Headphone amps

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi and General Audio' started by Mikeandvan II, Apr 16, 2024.

  1. Mikeandvan II

    Mikeandvan II

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    Need to get back into headphone listening as moving flats, gonna buy a pair of Sennheiser hd650, as I see them at low offers, around £200, seems good value. Now I suppose I have to fork out £££sss for an amp to drive them? I use a Sudgen A21L as my main amp, but it has no headphone socket, darn.
     
    Mikeandvan II, Apr 16, 2024
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  2. Mikeandvan II

    Hodges

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    Hi,
    I could suggest another Sugden - a Bijou Headmaster? However, there is no reason why you can't continue with the A21 - just make a hybrid box to terminate your Sugden into, in place of your loudspeakers and "tap - off" some drive to a headphone socket to plug in your headphones.

    Your Amplifier is brilliant as it is. But if you drive a decent set of headphones from it, you will see another level of performance you never thought it had.

    It will beat anything you can buy, without spending a King's Ransom - unless you can find a Headmaster.
     
    Hodges, Apr 20, 2024
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  3. Mikeandvan II

    Mikeandvan II

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    Thanks, how on earth do I do that?
     
    Mikeandvan II, Apr 20, 2024
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  4. Mikeandvan II

    Hodges

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    Easy - genuinely easy. The simplest of ways, assuming you haven't bought any Sennheiser's yet is to buy a pair of Electrostatics. You could find a decent pair of second-hand with the energiser. Or splash out and buy some new ones - they really don't deteriorate like conventional headphones. My Stax are now over fifty years old and still sublime.

    Alternatively, make up two 8 ohm resistors - rated at the power output of the Sugden and terminate your amplifier loudspeaker outputs into them. Then it is simply a matter of "Tapping - off", sufficient drive to power your headphones, via a "Jack".

    To make life easy for yourself, you could always contact Sugden who, no doubt have been asked the same question a zillion times. You will find then very obliging.

    Frankly however, if the A21 were mine, there is no question, if it has to be headphones, it would be Stax.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2024
    Hodges, Apr 20, 2024
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  5. Mikeandvan II

    Mikeandvan II

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    So you can use teh Stax straight into the Sugden?
     
    Mikeandvan II, Apr 20, 2024
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  6. Mikeandvan II

    Hodges

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    Yes,

    They have anything form 250 to 500 volts charge on the electrostatic elements. This, depending upon which model, is derived from, in my case, a SRD - 5 energizer. It is very, very low current so there is no risk. The SRD - 5 is powered from the mains. The left and right loudspeaker outputs from your A21, or in my case my 303, 495 or 909 connect into the SRD - 5, into which the headphones also plug.

    It is difficult to make a subjective comparison with any loudspeakers, except perhaps the original Quad Electrostatics which have "Full - Range" elements, just as the Stax have. This means no cross-over networks and thus extremely fine "Phase - Response", right across the whole audio spectrum. Indeed Quad's ELS were used and perhaps still are, as a reference by conventional loudspeaker designers/manufacturers.

    My Spendors have just been fitted with new original drivers and their performance is superb at modest power levels. Yet, when compared to my SR3 Stax headphones, the only advantage they have is, one is not tied down by a headphone lead.

    In addition, my Sugden Headmaster was bought for the very same reason you intend - we will be downsizing to a smaller property. The Headmaster is a Pure Class A Headphone/Pre-amp and having had an original Sugden decades ago, I knew just how good they are. However, as yet I do not have a pair of headphones to plug into the Suggie so, I dug out my SR3's

    They were brilliant driven by my 303 and 405. However, I wondered if I could "beat the system" by using the 405 at low levels to keep it operating in Class A, as the Sugden does. Sadly, there wasn't sufficient power, but that provoked me into speculating the 909 would operate in Class A to a higher level.

    It is all very fortunate for me as most of what has gone on was totally unplanned. The net result is a brace of amplifiers, the Suggie and the 909, with extremely low noise; of particular importance when playing music at very low levels, an almost unrivalled dynamic range and an "Attack" which is swifter than a rifle shot (figuratively speaking).

    The driver behind all this is my obsession with Class A, without the means to afford a top of the range Sugden. The Quad 909 however, makes a pretty good substitute - if not quite the real deal.

    As for your Sugden, were it mine - I would not part with it, "For All The Tea In China".
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2024
    Hodges, Apr 21, 2024
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  7. Mikeandvan II

    Hodges

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    Hodges, May 9, 2024
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  8. Mikeandvan II

    Hodges

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    The Image attached is taken from the Quad 405 User Handbook. A similar design could be used for a Sugden Class A., perhaps increasing the resistor power ratings. Screenshot_9-5-2024_32913_www.manualslib.com.jpeg
     
    Hodges, May 9, 2024
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  9. Mikeandvan II

    lawrence001

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    Yes sort of but you do need the energiser.
     
    lawrence001, May 20, 2024
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  10. Mikeandvan II

    JANDL100

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    My search for a satisfactory headphone amp has ended with several Topping L30ii amps scattered around various headphone "listening stations".

    Check out the ASR review, it's technical performance is quite extraordinary, and is matched by its sound quality imo.

    It's not suitable for electrostatic headphones, though, but will drive any ordinary planar magnetic or dynamic headphone.
     
    JANDL100, May 20, 2024
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  11. Mikeandvan II

    Hodges

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    However, why would anyone want to ''Bin'' a Sugden A21 simply because it doesn't have headphone socket? Stax Electrostatics + energiser would be my way to go - given the quality of the Sugden. Or simply use the attached headphone set - up of Quad in conjunction with the headphones suggested.

    But if you are going to ''Bin'' the Sugden, ''Bin'' it in my direction.
     
    Hodges, May 21, 2024
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  12. Mikeandvan II

    JANDL100

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    I was merely suggesting an excellent headphone amp for not a lot of money (£150).
    Which is what the OP asked for.

    Electrostatics can be great, but good full range ones are expensive.
    I'd not recommend cheaper end electrostatic headphones.
     
    JANDL100, May 21, 2024
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  13. Mikeandvan II

    Arkless Electronics

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    As I wrote in another thread a few days ago, many modern cans are a fairly high impedance load, 200 Ohms and up, and require only a mW or two to reach LOUD volumes and as such are so easy a load that any old thing will drive them just fine. I have a pair of upmarket Sennheisers and struggle to hear any difference between the H/P socket on my CD player, the socket on my PC or a high end single ended class A headphone amp.
     
    Arkless Electronics, May 21, 2024
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  14. Mikeandvan II

    Hodges

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    No criticism intended - just hoping to bag his Sugden - Ha, Ha!
     
    Hodges, May 21, 2024
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    lawrence001 likes this.
  15. Mikeandvan II

    lawrence001

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    I can't see anyone saying they would bin a Sugden though?
     
    lawrence001, May 27, 2024 at 5:07 PM
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  16. Mikeandvan II

    lawrence001

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    My favourite solid state headphone amp for the HD650s is the Rega Ear. It just sounds right and can be found for under £100. I have the first version so can't comment on the V2 but I presume it's similar.
     
    lawrence001, May 27, 2024 at 5:10 PM
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