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Wavering on the amp decision

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Greetings again, Head-Fi hive mind.

I'm wavering on an amp decision, and I could use Head-Fi's collective advice.

I have a beast of an A/V receiver -- it is a Pioneer 49TXi. I really love the sound out of it, and it can handle lots of different analogue and digital inputs. The D/A conversion on the 49TXi is, to my ears, outstanding.

It has a headphone jack that puts out the same sound as goes to the speakers (I've double checked the schematics), and I like that too. When I listen with head phones through the jack, the sound is clean to me. I generally have low impedance 'phones (I tend to like Japanese 'phones, and my only American 'phones are the KSC-35 and Ety 4P -- soon I will get a conversion cable to make this a 4S.)

I think at some point in my future I will buy a set of AKG K1000s. As many of you know, I really like my Sony F1, and from all reports, this looks like the next step up.

I can easily turn the volume on the receiver up to the point where I am clearly overdriving my existing 'phones and the sound is coming out at a painful level.

Now, here is my question -- should I buy a headphone amp or not. I have my eye on the Grace 901, but another option may be to go for that really beautiful looking new Audio-Technica unit.

(I already have a Pioneer SE-DIR1000C which has excellent Dolby Headphone processing, but which frankly is not up to the level of handling SACDs or super-high quality analog input, because it re-digitizes analogue input.)

Here are some of my concerns:

(1) The Grace unit has only one digital and one analogue input. But I have more than one digital and one analogue source. This means I either (a) just pick one device of each type or (b) use the receiver to switch. If I choose (b), I'm drawn back to the question -- why not just use the receiver headphone out in the first place ? (Because the receiver runs warm, I'm leary of running it sometimes -- especially on hot days when I'm trying to keep the room cool!) The Audio-Technica unit has three digital inputs, but that means no analogue input and thus no SACD or DVD-A or radio or vinyl!

(2) I wonder if the receiver really puts out enough current. Do any of you have some idea how I could test this without buying an expensive head amp to compare with? Maybe I could put a low impedance load across the headphone jack and measure with a multimeter? What would I be looking for -- how would I know whether or not the sound was adequate?

The Grace is expensive -- frankly, I have the money, but if I really won't use it then I'd rather use the money to buy something else instead.

Any thoughts on how I could proceed? Thanks in advance for your advice!
post #2 of 2
Sounds like you're already using your ears - I wouldn't worry about schematics or measuring current or whatever. Buy the Grace from somewhere that has a liberal return policy and see how it works out.
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