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  1. #1
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    Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    ...Why do decent high end, headphones and headphone amps have to be so frickin, expensive?!! Six thousand dollars for phones and an amp is a lot of money. You can buy an entire, great sounding, high end system for what you can spend on headphones and an amp.

    But I need a top quality set of phones and perhaps a really good headphone amp. I'm familiar with many of the top names, but, is a headphone amp a requirement for great sound from a set of phones?

    You can see by my signature what components I have and if you do the math you can see what I've spent in the last year on my home audio system. It pretty much wiped all my recreational funds out for a couple of years anyway.

    But, I want to be able to listen to my system without disturbing my wife. She likes to sit and read or watch TV and enjoy the wood burning stove in our downstairs listening room. I need a set of high quality, high end, closed back headphones and probably an equally high quality headphone amp.

    So, what are your recommendations? A (reluctant) budget would be about $6000. HOWEVER, it sure would be nice to spend half that or less. Don't get me wrong...this will be for high end listening. I don't want to have an expensive system and then purchase a set of "just get by" headphones. That would serve no purpose.

    Do I really need a headphone amp for great sound? If I do then so be it. How good are amps like Schiit. I've read consistently high remarks about them. But, other than that, I know nothing about them. I figure I'll have to spend at least $1000 on phones, possibly $1500. Maybe $3000 at the upper range of my budget.

    OK, so recommend away. I may just have to bite the bullet and spend the money. I just want something that will do my system justice at a "reasonable" price. Thank you in advance.
    Amplifier: Pass Labs INT 250 integrated.

    DAC/Streamer: MSB Discrete Dual Power Supply.

    Server: Roon Nucleus with lifetime subscription.

    Speakers: Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary
    Model.

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    Mackenzie interconnects.

    Speaker Stands: HiFi Man.

  2. #2
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    I can say the same why do DACS and amps speakers have to be so expensive or cables. Everything you noted can be said about buying a 2 chl system. It's all a matter of choice and budget.
    Chris

    (2 Chl): Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE Lumin D1, VPI Classic 1, Manley Chinook, Dynavector DV20x2L.exaSound e32 mk11, Marantz SA11S2. ( computer) Win7, Synology DS413 NAS ,Vincent SP-331MKII , Quicksilver LS,Vapor Audio Breeze, Rythmik F12se. Cables: Acoustic Zen, DL Labs, Blue Jean.. ,Bryston BCD-1,, OPPO 105, Timbernation Rack, Metrum Onyx, Bifrost 2, Orchid DAC, Bryston BHA-1, HD650, HD600, HD800's, LCD-3,FOCAL Clear, JH Pro16 V1 IEM.

  3. #3
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    The Focal Utopia’s with the matching Focal headphone amp/DAC is $5k for the combo (special). Feed it with a laptop or Lumin U1 mini.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
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    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

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  4. #4
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    There is a lot of choices on headphones and amps, be it tubes or SS in budgets from a few hundreds to thousands. . Its just matching the headphone to the choice of music and the headamp. And a lot of good headamp choices used. Sure you can go nuts but like in 2 chl sometimes you don't have to.
    Chris

    (2 Chl): Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE Lumin D1, VPI Classic 1, Manley Chinook, Dynavector DV20x2L.exaSound e32 mk11, Marantz SA11S2. ( computer) Win7, Synology DS413 NAS ,Vincent SP-331MKII , Quicksilver LS,Vapor Audio Breeze, Rythmik F12se. Cables: Acoustic Zen, DL Labs, Blue Jean.. ,Bryston BCD-1,, OPPO 105, Timbernation Rack, Metrum Onyx, Bifrost 2, Orchid DAC, Bryston BHA-1, HD650, HD600, HD800's, LCD-3,FOCAL Clear, JH Pro16 V1 IEM.

  5. #5

    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrassphile View Post
    ...Why do decent high end, headphones and headphone amps have to be so frickin, expensive?!! Six thousand dollars for phones and an amp is a lot of money. You can buy an entire, great sounding, high end system for what you can spend on headphones and an amp.

    But I need a top quality set of phones and perhaps a really good headphone amp. I'm familiar with many of the top names, but, is a headphone amp a requirement for great sound from a set of phones?

    You can see by my signature what components I have and if you do the math you can see what I've spent in the last year on my home audio system. It pretty much wiped all my recreational funds out for a couple of years anyway.

    But, I want to be able to listen to my system without disturbing my wife. She likes to sit and read or watch TV and enjoy the wood burning stove in our downstairs listening room. I need a set of high quality, high end, closed back headphones and probably an equally high quality headphone amp.

    So, what are your recommendations? A (reluctant) budget would be about $6000. HOWEVER, it sure would be nice to spend half that or less. Don't get me wrong...this will be for high end listening. I don't want to have an expensive system and then purchase a set of "just get by" headphones. That would serve no purpose.

    Do I really need a headphone amp for great sound? If I do then so be it. How good are amps like Schiit. I've read consistently high remarks about them. But, other than that, I know nothing about them. I figure I'll have to spend at least $1000 on phones, possibly $1500. Maybe $3000 at the upper range of my budget.

    OK, so recommend away. I may just have to bite the bullet and spend the money. I just want something that will do my system justice at a "reasonable" price. Thank you in advance.
    hey man, i posted this review of some CIEMs recently: 64Audio A18T - Flagship Custom In Ear Monitor. A Speaker Lover's Monitor

    i used to be a big headphone guy until i got into 2ch stereo. Sold all my headphones and now only keep CIEMs. They have come a long way and to my ears the 64Audio A18T, while very expensive, have incredible build quality, support/service, fit/comfort and sound quality wise I don't think they lose anything to the big flagship overears. You can also pair it with more modest amps as they are very sensitive and while I like them just straight out of the laptop for my purposes, a chord hugo2+2go was a great combo. let me know if you have any questions about the process or the sound - on paper its a real PITA with the molds and everything but in actuality it is not bad at all. the big plus is you can take them anywhere and get big time sound regardless of where you are (a real real win on flights and vacations...or even just sitting there waiting at the dentist's office)

  6. #6
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrassphile View Post
    But I need a top quality set of phones and perhaps a really good headphone amp. I'm familiar with many of the top names, but, is a headphone amp a requirement for great sound from a set of phones?
    Unfortunately yes, a high-quality headphone amplifier is needed to get the best out of high-quality headphones. Independent of how the amplifier (and DAC) will impart its sound character on what you hear, the headphone amplifier needs enough drive capability for the headphones. And higher-quality headphones tend to be more difficult to drive.

    Insufficient drive won't manifest as blatantly audible artifacts except in the extreme case (e.g. hooking up some high-impedance headphones to a phone's headphone output jack) but it will cause the headphones to sound anemic or loose, to be unable to handle transients as cleanly or high volume (but you should avoid high volume in headphones anyway), etc.
    Neko Audio
    Authorized Dealer: AC Infinity, Acoustic Zen, APC, Audeze, Bryston, Devialet, Dirac, Elite HTS, Fortress Seating, JVC, LG, LUMIN, Magico, Ortofon, Prism Sound, RME, Samsung, STAX, Trinnov, Vivid Audio, & more.

  7. #7
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    Its hard to beat the Bryston BHA-1 headphone amp. The Music Room has a pre-owned one for $1200. Then you have lots of room for great cans. Audeze, Sennheiser, Focal, etc. My favorite, after trying many are the Abyss. They run from $3000-$5000... The Diana Phi are what I pair with the Bryston. Amazing does not even come close to describing them.

    Plus hand made in Buffalo, NY!

    From what I hear the Schiit are not half bad amps also.

    If you do decide on the Bryston make sure you get a balanced cable with your headphones. Completely different amp when using balanced outputs.
    Amps: Hattor "The Big" w/AMRG Trans, Hattor Tube Active Stage, Bel Canto REF500S, McIntosh MC754
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  8. #8
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    I use a Pass HPA-1 and Focal Utopia. Great sound. HIFI Man makes a vacuum tube amp and headphones as well. Their amp is like $500 or so leaving a lot for the headphones. The amp could be upgraded later. STAX makes excellent headphones and amps as well. Some of them are within your price range.
    Sincerely,


    Joe

    “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." – William Bruce Cameron

    Amps: Pass X260.8s *** Pre-Amp: Pass XP22 *** Headphone Amp: Pass HPA-1 *** Speakers: Magico A3’s *** Magico A3 Grills *** Headphones: Focal Utopia *** Digital: Luxman D-08u SACD *** Aurender ACS10 CD Ripper & N100 Streamer *** Power: Shunyata Hydra Alpha A12 Power Conditioner *** AQ NRG Edison 20 *** Cables: Shunyata *** Rack: Bamboo SVT Quadrasphire *** Accessories: Herbie's Audio Lab Giant Titanium Cone Decoupling Gliders *** Russ Andrews Cable Elevators

  9. #9
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    I'll second Randy's recommendation for the BHA-1. It's capable of driving any dynamic headphone with ease, and will often be the last headphone amplifier someone gets until they look for a different sound (e.g. tubes). For an outstanding tube headphone amplifier I'd recommend looking at Donald North Audio. Either of these would be great with Audeze, Sennheiser, or Focal.

    STAX headphones are a whole other level. I highly recommend them. The only downside is you have to use an electrostatic amplifier, which can make them less convenient depending on how you plan to use your headphones.
    Neko Audio
    Authorized Dealer: AC Infinity, Acoustic Zen, APC, Audeze, Bryston, Devialet, Dirac, Elite HTS, Fortress Seating, JVC, LG, LUMIN, Magico, Ortofon, Prism Sound, RME, Samsung, STAX, Trinnov, Vivid Audio, & more.

  10. #10
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    I’m hoping the new RME Audio ADI-2 DAC headphone amp I just ordered will pair well with my LSA HP-1 planar headphones. $2500.00 for both. Both the headphones and RME devices get great reviews on the forums.
    MAIN SYSTEM - SST Ambrosia 2000 Second Edition Preamp and SST Son of Ampzilla II Amp, Bricasti M3 DAC/Streamer w/MDX upgrade, PS Audio P3 Power Plant, Focal Sopra No. 1 Speakers, JL Audio F112 Subwoofer, Elac SUB3070 Subwoofer, 20TB Synology NAS

    HOME OFFICE SYSTEM - KEF Nocturne LS50W Speakers with Roon

  11. #11
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    I think you’ll love the RME.
    Wharfedale Linton w/ stands, Avantgarde Duo XD, Klipsch RB-75, Klipsch RP-160M.

    Luxman 590AX Mark II, Job INTegrated.

    Conrad Johnson GAT2, Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2, Misho Myronov Wooden pre.

    Misho Myronov Wooden amp, First Watt SIT-3 (x 2 - one as backup), Job 250 Monos, NuForce STA200, AkitikA GT-102 amp, ASL Wave monos, Dennis Had 45 monos. Absolute Audio Labs PCF 25 amp (improved First Watt F7 super clone)

    RME Audio ADI-2 DAC FS, ModWright Ultimate Sony XA-5400ES.

    Burmester 948, McIntosh MCLK12, Kimber Kable, Siltech, Cardas, Avanti Audio cables.

  12. #12
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    Re: Need Advice On Headphones And Amps...

    Enjoy !
    Chris

    (2 Chl): Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE Lumin D1, VPI Classic 1, Manley Chinook, Dynavector DV20x2L.exaSound e32 mk11, Marantz SA11S2. ( computer) Win7, Synology DS413 NAS ,Vincent SP-331MKII , Quicksilver LS,Vapor Audio Breeze, Rythmik F12se. Cables: Acoustic Zen, DL Labs, Blue Jean.. ,Bryston BCD-1,, OPPO 105, Timbernation Rack, Metrum Onyx, Bifrost 2, Orchid DAC, Bryston BHA-1, HD650, HD600, HD800's, LCD-3,FOCAL Clear, JH Pro16 V1 IEM.

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