are world class head amps also world class in speaker applications?
Dec 15, 2008 at 8:02 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

atothex

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I was just wondering: many top-notch headphone amplifiers tend to have preamp outs and some, like the Beta 22, have enough power to function as speaker amps. Many of y'all here own some nice speaker setups and have heard lots of speaker equipment.

Have y'all compared these headphone amps vs regular preamps or power amps?
For instance: Beta vs First Watt stuff? Big balanced Singlepowers vs BAT or something?
 
Dec 16, 2008 at 1:02 AM Post #3 of 22

Uncle Erik

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I haven't done extensive comparisons, but the Zana Deux makes a fine preamp. I've used it as one for almost a year now and have been very happy with it. Same with the Moth Si2A3. The Si2A3 is also a 3W power amp, which mates nicely with a pair of ESS AMT-1 speakers (98dB efficient) I picked up in August.

Part of the benefit of headphone devices is that they tend to be very quiet and usually run in class A.

I've heard good things about the Beta22, as well. I've got the parts for one, but it's four or five projects out at the moment.
 
Dec 16, 2008 at 3:03 AM Post #4 of 22

Spareribs

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I would think so. I used to use my cheap Little Dot amp and feed it into a vintage Marantz reciever to drive speakers and I was amazed! Even a cheap tube amp really improved the sound and it was pretty obvious. So I figure the high end ones probably work as excellent preamps.

Also, IMO I think it's wise to own a good headphone amp with preamp out puts. This way you get more usage out of your headphone amp. Why limit it to just headphones? ...Unless you already have a great speaker amp.
 
Dec 16, 2008 at 9:57 PM Post #5 of 22

tom hankins

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My Singlepower is as good of preamp as I have owned or auditioned in the $12K or less range. it also uses a remote.
 
Dec 16, 2008 at 10:49 PM Post #6 of 22

mikeymad

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I think that there are several examples of preamp's and integrated amps that are well thought of.

Cary 300SEI - Good headphone amp and speaker amp (13-15W).

Woo WA5 - Really good headphone amp that can drive speakers (i have not tried it yet) (10W).

Now I would not classify these as ultra high end speaker amps. But they really do hold their own...

cheers,
 
Dec 17, 2008 at 5:11 AM Post #7 of 22

papomaster

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I've yet to find a pair of K1000 to use with my speaker amp... But that would turn the question upside down : How do world-class speaker amplifiers fare in headphones applications?
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Dec 17, 2008 at 6:02 AM Post #8 of 22

Uncle Erik

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Quote:

Originally Posted by papomaster /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I've yet to find a pair of K1000 to use with my speaker amp... But that would turn the question upside down : How do world-class speaker amplifiers fare in headphones applications?
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It's not world class, but my old Conrad-Johnson MV52 does a nice job with the K-1000. I've since switched the the K-1000 over to the speaker taps on the Si2A3, which I like better, but the CJ ain't bad.

I haven't played with much else, but one of my upcoming projects is building a 45 based amp (1.5W) with output into Sowter headphone output transformers. I'm looking forward to hearing that one.
 
Dec 17, 2008 at 6:33 AM Post #9 of 22

chesebert

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tom hankins /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My Singlepower is as good of preamp as I have owned or auditioned in the $12K or less range. it also uses a remote.


That's great. However considering SP's track record and your own problem with SP I would not put SP as a viable choice. Maybe the Rudistor one with remote would be a better alternative?
 
Dec 17, 2008 at 9:46 PM Post #10 of 22

tom hankins

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Quote:

Originally Posted by chesebert /img/forum/go_quote.gif
That's great. However considering SP's track record and your own problem with SP I would not put SP as a viable choice. Maybe the Rudistor one with remote would be a better alternative?


That would be your opinion, but the question asked was if anyone had compared the SP preamps to BAT or some other highend preamps and I have a BAT here and have had another also, and the SP is all around a little better. It is also better than all but two I have had here. Those being the VTL 7.5, and (different but not better) than the Ayre K-1xe.
Others have been offerings from Audio research, Aesthetix, MF, Simaudio, and Krell. So to answer the original post. Yes "some" headphone amps can compete with highend preamps, and (in my case) surpass them.
But just because a headphone amp has preamp outs doesnt make it a good preamp.
Also it sounds like your just pulling the Rudistor out of thin air? Have you used it as a preamp, and if so what have you compared it to?
 
Dec 21, 2008 at 6:09 PM Post #11 of 22

atothex

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Thanks for the input, Tom. It's not that I'm some kinda BAT fanboy or whatever; I was merely throwing names out there. What SP amp is your preamp, btw? I assume it's a custom job?

To others: anyone compared the Moth or EC stuff to more mainstream speaker preamps?
 
Dec 21, 2008 at 6:12 PM Post #12 of 22

Uncle Erik

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Quote:

Originally Posted by atothex /img/forum/go_quote.gif
To others: anyone compared the Moth or EC stuff to more mainstream speaker preamps?


Not extensively, but the Zana is heads and shoulders about the Conrad-Johnson PV-2 I had been using. The PV-2 is a good preamp, but it doesn't have the clarity, resolution and dead silent background of the Zana.
 
Dec 21, 2008 at 10:18 PM Post #13 of 22

tom hankins

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Quote:

Originally Posted by atothex /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thanks for the input, Tom. It's not that I'm some kinda BAT fanboy or whatever; I was merely throwing names out there. What SP amp is your preamp, btw? I assume it's a custom job?

To others: anyone compared the Moth or EC stuff to more mainstream speaker preamps?






O.K., update to my post #10. Mikhail came out last weekend and updated my PSU and tweaked my amp section of my Singlepower preamp. It bests the BAT on all fronts. Right now my system is sounding the best it has.
I have owned or had in my system several very good preamps over the last two years.
BAT 31se, 42se, 52se.
Krell KRC-hr
Ayre K-1xe
Simaudio P-5
Audio research LS 25MKII
SP Transparency
Musical Fidelity (cant even remember)
VTL 7.5
Aesthetix calypso
Two are as detailed, the Ayre and Krell. The VTL and Ayre match the SP in imaging and soundstage size. However nothing gives as big, bold and powerful sound as the SP is doing. It also has unmatched wieght without going over board throughout the Freq. range.
 
Feb 1, 2009 at 9:46 AM Post #15 of 22
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I've stuck with using good headphone amps as preamps in my system, and haven't yet heard anything to sway me otherwise. The Zana Deux and Gilmore dynalo make superb preamps. The Singlepowers I've heard in that application have also sounded amazing. I had an old BAT Vk-5i a while back that didn't convert me, and also a PS Audio PCA-2 that never did it for me.

Yes, they lack remote volume control but I'd rather not get too lazy and I have to get up to flip records anyways.
 

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