AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?

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avahifi

AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« on: 25 Sep 2019, 02:19 pm »
We have been providing excellent headphone driver circuits in all our preamps for years now.  However we never get any feedback about them from our clients.

Any user out there that cares to comment about them herein?

Frank

Brett Buck

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #1 on: 25 Sep 2019, 05:34 pm »
We have been providing excellent headphone driver circuits in all our preamps for years now.  However we never get any feedback about them from our clients.

Any user out there that cares to comment about them herein?

    On the few occasions I have used them, they seem to be outstanding - clear, no noise, great definition, and drive any headphones I have with no apparent issues. Just what I have come to expect from any of your products.

    Having said that, I am not a big headphone user, and most of my listening with headphones is with portable or away-from-home situations, not using my Insight+ preamp. At home, I generally use my regular system. I would imagine that most users are in the same boat, it's great to have the output when it's needed, but not a primary function and I just haven't used mine that much, essentially only for testing various headphones, and some trivial uses (like driving a short-range FM transmitters so I can listen to TV audio on my kitchen radio).

       Also, you set the bar very high - when you get something from one of the flakey "audio salon" manufacturers, you really have no idea what to expect, and if it works well (and works for more than a few weeks...), you are generally a bit surprised. Get something from you, and everybody knows it will work, it will run properly nearly forever, and perform essentially perfectly. It's no surprise, that's why we come to you for it - no screwing around, just get something that works and use it, rather than being "equipment hounds" swapping stuff in and out every week as it blows up or you get tired of the "special voicing" or whatever bullsh*t thing the others do.

    In a way, you are victim of your own success - the equipment is nearly perfect and your typical client picks you because they know that.  So when it is, it doesn't necessarily draw comment. 

      Brett

Tone Depth

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #2 on: 26 Sep 2019, 05:50 pm »
It seems that when the preamps have been reviewed, the reviewers do also listen via the headphone circuits and provide positive comments.

aln

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #3 on: 28 Sep 2019, 02:04 pm »
Why not a dedicated headphone amp with say two outputs?  They seem to be popular right now.

Tone Depth

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #4 on: 9 Oct 2019, 07:52 pm »
I wanted to add that since my speakers aren't among the better available, I really enjoy the headphone circuits when I want to clearly hear what the audio should sound like. I have no doubt that the latest split passive circuits excel over those in my Insight+ preamp, and I do wish that you were able to still able to upgrade the older circuits as you used to do.

Birdbrain

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #5 on: 26 Oct 2019, 04:19 pm »
Unless I'm mowing the yard, I'm not a headphone listener. However, I gave the headphone output an extended listen yesterday just for Frank. I thought it sounded pretty good, clear and non-fatiguing, My RME ADI-2 DAC has two separate headphone amplifiers. The AVA T-10 SLR headphone output was on par with the 1/4" output of the RME. The 3.5 mm IEM output of the RME was better sounding than the T-10 SLR to my ears, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone preferred the AVA. Unlike the RME, I can also listen to LPs with the AVA headphone jack. Ultimately, I'm glad that little experiment is over and I can go back to listening through my speakers. Between my preamp, DAC, CD player, and Tascam DA-3000 recorder I have five headphone outputs in my system. With luck I'll never listen to any of them again.  :wink:

Helom

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #6 on: 26 Oct 2019, 10:49 pm »
We have been providing excellent headphone driver circuits in all our preamps for years now.  However we never get any feedback about them from our clients.

What type of driver circuits? I have yet to try the one in my Fet Valve CFR, though it appears it's op-amp driven. Is that correct?

avahifi

Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #7 on: 27 Oct 2019, 12:53 pm »
No opamps used in our headphone driver circuits, just ultra low distortion LME49600 current buffers to translate the tube outputs down to the low output impedance needed to drive headphones.

Frank

dB Cooper

Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #8 on: 27 Oct 2019, 01:10 pm »
What is the output impedance at the headphone jack, anyway? This is a subject that has gotten much more attention in recent years as a factor in SQ, thanks largely to NWAVGuy. (I assume the headphone circuits are the same across the preamp line.)

Pete, the HD600 (being a 300Ω load) would be relatively free from this issue unless the output impedance was high AF which I doubt it is.
« Last Edit: 27 Oct 2019, 06:44 pm by dB Cooper »

PeteG

Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #9 on: 27 Oct 2019, 02:12 pm »
I've used a AVA T7 pre for my main headphone amp for awhile, I never had a urge to get another amp. I don't use headphones a whole lot, just like I've never had a urge to change my HD600 headphones.


Helom

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #10 on: 11 Jan 2020, 04:35 am »
I finally got around to listening to the headphone circuit in my Fet Valve CFR at length. This was following some tube rolling with Radiotechnique 12AU7WAs, which I must say took this preamp to another level. The detail is excellent and noise floor is low. I don't feel anything is lacking with this circuit driving my Grado RS2Es - very content with the performance.


quartet

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #11 on: 21 Jan 2021, 03:48 pm »
Don't know if it's useful after such a long time, but I just stumbled on this thread as I started using the headphone output of my T-8 -- haven't used it that way for most of the decade that I've had it.

I've only been using it with my (even older) Sennheiser HD-650s, mostly listening to jazz, and to my ears it works really well. It seems to preserve the essential (musical and tonally realistic but not overtly colored) character of the line stage, while also preserving the essential (slightly soft focus and distant but mostly getting out of the way) character of the Sennheisers. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it as much with my recollection of Grados but that probably says more about my preferences than about the T-8 headphone output -- I got the sound I wanted from the components I thought would give it to me.

So, good tonal balance and saturation, good soundstage width, good dynamics. Mostly I forget about the equipment and get lost in the music. Trouble is: when I listen in the middle of the night because of insomnia I forget to go back to bed ...



trebejo

Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #12 on: 3 Mar 2021, 11:19 pm »
I started to listen to the AVA headphone circuits about a year ago, when regular speakers were not available. I used to listen to Stax electrostats, which use a different type of amplifier, but got tired of their poor build quality and terrible customer service, so I got a pair of Shure SRH1840 because they are very comfortable and have a good sonic signature.

I was satisfied with the experience and got ambitious for more. So I went to a local hifi shop and auditioned expensive Focal and Audeze headphones, fully intending to spend too much money. They had pricey everything, including the line of $NN,000 amps from a manufacturer that has not  done well in head-case.org (as in, basic basic basic electronics not well). I spent an hour there, listened to many different types of music and could not get engaged. Not even Beethoven's 9th made a dent. As Frank says, all of the notes and none of the music...

I walked out with all my money plus some free advice that if I replace the Van Alstine with a proper headphone amplifier then my headphones will sound better (salesperson forgot to say "even better", just "better"). I got home and immediately confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the Shures, nothing wrong with Frank's preamps, nothing wrong with Beethoven or any of his later symphonies.

I read a review that the SET120 has a decent headphone amp but not at the level of the dedicated$. I don't have the SET120, but at the level of the UltraSL or the Vision SLR, the AVA headphone amp sections were qualitatively better than the gear I heard that day. Your mileage may vary.

jandrews

Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #13 on: 5 Oct 2022, 05:18 pm »
My wife and I have both been home this week ..working from home, so I've been listening to headphones from my RB10 pretty much all day yesterday and half the day today.
All I can say is it's way more satisfying that I thought it would be.  Feels pretty muscular yet resolving and natural sounding.  I'm just using an old pair of Sony MDR-7506's. Would love to find some better closed back headphones and see how much better it can be.
If you're able to position yourself where you're close enough to the preamp to sit and listen (I am) , I believe most people would be very happy with the audio out on this headphone circuit.
JS

ceylon

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #14 on: 19 Oct 2022, 03:11 am »
my fet valve CF RB has a fantastic headphone feature. its excellent.

jandrews

Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #15 on: 4 Jan 2023, 01:01 am »
I’m following up on my previous post from 3 months ago about the headphone circuit on my RB10 preamp.
I finally picked up the ubiquitous MassDrop HD6xx / Sennheiser HD650 headphones.
They are 300 ohm and the RB10 lights them up beautifully.  So much so that I’m curious to move up the Sennheiser line and check out some higher end open-back headphones.
The sound is neutral/natural but wholly engaging.  I feel like I’m tapped right off the EC88 tubes.
There’s a bit of a bass drop but I’m ok with that.  Primarily listening to classical, chamber music, opera on the phones and other music (jazz pop etc) out my Fritz loudspeakers.
I encourage anyone who not sure to spend some time with some of these “budget” headphones and their Van Alstine preamp.



mosalmo

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Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #16 on: 6 Jan 2023, 06:30 pm »
Hi all, Marantz 5004 > Ultra hybrid DAC > Insight EC pre > Grado SR 125. I was very pleasantly surprised when I got the Marantz, the headphone output sounded really nice with an upgrade from my previous Sony CD. When I got the Insight it improved the sound quite a bit. When I got the Ultra DAC however, the soundstage just really opened up, so now that is how I listen when I use the headphones. Very happy with the results. BTW the rest of the system is a Delta 120D and Mission 727 speakers. So in sum, I use the headphone outputs and like them very much.

floresjc

Re: AVA preamp headphone circuits, any comments?
« Reply #17 on: 5 Mar 2023, 04:05 pm »
I've had a range of AVA gear in the last 15 or so years, including several preamps, and I love the quality of the headphone output. For preamps I've had the original Insight solid state, the Ultra EC, the Vision RB, and the T-10 RB. I bought the T-10 specifically for use at work with headphones...I don't have any speakers attached to it.

I've used a variety of "normal" headphones with them. I don't run anything super hard to drive. My go-to's are Beyerdynamic DT 1770/1990 and Sennheiser HD600's, but I've run some of the lower end Grado's (325/80/60) and they are fine.

On my computer I run an RME ADI-2 Pro, which is an audio interface that serves as my DAC and premp, as well as recording inputs, all in one little cute box. Very very clean setup with very nice headphone outs as well. Little Labs Monotor is probably IMO the best headphone amp produced, but I prefer to run it with the ADI-2 handling volume control.

I haven't heard Frank's new digital preamp but I'm certain its quite excellent. If I didn't have the need for more of full fledged audio interface type solution for recording gear, I'd probably get his preamp and the Little Labs Monotor for a dedicated listening setup in my office.