What is it? What about the best amp under $1000?
How about the Yamamoto HA-02?
Is this based on experience? Which headphones do you use?
CEO and Editorial Director, Nextscreen LLC
The answer is in the last post below - http://www.avguide.com/forums/best-headphone-amp
Alas, no. I find it extremely difficult to audition headphone amps before buying them, but in this case I think I'll go ahead and place an order. What I know about the amp comes from a review at 6moons:
The Yamamoto evidently mates well with the Audio Technica ATH W1000 headphones.
I posted the suggestion partly to see if it would stimulate a discussion of alternatives or perhaps elicit a response from someone who does have first-hand experience of it.
Hello, just signed up, brand new member. I just s/w someone today, this morning actually who has this headphone amp. This is amazing because I myself am not familiar with it. The gentlemans name is slwiser, and he showed me some pictures of the 3 headphone amps he has. One, is the Yamamoto.
He said he is using it with Ultrsone 9s, hope that helps. Now, here is my gripe. I am looking to go with either the AKG701`s in white, or the Sennheiser HD600`s, as they are discounted now due to the 650`s and new HD 800`s. My thing is, none of us would buy a pair of speakers w/o hearing them first, right? You can hardly here in New York, (White Plains, Westchester County) demo or audition headphone amps and headphones. Lyric Hi-Fi here in WP, makes you have to go to their location on 83rd, to hear the Sennheisers. But, of course they don`t have AKG, so you can not compare. And they use Vincent or Antique Sound Lab headphone amps, not familiar with, or saw any reviews for these, so what do you do?
Headroom-Right Between your Ears, seems good because these guys eat and sleep headphones all day long. But, you still have to order them, sight unseen and unheard? Can anything change this?
I think one has to purchase Yamamoto products from Japan. These guys made my day with their attention to detail and the following ordering instructions:
"When you want the product of our company
In case that you, are hoped and are purchase the product of our company with the individual the payment in the credit card is possible. As for the credit card only VISA and MASTER are possible use.
We hope the communication in the fax from a viewpoint of the security protection in the case of the order. We do not have the responsibility in our company even if the trouble of the card breaks out in case that you transmitted the card information with the mail. The fax number of our company is 81-794-63-6405."
By the way, here's a picture of the Yamamoto:
My impression is that the Yamamoto isn't portable. Is that correct? For portability I see that TAS recommends the Ray Samuels Hornet. Are there others to consider?
I use an Antique Sound Labs HB-1 and I love it (2 6BQ5s). Headphone Sennheiser HD-280 Pro.
Oh, btw - not portable.
A friend told me that the Corda is very good and portable (key for me), but I can't find it anywhere. Ideas?
Here the home page of the CORDA, you can buy it trought this web is easy, good vibrations!
There are so many choices these days, I dare to say it is more a personal choice. I would do some search over at www.head-fi.org under the amplifier forum.
Absolutely... you'll find the most comprehensive discussion of "all things headfi" at www.headfi.org.
And... you will find no one "best" head amp. Each set of phones must be carefully matched to each set of phones to obtain the optimum sound quality of both (as well as the source).
I have the Woo Audio WA6SE Maxed head amp (transformer coupled tubes), which mates very well with all my Grado, Senn, ATH and Denon phones, because it has both high and low impedence output. It's not the most expensive, or least expensive, amp out there, but is very versatile. I'm sure there are some better (some which match some phones better), and a lot poorer amps available. And... you'll find some fairly inexpensive amps, which will match some phones as good, or better, than some very expensive amps.
You'll only find the optimum match for your selected phones after much research and experimentation - which is why you'll need www.headfi.org.
I've now found recommendations for the Headamp.com Pico, though it seems not yet to be a product for sale (pre-order only). Has anyone heard this amp?
Hard to say what is "best", particularly since you don't say what "cans" you'll be driving, but I'd definitely check out:
- The Zanden (particularly driving K1000s)---The Best in My Book
- The Moth 300B
- Single Power (they've got a bunch of exotic models)
- Todd the Vinyl Junkie's 307A
- Ray Samuels B-52
- Ray Samuels has a range of portables, depending upon your budget. I'd start there.
I'm now also on a search for a desktop amp. I can't find any reference to the Zanden on their site, but I probably couldn't afford it anyway. Moth has a dedicated headphone amp, the Xanta, is that what you mean? Single Power seems cool, but where in heaven can you get one?
By the way, headphones are Sennehiser HD650, Denon 5000s, and maybe a Grado (I have the SR60s but I'd like to try an extreme Grado when I can afford it).
I guess Singlepower, like some other small headphone amp makers, must be ordered direct. However, I noticed on 6Moons that Head-Fi has a thread devoted to cautionary tales about Singlepower customer service:
Thaks for your recomendatios Jim
i am very happy with my new Ray Samuels HR-2.
I have the hd-800 Sennheiser
Suenan Fantasticamente Bien!!
I'm using Etymotic ER 4s (these are the ones I'm shopping for in portable mode).
I've listened to about five portable headphone amplifiers and my favorite is the Ray Samuels Hornet or Predator (the Predator adds a USB input). The PortaCorda is very good, but the Ray Samuels is smaller, has better build quality, and sounds better.
I recently bought a Headroom Amp with DAC, Crossfeed, triGain,
Perfect!, I must say that customer service is especially good,
Their sound is really good, as a marginal note unique and need a little low for my HD800, with the rest of Cans is excellent
Have you had a chance to test Earmax? Do you know anything about this amp?
Have you heard the Pico?
Also, do NC headphones need an amp or effectively is there an amp built-in?
Has anyone compared the Benchmark DAC1 Pre headphone amp to others? It isn't under $1k, but since it allegedly is a high quality DAC, the headphone amp only part of the price.
I am using an Amp Sony TAN 5550 with power FETs and Sennnheiser HD430
Can I tell the diference if I spend more money?
Isn't the Earmax /Earmax Pro just under 1000$ ?
Maybe the Earmax Pro II wil creep over, what ever.
It is rather good I think.
If you're interested in a tube headphone amp, a lot of folks really like the Zana Deux from the former Moth Audio designer:
Offering precision communication for both traditional and VoIP phones, the Plantronics® Vista™ M22 amplifier is ideal for professionals requiring consistent, comfortable listening levels and hands-free office productivity. The M22 is compatible with most phones and includes Clearline™ audio to heighten clarity, especially in a wideband VoIP environment
I have only just recently - in the last 12 to 18mos - gotten into the headphones game myself. But, through trial, error, eBay & audiogon (www.audiogon.com), I have been fortunate to sample a few amps and cans. My first purchase was a DIY from China and it was surprisingly nice, but I gave it away to someone also just getting into HPs. Since I liked the DIY rig, I decided to "get a nice" HO amp and picked up a Creek OBH-21SE...I remain disappointed. Since then, I have grabbed 3 others I like a lot. In order from best to least: Channel Islands VHP 2 (with the VAC 1 power supply upgrade) AWESOME and not large nor intrusive. Beresford TC-7520 DAC (with the op-amp upgrade offered by the distrubutor) also superb, but just not quite as spiffy as the CI unit. Finally, at work, I have a Matrix Mini-I (http://cgi.ebay.com/Matrix-mini-i-24-192-Balanced-USB-DAC-Headphone-Amp-/350305561485?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item518fd6ab8d) I picked up for cheap off of eBay to use at the office.
Take the plunge & enjoy! I think the best way to experiment, since it is virtually impossible to audition HP ams in a store, is to take advantage of the quality used market. eBay has tons of bargains, but you will need to be very diligent to avoid picking up a "dog" & loosing your hard-earned $$. Personally, I strongly prefer AudiogoN (www.audiogon.com), which is an eBay-like auction website overwhelmingly populated by serious (or at least pretty focused) audiophiles and a lot of small-shop, craftsmen. Part of the audiophile addiction is the NEED to trade up & around your gear. And, we audionuts tends to take excellent care of our stuff. So, through audiogon, you can get excellent quality stuff at super prices while aiding others to feed their addictions!
Those are my thoughts!
I second the motion to do some reading at head-fi. I am a long term "crazy man" audiophile and was looking for a desktop headphone amp that can also function as a preamp for a small office system. I was leaning toward one of the Benchmark models (since I have listened to them and read the great press from Stereophile, TAS and HiFi+) but since I have all tube gear in my main system (and very much like it), I thought I would spend some time rummaging around head-fi for a tube model.
Seems the recommendation for the Zana Deaux would get many votes over there, but as far as I can tell the most popular brand of tube headphone amps is Woo Audio, made in New York. Point to point wiring, and the transformer coupled (the WA6 or WA6SE) or OTL (WA2) seem to be the two most popular. I wrote to Mr. Woo and for another $130 he said he could add a preamp out to the WA6. Beautiful amps, and seem to be a tube rollers dream. Take a look since there is a significant users thread.
How about a review of one of their amps in ST, TAS or HiFi+?!?!?
DO NOT... DO NOT... DO NOT - BUY a headphone amp, or headphones without researching them at... WWW.HEADFI.ORG!
It is very difficult to find a headphone, or headphone amp that sounds good... without... carefully matching them to each other - to make sure their impedance and sound quality matches properly! If you spend your money without doing so - you'll be wasting it, and will likely be very disappointed. There is no "best amp <$1,000, or above, without carefully matching to the specific phones you're using.
Headfi.org is the most comprehensive site for finding the best amp, and headphones, or best for your money. You can buy very modest units, that will sound very similar to the best... if... they're properly matched and burnt in, or sometimes modifed. Headfi.org will educate you in all those matters.
Now... for the Grado phones (which are some of the best) - the MAD EAR+ HD is consdered the best amp <$1,000, or above, for that matter. It's a tube desktop amp. The Woo Audio WA6 is also very good - also a tube amp. These amps are also pretty good with Senns, and other high impedance phones.
For Senns (high impedance)... the WA6 is great, or the solid state Meier Audio Concerto, or the Burson HA-160. Those are some of the best amps for high impedance phones that also match low impedance phones pretty well. The Graham Slee Solo Ultralinear, or SRG II, are also superb with Senns and Grados. Very tube like sound.
For example, some of the best sound for the money is attained with the Grado SR225's with the MAD EAR+ HD, or the "new version" of the HD580/600/650's (mfd in 2008 and after - earlier versions were dark and veiled) with the WA6 (with the PDPS), or GS Solo (mfd in 2010 or after - earlier versions were great with high impedance phones, but not low impedance phones). And... don't make any judgments, without a good source (a whole other topic), and until all your equipment is properly burnt in. That illustrates how difficult is is to attain close to the best sound for <$1.000. You'll only discover all that at Headfi.org.
And... finding the best sound for >$1,000 is a whole other story.
But... you'll get about as much info / education as you can find about all these and a lot more at www.headfi.org. 6moons.com is also a pretty good site to find out about some of the better headphones and amps - but, no where near as comprehensive as headfi.org. There are other sites also - just do a google search - but., these are some of the best.