Headphone and Head phone amp

I’m doing a bit of research before we move house in the new year. I have a dedicated room for all my kit at the moment, but will have to do work on a room or build a room in the new place.

It will take several months to do the work so I’ll have to listen to music on earphones. I haven’t used headphones at home for a decade or more so I’m a bit rusty here!

Question 1: Do I have to have a heaphone amp or could I take a feed off the SNAXO’s supercap as I do with my REL sub? If I need a headphone amp any recommendations?

Question 2: Any recommendations on high quality headphones and what gives a better sound closed or open?

Thanks for any suggestion

Closed back headphones are a compromise that allows you to listen without disturbing other people with the annoying sound that leaks from open back headphones. So if this is not going to be an issue for you, go for open backed if possible.

You need a headphone amp. If your HiFi source if close enough to where you sit you may be able to just add an analogue headphone amp to it. If not a standalone DAC/headphone amp may be a more practical option.

An Atom HE and a Qobuz subscription might be all you need.

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Thanks Chris.

I was hoping there was a way to get the signal from my S1 pre amp rather than a stand alone amp.
I’ll look into open back headphones as I’ll be listening on my own late at night in a room away from others.


How far are you from Bedfordshire? HiFiLounge are Naim dealers who also have a dedicated headphone listening room with a decent selection of higher end headphones and headphone amps. Maybe worth giving them a call.


Not far really I’m North London so great suggestion. I’ve just realised the REL has its own built in amp so the feed from the Supercap is amplified :thinking::joy:

While you’re not using your speakers perhaps you could use that Supercap to power a Naim Headline?

My understanding is open is generally better for sound, at the same price point, but with open back if you will be listening near someone else in a quiet room you are likely to disturb them unless you listen very quietly, and if you are in a room with someone p, for example, watching TV, you are likely to hear the TV over quiet music or quiet music passages.

I have concluded (without yet trying) that because situations where I might listen with headphones at home fit the above scenarios (otherwise use when travelling has similar constraints. Unfortunately that seems to dictate expensive ‘phones for decent sound quality…

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Yes, the Headline (in any of its configurations) is a great little headphone amp. I had one years ago, which produced lovely sounds from a set of Grado headphones. I can’t remember the model number, but do recall that they had fashionably retro wooden ‘bits’ (which I believe is the correct technical term).

Some years ago I switched to Stax ‘earspeakers’ (their term). These are truly amazing. I have an SRM 717 solid state energiser but you can go for the SRM 727 if you prefer valves (I may have transposed those two model numbers). These boxes attach to the 'speaker sockets of whichever NAP you have. The model of the earspeakers is 007, which I think have been discontinued.

I’ll check these model numbers and correct, if necessary, shortly.

Update: My sick Apple will not allow me to search the Stax website, so there may be factual errors in what I’ve typed above.


That new DCS Lina’ ultra high end headphone amp seems very tasty.
Has unbalanced rca inputs that could be an option.

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Headphones and a headphone amp is a world of pain and hurt all of its own.
Whilst many will roll out naims attempt, the headline or whatever it is called, even the diehards will then point to feeding it with volts from a hicap or even supercap.
A couple of years ago there were a number of threads on headphone amps upto about £2k. A bit favourite at that time was the violectric. A different choice, but in the can world, much admired.

If you have that thing as a pre amp, maybe spend as much as you can on an excellent used headphone amp and new headphones to suit.

I’m using a borrowed SPL Phonitor at the moment, and even with my Sennheiser HD565 Ovations, CDX/102/HC, it’s a world away from the Headline I used for about 20 years. And it looks cool :wink:

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Something along this line …. VIOLECTRIC HPA V550 PRO ? Looks like I’ll be doing a lot of review
Reading :wink:

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Naim missed out on a snappy name for their Naim ref pre-amp :joy::+1:

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I can recommend the Topping A90 Discrete. I bought one a few weeks back as it has very good test results/reviews and can drive just about anything, including my low impedance (23 Ohm), relatively insensitive headphones. It is well made and looks like it should cost much more than it did. My phones are also a recent purchase, I got the closed back Dan Clark Stealth. Listening to files from my Uniti Core (via a Topping DAC) is a revelation. I hear much more than I ever knew was in the music, or hear on my main system. Altogether, highly recommended.


V281 was the one of choice ? a couple of years ago. Ought to know as I have one!
Can run balanced and non balanced cans.

What on Earth makes you say that?

First things first do you like headphone listening, I would start with popping along to John Lewis and listening to a number of different brands and doing it on the cheap (ish)

As much as I like the concept of the headphone experience I found it was quite a restrictive one and never really reached for them very often (hd800 and Sennheiser amp)

I have some noise cancelling headphones (couple of hundred pond) and plugged into iPhone is my plan B should the mood take me - it rarely does…

Thanks FC it’s going to be a necessity for several months if I want to listen to music in the evening.

I’ll be losing a music room that is fully Sound proofed for several months perhaps even a year whilst I prepare a new one and I like to listen to music on a quality system.

Cheers Pete

That’s a bl*** long time — you don’t have our builder by any chance?! :rofl:

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Understand, plenty of options out there so if that’s your plan then a good dealer will be invaluable.
I had a number of issues with my dedicated room and getting it right took 2 years (pesky room acoustics).

I did play with headphone options as a stop gap but ended up buying a used Nova and Neat Iota alphas and popped them i a different room - found it more engaging than headphones.

I enjoyed the nova /Neats so much they became a second system!

Good luck with your search plenty of headphone experts and have a plough through the “show us your headphones “ thread