So... What's with the lack of a headphone socket?
post-147535
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 13

Magicthyse

Better to look good than to sound good!
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
Messages
890
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
Posts
890
Likes
10
I realize that a separate headphone amp might be desirable in certain situations. But is it really necessary to leave off a headphone socket on a mid to high-end amp? Surely a couple of hundred bucks extra or so for a switchable headphone socket (using a separate PCB even) is not going to kill anyone?

I eventually gave in and recently paid an unbelievable sum, all to effectively add a headphone socket onto my main stereo (Headline amp, upgraded PSU, interconnects + installation).

If I could tell you how upset I was, after having got the Grado SR225's a short time after I got my current main stereo... I spent half an hour looking for the headphone socket. I eventually called the dealer, probably sounding like an idiot... "Errrrr, where's the headphone socket?", and he condecendingly told me I needed a headphone amp. And I nearly had a heart attack after he told me the cost.

Why is this? Why does a headphone amp HAVE to be left off from amps with pretensions to greatness?
 
     Share This Post       
post-147616
Post #2 of 13

Pepzhez

Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
Messages
93
Reaction score
0
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
Posts
93
Likes
0
The lack of a headphone socket in "high-end" preamps/integrated amps is part and parcel of an ongoing fraud in the "audiophile" manufacturing world. This is the same asinine thinking that took the tone controls off the preamps, lest they degrade the "purity" of the music. (As if the sound emanating from your amp is in any way going to replicate the the sound "as recorded/mastered" - on unknown equipment, in unknown conditions.)

(And don't throw at me the lame justification about clearer/cleaner signal paths. A properly designed tone control path causes no degradation to the signal.)

In other words, it is all a scam; whereby manufacturers can fool ignorant people, charge them more money, all the while saving themselves costs.

There is NO EXCUSE for any preamp/amp costing several hundred dollars and up to not have tone controls and a decent headphone amp. I simply refuse to buy anything that doesn't feature these.

May I suggest that you consider the manufacturers who do offer this: Adcom, NAD, Rotel, etc.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147622
Post #3 of 13

KR...

Curator of the Headphone Lust Museum
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Messages
9,534
Reaction score
27
Joined
Jun 22, 2001
Posts
9,534
Likes
27
Quote:

There is NO EXCUSE for any preamp/amp costing several hundred dollars and up to not have tone controls and a decent headphone amp. I simply refuse to buy anything that doesn't feature these.


So this is like yoru dream Pre-amp to end all pre-amps?





Fast Facts

Beneath the surface beauty of the McIntosh C42 stereo preamplifier lies a formidable piece of audio machinery. Nine inputs, including a Dual Aux/Moving Magnet Phono input, provide more than adequate connection possibilities. The preamp's control functions include separate Listen and Record selectors with independent Listen and Record processor loops. An 8-band Program Equalizer helps tune the sound to the listening room. The maximum intermodular distortion and THD allowed is .002%

About This Product

Nine inputs including a Dual Aux/Moving Magnet Phono input

Remote power control (1 main, 1 accessory, 2 switched)

3 Balanced Outputs: Main, Line 1, Line 2

Separate Listen and Record selectors

Independent Listen and Record processor loops

8-band Program Equalizer

Programmable Source Input Level Trim





Programmable Source Trim
Type of Volume Control Precision, optically regulated volume control with digital readout in decibels or percent
Independent Listen and Record Selection
Electromagnetic Switching
Exclusive McIntosh 8-Band Graphic Equalizer
Glass Front Panel with Illuminated Nomenclature
Low-Noise 1% Metal Film Resistors
Connector for External IR Sensor
Control Data Outputs
Ultra-Low Distortion
Extra-Wide Dynamic Range
Polyester Coupling Capacitors
Ultra-precision (.5%) metal film resistors and 1% polypropylene capacitors for phono equalization
Dual Processor Loops
Balanced Input(s)
Phono Input Moving Magnet Phono Input
Balanced Outputs
Headphone Jack
Gold Plated Terminals
Frequency Response 20 Hz - 20000 Hz
+ 0 / - 0.5 dB
Audio Signal to Noise Ratio 97 dB
Dimensions (in.), (cm) 17.5 W x 5.375 H x 17.5 D (cm: 44.5 W x 13.7 H x 17.5 D)
Weight 25.5 lbs. ( 11.6 kg.)
Warranty (parts) 36 month(s)
Warranty (labor) 36 month(s)
 
     Share This Post       
post-147644
Post #4 of 13

Nezer

Antibacterial soap... kills bacteria... bad karma?
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Messages
1,273
Reaction score
13
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
13
Quote:

Originally posted by Pepzhez
(And don't throw at me the lame justification about clearer/cleaner signal paths. A properly designed tone control path causes no degradation to the signal.)


Plus adding a proper bypass is really a trivial matter for those purists that don't like.

I personally don't use any added tone controls because I don't feel I need to. In that case I set it flat and my problem is solved. But I do agree that a quality preamp really should include these or *at least* something comperable to an aux effects loop on modern recording mixers this way you could insert anything you wanted into the signal, crossfeed... Whatever... It's not like *that* is hard to do at all!
 
     Share This Post       
post-147752
Post #5 of 13

fredpb

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 8, 2001
Messages
1,405
Reaction score
0
Joined
Dec 8, 2001
Posts
1,405
Likes
0
It's different strokes for different folks. From my experience there is a reason why your average audiophile, ahem, preamp, does not have twenty buttons per square inch and a huge screen and a zillion connections. It makes things sound worse, period.

My amp has volume, balance, on/off/standby, record selector, and play selector. That's it. I want it that way.

If you want all the gadgets fine. But I can hear the difference, and afford the difference.

If you did not know your amp did not have a headphone jack, well................. you did not check it out or look at it too much, did you?


Pricey "boutique" stereo components are not just to catch peoples upscale $$$ eyes. They SOUND different. Many people can't hear the difference, or care about the difference. Fine, but don't put down the other side of the fence.

As far as a headphone jack for your fancy new stereo (to original poster), Connect a Creek OBH11 or Headroom Little to your tape output jacks and buy a set of Sony MDR6 headphones. That should start you off. Under $300.

You didn't know it did not have a headphone jack? I can't resist but.......
 
     Share This Post       
post-147754
Post #6 of 13

Magicthyse

Better to look good than to sound good!
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
Messages
890
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
Posts
890
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally posted by KR...

So this is like yoru dream Pre-amp to end all pre-amps?



 
     Share This Post       
post-147757
Post #7 of 13

Magicthyse

Better to look good than to sound good!
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
Messages
890
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jun 13, 2002
Posts
890
Likes
10
Quote:

Originally posted by fredpb
You didn't know it did not have a headphone jack? I can't resist but.......


Yes I know, I was an idiot. The setup cost so much that my usual impulse to scrabble around and explore/dismantle was completely curbed. I'm hardly a techno-ignoramus, but you should have seen me putting in a CD at first, you'd have thought I was making an offering to the gods... And something like a headphone socket was such a 'normal' thing to have I never really thought to ask.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147891
Post #8 of 13

Wykid1

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 25, 2002
Messages
10
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jun 25, 2002
Posts
10
Likes
10
hehe, my setup came without a headphone socket too - after having one on BOTH CD and amp on my last kit (Marantz KI-Sig stuff) I was a bit taken aback when I saw the clean front (comparatively) lacking a great big (well 1/4") hole in it!

Still, have been pretty happy with my Rega Ear + 580s (esp having removed the foamies as recommended in this forum
), so can't complain.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147897
Post #9 of 13

Driftwood

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Messages
488
Reaction score
12
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Posts
488
Likes
12
I have to agree with fred on this one. My philosophy is to have a separate component for each purpose. Adding a headphone amp to another component causes both components to be inferior in my opinion. I'd rather choose each piece to best fit my tastes anyway. Of course, this route is probably more expensive, but if I want to replace or upgrade any one component, I am not sacrificing anything else.

Just my humble opinion.
Driftwood
 
     Share This Post       
post-148036
Post #10 of 13

Wykid1

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 25, 2002
Messages
10
Reaction score
10
Joined
Jun 25, 2002
Posts
10
Likes
10
You've both got a point - after all, I'd have said that serious headphone listeners were definitely in a minority amongst even audiophiles, much less the average well-off listening public... it's a matter of market forces.

Anyway, if I WASN'T a headphone listener I'd be annoyed about paying loads for a high-quality headphone socket on a component than if they just spent the money on the transport mechanism etc... for a given amount of money, you have to prioritise.
 
     Share This Post       
post-148077
Post #11 of 13

Pepzhez

Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
Messages
93
Reaction score
0
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
Posts
93
Likes
0
Yes, that McIntosh looks sweet, if rather decadent.

I too listen to 95% of everything with the tone controls set firmly at flat. But it is that 5% of things that require some adjustment that concern me. What are you going to do when you have a harsh, jagged top end that your $3000 tone control-free "purist" preamp just can't tame? I say this based on hard won experience, as I did once own just such a "purist" preamp (and tossing an outboard equalizer into the chain would degrade the signal far, far more than well-designed bass/treble controls).

Quote:

It's different strokes for different folks. From my experience there is a reason why your average audiophile, ahem, preamp, does not have twenty buttons per square inch and a huge screen and a zillion connections. It makes things sound worse, period.


I happen to agree with you 100%. I never said anything about 20 buttons per square inch, flashy LED screens, etc. Odd exceptions like the McIntosh aside, the average decent preamp is and should be rather minimalist. Flashy bells and whistles-laden mass market mediocrity is not what I am talking about, at least not when it comes to talking about obtaining decent sound! Seems the only difference in our preferences is that I insist on having a bass and treble control and you don't. My preamp has volume/balance/selector/bass/treble (and headphone jack!) and that's pretty much it. Which is what I want - and all I want.

(I've never heard the McIntosh amp pictured in this thread, and featurewise, it looks like decadent overkill [with a price tag to match], but I'm willing to bet that it does not sound like your average Yamaha/Sony ES amp. Even so, I think a Van Alstine preamp would give it a good run for its money, and at 1/5 the price too. And, yes, Van Alstine will give you the option of whether you want tone controls or not.)

Quote:

Pricey "boutique" stereo components are not just to catch peoples upscale $$$ eyes. They SOUND different. Many people can't hear the difference, or care about the difference. Fine, but don't put down the other side of the fence.


You misinterpret what I had said. Of course they sound diffferent, which is precisely why I am NOT sitting here listening to the likes of Sony ES amps. But I still maintain that if I am spending upwards of $1500 on an amp, I don't think it is too much to ask that said source features high quality tone controls and headphone amp - and many do! Lack of (in my opinion, necessary) features is NOT synonymous with quality.

Quote:

If you want all the gadgets fine. But I can hear the difference, and afford the difference.


I don't consider bass and treble controls as "gadgets". Nor do I think a built-in headphone amp is a frivolous ornament. Multi-band equalizers and LED screens, on the other hand, yes, I do believe they are useless distractions (usually distracting from the sub-par quality of the component in question).

I'm glad that you can discern sonic excellence and can afford to buy decent equipment. The only problem I have with your implied line of reasoning is that:

1) Lack of tone controls does not necessarily equal superior quality. Far from it. Whichever the design approach, there are good ones and there are bad ones.

2) There are many top quality components which do feature tone controls and heaphone amps. How do you think your amp would sound next to the McIntosh, for example? (Which I am willing to bet costs more than whatever you are currently using.)

Just how DO you tame the occasional badly mastered CD/LP (usually CD, admittedly) when the need arises? I went through this once in my life - a CD drilling my ears and my $2000 preamp could do nothing about it. That is when I decided that my next purchase would include tone controls. As I said, 95% of the time I do not need them, but it's nice to be able to use them if the need arises.

If you do not want tone controls, fine. But please do not assume that your preference reflects an objective truth about hi-fi design, because it most certainly does not.
 
     Share This Post       
post-148831
Post #12 of 13

fredpb

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 8, 2001
Messages
1,405
Reaction score
0
Joined
Dec 8, 2001
Posts
1,405
Likes
0
The truth is in general, the more between input and output the more the degradation in sound quality.

There is also quality of components, of of course, design.

McIntosh is not a magic name for me. Some may worship it. I don't.

If something has tone controls on it, I do not consider it audiophile equipment. Period.

Sometimes I want tone controls, but I know they kill good sound.

If you do have a MacIntosh, well, of course you will have some loyalty to it. I don't.
 
     Share This Post       
post-148844
Post #13 of 13

RGA

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Aug 13, 2001
Messages
206
Reaction score
11
Joined
Aug 13, 2001
Posts
206
Likes
11
Higher end preamps don't typically have all the extra degrading switches.

If you have an amp with a DIRECT button you will notice a difference when it's on and when it's off...even if all the tone and balance controls are flat. The difference is noticeable, and as good as the Direct button is it is yet another switch that gets in the way. If you have the harsh cd or LP that needs to be tamed for 5% of music then I'd use an outboard equalizer for those 5%.

Frankly tone controls are largely unnecessary if you have your system set up properly and good speakers that are smooth on the top end and fairly deep on the bottom.

It may sound Anal for people to care about the smallest of differences...but when you spend more than 1k on a preamp...chances are you're spending the money on those nuanced differences...otherwise buy an entry level Adcom, Arcam or NAD integrated and be happy.

Besides a dedicated Headphone amp tends to sound a lot better and Quieter than the crappy one they put in Integrateds and Receivers.

You can buy some good preamps with a heaphone jack...Like the Sugden Headmaster discussed quite a bit and ASL has a new inexpensive preamp with headphone socket. These are good because the designers are targeting the headphone market and care enough to build a quality product. Unlike Receiver makers that spend 50 cents for the option.
 
     Share This Post       
Top