Originally Posted by JazzHands
My browsing found quite a bit of opinion, but most people argued which they preferred (hi-fi amps or heapdhone amps), not which was physically more up to the task. Thoughts would be appreciated very much!
There are people who own one or the other and will argue their side.
There are people who have only heard one or the other, like what they hear, and therefore argue their side.
There are people who have heard a bad integrated amp and a good headphone amp, and are therefore unfavorably biased. Maybe there are a few going the other way on this point, but I doubt it.
Now finally, you get to the few people who have heard multiple good integrated amps/receivers (and by good, I mean with dedicated headphone sections that are more than afterthoughts) AND who have heard multiple good headphone amps, both using comparable quality sources. This tiny minority of people can give you an educated opinion. Ah... but it is also biased, because it is based on their ears, tastes, preferences and not yours.
A really good amp only amplifies the signal and passes it along. So in theory, all good amps are up to the task equally. However, as with many things in life, compromises (cost, design, heat, wear and tear, tinnitus) get in the way and foul things up. So both are "physically up to the task" but headphone amps typically do a better job simply because, per dollar invested, they are designed for the specific purpose and make fewer compromises along the way.