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Headphone amplifier

Discussion in 'headphones' started by DCS, Nov 8, 2022.

  1. DCS

    DCS pfm Member

    Hi all

    I’m looking into getting a headphone amplifier. I have no experience or ever owned a headphone amp and wondered what would be a decent choice. Open to solid state or something with valves. I don’t need a DAC as I have 2 spare, sadly neither have a headphone socket.

    Budget around £200 used or new.
  2. Ptah

    Ptah pfm Member

    Beyer A20 if you can find one s/h - excellent.
    Arcam rHead was pretty good but not as.
  3. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Member

    I have a Graham Slee Novo headphone amp for sale. I've just posted it on the GS forum and will be putting on EBay for £120 plus p&p. Please PM me if its of any interest and I can send details / pictures.
  4. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member

    A shooting star in the HiFi firmament - Myryad.

    S/H only, but should be a best-ever buy if you can snag one.
    Mike Reed, DCS and robs like this.
  5. PerF

    PerF Scandinavian Member

    Rega EAR, simple pleasing (not valve though) HP amp, many around s/h.
    You need much higher price beating it.
  6. Salamander

    Salamander pfm Member

  7. LPSpinner

    LPSpinner pfm Member

    First question should be "what headphone are you using?"

    IEMS will require less gain and can be more sensitive to noise.
    Planar Magnetics, being a lower impedance, usually require more current delivery rather than large voltage swings.
    On the other hand Higher impedance headphones can be more inefficient and require higher voltages to drive them to usable volume levels but the higher impedance also draws very little current and therefore requires less power.

    If you need a one size fits all solution then look for an amplifier that has switchable gain settings, the ability to output a reasonable voltage for high impedance phones while also providing a reasonable power output for the lower impedance phones such as the Planar magnetics.

    I have the Fiio K5 pro and this has works well with a selection of headphones ranging from the 600 Ohm Beyerdynamic DT880, Sennheiser HD600 300 Ohm and AKG K501 ,120 Ohm. The K5 has managed drive these and other phones using an Ipod, a standard CD player's line out as well as feeding the on board DAC from either an SPDIF optical cable or the USB digital output from a PC or MAC.

    You might need to do a little research to match you style of headphones to an appropriate head phone amp.

    Big Tabs, davidsrsb and DCS like this.
  8. RoA

    RoA pfm Member

    DCS likes this.
  9. DCS

    DCS pfm Member

    My current headphones are quiet old now and require high current to get the best from them. I’m not a fan of IEM’s.

    I’m looking for an amp that would be ok with driving anything from 120 ohm to 600 ohm, would be for home use only so size/weight is not an issue. I would be using wired phones, not a fan off wireless.

    After I find an amp I’ll then be in the market for new phones.
    RoA likes this.
  10. Dan K

    Dan K pfm Member

    For £200 or so you could build the Rock Grotto version of the MF X-Can V2.

    The amp itself is generally around £100 and the parts to mod it are about the same.

    If done right, for that money I don't think anything will come close. Pair of 6922s with a constant current source. If you complete all the amp mods then you don't need the more expensive torroidal PSU.

    Maybe.. I could part with mine, maybe.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2022
    DCS and Copperjacket like this.
  11. narabdela

    narabdela who?

    Same here. Wiim mini > Fiio K5 Pro > Sennheiser HD600. Happy bunny. :)
  12. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Me too, I ate one sour too.

    Having tried all sorts of headphone amps, including a freshly serviced Sugden Headmaster, with my HD600's over the last 20 years, the best I have found is a straightforward headphone tap (resistor network with a headphone socket) off the speaker sockets on my freshly serviced Quad 606 power amp.

    Sounds bloody amazing and should be stupid o'cheap compared to any headphone amp.
  13. Vinny

    Vinny pfm Member


    Assuming the same ballpark dB/W, the voltage and current is irrelevant - the headphones will requires the same power - W=VI
    Isobarik likes this.
  14. Dan K

    Dan K pfm Member

    Not sure if allowed to link to another forum, but here are the details of the X-Can V2 mods:

    The copper shield makes a surprising difference, as do the valve sockets. The vol pot can also be changed for the smaller of the TKD items, with a mod to the board, and is well worth doing.
    DCS likes this.
  15. RoA

    RoA pfm Member

  16. DCS

    DCS pfm Member

    Looks interesting!
  17. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed pfm Member

    Poetically said and absolutely true. Much more that a can opener; a viable pre-amp too, with TWO can inputs (why don't all of them have this?) Mine's in used daily for TV, radio and other sources (oh yes, 3 inputs too......). Focal Elear and HD650 used.

    Previously a Naim Headline powered by 552; simply no contest to the Myryad.
    robs, DCS and Vinny like this.
  18. robs

    robs should know how this works by no

    You mean two headphone outputs?:)

    Myryad Z40 here too, with HD660S. Great little amp/preamp if you can find one - they sold the last ones off cheap, but people seem to keep them, rarely see them for sale.
  19. Nagraboy

    Nagraboy Ausculta fili

    I’d get a Graham Slee for that budget. No nonsense, good value kit.
  20. Somafunk

    Somafunk pfm Member

    Ifi or topping headphone amp of choice

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