Living room/home office headphone system?


Standard Member
Hi folks,

Apologies for what will no doubt be some rather naive and uneducated questions.

I have a nice ‘man cave’ system, comprising a Rega P1, Audiolab 6000a, KEF R100’s and a REL sub.

Love it. Or at least I would if I can ever find the right settings for the sub! I listen exclusively to vinyl on this.

However, I’ve come to the realisation that I actually do the vast majority of my listening either in the home office (which I share with my wife), or the main living room (which, curiously, I also share with my wife…). I do this using Spotify app from my iPad, into Bose QC headphones and via an original Dragonfly black.

What can I do, with a reasonable budget (say a max of £400), to improve my listening experience? Ideally something with a small footprint. I can’t listen via my work laptop as it is locked down for security reasons. I am assuming some form of headphone amp, possibly different headphones. Do I need a separate streamer (or one combined with a headphone amp)? My ignorance is such that I don’t know what a streamer does over a Spotify app - I wouldn’t be storing CD’s to stream etc.

Could someone explain (and possibly recommend kit) in words of as few syllables as possible? Thanks!


Headphone amp will always improve the performance of any headphones. Usually the connection would be by RCA to the amp as in your budget most are pure analogue type, Your music sources would therefore have to able to output an analogue signal. There are headphones amp that have their own DACs but these tend to be quite expensive and you could easily quadruple your budget.

Better headphones will make a difference especially if you also connect those headphones to the right amp. Huge differences in cost for headphones. I've only ever listened to one pair of Bose headphones that my neighbour bought.

Sorry I can't help on streaming as I've never indulged in that format, nor am likely to.


Well-known Member
There are a lot of options. For sheer convenience a portable dac/amp that can do both USB and Bluetooth is a good idea so you can play back from your phone or iPad easily.

Add a nice set of closed back headphones to keep your worlds apart.

Something new for £400: iFi Go Blu + Beyerdynamic DT 700/900 Pro X.

If you are stationary and can listen from one spot then a desktop DAC/Amp - it's very hard to beat the Topping DX3Pro+ instead of the Go Blu.

Last edited:


Standard Member
Well an update - I bought some Grado SR80x headphones yesterday. To say I’m delighted is an understatement - the first time I’ve ever legitimately been able to say I can hear stuff I couldn’t hear before, even on my main system!

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