NuForce has another launch
FREMONT, CA: NuForce, a maker of audio electronics, has come up with a mini-headphone amplifier, the MMP, which stands for Mobile Music Pump. Using it to increase the power of your music player may improve the sound quality.
Of course, this is a phenomenon known to every stereo sales representative. If you want a customer to buy a particular component, play it slightly louder than those it’s being compared with. For some reason the louder one is almost always perceived as sounding better.
There are certainly cases when more power is better; more power can increase how precisely an amp can move a speaker, which makes the bass tighter and overall fidelity higher. There isn’t enough information in the specifications to know if that applies to the MMP.
In a test, the MMP certainly increased volume. The difference in sound quality, when noticeable at all, seemed a very subtle improvement over music played directly from an iPod. The MMP does not include the digital-to-analog processing that other NuForce products use to make digital music sound more natural.
Where this mini-amp can help is in running a big set of over-the-ear pro headphones from something like an iPod. Some of those headphones require more power than the average digital player puts out. “If you have some headphones that are harder to drive, an amp could definitely help,” said Jason Stoddard, a co-founder of Schiit Audio, which makes professional-level headphone amplifiers.
How do you know if you need more power? Check your headphone spec sheet for “sensitivity.” If the sensitivity is around 90 decibels at one milliwatt, or a lower number, Mr. Stoddard said, you might benefit.
Of course, it’s also a matter of taste. If your headphones aren’t loud enough, the MMP will change that. Keep in mind, though, that loud headphones candamage your hearing.
The $60 MMP is about the size of two large matchbooks, has settings for 3X and 5X amplification, and has two 3.5-millimeter output jacks, so you can share the gift of hearing loss with a friend.