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nunhgrader
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What's your favorite headphone amp?

I'm a newbie but, I just purchased my first headphone amp: Antique Sound Labs HB-1 and I love the tube experience. I wanted to try tubes and start of cheap. Listening with a pair Sennheiser HD-280 Pros and I love it.

Interested to hear what you guys/ gals are using?

Monty
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

I envy you guys that can wear phones. They really get to me in short order.

nunhgrader
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?


Quote:
I envy you guys that can wear phones. They really get to me in short order.

How come?
I've heard different complaints especially comfort. BTW - those complaints are very valid but, I find I get so much closer to the music with phones!

Monty
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

That is exactly why I envy you guys. I can get completely lost listening to phones, but after about 2 or 3 songs I'm ripping them off and rubbing my ears.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

I also listen much on my Grados, but they sure can get uncomfortable after a while even with the larger foam ear pieces. I use the larger foam pieces on my 60s and 80s. I just do not get why someone at Grado can't make a slightly Extra Large pair that are comfortable. My Sony 7506's are comfortable, but do not have the resolution. I can probably see a pair of Senn 580 or 600s in my future. When you get older like me headphones seem to make more and more sense. The slightly brighter Grado presentation is what we often need. My family need not suffer my musical tastes all the time.

MUDSHARK
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

A little bit off topic but I do have a headphone question. The Parasound pre-amp has a different smaller size plug-in than the AKG plug that worked with my former H-K receiver. Will an adapter work well or are different headphones with the smaller size plug preferrable.

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

Rather than upgrade the amp, try upgrading the phones first. I've a pair of 280's I use when I need to shut out ambiant noise, but they fall far short of my 600's. Since the 650's are widely available, there are some bargains on new 600's. There are also some Grados which will beat the 280's.

Being a real cheapskate, my favorite headphone amp is the MF X-Can v3, but if you want to upgrade your present outfit, try the Headroom web site.

jazzfan
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?


Quote:
That is exactly why I envy you guys. I can get completely lost listening to phones, but after about 2 or 3 songs I'm ripping them off and rubbing my ears.

Hi Monty,

I use both on ear and in ear headphones, so I wonder if you have ever tried any in ear type of headphones, such as the Etymotic (the ones i currently use) or the Shures (the ones that everyone seems to be raving about)? If you can get past the initial weirdness factor of puting something other than a Qtip in your ear I don't find them to be as uncomfortable as my Sennheiser HD-580's, even when I've had them on for a number of hours at a time. And boy do they block out outside noise! Great on planes and trains, they have often kept me from losing my cool with some really rude cell phone users on my daily commute. I can see them yakking away and I can see my fellow commuters discomfort but I just smile and listen to some real nice Coltrane or Miles on my iPod and Etymotics.

And nunhgrader,

As far as headphone amps go, I use the ones from Headroom when at home. I think that they are a great company. They really care about their customers and they're always finding ways to improve their products in meanful ways (i.e. value and sound) and everyone I've recommended to them has come away happy.

mmole
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

I really liked the Grado RA-1 battery-powered headphone amp even before my most recent excellent service experience. For Christmas my wife bought me Grado 325 'phones and a nice Cardas cable to connect my iPod to the amp. After one listening session the input connector came away from the unit when I disconnected the cable. Even though the unit was way past warranty, Grado repaired it at no charge even including return postage. They are true audio good guys.

I agree with Jim T. on the Grado SR-60 comfort issue. The larger foam earpads help alot. As a matter of fact with these on I can watch a whole movie on a laptop on a plane trip without discomfort.

jazzfan
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Re: true audio good guys


Quote:
They are true audio good guys.

Hey Roy, that sounds like a wonderful topic for the "Rants and Raves" section.

nunhgrader
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?


Quote:
Rather than upgrade the amp, try upgrading the phones first. I've a pair of 280's I use when I need to shut out ambiant noise, but they fall far short of my 600's. Since the 650's are widely available, there are some bargains on new 600's. There are also some Grados which will beat the 280's.

Thanks Cheapskate! Taking your advice on this one (another reason to own/ try new gear - shooting of the 600s first and then looking to try the Grado 225s (worried about comfort from the Grados).

nunhgrader
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?


Quote:

And nunhgrader,

As far as headphone amps go, I use the ones from Headroom when at home. I think that they are a great company. They really care about their customers and they're always finding ways to improve their products in meanful ways (i.e. value and sound) and everyone I've recommended to them has come away happy.

Thanks for your advice - I've been there as well and their products do look well built. I've been drooling over their Millet Hybrid Amp.

Jeff Wong
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

I'm not sure I've heard quite enough headphone amps to truly have a fave at this point. But, I'll tell you what I currently use in my headphone rig. A Cal Delta transport (Orchid AES/EBU) feeds an Audio Alchemy DTI 2.0 (D-60 S/PDIF) which cascades into an Audio Alchemy DTI Pro 32 Rev B (Revelation I2S) to an Empirical Audio modified Perpetual Technologies P-3A DAC (Goertz silver Micro Purl interconnects) to the analogue input on a Grace m902. The AA units are powered by a Power Station 2 and the PT DAC by a Modwright modified Monolithic P3b. ESP Essence Power cords on a couple of units and some no name aftermarket cord. API Power Wedge 116 and PS Audio Ultimate Outlet and a homemade parallel filter handle the juice. I mainly use Sennheiser 650s with an Equinox cable. I also have 600s and Grado HF-1 cans, but, don't use them that much. I need to switch back to my Grace 901 to do some critical listening at some point - I know several people that prefer the 901 to the m902.

The Grace amp is a nice unit, but, its internal DAC is rather grainy sounding to my ears, which is why I use an external DAC. I suspect John Marks' rating in the magazine was a bit too generous; if the Grace is a Class A sounding unit, then headphone amps have a long way to go. In any case, I much prefer the sound of my main rig in my mostly dedicated room (bookcases share space), but, I'm pleased to have pretty decent music feeding my empty soul while I work.

Buddha
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

Hey, Jeff! We are having some system overlap!

I run a PS Audio Lambda II via a Strightwire AES/EBU cable (I can't justify it, it just sounded best) into an Audio Alchemy DTI 2.0, then I have both an Audio Alchemy powered coax cable and an I2S bus into an Audio Alchemy DTI Pro 32. The cascade seemed to make further improvement, so I doubled up. Then it's another powered AA coax and I2S into a modded Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0 DAC. (Some days I like the coax, some days I like the I2S.)

I also us the Audio Alchemy power supplies that have the curved right edge to mate up with the devices, but I keep them farther apart. For even more overlap, we use the same Momolithic Sound power supplies. Sitting here at work, I forget which ones are supplying what right now.

I was a big Audio Alchemy fan!

I forget what brand my main power conditioners are. They are heavy and shaped like a truncated pyramid. API sounds familiar. How embarrassing.:o

Now, I'm just waiting for the format wars to play themselves out before I move on, but my fantasy digital source would be Alex Paychev's APL Hi Fi modded Denon 3910.

I've heard that baby a few times and it actually astounded me, and I'm pretty cynical about digital.

Anyway, just saying hello and marvelling at how great minds think AND listen alike!

Oh, yeah, headphones...

Stax Lambda something with the Stax amp. I've had them almost 20 years and they still sound sweet to me.

I like reading about the Headroom amps and I had a chance to meet Tyll, so I'm thinking my next headphone journey will be with their product line and a headphone to be determined later.

Jeff Wong
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

Cool! Great minds think alike, or fools never differ?

Years ago, in my main system, I tried cascading two DTI v2.0s into the Pro 32 when I was using my Dusty Vawter modified DDE v3.0, but, I could never get a solid lock with the PLL circuitry. I've also got the Power Station 3, but, found it hummed a bit too much. The Power Station 2 works well since it can handle both of my jitter units. I used the Monolithic power supply made for the Pro 32 and DDE v3.0 (in conjunction with my DDS Pro transport) when that was the digital front end of my main system. Peter Madnick told me there would be no benefit to cascading when using the DDS Pro because of the extremely low jitter. Most of the stuff in my headphone system is the stuff that got left over from the various upgrades in my big rig. I've thought about using the DDE v3.0 in my bedroom system, or even hooking it up in my main system just so that I can decode HDCD discs. The nice thing about upgrading and keeping the old gear is the trickle down effect on your secondary or tertiary systems.

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

And, obviously, the benefit of maintaining secondary and tertiary systems is providing an excuse for not getting rid of that old gear which just had to be replaced. As a wise man once said, the trick with this hobby is knowing when to stop.

Jeff Wong
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

In my own defense, I'd say my system has changed the least of my audionut friends in the last 11 years. I lived with the same modest integrated amp for about 10 years before springing for the he-man rig currently in my main system. The stuff in the bedroom system is made up of gear prior to my entering this insane hobby, although I probably will move that integrated amp there.

ohfourohnine
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

Relax, Jeff. You don't need to defend yourself. I never said I had mastered the trick, nor do I see anyone else chiming in to say that he has.

nunhgrader
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?


Quote:
As a wise man once said, the trick with this hobby is knowing when to stop.

How right you are ;0

But, that's no fun!

PunkJr
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Re: What's your favorite headphone amp?

I've listened to a few ranging from around $550 up however i built my own standalone amp (no pre amp or volume control), toroidal transformer and beefy power supply, and with my HD580's the sound is splendid. Just deciding now whether to use the Cardas upgrade or similar. It's hard to demo these headphone cords so I have to go by reviews.

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