Headphone amp <£200

smc8788

Active Member
I'm in the market for a headphone amp but need some recommendations as I don't really know what's out there. My maximum budget is £200 but I'd like to spend less than that if at all possible. Are there any headphone amps which have an optical input with a built in DAC? Portability would be a bonus as well, but it's not essential. Does anyone know of one that would suit these requirements?

Thanks.
 

Drubbing

Novice Member
It depends what phones you're going to drive. Some phones need decent power, and that won't happen with a portable DAC-Amp.

Plenty of DAc/amps out there, way too many to suggest. Google is your friend.
 

smc8788

Active Member
The headphones I'll be using most of the time would be some Klipsch Image X5s, so they won't require a great deal of power. I was looking at the iBasso D2, but unfortunately it only has USB input and not optical, but I guess I might have to compromise on that point for portability.
 

Drubbing

Novice Member
Canals such as those won't need an amp, so arguably, they'll deliver nothing extra for the money - canals are low impedance and sensitivity and pretty muh designed for portable players. Amps don't add any SQ.

Also, optical doesn't add SQ either. I've used optical and USB inputs for my DAcmagic and there is no audible difference.
 

smc8788

Active Member
Hmm, well I have some Sennheiser 595s with similar impedance and the SQ is noticeably better through my Hifi amp, so I figured I would benefit from a headphone amp for my laptop/PMP as well (I occasionally use the Senns with my laptop as well).

Thanks for the advice on USB though, good to know it's no worse than optical.
 

Drubbing

Novice Member
Impedance is only part of it. Sensitivity also comes into play, and canals are far more sensitive.

And amping itself isn't likely to improve SQ if phones don't need much power. With a pmp you're amping the internal DAC, so that's the source of the signal. Amps will only make it louder, they can't improve the signal quality.

Laptop sound is probably the most basic as far as PCs go, so it's quite likely that amping the 595 through that will reduce SQ.
 

Member 266567

Active Member
Laptop sound is probably the most basic as far as PCs go, so it's quite likely that amping the 595 through that will reduce SQ.
Definitely worth avoiding internal sound cards if at all possible. Even MacBook Pro laptops have sound cards that can be improved dramatically with the addition of a USB DAC, e.g. iBasso D2.
 

NickD2544

Novice Member
The Project headphone amp for around £100 is fantastic SQ for the money try looking into that. But if your after a DAC and TOSlink connection the iBasso D10 Cobra is the one for go for. Buy from the american site (cheaper).

Hope this helps

Cheers

Nick
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Are there any headphone amps which have an optical input with a built in DAC?
That would actually be a DAC with a headphone output. Are you seeking to use this in various locations as to why you want a portable DAC?
Laptop sound is probably the most basic as far as PCs go, so it's quite likely that amping the 595 through that will reduce SQ.
That's why the OP asked about an external solution...
 

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