Advice on headphone amp


New member
Aug 10, 2019
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My ageing system comprises of the following,

Marantz CD63 mk2 KI signature series,( van der hull interconnetc )

John Shearne Phase 2 amp,

Castle Avon speakers ,

Project Headbox se mk 2,

Grado SR60,Audio Technica ATH T500 and newly acquired AKG K550.

I am considering upgrading the headphone amp,( i mainly use the AKG ) and also possibly getting a DAC.

I`ve considered the Graham Slee Novo,Fidelity Audio HP 100 and the Audio Icon HP8.

Iv`e also considered the Audiolab M Dac,but don`t know what the headphone amp side is like.

Any suggestions / advice would be much appreciated.

I use the AKG headphones every night,music tastes are pretty much everything.


New member
Jun 20, 2008
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I am by no means a headphone amp expert but here are my two thoughts.

I also have the Head Box II (somewhere) and it seems to do pretty unpleasant things to the bass to my ears which is why I looked for a replacement. I picked up a used Novo for £150 a year or so ago and I find it a well balanced and smooth amplifier, although I wouldn't like to comment if it might be worth the normal RRP as I don't have anything else to compare it with.


Maybe you've never heard of the Corda headphone amps, made by Jan Meier in Germany. His headphone amps work with a crossfeed filter. People who listen a lot, and for longer time with headphones, appreciate this filter a lot.

Google meier audio and you will easily find his website with lots of information. And, funny for a German, his website is only in English... :?


Thanks for the replies.

The AKG`s,which i use the most,can occasionally sound a bit bright,so would prefer something that might alleviate this.

I do prefer my music a bit "warmer ",probably why i love the Shearne amp so much.

I have been leaning a bit towards a tube hybrid,eg Audiotaylor Jade,HiFiman EF5 or the icon audio HP8,which i thought might help with the " bright " sound.

The other problem is that i only have one hifi shop nearby and after some of their previous advice,i think i will be steering well clear,which means i`m pretty much restricted to buying online,so can`t get to listen beforehand.

Musically,although i listen to most types,usually it`s either classical or female vocal,eg,Norah Jones,Katie Melua,Alison Krauss etc.


New member
Jan 9, 2012
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I think a good quality headphone amp is well worth the expenditure if you spend lots of time listening by headphones - I too have a Graham Slee Novo driving Sennheiser HD800 headphones, and the sound quality is detailed, non-fatiguing and generally very enjoyable.


Well-known member
Feb 23, 2011
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Not sure I would recommend Meier amps to use with AKG's, I always found the bass performance a bit lean from my Cantate.2 and it seems to be a common complaint for Meier owners. I also didn't find it powerful enough to drive my 300ohm HD650's.

I purchased the Cantate.2 specifically for the crossfeed feature which I thought would make headphone listening less fatiguing, I think I used it a couple of times then switched it off. It seemed to strip the soundstage out of the music. The only music it did work quite well on was with older recordings which have extreme channel separation, for example Suzi Q by Creedance Clearwater but even then it's not critical.

According to Clare Newsome the headphone output on the M-DAC was very good indeed and was one of the reasons it obtained a five star review. Audiolab doesn't seem to willing in providing any specs for it though which doesn't inspire any confidence.


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