Apogee Duet 2 plus a headphone amp?
Dec 10, 2011 at 12:10 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4


New Head-Fier
Mar 28, 2008
Hi there,
I'm a bit of a newbie at the whole headphone amp/DAC part of things, but I have a nice little home studio that I've built around an Apogee Duet 2 and I want to make sure that I'm getting the most of out of my output.  I'm currently use this setup for vocal and instrument recording, mixing, and also passive listening.  
I've been considering a headphone amp to support my Sennheiser HD-280s and AT M50s, but I had a question I'm hoping someone has an answer for:
Given the Duet 2 works as a DAC already, I ruled out the need of something like the Fiio E7, but I was then wondering - would adding something like the Fiio E11 to the chain make a better quality output?   What I want is a clean representation of the music I'm recording, but also a sound that isn't too clinical or cold for more of my passive listening needs.  Would an additional headphone amp benefit me at all?  Or is what the Duet 2 offers going to give me everything I want?
Thanks for any input anyone out there has!
Dec 19, 2011 at 11:19 PM Post #2 of 4
If you were using higher end headphones, like the HD600 or K701 open headphones, or something that had very high current needs, like a Denon, a better headphone amp might be needed.  But, the internal headphone amp on the Duet 2 is actually very good, as it uses very low distortion op-amps (the chips that do the amplification), the Texas Instruments OPA1612 to be exact, which is much better in quality than what is in many under $400 amplifiers anyway.  I notice a difference between the built in amp and the Duet 2 combined my portable Meier-Audio Stepdance (which uses 5 single-channel OPA1611 in a special configuration), but the difference is not night and day, and the Duet 2 actually is the warmer sounding amp of the two, with the Stepdance being more clinical and better-controlled in the bass regions, and both being capable of similar levels of clean output with a nice, three-dimensional soundstage.  My point is, that while you may benefit from an outboard headphone amp, the Duet 2 is fine for the headphones you have.  My experience with the Duet 2 is that it is even capable of powering the AKG K701's and Sennheiser HD600's very nicely, even though it isn't as good sounding as the Stepdance with my Sennheiser HD598, which seems to want a bit more control in the bass regions than the Duet 2 gives it.  The headphone out of the Duet 2 is very neutral in my opinion, but has enough warmth to not sound clinical, and when driven within reason, is very clean as well.  I hope this helps.
Jan 18, 2012 at 9:47 PM Post #3 of 4
Hi violeta88
Hopefully you can help.
Im in a similar situation in tterms of the apogee duet 2. Looking to get AKG q701s and was just wondering how I would hook up a headphone amp with the duet 2. Afraid ive never had a dedicated headphone amp before so have no idea how they are set up with computer/audio interface etc. (apogee diet 2 in my case).
Also any headphone amps you suggest that aren't stupidly expensive maybe £250 max.
Jan 18, 2012 at 11:20 PM Post #4 of 4
You can use a pair of 1/4" TS to RCA interconnects from the 1/4" mono outs on the breakout cable.  Many of my issues with whining noises on Duet 2 are due to my having a faulty unit that is going to be fixed soon.  another option that is more susceptible to ground loops is using a 1/4" to RCA connector from the headphone out.  However, I have not found any cheap amps that I like more than the Duet 2 headphone out and my current favorite uses the same opamp that is in the Duet 2's headphone section (the single channel variant at least) and is not much of an improvement over then Duet 2's amp in terms of clarity and detail, especially with the AKG K701 and its variants, like the Q701 and K702.

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