Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp

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Cheerwino

Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« on: 1 Oct 2010, 01:45 am »
It might not be an officially approved use, but the Virtue Audio Sensation with Dodd Tube Buffer makes for an excellent headphone amp (with the right equipment).

Just hook up one of these "high-end" connectors from Monoprice to the Sensation's RCA pre-amp outs and plug in your headphones to the jack end. I know this might be out of some folks' price range, though. http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10218&cs_id=1021804&p_id=5612&seq=1&format=2




It works best with lower impedance phones. My 300 ohm Sennheiser HD-580s don't get enough gain in this setup but it is more than enough for the rest of my more reasonable phones. The Sennheiser PX100s will make your ears bleed with value-priced joy through the Sensation (and disturb others in the room). My main rig Ultrasone HFI-780 get plenty of  juice but still isolate so as not to disturb the family watching TV in the same room. Sennheiser HD-280s isolate well, too. Sound quality is excellent with most of the phones!

As I understand it, only buffered preamps (perhaps w/o gain) are really capable of successfully driving headphones to match impedances. And you have to have enough gain from your source (around the standard 2v seems to work, though).  I've also had excellent results with my Hornshoppe Truth preamp in the same setup.

virtue

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Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #1 on: 3 Oct 2010, 09:38 pm »
Great tip, Guy!  Wish I'd thought of it!

We're using the LM4562 for pre-out.

http://www.national.com/pf/LM/LM4562.html#Overview

There are some folks doing cool headphone amps using this chip - why not?

roscoeiii

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #2 on: 3 Oct 2010, 10:39 pm »
And for more demanding headphones you can use the speaker outputs rather than the RCA preamp outs. Plan to try something like this for my HE-5LE headphones, which are said to really shine hooked up this way. Just need to get around to finding an affordable speaker output to 4 pin XLR adaptor...

Mama Virtue

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #3 on: 4 Oct 2010, 03:01 am »
And for more demanding headphones you can use the speaker outputs rather than the RCA preamp outs. Plan to try something like this for my HE-5LE headphones, which are said to really shine hooked up this way. Just need to get around to finding an affordable speaker output to 4 pin XLR adaptor...

I can build you one
post up the details on the plug you have or email them to me and I'll toss you a quote.
cables@virtueaudio.com

JT

funkle

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Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #4 on: 5 Oct 2010, 05:32 pm »
Cool,

A couple questions:

Will this work without the tube buffer?

I assume you would have to disconnect the speakers in order to run it as a headphone amp. Will this damage the amp, running it with no speakers attached?

dvenardos

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #5 on: 5 Oct 2010, 08:52 pm »
Hey JT, you know you can log out Mama Virtue and log yourself in.  :icon_twisted:

I can build you one
post up the details on the plug you have or email them to me and I'll toss you a quote.
cables@virtueaudio.com

JT

Mama Virtue

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #6 on: 5 Oct 2010, 09:11 pm »
That's what he gets for killing his laptop and having to use mine!  :wink:

CT

dvenardos

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #7 on: 5 Oct 2010, 10:06 pm »
Maybe I could fix his laptop and he can finish some of my DIY audio projects.  :lol:

That's what he gets for killing his laptop and having to use mine!  :wink:

CT

Cheerwino

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #8 on: 6 Oct 2010, 12:21 pm »
Cool,

A couple questions:

Will this work without the tube buffer?

I assume you would have to disconnect the speakers in order to run it as a headphone amp. Will this damage the amp, running it with no speakers attached?


I have the tube buffer, and haven't tried running headphones with the tube switched off. Seth, would this be a problem for any reason?

The Sensation is designed to also be used as a preamp, so I couldn't see how running headphones off the preamp RCAs without speakers would be a problem. It seems like I recall the manual saying it was okay to run without speakers attached.

markm1111

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Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #9 on: 8 Oct 2010, 02:47 am »
I am really interested in this. I have been hunting for a small amp to drive bookshelf speakers in a small room, but also with a decent headphone output. Not much around except for the Peachtree gear. I don't need the dac, so was hoping for another alternative - this could be the ticket.

Just wondering, why is the tube buffer so important?

dburna

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #10 on: 8 Oct 2010, 07:06 pm »
It might not be an officially approved use, but the Virtue Audio Sensation with Dodd Tube Buffer makes for an excellent headphone amp (with the right equipment).

Just hook up one of these "high-end" connectors from Monoprice to the Sensation's RCA pre-amp outs and plug in your headphones to the jack end. I know this might be out of some folks' price range, though. http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10218&cs_id=1021804&p_id=5612&seq=1&format=2




It works best with lower impedance phones. My 300 ohm Sennheiser HD-580s don't get enough gain in this setup but it is more than enough for the rest of my more reasonable phones. The Sennheiser PX100s will make your ears bleed with value-priced joy through the Sensation (and disturb others in the room). My main rig Ultrasone HFI-780 get plenty of  juice but still isolate so as not to disturb the family watching TV in the same room. Sennheiser HD-280s isolate well, too. Sound quality is excellent with most of the phones!

As I understand it, only buffered preamps (perhaps w/o gain) are really capable of successfully driving headphones to match impedances. And you have to have enough gain from your source (around the standard 2v seems to work, though).  I've also had excellent results with my Hornshoppe Truth preamp in the same setup.

I thought this would be a fun experiment, but I noticed that the RCA-to-headphone adapter was a 3.5mm (1/8") headphone connection.  For those looking for a standard headphone jack (1/4") cable, consider:

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/YPR257/?gclid=CN7Y0KG6wqQCFdvY5wodyDxQCQ

Best, -dB

saisunil

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #11 on: 8 Oct 2010, 08:53 pm »
I would not expect a pre-out or CD out to put any type of drive or control over the headphone amp - sure it will give you signal ...
 
Now if you have your headphones connected to speaker ourput - that's a different story - of course you'd need hard to drive phones like head-direct HE5  :thumb:  ...
 
Will report back on this experiment ....

Cheerwino

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #12 on: 9 Oct 2010, 12:46 am »
I'm not saying this is better than a $1k head amp. I have owned a Peachtree Nova and it is better than the headphone stage of the Nova. The headphone stage of a the Peachtree Decco was better to me.


Jason T

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Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #13 on: 9 Oct 2010, 04:27 am »
I always seem to get abused and made fun of while I'm gone :(

I was waiting on my new hard drive from newegg and now running again with my fresh vista install.
I'm not the software literate kinda guy but can pull anything apart and usually fix it (or at least get it put back together right  :roll: )

HiFlight

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #14 on: 12 Oct 2010, 02:07 am »
I would not expect a pre-out or CD out to put any type of drive or control over the headphone amp - sure it will give you signal ...
 
Now if you have your headphones connected to speaker ourput - that's a different story - of course you'd need hard to drive phones like head-direct HE5  :thumb:  ...
 
Will report back on this experiment ....

I have not only been using the speaker terminals from my Virtue One Classic to drive my HE-5LEs but also my K-1000s, K-500s, K340s, and even my easy-to-drive SA-5000s.  Of course all of these are balanced so can be driven from a Tripath-based amp. 

Even though the Sonys are very easy to drive, they sound superb with my Virtue.  It is not only the hard-to-drive phones that can benefit from connection to the speaker terminals. 

Of course it goes without saying that one should start with the volume control at minimum before connecting the more sensitive phones.  Not a bad idea regardless of what is connect, come to think about it. 

Ron

HiFlight

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #15 on: 26 Oct 2010, 03:36 am »
I have replaced my Virtue One Classic with a new battery-powered Virtue 2.2.  So far, everything is going great.  I am now in the process of burning it in for another hundred hours or so before really trying to compare it to my One. 

As I only use the amp to drive my balanced headphones, I am still trying to adjust to the stepped attenuator rather than the standard volume control of the One.   

I think the blue "Headlight" is even brighter on my 2.2!   At least, the amp won't get left on accidentally!

I feel very fortunate to have not only the new 2.2, but the Piano as well!   I can't say enough good  about the attention to details and the quality of construction of the Virtue equipment. 

Many thanks to the entire Virtue crew for making these fine instruments available at such reasonable prices. 

Ron Kerlin
Ft Myers, FL

NIGELJAMES

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #16 on: 28 Feb 2011, 04:01 pm »
Received a Sensation M451 with tube buffer for headphone use a couple of weeks ago. Excellent clarity, speed and detail but at the moment still too much hiss. Using the stock JJ tube, that is know to be noisy up to 100 hours use, and the cheapo power supply while I wait for my back ordered battery supply. Hoping for even better sound and alot less hiss with battery power and an upgraded tube.

HiFlight

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #17 on: 1 Mar 2011, 11:15 pm »
Have you tried turning off the tube buffer and see how it affects the hiss that you hear?   At high volumes with no input signal, I hear noise until I turn off my inline tube buffer.  I do not hear noise at normal listening levels with the tube buffer in operation. 

OzarkTom

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #18 on: 1 Mar 2011, 11:21 pm »
Received a Sensation M451 with tube buffer for headphone use a couple of weeks ago. Excellent clarity, speed and detail but at the moment still too much hiss. Using the stock JJ tube, that is know to be noisy up to 100 hours use, and the cheapo power supply while I wait for my back ordered battery supply. Hoping for even better sound and alot less hiss with battery power and an upgraded tube.

While your amp is turned off, twist the volume control back and forth several times quicklt. The hiss I had is completely gone when the volume was adjusted. Member parkfly here said it was caused by oxidation of the contacts, or something like that.

dboulet

Re: Virtue Sensation as a killer headphone amp
« Reply #19 on: 1 Mar 2011, 11:51 pm »
Switching to battery power helps cut down on the noise floor hissing. My Sensation is very quiet now.