Headline 2 vs SN2/SN3?

I keep hearing that the HL2 is better than the headphone amp in the SN2/SN3. Can someone who has a Headline 2 comment on it’s performance?

I’m thinking of trying a Headline 2 with my HiCap DR just to see how it sounds but I don’t want to do it if there isn’t a reason to.

If the Headline 2 sounds significantly better than the SN2/SN3, I’ll obtain a power supply for it and put the HiCap back onto my SN2.

Which headphones are you using? A Headline 2 with a Hicap its really excellent, particularly with higher impedance headphones that are perhaps not at their best on the headphone amp in the Supernaits. I’d imagine a Hicap DR might be better still. FWIW, I was told in the past that the original Headline was developed using top end Beyers.

There’s quite a bit in the Forums about this, but yes, having used a Headline 2 with Napsc, and compared it with the SN2 headphone out, and a tube headphone amp, the HL2 is definitely much better. The headphones I used with these combos were the Focal Elears and Grado RS1i’s, which work very well. Cheers.

I’m using Sennheiser 800S w/Nordost Heimdall 2 cables and Audeze LCD 4’s with the OEM cables. I notice that the SN2 headphone amp isn’t as powerful as other headphone amps (Dave, etc.) that I’ve used.

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I have HD800’s and have stayed with the SN2 at the moment having thought about the HL2. The clincher for me was the absence of system automation on the HL2, so waiting for the new headphone amp that was hinted at a while back.

Is that a new Naim headphone amp? System Automation would be great if it’s possible.

I saw somewhere that the SN3 preamp produced higher current but that may have been compared to the other new Integrated amp, not the SN2.

It was mentioned by Charlie Henderson in an interview that there was a Naim/Focal project for a new headphone amp, but no details. I really wanted to use a Headline, but without system automation it just won’t be for me.

I feel the same way. System Automation would be perfect. I’m using it now from my ND555 to the SN2. I wonder how that would work since you’d need to control both. Maybe the SN2 would pass it on.

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There is a new Focal headphone amp called the “Arche”. It has 3 digital inputs, 1 analogue input, balanced options, analogue out and a custom frequency curve option for Focal headphones. Does appear to be controllable by a remote however…I don’t know if that is the one you’re referring too - there’s no mention of Naim Audio in the blurb, and it doesn’t look like a Naim-styled product. Cost is US$2500.

AFAIK, Naim had no input into the Arche. I believe it was designed in collaboration with Micromega - the two companies having a relationship that predated the Naim/Focal merger.

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Sorry - mis-fired :grinning:

Forgive me, but what is “system automation”?

I can’t grasp what this may mean beyond the remote working with volume, display etc.

I don’t stream so maybe I’m missing the concept here…

I have an ND555 connected to a Supernait 2. There is also a wire connection from the ND555 to the SN2. I can use the remote for the ND555 to control the volume on the SN2.

With Sennheiser 800 it works incredibly well. But herein lies a warning. Suppose you like it and put the HiCap back on the SN. What power supply are you gonna get? Obviously a NAPSC will not sound like your HiCap or even close. A HL2/HCdr is a superb headphone amp but certainly not cheap. I found that a HL2/NAPSC was still a bit lacking on higher end headphones. I suspect the fact that the HC also delivers 3v higher output than a NAPSC also plays a large role.

If you do a lot of headphone listening, then the HL2/HCdr won’t disappoint. I had a spare HCdr to put to work so it made sense. But, I’d have been interested seeing how much lift came from the HCdr versus another higher voltage PSU like a FlatcapXS if I were you.

I first want to see how the HL2 compares with the SN3 I have on order. If it’s significantly better then I’ll go looking for a PS.


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I had a HL2 with NAPSC2. My Headphones is an OPPO PM1, so only needs 32ohms. I have a V1 as a DAC source, and finally i sold my HL2 because it was not so good compare to my Dac V1, and this is the same kind of range price in second hand. You should really consider do some testing before buying one, especially because the HL2 needs a good PS, and NPASC2 won’t be enough to get the best of HL2.
PS: SN2 and V1 are both class A headphones amp.

I know the HL is only as good as the power supply. That’s why I want to try it with my HiCap. If it’s not significantly better than the headphone support in the SN3 then I won’t bother with it. If it is then I’ll probably see about getting another HiCap or a third party PS I had when I had a HC1.

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