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Headphone/speaker/headphone amp recommendation needed

labelman68

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I just purchased a Naim Uniti Atom. I have hooked it up to a Pro-Ject turntable and passive Martin Logan 4's. I'm looking for a great set of headphones and looking to upgrade my bookshelf speakers. Any recommendations on what pairs well with this unit? Do I need a dedicated headphone amp with the Atom?
 

anort3

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I'm not familiar with your amp and even though it looks like a very nice unit very few speaker amps have a good headphone amp section.

A great set of headphones runs through a hugely varied price range. A budget would help. :)
 

labelman68

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Thank you. I'm not sure 'what' I should spend but I want excellent sound and don't want to shortchange myself. I suppose i'd spend up to $1200 if need be. I'm looking for headphones and have it down to the following

Sennheiser HD800

Focal Utopia

meze empyrean

All very expensive. I had no idea getting great sound cost this much!
 

anort3

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$1200 will get you a used HD800. The other two are three to four times that price.

For $1200 my choice hands down is a Focal Clear. The Audeze LCD-X is comparable but heavy and uncomfortable. There are also several options from ZMF that would be in your price range but a ZMF is more a 'fun' headphone and something you buy after you have a world class reference headphone like the Clear.

I don't like the HD800 enough to own one. I haven't heard the flagship Meze or Utopia. Those 2 are more than I'd reasonably spend on headphones.
 

labelman68

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Jan 9, 2021
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Oh
$1200 will get you a used HD800. The other two are three to four times that price.

For $1200 my choice hands down is a Focal Clear. The Audeze LCD-X is comparable but heavy and uncomfortable. There are also several options from ZMF that would be in your price range but a ZMF is more a 'fun' headphone and something you buy after you have a world class reference headphone like the Clear.

I don't like the HD800 enough to own one. I haven't heard the flagship Meze or Utopia. Those 2 are more than I'd reasonably spend on headphones.
Oh, wait, I was talking about 1200 for the headphone amp. I'd pay up to $4K for phones IF it were worth it with my system. Thoughts? Also, thoughts on new vs used? There are a few used Utopias out there for about a grand less than new but it's still a lot of money to gamble not having a warranty on.
 

anort3

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Oh I see. You're out of my price range then and I haven't heard any of those models to help. Except the HD800 which I don't love.

Used vs new.... I've bought returns and open box headphones but they had full warranties. And I sell stuff I don't use anymore to pay for the next ones. But I've never just bought used off of ebay or the like.

Pretty much the best headphone amp / DAC stack right now in that range would be a Topping A90 / D90 stack.


 

labelman68

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Jan 9, 2021
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i'm told i can't hook up a headphone amp to the Atom and that I should either go with a lower quality headphone or upgrade from the Atom to the Nova. Thoughts?
 

anort3

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Seems expensive to not have a digital out?

The Focal Clear is very easy to drive and isn't picky about amplification. It's still very Hi-Fi even if it isn't end game or 'top of the line' like the other, more expensive ones you were looking at.

 

labelman68

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Thanks. The Focal Clears are still not cheap so I hope they do the job. Just want to make sure i'm not spending money putting 'lipstick on a pig'. I thought the Atom was supposed to be an awesome system- based on the many reviews- but it's starting to sound like it can't support the peripherals I want to run.
 

Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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i'm told i can't hook up a headphone amp to the Atom and that I should either go with a lower quality headphone or upgrade from the Atom to the Nova. Thoughts?
I find that puzzling. I don't see why you cannot connect to a headphone amp, using the RCA pre-amp out, providing your chosen headphone amp has RCA in sockets. https://www.naimaudio.com/product/uniti-atom You could certainly connect my Pathos headphone amp that way.
 
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labelman68

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Jan 9, 2021
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What would be the result if I plugged a Sennheiser HDVD 800 headphone amp to my macbook pro, streamed FLAC files from Spotify or Tidal and listened to the Sennheiser 800 or other high end phones?
 

anort3

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Audio Nirvana? Assuming you like the 800s. :)

Personally at that price unless you're 100% set on the HD800, I'd go with the Benchmark HPA4. The Sennheiser HDVD 800 is made for the notoriously picky HD800s. Not that it wouldn't be good with other headphones but the Benchmark HPA4 is quite simply the current headphone amp/DAC benchmark.

You really can get 99.9% of the HPA4 by going with a roughly $1300 Topping A90/D90 combo though.


 

Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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What would be the result if I plugged a Sennheiser HDVD 800 headphone amp to my macbook pro, streamed FLAC files from Spotify or Tidal and listened to the Sennheiser 800 or other high end phones?
Volume levels may be restricted, although that may or may not be a problem for you, depending on how loud you like to go. You certainly won't hear what the headphones can do, with regards to sound quality. As @anort3 suggests, you need a good DAC and headphone amp to make the most of headphones that good.
 

labelman68

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Jan 9, 2021
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Volume levels may be restricted, although that may or may not be a problem for you, depending on how loud you like to go. You certainly won't hear what the headphones can do, with regards to sound quality. As @anort3 suggests, you need a good DAC and headphone amp to make the most of headphones that good.
So I have the HDVD 800 and now need to select headphones to match. Obviously the Sennheiser 800's but others?? And what about my front end? I have a Naim Atom but i'm hearing that's not going to work with the HDVD and I should look at another DAC??
 

anort3

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Dec 8, 2019
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The HDVD 800 has a built in DAC.

The only issue with the HDVD 800 is that it's designed for high impedance headphones. It pairs very well with the 600ohm HD800 but I wouldn't try it with anything less than 150ohm or it's going to color the sound. The 'color' may be pleasing though.
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
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So I have the HDVD 800 and now need to select headphones to match. Obviously the Sennheiser 800's but others?? And what about my front end? I have a Naim Atom but i'm hearing that's not going to work with the HDVD and I should look at another DAC??
Sorry, I think I missread your post before replying last time.
 

labelman68

Active member
Jan 9, 2021
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What's a great HiFi streaming setup that doesn't take up too much room. I'm really trying to go with just a few boxes, rather than stringing together a bunch of stuff. I don't need volume- it's a small room- but want quality sound both in my phones and speakers (ideally bookshelf).
 

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