Using a DAC/Headphone amp with an A/V receiver?
Jun 11, 2011 at 1:16 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


Sep 11, 2007
I'm learning more and more everyday that I know less and less than I think I do. But hey, I'm a video guy trying to get a grasp on this audio thing so it's a fun experience 

Anyway I've recently I've come to notice (at least this is the way things seem) a lot of people will run a preamp output out of their A/V receivers for their speaker system to a separate DAC and headphone amp for their headphones. Maybe I'm not understanding people when they're describing their setups but what purpose does this serve? The A/V receivers purpose is to accept the incoming digital signals of your system components, convert them to analog, amplify them, and output them to your listening device of choice (speakers/headphones). They do this job just fine powering 7 speakers and a subwoofer. Why then would they not work just as well for headphones? Is it an impedance thing with higher end cans? What is the purpose of running the digital signals of all your home theater/music system components into a $500+ receiver to then bypass it's internal DAC and amplification entirely by SP/DIF, TOSLINK, or a 1/4" preamp jack into an entirely separate DAC for your headphones and then into an entirely seperate amplifier for your headphones?
Basically in my mind the following setup works:
System components (Game systems, Blu-Ray players, PCs, etc.) >---Digital Signal---> A/V Reciever >----> Internal digital to analog conversion >---> internal amplification >---1/4" Headphone Jack---> Headphones
But it seems the "right way" to do it is:
System components (Game systems, Blu-Ray players, PCs, etc.) >---Digital Signal---> A/V Reciever >---Preamp output---> External DAC >----> External Headphone Amp >--1/4" Headphone Jack--> Headphones
I've rambled enough but I just don't get it. What is the purpose of bypassing an A/V receiver and adding two seemingly redundant pieces of hardware to the chain?

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