Do you use dedicated headphone amplification?

Judging from the response to last week's poll, <I>Stereophile</I> readers love headphones. Do you use dedicated headphone amplification?

Do you use dedicated headphone amplification?
Yes, I use . . .
55% (87 votes)
No, I plug them straight into the headphone jack on my audio system or portable
45% (70 votes)
Total votes: 157

Dave Bennett's picture

HeadRoom Airhead, which, along with my Etymotic headphones saves my life on long boring flights.

JG's picture

My mbl 7008 integrated amplifier has a headphone jack. How good it compares to a dedicated headphone amp, I don't know, but mbl is no slouch. Sometimes I wonder if it would make a difference, but since I only occasionally listen to headphones, I don't bother. I really don't know why someone with good speakers would bother to listen through headphones. To me, they are for late night listening when I don't want to disturb anyone.

Dave F's picture

Musical Fidelity X Can V3 with Senn 600s and Cardas cable. All fed from my Philips CD80 transport and EAD 7000Mk3 DAC. Sounds sweet.

Cihangir Güzey's picture

I plug my studio monitor type Sony headphones into the player. It delivers more than clear enough music without bumped up bass.

Gregg Fedchak's picture

Naim Headline 2 with iSupply power supply.

Daniel Emerson's picture

I don't use a separate headphone amplifier, but I'm seriously considering the idea.

LPSpinner's picture

After trying too many different dedicated headphone amplifiers—including a couple of home-made specials. I have decided that my AKG501's sounded the best when driven from the headphone socket of my Arcam A80. Go figure.

Robert's picture

Custom made Class A topology solid-state amp, or STAX SRM-007t.

Anoni Mouse's picture

Ear Yoshino, GSP Solo, MF X-Cans v2, latest Creek SE.

Adrian Lebena's picture

HeadRoom Desktop. It's a very nice headphone amp with many features to accomodate a wide array of headphones.

DB's picture

Yes... Ray Samuels Tomahawk with an Audio Line Out Jenna Dock. The difference is very significant.

Nodaker's picture

I run my Creative Zen into a Total Airhead for my walks. I use three different sets of headphones depending on outside temperature. Sennheiser HD 600s (really cold out), Grado SR 80 (relatively cold outside), and Sennheiser PX 100's (nice outside). Yeah, I live in North Dakota so the first two get a lot of use.

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

The CIA combo sounds best to my ears.

Jim Cumbie's picture

HeadRoom Airhead.

Al Marcy's picture

A 396A/6BQ5 SE headphone amp.

Michael Chernay's picture

Musical Fidelity X-Can v2

Carl Sauer's picture

Home made amp using high power DSL line drivers.

AK's picture

Melos SHA-1.

Mike Agee's picture

The Lavry DA10 DAC w/ headphone amp. My McIntosh has a mini-plug jack meaning an adapter is necessary for most serious headphones, in my case Sennheiser 580's. A $2 Radio Shack adapter in-line with $200 worth of Cardas inspired doubt, apparently I would have been happier paying $35 for that adapter! At the time I couldn't find an audiophile-approved one, a market need unfulfilled. Hello? Vampire?

Blackcanyon's picture

I use a Bellari VP129. It drives my Grado 225s well but is short of power for my AKG 701s. I have an X-Can and power supply on the way

Louis P.'s picture

Right now, I don't have the need for a serious headphone system. But as my kids get older (the last one just became a teenager), my quality listening time decreases, so I am going to have to go that route in the near future. When that time comes, it will be Sennheiser 650s, with the best headphone amp I can afford. Headroom's killer Max amps are cool, but there's no way I will be able to afford $4000 for a headphone amp. Still, it looks like I'll need $2000-2500 total, but I've heard spectacular sound from the 650s at the HE shows.

Al Earz's picture

For as much as I use headphones I use the Grado unit. It seems to do the job. Overall I prefer speakers. Living alone, my headphones don't get much use.

Ed McNenney's picture

Grado at home Etymotic on the go!

James's picture

I enjoy laying on the carpeted floor in total darkness listening to music through headphones. I know what you are asking, "How can you find the input jack in total darkness?" Easy, simply glue hair around it. Hey, don't laugh, it works for me!

H.  Williams, Hollywood Hills's picture

I believe that the Graham Slee Solo performs extremely well. The bass is deep, controlled and well defined. The treble is crisp and extended without being harsh or splashy. The midrange is detailed and fluid. The combination of the Solo and the PSU1 or as Graham calls it, the Monitor Class, provides your head with a very open and spacious musical presentation. All in all, the Solo Mark III is very smooth and coherent top to bottom. I wouldn't give mine up for the best 'stats available. (Just be sure that your 'phones measure up.)

Aden's picture

I wish I used dedicated headphone amplification. I haven't yet found a portable one that is well priced enough and one that I can listen to first to verify!

Donald's picture

Antique Sound Labs HB-1 with 2 6BQ5 toobs.

Robert, St.Louis's picture

I use a HeadRoom Little that came with a pair of Grado SR125s. Best purchase i ever made. I bought this because my old Marantz preamp didn't have a built-in headphone amp. Going from closed to open cans was a revelation.

KR's picture


coolhifi's picture

1997 Audio Alchemy HPA v1.0 Nice and toasty all Class-A circuitry. Makes a nice place to rest your coffee cup, and absolutly locks down the Grado HP-1 'phones, with dynamics right out the ass. I laugh every time I use this set-up. (once the baking temperature is established)