First time headphone amp advice
Jan 25, 2010 at 2:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9


New Head-Fier
Jan 24, 2010
I have recently purchased my first set of half decent headphones, some grado sr80i's. Which I have been using with the headphone out of my external sound card. These are a vast improvement over my previous setup and are revealing things I have never noticed before in my music. Unfortunately despite this, more than anything they seem to have acted as some kind of advert for the more expensive models. Being great but leaving me feeling that there is so much more to be had.

I have decided that rather than buy some more headphones days after buying the grados. I will invest in a headphone amp. Being a student with limited funds I have decided to set my budget at around £100. So far two options have caught my eye:

Firstly the Creek OBH11 which I could have for around £90.

Secondly the Firestone audio Fubar IV which is actually a DAC and headphone amplifier. For the special price of about £120 after shipping (normally about £200) .

While I do the vast majority of my listening using my computer as the source, I have recently started a bit of a vinyl collection. This is the only thing that is making me doubt the Fubar as it does not have any analogue input.

I suppose what I am asking is, do you think that the Fubar be good enough to warrant buying that instead of the straight up headphone amp and just use my speaker amplifiers headphone out on the occasions that I will be listening to vinyl?

Obviously any other suggestions that are within budget would also be appreciated.
Jan 25, 2010 at 3:01 PM Post #2 of 9
The Little Dot 1+ tube amp should suit your needs. It works very well with Grados and can be had for approx. $100-120. That is, if you want a hybrid tube amp. Welcome to Head-fi!
Jan 25, 2010 at 3:44 PM Post #3 of 9
Thanks for the tip, am I right in thinking that the Little Dot amps are exclusively available on ebay? if so the auction I have seen mentions "Import duties, taxes and charges are not included in the item price or shipping charges". Do you know how i would go about finding what these may be? are they paid for during the ebay checkout process?
Jan 25, 2010 at 4:41 PM Post #4 of 9
Hmmm... the best way to go, I think, is put out a WTB notice in the FS/FT forum. That's the best place to find things affordably from reputable Head-fi'ers.
Jan 25, 2010 at 5:36 PM Post #5 of 9
don't feel bad, it's very much a case of rapidly diminishing returns with the more you spend, i had a pair of grado 325i, the top of that particular range and they were not that great.

you mention you're a student, and that you already have a speaker amplifier, is this an integrated? The headphone out on many an integrated amplifier will happily equal any of the headphone amplifiers i've heard in the same price range, especially second hand - taste apart. don't be too hasty to spend and make sure you can return your purchase should you feel there be no improvement :p
Jan 25, 2010 at 6:16 PM Post #6 of 9
Yeah, i do have a speaker amplifier but it is quite an obscure Technics thing that i got cheap from ebay. It seems to be a pre-power amp combo but they are joined with a proprietary cable that i have never seen the likes of before. Although it certainly drives my Wharefedale diamond 9.1's better than the Sony AV receiver i use back home. Any way it has a 3.5 headphone out which seems ever so slightly better than my computer. Ideally that would be what i would upgrade, but i decided that seeing you seem to get much better sound from a headphone based system for the price, it would be a better idea. Also with the paper thin walls of my current accommodation headphones are also a much more flat mate friendly idea.
Jan 25, 2010 at 11:34 PM Post #9 of 9
again, due to financial constraints my vinyl setup is nothing to rave about. I will be graduating this year and with a bit of luck will have a job more in tune with my ideas for hi-fi upgrades. I think i am leaning more towards the fubar as a stop-gap. Then when i have the funds i can start thinking about more serious stuff.

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