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Headphone Amplifier Recommendations

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Nathan Z, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    I'm looking to switch my system over to headphones, the reason really not being important... but let's just say I wish I could stick with my speakers.

    Anyways, I'm looking for a relatively compact headphone amp that I can plug my turntable and pre-amp into. I don't need any special features for streaming or anything, I just need to be able to plug headphones in, adjust the volume, and listen.

    I was thinking of either a Schiit Magni or Heresy, but I'd be very interested to hear what other recommendations people may have. I'd also be curious to know how the Magni and Heresy differ in their sound.
     
  2. jbmcb

    jbmcb Forum Resident

    Location:
    Troy, MI, USA
    What headphones will you be driving? In my experience, unless you have really demanding headphones, you don't need a very fancy headphone amp to get good sound.
     
  3. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    Though I definitely plan on upgrading soon in the future, I'll be starting off with some AKG K240's. Just that alone should make it obvious that I'm not looking to spend a lot here, but I don't want to buy a terrible sounding piece of crap either.
     
  4. zonto

    zonto Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    People with experience with both amps over on Super Best Audio Friends have reached this general consensus: go with the Magni 3+ if you want better sound quality and the Magni Heresy if you want better measurements. Also consider the Vali 2+ that was just released.

    Do you need two inputs though? If so, and you're looking at these amps, you may also want to consider a Sys to switch between both inputs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2021
    jbmcb likes this.
  5. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    With that being the consensus, who would go for the Heresy? You can't hear measurements, can you?

    I'll only need one input.
     
  6. zonto

    zonto Forum Resident

    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Anyone who frequents Audio Science Review. The same type of measurement zealots who champion Topping and similar gear.
     
    displayname likes this.
  7. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    I watched a couple videos on the Schiit offerings today and learned a couple things. It seems that nobody can agree on one being better than the other (the Magni vs the Heresy). One video was very direct in saying that they are hardly different at all, it mostly depends on the headphones you plan on using as some work better with each. That video also pointed out the superior build on the Heresy and the fact that the Heresy ran a lot cooler than the Magni.
     
    displayname likes this.
  8. vconsumer

    vconsumer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Colorado
    I wouldn't worry about heat. I received a new Magni 3+ just three days ago and have had it plugged in and running since. I would describe it as slightly warm to the touch. I bought it rather than the Heresy simply because its appearance matches my Modi MB.
     
  9. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    Are you willing to go beyond the budget of the Magni? They've always had amazing reviews, but I was not impressed when I briefly owned one. I couldn't wait to move on.

    Loads of options in the $200-300 range (new). Even more if you're willing to go used.
     
  10. freesole

    freesole Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I have the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ and recently acquired the Chord Hugo TT2 along with the M Scaler. Prefer the latter for sure.
     
  11. h46e55x

    h46e55x What if they believe you?

    Location:
    Gitmo Nation West
    ASR, sometimes... You know the Topping L30 rates higher than the Benchmark HPA4? Well there you go then.
     
  12. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    Schiit Asgard3 or HeadAmp Gilmore Lite Mk2
     
  13. intensemojo

    intensemojo Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    Schiit Magnius - $200, stellar S/N, will drive anything, easy recommendation.
     
  14. Nathan Z

    Nathan Z Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Canada
    I'd rather keep it lower in price but if there's something significantly better for a bit more I'd consider it. What have you got in mind?
     
  15. displayname

    displayname Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dallas
    You'll have to do your homework. Lots of gear with seemingly endless praise (ex: THX 789), but I don't know experience with those pieces directly, so I can't speak to them.

    I got my rHead amp new on close out for a killer price. I originally purchased a magni, wasn't satisfied at all. About a week later pulled the trigger on the rHead, and sold the Mani. I haven't looked back.

    Not a knock on schiit. I recently got their Modius dac, and I've been pleased with it for the price. I did prefer the Benchmark DAC3 I borrowed from a friend, but I just couldn't justify the price for my uses. But in the case of the DACs and the headphone amps, the higher priced gear produced better sound. May not always be the case, but I think the lesson is to set appropriate expectations.
     
  16. h46e55x

    h46e55x What if they believe you?

    Location:
    Gitmo Nation West
    I am using an SMSL SP200, it measured very well on ASR. :) At $226 it was a great interim step until I could afford what I wanted.

    Like all the new THX implementations it has very low distortion. It sounds very clean and neutral. If your looking for added magic, you wont get any, but it also wont step on anything.

    I am using Grado Hemp headphones with it. The Hemps are very sensitive, so much so that even on low gain the volume knob is too sensitive. While it still works you have to be slow and deliberate changing the volume. A less sensitive headphone would have been better with this amp. Also the volume balance is poor at very-very low volumes and gets better as it gets louder. But an amplifier with dead accurate volume control like the Benchmark HPA4 is 13x the price.

    With the THX implementations, capable headphone amps have been commoditized. You can pick just about any of them with the price, looks, or feature set being your primary concern. And while I think ASR's reviews really favor the low to mid-fi market, there is plenty of good information when it comes to low cost headphone amps.
     
  17. aorecords

    aorecords Forum Resident

    I don't know about ASR sometimes. Maybe it's the aforementioned zealotry.
     
  18. Martin Takamine

    Martin Takamine spinning black and silver

  19. Victrollin'

    Victrollin' Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington State
    Check out the audio exchange sub on reddit, there's always some used Magni's for sale. If you end up not liking it, you could sell it for just the same amount that you paid for it.
     
    displayname likes this.

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