Using balanced out for headphones on rossini

I do know a few use this method and i would be interested in if its better to do it like that or carry on using my naim headline.
I have sennheiser hd800s

Didnt get any replies on this last time, but still interested if anyone has tried running headphones direct from the outputs off the rossini, be it the balanced or RCA’s.
I should think its more than powerful to drive some?

Before doing it one would need to build custom adaptors as the standard termination for balanced headphones is a male 4 pin XLR plug not 2 x 3 pin and also build or find a 6.35mm and/or 3.5mm inline stereo jack socket ( female) to 2 RCA plugs.

I can’t imagine too many people doing that which may explain the lack of response last time.

I would also add that as the output sockets are on the rear panel and as I doubt that too many people would want to use a Rossini DAC as a permanent headphone amp the idea of having to reach behind the equipment rack to change from speakers to headphone each time would be off putting IMO. In fact I have that XLR adaptor here now. Am I going to clamber around behind my Vivaldi to try it into my HD600s? Er, no, sorry.

Hi thanks for the reply
In reference to me, i can make a cable easily enough, twin female XLR, with sennheiser hd800 ends on the other end, fully balanced, just need to buy the ends and cable.
As for reaching round the back, then i wont need to do that, as i run the RCA’s into my 552 pre amp, so the XLR’s are not being used right now.
I did hear that some people were using them to drive headphones and before i went off making up cables only to find it didnt sound great, i was after any advise i could get, as done searches and found nothing.
Cheers dunc

Interesting. I already have such a headphone cable. It was made for me to try driving the Utopias out of the Mivera PureMusic Streamer I once owned. And it worked just fine. With a 6V output, I can’t imagine why the Rossini wouldn’t do well with headphones of at least modest sensitivity.

I may give it a try this weekend. For me, that requires unplugging the cables to the amps, but it’s not a big deal.

Would be great to hear how you get on please

You bet, Duncan.

I’m not sure thats a good idea guys;

dCS specifies a maximum load of 600 Ohms for those Balanced Outputs, which implies a fairly low current driving capability. PreAmps/Amps with input impedances of 10K Ohms or more and such would be no problem, but loading it with a typical 33 Ohm Headphones would be a bad idea I think :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Duncan, I have the HD800S and heard a Naim Headline about a decade ago (I had HD800 before the ‘S’ version). If that is what you have - and not an updated model if Naim have produced one - then in my opinion you and your headphones deserve better. I had a Lehmann headphone amp, which was better than the Headline, I thought. That, in turn, was superceded by a Sennheisser HDVA600, and recently a Benchmark HPA4. Both produced significant improvements in sound quality. The headphones have a 300 Ohm impedance, I believe. Admit it: you need a new headphone amp!

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Hi Simon
Yes i have the hd800s and already made my mind up that I could do with a better amp.
Looking a few possible contenders, but i do want to run balanced from the rossini to a fully balanced headphone amp and then use a balanced cable to the cans, leaving my pre amp on the RCA’s

Duncan, I don’t know what your setup is, or your sonic preferences. But I can personally recommend the Benchmark, first as a headphone amp. It is balanced all the way through (inputs, signal path and amplification, headphone outputs). It is also a great pre-amp. I use it as both in my system. The two elements, headphone and pre-amp, are independently controllable.

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Hi i have a naim 552/500dr set up running through PMC fact 12 speakers, also have a rega p10/aura, plus a melco N1zs/2 for nas duties.
Been looking at violectic V281, ear hp4, or i might completely go for it, and go for a stax set up of amp and headphones

You said that you wanted balanced .However that lets out the EAR HP4. I would add to your list the SPL Phonitor X or the Phonitor 2 (the latter with a simple adaptor to convert the two 3 pin XLR balanced outputs to 4 pin for headphone use). One particular advantage of the SPL headphone amps is the very sophisticated and subtle crossfeed circuit developed for studio monitoring with near or midfield monitors so that the producer could move from speaker to headphones yet still hear a similar soundfield. I certainly wouldn’t want to be without mine.

Of course the Stax ESL setup is another ballgame but the current top can plus energiser is major moolah but , hey!

BTW. I thought I might be alone in using a Melco N17( H/2 in my case) as a NAS :smiley: Good isn’t it ?

Going back one post, I don’t expect you’ll the giving up the 552 for another pre-amp. Pricey though. I feel that Naim and value for money - even taking into account their excellent service and good resale prices - have parted company, at least at the top end of their range. But anyway: the Violectric. Your mention of it reminded me that I’d seen a review of a high end headphone amp by the same company behind the Violectric brand (Lake People). It is here, if you are interested: Simon C.

The ear hp4, i know is not balanced but i did find it a fantastic piece off kit, when i happened to hear one, it just sounds so nice and highlights it doesn’t have to be balanced to sound good, but its expensive.
The 281 goes well with the senn’s, again not the cheapest but ment to be good, but not had the chance to try one.
The stax set up is also just lovely and the 007mk2 wth the right amp and 009 are just stunning.
I dont really want to part with the senn’s, as they fit so nice and are very comfortable and thats important to me, as i had a little opp on my ear and i need over ears now or they just annoy me.
Will take a look at the other options and the review
Cheers dunc

If the single ended EAR HP4 is still in the running then if you fancy tubes do not overlook the Icon HP8, especially in the Designer Edition.

NB: I use EAR Yoshino pre-amplification and an Icon phonostage.

Hi Dunc

Gregg here from the Naim forum. If you remember from that thread I am currently breaking in a new Bartok which will be used EXCLUSIVELY in an all headphone system (different from my 552/500/KDS).

I highly recommend you check out Headamp and look at the new GSX Mini and the original GSX Mk2. Justin from Headamp is an original from back in the day at the start up of the Headfi forum. He also manufactures the famed Blue Hawaii electrostatic amplifier for Stax headphones.

I waited for the new GSX Mini which has the advantage over the GSX Mk2 in that it can accept both single ended and balanced inputs and internally convert to full balanced to drive headphones. The original GSX Mk 2, a two box affair with separate power supply, will only accept full balanced inputs as it cannot internally convert to balanced if fed with a single ended source. I currently use the GSX Mini with both Utopias and the Sony Signature Z1R enclosed back.

My GSX Mini replaced a Moon 430HA which has always been regarded as one of the best external headphone amplifiers. To be honest I have never been impressed with it - slightly veiled and lacking PRAT. The Mini completely runs circles around it and is extremely impressive. Without getting further into things (which will be a separate post in the near future), let me say that I am almost at the end of the evaluation of my new Bartok and I have gone from comparing the Bartok w/ internal amplifier vs. my Klimax DS/GSX Mini to now comparing the Bartok/GSX Mini vs. Klimax DS/GSX Mini. I already “think” I have a handle on how things will play out. Early impressions have the internal headphone amplifier of the Bartok dropped out from the comparison. More to come.

Simon above mentioned the new Nimbus which is from the upscale division of Violectric. I had the chance to demo at its debut at CanJam NY 2019 where it was fronted by the Chord TT2 (I used my Utopias). I originally went to demo the new GSX Mini at CanJam however I knew that the Nimbus would also be there (actually in the same room as the Headamp booth). I listened to the Nimbus for about 15 minutes - the GSX Mini for close to an hour. I have also listened to the V281 during the past 2 CanJam’s - same impression.

Stax - like you know from the Naim forum - a slippery and expensive slope if you like what they do. I started with the 80th anniversary set L300LE/353XBK amplifier and was totally hooked. I have now added the 009S and a Mjolnir Carbon amplifier - this being the expensive and slippery slope. The L300LE/Stax amp is a cracking combination at $1500 total and gives any other headphone set a run for the money in addition to being an incredible value. Keep in mind Utopias, without headphone amplifier, cost $4k.

I might PM you after finishing my Bartok evaluation and inquire about your experience with the Rossini :grin: as I know you have demoed both with your 552/500. I guess even dCS is a slippery slope.


Well sold my naim headline and power supply for it last night, so a new headphone amp has just become more important.
Going to keep the sennheiser hd800s as they fit so well over my ear, so the hunt starts