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Desktop Amp For Sensitive Headphones

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Can I get suggestions for affordable ($0-400?) desktop amps for sensitive headphones? (16-32 ohms, 100-110 db SPL, let's say)

 

So, it must have less than 1 ohm output impedance, must be solid state, must deliver high current, must have low gain, must have RCA input, and the hardest point to explore, it must be well designed, so as to be transparent.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by IzzyAxel View Post

Can I get suggestions for affordable ($0-400?) desktop amps for sensitive headphones? (16-32 ohms, 100-110 db SPL, let's say)

 

So, it must have less than 1 ohm output impedance, must be solid state, must deliver high current, must have low gain, must have RCA input, and the hardest point to explore, it must be well designed, so as to be transparent.

 

Thanks!

 You may want to check out the schiit headphone amps they have three amps that pretty much fit your price range.The lyr is a bit more at 449 us but you might spring for the extra 50.The lyr offers more power than most at the price range you are looking at.A friend has the asgrard and he has akg 702s which are definitely not a easy load for headphone amps.I used to own a shanling ph 3000 hybrid headphone amp which is basically the same headphone amp as the music hall model and it drove my akg 701s pretty well.The design has a little warmer sound due the tube input but with the akgs which can sound a bit thin on a lot of inexpensive headphone amps. It worked well with the 701s and gave them a smoother sound.

  Depending on the phone you use these are two suggestions.


Edited by buson160man - 11/20/12 at 11:16am
post #3 of 7
If you're amenable to using something smaller than a desktop amp, many portable amps and portable DAC/amps are going to be good for your needs.

The Leckerton amps meet all your requirements, include DACs, and sound great. I've been using the Leckerton UHA-6S for a couple years and it still sounds as good or better than any other portable amp and most desktop amps I've heard. It includes a DAC and the current version is safely in your price range.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by buson160man View Post

 You may want to check out the schiit headphone amps they have three amps that pretty much fit your price range.The lyr is a bit more at 449 us but you might spring for the extra 50.The lyr offers more power than most at the price range you are looking at.A friend has the asgrard and he has akg 702s which are definitely not a easy load for headphone amps.I used to own a shanling ph 3000 hybrid headphone amp which is basically the same headphone amp as the music hall model and it drove my akg 701s pretty well.The design has a little warmer sound due the tube input but with the akgs which can sound a bit thin on a lot of inexpensive headphone amps. It worked well with the 701s and gave them a smoother sound.

  Depending on the phone you use these are two suggestions.

TH-900, not at all comparable to the K701, and the Lyr would be a very very bad choice for it, lol, plus it's a tube amp.  And I have checked them out, but I'm not convinced their designs are competent, but I'm not going into that drama pit here.  The Asgard is a consideration, it'd match the chassis of the DAC too, but I'd like to get an inventory of possibilities before making any decisions.  More importantly, does the Asgard favor current or voltage?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ardgedee View Post

If you're amenable to using something smaller than a desktop amp, many portable amps and portable DAC/amps are going to be good for your needs.
The Leckerton amps meet all your requirements, include DACs, and sound great. I've been using the Leckerton UHA-6S for a couple years and it still sounds as good or better than any other portable amp and most desktop amps I've heard. It includes a DAC and the current version is safely in your price range.

It's preferable that it isn't portable, I'd like a nice looking desktop setup, and the headphones to be used with it (TH-900) are, ostensibly, not portable, due to the lacquer and wood.  I'd like something that has a nice, elegant silver chassis too, but it's not as important as the internal design.  But, what is also important is that it have RCA inputs.  But beyond all that, portable amps are also simplistic designs, they're not a suitable replacement for a desktop amp.

post #5 of 7

The Dynalo instantly came to mind as meeting your listed criteria. You can get a HeadAmp Gilmore Lite (a commercial version of the Dynalo) on the FS forums here too: http://www.head-fi.org/t/632274/headamp-gilmore-lite-w-elpac-power-supply-silver-excellent-condition

 

That seller has a ridiculously high price on his GL though, especially when shipping and PayPal aren't included in the price. Most GLs in the past have sold below $250, shipping & fees included. When the amp was originally released it sold new for $300 in 2005 (I think that's when it came out). Its price only rose to $400 when it was discontinued in 2010.

 

The HeadAmp AE-2 also comes to mind but you'd have to pick one up used since it was discontinued a while ago.

 

An M3 would work as well and I think there's one of those on the FS forums right now too. Not so sure about "sonic transparency" with an M3 though.


Edited by Asr - 11/22/12 at 12:10am
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

The Dynalo instantly came to mind as meeting your listed criteria. You can get a HeadAmp Gilmore Lite (a commercial version of the Dynalo) on the FS forums here too: http://www.head-fi.org/t/632274/headamp-gilmore-lite-w-elpac-power-supply-silver-excellent-condition

 

That seller has a ridiculously high price on his GL though, especially when shipping and PayPal aren't included in the price. Most GLs in the past have sold below $250, shipping & fees included. When the amp was originally released it sold new for $300 in 2005 (I think that's when it came out). Its price only rose to $400 when it was discontinued in 2010.

 

The HeadAmp AE-2 also comes to mind but you'd have to pick one up used since it was discontinued a while ago.

 

An M3 would work as well and I think there's one of those on the FS forums right now too. Not so sure about "sonic transparency" with an M3 though.

Thanks!  I ordered an Asgard to test out, so if I don't like it and return it, I'll try for the Dynalo or Gilmore Lite.  I had read about the Lite earlier and wanted to try it, but since it was discontinued, I preferred to find one still on the market, mostly in case it ever crapped itself.  I'm assuming as a general rule, I'd want class A push-pull for these headphones?  I know single ended introduces more noise than push-pull, so push-pull would be preferred, but does class A usually mesh well with highly sensitive headphones?  I'm not entirely sure what biasing does in terms of specs and output of the amp.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Well I got the Asgard, it sounds great, the only annoyance is how hot it gets, and that it makes the pot stick due to expanding metals.  That's not a big issue though, so I'll probably keep it.

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