headphone amps and monolith m1060 or other headphone suggestions

Misguided

Active Member
Hi

I'm thinking about spending some cash on some headphones, up to about £300. The headphones will be used at home for music and tv, I have a Yamaha AS500 amp for music and a Denon AVR-X 2200W for home cinema. I do quite like the look of the Monolith M1060 but will I need a separate headphone amp to drive them? The headphones will only be used at home.

If anyone has any other suggestions I am open to them. The headphones are primarily for late night TV viewing but I would really like them to work well with music too. I was initially looking for some bluetooth wireless headphones but prefer quality over wireless and after reading about the Monolith's I am getting quite tempted. Headphones are a new area for me so I dont really know much, I have a pair of AKG Y50's for out and about would just like something a bit more high end at home.
 

camcroft

Well-known Member
Hi

I'm thinking about spending some cash on some headphones, up to about £300. The headphones will be used at home for music and tv, I have a Yamaha AS500 amp for music and a Denon AVR-X 2200W for home cinema. I do quite like the look of the Monolith M1060 but will I need a separate headphone amp to drive them? The headphones will only be used at home.

If anyone has any other suggestions I am open to them. The headphones are primarily for late night TV viewing but I would really like them to work well with music too. I was initially looking for some bluetooth wireless headphones but prefer quality over wireless and after reading about the Monolith's I am getting quite tempted. Headphones are a new area for me so I dont really know much, I have a pair of AKG Y50's for out and about would just like something a bit more high end at home.
The Monolith's are excellent headphones I use them with a headphone amp/dac no idea what they would sound like being plugged into a TV or AV amp
 

camcroft

Well-known Member
Think @camcroft has them cans, so might be able to help.
I have the Monolith M565C he is talking about the Monolith M1060. Other forum members have bought these but have not really commented on them a lot. Mine are closed back the Monolith M1060 are open back the M1060C's are the closed back version.
 

TheHighFlyingBirds

Distinguished Member
I have the Monolith M565C he is talking about the Monolith M1060. Other forum members have bought these but have not really commented on them a lot. Mine are closed back the Monolith M1060 are open back the M1060C's are the closed back version.
Couldn't remember which you had, just remembered they were monoliths, so were better placed than me to offer advice.
 

Misguided

Active Member
Hi

Thanks for the replies. I'm wondering if I use the amps I have would I need a headphone amp or is there no real benefit if I am already outputting via my stereo or home cinema amp.

If the answer is definitely need get a headphone amp then depending on cost I may have to look at something else.

Also I'm looking into a Bluetooth DAC as an option to make the Monoliths wireless but again not sure if it will be worth it.
 
Last edited:

David Alexander

Active Member
Hi

Thanks for the replies my question was more would I need a amp / dac if I am using my stereo or av amp with the monoliths?
Depends on the capability of the headphone stage in whatever amp you are using. I have Monolith 1060c (16 Ohm impedance) and an Arcam SR250 which drives these perfectly well thorough the headphone socket.

With my Zen v2 DAC I've found that it helps if I run an amplifier stage post the Zen Dac v2.

I think it's more that the planar headphones like a fair bit of juice to get the best out of them rather than the inherent impedance of the phones themselves (the 1060 is listed as 50 Ohms).
 

camcroft

Well-known Member
Only my opinion. But I am very happy with my Monolith headphones.
 

David Alexander

Active Member
Only my opinion. But I am very happy with my Monolith headphones.
I'm also very impressed by my M1060C's.

They're big, not the most stable, but neither are they uncomfortable.

In short, if your listening is basically sitting down listening to music or movies, I've found them great. For closed back they're a bit leaky. But then they've also got a more open backed sound stage.
 

Misguided

Active Member
I think I'm getting this sorted out. Headphone wise I'm looking at the Monolith M1060, I also had a brief look at the Hifiman Sundara and M1060c and although the Sundara are supposed to be cleaner and the M1060c are apparently very good if you make them open back by removing the cups the M1060 seems more my bag. I listen to Jazz, Indie (mostly 90's American stuff), Rock and some Hip Hop, Dance and Electronic.

My issue seems to be the impedance. My Yamaha AS500 has headphone out impedance of 8 Ohms (1khz, 200 mv), will this be ok?

I would be buying a Bluetooth DAC for everything else probably the Ifi Zen Blue 2 or Ifi Zen Blue Air. I tried finding a Bluetooth DAC that could take a line in as well but couldnt see anything around the £100 price point.

Any thoughts, really appreciate all the advice so far.
 

David Alexander

Active Member
My issue seems to be the impedance. My Yamaha AS500 has headphone out impedance of 8 Ohms (1khz, 200 mv), will this be ok?
Don't know.

My Arcam SR250 has Output impedance <5 Ohms, Maximum output level 2Vrms into 32 Ohms.

This is enough to drive my M1060C phones loud. No other amplification required. I did try through the pre-amps which output at 1Vrms with a separate amplification stage but couldn't drive them any better (mainly because I was using zone 2 outs which are limited in volume output for a start to save overdriving external speakers).

If it doesn't give enough oomph maybe an in line amp which is cheap and cheerful:

Amazon product

I've used a Douk amp (not this model but equally cheap) to boost my Zen v2 DAC/Amp, just for planars, and it works really well.
 

Misguided

Active Member
Thanks man. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research in the past few days and things have changed quite a bit. I’m pretty sure I want an open back on ear headphone but the monolith 1060 with 50 ohms impedance cannot be driven by my stereo or home cinema amp. Also it seems I don’t have Bluetooth on either amp denon avr-x 2200w / Yamaha AS500 or my TV LG 55B7V. So I’ve been looking at the Hifiman Sundara which have a lower impedance. I’m not sure and I feel like I need to try and demo them somewhere. I believe (may be getting this wrong) the impedance on the amp needs to be less than 1/8 the impedance of the headphones.

Headphone amp / Dac wise I’m pretty settled on the Ifi Zen but at the moment I don’t want to use my optical out on the TV just the headphone out on the amp. The main reason for buying the headphones was I wanted some high quality stereo for late night viewing. I had been using some old Astro A40s for watching movies at night but fiddling around with the settings was annoying and I wasn’t really getting anything out of it.

So I’m thinking of putting the headphone amp / dac on the back burner for now. My partner and I are hopefully moving this year and I have a hifi upgrade planned for after the move so I’ll have a better idea what I want / need.

The forum has been as always a massive help. I think I’m settled on getting some decent headphones without an amp or dac for now then upgrading to an amp later down the line. Although I really like the Monoliths I think the Sundara will be more user friendly although I really want to demo them first.
 

David Alexander

Active Member
I’d demo them if you can. With non planar headphones, impedance is a factor. With planar I’ve found that low impedance planars require more power than high impedance standard headphones.
There seems to be a variation in quality or power of the headphone output of amplifiers. My Arcam gives a lot of grunt. I was surprised by how effective it was in powering my higher impedance and M1060C headphones.
Upshot is, the Sundara’s may be lower impedance, but you may still need more power to make them sing.
 

Misguided

Active Member
Thanks man I’m going to. My main concern was the Sundara may not be warm enough for my liking as I tend to prefer a warm sound over clear but I’ll see.
 

David Alexander

Active Member
I’d love to know how you demo headphones. I tend to go with the consensus opinion and buy. But then that’s also given me 2 headphones more than I needed.
Did I really need Grado 325 in addition to Sennheiser HD660S?
I do like the signature of planars. The M1060C phones give a great bass response. Literally, nothing distorts before all distorts. Without EQ, dynamic drivers tend to bounce of my ears whilst trying to faithfully recreate a bass response.
 

Misguided

Active Member
I’ve been trying to find somewhere to demo them without much luck. I’m leaning a lot more toward the Sundaras but I’m still a bit worried about the warmth. My Tv does have Bluetooth thank goodness and I’m thinking about getting the ifi zen bue v2 and a balanced lead to take advantage of the balanced output on the zen. Been looking into Amazon Music UHD too as a prime subscriber I can get it fairly cheap. Quite looking forward to setting it all up and trying it out only issue is the whole set up is going to be about £500. Bit more than I was planning.

Things always seem to work out this way I remember when I was looking for a 4k tv I started off looking at a panasonic led and ended up with an oled.
 

camcroft

Well-known Member
I’d love to know how you demo headphones. I tend to go with the consensus opinion and buy. But then that’s also given me 2 headphones more than I needed.
Did I really need Grado 325 in addition to Sennheiser HD660S?
I do like the signature of planars. The M1060C phones give a great bass response. Literally, nothing distorts before all distorts. Without EQ, dynamic drivers tend to bounce of my ears whilst trying to faithfully recreate a bass response.
I am in the same boat with my AT headphones I had never heard of Monolith @iFi audio recommended them to me and I took a chance and I am thankful for his advice
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
I am in the same boat with my AT headphones I had never heard of Monolith @iFi audio recommended them to me and I took a chance and I am thankful for his advice
Thanks for tagging us @camcroft! I like planar headphones, they have a very unique style of presentation.
@David Alexander, you are right about high Z dynamics and low Z planars, they both need power. When you take a closer look let's call it "type of power" matters too. Power is a product of voltage and current. Let's assume we have a 1V output from a headphone amplifier.

Monolith 1060C is an 18Ohm headphone, so it calculates to a current of 1V/18Ohm = 56mA and a power of 1V * 56mA = 56mW. 56mA is above most opamps capabilities.

Beyerdynamic DT-880 600Ohm calculates as follows: 1V/600Ohm = 1,6mA and power of 1v * 1,6mA = 1,6mW.

If you would like to get 56mW of power on 600 Ohm you would need around 35V output from the headphone amp which is a region of speaker power amplifiers. Of course, this is an absurd situation, but I used it to illustrate an idea. You don't need that much power with 600Ohm headphones as they are very sensitive.

Take away from this is that while both headphones are demanding to drive, they are for a different reason. Low impedance headphones usually need big current capabilities, while high impedance ones need big voltages.
 

Mr Edwards

Well-known Member
Thanks for tagging us @camcroft! I like planar headphones, they have a very unique style of presentation.
@David Alexander, you are right about high Z dynamics and low Z planars, they both need power. When you take a closer look let's call it "type of power" matters too. Power is a product of voltage and current. Let's assume we have a 1V output from a headphone amplifier.

Monolith 1060C is an 18Ohm headphone, so it calculates to a current of 1V/18Ohm = 56mA and a power of 1V * 56mA = 56mW. 56mA is above most opamps capabilities.

Beyerdynamic DT-880 600Ohm calculates as follows: 1V/600Ohm = 1,6mA and power of 1v * 1,6mA = 1,6mW.

If you would like to get 56mW of power on 600 Ohm you would need around 35V output from the headphone amp which is a region of speaker power amplifiers. Of course, this is an absurd situation, but I used it to illustrate an idea. You don't need that much power with 600Ohm headphones as they are very sensitive.

Take away from this is that while both headphones are demanding to drive, they are for a different reason. Low impedance headphones usually need big current capabilities, while high impedance ones need big voltages.

Which iFi Headphone Amp would you suggest for the Monolith 1060C Headphones?
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
Which iFi Headphone Amp would you suggest for the Monolith 1060C Headphones?
I would go for either Zen CAN or Zen CAN Signature (I use the latter). Normal CAN will drive them easily with low noise and low distortion. CAN Signature is an upgrade over that. It uses better quality parts that influence the sound in a positive way. The output stage in Signature is class A, which means even lower distortion, especially in high frequencies. Last, but not least you get a better power supply in the set.
The downside of CAN Signature is that you won't be able to use our special filter as we don't have it made for Monolith, only for Meze, Sennheiser and HiFiMan (I'm rocking HiFiMans).
 

Misguided

Active Member
I would go for either Zen CAN or Zen CAN Signature (I use the latter). Normal CAN will drive them easily with low noise and low distortion. CAN Signature is an upgrade over that. It uses better quality parts that influence the sound in a positive way. The output stage in Signature is class A, which means even lower distortion, especially in high frequencies. Last, but not least you get a better power supply in the set.
The downside of CAN Signature is that you won't be able to use our special filter as we don't have it made for Monolith, only for Meze, Sennheiser and HiFiMan (I'm rocking HiFiMans).

What does the special filter do?
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
What does the special filter do?
Bez tytułu.png


Take a look at this example. Those are subtle filters that are based on subjective feelings.
 

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