my first high end amp/dac
Posted by Jason B from New York on 2010-11-29
HeadRoom Desktop Amp / DAC
power, style, build quality, features, sound, crossfeed
expensive, but worth it
A little about myself: I'm not going to pretend to be an audiophile, but I do know a good deal about audio, and I do appreciate great sound. I just don't consider myself to be a true audiophile because I do prefer a fun sound over an analytical one. I do like clarity and detail, but it has to also sound fun and involving.
I've always been into home theater and car audio, but just recently dove into the world of headphones. I recently purchased this Amp/DAC and a pair of Sennheiser HD650 headphones to use with my laptop as a home computer rig. I couldn't be happier. It simply sounds amazing. I really had no idea that headphones could sound so good. I'm hearing little details in music that i never noticed before, things in songs that I've heard dozens and dozens of times.
I use the crossfeed with the brightness switch set to "filter 1" and the result is great. the crossfeed mixes the two channels as it should, but also adds a bit of extra warmth and bass to the mix. Yes, the HD650 is already a warm and kinda bassy headphone, but I admit I like the extra warmth and bass anyway. The brightness filter does even it back out a bit though and adds a bit of top end to the HD650 which is known to be a tad dark sounding. I am definitely thankful for the crossfeed and the brightness switch. Crossfeed actually was one of the main reasons I chose to go with a HeadRoom amp. I've tried some software crossfeed plugins and I really liked the effect, but this hardware crossfeed is even better. In my opinion the brightness switch is definitely needed with the HD650 because it is a bit dark sounding otherwise, and this is coming from a person who is sensitive to treble.
The amp seems to have gobs of power. This is my first real headphone amplifier though so i don't have anything to really compare it to. I've only had experience with cheap portable headphone amps paired with way inferior headphones. The HD650 is known to be a pretty demanding headphone and this amp seems to power them with ease. I do use the high gain, but I never have to turn the volume past the 12 o'clock position. Usually the volume knob is anywhere from the 9 to 11 o'clock position. I don't usually listen at extreme levels, but this amp is definitely capable of driving these to damaging volume. I have never heard even a bit of distortion or clipping, there seems to be quite a bit of power here and plenty of headroom.
The laptop I use this with is an HP G60 which I actually have set up to dual boot Ubuntu along with the standard Windows 7 that came loaded. I exclusively use Ubuntu now though, and I am happy to report that this Amp/DAC does work perfectly with Ubuntu right out of the box. I am using the latest 10.10 (Maverick) build just to be more specific. I use flac audio files, and I also stream music from Rdio.com, Shoutcast.com and Lastfm.com as well. I listen to melodic metal, progressive rock, classic rock, downtempo, trip hop, dubstep and ambient music and this combo sounds great with all of it.
Big thanks to HeadRoom and to Head-fi.org for getting me this involved in this hobby!
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