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Product Review

HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp
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HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp Product Reviews

Delivering the total control of our standard Desktop Amp/DAC but with significantly improved sound via 'Class A' reference electronics and upsampling D-to-A Converter, the HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp makes headphone dreams come true for audiophile and sound professional alike. Two analog inputs and 'volume controlled' line-output on Cardas RCA connectors, plus computer USB, optical or coax S/PDiF digital inputs allow all your sources to be connected simultaneously and switch between them as needed. Features 1/4" and 1/8" headphone jacks and our world-famous HeadRoom crossfeed for natural headphone imaging. 3-position gain precisely drives audiophile headphones of any impedance.

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6 Reviews




Average Customer Rating:
(based on 6 reviews)

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A tremendous amp / dac

Posted by NA Blur from Bozeman, MT on 2011-02-03
Posted on HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Build quality, weight, added sound value
Cons: Price, lack of inputs / outputs

This is the best amp / dac combo for the price that adds so much fun and detail to your music collection. Be it mp3, FLAC, or straight audio CD the Ultra Desktop Amp / Dac will perform without hesitation. Engineered by people who enjoy listening to music as much as they do creating better ways to listen to it.

You will find yourself missing your audio station. Your ears will feel lonely without the continuous stream of tasty ones and zeros.

Great bass extension as well as impact. From stand-up bass to electric, bass drum to bass vocals or electronic bass beats this amp delivers. Feed your HD-280 pros or ATH-M50's with this work horse and you will surely be surprised. The amp can seem a bit boomy with some cans such as the AH-D2000.

The mids are always well represented by Headroom gear. The mids feel forward and immediate. From orchestral to jazz you can be assured that the Ultra Desktop has you covered.

Swift moving and articulate highs stream from this device. Accurately represented highs flow smoothly through the amp and into your favorite cans.

Well it is built by Headroom so what do you expect? You will develop a wide, fully pleasant, cacophony-free zone in your head. This is one of the great reasons to purchase the Ultra Desktop. It has the most complete and articulate sound stage of any amp I have tried.

If you are unsure what Amp / Dac combo in this price range to go with consider the following.

The Ultra Desktop is made in the USA
Burr-Brown OPA627 op-amps
AD1896 192kHz Stereo Asynchronous Sample Rate Converter
Alps RK50 stepped attenuator
The Ultra Desktop is known for being fun, articulate, and presenting an extremely deep sound stage
You can feed the signal into monitors or headphones
The unit fits nicely on top of a computer case
The user interface is presented in an easy-to-manupulate manor
There are no tubes to replace
The desktop weighs a mere 1.8 lbs

HD-650 cans
Uncompressed audio straight from CD
USB output from my CD player straight into the mini USB on the Amp / Dac
Standard Astrodyne PSU

Test tracks:
Cake ( Motorcade of Generosity )
Great vocals and right to left motion within the sound field

Cake ( Pressure Chief ) Especially "Wheels"
Awesome bass lines, awesome highs, great vocals

Red Hot Chili Peppers ( What hits? ) especially "Higher Ground"
Full sound field and some bass

Yoshida Brothers ( Prism )
Great bass including impact, good mids to highs

Billy Joel ( Greatest Hits Vol 3 )
Great variety of sounds from when he snaps his fingers to when you can feel his breath on the mic

A Gothic Tribute to The Doors ( Darken My Fire )
Awesome bass, awesome highs, good vocals

I tested the Ultra Desktop against my Bithead. I made sure the cabling was the same, the CD was the same, the cans were the same, and the volume levels were roughly the same. The differences were amazing.

14 out of 15 people found this review helpful. Did you?

I finally Got One!

Posted by aamefford from The land of Fruits and Nuts... on 2010-09-11
Posted on HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Detail, sound quality, form factor, DAC
Cons: Expensive (though a good value), switch layout - low gain in the middle

Wow! Outstanding detail, nice bass control over my Dennon D7000's. Much better control than my DacMagic Dynalo combination.

The Headroom unit is much more detailed and accurate, and much more controlled. I suspect the ESS Sabre 9008 chip in the Headroom unit is superior to the Wolfson chip in the DacMagic.

This is my first experience with crossfeed, and one of the reasons I wanted to try Headroom. I like it! Much less fatiguing, much more realistic. The downside is added warmth in an already warm setup. There is a "Brightness" filter switch that adds a bit of boost in the treble (setting 1) or upper mids and treble (setting 2). I've been experimenting, and setting 2 seems to be the best offset for the warmth added via the crossfeed, but both are just a bit heavy handed.

A stunningly good and versatile setup in a perfect form factor with over the top form, fit and finish, sold by some of the nicest (still, even post "shake-up") guys and gals in headphonedom.

9 out of 12 people found this review helpful. Did you?

So much to rave about

Posted by Rob from Chicago, IL on 2010-06-08
Posted on HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Lots of inputs, manufactured well
Cons: A tad pricey

There is so many good things about this piece of splendid workmanship ...but I'll just concentrate on one. My whole computer experience has now changed. While listening to computer audio from youtube, pandora, where ever. The audio has increased ten fold. I didn't buy this unit for this reason, but I'm quite shocked of how it handles it so well. It's no longer a pain to watch a youtube video. I can't believe the clarity. There is even texture on the bassline in music videos uploaded by commoners (not the record label.) I guess this would have to be attributed to the upsampling, i dunno. Whatever it is, it works...and it works well.

14 out of 26 people found this review unhelpful. Did you?

2nd Greatest Audiophile Headphone System In The World!

Posted by Akshar H from Durban, South Africa on 2010-05-05
Posted on HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Phenomenal Sound, Various Inputs & Switches
Cons: Price...It is actually worth it though!

I'm actually going to review my whole system as I think it makes more sense since one component of the audio chain is not solely responsible for the sound quality.
Calling my system the 2nd greatest audiophile headphone system is probably pushing it too far, but I'll let you be the judge. Here is my system in the traditional spider diagram method. Most of the hardcore audiophiles will recognise & understand this easily!

WAV/Flac/Apple Lossless->Foobar2000 v1.0.3->Kernel Streaming/WASAPI exclusive mode->USB Kimber Kable->Ultra Desktop Amp [with Desktop Power Supply]->Sennheiser HD 800.

I use two laptops, one with Windows XP & one with Windows 7, this is why I have mentioned Kernel Streaming & WASAPI. Kernel Streaming works with XP, & WASAPI works with 7. For those who unfortunately don't understand these terms, I will explain them. These two official components of foobar2000 don't come directly with the player... they have to be manually downloaded & extracted into the components section of the player. These two components allow bit-exact playback bypassing any & all internal windows mixers. The result is a true audiophile quality signal that is worth sending through the USB cable. If you are like me & use computer audio through USB but you're not familiar with the term "bit-exact", then you DON'T KNOW what you are missing out on! Furthermore, you are not getting to hear the true capabilities of your DAC, since the source/signal in the first place isn't ultra clean. Just plugging in a USB cable isn't enough to get yourself a high quality signal since all you're doing is bypassing the computer soundcard. You still need to bypass the underlying internal mixers that unfortunately tamper with every song you listen to. Once you have that aspect accomplished, you are ready to judge the quality of your amp/DAC combo.

The total price of my system comes up to $3546.95! Is it worth it? OH DEFINITELY!!!

The sound can be described as natural, jaw dropping, realistic, beautiful!
Classical music through this system is just incredible!

Headroom ain't kidding when they say & i quote "the results are pure transcendent sonic bliss as realistic as virtuoso musicians playing a private concert inside your head."

I'll definitely upgrade sometime in the future to Headroom's flagship BALANCED ultra desktop amp & separate ultra desktop DAC [what i like to call the Greatest Audiophile System In The World!] but right now i'm extremely happy with the system I have now... people would kill for my system, that i know!

In conclusion, I'd like to say make sure you have a quality source before making judgements on your DAC/amp. What is equally important is the cable that the source will have to go through before reaching the DAC stage. A system cannot reproduce quality if it was never there in the first place! A lot of people forget this!

Anyways, I wholeheartedly recommend the Ultra Desktop Amp for anyone wanting to know what their music collection really sounds like & to audio professionals alike.

59 out of 61 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Just wow

Posted by Eric0 from Canada on 2010-02-15
Posted on HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Exceptional sound, good value at the high-end
Cons: None

Amazing sound whether through the DAC or from an outside source. This amp paired with AKG K701s is darn close to my $6,000 system speaker system. Build quality is excellent. The included Astrodyne power supply adds great value to the package. The ability to connect multiple devices is a great feature. Took Ultra Desktop out to my vacation property and hooked up my computer and CD player effortlessly to the sound system. Having the multiple inputs and outputs on the back was a big plus compared to the now discontinued Ultra Micro.

If using a computer, I would definitely recommend spending the $50 on the Kimber usb cable. Bits are not bits, there is actually an improvement in the sound.

15 out of 15 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Power, Musicality and all in one place

Posted by Dr. Robert from Miami, FL on 2010-02-11
Posted on HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp

Recommend Product: Yes
Pros: Perfect build, excellent sound, flexibility
Cons: I didn't found yet

A put all my sources in this little mighty giant (Notebook, Oppo BDP-83, IPod) and all sounds great, specially with my Oppo. CD, Blu-Ray, DVD-A, Super Audio CD.
Don't doubt at all, this is the best thing that I bought. I don't listen any more to my HI FI audio system. With my DENON D7000, a perfect marriage

10 out of 11 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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