Each headamp is also a preamp.
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JaZZ

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I've tried out the Earmax Pro and the Corda Blue with my Metaxas Solitaire power amp: Both were working fine – so all headamps seem to be adequate preamps. Actually no surprise if you remember the electrical conditions: the source signal is amplified to a sufficient level, and the output impedance is in each case far below any critical value...

Only handicaps: just one input and the headphone-dedicated output jack. But there are adapters. If you can handle the lack of comfort, headamps probably offer better sound for the money than full-blown preamps.

In many cases the source signal is even strong enough to drive a power amp directly. If the source output impedance is low (<800 Ohm) and at the same time the power amp's input impedance at least 20 kOhm, a 10 kOhm potentiometer will adequately attenuate the signal. Provided that the cable isn't too long and its capacity isn't too high, thus the source signal arrives the power amp virtually unaltered – in contrast to any preamp, even the world's best.

JaZZ
 
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markl

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You mean, "a limited-function pre-amp".


Mark
 
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JaZZ

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Well, the main function is guaranteed.
 
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Sheff steel

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Ive never thought of this before.

Do any others out their use their headphone amp as a pre-amp?
DO you just attache it to a power amp and its able to drive speakers.

I knew that the Sugden headmaster is an headphone amp and pre-amp. I only use one source (CD player), so im not bothered if there is only one available input.

I'm thinking of buying the Audiovalve RKV, would I be able to connect this to a solid state power amp to drive speakers?

Lance
 
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Budgie

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Yes, the audio valve would be able to drive the power amp.
 
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Sheff steel

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Ive done a search for "preamp".

It appears that the headphone amp would need a "pre-out" connector to be able to connect it to a power amp.

Kelly has written a post stating that its a shame the RKV can't be used as a pre-amp, I presume it does NOT have a "pre-out" connector on the back.
 
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gaineso

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Actually, the headphone out of a headphone amp will drive a power amp, through a headphone to dual RCA adaptor. Not the best situation though, because of the common ground. If you are only interested in running a home type cdp into a power amp, as long as the amp has a volume control of some type, cdp out to amp in and have a ball. CDP out is line level, same as a preamp, just doesn't have any bells and whistles like volume controls, so that will have to be in the amp itself.
 
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Sheff steel

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I have a high quality and expensive all Naim system. It sounds very good, but when I think how much it cost I think it should sound better. (Its not high end audio bliss)

Anyhow today,I have disconnected my Naim 102 pre and 180 power with Naim SBL speakers and Ive inserted my second system of Arcam Delta 290 integrated with B & W LM-1 mini speakers.

My system now sounds slightly worse, slightly less detialed and more rounded sound but its still enjoyable. Actually badly recorded rock music sounds better on this much cheaper system than the Naim. Well recorded CD's sound much better on the Naim, but its only with certain disc's that you can notice an obvious difference.

Anyhow I was thinking, should I sell my Naim amps and speakers?
They keep their value, so with the acquired cash I could easily afford a RKV amp, AKG K1000, Senn HD600 and Ety ER-4S phones.

Could I use the RKV as a pre-amp attached to the Arcam integrated to drive the speakers? I understand the preamp part of an integrated is usually much worse than the power amp part, therfore this should improve my speaker system compared to a bare integrated.

Do you agree that this idea makes a lot of sense as I have the option of general listening with the cheapish speaker system, but when I want to sample high end audio I have the option of headphone listening AND have the variety of presentation the different headphones present.

Lance
 
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JaZZ

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Lance...

...if your integrated Arcam amp has separable pre-/power-amp sections, this probably would make a certain sense, although at the same time create kind of overkill from the pre-amp division...
But be aware that you have to connect your adapted cable (or the regular RCA cable + adapter) to the RKV's headphone jack. And take care not to disconnect it as long as the Arcam power amp is operating!

Primarily if you want to shift your emphasis towards headphones, this is a logical step. Otherwise you possibly would sacrifice too much of your speaker reproduction quality – I can't believe that the Naim amplifiers are that mediocre. Don't know about the speakers, though... But as a headphones enthusiast, I barely couldn't resist if I look at your wish list...

JaZZ
 
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Sheff steel

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Yes, my Arcam integrated has connections at the back to connect it to either a pre amp or a power amp.

Actually the Naim amplifiers are very good (certainly not mediocre). There is a problem when one starts moving up the hi-fi ladder called upgraditus. Naim offer lots of upgade paths, but it all costs more money. As you improve your stereo you notice better hi-fi qualities,but this doesn't neccessarily mean its more enjoyable. Also a more transparent amp can actually highlight a systems short comings and make it sound worse.

Naim electronics seem sensitive to the stands they rest on, electricity supply etc. Also I believe that room acoustics play a major part on the sound.

I think what I mean is that sometimes i prefer nice background music. I sometimes really enjoy listening to my brothers cheap midi system. I also love listening to my sony minidisc with earbuds or listening to the car stereo.

However other times I would like to immerse myself in the music and here every detail / sounstage in an analytical audiophile way.

When Im in this mood I think a head phone system delivers better than a speaker system unless you are prepared to go to Mark Levinson prices.
 
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Anders

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JaZZ, you really like modifications and tweaking! But there are also some headphone amps that are designed so that they can be used as preamps also with standard RCA connectors, some Headroom models and the Sudgen which has three inputs, making it more practical for this application.
 
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JaZZ

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Anders...

...yes, I know, of course! My intention was to give people who already own a headamp the impulse to try this as a pre-amp – maybe it even sounds better than the regular one they have connected to their power amps.

Anyway, the pre-amp path is just the second best – behind the plane attenuation by dint of a 10 kOhm potentiometer between the high level source and the power amp. That's definitely the purist way! (And not so much end in itself of a handicraft enthusiasm...
)

JaZZ
 
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Sheff steel

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Jazz,

Do you mean it is better to connect a Cd player directly to a power amp instead of using a pre-amp.

I only use 1 source (my CD player). I know that the Wadia CD players can be directly connected to a power amp, in theory this supposed to be better as its a purer signal.

However theres has been discussions about the purpose of a pre-amp on the Naim Forum.

Apparently the quality of a pre amp shouldn't be underestimated, it has massive effect on detail, soundstaging, presentation etc. Many experts said that a Wadia CD player would sound much better in reality being attached to an appropriate separate pre-amp.

im just wondering if the phone amps (Headmaster, Twinhead) with have proper RCA plugs to connect to a powere amp actually prove to be better than say a RKV head amp.

Would using an adapter plugged into the phono plug make such a difference to the sound quality when listening through speakers?
 
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JaZZ

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Lance...

I just can base myself on my own experience. And what's the output stage e.g. of a Wadia other than the output stage of a virtually following pre-amp? The signal of almost every CD player/DAC is by far strong enough to drive almost every power amp to its maximum output power. There are no other criteria which have to be met by any output stage than sufficient signal strength, limited output impedance and limited capacity – no problem with most high-level sources.

The need for a supplementary amplification can't be justified. In contrast to power amps which have to have good current delivery properties and a high damping factor, i.e. stability against backlash from the speaker voice coils, there are no such things with high-level source or pre-amp output stages. But I have experienced that it's much more difficult to tune a speaker (resp. its frequency network) to an agreeable reproduction without the obviously smoothing and softening and «space-providing» effect of an additional pre-amp. – But all the greater the fascination if the purist chain comes to shine at last!

On the other hand, I must confess – exceptions provided – that I mostly prefer to listen through headphones by using the EMP or the Corda Blue instead of the direct DAC connexion. I have my ideas to this phenomenon, but it would go too far to explain them here...

JaZZ
 
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