I got a deal for a pair of Mordaunt Short Carnval 1 for cheap, but I still haven't gotten myself an amp yet. I came across tripath amps like lepai and topping, but I don't trust the quality of the lepai despite their glorious reviews. Topping amps however are using better quality components encased in a very solidly built housing.
On the other hand, I have my eyes on one Sansui AU 3900 mentioned previously some pages back.
I'm particularly interested with the headphone out to drive my Goldring DR150. Any of you guys had the chance to compare the performance of a tripath amp and a vintage solid state amp? Should I open a new thread for this?
I hate to do this, but it is a fair and just thing to do. All vintage amps / receivers, with the exceptions so rare that can be forgotten, use for powering headphones speaker output power amp, connected through some fairly high resistance ( couple hundred ohms ) . That means output impedance of your headphone jack is essentially the resistance of that limiting resistor in series. It is suboptimal in any case, but gets worse with the lower impedance of headphones. Not only the control, definition and dynamic range are affected, it manifests itself with quite markedly changed frequency response, particularly with headphones that display gross impedance variation across the spectrum - balanced armature headphones would be most vulnerable to this.
Again - it could be to your's liking, it could be good "enough" - but would never represent an optimum solution for driving good headphones. One can not expect not to hear some of the above with say HD800s - please note I diiiiiiid streeeeetch the time with hps plugged into phones out on my vintage amps faaaaar toooooo loooong - a dedicated powerful enough for the headphones driven amp will sound superiour nomatterwhat. It needs not to be expensive to demonstrate this fact - but where on earth are you gong to hear what your amp is doing better than through a pair headphones strapped to your ears - or worse yet - inserted in your ear canal? Poor amp ( and source etc ) has literally nowhere to hide.
Vintage dedicated headphone amps? A handful of above exceptions all but unobtainium by now - I remember there was a very high end Onkyo of that type, but it was $$$ and probably still is. Never saw one in flesh.
HD 800 through a resistor on vintage amp ( that IS in 99,99999 ........9 % of cases ) - NO, thank you. It is like powering a Ferrari on anything that will remotely burn in its engine - performance be damned. One does not buy a Ferrari if there is afterwards no money for gasoline, tires, etc.
This is not to say it can not be an interim solution until budget allows for more or even the ultimate solution for your combination of equipment and listening preferences. I like adore vintage, but that resistor in series is a deal breaker as far as decent headphone performance is concerned. Almost everything else on vintage equipment can be restored/improved/modified - into stratosphere if desired - but that headphone output remains the same. Unless you decide to replace those two 5 cent resistors ( and switch) with proper headphone amp - here is your answer why in "vintage" times there were so few proper headphone amps. Once Sony cassette Walkmans and their headphone amps have shown a clean pair of heels to headphone outputs on vintage amps/receivers - and you can add anything from then up to present iWhatnots - modern amps/receivers have such dedicated headphone amps. Couple of resistors, capacitors, 2 operational amplifiers - it can be done for say additional $ 10 compared to the 10 cent resistors approach. Of course one can drive the quality ( and price...) of parts beyond any reason - but that $10 headphone amp will make mincemeat of any vintage amp connected to headphones via series resistors.