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-   -   Hooking Up A Balanced Headphone Amp (https://www.audioaficionado.org/showthread.php?t=44151)

Jack in Wilmington 10-23-2018 02:44 PM

Hooking Up A Balanced Headphone Amp
 
I'm looking to upgrade my headphone amp and was thinking about going balanced. How can I hook up a balanced headphone amp if I only have one set of balanced outputs on my preamp?

Formerly YB-2 10-23-2018 08:27 PM

Suffering the same problem. Just have to turn off the amps and move the cables back and forth (pita). Or, could get a high quality switch box. Really hate to add another piece of gear and the additional contacts, etc.
http://www.goldpt.com/sw2x.html

Jack in Wilmington 10-23-2018 09:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Formerly YB-2 (Post 936934)
Suffering the same problem. Just have to turn off the amps and move the cables back and forth (pita). Or, could get a high quality switch box. Really hate to add another piece of gear and the additional contacts, etc.
http://www.goldpt.com/sw2x.html

That's my problem with the switchbox. Just something else to degrade the signal. I had one on my speakers once so that I could use my Usher X-719's for home theater and 2 channel. When I could I bought by Dynaudio's and then got the rest of the Ushers to complete my HT setup.

Formerly YB-2 10-24-2018 10:41 AM

The high-$$ alternative is a fully balanced preamp from BAT (built there in Wilmington, no less) or Arc or similar where all the outputs are balanced. The Goldpoint boxes are about as high quality as it gets, but still................

W9TR 10-24-2018 10:48 AM

Jack - not sure if you mentioned it but are you looking for a balanced output headphone amp? It will have four wires, two for each driver. It may or may not have balanced inputs or be fully balanced throughout. Or are you just looking for a headphone amp with balanced inputs?
Tom

mulveling 10-24-2018 12:39 PM

Without having a dedicated source for each speakers and headphones, and without dual XLR outputs on your sources or preamp, you're going to be making a sacrifice (i.e. at a minimum an extra connection) for one or the other.

I'm not sure I'd ever want to run a preamp into a headphone amp (which has its own volume control), though I know some do that with a tube pre to fatten up the sound, and if you need input switching to a common set of sources then that pushes the point.

Lots of balanced headphones amps do have an XLR loop-output, but the downside is that you inject and extra set of connections before your amp & speakers. And since most audiophile have much more invested in speakers, that may not be an acceptable compromise.

I think the better scenario for your setup is to make use of the existing RCA output, and massage it to work for your new balanced headphone amp. A few balanced headphone amps have differential inputs that can take a single-ended input with NO performance penalty - examples of this include the upcoming new Headamp GS-X mini, and almost any Stax amp. If you get one of these amps, you're golden! Other balanced amps cannot do this, and require a balanced input for best performance - examples of this are the older Headamp GS-X (Mk I and Mk II) amps, and the Headroom Balanced amps. If you get one of the latter amps, an option is to insert a Jensen ISOMAX transformer that will convert and SE signal to balanced XLR. I've used these to good effect. It's better to not have to use them, but I've heard them improve performance for amps like the Headrooms and older Headamps that would otherwise have been handicapped by a SE source.

BTW there is a Headroom Balanced Home (Max modules) on US Audio Mart for an absolutely screaming deal right now ($625). Beautiful sounding balanced amp that sounds like it costs $4K; I still enjoy mine on occasion with Sennheisers despite also running a top-tier $20K Stax setup for my main headphone rig. This Headroom amp also pairs superbly with Focal Utopias. Also pick up some Jensen ISO-MAX for like $225, and you can be done with a top-tier headphone amp for so little cash.

Jack in Wilmington 10-24-2018 12:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by W9TR (Post 937001)
Jack - not sure if you mentioned it but are you looking for a balanced output headphone amp? It will have four wires, two for each driver. It may or may not have balanced inputs or be fully balanced throughout. Or are you just looking for a headphone amp with balanced inputs?
Tom

I noticed that Music Direct has the Musical Fidelity MX-HPA headphone amp with balanced inputs on sale, but I need 2 sets of balanced outputs on my pre amp because my Bryston DAC is plugged into the one set on my current pre.

Formerly YB-2 10-26-2018 10:58 PM

My BP-25 pre also has only one set of XLR outs............ am thinking the BP-17cubed as it has a pair of XLR outs as well as a pair of RCAs. Am happy with the BP-25 but would like to run the BHA-1 balanced.

doggiehowser 10-27-2018 12:55 AM

iFi Pro iDSD takes care of my headfi in a single box - great sounding DAC and a headphone amp built in is reasonable and handles most of my cans.

Also has a balanced 2.5mm output or failing that get the big iFi Pro iCan if you have hard to drive headphones.

Formerly YB-2 10-27-2018 07:42 AM

Tempting............. but all ready own & like the BHA-1.


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