Best Integrated Amp For £1,000+ headphones?

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For those who are struggling, let me simplify.

One Box Solution!!!!

Amp, DAC, Power Amp, Headphone amp all in one box ... or as the industry calls it, an Integrated Amplifier - capable of powering more than a pair of stock earbuds, that used to come with an iPod!

For those who answered, or attempted to provide suggestions, many thanks.
Are you going to use the integrated amp with floorstanders or standmounts as well as headphones or just headphones?
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Money No Object (semi hypothetical)

Recommendations for the best integrated amplifier, which includes a half decent headphone amp that will drive a pair of your average £1,000 - £1,500 headphones, please?

The amps that are most attractive to me are the following;
Yamaha A-S3200
Anything for McIntosh
PS Audio Stella Strata

Any other suggestions please?
I’ve no idea what the headphone capability is, but the Luxman range of integrated amps might well meet your hypothetical needs. They aren’t small, but neither are McIntosh or Yamaha.

Your choice of amp would probably depend on which expensive headphones you choose, and that’s why I’d echo the idea of a dedicated headphone amp. For small and designed for headphones, this Naim is well liked, though I’ve not auditioned one myself.

 
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Friesiansam

Well-known member
All the richness of musical sensations is created by the room with its reflections and re-reflections, just like in a live concert. Headphones can't do this. If you don’t understand this, then you don’t understand the very essence of music
You’re entitled to your opinion but, you are not entitled to your ”I’m right, everyone else is wrong,” self righteousness.

Just because you don’t like headphones, does not mean it is wrong for others to like them.
 

matts

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2008
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Well as you like small boxes and even mentioned Cyrus, then Cyrus is my recommendation to you matts.
I bought an XR-i7 and I can tell you that its headphone output is good.

If your budget reaches the XR-i9, get that, or consider the 'Classic' model.
They'll be great on speakers too.

It's never bothered me, but reviewers and users alike complain about Cyrus headphone sockets being on their back panels.
No problem. If you can't leave the headphones plugged in, then just run a wire from a plug to a panel-mounted socket (or cable mounted socket / extension cable).
I've had Cyrus amps before, but the best headphones I had were my trusty Sennheiser HD25 MKII's which I still have after 25 years ... although one of the drivers went 'pop' this year, so I had to replace it.

Hands up, I only got to the Cyrus 3 amp. Cyrus has a plentiful dealer network. I'll look into it.

Thanks
 
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matts

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2008
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Apparently this needs clarification, or is my English so bad that people here don’t understand it? :)

A classic stereo system will be better than any headphones (even expensive ones), which is why I expressed bewilderment, why buy such expensive headphones at home, what will you get in return, other than to please your own vanity?)

Professionals, as a rule, do not use expensive headphones. All classic, time-tested Pro headphone models usually do not cost more than $500. And using £1,500 headphones outside the home is even funnier.

Well Landco, maybe this will sink in, maybe this won't, but I'll give it a try.

When in lived in a top floor (Top Left hand Window) https://www.google.com/maps/@51.133...k4lHmPZ4yyeX_M6A!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu I decided to get into hifi a bit more seriously. £700 Arcam Dolby amp (as there was no Dolby Digital at the time) .. I think I had Tannoy fronts, JBL Control 1 rears, and a Rel Q50 sub.

Problem was, directly below me, there lived a near 90-year-old woman in the flat below. That's when I realised that I needed to invest in a decent pair of headphones if I wanted to experience 'Full Volume', so I bought a pair of Sennheiser HD25 MKII, which I've had for over 25 years.

I have to add that back then, headphone amps were basically none existent. The first serious headphone amp I purchased a few year later, was the Ray Samuels Hornet amp, to drive my HD 650's. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=ray+samuels+amp


Fast-forward, I then got into car audio, which revived my love for designs and building transmission line enclosures. BTW, I built my first t-lines in 1990, based on the TDL speakers.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm5K_VVRwXQ


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qjWKUBvSNA


View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-96WAVQdcyQ



My main issues with Hi-fi at the time, was its lack of portability. I got to a point where, literally, I ended up in a Holiday Inn @ Eastleigh https://rb.gy/0bgn7 with my Sony DVD player, my Cyrus 2 amp and my JBL control 1 speaker, to watch a DVD with half decent sound in my room. Later, I then switched to a Beosound 1 system, which offered a better portable and half decent sound solution at the time. And again, we're talking about a time when only the Beosound 1 or the Bose Acoustic wave were the only so-called high-end portable solutions on the market.



Now, to your point, to a certain degree .... a
A classic stereo system

might be the best solution for listening to music at home. However, given the listening volumes i'm used to ... namely from car audio
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmRYTQAS7W4
and given that i'm still living in a relatively - built-up area - such a system and such listening volumes might be considered anti-social here in the UK.

Also, because I trade the Chinese and Japanese markets, listening to music at even the most reasonable levels and 2:00am, might also be considered anti-social.

In such situations, which let's be honest, for me is about 90% of the time, unless the neighbours all go out at the same time ... listening at even moderate levels is near impractical. I'd rather go 'Bumping' (car audio expression) where at least I can stop in a lay-by, or in an open space, and turn the volume up, and enjoy my music in that setting, than to have my neighbour beating on my door asking me to turn my music down.

Just to address those who think car audio is somehow inferior to home audio. This is Gary Summers. Gary won the biggest car audio SQ (Sound Quality) award back in 2010. Gary is a 4 time Oscar winning sound engineer. He started his career on a film called

The Empire Strikes Back

and he went on to do a film called;

The Return of The Jedi.

His CV includes;

Avatar
Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Titanic
Saving Private Ryan
Terminator 2 (arguably, the best Terminator film)
Jurassic Park
Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen & Dark Moon
Indiana Jones - The Last Crusade
... to name a few

So for those who think car audio can't reach the levels of home Audio, Gary disagrees with you
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGBy2aUtSug
... and I agree with Gary!


As for headphones, you can actually add ambient effects that you experience with room acoustics, including Speaker Crosstalk. Sure, the equipment costs, but no more than one would pay out for a decent headphone amp anyway. So I'm not sure your argument holds 100% true!

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjGHHMoPBLk




As for room acoustics, IMO, this is where 90% of audiophiles go wrong anyways. The is no single speaker in the world, at any price point, that caters to every single listening environment, room acoustics, or personal listening taste.

Place any speaker, at any price, in a 1,000 different listening environments (let's called them 'rooms') and you'll end up with 1,000 different frequency responses!


When I can, I design at the listening position, as nothing significant happens at an arbitrary listening point of 1 metre … unless 1 metre is your listening position, which is where most speaker measurement are taken. That's why I posted the video from Pete, as he never designs his speakers/subs at the arbitrary point of 1 metre either. Hence, IMO, mainstream manufacturers, are already at a disadvantage ... hence that's why I don't often buy pre-designed, commercial speakers, and in part, why your summation is somewhat incorrect! And as Pete shows in his 5 Enclosures You've Never Heard Of video he designs speakers/subs for home audio and recording studio as well as car audio ... where he does things like this

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI2yNMuK9iQ


and this

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_QUm97_kJk



So whilst I understand your position, it's not a position I wholly accept!


I've given a faithful narrative of my position, backed up by links and perspectives from Acoustic Engineers that I respect, and more to the point, have a valid point ...., and reasons why I think the way I do.

I hope that clarifies my position on why I think headphones, although somewhat of a compromise, they still have a position in high-end audio.

Of course, this has little to nothing to do with asking for a single box, Integrated amp suggestion.
Speakers, I can do, and I have been doing since 1990. Amps, not so much!



All the best
 
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Al ears

Well-known member
He didn't actually say they use inferior headphones Al.

Although everything else he said is just his opinion (and wrong), what he says about professionals is correct - if by professionals he means the headphones worn daily by broadcasters, musicians etc.
The majority use headphones costing well under a grand.
A common model is the Beyer 770.
Loads of local (and a few national) radio presenters use old 50 quid Sennheisers.

'Professional' doesn't necessarily mean the highest quality though. One of the most popular headphones used over the years by musicians used to be the Beyer DT100.
I couldn't believe how bad they sounded when I tried some.
Durable, reliable they may have been - hi-fi they certainly weren't.

Sennheiser 600 seem good enough for plenty of sound engineers.

Of course, if he's saying that professionals wouldn't buy £1000+ headphones for their own home use - he's wrong about that too :)
i would agree.
 
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matts

Well-known member
Mar 6, 2008
13
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18,525
Apparently this needs clarification, or is my English so bad that people here don’t understand it? :)

A classic stereo system will be better than any headphones (even expensive ones), which is why I expressed bewilderment, why buy such expensive headphones at home, what will you get in return, other than to please your own vanity?)

Professionals, as a rule, do not use expensive headphones. All classic, time-tested Pro headphone models usually do not cost more than $500. And using £1,500 headphones outside the home is even funnier.

There is another simpler answer to the reason "Why?" Because I love music!

I don't care if it comes via a $500,000 McIntosh amps, or via a Samsung phone, headphones or speakers, or in the car ... I love music ... the equipment simply serves to facilitate, my love of music, not the other way around!

“Audiophiles don’t use their equipment to listen to your music - they use your music to listen to their equipment.”- Alan Parsons

P.S.

Gary Summers (the car audio expert and sound engineer) just got another Oscar Nomination for - Avatar Way Of Water
 
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