1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why need headphone amp???

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by ciber, Dec 29, 2003.

  1. ciber

    ciber
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    I have a HD580 Headphone and I am using mini hifi receiver and a 600W AV receiver headphone socket. But I heard headphone amp, what is that? Why need headphone amp?
     
  2. buns

    buns
    Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,066
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Belfast
    Ratings:
    +1
    because the circuitry in your receiver is almost definitely poor quality. It will have been an afterthought kind of a feature..... it will have been built pretty much as basically and cheaply as would be possible. In contrast, a headphone amp will be designed specifically for the purpose using far higher quality components and ultimately sounding much better.

    Pretty much the same as a standard amp..... you dont match £2000 speakers with the internal amp on your tv......

    ad
     
  3. alexs2

    alexs2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    13,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,674
    Basically,like everything else,it depends on what you want/expect in terms of sound quality....if you're happy with the sound from the headphone socket,then that's fine....on the other hand,a good,dedicated headphone amp can transform the sound of a set of good headphones like your Sennheisers.

    I use an Earmax in my system for headphone duties(single ended triode amp)and there are many others,from the Creek at the lower end of the price range,through the Slee,Musical Fidelity Sugden etc.....one for every price range,and for ultimate quality and price,the Headroom amps from the States.
     
  4. sceptic

    sceptic
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    663
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Bridgend
    Ratings:
    +19
    Is this the case in all amplifier/receivers or are some up to the standard of dedicated headphone amps?
    If so what amps would obviate the need for a dedicated headphone amp.
    I'd be interested in seeing a reference point which compares the headphone circuitry in amps.
     
  5. alexs2

    alexs2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    13,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,674
    Interesting point.....what you have to think of is that you're in many cases talking about a headphone amp that costs as much as,or more than,the average AV receiver,with things like the Earmax costing over £400,and some of the Headroom amps run to several thousand dollars....even the little Creek headphone amp is over £100,but very good value for the price.

    I can't think of any amp/receiver that has a headphone stage as good as a high end headphone amp,although some are undoubtedly very good.
    The problem is that most manufacturers add a headphone socket as a bit of an afterthought/convenience,and not much goes into actually making it perform well.

    I think the best way to convince yourself is to try a good set of 'phones with a really good headphone amp,and your chosen receiver's H/P out socket,and just hear the difference.
     
  6. sceptic

    sceptic
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    663
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Bridgend
    Ratings:
    +19
    I have a problem finding anywhere locally with headphone amps to audition.
    I'm very impressed with my headphones (Senn HD600) played through the NAD C350 and would like a comparison with headphone amps to check if they're worthwhile.
    I know it's subjective but a reference point which compares specific CD/Stereo/AV amps with headphone amps would be useful.
     
  7. buns

    buns
    Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,066
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Belfast
    Ratings:
    +1
    I imagine some amps will be better, but i dont know which ones. Most audiophile amps seem to ignore the headphone section anyhow, so that makes it difficult to judge.

    ad
     
  8. ditton15

    ditton15
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    Messages:
    535
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    edinburgh
    Ratings:
    +0
    a bit off thread, but ... I've recently been listening to an MP3 player with some full size headphones - and been impressed. despite the MP3 compression, the result sounds better than the headphone out from CDplay via the Denon AVamp, and about the same from CDplay from the AudioLab 8000S.
     
  9. alexs2

    alexs2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    13,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,674
    Yes...I can definitely appreciate that problem,as I found my local shops had either nothing at all,or ghastly offerings no better than the headphone sockets of their AV gear.

    I ended up buying the Earmax purely on the recommendations of a reviewer whose tastes usually coincide with mine(Ken Kessler of HiFi News),and wasn't disappointed at all!

    I cant think of any good online reference point for you to go to,but I would say that the Creek headphone amp will be better than your NAD,and after that point,once you get into the MF amp,and then above,the gains are immediately obvious.

    To give an example....comparing my Earmax and Sennheisers to my Krell/B&W speakers....obviously the bass is much more tactile via the speakers,but it's still clear and well defined via the 'phones...the real gains though,come in the midrange and treble,where the detail and depth via the phones/Earmax is superb..meaning you can hear things on a £1800 CD/headphone amp/headphone system that you won't hear on a conventional system costing several times as much.

    You've got such a good pair of headphones there,that investing in a really good dedicated amp is a very worthwhile addition.
     
  10. sceptic

    sceptic
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    663
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Bridgend
    Ratings:
    +19
    Where is a good place to source headphone amps, preferably in the UK?
     
  11. alexs2

    alexs2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    13,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,674
    Earmax: www.audiophileclub.co.uk
    Creek: www.creekaudio.com for their dealer list near to yourself.
    Musical Fidelity: There's a dealer in Cardiff....Sevenoaks HiFi
    Slee: The Sevenoaks Hifi shop in Swansea appears to stock them.

    Hope that gives you a few relatively nearby.
     
  12. sceptic

    sceptic
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    663
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Bridgend
    Ratings:
    +19
    alexs2 - Thanks for your help. I'll check out them out.
    :smashin:
     
  13. alexs2

    alexs2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    13,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,674
    My pleasure.....sure you won't be disappointed once you've tried a few good ones.....my personal favourite is the Earmax,but the MF is reasonably similar in character,if not quality,for an idea of what it sounds like if you're interested.
     
  14. buns

    buns
    Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,066
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Belfast
    Ratings:
    +1
    I give the little creek a thumbs up..... i use it with HD600 and its a lovely little thing. Admitted it is no earmax, but i dont really use it enough to warrant that.

    all the best

    ad
     
  15. sceptic

    sceptic
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    663
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Bridgend
    Ratings:
    +19
    Did some research locally.
    Audio Excellence do the Rega Ear for £120. Any thoughts on this?
    They also do the Naim Headline for £450 – a bit expensive.
    Sevenoaks do the MF XcanV3 for £250. These are not in stock until the end of January but will be worth auditioning then.
    The Earmax looks cool but I’m dubious about valves and problems replacing them so I’ll probably leave this one.
    Can’t find the Creek locally.
    The other possibility is the Slee Solo at £299.
    As I said earlier I really need to audition these amps to convince myself that they are a worthwhile improvement over the headphone sockets of my NAD amp.
     
  16. buns

    buns
    Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2001
    Messages:
    6,066
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    58
    Location:
    Belfast
    Ratings:
    +1
    ruling out valves without listening is never a good idea! Valves are pure nirvana if done right....

    You could try the sugden amp..... ive heard it mentioned and apparently it can double up as a basic preamp should you want it

    ad
     
  17. sceptic

    sceptic
    Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2002
    Messages:
    663
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Bridgend
    Ratings:
    +19
    The Sugden Headmaster is at least £540 which places it way beyond my price range.
    How long would the valves last on the Earmax?
    Would they be they be easily replaced at a reasonable price?
     
  18. Hawklord

    Hawklord
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2003
    Messages:
    3,447
    Products Owned:
    2
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Location:
    Aldershot, Hampshire
    Ratings:
    +267
    I have just purchased the GSP solo MKIII to complement the Sein HD600's I bought a few weeks ago (still a couple of weeks burn in to go). Review and details here:-

    http://www.gspaudio.co.uk/preamps/headphone.htm

    http://www.tnt-audio.com/ampli/sleesolomkiii_e.html

    I went for the £399 version with the better power supply (PSU1).
    The detail and soundstage whilst listening to music, DVD soundtracks and even tv is markedly better than using the phono jacks on all of my equipment. I bought blind without listening to any other models/makes which is not advisable (but did my homework regarding reviews and views on these forums).
    I'm perfectly happy with the improved results a designated headphone amp has given me over normal phono jacks and make the HD600's sound at their best.

    I think that if you have the funds and want to make best use of the headphones you have a headphone amp is the way to go. :smashin:
     
  19. alexs2

    alexs2
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    13,896
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Ratings:
    +1,674
    The MF XCan is definitely worth auditioning,as is the Slee.
    Also,don't write off the Earmax for being a tubed design...I've had mine for over 5yrs now on the same set of valves with no problems at all,and the sound quality is superb.

    The Naim I'm not familiar with,but it's certainly very similar in price to the Earmax,and I would expect it to have some elements of the Naim house sound.

    I think the easiest option you have is to wait for the MF to come back into stock.

    BTW...the valves for the Earmax are readily available from the distributor and also from NOS(new old stock suppliers)and as I said above,mine have already put in 5+yrs service with no problems.
     

Share This Page

Loading...