Do I Need a Headphone Amp? Help Please! - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-26-2020, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Do I Need a Headphone Amp? Help Please!

Hi all,


I have some questions regarding adding a headphone amp to my home theater system.


I have a Denon AVR x4400H receiver and recently purchased a pair of Hifiman Sundara headphones. Frequency Response : 6Hz-75kHz , Impedance : 37Ω, Sensitivity : 94dB


I have tried to educate myself about the need for a headphone amp for my setup, but have read conflicting recommendations. Some say it is not needed, others it is.



One thing I read that if your receiver has a discrete headphone amp (vs using resistors to shunt power to the headphone jack) a separate amp is not necessary. I am unable to find any reference that my Denon has a discrete amp, so I assume it does not.



My Sundara's sound OK via the headphone jack but I am wondering if a separate amp such as a Schiit Magni amp would make the Sundara's more than OK. I know a lot of listening opinions are subjective but
am I not taking full advantage of my new headphones without an amp?



I mainly use my headphones to listen to music either from a CD, LP or FM broadcast or stream.



Any thoughts are appreciated.
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-26-2020, 03:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WPF View Post
Hi all,


I have some questions regarding adding a headphone amp to my home theater system.


I have a Denon AVR x4400H receiver and recently purchased a pair of Hifiman Sundara headphones. Frequency Response : 6Hz-75kHz , Impedance : 37Ω, Sensitivity : 94dB


I have tried to educate myself about the need for a headphone amp for my setup, but have read conflicting recommendations. Some say it is not needed, others it is.



One thing I read that if your receiver has a discrete headphone amp (vs using resistors to shunt power to the headphone jack) a separate amp is not necessary. I am unable to find any reference that my Denon has a discrete amp, so I assume it does not.



My Sundara's sound OK via the headphone jack but I am wondering if a separate amp such as a Schiit Magni amp would make the Sundara's more than OK. I know a lot of listening opinions are subjective but
am I not taking full advantage of my new headphones without an amp?



I mainly use my headphones to listen to music either from a CD, LP or FM broadcast or stream.



Any thoughts are appreciated.


In short, a dedicated amp will definitely make your cans sound better than the jack on a AV receiver. Anyone that tells you it makes no difference has not heard a good headphone amp.
Where you want to go from there is up to you. How much do you want to spend? What type of sound signature do you want?
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Last edited by ti-triodes; 04-26-2020 at 03:21 PM.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-26-2020, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your response. As I am new to using a headphone amp I am not sure about how much I should spend. I mainly listen to Jazz and Classical and occasional Blues and Rock.


I like a neutral sound.


I see prices go from $100.00 up to thousands. I won't spend thousands but $100 to $400 would be in my budget. I assume you get what you pay for but would I find much of a difference between a $100.00 unit like the Schiit and a unit costing $400.00? Is it crazy to spend more on an amp than the headphones? The Sundara's cost $350.00.



Thanks
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-26-2020, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WPF View Post
Hi all,


I have some questions regarding adding a headphone amp to my home theater system.


I have a Denon AVR x4400H receiver and recently purchased a pair of Hifiman Sundara headphones. Frequency Response : 6Hz-75kHz , Impedance : 37Ω, Sensitivity : 94dB


I have tried to educate myself about the need for a headphone amp for my setup, but have read conflicting recommendations. Some say it is not needed, others it is.



One thing I read that if your receiver has a discrete headphone amp (vs using resistors to shunt power to the headphone jack) a separate amp is not necessary. I am unable to find any reference that my Denon has a discrete amp, so I assume it does not.



My Sundara's sound OK via the headphone jack but I am wondering if a separate amp such as a Schiit Magni amp would make the Sundara's more than OK. I know a lot of listening opinions are subjective but
am I not taking full advantage of my new headphones without an amp?



I mainly use my headphones to listen to music either from a CD, LP or FM broadcast or stream.



Any thoughts are appreciated.
If I were you, I wouldn't buy it, maybe to try it if someones has among your friends or colleagues. We all know, a headphone amp like an entry level Fiio Amp will help you get your money’s worth from your headphones and is an affordable gateway to the benefits of headphone amplification. If you want to move up a notch in musical performance, see our full line of headphone amps to find the best one for your needs. Of course, an audio system is only as good as its weakest link.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-27-2020, 03:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WPF View Post
Hi all,


I have some questions regarding adding a headphone amp to my home theater system.


I have a Denon AVR x4400H receiver and recently purchased a pair of Hifiman Sundara headphones. Frequency Response : 6Hz-75kHz , Impedance : 37Ω, Sensitivity : 94dB


I have tried to educate myself about the need for a headphone amp for my setup, but have read conflicting recommendations. Some say it is not needed, others it is.



One thing I read that if your receiver has a discrete headphone amp (vs using resistors to shunt power to the headphone jack) a separate amp is not necessary. I am unable to find any reference that my Denon has a discrete amp, so I assume it does not.



My Sundara's sound OK via the headphone jack but I am wondering if a separate amp such as a Schiit Magni amp would make the Sundara's more than OK. I know a lot of listening opinions are subjective but
am I not taking full advantage of my new headphones without an amp?



I mainly use my headphones to listen to music either from a CD, LP or FM broadcast or stream.



Any thoughts are appreciated.
Schiit makes good products and I wouldn't hesitate buying a headphone amp from them. I used to use a firestone audio cute beyond headphone amp and it did just fine with both my sennheiser headphones, a 400 buck pair (650 HD) and a 1600 buck pair (800S). I upgraded to a Burson Audio Soloist MKII because it has two inputs for both my sources (an Oppo 203 and 95). I'd also check monoprice, they have a decent 100 dollar headphone amp.

On occasion, I also use my AVR as I have no way to get TV to my headphone amp with my setup. So I send TV to my AVR via optical and use the AVR headphone out. It's not bad at all.

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Headphone Rig: Oppo BDP-95, Burson Audio Soloist MKII Headphone amp/ Sennheiser HD800S, Sennheiser HD650
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-28-2020, 06:01 AM
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Smile

Also I suggest you take a look at iFi audio - I've been on their website this morning and they have a wide range of headphone amps that look to come in at varoius prices. Not sure where you are based but they have dealers all over the world and are on Amazon - so you could try and return in theory.

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post #7 of 10 Old 04-28-2020, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by glangford View Post
Schiit makes good products and I wouldn't hesitate buying a headphone amp from them. I used to use a firestone audio cute beyond headphone amp and it did just fine with both my sennheiser headphones, a 400 buck pair (650 HD) and a 1600 buck pair (800S). I upgraded to a Burson Audio Soloist MKII because it has two inputs for both my sources (an Oppo 203 and 95). I'd also check monoprice, they have a decent 100 dollar headphone amp.

On occasion, I also use my AVR as I have no way to get TV to my headphone amp with my setup. So I send TV to my AVR via optical and use the AVR headphone out. It's not bad at all.
I would also suggest checking out Schiit Audio.
https://www.schiit.com/
https://www.schiit.com/products


Good build quality, great reviews (https://www.schiit.com/reviews), and a variety of price points (even B stock & closeout: https://www.schiit.com/b-stocks) and types (solid state, tube; balanced) to look over.

HT: Oppo UDP-203 -> Lumagen RadiancePro 4446 {18 GHz input x2 & 18 GHz output x1 cards} - "new (112818 FW)" 18 GHz microcode - parallel outs to --> [Audio: Denon 5308CI] --> [Video: JVC RS520 FW v30.1]
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-28-2020, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WPF View Post
Hi all,


I have some questions regarding adding a headphone amp to my home theater system.


I have a Denon AVR x4400H receiver and recently purchased a pair of Hifiman Sundara headphones. Frequency Response : 6Hz-75kHz , Impedance : 37Ω, Sensitivity : 94dB


I have tried to educate myself about the need for a headphone amp for my setup, but have read conflicting recommendations. Some say it is not needed, others it is.



One thing I read that if your receiver has a discrete headphone amp (vs using resistors to shunt power to the headphone jack) a separate amp is not necessary. I am unable to find any reference that my Denon has a discrete amp, so I assume it does not.



My Sundara's sound OK via the headphone jack but I am wondering if a separate amp such as a Schiit Magni amp would make the Sundara's more than OK. I know a lot of listening opinions are subjective but
am I not taking full advantage of my new headphones without an amp?



I mainly use my headphones to listen to music either from a CD, LP or FM broadcast or stream.



Any thoughts are appreciated.
I have the Sundaras and yes, they need an amp. JDS Atom is great but if you are looking for a DAC as well, there are lots of good choices. The JDS Element would be a good choice for an all in one chassis. Depending on your budget, the Drop THX 789 is 299$ and one of the most powerful amps on the market. A nice DAC of your choice and you would be off to the races.

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post #9 of 10 Old 04-30-2020, 10:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for all your feedback. I decided to go with Schiit Audio's Magni Heresy. The reviews I read were really good and I figured it was a good place to start. I should have it in a few days and will let everyone know how it compares to the Denon AVR 4400 headphone jack.
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post #10 of 10 Old 05-04-2020, 08:04 AM
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I have recently been researching headphone amps and AVRs so I am glad to see this thread. I am also interested in the HIFIMAN Sundaras and the Schiit Heresy. Let me know how they sound together.

How do you hook up the headphone amp to the receiver? I am interested in the Denon X4500h. Would I use the zone 2 out with RCA in to the amp? I would like to be able to switch from using the Denon for music and movies through my speakers to the headphones without manually plugging in the headphones.

I have heard in some receivers the zone 2 output won't accept digital input. If I want to play music from a NAS through either speakers or headphones can I do that with zone 2? How do the Sundaras sound for movies?
Thanks
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