A better Naim headphone amplifier, please!

A hardy perennial here but when will Naim finally make a decent headphone amp.
They must be aware that high-end headphones are one of the very few growth areas in audio at present, but we still only have the headline.
I have five different dedicated headphone amps, six if you count the Hugo, and the Headline is easily the worst. I use mine with a DR HiCap, and the sound with decent’ phones like the Focal Utopia and Sennheiser HD800s is; thin, bass light, lacking dynamics, and fatiguing.
The EAR HP-4 is in a totally different league, but for some reason isn’t compatible with my Naim system. There seems to be a mismatch between the NAC 252 and the HP-4 input, also some mains hum, and I had a similar problem with acNAC52. (The HP-4 is perfect with my other non-Naim pre-amps).
However, that isn’t my point. Why don’t Naim offer a high-end headphone amp, along the lines of the Superline? I can’t be alone in wanting to hear one.


I asked Naim the same question at the Bristol show a couple of years ago.

Yeah, I have a Headline and I agree with the above criticisms - it’s rubbish.

1 Like

Naim have stopped making headphone amps altogether. No more Headline. If you ask them now, they’ll tell you to buy the Focal one.

Tastes vary wildly. I agree there is more than one way to skin a cat. Personally I find the HL2/HCdr combo hard to beat but acknowledge there are other great headphone amps out there.


The Focal Arche (their only headphone amp) is also a DAC, so that seems a bit of a conflict in a Naim system

1 Like

Headline/Supercap2…my ears say it’s great.
Much better than Headline/HCDR.

Rubbish? Maybe my ears are, but I don’t recognise the decription.


I recently bought a Headline 2 with a captive DIN cable. It turned out to be defective. I replaced it with what I believe to be the last available HL2 in North America. A HL with an RCA/RCA cable.
Connected directly to my ND555 and powered by a HC2DR it sounds very good.
I’m sure it would sound better with a Super Cap but then it’s priced more than some really good amps.

I found what I consider to be the best solid state amp available, the Violectric V281. It had what I was looking for, a volume control.
I think the list price is about $2,600 with a remote volume control.
This device has a terrific reputation, has superb build quality and is rumored to be the amp Sennheiser used in the development of the HD-800.

I had never heard of Violectric until I ran across a used one. I bought it and it arrives tomorrow.
They may be difficult to find outside Germany. Google the Violectric V281 and read the rave reviews. Take a look at the awesome build quality.
There are posters on this forum that have the V281.


I have tried the Headline with the Supercap DR (from my Superline), and while it was an improvement it was still bettered by a Graham Slee Diamond solo at a fraction of the price. A Headline/Supercap combination is a seriously expensive bit of kit, and I would suggest that any similarly priced dedicated headphone amp would blow it out of the water, Obviously I haven’t heard all of them.
Looking inside the Headline shows a fairly basic circuit. My point is that Naim could certainly improve upon it if they chose to, separate power rails for a start. Then using a Supercap might make more sense.

(BTW the Violectric V281 is more of a studio item, and is readily available from a well known studio supplier for 1600 euros)

Have they stopped making the Headline ?
What about the DAC V1 ?

1 Like

Loving mine!
Huge step up from the Headline/SC (non-DR)

1 Like

maybe a new naim headphone amplifier is possible with the renew of market headphone

Love to hear one.

How would you describe the ‘huge step up’?

Headline is ok up to a point, and it does depend a lot on source, power supply and most importantly headphones.
I used a headline for years and powered it every way possible, but once i got sennheiser hd800s, it really got showed up and ended up going V281, simply stunning in comparison, but looking inside a headline, you wont see much.

1 Like

+1 for the Violectric v281 here.
Great headphone amp. Exactly what I was after. Drives most cans out there. Absolute command over the headphones. In my case the Focal Clears.

1 Like

I wasn’t expecting a big difference yet, I’m still using Uniti 1 as a source into Sennheiser HD700’s (ND5 XS2 and Meze Empyreans are on order) and thought these would be the limiting factors.

I was wrong, even straight out of the box the V281 was noticeably better, particularly in the bass. The texture and control is excellent.

With a couple of weeks running it is great throughout the frequncy ranges and the ability to hear deeper into the mix, with clear separation of instruments is fantastic. It does all of these “hi-fi” improvements without losing any musicality.

I really like the huge industrial look to it too.


I gave up on the idea of the Headline, mainly because the price of the power supplies to get decent performance with the HD800’s is to high and it’s now discontinued. The V281 was on my list, but not readily available here in NZ. I went with the Heed Canalot, currently with the mid-range Q PSU, but changing this to the higher Obelisk PSU (a combination reviewed as being at least on par with the V281) and moving the Q to the second system. I’m really pleased with it. It is very well built, has the PRAT signature close to Naim, and is much more affordable.


Both of these are discontinued. All part of the mass product cull that has been going on for a few years.

  • No headphone amps
  • No DACs
  • No entry level pre/power amps
  • No CD players
  • No shoebox power amps (and therefore no longer any shoebox systems)
  • No speakers

What is left is arguably fantastic stuff. But a move in the wrong direction in my opinion.

Naim made a full transition away from being a system builder to a separates manufacturer. The distinction is subtle but important.


I agree the HeadLine has its limitations.

Sandwiched inbetween a Naim NDX 2 and a Focal Utopia headphone (or a Hifiman HE1000se headphone) it is the weakest link.

I upgraded to a Niimbus HPA US 4+ headphone amplifier and it is very good.

They still produce and sell the cd5si cd player. Although it will almost certainly be their last CDP.

1 Like

I am not an expert, but I would remind you that Naim does not have the infrastructure of, say, Sony. As a company, they must adapt a strategy to their own limitations and market niche. Sometimes i too which they would done this Or that. But in reality, they can’t do all the desires of their fans. :sweat_smile:
Its all a question of… resources.