Headphone amplifier

Hi all,
I am looking for a used or new headphone amplifier to attach to my Naim NAIT 1. There are of course those from Naim but what other brands and models can you also recommend? Price limit is about £ 300.00.

Hi, I don’t think £300 would get you a headline plus power supply. Brand new it’s £529 but then you need an isupply (no longer available) or napsc or flatcap or hicap.

I’d look at the Graham Slee novo for £280 brand new.

What headphones are you using?

I’m having a pair of Sennheiser HD201 budget headphones but intend to buy a pair of active noise cancelling (ANC) ones as there has moved in a family with small and noisy children the flat below mine. Looking at Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9.

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I’d suggest closed back over noise cancelling headphones. Noise cancelling headphones are a compromised sound. However if noise is a really big issue I’d suggest not to spend more than about a hundred pounds on an amp. I’d personally go used in this case. Plenty affordable options on the bay.

The Schiit amps do well at a modest price. NAHA and power supply may go over your budget but it’s one I would consider if you buy closed back headphones.

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Based on further posts from the OP clarifying ‘future plans’ regarding headphones… (active noise cancellation); ANC uses an internal amplifier after a digitised process allows ‘altering’ the audio’.

Neither DAC nor AMP is of huge benefit to such headphones.
They are usually built around the concept that a Digital Signal Process can flatline their cavity/tuning and sound best in their DSP modes (/ANC) due to that fact.
Their internal amplifier will/should be a match for the included speaker drivers and ‘as a whole’ should be a complete package.

I’d highly suggest folding the amp budget into the headphone upgrade and simply ‘buy better’ ANC headphones. (comfort is key)

The HD201 doesn’t need expensive ancillory parts either… and is probably due an upgrade (my kid thumbed the drivers in my set forcing an upgrade of my ancient headphones)…

Recommend skipping modern crap headphone amps…
(and consider buying any second hand bargains that might be floating around)

remember that ‘ratings’ are always based on kit of the same class…
a five star rated ‘entry level’ part is still an ‘entry level part’; perhaps that offers better value or sound vs ‘its siblings’.
a three star rated high end part is still a ‘high end’ part; it may not have been great value on launch (-hence the lowered star rating in reviews ‘at the time’), but down the track, ‘second hand’ for peanuts pricing; probably represents exceptional value…

So, I’d probably recommend an older second hand part, possibly has a DAC built in, and MAY be useful - if only to run off the TV for late night listening etc…

Fold the ‘amp’ budget into the ANC headphones budget to ‘buy better’ headphones.
look for an ancient second hand amp (the market is moving to 4.4mm pentaconn connectors(/‘balanced’) and single ended headphone amps of super high quality are a dime a dozen)

(edit: not picking on those AudioTechnicas’ ; ‘great brand’!!)

The ifi Zen gets good reviews and it’s apparently good value.


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I have a Topping A90D since 1 year 1/2 with a Focal Clear, really excellent, two notches above the Beyer, Arcam of the same price and the headset output of the 272… on forums some compared to amps 3 or 4 times its price.

Lake People. The owners of Violectric.
Their own brand entry level amp is about 300 GBP.

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Noise is a big issue. It’s a question of being able to listen to my records or not att all. I think most of the fundamental musical qualities of my LP12 will come trough even with active noise cancelling headphones. I have compared my HD201 (closed back) with my AirPods Pro (with ANC on) in how much external noise that comes trough and there is no contest.

I need to have a headphone amp as the NAIT doesn’t have a headphone output jack. But it has a tape input that i can use with a headphone amp! So folding in the amp budget don’t work. I intend to replace the HD201’s with a pair of closed back headphones that have the best ANC. Besides Audio-Technica ATH-ANC700BT (ATH-ANC9 now discontinued) also looking at Sony’s WH-1000XM4 or XM5.

Sorry, but quite a bit over my budget.

Seems it doesn’t have a RCA in and out jacks so wont work with my NAIT’s tape socket.

Can you give me a model name or link to it?

It has rca for an input which if you’re using as a headphone amp is all you need.

These are just headphone amps, no DAC. Available standard or balanced inputs.

They have a range of headphone amps from 250 to about 700 Euros. Then the much more expensive Violectric range.

I can’t give a link, as I don’t think it’s allowed on this forum. Just tap in Lake People into Google and you will find their site :grinning: They are based in Germany.

The amp is built like a tank - solid. Build quality superb. Performance for the price is ridiculously good.


I didn’t think about that. Thanks for pointing that out, now I have more options to choose from.

I have the XM5, primarily bought for train travel where the ANC is really helpful. I even used them on an aeroplane, not to listen to anything but just to get some peace and quiet! I think they are great for travel other than being a little on the large size.

Changes in domestic arrangements led me to buy a Graham Slee headphone amp, the one up from the Novo. I was very pleased with it, though I was forever moving it back and forth between the two properties that I live in, so now stays with system 2. I now have the Graham Slee Linear Diamond for my main system and this headphone amp is noticeably better.

I consider headphones as being for secondary listening. They are great for some types of music but inevitably they don’t capture the chest-thumping impact of heavy rock.

I planned to get some stay-at-home non-ANC headphones but I’ve put that on hold for now.

In my experience, and to my understanding, the active technology in ANC headphones works to block continuous sound (e.g. airplane engines), not so much varied sound (e.g. noisy children or the hammering in the next door apartment this past week.

As for ANCs with good sound, I am very pleased with my Focal Bathys, even if they can’t quite match the cancellation of the Sony and Apple units. If you wait for one of the 20% off sales, they’re not much more expensive than the Sony or Apple AirMax.

I started with the Burson Soloist Mk1, which is a Class A Headphone Amp, with 2 inputs but no DAC (that’s the Conductor range) driven off the Tape-Out of my Sim Audio i5.

This was initially driving an existing pair of B&W P5 Series 2 used Wired. It is a cut-down version of the original Soloist model.

The Soloist was also able to drive a pair of Dan Clark Audio Aeon2 Noire, when I upgraded.

I have now upgraded to a Bakoon HPA-12 which is a current amplifier and good (very good) with Planar Magnetic Headphones with low impedance, such as the Noire’s 13ohm.

However the Soloist gives a good run against the Bakoon, bought for just over £300 (delivered), but there was import charges from UK into the EU (Dublin).