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Old 10-23-2018, 02:44 PM
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Default 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?
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Headphone Amp.....Musical Fidelity X-Can V3
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Old 10-23-2018, 08:27 PM
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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
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Old 10-23-2018, 09:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Formerly YB-2 View Post
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.
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Speakers........Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
Amp...............Pass Labs X150.5
PreAmp..........Cary SLP-03
Sources..........Music Hall MMF 9.3 Walnut w/ Goldring
Eroica LX MC Cartridge
Phono Pre...…..Sutherland Insight

CD Player Rotel RCD-1072
Record Cleaning Machine...….Okki Nokki
DAC................Bryston BDA-1
Headphones......Sennheiser HD 600/ HiFiMan HE-560
Headphone Amp.....Musical Fidelity X-Can V3
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:41 AM
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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................
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Old 10-24-2018, 10:48 AM
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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
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Old 10-24-2018, 12:39 PM
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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.
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  #7  
Old 10-24-2018, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W9TR View Post
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.
__________________
Speakers........Dynaudio Contour 1.8 Mk II
Amp...............Pass Labs X150.5
PreAmp..........Cary SLP-03
Sources..........Music Hall MMF 9.3 Walnut w/ Goldring
Eroica LX MC Cartridge
Phono Pre...…..Sutherland Insight

CD Player Rotel RCD-1072
Record Cleaning Machine...….Okki Nokki
DAC................Bryston BDA-1
Headphones......Sennheiser HD 600/ HiFiMan HE-560
Headphone Amp.....Musical Fidelity X-Can V3
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  #8  
Old 10-26-2018, 10:58 PM
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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.
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Audeze LCD-3 Canton Ref 9K Clearaudio SM Pro Denon DP-80 w/Lyra Kleos, Ortofon Cdza Blk & K-b, AT33R & AT150Ti Kenwood L-07M mono-blocks Mark Levinson No. 383 Oppo 203 Parasound JC3 jr PS Audio Ultimate Outlet Sony ST-J75 Stax UA-7/CF SurgeX XR-315 Woo WA6 Gen 1 WW Eclipse 8/7 Pt, Au, Ag, Mini(x2), Starlight & Nano
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  #9  
Old 10-27-2018, 12:55 AM
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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.
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  #10  
Old 10-27-2018, 07:42 AM
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Tempting............. but all ready own & like the BHA-1.
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Audeze LCD-3 Canton Ref 9K Clearaudio SM Pro Denon DP-80 w/Lyra Kleos, Ortofon Cdza Blk & K-b, AT33R & AT150Ti Kenwood L-07M mono-blocks Mark Levinson No. 383 Oppo 203 Parasound JC3 jr PS Audio Ultimate Outlet Sony ST-J75 Stax UA-7/CF SurgeX XR-315 Woo WA6 Gen 1 WW Eclipse 8/7 Pt, Au, Ag, Mini(x2), Starlight & Nano
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