Dedicated headphone amp help please


New member
Aug 21, 2007
I've recently added an old but well maintained and upgraded Rega Planar 3 turntable to my set up and started playing vinyl again.

It was soon pretty clear that although my Denon AVR 4310 has a phono stage,i needed to get a hold of a seperate phono stage as the low output Audio Technica AT95 cartridge (brand new) meant i was having to cranking up my Denon and i could hear feedback and also turntable rumble, especially through headphones (i am using the 'Pure Direct' mode btw).

Adding a 2nd hand 'Firebottle' phono stage has improved matters greatly and i'd struggle to complain about the sound quality when using speakers (B&W 685's) but when i use my headphones (B&W P7's) i can still hear a fairly distinct signal noise through the headphones when first plugged in ( with any source, before the music/sound starts - not turntable rumble or turntable related).I'm assuming it's al the noise from the AVR internals and although once the music starts i then can't detect the noise, i can't help feeling that a dedicated stereo/headphone amp would not only sort the problem but also improve my listening experience as this sound must still be there in the background tainting the music to some degree ? Also as my headphones were purchased to use with an iPhone and are very low impedance (22 ohm) i assume they'd probably benefit from a dedicated amp anyway (i.e less powerful amp) ?

My AVR is great and i can't afford to purchase something costing more than £300 ish anyway, but ideally i want a) one with two inputs so i can play my Aries Mini through headphones as well without changing leads over and b) one with a remote for volume control.

With plenty of internet browsing and research the Schiit Magi 3 or Vali 2 both appeal, but of course neither have twin inputs or a remote ! However, they do seem great value for money and lets face it, sound quality is the number one priority so i would compromise given that the Magni in particular, is pretty inexpensive.

I'm wondering if anyone can recommend a different product, or indeed come at my problem from a different angle? Would purchasing 'bigger',higher impedance headphones be a better way forward (just a guess) or, as a friend tried unsuccesfully to explain to me, buying a dedicated stereo amp with a headphone jack, to play all my music sources through and then,which i failed to grasp, do something involving a line out from the dedicated stereo amp that would go to my AVR allowing me to use the stereo amp to run font speakers (or listen to headphones) for music, but allow the AVR to do all the surround sound stuff with films/tv etc ?

Baffled me how that'll work, espeically as my front speakers are bi-wired,so i've kind of ruled this out unless someone clever on here can tell me its a great idea and then explain clearly how it would work !!!

I'm half tempted to buy a very cheap Schiit Magni (old model) for 50 odd quid on auction sites, and see if that improves things to any great degree, at least then i haven't thrown away a huge amount and it's always re sellable.

Thanks for any ideas


New member
Oct 16, 2009
As you say, your existing headphones are low impedance so would not really benefit from a dedicated headphone amp. If you are serious about headphone listening, then a better pair of higher impedance phones will be beneficial justifying the use of a dedicated amp.

However, it wouldn't hurt to try the Schiit with your headphones, anything would be an improvement over the Denon AVR.


Well-known member
Dec 2, 2007
I use a Meridian Prime to drive a set of 600 ohm Beyerdynamic DT880s and am very satisfied with it. It's not cheap (Meridian never is) but I have found it to add significant depth and breadth to the music I listen to. There is also the option to add a separate, upgraded power supply if you wish though I didn't feel that necessary.


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