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Amp to use for nearfield listening

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

First, I'd like to preface this post by stating that I realize this is a headphone forum. Quite fankly, I trust the opinions and information on this forum, and would really appreicate your input. Also, the amps I'm considering are often discussed and reviewed here.

Basically, there are times where I don't want to be wearing my cans when listening to music. I'd like to add an amp and some small speakers to my headphone setup to act as a nearfield listening evironment. My question is in regards to amplification. I'm targeting <= $250 (USD) for an amp. Also, I'm looking for genuine value. By that I mean that I'm looking for high quality sound reproduction. If the answer I get is that it can't be had in my budget, then I'd rather know that than waste my money on something I'm not happy with. Also, while on the topic of sound quality, I'd like to add that I value accuracy and detail, but not at the cost of sounding harsh... if you know what I mean?

My final options are quite varried. I'd like some input on which of these choices will yield the most accurate/detailed, and most musical results.
The choices I'm considering are:
Qinpu A6000mkII
NuForce Icon Amp (aka. Icon Amp-30)
KingRex T-20.
AudioEngine A2

I welcome any and all feedback, and would even appreicate suggestions that I have not listed. Also, I don't want to go the DIY route.

Thanks in advance for your opinions.
post #2 of 2
I've had good luck with the Class D amplifiers. Myself, I have a truly cheapo Sonic Impact which, quite frankly, sounds great for nearfield which I picked up for like $25 back in the day, but the cheapo controls are just too painful to deal with. After a few months I picked up a Trends Audio 10.1 -- Slightly more refined sound, much better binding posts, RCA jacks, etc. Eventually I wound up with a Red Wine Audio Clari-T that runs off battery power which is a real gem...

So I guess I'm casting a vote for the general direction you outline above. The Tripath amps have a nice smooth sound to my ears, somewhere between tubes and A/B solid state. None of these will drive my main speaker rig enough to fill the living room with my Totem speakers, but they all sound great on the desktop. Myself, I've been curious about both the KingRex (which just looks great) and the NuForce Icon, but three Class D micro-power amps is enough for me. Good luck!

It might also bear mentioning that the speakers you wind up with may well have a bigger impact than the amplifier you eventually go with. I've been using Era Design 4's on the desktop for awhile, but recently picked up some B&W 686's with my dad over Thanksgiving for an office system for him and they seemed interesting as well (if perhaps a little tubby in the bass -- believe it or not).
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