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Anyone out there own/use a dedicated headphone amp?


I have Sennheiser HD600's and Grado SR60's, which I've been starting to use for late night listening more recently. I normally just plug into a Sony CD player. Would a dedicated headphone amp (such as the ones from HeadRoom, Grado, etc. ) make a huge difference?


Another option I've considered is getting an outboard DAC with a built-in headphone amp, such as the Benchmark DAC1 or the Apogee MiniDAC. I've seen glowing reviews on the Benchmark, and Apogee has a great reputation, but the Mini DAC is fairly new. Anyone have any info on the Apogee, or better yet, know of any direct comparisons between these two?


To me the latter option (DAC) seems like it would be a bigger improvement, and also have other uses other than just listening to cans. I also can't understand spending $500 to $1000 for the simple electronics that are needed to drive headphones.


Thoughts?
 

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I've used dedicated headphone amps for years, mainly for travel use on airplanes, but in home as well. For HD600's which are not the easiest headphones to drive a dedicated headphone amp makes a big difference.


I've used and owned Headroom Supreme and then the cosmic and also own Grado's Old HPA-1? (I think that's the#), the ones hand built by Joe Grado. Quality headphone output is not a priority on most CD players and receivers. You don't have to spend $500 to get a good headphone output. There are even several DIY designs out there over at headfi.com
 
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