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DAG
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Headphone amps

Good morning all,
Hope you can help me out. I am looking to add a headphone amp to my system. Most likely the MF x-can v3. My source is a Music Hall 25.2 cd player with HD650 cans. My question is since the cd player is the only source for my system, can I integrate the headphone amp into my main system without degrading the sound when not using the headphones? Or, to get the best performance either way, am I going to have to re cable the cd player back and forth between the preamp and headpgone amp depending on if I'm using the phones or not? Hope this makes sense.

Elk
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Re: Headphone amps

I see two options:

1) get a Y-connector to use on the output of your CD player to split the output. Your player should have plenty drive capability for this not to casue any problem. It isn't ideal int he audiophile sense, but I doubt you would notice any degradation in sound if you use good a quality connector.

2) Use the tape out or similar from your preamp to drive your headphone amp. This would require you to turn on the player, preamp and headphone amp when you listen. You may notice some loss of transparency, etc. depending on the quality of your preamp, but again this should be slight if anything.

Otherwise I think you are stuck with moving the interconnects when you want to listen to headphones.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Headphone amps

Matching a Musical Fidelity X-Can V3 and a pair of Sennheiser 650's is a good thing. I'm doing it right now - only with 600's. I alternate sources for this little "next to the computer" system between an iPod and an MF Xray V3 CD player which I took out of my main system. I've mounted a pair of MonsterCable splitters on the amp's single RCA inputs to allow the choice of inputs. As the CD player and the iPod are never in use at the same time, there's no problem with signal degradation.

Splitters of that sort could be the solution to your need to feed the output of your CD player to the two different amps. Sound quality won't suffer as long as you only power up the amps one at a time. There are, almost certainly, other alternatives to switching interconnects every time you go from main system listening to headphone listening (bad idea). What preamp/amp component(s) are in your main system? There is likely to be an output from your preamp which will feed your headphone amp what it needs. What preamp/amp component(s) are in your main system?

stereophillips
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Re: Headphone amps

Since the X-Cans has a throughput that does not put the volume pot in the circuit, you could put it between your source and your integrated, which would mean you would not have to turn on your whole system when you wanted to listen to your headphones -- or, as suggested, you could insert it into the tape loop.

DAG
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Re: Headphone amps

Thanks,

I think I understand what you are saying. I have a Parasound Halo amp and Parasound P3 preamp. It sounds like the most feasible option is to connect the cd source to the headphone preamp and that to the preamp. But, wouldn't that mean I would have to have both amps powered when listening to the main system without the phones? And I guess that's my concern, won't this have a negative impact on the overall sound?

stereophillips
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Re: Headphone amps


Quote:
Thanks,

I think I understand what you are saying. I have a Parasound Halo amp and Parasound P3 preamp. It sounds like the most feasible option is to connect the cd source to the headphone preamp and that to the preamp. But, wouldn't that mean I would have to have both amps powered when listening to the main system without the phones? And I guess that's my concern, won't this have a negative impact on the overall sound?

If that concerns you, insert the X-Cans in the tape monitor or HT throughput of your P3. Yes, you'd neeed the preamp on when you listened to the phones, but you won't have to be burning tubes every time you aren't using your phones.

DAG
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Re: Headphone amps

OK now I'll show my ignorance. What's a HT throughput. Is that the same as my Direct1 input which my source is connected to now?

stereophillips
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Re: Headphone amps


Quote:
OK now I'll show my ignorance. What's a HT throughput. Is that the same as my Direct1 input which my source is connected to now?

No. It's a tape/effects loop (line level in and out) designed for connecting home theater (HT) processors to your stereo preamp. I don't know whether the P3 has labeled its loops as tape, effects, or HT, but all three are essentially the same thing and allow you to insert the XCans with minimal signal degradation.

cyclebrain
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Re: Headphone amps

Don't know if this applies to headphone amps, but HT inputs are usually different than tape loop connections. Tape loops allow one to insert EQs or processors in the signal path(the volume control still controls output level). HT inputs bypass the volume control giving the HT source control of levels.

cyclebrain
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Re: Headphone amps

I know that this is off the original topic but still related to headphone amps.
High end preamps cost big bucks. What experience do others out there have with using a headphone amp as a preamp?
I only need one input from my DAC (XM or CD). The load presented by any power amp is easy compared to a headphone.
A Channel Island headphone amp looks and tested pretty good for only $350.

Elk
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Re: Headphone amps

I had my Single Power headphone amp made with a set of RCA outputs. It was an inexpensive way to get the easy ability to use it as a preamp as well. My understanding is that the RCA's are simply another connection to the same circuitry as the 1/4" headphone out. They work great.

I have no clue if they are Tiffany style RCA's or not.

bifcake
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Re: Headphone amps

I use the Cary SLP-88 as my headphone amp. I find that it's better than any headphone amp I've heard barring the Cary 300SEI, which is an integrated amp. I picked up the SLP-88 on Audiogon new, in box for about 1k. For all the things it does, I think it's a real bargain.

Elk
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Re: Headphone amps

Nice choice and a great buy!

ohfourohnine
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Re: Headphone amps

In response to your query about using a headphone amp as a pre-amp, I recall that Sam Tellig, as part of a review of the Musical Fidelity X-Can V3 did just that and his only complaint was that he was restricted to a single imput. The review is probably about two years back or so.

Ran through the reviews section of the site without success except to discover that it was probably three or four years ago based on the date of Sam's review of the associated DAC. Perhaps someone who keeps the mags longer than I do or Stephen who has access to more of the past files can help.

In any event, I recall clearly that Sam liked what he heard.

bifcake
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Re: Headphone amps

Sam always likes what he hears. I don't think Sam ever encountered a product he didn't like. This is not to say that the Xcan is a bad amp. It's not. It's actually pretty good, but I don't think that Sam is a good authority. He's very much hit and miss.

Elk
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Re: Headphone amps


Quote:
Sam always likes what he hears. I don't think Sam ever encountered a product he didn't like.


I believe this is because he is a columnist and not a reviewer; his role is to bring to the reader's attention products he finds of interest. I expect that one would always agree with him only if one shares his precise preferences.

I personally skim his columns as I don't find other's vacations/trips interesting, while I am sure his wife is charming I don't care to read about her, and I don't find the observation that most Italians enjoy wine very insightful.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Headphone amps

Alex and Elk, your points are well taken. Some time back, I called Sam out on this forum regarding his recommendations for the latest iteration of the entry level MF amp and CD combo. He was such an artful dodger that I decided never to try to get him to give a straight answer again.

In this case, though, since what he claimed to have done with some success was exactly what Cyclebrain was speculating about I thought it wouldn't hurt to try to dig up the reference. Apart from Sam, I've never heard of anyone experimenting with that set up.

cyclebrain
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Re: Headphone amps

I had already read Sam's use of a headphone amp as a preamp.
That's where I got the idea. No test by J.A. to back up the X-Can performance. A must for me.
The Channel Island headphone amp had both requirements (for me). A subjective review and a measured review. Both good.
Would like to see some measuments on the tube based X-Can.

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