The Benefits Of Headphone Listening For Audiophiles
Go straight to recommended products.
Although headphone systems for audiophiles are most often used as a way to get a superb listening experience in secondary locations, there are a couple of very good reasons to have high-end headphone capabilities in your main listening room. Critically speaking, the most precise audio resolution is heard on top headphones. Speakers will always deliver the physical intensity of sound better; but headphones can offer listening isolation and a personal intimacy with the recording in a far more intense way than speakers. If you find yourself hearing things on your big home rig but can't quite make out the nuances, a simple check on reference headphones will make every subtle musical detail plainly apparent. The comment HeadRoom gets most from music lovers is that they regularly hear things on top headphones that they've never heard before on their $25,000 speaker system. Naturally, audiophiles often must coexist with others who don't want to hear their music late at night or at the office. A superior audiophile headphone system delivers a private listening experience that's different than, but just as satisfying, as a giant room speaker system -- and all without disturbing anyone else.
For a detailed look at top headphones, have a look at our "Headphones for Audiophiles" page.
Killer Gear For The Audiophile Headphone Listening Room
One of the most important things to know about HeadRoom headphone amps is that they also make great pre-amps and switching centers for all your various audio sources. Hence, many HeadRoom [non-portable] headphone amps have 'volume controlled' line outs, and can receive/switch between multiple analog and/or digital input connections. Pair the famous HeadRoom 'Micro Stack' consisting of the Micro Amp and Micro DAC for a killer start without breaking the bank. Check our HeadRoom Desktop Amp with built-in DAC for fully flexible connection arrays and better switching features. The industry flagship HeadRoom Triple-Stack effortlessly stacks up (pardon the pun!) against any $30,000 speaker system in musical accuracy and clarity. By starting to construct your main system around our HeadRoom headphone amps and DACs, you'll also have all the makings of an incredible computer audio system!
'Mid-Level' HeadRoom Listening Room Headphone Systems
Here we'll focus on our Desktop Amp and Ultra Desktop Amp, and how to add a quality headphone rig to your existing stereo system. The most common way to add a headphone amp to your rig is to use the "tape out" of your pre-amp. If you already have something in your tape out, you can use our RCA splitters to "Y" that connection, but always turn your tape deck on when listening to the headphones so that the input impedance of the tape deck is established. This connection has become less common over the years; if your pre-amp does not have a tape loop you can use the pre-volume control "line out" if one is available. It's also possible to simply hook the HeadRoom Desktop Amp up to the digital output of your CD player and bypass the pre-amp for CD listening only on the headphone amp. Simply hook the Desktop Amp to an unused digital output on the disc spinner, or use an optical splitter on the Toslink output to feed both your DAC and the headphone amp. Check this HeadRoom link for more system connection options.
The HeadRoom Ultra Desktop Amp has significantly upgraded Class-A biased internals. The Ultra's internal built-in DAC is a stellar device, and with asynchronous sample rate conversion it delivers beautifully liquid, organic audio reproduction that is anything but 'digital-sounding'. The main Ultra headphone amp electronics are also upgraded using highly regarded Burr-Brown / TI OPA627 op-amps and deep Class-A biasing throughout all amplifier active stages.
Ultimate HeadRoom Listening Room Reference Headphone System!
The HeadRoom Balanced Ultra Desktop DAC (UDAC) and the Balanced Ultra Desktop Headphone Amp (BUDA) are HeadRoom's current crowning achievements and comprise 2/3 of the world-beating HeadRoom Triple-Stack high-end headphone system (just add the HeadRoom DPS Power Supply to complete the full stack of audio delight!). HeadRoom fabricated the first commercially available balanced headphone amp -- the infamous HeadRoom BlockHead -- way back in the day and balanced-drive has stuck as a concept with audiophiles for driving reference headphones because it works so incredibly well. Technically, a number of acoustic performance factors are improved (slew rate, linearity, common mode noise rejection), but the most important result is a plainly audible improvement in musical clarity, coherence, and the ability to hear the sound as more natural, organic, layered and expansively detailed.
At the heart of our HeadRoom UDAC is the stunning ESS Sabre 9018 DAC chip, a spectacular digital to analog processor using numerous patented and proprietary technologies. Our own HeadRoom audio engineers have lovingly tweaked and twiddled with the chipset and hot-rodded it for the UDAC's particular needs. We happily put the UDAC acoustic performance, textural smoothness and resolution clarity up against any DAC on the market at twice the price -- and we haven't had any takers yet! The UDAC's partner amplifier product, the HeadRoom BUDA, is an extremely high-end differential-drive [negative/positive topology] balanced headphone amp with two perfectly matched channels for Left and Right balanced XLR output to your audiophile headphones. In order to use the BUDA in balanced mode you'll need to have specially re-wired headphones with XLR terminations for balanced use. The BUDA amp can also drive 2 standard headphones in 'single-ended' (non-balanced) mode from the full stereo 1/4" headphone jacks ingeniously housed within the Neutrik XLR "Combo Jacks" on the BUDA front panel. A truly exquisite emotionally involving listening experience awaits with balanced headphones!