Hello. I would appreciate the wisdom of this group. I'm a long time audio guy. For an unfortunately long while now I've not been able to set up a good two-channel audio system so I'm turning to headphones as a possible solution for great audio. I would like to find an amp for under $100.
I have a pair of Sennheiser HD580s. I like them just fine. They tend to be "warm" with everything I've ever used them with. The most exotic thing was a Pete Millet tubed headphone amp. I've read quite a few reviews that say the headphones are bright, but that not my experience with them. BUT, here's what I would like to do. I'd like to use my laptop computer as a music server, serving various file fomats from MP3 to lossless, feeding a DAC (which I have), then an amplifier, then the headphones. Laptop PC > DAC > Headphone amp > Headphones
I have searched Head-Fi and Audio Asylum for recommendations. LOTS of stuff, and I could use some help in sorting things out. I have listened to the AudioQuest DragonFly, both v1 and v1.2, through Grado 125s, 325s, and my Sennheiser 580s. What it showed me is that I like the Grados better, but I'm stickin' with my Senneheisers for now. The Grado 325/DragonFly v1/1.2 combo was VERY good. It sounded like proper music. While not perfect, it was good enough that I didn't find myself critical of the gear but just found myself enjoying the music.
That's good. And it's an option, but I'm wondering whether there's better for the money, and a set up I can use my DAC with. Looking through HF, I saw the sub-$100 portable amp shootout. I don't need the amp to be portable. It could certainly be a kit, too. No problem putting something together. Tubes have an appeal, especially if they are used as a gain stage rather than a buffer. I have LOADS and LOADS of the more typical audio tubes - 12AU7s, 12AX7s, 5751s, 6FQ7s/6CG7s, 6922s. A Bottlehead or Hagermann, a Little DOT or EAR would be great, but more than I want to spend. There also seem to be a number of really good transistor headphone amps. The op amp amps could do it, possibly, and there are so many others. I also have a very good tubed preamp, a Conrad-Johnson PV-12A. It could probably make an excellent headphone amp, but it's not set up up to do this and it's a big piece of gear that I'd like to sell at this point.
Are those small tubed headphone amps any good? Things like this on eBay. For portable, it seems FiiO is mentioned often.
So, what might people recommend for the "best" headphone amp for $100 or less.
Edited by tvr2500m - 3/6/14 at 4:57pm