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Any thoughts on using a home theater A/V as a headphone amplifier?

  1. The Socialist Nerd
    Right now I've been focused on outputting music from my old school iPad Air but apparently my HMDI out conveys the signal to my monitor so I can't hook up my speakers directly to a speaker set.

    I was wondering whether it would be a good idea to toss the HDMI signal (playing Tidal Hi-Fi) to a home theater receiver which can split up the signal between video to my 240 hz monitor and the audio which I can pump separately to my Grados, Audeze or Master and Dynamic?

    Or is the traditional headphone amp more recommended?
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Hopefully whatever receiver you might use, comes with a setting that allows the video to pass thru the receiver, without the receiver trying to modify or change the video signal
    Do you already own a receiver (make and model) or plan on buying one?
    A/V receiver's headphone jacks are fine for driving higher impedance (Ohm) headphones,
    250-Ohm to 300-Ohm headphones is what i would call the more desirable range.
    600-Ohm will usually work, but 600-Ohm headphones are not really practical for modern days, when you have much lower Ohm headphones that are just as good (and better).
    150-Ohm headphone should be ok (if you already own the receiver and have no plans on buying a DAC/head amp), but once you start going under 100-Ohms, the headphones will get things like a bloated (louder, less detailed) bass or other changes in audio (not in a good way).
    Most receivers use the same amplifier(s) that drive the speakers to also drive headphones, it's a bit of a hack, but it keeps costs down.

    Some more rare and higher priced A/V receiver come with a dedicated headphone amplifier that can drive lower Ohm headphones, assuming you do not own this kind of receiver.

    You should be able to connect a headphone amplifier to the line-output on the receiver, no real surround sound, just basic stereo audio.
  3. Smithington
    I have to agree with purpleangel here. It'll work, but it won't be optimal. The output impedance is likely to be high, hence work better with higher impedance phones. You'll also have more likelihood of transformer hum when quiet.

    That's not to say it'll be terrible, it just won't be ideal. I used my marantz stereo amp as a headphone and for a month or two and identified everything purpleangel cited. I was much happier after buying a headphone amplifier.
  4. The Socialist Nerd
    Thanks for the feedback. I wanted to get an Onkyo receiver to hook up my iPad considering that I had an entire nightmare trying to find a solution where I can project the image from my iPad to the monitor while separating out the HDMI audio to my headphones. Any ideas how to do that? I don't know of any headphone amp which will take a HDMI audio/video in...
  5. Monsterzero
    You might be able to use the receiver as a hub,feeding it the signal as a whole via HDMI,and then sending out the audio via tape out,or some other analog out to a proper headphone amp.
  6. Monsterzero
    This simply isnt true. Most modern AVRs use op-amps to feed the HP jack.
    Vintage receivers used to do it via the method you described,using a resistor tapping off of the main amp. Thats why vintage receivers sound so much better than modern AVRs driving hi ohm headphones.
  7. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Spend $100 for a solid state headphone amplifier (MAGNI 3 or Atom) and connect it to the (Onkyo) receivers line-output (RCA) jacks, on the back panel.

    Onkyo refurbs
    The Socialist Nerd likes this.
  8. Smithington
    This is interesting. My marantz pm7200 is a stereo amp circa yr 2000. Marantz confirmed output impedance of 340ohm!

    Is that vintage enough for using speaker amp, or more likely to use opamps?

    Either way, it wasn't ideal for what I want to use it with.

    A more modern avr might be better. Is it possible to try before committing to buying a dedicated head phone amp with the avr?
  9. Monsterzero
    TBH Im not really sure when the big box companies started using op-amps instead of in-line resistors. I'm assuming that with the rise of earbuds and easy to drive headphones came to power is when the change was made.
    Personally I dont use anything made after 1979,though that is probably being too conservative of a cut-off date.

    Im not sure I understand your question. Try what before you buy?
  10. Smithington

    Sorry, I should have made that last bit clearer. I meant @The Socialist Nerd - is it possible to try connecting your iPad to an avr and testing the headphone out prior to committing to either that or a headphone amp?
  11. The Socialist Nerd
    I am going to pick up a AVR later on today with my mother and test it tonight with my iPad. I probably will be testing it with my desktop as well but last night I suffered a lot from allergies and couldn't sleep well :frowning2:.
  12. Smithington

    Nice, I hope you get on well with it :)

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