Originally Posted by marphal
I agree that I should be careful with my claims, but for me the difference is very easily audible (I agree that with different headphones the difference may be less or more audible). I have used Z1 Compact without headphone amplifier for at least half a year and headphone amplifier significantly improved my audio experience to the point I am very happy with, and I am certain it is not placebo effect. I was also sceptical before I have tried it, I did not expect anything more than a possibility to increase volume without damage to audio quality.
I will say this though, having a decent amp will nuke the hissing sensitive IEM's have. Always good to have one around to get rid of the nasties.
Not sure about what you wrote with regard to IEM´s is general experience. In some songs, I reached the maximum volume with Shure SE 425 and wanted it to be louder. In most songs it was o.k., but having some margin with headphone amplifier is not bad thing. BTW I do not use volume levelling. These more expensive IEM´s are sufficiently sensitive to enable hearing differences in audio output with or without headphone amplifier.
I wrote what helped me, maybe it will not work for everyone and every combination with all headphones, but at least people can try. It is definitely cheaper than buying Z3 Compact or other phone. And most of these devices can be used as sound card with your laptop.
I do not consider myself an audiophile by any means, just like clean output with sufficient volume to make heavy music really heavy. Headphone amp made big difference for me and finally I am happy when listening to music on my journeys.
On headphones and a very small minority of IEM's, where sensitivity and power transfer isn't excellent, you'll have volume problems. However, with the SE425, you shouldn't be anywhere near maxing the volume out. I'm rocking 535's now, and my ears start to get painful at even the 3/4 mark.
Better, I'm not gonna comment on that further, because everyone's opinion is going to be different on that. The volume, however, isn't: loud is loud. Still, glad to see there's a fellow audiophile on this board (don't try and run away, the fact you're willing to invest that much into audio means by definition, you are one!)