Headphones and Headphone Amps

I use Mr. Speakers Etherflow headphones, but the Aeon is apparently better (and cheaper).


I recently bought the Sony WH-1000M2 noise cancelling headphones. I use them with a Bluetooth Aptx HD transmitter connected to tape out on my NAC72.

Very pleased with the results. I initially auditioned the Shure SRH1540, but wasn’t overwhelmed and would need a separate headphone amp.

My wife suggested trying wireless and the Sonys immediately sounded better. My comfy chair is not within reach of the amplifier so controlling the volume with a swipe of the hand is brilliant!

I also auditioned the latest M3 version of the phones, but felt they had slightly over boosted bass and a slight whispiness in the treble.

The Sonys are definitely worth a listen, but noise cancelling must be ‘on’ or ‘ambient’ as this clearly activates some DSP correction. Set to ‘off’ the results aren’t so good. Note the phones can also take a 3.5mm cable for use with non Bluetooth equipment.

Interesting, may I ask which Bluetooth Aptx HD transmitter do you use and what sort of range do you get with it?

Headline (olive), HiCap (olive), Sennheiser HD650 is a good place to start.

I use one of these:

Range is about 8m. One of the things I like about this unit is that the LED shows which codec is in use. In my case the Sonys do use Aptx HD.

Thanks for the advice, I hadn’t been considering bluetooth headphones. I am very much a novice in these things, but would the ND5 XS2 streamer transmit aptX to bluetooth headphones? If not, would I be able to attach a transmitter to my amp (a NAIT XS)?

I’ve read the data on the ND5XS2, and whilst it’s pretty certain it can receive Aptx HD from a phone etc, it’s not clear whether it can also transmit to headphones. Someone from Naim would have to answer this.

As long as your amp has tape out connections you should be able to use an analogue transmitter such as the one above. The only problem might be overloading if you’re using high level digital sources. In this case an attenuator may be required.

I’m mainly using mine with vinyl and shellac(!) and it works great. My CD player is attenuated by 6dB and this also works fine.

Undoubtedly there will be better sounding wired headphones out there, but wireless and noise cancelling are big plus points.

Shure 1540’s if still available are very good at circa £400. I auditioned against one of the raved about, though admittedly cheaper at circa £300, Oppo alternatives at the time and I thought the Shure was significantly better across the board. Very comfortable as well. I have a Headline powered via Napsc - a combo I also rate highly.

Thanks again, I have checked my amp and there is no tape output. The only outputs free are tuner (presumably I will use this for the streamer I hope to buy), ‘AV’, and ‘HDD’ - presumably for a headphone amplifier.

Tuner is an input, not an output. The HDD din socket has both input and output according to the manual. There has to be an output whether you want to use a headphone amp or a Bluetooth transmitter.

Thanks, I assumed the tuner would be the input for the streamer I expect to buy, so that leaves the HDD to output to the headphone amp which was the original plan. The av seems to be in and out but I am not sure what av stands for, audio-visual? As I indicated, I am not well up on the technical side of these things, despite having the hi-fi for a long time, as long as it works I am happy just to keep listening.

Yes AV is Audio Visual.

Scratch that last sentence in my previous post.

I’ve taken the time to do some critical A/B testing of the 272 against the Headline, and the Headline wins hands down. I really hadn’t appreciated the difference just listening casually.

The Headline removes a layer of hash and reveals a level of clarity that the 272 headamp just doesn’t achieve.

The Headline/FlatcapXS are staying put.


I use the following and swear by them having auditioned all the Focals and the Grado GS1000E and PS1000E. But it’s such a subjective thing.

Study/Office Headphone setup:

DAC / Headphone Amp:
Chord Electronics Hugo 2
The Chord Company Shawline USB Interconnect

Sennheiser HD800S
The Chord Company Shawcan termination

Mobile setup

Chord Electronics Mojo connected via USB C
Chord Electronics Mojo+Poly streamer combo

Shure 846 or
Sennheiser ie800

The HD800S with the Hugo 2 are so neutral and incisive, if it’s in the music you will hear it. Just a great combo.

The in-ear ie800 look like little normal earpods, but the sound and stage they produce is astounding. The Shures are an in-ear musicians monitor style headphone with 4 drivers and produce a really life like live music experience.

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I’m not familiar with the Hugo 2, can I run it off a Nova, Uniti2 or Core? I have the HD800’s as well.

Hugo2 is a DAC that would sit behind your source. If you really wanted to I guess you could stick it on the preAmp output of a Uniti Nova and use it as a headphone amp… what the value of running a file through a Nova and it’s DSP and it’s onboard sabre DAC out to another DAC (hugo2 which by the way costs £1800 alone) would be I have no idea?

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You could run it from the Core, as that has a coax output. You can’t run it from the Nova, as it doesn’t have a digital output, and the Hugo doesn’t have an analogue input.

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Further to my last emails, I have auditioned and ordered the ND5 XS2 streamer. My dealer has also loaned me a second hand Headline and NAPSC plus a pair of Audeze Sine headphones, connected via the HDD socket. However, good as they are I feel I really need over ear headphones but the Audeze closed back headphones seem to cost rather more. The second hand Headline and NAPSC are available for £200 so I have to decide whether to go for those which are guaranteed 3 months or, my preference, go for new with a 5-year warranty. I do have a second hand Flatcap XS which has lasted several years, so perhaps second hand would be a good bet, leaving more money for the headphones.

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You know Chris, I was so puzzled I forgot indeed that the hugo2 only has digital in! Thanks for correcting that!

Hi mangil, I would have thought secondhand would be fine. Did you manage to work out if the ND5XS2 can transmit as well as receive Aptx HD?