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Why is using a headphone output into a hi-fi amp frowned upon?

George

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Nov 20, 2014
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I've noticed that hi-fi enthusiasts often frown upon the practice of using a headphone socket as an audio input into an amp but I was wondering what the science is behind this? I have often used a headphone socket from various devices into my main amp and the result is usually quite acceptable. I was just wondering how using a headphone socket rather than a proper line out affects the sound quality?
 

Oldphrt

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Oct 21, 2016
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George said:
I've noticed that hi-fi enthusiasts often frown upon the practice of using a headphone socket as an audio input into an amp but I was wondering what the science is behind this? I have often used a headphone socket from various devices into my main amp and the result is usually quite acceptable. I was just wondering how using a headphone socket rather than a proper line out affects the sound quality?
Hifi enthusiasts generally care little and know even less about electronics so one can safely ignore them. For an illustration of this see the display of ignorance from foo cable fanciers on the power cable thread. If it works it's fine.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
570
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Oldphrt said:
George said:
I've noticed that hi-fi enthusiasts often frown upon the practice of using a headphone socket as an audio input into an amp but I was wondering what the science is behind this? I have often used a headphone socket from various devices into my main amp and the result is usually quite acceptable. I was just wondering how using a headphone socket rather than a proper line out affects the sound quality?
Hifi enthusiasts generally care little and know even less about electronics so one can safely ignore them. For an illustration of this see the display of ignorance from foo cable fanciers on the power cable thread. If it works it's fine.
You can also ignore people who can't tell a ukulele from a trombone (assuming they even heard said instruments). An Aston Martin works. So does a Fiat Multipla.
 

muljao

Well-known member
Jul 18, 2016
188
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It's probably down to the fact that some headphone out signals are not as good as others. I think proper well mage ones are fine, but maybe ones out of a cheap mp3 player might not be great.

The only sound quality difference i ever hear between a pair of RCA cables over a headphone socket is the actual quality of the connection. I have had issues a few times with faulty connection using just the headphone jack type, but RCA are generally more solid in my experience
 

Oldphrt

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Oct 21, 2016
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rainsoothe said:
Oldphrt said:
George said:
I've noticed that hi-fi enthusiasts often frown upon the practice of using a headphone socket as an audio input into an amp but I was wondering what the science is behind this? I have often used a headphone socket from various devices into my main amp and the result is usually quite acceptable. I was just wondering how using a headphone socket rather than a proper line out affects the sound quality?
Hifi enthusiasts generally care little and know even less about electronics so one can safely ignore them. For an illustration of this see the display of ignorance from foo cable fanciers on the power cable thread. If it works it's fine.
You can also ignore people who can't tell a ukulele from a trombone (assuming they even heard said instruments). An Aston Martin works. So does a Fiat Multipla.
I'm not entirely sure what point you are trying to make, but not knowing the names of instruments doesn't mean you lack hearing acuity or lack understanding in matters electronic.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
570
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Oldphrt said:
rainsoothe said:
Oldphrt said:
George said:
I've noticed that hi-fi enthusiasts often frown upon the practice of using a headphone socket as an audio input into an amp but I was wondering what the science is behind this? I have often used a headphone socket from various devices into my main amp and the result is usually quite acceptable. I was just wondering how using a headphone socket rather than a proper line out affects the sound quality?
Hifi enthusiasts generally care little and know even less about electronics so one can safely ignore them. For an illustration of this see the display of ignorance from foo cable fanciers on the power cable thread. If it works it's fine.
You can also ignore people who can't tell a ukulele from a trombone (assuming they even heard said instruments). An Aston Martin works. So does a Fiat Multipla.
I'm not entirely sure what point you are trying to make, but not knowing the names of instruments doesn't mean you lack hearing acuity or lack understanding in matters electronic.
It wasn't a matter of knowing the names, but indeed a matter of hearing acuity. But hey, if you can't hear differences, well done to you, less money spent. Doesn't mean the differences aren't there (not to imply that they ARE)

Also, I find it ironic that you belittle people for lack of understanding electronics, but seem to be unaware that headphone outs use different circuit then the one in the preamp (which goes to the line outs of an amp), and most amp manufacturers focus on the amplifier part of their electronics (except for headphone specific amps, of course).

The (apparently simple) car analogy is directed at "if it works, it's fine". Both cars work, but that doesn't mean that one is not better then the other. (of course, depending on your needs)
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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I am not sure why they are 'frowned' up on? (Are they?)

My cyrus has a 'dedicated' headphone stage. I think it means it was designed with a clean headphone feed in mind and has certain components which probably remove possible noise from the amplifier PSU etc. in other words, it probably takes a small signal feed and amplifies it rather than taking the amplified signal and reduces it for use. Often, Headphone outputs in amplifiers have a great stonking transformer right next to them. Cyrus placed them on the back which perhaps makes sense in getting it away from the potentially noisiest part of the amplifier but is less than ideal in practical terms!

There is also an argument that the relay which cuts off any feed to speakers when Headphones are used is invasive. I think Rega just designed their new Brio (2017) to get around the 'problem'.

Does it makes a difference? No idea. To me, they all sound very decent.

Its also possible that the Headphones I use, a pair of Grado SR80e's and some Sennheiser PX100 MkII are just not good enough to show any difference.

Most likely, my hearing is crxxp.
 

tonky

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Jan 2, 2008
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My main question is - is it possible to use my headphone output (from Naim Unitilite) and use this output to input into an integrated amp input (using aux or CD input?) 

Is it safe to do this? Will the sound quality be good (sounds great through good headphones) _ Only want to try out of interest - I really like the Naim Unitilite.

If anyone can advise? - thanks - tonky
 

macdiddy

Well-known member
Sep 3, 2010
87
3
18,545
stick.

I think the op was asking about using headphone outputs from source components into the back of amps rather than the headphone output on the amp.

*music2*
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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macdiddy said:
stick.

I think the op was asking about using headphone outputs from source components into the back of amps rather than the headphone output on the amp.

*music2*
I am slowly coming to the same conclusion :)

Still, there is nothing like reading myself talking ...
 

drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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Perhaps some of the same 'issues' apply though plus I guess it also depends on quality of the attenuator/volume control.

I read somewhere that good film types often have a higher dynamic range than some controls done in the digital domain. I will try and find the article (PM of HN&RR).

From a pre-out you have fixed output with no variable attenuator in the way plus no speaker/headphone relays.
 

tonky

New member
Jan 2, 2008
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tonky said:
My main question is - is it possible to use my headphone output (from Naim Unitilite) and use this output to input into an integrated amp input (using aux or CD input?) 

Is it safe to do this? Will the sound quality be good (sounds great through good headphones) _ Only want to try out of interest - I really like the Naim Unitilite.

If anyone can advise? - thanks - tonky
Yes - that's what I thought the OP meant too.

cheers tonky
 

Oldphrt

New member
Oct 21, 2016
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tonky said:
My main question is - is it possible to use my headphone output (from Naim Unitilite) and use this output to input into an integrated amp input (using aux or CD input?) 

Is it safe to do this? Will the sound quality be good (sounds great through good headphones) _ Only want to try out of interest - I really like the Naim Unitilite.

If anyone can advise? - thanks - tonky
If it sounds great through good headphones you've answered your own question. It'll be fine.
 

Oldphrt

New member
Oct 21, 2016
2
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0
rainsoothe said:
Oldphrt said:
rainsoothe said:
Oldphrt said:
George said:
I've noticed that hi-fi enthusiasts often frown upon the practice of using a headphone socket as an audio input into an amp but I was wondering what the science is behind this? I have often used a headphone socket from various devices into my main amp and the result is usually quite acceptable. I was just wondering how using a headphone socket rather than a proper line out affects the sound quality?
Hifi enthusiasts generally care little and know even less about electronics so one can safely ignore them. For an illustration of this see the display of ignorance from foo cable fanciers on the power cable thread. If it works it's fine.
You can also ignore people who can't tell a ukulele from a trombone (assuming they even heard said instruments). An Aston Martin works. So does a Fiat Multipla.
I'm not entirely sure what point you are trying to make, but not knowing the names of instruments doesn't mean you lack hearing acuity or lack understanding in matters electronic.
It wasn't a matter of knowing the names, but indeed a matter of hearing acuity. But hey, if you can't hear differences, well done to you, less money spent. Doesn't mean the differences aren't there (not to imply that they ARE)

Also, I find it ironic that you belittle people for lack of understanding electronics, but seem to be unaware that headphone outs use different circuit then the one in the preamp (which goes to the line outs of an amp), and most amp manufacturers focus on the amplifier part of their electronics (except for headphone specific amps, of course).

The (apparently simple) car analogy is directed at "if it works, it's fine". Both cars work, but that doesn't mean that one is not better then the other. (of course, depending on your needs)
This from the person that wrote this twaddle. "To me, all Yamaha amps I heard have a pretty wimpy, fuzzy-ethereal kind of bass"

I like to keep things simple. What's the point of harping on about the vague possibility that the extra amplification in a device might make it sound different when it probably won't and he's happy with the sound?
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
570
242
19,270
Oldphrt said:
rainsoothe said:
Oldphrt said:
rainsoothe said:
Oldphrt said:
George said:
I've noticed that hi-fi enthusiasts often frown upon the practice of using a headphone socket as an audio input into an amp but I was wondering what the science is behind this? I have often used a headphone socket from various devices into my main amp and the result is usually quite acceptable. I was just wondering how using a headphone socket rather than a proper line out affects the sound quality?
Hifi enthusiasts generally care little and know even less about electronics so one can safely ignore them. For an illustration of this see the display of ignorance from foo cable fanciers on the power cable thread. If it works it's fine.
You can also ignore people who can't tell a ukulele from a trombone (assuming they even heard said instruments). An Aston Martin works. So does a Fiat Multipla.
I'm not entirely sure what point you are trying to make, but not knowing the names of instruments doesn't mean you lack hearing acuity or lack understanding in matters electronic.
It wasn't a matter of knowing the names, but indeed a matter of hearing acuity. But hey, if you can't hear differences, well done to you, less money spent. Doesn't mean the differences aren't there (not to imply that they ARE)

Also, I find it ironic that you belittle people for lack of understanding electronics, but seem to be unaware that headphone outs use different circuit then the one in the preamp (which goes to the line outs of an amp), and most amp manufacturers focus on the amplifier part of their electronics (except for headphone specific amps, of course).

The (apparently simple) car analogy is directed at "if it works, it's fine". Both cars work, but that doesn't mean that one is not better then the other. (of course, depending on your needs)
This from the person that wrote this twaddle. "To me, all Yamaha amps I heard have a pretty wimpy, fuzzy-ethereal kind of bass"

I like to keep things simple. What's the point of harping on about the vague possibility that the extra amplification in a device might make it sound different when it probably won't and he's happy with the sound?
Haha, "search wars" - why, I'm flattered! What's that got to do with anything? It's not because of my hearing, otherwise, I wouldn't be able to notice the different (and better) presentation in the (very affortable) studio monitors they make, or other manufacturers like Naim, Arcam or Jadis.

I'm also not debating subjectivity - if you like it, by all means stick to it - plenty of Yamaha amp lovers out there (even among my friends). It's all a matter of preference. But, being far from electronically savvy, even I know that a headphone out is meant for headphones - even though yes, one can use y jack to RCA cable to power a power amp - and there's differences between line out and headphone out.

@op - is there anything wrong with the Unitilite's pre-out? As far as I know it has one. Or are you using it to power a sub? (I don't think the pre-out works with stuff connected to the jack)
 

Vladimir

New member
Dec 26, 2013
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Headphone output on digital sources rarely has the required output of 2Vrms min. and high SNR (100db or more). It's a less critical build because it's not purposed to be amplified further, it goes directly to a pair of transducers, the headphones. It's typically a single small gain opamp and the job is done.

The Line output will pass multiple high gain stages before it reaches the loudspeaker, so you want uncompromised lowest noise and most pristine sound possible at strong >2Vrms. Any rubbish will get amplified further down the chain.

Also I'm not sure if headphone output has DC protection like Line out.
 

tonky

New member
Jan 2, 2008
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0
[/quote]

I'm also not debating subjectivity - if you like it, by all means stick to it - plenty of Yamaha amp lovers out there (even among my friends). It's all a matter of preference. But, being far from electronically savvy, even I know that a headphone out is meant for headphones - even though yes, one can use y jack to RCA cable to power a power amp - and there's differences between line out and headphone out.

@op - is there anything wrong with the Unitilite's pre-out? As far as I know it has one. Or are you using it to power a sub? (I don't think the pre-out works with stuff connected to the jack)

[/quote

I have the Unitilite headphone out and a v. powerful integrated amp Cambridge. I can't use it as a power amp.

Is the headphone out (from Unitilie) safe to put in the integrated amps (cd/aux type rca input).

tbh - I don't think it is (too high output? - wrong equalisation?) if anyone could put me straight on this - I'd be very grateful

cheers tonky
 

JamesMellor

New member
Jul 19, 2013
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From the What Hi-Fi review "One of Naim’s favoured four-pin DIN sockets provides preamp-level output, so you could add on an external power amp,"

Read more at https://www.whathifi.com/naim/unitilite/review#9hRkDy1qc2794xC5.99

https://www.flashbacksales.co.uk/acatalog/naim-4-pin-din-plug-phono-rca-cables.html

Seems like the easiest way
 

tonky

New member
Jan 2, 2008
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0
Mark Rose-Smith said:
Erm...what's wrong with the on board amplification on the unitilite?
I love the sound and ease of use of the Unitilite - I am thinking of adding a power amp (maybe not cost effective tho)

I have a high powered integrated (Not a seperate power amp). I was just wondering if it is SAFE to use the headphone out straight into the integrated aux input?

cheers tonky
 

tonky

New member
Jan 2, 2008
36
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JamesMellor said:
From the What Hi-Fi review "One of Naim’s favoured four-pin DIN sockets provides preamp-level output, so you could add on an external power amp,"

Read more at https://www.whathifi.com/naim/unitilite/review#9hRkDy1qc2794xC5.99

https://www.flashbacksales.co.uk/acatalog/naim-4-pin-din-plug-phono-rca-...

Seems like the easiest way
I agree James - it is the easy way - but I don't have a power amp to hand ( I may demo tho)

I do have a v. powerful integrated - I am wondering if there is an easy solution to connect the integrated.?

eg headphone output. - I am sure thoe 4 pin din to RCA output from the Unitilite will be to high to use.

cheers Tonky
 

JamesMellor

New member
Jul 19, 2013
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Sorry I misunderstood I thought you wanted to use it as a pre-amp into the power amp section of your other amp, I assumed that had pre-out / main in links.

James
 
Feb 18, 2015
58
1
0
Unless you have inefficient or difficult to drive speakers the 50 watts available on the unitilite along with their decent internal psu's should be plenty.What is this very powerful integrated you hope to better the unitilites own amplification with,keeping in mind the connection between the two isn't going to be optimal.
 

tonky

New member
Jan 2, 2008
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Powerful integrated is 120 W P C cambridge 840a v2.

I prefer the sound of the Naim unitilite by a long way - I thought using the powerful amp on top might be interesting to do. - But to be honest - I won't do it now. I may try a Pre owned Naim power amp (just trial it) see if it is worth the change.

thanks for all the input - tonky
 
Feb 18, 2015
58
1
0
Fair do's Tonky but I don't think there is anything to be gained if connecting the two together is even feasible...I'm pretty sure naim has got it all working quite well in that single box .probably a nap 200 would be the logical way to go here but I'd probably sell the unitilite and start again with superuniti or save for the new uniti star or nac 172xs/nap 200,as long as cd replay isn't critical even then you could get something(cd/dvd/Blue Ray) cheap and use the 172's dac via optical cable . it's one of those routes my own journey is going to take.....at some point.lol.
 

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