After sending my Schiit Magni 3+ in for warranty service a few weeks ago, I decided to get a cheaper amp to power my HD6XX in the meantime. I ended up going with a FiiO A3 that I found on Craigslist for ~$30.
Fast forward some time and I finally received my Schiit back from service, good as new. But this left me with a decision to make. Do I keep both, or sell one? Do I really need both? If I do just keep one, which one would it be?
The only reasonable answer was SCIENCE!
So I ordered an A/B switch off of Amazon and had my brother help me with a blind A/B test between the two amps with my trusty HD6XX.
We volume matched both amps to a somewhat louder than normal volume using a constant test tone. I put the headphones on, closed my eyes and he started playing AC/DC. Once he clicked the switch several times in quick succession to ‘shuffle’ which amp I was listening to, he started switching from one to the other in random intervals. Once I had gained enough confidence, I told him to stop, and indicated which amp I thought I was listening to.
During the tests, I was never very confident in my decision, but to my surprise, I was able to pick the correct one every single time. To me the only difference seemed to be the clarity in the upper frequencies.
However, using my brother’s HD8 DJ’s, there was absolutely no difference. The results were random.
I figured I’d share my experience and see what everyone else’s experiences are when it comes to direct A/B testing DACs and amps. If you guys have any tips or methods to make this more effective, or if you have any interesting anecdotes, I’d like to hear.