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jwilhaus
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alternatives to headphone amps

I would like to get better input than is available from the headphone jacks common to some cd players and intergated amps without buying an expensive headphone amp. Is there a safe way to connect the output of a cd player or the pre outs of my amp to headphones? I remmeber that transformers were once used to connect an amp's speaker output terminals to headphones, but this method is no longer in use.

BillB
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

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I would like to get better input than is available from the headphone jacks common to some cd players and intergated amps without buying an expensive headphone amp. Is there a safe way to connect the output of a cd player NO, THAT OUTPUT IS TOO LOW IN POWER AND WILL NOT DRIVE THE HEADPHONES (NOT A SAFETY ISSUE THO)
or the pre outs of my amp to headphones? YES. HOWEVER, THAT IS ESSENTIALLY WHAT YOUR HEADPHONE JACK ON THE INTEGRATED DOES ALREADY. SO WIRING UP A JACK FROM THOSE OUTPUTS WILL NOT INCREASE THE QUALITY.

mikeymad
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

x2

Jan Vigne
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps


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YES. HOWEVER, THAT IS ESSENTIALLY WHAT YOUR HEADPHONE JACK ON THE INTEGRATED DOES ALREADY. SO WIRING UP A JACK FROM THOSE OUTPUTS WILL NOT INCREASE THE QUALITY.

Pre outs are unlikely to drive most headphones unless you have some electrostatics that actually require the pre out signal fed to the input transformers of the headphones. Pre amp out is expecting to see a very high load impedance (typically 10 times the output impedance of the pre amp) while most headphones are in the less than 50 Ohm territory with many falling in the single digits. Work that out with Ohm's Law and the available current will be miniscule which means the available "watts" and the ability to drive the headphones will be minimal, not much better than the line output of the CD player.

Most pre amps/receivers that have a headphone jack are running through some sort of built in headphone amplifier, quite often just an op amp circuit, meant to drive low impedance loads where headphones typically range.

If you don't want to spend the money on a dedicated headphone amplifier from a high end manufacturer, you can go on line with "diy headphone amplifier" and get plans for bulding an op amp circuit that runs about $20-30 and has quite decent reproduction over most moderately priced headphones. The plans are quite simple, basically soldering a few components to a board and hooking it up to some batteries. And you'll learn a little about how amplifier circuits operate in the process of choosing parts and optional schematics. On another forum a 14 year old with no previous kit building experience put one together and stuffed it inside an Altoid's canister.

BillB
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

good clarification, thank you.

jwilhaus
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

Jan,

Thanks for your information. I thought there was some kind of impedance matching requirement. Apparently, the industry has moved completly away from connecting headphone's via transformers in favor of using specialized amps.

-jw

linden518
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

Hi, j. FYI, there are some amplifiers still offer fantastic headphone out via transformers. My main amplifier is Leben CS600, an excellent push-pull tube integrated from Japan. One of the reasons I got it was because of the reputation it had among head-fi crowd as a headphone amp, as well. It doesn't function as headphone amp via op-amp; there's a switch you toggle on the front of the amp, and with a flick of the switch, the music is relayed DIRECTLY from the output transformers to headphone out. I'm using AKG 701 with it, and the result is consistently stunning. Some detractors of K701 complain about brightness or leanness, but with Leben amping them, the sound is very lush and seductively musical. Obviously, I do more listening with the speakers on the Leben, but as a headphone amplifier, I've yet to hear anything else that I like better.

bifcake
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

I use the Cary SLP-88 pre as my headphone amp. It's probably the second best headphone amp I've heard next only to the cary 300SEI integrated. The headphone output section is directly coupled as it is with the Leben.

One of these days, I'd like to hear your Leben with my headphones. I wonder how it compares to the Cary.

flatmap
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

Hi AlexO, what headphones have you used with the Cary SLP-88? Also are you using the stock tubes in this preamp?
-- Steve

bifcake
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Re: alternatives to headphone amps

I use mostly Sennheiser HD 580 phones with the preamp and I use stock tubes. The setup sounds very good.

Sorry for the late reply. I didn't notice this thread was updated.

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CARY AUDIO DESIGN

Well, I have always felt that Cary makes some of the most modern and beautiful looking components available. But now they have a new amp called the Xciter Integrated tube amp. The two reviews I have read are superb for using the Xciter as a headphone amp, FYI!!

To help answer your question, jwilhaus, my suggestion is go to Headroom - Right Between Your Ears at headphone.com/ These guys have put together a company of people that love headphones only!!. The carry most of the major companies, but more importantly, they do have inexpensive headphone amps to choose from. Just about every available accessory as well. I`ve dealt with them, and they are very nice people. I hope that helps.

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