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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:06 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:49 am
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Location: Dartmouth, NS, CA
After many years I recently decided to buy a pair of quality headphones (Senn HD599) for my stereo setup, and realized that all this time i was in the dark regarding specialized amps for headphone listening. I always assumed a decent quality integrated amp (Simaudio 250i) with a hp jack would suffice in this regard.

I am curious whether this would make any difference for the sound quality by purchasing a dedicated system or would what I have now make very little difference? I haven't found much info on the A-B difference anywhere on forums or reviews, so I thought I would ask now.

At the moment I am pleased with the sound but not floored by it, I am hoping it changes as the phones break in. As someone that has been speakers only (Focal etc) for a long time, I find it is a different listening experience, not sure in a good way. Things seem to be a bit subdued and while warm, it feels like a blanket was thrown over the highs to a certain extent (to what I am used to); perhaps its the signature of the particular phones I am using and not so much the amplification.

Thanks for any input.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:00 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2011 6:55 pm
Posts: 1925
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Simaudio (along with many other companies) do not post specifications for their HP output so it is difficult to say for sure. It could be of quality or it could be nothing more than a convenient connection! But I will say from experience that a quality dedicated HP amp (does not have to break the bank!) can lift even the cheapest of headphones to a level of higher fidelity.

Is there anywhere close to you where you can audition HP amp’s?. I recommend this cause you don’t know if the HD599 is just not to your liking or if they are being held back by poor amplification.

The HD599 have a relatively low impedance of 50ohms. You will want to look at amplification that has an output impedance of at least 1/8 of that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headphone ... _impedance


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:11 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:18 am
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Location: Yellowknife, NT, CA
I've only fairly recently went down the rabbit hole of headphones myself.

There's a number of "inexpensive" options for headphone amplifiers, but then there's the need to work it into your existing system. You may very well hear a vast improvement with a dedicated system, and maybe just a little? Depends on your sources too. Lots of variables.

For the 599, why not just kick back and enjoy the music from your phone out jack? If there is a "pure sound" or something similar on your integrated amp, try that as well. Maybe even play with your EQ some (if you have one on board).

I suppose in the end it's up to you, but maybe keep it simple now, and use the time to read and research and check for specials and CAM's classifieds too (I've bought both my DACs and my main headphone amp used here....wonderful units, and good people as well!).

Good luck....and enjoy!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:54 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:08 pm
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Location: Whitby, ON, CA
Timely post. I am using a Leben CS600 integrated which supposedly comes with a super headphone section that up to this point has been neglected. I decided to go ahead and pick up a set of Grado GS1000i headphones in the hope that an outboard headphone amp would be unnecessary and there would be a synergy factor between the Leben and Grados. Should be receiving the Grados today, so if you see the phones for sale in a few days...


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:40 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 4:50 pm
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Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, NB, CA
I think the bottom line is.....

Some integrateds have very good headphone circuits, while others have what amounts to an afterthought.

I would contact Simaudio, and ask.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, del Sol


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:28 am 
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Location: Dartmouth, NS, CA
The Moon has a output impedence of 0.04Ω as far as I can tell. The mids and lows sound great, adequate bass etc. I would prefer it if there were more extended highs, which may have to do with my own preference as opposed to any shortcoming of the headphones etc. I do agree on the rabbit hole aspect (ha), ideally I'd prefer to stick with the headphone out of the 250i.

With the HD599 at 50 ohms, the Moon can power the headphones without issue, I can't get much past 1/4 of the way without it being uncomfortably loud. The other variable being dedicated amps making the sonic difference, I'll try to demo a few to see for myself. If not making the difference, I'll demo some other headphones that better fit with my audio preference with the current setup. I find the 599's really close but I prefer a little more detail and space.

-- 17 Jul 2017 19:30 --

del Sol wrote:
I think the bottom line is.....

Some integrateds have very good headphone circuits, while others have what amounts to an afterthought.

I would contact Simaudio, and ask.

Hope this helps.

Cheers, del Sol


Thanks, I'll contact them and get a little more info.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:41 am 
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Joined: Tue May 08, 2012 6:49 pm
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
When I owned that exact amp, I played headphones through it and it was excruciating. So much so, I stopped using headphones.

Previous to that I had an Audiolab DAC with a headphone jack, so I know how much better the sound could be. Even the AudioEngine little DAC/Headphone amp was better than the Moon.

My system now has no provisions for playing headphones so it is on my list of next acquisitions.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:12 pm 
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Location: dartmouth, NS, CA
@ rambo4 being your in dartmouth check brooklyn audio , glubes


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:29 pm 
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Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, NB, CA
vintagefreak wrote:
@ rambo4 being your in dartmouth check brooklyn audio , glubes


....and Peak Audio, in Halifax.

del Sol


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:48 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:49 am
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Location: Dartmouth, NS, CA
vintagefreak wrote:
@ rambo4 being your in dartmouth check brooklyn audio , glubes


Thanks, definitely next on my list to do. I try to have a little focus on what I am looking for before hand with help on forums like this.

-- 18 Jul 2017 00:57 --

del Sol wrote:
vintagefreak wrote:
@ rambo4 being your in dartmouth check brooklyn audio , glubes


....and Peak Audio, in Halifax.

del Sol



I'll check there as well. I try to purchase local as much as possible, the exception being the current headphones.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:58 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB, CA
I owned that same amp and found the hp output to my liking.
I have owned several integrated and dacs with hp output and its held its own against most of them.
The Essence dac was my favourite for headphones and the Woo Audio 2 the most disappointing so its a crap shoot.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:34 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2015 3:01 am
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Location: Windsor, ON, CA
For some reason, most amplifier manufacturers usually say little or nothing about their headphone amps. Sometimes they don't even list it as a feature, even though it is obviously present! They generally never have gain controls, for example, or separate volume controls, and many of them can't handle sensitive headphones or the most power hungry models.

It's a real disappointment to me, because I enjoy headphones, especially at night when the kids are in bed.

In the end, it is hit and miss. It's a good idea to bring your headphones with you when auditioning an amp.

As usual, the internet-only manufacturers give the most detail on their headphone amps. Take a look at Emotiva, for example. Schiit makes an amp which is supposed to have a world-class headphone amp in it.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 05, 2017 8:40 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:43 am
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Location: Québec, QC, CA
icevic wrote:
It's a real disappointment to me, because I enjoy headphones, especially at night when the kids are in bed.


Portable amps could be your solution. The Chord Mojo is excellent and Oppo is doing just fine in this regard.


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