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Are headphone amps pointless...

post #1 of 158
Thread Starter 
...if you've got an excellent hi-fi amplifier with a full-size headphone output?

I've got a Denon amp that's beautiful with CDs and SACDs, and I'm wondering whether there's any reason NOT to use this with headphones, or whether I'm best investing in a dedicated headphone amplifer?
post #2 of 158
Nice thread title, this should be interesting.

Oh, to help point you in the direction of your answer -> Look for the big SEARCH button and use it.
post #3 of 158
I have a Denon receiver and chose to get a home head amp.
post #4 of 158
If it sounds good to you, there is no reason to go with a dedicated headphone amp. If you ever have the chance to listen to a headphone amp, and it betters the sound of your home amp, then you might want to consider the investment. I sold off all of my stereo equipment a year or so ago, so my only listening system is a headphone amp-based setup.
post #5 of 158
I've tried some receivers and old amps headphone outputs, but honestly, the headphones amps sounds way better for me ...
post #6 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallenAngel View Post
Oh, to help point you in the direction of your answer -> Look for the big SEARCH button and use it.
I just did a search for "Irritating"... it took me to tons of threads about people with lots of posts picking on newbies for not using the crappy search system.
post #7 of 158
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by earwicker7 View Post
I just did a search for "Irritating"... it took me to tons of threads about people with lots of posts picking on newbies for not using the crappy search system.
Thanks Earwicker! I did a hell of a lot more browsing for keywords than I did searching, but I must admit the search isn't exactly the most accurate of pinpointers.

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!
post #8 of 158
Yeah, they are just pointless!
Which is why most of us own one. Just because we have too much money and need to spend our savings one something which makes no sense at all...
post #9 of 158
I own a 1979 Kenwood KA-907 Integrated Amp.
This unit cost well over $1,000.00 IN 1979!
This unit has a killer headphone section.

This unit features strict dual mono construction with 2 transformers. 180 + 180 watts into 4 Ohms, 150 + 150 watts into 8 Ohms. 2 Phono inputs, 2 tape loops + aux and tuner connections. The preamplifier can be separated from the power amplifier. 2 pair of speakers can be driven.

THIS THING ROCKS!

It drives all of my headphones wonderfully!

post #10 of 158
It depends on the amp.

The amps (and recievers/preamps) that have good headphone outputs typically have dedicated headphone stages IE: a built in headphone amp!

das
post #11 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyRay View Post
I own a 1979 Kenwood KA-907 Integrated Amp.
This unit cost well over $1,000.00 IN 1979!
This unit has a killer headphone section.

This unit features strict dual mono construction with 2 transformers. 180 + 180 watts into 4 Ohms, 150 + 150 watts into 8 Ohms. 2 Phono inputs, 2 tape loops + aux and tuner connections. The preamplifier can be separated from the power amplifier. 2 pair of speakers can be driven.

THIS THING ROCKS!

It drives all of my headphones wonderfully!

Great amp!
Reminds me of my old Yamaha CA810.
LL
LL
post #12 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikongod View Post
this thread is pointless.
Dude, this is the second newbie I've seen you thread crap on today. Don't you have anything more constructive to do? This doesn't make you look like a knowledgeable elder; it makes you look like a bored internet bully.
post #13 of 158
Quote:
Originally Posted by JazzHands View Post
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.
post #14 of 158
Quote:
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
Yeah, see, here's the thing: Sort of the ultimate afterthought is to just stick a few resistors between the speaker amps and the headphone jack to step down the output to be safe for phones, and that's what most manufacturers do. When properly implemented (and there's really not a lot of reason to do it improperly, given that "properly" is cheap and easy), it will deliver to the headphone jack all the planning, design, technology, care and forethought that went into the overall design of the receiver/integrated amp. Which may be a lot or not.

The only real drawback, it would seem, is that this methodology tends to deliver a rather high output impedance, which could alter the frequency response of low impedance phones. It should not create any audible problems with high impedance phones - Senn HD580/600/650, Beyerdyamics, AKGs, etc. In that case the receiver or integrated amp should be pretty much as good at driving headphones as it is at driving speakers.

Then there are the rare, more expensive cases where the manufacturer of the integrated amp/receiver goes to the trouble and expense of designing a separate headphone amp circuit (utilizing op amps) so it will drive low impedance phones as well as high impedance phones. Hardly an afterthought.

Does this mean that all receivers and integrated amps are as good as all dedicated headphone amps? Of course not. But it means that that whole afterthought thing was BS from conception and we would probably be better off listening with our ears instead of our internet connections.

Tim
post #15 of 158
Depends on the needs of your cans and the capability of your amp/reciever.

I have an integrated that drives my Audio Technicas as well as my good headphone amp, and much better than my cheaper headphone amp.

Driving AKG 701's, though, it falls over due to lack of current/voltage/something and only the good HP amp does it satisfactorily.

For the AT's, blowing money on a dedicated amp gives me nothing (except a small amp I can move). For the AKG's, I found it essential.
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