and buy a pair of studio monitors instead..

I appreciate your advices but interfaces like the SPL Crimson or the Focusrite Forte are waaaaay beyond what I can afford.

If every interfaces under 300$ can't deliver enough power to drive a 250 ohms headphone at its best, I'll just keep working with my MobilePre and mix with a pair of BX5-D2s which I've heard a ton of good things about (and stay in the limits of my budget).

I keep reading "cans" on several forums when people talk about headphones. Just being curious about that shortcut
Old 22nd July 2014
  #16
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spambot_2's Avatar
^ remember the game?
Worked with plastic glasses but tin cans were better.

Old 22nd July 2014
  #17
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Hahaha, right !
That makes a lot of sense indeed, thanks for the enlightenment.
Old 23rd July 2014
  #18
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DirkP's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeeYoo View Post
The problem with high impedance headphones is that they need more voltage swing for the same volume.
I had a look at the specs of the Focusrite forte, and it's the same as any other USB interface I've seen. +9 dBu.
To me, this means that the internal headphones amp is powered from a 5volt rail, regardless of getting the power from the USB socket or from the external 5volt supply.
Generally speaking, only interfaces that are powered from e.g. 12volt (like the SPL Crimson) will have more headroom (7-12db more).
Leo..
That is wrong. I own the Forte and the output of the headphone amp is louder with the power supply connected.
Take a look at the specifications:

Quote:
Headphone Outputs Measurered with PSU connected
Specifications | Focusrite


Quote:
Regarding those bus-power limitations, there are really only two. Phantom power isn't available when the Forte is bus-powered, and the maximum output signal level is reduced, as there is insufficient power available for the high-current output stages. While this means that the total dynamic range of the output stage is curtailed, the difference in performance may well not be particularly significant, depending on the sensitivity of the connected powered speakers or headphones, and the compromise is a reasonable one, given the usefulness of being able to work without a mains power supply when necessary.
Focusrite Forte

Dirk
Old 23rd July 2014
  #19
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I had a look at those specs BEFORE posting.
30mW into 150ohm with the 5volt supply.

USB is also 5volt, but could sag a bit, depending on computer.
Therefore specs could drop a bit when bus powered.

Compare that to the SPL Crimson (about 400mW into 150ohm).
Leo..
Old 24th July 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeeYoo View Post
I had a look at those specs BEFORE posting.
30mW into 150ohm with the 5volt supply.

USB is also 5volt, but could sag a bit, depending on computer.
Therefore specs could drop a bit when bus powered.

Compare that to the SPL Crimson (about 400mW into 150ohm).
Leo..
I don't want to be opinionated, but I have the Forte right in front of me. When the PSU is plugged-in, the levelmeter of the headphone out goes from -64 up to 0 (as loud as possible), as soon as I remove the PSU the loudest level I can choose is -18.

But you are correct about the Crimson, it can even power my 600 Ohm AKG 240 at half the possible level while tracking.
I use the Forte mostly for listening to mastered music, so it is loud enough.

The only two interfaces I know that are only buspowered are the Zoom R8 and the old Alesis IO2. The Zoom works as a standalone recorder too, but the PSU just delivers 5 Volt. The PSU-IN is the USB in. Both have much weaker headphone amps than the Forte, not to mention the Crimson.


Dirk
Old 3rd November 2015
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0rpheuS View Post
There's absolutely no problem but I was just wondering if there was a better audio interface on the market for high impedance headphones
In other words, driving them even better that they currently are.

EDIT : OR, maybe the solution for me would be to buy a DT headphone with 80ohms impedance and keep my current interface ?
I've never used a closed back pair so I'm a little bit afraid but I've red excellent reviews about this one : Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80 Ohm - Thomann UK

What do you think ?
I use a pair of DT770's at 80ohms - I've been using them with a Focusrite Scarlett 8i6 interface and the output is lacking. As with your situation I have to crank the output pretty high to get any appreciable volume (as in recording in the same room with a Marshall and a mic'd 4x12). It gets kinda loud but the problem is by the time I've got the knob up past 9:00 the amplfier in the headphone circuit starts to distort.

I've recently ordered an Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt - somewhere on the site it says the headphone outs have no problem driving higher impedence headphones, so when it arrives & I get it all hooked up I guess I shall see....
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