Headphone Amp Vs. Amp/Receiver
Jun 18, 2002 at 7:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8


100+ Head-Fier
Apr 26, 2002
What exactly is the difference between the two? I know one is solely for headphones and one is for multiple things.....But is there a huge difference in sound quality from my OPTIMUS AMP?RECEIVER ($200), as opposed to a $100 headphone amp? How big would you say the difference is in general?

Just curious cause I am not too familiar with headphone amps vs regular receiver/amps....
Jun 18, 2002 at 9:24 PM Post #2 of 8
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think one basic difference is that most home receivers (but there are exceptions) use entirely different electronics with the headphone output, which is often just an afterthought. That is to say, the amplfier that powers your speakers is entirely different from the ampflier that drives your headphones. Most of the headphone amplifiers in low to mid priced receivers are rather poor. When you buy a $100 headphone amp, you're, in theory, getting $100 worth of headphone amplification, as opposed to whatever crap they put in the home receiver just so people wouldn't complaint that there was no headphone output.
Jun 19, 2002 at 4:56 AM Post #4 of 8

You got the principal right, in that most receivers put very little money into the headphone ouput, but have their methord the other way around. The headphone output on most receivers/amps do not use a seperate amplifier. Instead, the main speaker output is fed into the headphone jack (along with a resistor for the differences in the load). Since headphones are of an entirely different impedance than speakers, this methord results in poor quality sound.

There are exceptions to this. For instance, NAD uses a dedicated circuitry in there amps for the headphone output, and results in substantially better sound. Though this is still only a few dollar worth of parts and not up to par even with budget headphone amps.
Jun 19, 2002 at 12:46 PM Post #5 of 8
the above posters have it right. With a headphone amp, money is spent on making the headphone jack sound great. With recievers, companies know people won't be listening to headphones often with the reciever, so they use the cheapest parts they can afford.
Jun 20, 2002 at 10:28 AM Post #6 of 8

I was using my Sony STRDB940 Receiver for around the last 18 months with
my HD580's through the headphone output and thought it was pretty good.

I received my X-Cans V2 that I bought off Ebay around 3 weeks ago and
the difference in sound quality is extremely good.

LOTS more Detail and the Separation of instruments is fantastic...

Not bad for £95 !!!!!

Then again the sound you will get will only be better if you are using
a GOOD Source in the first place, I am using ARCAM 7SE through a Cambridge
Audio S700 dac and the sound is superb....
Jun 20, 2002 at 2:34 PM Post #7 of 8

Originally posted by Mel4

Then again the sound you will get will only be better if you are using
a GOOD Source in the first place,....

Source is important. I've got a low end Sony 200 disc carrousel and believe me, you only want to listen to it WITHOUT an amp.
Jun 21, 2002 at 2:30 AM Post #8 of 8
Depends on your source and expectations.

Most people are happy with the headphone out of a receiver and local store headphones.

With a decent source hooked up to a headphone amp ($200 or more) and a good set of headphones, the difference is very audible. But it depends on what you want.

My brother is very happy with is Optimus receiver. I think it's terrible. Then again, my system cost thousands. All in what you want.

Be warned, that if you DO hear a good system, you will never be the same. You may be happy, and more financially better off, if you don't get involved in great audio gear

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