How about stereo system preamps?
Feb 9, 2008 at 2:01 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24


New Head-Fier
Jan 26, 2008
I see quality preamps from upscale home stereo systems that have a headphone jacks listed on eBay. I’m curious if that is an option for me to use to drive my Senn 555’s for the computer soundcard output.
Great forum here ---
Feb 9, 2008 at 9:32 PM Post #2 of 24
Can I be the first person to consider this alternative?
Perhaps this is such a foolish concept you are all so busy laughing to respond?
Maybe this is a private club?
Feb 9, 2008 at 10:00 PM Post #3 of 24
No. I think it is just not done very often. It is kind of hit or miss.
Some preamps have excellent headphone outs (Melos is a well known example).
I used to have an AVM v3 with excellent headphone out.
A lot of vintage amps have more than adequate headphone outs.
But in most cases the headphone out is just an add-on that sounds mediocre at best.
At the moment I use a headphone amplifier as preamp: Rudistor RPX-100 is an excellent preamp in my speaker setup.
Feb 9, 2008 at 10:57 PM Post #5 of 24
Its hit and miss. A lot of them just have them there for completeness - kinda like tone or balance controls. Its a case of trying and seeing really.

And then of course, you have to figure that there is such good value in dedicated headphone amps now, by which I mean that the sound from a lot of amps in <200 range is very good - its hard to see how a pre could compete.

If you find one that does though - be sure to post back.

Feb 10, 2008 at 12:53 AM Post #6 of 24
Granted I've never heard a top-of-the-line headphone amp before, I can say the HP out on my old Hitachi SR-2000 sounds brilliant to my ears.

I'd really like to experience some different, expensive setups but I don't know where in northeast Ohio to go for that sort of thing.
Feb 10, 2008 at 4:58 AM Post #7 of 24
I have a Realistic STA-2100D Reciever from around 1980 or so, produced for RadioShack by Pioneer.
The headphone jack sounds great from it. Fat, and solid and wide.
Much better than my brothers Marantz 2275.

Some recievers can surprise you.

The OutLaw reciever for like $600 is supposed to have a great headphone out, and has a jack for an MP3 player input and USB out.
My friend uses his Bryston BP-20 outputs with an adaptor and runs it into Sennheiser HD650's and a CAL CD Player. Says its awesome.
Feb 10, 2008 at 5:10 AM Post #9 of 24
I DIY'ed an RCA plug-to-TRS cable and drove HD600's directly from a Musical Fidelity CDPre24's preamp outputs....that is a combination CD player/preamp.

That sounded better than taking the signal from the tape outs and running it into a pretty nice Millett. The CDPre24 can drive its pre outs to about 8 to 9 Vrms max, and I never noticed the slightest distortion at typical listening levels that would indicate the output stage was having problems driving 300 ohm cans.

I asked Ray Samuels about that at a meet, and he told me that yes, most modern op-amp based preamp output stages should be able to drive high impedance cans quite well.

Likewise, I have used my CK2III headamp as a preamp to drive a long set of cables into some monoblocks, and it worked very well.
Feb 10, 2008 at 6:30 AM Post #10 of 24
I used to have a Hafler DH-110 preamp that had a headphone jack. I used this with a pair of Grado SR-60s. A Cmoy I built absolutely killed it in terms of sound quality. I think it will depend on how well the headphone output is implemented. In many preamps, it is simply an afterthought. Some have good ones though.
Feb 10, 2008 at 6:50 AM Post #11 of 24
I would say it is hit or miss. It was noted that the Melos SHA1 had a great HP output. Some others were not so great. I think that most of the HP users would get a dedicated HP amp to plug into the preamp.

Right now I am using a Bellari phono stage that has a HP jack and variable output. Now I can sneak a late night vinyl session without disturbing anyone. To listen to CDs, I have to go into a HP amp first.
Feb 10, 2008 at 12:57 PM Post #12 of 24
I've wondered about this myself. What are the compromises in implementation? Aren't the HP outs in most receivers and integrated amps simply the amp itself, through a nest of resistors, to bring the signal down to headphone-safe levels? I can understand how the HP outs in cd players and even separate preamps might be built on cheap op amps and not good, but I've never quite understood the problem with integrated amps and receivers. It seems that the quality of the HP out would be = to the quality of the component itself, as long as the resistors were not adding noise or robbing resolution. What am I missing?

FWIW, I have a cheap, cheap modern receiver that's HP out sounds really good.

Feb 10, 2008 at 2:05 PM Post #13 of 24
I use my Ray Samuels Audio Stealth predominately as a preamp but once in a while I plug in the headphones. Most often I will use my HD-600's with it and it does a great job.
Feb 18, 2008 at 6:54 PM Post #14 of 24
The headphone amplifier on my mid-70's Sansui amplifier is very good, although there is a fair bit of noise. My Beyerdynamics DT 999 (old school) and DT 831 sound very good straight out of the headphone jacket. I also hooked them up through a Graham Slee Voyager portable amp and there was some difference in SQ, but not as much as you'd think. And certainly not as much when compared to many newer amplifiers with headphone jackets. I'm thinking of getting a dedicated headphone amp, not because of SQ, but mainly to get rid of the noise.
Feb 20, 2008 at 4:28 AM Post #15 of 24

Originally Posted by REB /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The headphone amplifier on my mid-70's Sansui amplifier is very good, although there is a fair bit of noise. ...I'm thinking of getting a dedicated headphone amp, not because of SQ, but mainly to get rid of the noise.

Agree - I have a Sansui AU20000 integrated amp and I have a singlepower PPX3 headphone amp. Both pieces of equipment are full time pieces of gear. The Sansui drives my speaker system and *usually* my Singlepower does headphones. Sometimes I enjoy listening to the Sansui's headphone out just for novelty. It really depends on my mood. I am toying with the idea of sending my PPX3 back to Singlepower to get preamp outputs added to it to help alleviate some of the noise on my Sansui.

To address the original posting I do not think it is a waste of time to get a good pair of cans and play with the outputs on whatever preamp/receiver you may have. The gains to be had on a dedicated amplifier are better than marginal but that does not mean you cannot enjoy the outputs on whatever is available.

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