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Headphone amp and Headphone advice please

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emyr88's picture
Joined: 8 Jul 2012
Posts: 1

Hi all,

I'm new to these forums so first of all hi!

I've recently purchased a Rega Brio-r amp, Rega DAC, Sonos system and all the fancy chord cables (e.g. Prodac, Cobra and chrimson plus), I didn't really want to compromise anywhere really so thought I'd just get it all at once. One thing I'm a little disappointed by is that there's no headphone socket on the amp, but I guess it's a no frills amp and does exactly what it's designed to do!

I don't listen to a lot of music through headphones but I'd like to have the functionality to use now and again, especially when it's late (I live on the top floor flat so I try to be considerate). I've done a lot of research on this and found I can get a dedicated headphone amp to attach through the record out slot, however, and this is a big however, there are loads of potentials out there and really don't know what to go for, how much to spend and how much difference I will hear from them.

Currently I'm using a set of Goldring NS1000s - I know these and particularly great headphones but I do a lot of travelling and they are perfect for that, especially as they cost about £80 at the time and if I lost them well, it wouldn't be as hard on my pocket as a set of Bose equivalent.

I'm looking to get a set of headphones in the not to distant future for home use. I'm torn between AKG K701s, 702s and Q701 - I really like the look of the silver 701s (but I'm not particularly bothered on aesthetics) and was wondering what people's thoughts were? I've seen loads of reviews out there but nothing difinitive, especially when you throw headphone amps in to the equation. My budget is £200 but could stretch to £250 at a push. Open to other suggestions too!

So headphone amps, I'm toying with either a Pro-Ject Headbox MXII, Graham Slee Novo or Russ Andrew's Cute Beyond. Obviously I want to spend as little as possible so I guess my question is, how much better is the Graham Slee Novo than the Pro-Ject, with say, the Q701/K701 headphones? Also, any one have experience with the Russ Andrews?

I listen to a wide variety of music: Jazz, 60-80s Rock, Metal, Pop, Soul, R&B all the way to classical, brass bands and male voice choirs. So I'm looking for a generalist solution (if at all possible). My source is usually a loseless format through the Sonos and DAC, but I do sometimes use a 26 year old CD player and an equally old DUAL turntable (inherited from my parents).

Hope I've covered everything,

Thanks in advance,


dalethorn's picture
Joined: 7 Dec 2011
Posts: 1077
RE: Headphone amp and Headphone advice please

Graham-Slee is good, and I think you want to attach that to the DAC directly with the best cables possible. The AKG's are good and high resolution headphones, so it's possible some music could sound a bit harsh with those.


MrSpeakers Alpha Dog, FAD Pandora IV/VI, Beyer DT1350/T51p, v-moda M100/XS, Beyer A200p/Microstreamer/FiiO E07k DAC/amps, PA2V2 amp.

quadpatch's picture
Joined: 28 Mar 2011
Posts: 866
RE: Headphone amp and Headphone advice please

I like my Q701's but wouldn't really want to live with only those as I don't find they suit a wide range of music. This is mostly because I do like a quite plump sound, the AKGs have very lean bass and harsh high end.

If you think that might be you too something more like the Audio Technica ATH-M50, Dale's fave the Phililps Fidelio L1 (poss with bass reduction if needed), the Denon AH-D2000 (before they get completely discontinued) or perhaps one of the high impedance open back Beyerdynamics (DT880, DT990) etc. Let us know what you think of lean bass (in other words a lack of bass kick).

If you want to know exactly how I felt about the Q701 check this out...



Hifi: Audiolab M-DAC Audiolab 8200P Tannoy DC6T SE 

Headphone: Q701HP100HE500, M80TH900Mad DogD7000DT880M100K550TH600 

DAC: E7U100rPACModi/Magni120DsHP-A8DAC2 HGC, BDP 105EUEHP 02DiDAC 

Al110's picture
Joined: 6 Dec 2008
Posts: 29
RE: Headphone amp and Headphone advice please


The headphone amp I would recommend would be the Neco Soundlab Bossfet desktop amp,I heard about this amp on another forum as I was considering the same amps you have short listed,so thought I would give them a try and its very good,Neco designs and builds his own amps and sells through ebay,I've just had a quick look and he's only listing his portable amp at the moment but if you contact him via ebay he'll let you know when he's building his next batch of desktop amps,I had to when I bought mine I think I only waited a couple of weeks for it.The amps have excellent build quality,they don't look homemade at all,they are easily on a par with the Graham Slee Novo,as for sound quality they are supposed to match or better the Novo,although I must admit that I was so Impressed by this amp that I never got around to auditioning any others.

I have no connection to Neco other than being a satisfied customer.