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What Gear is needed to utilize both bookshelf speakers and headphones in my computer setup?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I am currently thinking about the setup I want to create in my bedroom and need help deciding how its all going to work.

 

Right now my setup is computer > Behringer UCA202 DAC > Lepai LP 2020A T-class AMP > Dayton B652 speaker pair.

 

Now, I've got a few pairs of headphones lying around that I want to be able to integrate into this system (Sony MDR-V6, Audio Technica ATH-M50, and potentially AKG K702) Is there a way I can have an AMP/DAC combo that can acommodate both headphones and speakers? I am open to buying new gear, but not really sure what I would need for it all to work. I want to prevent having to swap cables and components to switch from speakers to headphones. Right now my current setup makes it difficult to switch to headphones.

 

Would Matrix M-Stage Headphone Amplifier work well with both headphones and speakers (it seems highly recommended for AKG K701s)? Anyways, and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

post #2 of 4

You can get an amplifier with a pass-through output, but those are somewhat rare with headphone rigs (this is usually available for more mainstream brand speaker amps, labelled as "Tape Loop/Output"). Headphone amps usually have preamp outputs, or DACs (even without a headphone amp built-in, but by a brand more associated with headphones than speakers) a second pair of preamp outputs. Depending on how you feel about having two potentiometers in the same chain (for the speakers anyway), which personally has a lot more to do with setting up the gain settings rather than just trying to keep it at one potentiometer, you can get a headphone amplifier with a preamp output.

Or, if you don't need the analog input on your UCA202, you can look around for a device that has a DAC, a decent headphone amp (for that potential K702 purchase, this will be crucial - just not as severe as others make it seem), and analog outputs, preferably fixed line-level, where you can hook up your T-amp. Other pro-audio interfaces have these features but I don't know how expensive they can get and if they'll have the same quality of headphone amplification you'd get out of a full-size console, of which I haven't heard anyone say they can't drive K70x headphones (if it sounds too edgy in the studio, remember that's probably because it's live and not the final cut; I think some engineers would use a K70x and HD6x0, or roughly their speaker equivalents, to make sure they don't screw up during mastering and end up with one set of people hating it).

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

I did a little research this weekend and had a few options that seem would work well:

 

1. Maverick Audio TubeMagic AI - From what I hear it sounds great, and has speaker outputs that can power at least bookshelf speakers.

2. Matrix M-Stage headphone amp - Line level outputs from what I gather, which I could connect to my T-amp

3. Schiit Asgard 2 amp - Alternative to Matrix M-Stage, but same function.

 

Based on my limited knowledge, I can't really determine which setup would be best, but all seem like they would work well.  In general, would a line level output to a T-amp sound better than the Magictube AI powered outputs? Also, anyone have any recommendations on one of the options above (or an alternative that might better suit K702s and passive bookshelf speakers)?

 

Thanks guys.


Edited by whitepeach - 4/29/13 at 3:39pm
post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by whitepeach View Post

 

In general, would a line level output to a T-amp sound better than the Magictube AI powered outputs?

 

Hard to answer, but if it's for my system based on my preferences, I'd get a Class A headphone amp that has a preamp or pass-through outptut. This way I use Class A where it has the least impracticalities (headphone), use Class D where it's most practical (speakers), and I'm not really a fan of tubes anyways.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whitepeach View Post

 

Also, anyone have any recommendations on one of the options above (or an alternative that might better suit K702s and passive bookshelf speakers)?

 

If you don't mind used, look for an AudioGD NFB12. It's a DAC that has a preamp output (in case you go for pro powered monitors later on, and this keeps the volume knob within easier reach, as a console would in a studio), a fixed analog output (for your T-amp now), and a decent Class A-biased discrete headphone amplifier. I almost bought that last year but I came across a Cantate.2; sure, it cost me more and it didn't have a preamp output, but I didn't need the latter and I was safer with the sound because I've listened to it previously, while the NFB12 although I trust is good on paper as well as from reviews, is one I haven't tried before. If I had not heard it before that maybe I'd have gotten the NFB12 without even considering the Cantate.

 

As for the K702, the closest I've tried are the K701 on the NFB11, and the sound is decent. Of course it's not as powerful as, say, the Soloist driving the Q701 (which was amazing, by the way), but for the value of the NFB12's features it's not something I would be concerned about, given the only amp that really wowed me on the K701 over my HD600 (so far) is the Soloist.

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