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Looking for an amp MG HEAD???

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am very new to this forum and this will be my 8th or 9th post.

I have recently bought a pair of HD600s after listening to various headphones(including those Orpheus beasties) and I'm happy to have selected the best phones at this price point...well at least to my ear.

I'm running the 600s with my Arcam Integrated amp - but that amp is going into the living room with my B&W 302s for a two channel H/T(it's good enough for me as I'm never impressed with H/T under 10K and if you don't do it right why bother).

In my bedroom I will be using my Wharfedale Vangaurds (Flagship floorstanders) rated at 95db sensitive(yup horns). I now need an amp but I don't want to spend much...trouble is cheap solid state amps don't offer the sound I want nor do they have acceptable headphone jacks(that's if they even have one).

So, I'm thinking about the ASL Wave 8s, the AQ2004(which had one terrible and one very good review from enjoy the music.com) and buying the MGHEAD (I don't have much experience with tubes but this is a cheap way to get into them).

Someone mentioned that the MGHead could serve as a pre/amp ( I assume for a full stereo system). Is this correct and would it be reasonably good. I'm willing to sacrifice a bit in the stereo if the HD600s really sing.

I've heard the Creek and was not all that impressed. It seemed to have that typical SS edge that I want to get away from.
post #2 of 11
I don't think the MG Head could be recommended as a pre-amp for a speaker system. It's basically a headphone amp/pre-amp but has no tone controls nor inputs or outputs for anything but headphones and a single source.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so.
post #3 of 11
I'm currently using my Wheatfield HA-1 tubed headphone amp as a pre-amp in my speaker system (Marantz CD-6000 OSE CD player, Creek 5250 integrated amp as power amp, Axiom Millenia M3Ti bookshelf speakers, Silver Sonic Q10 speaker cable). It sounds absolutely great, and the speakers sound noticeably better with the HA-1 as pre-amp than with the 5250 functioning as both pre-amp and power amp. I think that the MG Head DT is likely to make a fine pre-amp as well, depending on the quality of your integrated amp.

If you need a headphone amp and would like something that could function as a pre-amp as well, I think the MG Head DT could very well be the answer. The Wheatfield HA-1 is out of your price range ($529 US from Headroom only). However, the MG Head DT will probably sound great to you. In any case, it's likely to be far better than a headphone jack on a CD player or on most integrated amps. The CAD-300SEI is, of course, a major exception.
post #4 of 11
I don't think you can use the Head as a traditional preamp.

It only as line level inputs.

The Wheatfield HA-1 would be your best bet if you need it to serve as a preamp as well.

post #5 of 11
Thanks for pointing that out, Bootman. Considering what a great improvement my HA-1 provides for my speaker system (expect a review in the near future), I would have thought the Head would do a good job too (were it able to function as a pre-amp). But if not, that's just too bad.

I just noticed you didn't post a limitation on the price -- perhaps, then, you could get the HA-1. Whatever your choice, good luck!
post #6 of 11
I have used the MG Head as a preamp. It only has one input, of course, and you have to use a 1/4-inch-plug-to-dual-RCA-jack adapter for the output to the monoblocks.

It sounded quite nice, though I did not use the stock tubes. It has a super-low output impedence, which is really helpful for use as a preamp. There's a little "hair trigger" problem with the volume control, but it's not a limitation.

I don't know if you can find better dedicated preamps with headphone output for the $270 price of the MG Head. You CAN find a better preamp for less money -- the Bottlehead.com one -- but you have to build it and it has no headphone output.

I own a pair of the AV8's and I think they're good amps for $100/channel. (I suspect a little judicious parts upgrading could make them really tasty.)

I haven't heard your speakers and I don't know what CDP you use, so I can't comment on system synergies. BUT, for what it's worth, I think an MG Head and a pair of AV8's will make you quite happy. But if you don't need headphone output and you can solder, GET THE BOTTLEHEAD PREAMP.

Also, Joe Lau is reportedly working on a cheap line stage with a headphone output, so you could wait around and see what that's like instead.
post #7 of 11
I don't think the head is intended for use as preamp.
The only headphone amp that I know of that makes a nice preamp is the Sudgen Headmaster. It has 3 line inputs and a dedicated pre out.
I cannot comment on the qualities of the MG head as HEADPHONE amp since I've never heard it. MF X-Can V2 does it for me.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have

never done a DIY. One day I will, but for now I would rather buy it all in one until I feel more comfortable with the equipment.

I was going to go with the MG HEAD and the AQ2004, but if a simple RCA Adapter is all I need then this seems like a much better and cheaper route.

I will spend money to upgrade tubes and, again, when I feel more comfortable I would like to do some of the internal upgrades if possible.

With the Wave 8s even if I mess up it's only $100.00.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 


I have not seen Sugden in Canada for years...I almost bought an integrated amp from Sugden years ago ... the Au50 I think. Beautiful amp but I was looking at future H/T to which the Arcam would serve better. If I could do it over I probably would have went with Sugden as H/T never did enter the mix.

Do you know what Sugden's web address is, I may be able to find a dealer here from them. Again though my funds are $300.00US max. Up to $500.00 as the Sugden can do both.
post #10 of 11



It's more money than the MG Head, but it is also a true pre-amp with 3 source inputs and true pre-outs....and a fine performer as well. It's dead quiet and extremely transparent. There's no tone or balance controls however...... which of course is a very good thing to those with purist leanings.

I've never heard the Creek, so I can't compare it's sound to the Headmaster's.

But you seemed to be leaning toward the sound of tubes.

Nothing wrong with that either. And the MG Head, IMO, is a bargain in the tube world. Some people have had initial quality control problems with the MG Head but most, like myself, have found it to be a quiet, powerful, solid, tube headphone amp.

If you're into tubes, you have to accept the fact that there's more cost and maintenence involved in owning tube equipment. And don't forget to add the cost of your tube rolling into the price of the MG Head. Factor in the long term costs of replacing tubes ( depending on how much use they receive of course) , and suddenly the Headmaster doesn't seem that much more expensive.

I'd be concerned about trying to use the MG Head as a pre-amp when it's not really meant to be a pre-amp. Videoshielded has shown it can be done......but I would imagine the power output of a headphone jack is different than a standard line-out jack. That could explain the "hair trigger" problem Videoshielded mentions. How bad was the hair trigger problem? If you accidently cranked the volume control, could you harm your amp/speakers/ears?

Maybe the MG Head could be modded to be a true pre-amp?
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 


I do like Sugden so I will definitely consider it. It is very pleasing to the eye which never hurts.

Still, $800.00 is now putting me up over $1200Canadian. I have my sights on $400.00Canadian which is about where the MG HEAD lies. Even with Tube purchases that is a heck of a price difference.

The list of the a21 Integrated from Sugden says $1200.00US but it could be had for $1400.00Canadian so maybe the Headmaster will be a bit cheaper.
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