Headphone Amp


Standard Member

Any ideas about the quality of the Creek OBH11 Headphone Amp? I have an Aura VS80 amp, and have been using the headphone socket for many years, but I'm wondering whether an external amp would be a better bet for my Sennheiser HD595 'phones...


Distinguished Member
Moved to the correct forum area.

The Creek is a decent enough headphone amp at the price,but you would need to take a look at the MF V-Can as well as the host of chinese tubed and solid state offerings and then some of the others recommended in this forum.

Please take a little time if you can and trawl the pages here,to get some idea of where to start and what you are likely to get for your money.

Some of the sub £100 amps are very good,and I wouldn't go much above that unless you are considering changing the HD595s in the near future,as that would make a better amp worthwhile.


Standard Member
If my memory serves me right there are some older revisions of the HD595 that is higher impedance (150 ohms?) that does benefit from amping.

Higher end Sennheisers, Beyerdynamics and even Grados (low impedance, but higher current draw for bass notes) benefit from amping in my opinion.


Senior Moderator
I've heard Senn range from (excellent) PX100 to the HD800. I would rather update headphones than buy a headphone amp. An amp will only be serving to compliment your chain. If you are expecting performance equating to expenditure you will be disappointed

What is the rest of your setup?


Standard Member
Hi - thanks for the advice. The general suggestion seems to be don't bother.

LFC_SLI - I have a fairly modest set-up. I'm using an elderly (but working) Pioneer PD-SO81 CDP, (no headphone socket) and an Aura VS80 SE amp - that's the headphone output. Cable is Van Den Hul The Bay. The Sennheisers are the newer low impedance version. I've had them for about a year.

Overall I like the sound, although with classical music, especially from older recordings, violins sound thin.
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Senior Moderator
I know you PM'd me but I will post my thoughts here

The PX100 is easy to compliment. Budget pricing (although I see it is currently a little more than the £25 I paid 7 years ago) but a ten-fold improvement in sound over the crap you usually get bundled with your DAP. Anyway,

The HD600 is one of the best I have heard for balanced reproduction of instrument tones. Everything just sounds very natural. You could quite easily reach out and steal the instrument off the artist. It has a lovely spacious sound with good instrumental separation. Where it falls down is that the treble becomes recessed as you approach the upper reaches.

On that note it is a terrible gaming headphone as many of the important sounds like footsteps and item pickups are in the upper treble range - sounds you do not want to be masked when you are in the heat of battle
But excellent for film viewing because everything just sounds very nice and natural

That is not to say it is not detailed, but it is not perfect. The bass can also be a little sluggish and maybe not as bold as one wants. Saying that the HD600 scales up wonderfully right the way to £2k systems. HD600 has a smooth mellow sound that sits well with classical music but lacking the fullest extension at the top, whilst it might not excite if you want the bass to really kick

All opinions are subject to contrary ones and I cannot really say if the HD600 will fulfil what you are looking for. All I can do is tell you my experiences. I've been very lucky to be able to demo a lot of things. Also to note I am sensitive to harsh treble so have for example found some Grado models grating, but then the GS1000 are the personification of seduction. I mention that to say I do not mind the recessed treble of the HD600 but you might!

alexs2's post above is spot on. A lot of people bluntly say you need an amp with a hi-fi headphone without explaining why. It is not strictly about volume as any computer motherboard can give you enough power, but you will also be getting plenty of hard drive noise as well. It is about the quality of the amplification. Upgrade proportionately. You could buy an amp and see how the HD595 fares but do not be spending lots more on an amp in proportion to the HD595 cost, unless you think you will be upgrading dac and headphone as well


Standard Member
Thanks for the advice.
The HD600s look v good - I've just read a load of reviews. But they have a high impedance. Seems that the higher impedance the more I need the headphone amp ?! Not really keen on doing 2 upgrades at the moment...

Member 266567

Active Member
Yes, the HD600 is one of those headphones that really does benefit from a headphone amp (depending on the equipment you are plugging them into). The latest revisions of the HD595 are much lower impedance than the HD600 and you may not see dramatic improvements.

Interestingly lower impedance doesn't always mean that amping will not help. For example the the higher end Grado range show definite improvements in bass extension when driven by a good headphone amp (I guess this is due to the extra current drawn by a lower impedance driver).

The reason for amping is that even decent quality HiFi separates and especially portable devices (iPod, laptops, etc) have relatively low output power on the headphone socket. The headphone outputs on standard soundcards in PCs and Macs are also notoriously low power (and also very noisy).

The Graham Slee range of headphone amplifiers are a particularly good fit with the HD600 and HD650 as they open the veiled trebles nicely.



Standard Member
Once again, thanks for the advice. As a non-technical person, how would I know whether the headphone socket on my amp had low output power? With the low impedence Senn 595s, I would normally have the volume set at about the 8 o'clock position - so quite near the bottom end - does this indicate anything?

I was very interested in your comments about the 600s - especially regarding the rolled off top end which I think is the kind of thing I'm looking for. But as you say I might need an amp. If so the Creek seems to be a better bet than the MF v Cans or Project Headroom, which are the budget price competition, and get mixed reviews - although there is a cheaper Graham Slee, but I don't think it has an output, which I'd need. This is the review which got me interested in the Creek in the first place...
AudiogoN Reviews: Creek OBH-11 Amplifier

Young Spade

Standard Member
If you're just planning on amping the Senn 595s get an amp around 100 bucks max; you aren't going to get THAT much benefit in sound quality from amping them and paying 200+ for an amp isn't going to be worth the money IMO unless you upgrade your cans in the future.

The iBasso T3 and T4 can be had for a little over a hundred.... the D2 has a built in DAC if you want to go that route.... Nuforce Icon is around 100 also.

Minibox D... and the list goes on ahah but those are just some good amps in your price range.


Active Member
Once again, thanks for the advice. As a non-technical person, how would I know whether the headphone socket on my amp had low output power?
As Shaun said, portable device are pretty low output power, that why phones designed for them run well off them.

Thing with good quality phones, is, if they need amping, they need everything - which means a decent source too. You haven't mentioned what your source is.


Standard Member
I've got some inexpensive but good quality hi-fi from about 15-20 years ago (original cost about £580 excluding speakers) in the 90s. A Pioneer PD S801 cdp, an Aura VS80-SE Amp (which seems to have quite a good headphone output, which is why I'm wondering about all this), with Van Den Hul the Source interconnect. Sound through the 595s is, for me, too bright on top. Other phones, such as the cheap PX100 sound better in this respect. I'm looking for something which has the seperation and dynamics of the more expensive Senns with the smoother top of the PX100. Don't know whether to upgrade phones, or get an amp, or both...


Active Member
I'm looking for something which has the seperation and dynamics of the more expensive Senns with the smoother top of the PX100. Don't know whether to upgrade phones, or get an amp, or both...

No amp will change the fundamental sound style of the 595s - it's still a waste of money to think along those lines. A better phone would be the way to go, but a better phone is likely to be far more fussy regards your head out. Int amps are wildly variable with HO, and price/quality is no indication of what the maker decided to spend on the head out stage.

But asking low level phones to provide qualities that are delivered by higher cost ones, is a big ask. Those qualities are usually why people spend more on phones in the first place.

I can recommend the Beyer DT250 for the sig you're looking for, but it's a closed phone, and I found it took a decent source to open up whatever soundstage it ha. It's around the same price as a 595, but I think it's far superior - even though it's closed.


Senior Moderator
I am only praising the PX100 as a budget choice. As soon as you compare it to anything of substance you can see how limited and "raw" it is

I don't think the Senn range is bright at all so I think you may run into problems if you buy a different HDxxx

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