Dedicated preamps vs headphone amps

Discussion in 'Preamps' started by Cspirou, Jul 26, 2016.

Tags:
  1. Cspirou

    Cspirou Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    624
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Irvine,CA
    Any opinions on the downsides of using a headphone amp with pre-outs vs a dedicated preamp? To me this seems to boil down to active vs passive attenuation where headphone amps are automatically active and passive can only be implemented in a standalone preamp.
     
    sashafuckinggrey and Jokko like this.

  2. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    248
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Cinnaminson, nj
    umm, so just asking if there is difference between a actual stereo preamp and a headphone amp as a pre? i guess that all depends. i mean most headphone amps are little tiny power amps or just chopped up/limited input/output selector type preamp. if talking bout how each fare with headphones, i say either do fine and can sound all glitterly and super uber resolving with resolution out to hazoo ect,ect..

    i would guess it is more capable of a headphone amp with either a passive or active attenuation buffer stage to be great and not just stereo preamps since pretty much they're same in overall design. i mean headphone amps are basically tiny preamps with input/output limitations basically or tiny baby power amps. it's very interesting to me how far headphone amps came nowadays. pretty cool i think. wish i had companies like schitt around when i started headphones.
     
  3. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    453
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Estonia
    What is behind 'pre-outs' makes all the difference.
    Is it just taps from pot? Or actual amp output routed there ? Or maybe some earlier stage ?
    I think I have seen all three.

    FWIW best pre-s I have heard are 2A3 tube amplifiers, or steppers. It depends on what needs to be driven and what is input to the pre.
    With Yggy to 50k power amp, I might choose passive.
    With Soekris 1021 with it's 625 ohm output to 10k power amp, I'd rather have 2A3 beefing up the signal.
     
    Wfojas and Cspirou like this.
  4. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    297
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    IMO on paper a passive pre is going to beat out an active pre. In practice it's probably more rig dependent. The active pre is only going to muck up the signal with added distortion and higher noise floor; this sounds terrible on paper but can potentially sound better in person. Then you have things like impedance mis matching which could make things worse all around.

    Want to hear what my crappy active pre sounds like vs a flac rip of digital? You can ignore the file titled Track 1 Line.
    https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-QWmyuXOcORNUJ0NUg3ZzZnOHM&usp=sharing
     
    Wfojas, sphinxvc and Cspirou like this.
  5. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf MOT: Sonarworks

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    725
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Home Page:
    Well... Why do you need a preamp? Just volume controlling or gain structure optimising/impedance matching?
     
  6. Cspirou

    Cspirou Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    624
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Irvine,CA
    Basically for volume control. I plan on integrating active monitors in my setup.

    Another way of wording my question;

    If I already have a headphone amp with pre-outs, why would I get a dedicated preamp?
     
  7. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    297
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    I don't have much experience with active monitors but a passive pre will probably fare better, the noise floor of active monitors I've used is not great to begin with.
     
  8. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    453
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Estonia
    Are you gonna tell us about that hp amp ?
    I have seen many hp amplifiers having pre outs just spreading the pot two ways. This is passive pre, often shit one.
    Active monitors usually have lowish input |z|, passive might not cut it. My Genelecs with 10k work ok, still I prefer buffering.
    If the hp out is the same as pre out, then impedance matching is likely not a problem.
     
    Wfojas likes this.
  9. ohhgourami

    ohhgourami Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    519
    Dislikes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SGV, CA
    I can tell you a high end dedicated pre will sound better than ever is built into that headphone amp. It's a very important component in a system that most headphone listeners have completely dismissed.

    The best sounding pre I've heard has been an active. I think the whole added distortion and noise floor argument is blown way out of proportion.
     
    Wfojas and Artasia like this.
  10. Cspirou

    Cspirou Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    624
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Irvine,CA
    For this thread let's say the Schiit solid state line. The Magni 2 Uber, BifrostAsgard 2 and Mjolnir 2.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  11. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Likes Received:
    297
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    63
    To defend my position (not even clear on what it is really lol) I have a lot of blood and tears into my active pre-amp setup which I use on the daily... it feeds into a vintage receiver in power amp mode and it doubles duty as a headphone amp. I am fully aware of the shortcomings of a setup like this but I happily use it anyways, it is pretty neat that I can remote control all of this.

    In this case however, I think something like a schiit sys or emotiva control freak would work best for powered monitors or of course the more expensive passive options!
     
    Pyruvate likes this.
  12. Cspirou

    Cspirou Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    624
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Irvine,CA
    I am heavily leaning toward an Emotiva Control freak. I really wasn't intending to use pre-outs but wanted to know if I was justified in being against them.
     
  13. zonto

    zonto Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    1,546
    Dislikes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    FYI: Schiit is working on a dedicated 2.0 preamp, it's well into development, and they are shooting for an RMAF (Oct. 2016) demo/announcement along with the dedicated speaker amp (currently on second prototype). No headphone amp functionality in either unit. Unclear whether preamp is active or passive.

    Edit
    : preamp confirmed to have remote control. ;)

    Edit 9/22/16: Cross-post to Schiit two-channel gear compilation post
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2016
    aufmerksam and Mr.Sneis like this.
  14. ohhgourami

    ohhgourami Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    519
    Dislikes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SGV, CA
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    248
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Cinnaminson, nj
    it's not true that actives add distortion or add noise. if it's well built it will actually do the opposite by adding extra filtering/blocking of unwanted outside interference and so forth.. passive is fine for most things and most power amps since avg sensitivity of most power amps is around 1v/47k or so forth..if count certain amps like lot of crown pro gear with only 10k input impedance or 20k balanced then yea, might end up some issues here or there with certain things...

    passives it depends on the pot really. if passive using a step alps attenuator then i expect it to be well behaved and quiet...problem wih passives is they're very picky on length of the cable and can be an issue with certain power amps cause some power amps need over 2v rms to reach full output.. you have not just the power amp(s) but, the cable itself you're gonna have to drive... i always used active myself but, i always liked very simple and straight forward designs with no opamps in place. i like my nad 1000s because not just it has option of balanced outputs but, it's all very simple. only thing it has an opamp for is the headphone amp section which i never use even though it has enough drive to put over 2v into 600ohm loads.....i rather use power amps anyways since i have plenty to spare now since they just been falling on my lap lately...
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016
    Cspirou and Mr.Sneis like this.
  16. Cspirou

    Cspirou Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    624
    Dislikes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Irvine,CA
    I am positive the relay driven stepped attenuation from the Ragnarok will trickle down to a standalone preamp. If I know anything about Schiit it's that they will offer active and passive, similar to how their DACs are D/S and multibit.

    One thing missing from preamps is multiple output switching. I really hope they put something so I can switch between my speaker amp and my headphone amp. Considering that they are a headphone amp company, I think it would be wise to integrate headphone out functionality.
     
  17. ohhgourami

    ohhgourami Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:
    519
    Dislikes Received:
    12
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    SGV, CA
    Transformer or autoformer volume control sounds amazing - AMAZING.

    Shameless plug, I have one for sale made by Tribute.
     
    Wfojas likes this.
  18. Hrodulf

    Hrodulf MOT: Sonarworks

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    725
    Dislikes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Home Page:
    They always do. Every amplification device essentially copies the input signals and sends out a copy. It is, however, debatable, how much of an influence on the overall system performance will the preamp noise and distortion add.
     
  19. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    248
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Cinnaminson, nj
    if that is the case so, do passives. they might not have no transistors and a transformer in place to buffer the signal but, do have couple of components as well in the chain that can cause as much noise as anything else. guess it's a lose lose situation we got here.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2016
  20. Rex Aeterna

    Rex Aeterna Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    248
    Dislikes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Cinnaminson, nj
    lot of preamps and mixers has multiple outputs and pre-outs usually on some. it is a common practice. so, i think if schiit made a preamp it will have same functionally as most likely of any other preamp out there. having a headphone output is not a big deal either. most stereo preamps will be able to drive anything from 1000ohm headphones to 32ohms in most cases. some just tap off the pre-outs and while some do have dedicated built-in headphone amps but, are usually for monitoring purposes and so forth but, it all depends of course.
     

Share This Page