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Headphone amp vs AV receiver headphone output

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

hope this isn't rehashed, couldn't find a similar topic.

 

i'm wondering if headphone amps are actually better at powering good headphones (something like Sennheiser HD 700) than a mid to upper range AV receiver would. i have a Denon 3313ci which costs a little over $1,000. however, a quality, dedicated headphone amp can cost $2k+. why is it better than plugging my headphones into an AVR? is the price jump justified? less noise? better reproduction? what are the advantages of headphone amps? i simply don't get it. 

post #2 of 9

I will bump since I had a similar question.  Mainly regarding the dac's in upper receivers vs amp and dac.

post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by vladinecko View Post

hope this isn't rehashed, couldn't find a similar topic.

 

i'm wondering if headphone amps are actually better at powering good headphones (something like Sennheiser HD 700) than a mid to upper range AV receiver would. i have a Denon 3313ci which costs a little over $1,000. however, a quality, dedicated headphone amp can cost $2k+. why is it better than plugging my headphones into an AVR? is the price jump justified? less noise? better reproduction? what are the advantages of headphone amps? i simply don't get it. 

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphones

 

"Historically, many headphones had relatively high impedance, often over 500 ohms in order to operate well with high impedance tube amplifiers. In contrast, modern transistor amplifiers can have very low output impedance, enabling lower impedance headphones. Unfortunately, this means that older audio amplifiers or stereos often produce poor quality output on some modern, low impedance headphones. In this case, an external headphone amplifier may be beneficial."

 

An amplifier specifically designed to drive headphones is usually better than one that is not. I believe that the impedance of the headphones should be 8 times or more higher than the output impedance of the amplifier. If the output impedance of the amplifier is too high is will most likely not control the headphones very well.

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by vladinecko View Post

hope this isn't rehashed, couldn't find a similar topic.

 

I'm wondering if headphone amps are actually better at powering good headphones (something like Sennheiser HD 700) than a mid to upper range AV receiver would. i have a Denon 3313ci which costs a little over $1,000. however, a quality, dedicated headphone amp can cost $2k+. why is it better than plugging my headphones into an AVR? is the price jump justified? less noise? better reproduction? what are the advantages of headphone amps? i simply don't get it. 

Chance are that when the headphones are plugged into the Denon's headphone jack, the speaker amplifiers (or at least one of them) stop driving the speakers and switchs over to driving the headphones.

So there should be enough power for driving headphones up to 600-Ohms.

As the Sennheiser HD700s are 150-Ohm, I would guess they would work decently well plugged into a A/V receiver, even with it's high impedance headphone jack.

I'm guessing a $1,000 Denon receiver would have fairly good DACs (it better for something costing more then a grand).

I plug my 120-Ohm Takstar TS-671 headphones into my Yamaha RX-V671 A/V receiver and they sound fairly good.

So I would think you would do ok for a while with the Senn HD700s plugged straight into the Denon, until you find just the right external Headphone amplifier (with low impedance) for the right price.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

ok, so that means that modern receivers should be good at driving modern headphones, correct?

 

i've been trying to dig up some info about output impedance of headphone jacks in AV receivers but with no luck. all manuals and spec sheets simply state, headphone jack: yes. 

 

i currently have Senns HD 598s which have 50 ohm impedance. i'm considering upgrading to HD 700s which are 150 ohms. but i don't feel like dropping another 2 grand on a headphone amp when i already have a kick ass receiver. but at the same time, i don't wanna get kick ass headphones when only a fraction of their potential is to be utilized.  

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

As the Sennheiser HD700s are 150-Ohm, I would guess they would work decently well plugged into a A/V receiver, even with it's high impedance headphone jack.

 

thanks. but how do you know the headphone jack has high impedance? i can't find that info anywhere, i wish they listed it some place. 

 

my 598s sound great plugged directly in. what i don't know is what they would sound like with a source matching their impedance. 

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by vladinecko View Post

ok, so that means that modern receivers should be good at driving modern headphones, correct?

 

i've been trying to dig up some info about output impedance of headphone jacks in AV receivers but with no luck. all manuals and spec sheets simply state, headphone jack: yes. 

 

i currently have Senns HD 598s which have 50 ohm impedance. i'm considering upgrading to HD 700s which are 150 ohms. but i don't feel like dropping another 2 grand on a headphone amp when i already have a kick ass receiver. but at the same time, i don't wanna get kick ass headphones when only a fraction of their potential is to be utilized.  

If the Denon is driving the 50-Ohm HD598s well, 150-Ohm headphones should do better.

You can spend $155 for the O2 (Objective 2) headphone amplifier, the O2 come with an impedance of .5-Ohms.

I would make a wild guess your Denon's headphone jack could have an impedance of around 40 to 60-Ohm (very wild guess).

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

If the Denon is driving the 50-Ohm HD598s well, 150-Ohm headphones should do better.

what is interesting is that i had my buddy's HD 650s, which are 300 ohms, for a few weeks to compare to my 598s. having it plugged in to the same source, the difference was palpable but i only attributed it to the difference in soundstage (which was significant, in favor of the 598s) and tone color (in favor of the 650s). i wonder how much of the difference was caused by impedance mismatch, if any. 

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by vladinecko View Post

what is interesting is that i had my buddy's HD 650s, which are 300 ohms, for a few weeks to compare to my 598s. having it plugged in to the same source, the difference was palpable but i only attributed it to the difference in sound stage (which was significant, in favor of the 598s) and tone color (in favor of the 650s). i wonder how much of the difference was caused by impedance mismatch, if any. 

As a HD558 owner (same driver as HD598), I found the HD558 seems to sound good no matter what it is plugged into.

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