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Do headphones/earphones "scale with amping"?

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#1
What does scales with amping mean? I see people always mentioning this about dynamic driver headphones. I have limited access to different amps, so I can't really test this by myself, and when I research it, so here I am in the Newbie section of this forum.

If I have a headphone that can get very loud without distorting with my amp, what will an amp with more power give me?

Let's say, I have an HD600 and a Topping A50, which measures great. If we take build quality, longevity etc. out of the equation and talk only about output power, would getting a Topping A90 (which also measures great) make the headphones sound "fuller" or whatever else terms are used by people? What difference does it make?

I read the same about some low impedance/efficient earphones. Some of them sound sound pretty good and loud out of an Apple dongle, but I read people mentioning that they "scale with amping". (i.e Final Audio E3000). How and why would they scale with amping (if such a thing exists)?
 
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maverickronin

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#2
The idea of "scaling" is completely imaginary, but unlike a lot of other audiophool terms, it can at least actually be defined. Quoting myself from another thread...

This is people imagining that some amps sound better in some mysterious unmeasurable ways combined with them imagining that specific headphones also interact with amps in their own unmueasreable ways.

Here's both sides of this particular audiophilia nervosa coin.

Some headphones are just always poor or average regardless of an amplifier's mystical qualities. These headphones don't scale.

Some really good headphones need an amp which is "good" in one of those mysterious unmeasureable ways to be worth listening to at all and that the headphone will sound terrible on "lesser" amps. These headphones don't scale either.

The HD800 has become the classic example of this as audiofools try everything except EQ to fix its 6KHz peak and eventually just get used to it.

Some other headphones are said to sound ok on "lesser" amps but dramatically improve when used with "better" amp. This is a headphone that scales.

For some reason the HD650 has garnered this reputation.
 

Vini darko

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#3
In your example I'd say mostly no. However when pushing the headphone hard the a90 may perform better due to having more voltage available for dynamic peaks. Both amps measure so closely that at average to low volume I'd expect them to sound the same.
 
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Thread Starter #4
What changes in sound when you upgrade from an "inferior" amp to a high powered top-end amp if both can get the same headphones more than loud enough without any hint of distortion? (Let's say they both have good measurements and both are "neutral")
i.e. Topping L30 to Topping A90 as an example, with a pair of headphones like HD600 or HD650.
 

solderdude

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#5
At the onset of clipping sounds starts to deteriorate and one get's the idea bass levels are insufficient while it can still sound loud giving the impression it is not a power issue.
Depending on the headphone/source combination this can already happen at normal to somewhat louder listening levels.

When using an amplifier that can supply more current or voltage than the insufficient source/amp you can play loud without ever coming into clipping issues at normal to loud levels.

The sound signature does not change but one can play louder allowing 'equal loudness contour' effects to make sound more impressive.
People mistake that effect as 'scaling'. It is merely insufficient drive voltages.

When in both cases the amps are played equally loud and NOT yet reaching clipping levels (need to watch the waveform) then there is NO difference unless one of them has substantial amounts of distortion or is rolled-off at the extremes of the audible band or has a substantially high output resistance (well above 30 ohm).
 
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OP
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Thread Starter #6
At the onset of clipping sounds starts to deteriorate and one get's the idea bass levels are insufficient it can still sound loud.
Depending on the headphone/source combination this can already happen at normal to somewhat louder listening levels.

When using an amplifier that can supply more current or voltage than the insufficient source/amp you can play loud without ever coming into clipping issues at normal to loud levels.

The sound signature does not change but one can play louder allowing 'equal loudness contour' effects to make sound more impressive.
People mistake that effect as 'scaling'. It is merely insufficient drive voltages.

When in both cases the amps are played equally loud and NOT yet reaching clipping levels (need to watch the waveform) then there is NO difference unless one of them has substantial amounts of distortion or is rolled-off at the extremes of the audible band or has a substantially high output resistance (well above 30 ohm).
Thanks a lot for the explanation, that makes sense.
 
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