View Full Version : HEAD-AMP - which road to take?

September 17, 2015, 05:43 PM
Hello all, I use Sennheiser HD 598, I love them.

At the moment I have Magnum IA.170 integrated amplifier, which has a headphone jack, just like all of my prior amplifiers had. But now for the first time I plan to buy soon amplifier which won't have a headphone jack. I will buy either JOB 225 power amplifier or JOB INTegrated amplifier: JOB Products (http://www.jobsys.com/products.htm). (If I buy JOB 225, obviously I will also need to buy a preamplifier; the best choice would be to go with their JOB Pre2, but then, both JOB components with two of their Sweetcords would cost $4000, which is too much for me right now just for the amplification part of the system.)

I also have:
- Valab DAC-X9 - http://cdn.head-fi.org/d/d3/d37acb36_t2ec16rhjiie9qtykdjlbrk.jpeg
- Vincent CD-S3 - http://forums.newtek.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=38933&d=1163624299

I know that there are many head-amps which are also preamps and even DACs, all-in-one.
Also what matters here is that even if I get a CD player with an awesome built-in DAC, I still need a separate DAC component because I need it for connecting my PC to a DAC before going to amp. But that doesn't mean I have to keep my current DAC in system.
And last but not least, I can't spend thousands of dollars because I don't have them, I live in Croatia.

What I hope to learn here is WHAT IS A BETTER CONCEPT AND WHY, which road to take:

a) 5 different devices: power-amp + preamp + CD player + DAC + head-amp
b) 4 different devices: power-amp + preamp + CD player + head-amp with built-in DAC
c) 3 different devices: power-amp + preamp/head-amp/DAC all in one + CD player
d) 4 different devices: integrated amp + CD player + DAC + head-amp
e) 3 different devices: integrated amp + CD player + head-amp with built-in DAC

I know that this question might sound very dumb to you, but please bear with me: I don't actually know for the last two concepts - can I have head-amp at all with integrated amplifier??
And another question: if CD player has a volume control (like my current Vincent CD-S3) - does that mean that it has a built-in preamp inside, or that isn't necessarily the case?

Thank you very much in advance.

Randy Myers
August 30, 2016, 01:15 PM
It is all personal preference. I personally like the option C)... For me it is convenient, but there are not a lot of good preamps with DAC that also have top flight Headphone amplifiers out there. In research I have found some that fit the build, but most are inferior pre-amplifiers. There are a couple that fit the build though...

To keep the functionality you want and keep budget under control, which is a rarity on some of these forums :).... The Job amplifier is excellent, I had one and thought it was great. Some times I miss it, but again, I was/am still in the re-learning stage so equipment was in more of a revolving door at that time.... You might want to research NuPrime....

the professor
August 30, 2016, 01:42 PM
I also would think that "C" would probably give you the best bang for the buck.

I love the Ayre Codex for the DAC/Pre option

Randy Myers
August 30, 2016, 02:56 PM
The Ayres looks like a nice unit also. A couple differences, I don't think I saw any analog inputs on it, or Coax inputs. the NuPrime has USB, 2x Optical, 2x Coax, 2x Analog.... Both the NuPrime and Ayres also have RCA and XLR outputs, and are fully balanced. Having both was important to me to feed both amplifier and subwoofer. Also the NuPrime goes up to DSD256, for future proofing a little. But I know Ayres is good quality equipment as is the NuPrime. For what it is worth the NuPrime is 10 pounds and the Ayres is 3 pounds (a tad heavier duty dual monaural power supply)... Another important thing to me was the 4-pin XLR headphone output, the Ayres has balanced headphone outputs, just a slightly different configuration. Obviously two of the better ones out there....

February 4, 2017, 08:29 PM
Thanks guys for your replies, but since they came almost 12 months after my initial question :) in a meantime I changed 3 CD players, 2 integrated amps, 1 integrated amp with built-in DAC, 3 power amps, 2 preamps, 2 preamp/head-amp/DAC combos, 1 DAC and 3 headphones... so this thread is very much obsolete now. :)

the professor
February 4, 2017, 11:25 PM
So what did you decide on?

February 5, 2017, 12:43 AM
So what did you decide on?
Oh... it's ever-changing: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread.php?t=10217&page=6&p=193448&viewfull=1#post193448