Recommended headphone amplifier for Rossini

Hi all,

Any headphone amplifier recommendations for a Rossini DAC?

Price range up to about £1000

Thanks,

Phill

I have been and remain very happy with my SPL Phonitor 2. Well matched sonically to the dCS range this piece of professional studio kit will drive most cans and has an astonishingly sophisticated crossfeed system originally intended so that producers could replicate the sound field of their near or midfield monitors on headphones. Also very effective as a limited number of sources pre-amp.

I bought mine a couple of years ago from a UK pro gear supplier at circa. £1200.

https://spl.audio/en/spl-produkt/phonitor-2-2/

It greatly depends on what headphones you are going to use to give an advice.

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I’m using Mr Speakers AEON (closed back) headphones with 93dB/mW sensitivity to listen to mainly classical music

Checking online I come up with a slightly different sensitivity for the original Aeon closed back ; 93dB/1mW.

The other important specification is impedance and these are only 13 ohm which will cause many headphone amps difficulties.

Thanks, corrected

The 13 ohms impedance is a low impedance; the Æons will need to be driven by a headphone output stage capable of delivering enough current into such a load. So you will need a headphone amp with a matching low output impedance.

However, the Æon in practice is not difficult to drive, but you will get best results with an amp with suitable power.

Try the Violectric HPA V200-A (10th Anniversary Edition) or Violectric HPA V280, which are in or near your price range, to see if you like the combo.

If you want to have a headphone amp matching the SQ of your Rossini, I can recommend the Benchmark HPA4, but this one is way out of your price range. However, if possible, try to listen to a Violectric and the Benchmark, and see if you would be willing to pay more, based on the SQ you will experience.

I have had in house the following:

SimAudio Moon 430HA (current)
HeadAmp GSX Mini (current)
Luxman P750u (1 month demo)
Violectric V281 (2 week demo)
Benchmark HPA4 (2 week demo)
dCS Bartok (owned for 2 months)

Headphones used are Focal Utopia and Sony Signature Series Z1R. I also have a 2 amp 2 headphone Stax system however for this exercise it was not applicable.

Source used for demo - Linn Klimax DS

In a nutshell the keeper here is the (relatively) new HeadAmp GSX Mini - which is also reputed by some to sound better than their flagship GSX MK2. At $1795/$1995 it is amazing VFM.

I have never liked the SimAudio HA and have just been too lazy to sell it.
The Luxman was an impeccably built piece of equipment however imho it was let down my its LEUCA volume control.
The V281 was a stellar performer - however I preferred my GSX Mini.
The Benchmark HPA4 was a stellar performer - however I preferred my GSX Mini
The Bartok is an amazing all in one solution however, for me, while dCS first attempt at a headphone amplifier is highly impressive, I preferred the performance of the Bartok as a DAC/Streamer only and I used the HeadAmp GSX Mini for headphone amplifier duties. The Bartok’s performance as a DAC/Streamer gave me enough incentive to try a Rossini/Master Clock and this has now replaced my Linn KDS in a Naim 500 system.

Hope this helps. As always do the demos - your mileage may vary.

Best
Gregg

PS a good friend who also runs a totl Naim system for the past 25 years acted similarly and returned his demo Benchmark HPA4 and has remained with his Violectric V281.

I second the V200. The V200 has tremendous current delivery capabilities, which you need for you phone

Hi Pete,

I’ve been reading about this SPL Phonitor Matrix technology, do you find it effective?

Thanks,

Phill

Yes but it takes a little learning. I would say that most people will say that they hear no difference the first time that they switch it in. As SPL say in the manual " This is not an effect".

To set it up you use the controls to move the sound image in your head so that it resembles the image heard sans cans. So , as a rough example, if your left speaker produces an image , say, 30 degrees from centre but on headphones you hear it as 45 degrees coming more from you left ear you can shift it back to 30 degrees on the cans. Note : it does not make the sound appear as if outside your head. It can provide a wide, deep and continuous soundstage in your head.

Once properly set you can have the heaphones and speakers on simultaneously. Listening on headphones you can then remove them yet the images heard on speakers and headphones match. I am impressed every time I do this. This enables its prime purpose which is to allow producers to mix using headphones. But it is great for home listening too.

The downside is that on some material with the matrix switched in there is a small reduction in bass drive. You need to weigh this against the naturalness brought by the matrix. Of course the matrix can be removed or reinserted at the flick of a switch.

There are other Phonitors in the range which include DACs etc. These are aimed more at home users but the crossfeed matrix is not as sophisticated as with the Phonitor 2.

First, I own a SPL Phonitor xe with the integrated DAC768. (I did not chime in with it earlier because it costs more than your stated budget.) I’ve been very happy with it. I use it primarily with a Focal Stellia. It is not connected to my Bartok, as it is my home office headphone rig while the Bartok is the main listening room headphone rig.

I have Matrix on all the time. But as with all crossfeed designs, how noticeable it is depends on the music played. E.g., modern pop/etc music won’t benefit from it much, as they are typically mixed to be “mono delivered in stereo” (a sweeping generalization, I know), so you have the same information on both channels with little separation. Matrix can’t really help this much. But if you are listening to stuff mixed with actual separation, then yes, you can hear it, but it’s subtle. It makes things sound more natural – e.g., the way your brain expects, such that you don’t notice it when its turned on, but you do do notice it when its turned off.

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Second hand Auralic Taurus Mk II if the price is below £1k.
Sold mine for around £700 a few months back and its a very good amp for the money.