What should be preferred: a high gain with plenty of reserve for the volume pot or a low gain with a volume setting between 12 and 4 o’clock?
As long as you can realise a volume setting that is loud enough, the low gain setting is to be preferred. As a matter of fact potentiometers tend to have a weaker channel balance in the lower volume range. Secondly the danger of cranking up the volume to insane and dangerous levels is minimised.
On my Linear I have set the dip switches to 0dB. To get a decent volume, the volume control is between position 12 and 1 o'clock. Is this normal? Would altering the DIP-switches to 20dB give me the same volume level without moving the volume knob to such high positions? Do the different gain settings affect sound quality in any way?
We recommend to leave the gain setting at 0dB. At 12 o'clock you still have 20dB of reserve. If you choose a higher gain setting, you will have to turn down the potentiometer to a lower level and also slightly increase the noise.
Using higher gain settings is only recommended in cases where the potentiometer reaches the maximum level and volume is still insufficient. This is highly depending on the efficiency of the headphone in question.
How important is the impedance for headphone volume?
In general low impedance headphones have a higher current consumption and a higher impedance results in a higher voltage consumption to reach higher sound pressure levels.
The sensitivity of the headphone itself is a much more important parameter because here the sound pressure level can be seen much more obviously.
What is the maximum recommended SPL (sound pressure level) for long term listening (8 hours)?
There are recommendations by European and US authorities which differ greatly and which do not apply to private listening but to people's working environment.
How can I find the perfect headphone for myself?
First try to wear the headphone without music playing. Not only ears are different - heads are different as well. You will never feel comfortable with a headphone that does not fit your head.
Secondly, choose from those headphones you feel comfortable with. Time is a very important factor here. Some headphones sound quite spectacular first, but cause headaches when used for a longer time.
What is the best music for evaluating headphones and headphone amplifiers?
The best music is the music you personally know very well. There are of course some other helpful rules:
Use music that is not overly compressed dynamically. Music with a very low dynamic range causes listening fatigue and does not allow to evaluate the dynamic behaviour of the piece of equipment in question.
Use music that does not have a reduced data rate. That means MP3 files are rather unsuitable.
Which operating systems does the Linear USB support?
The Linear USB supports the major operating systems Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
I connected the Linear USB to my computer, but I still cannot hear anything.
Please make sure that you selected the right output device ("USB Loudspeaker" or "Burr-Brown") in your operating system preferences.
Is the Linear USB compatible with the Apple iPad?
Yes, please use the Apple Camera Connection Kit and connect the Linear USB to it.
I have one of your Linear USB headphone amps and a Stamp Amplifier, can you recommend a good set of speaker for this?
As a rule of thumb you should first go for highly efficient speakers (+87 dB), but this is also dependent on the planned distance to the listening place and to the desired listening level.
We found that speakers with a simpler frequency division network tend to absorb less energy from the sound - regardless of efficiency. I had two pairs of speakers compared with the same efficiency but with different concepts for the filter network. One pair sounded really tired and sleepy, the other pair was alive and full of energy.
The Stamp has a maximum rated power of 20W per channel into 4 Ohms. So 4 Ohm speakers can make better use of the power delivered by the Stamp. Into 8 Ohms there are approx. 11W.
In every case, try to audition the combination in your own environment with your own music to get an impression if the setup will work for you or not. We had very good experiences with Odeon speakers, which are all 90dB and more types.
What's the difference between the Black Cube Linear and the Linear?
It's the same product.
The Linear had been called Black Cube Linear by the time of the product launch and also had the Black Cube signet on the face plate. To avoid misunderstandings, we just changed the name and the logo on the face plate some time ago. Some dealers and some customers still call the product Black Cube Linear.
What is the optimal gain setting for my headphone?
The optimal gain setting is geared to you:
It’s the setting with the lowest gain where you don’t always feel like turning up the level beyond the right-hand stop of the volume control. Very often this is indeed the 0 dB unigain position. A higher gain setting than what is actually needed is noticeable from the fact that the volume control needs to be turned up only very low with normal listening. Therefore it is working in a range with a less favourable channel balance.