Author Topic: Vintage Integrated as Audiophile Headphone Amp?  (Read 317 times)

Offline Revv

Vintage Integrated as Audiophile Headphone Amp?
« on: May 01, 2021, 03:33:26 PM »
I just thought I would ask this question and start a discussion...

What are the possibilities of using vintage (or maybe not so vintage) integrated or pre-amps with headphone outputs as a decent quality headphone amp?

Is this potentially an option? and if so does anyone have any recommendations as to which models had the best quality headphone outs?

Also are their any (relatively) simple mods that one could do to improve the quality of the headphone output on a vintage integrated?

Any thoughts would be appreciated...

Offline kamikazi

Re: Vintage Integrated as Audiophile Headphone Amp?
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2021, 04:34:20 PM »
Most older integrated amplifiers tap the speaker output with resistors to power headphones, so they can be a decent option and therefore reflect the sonic characteristics you would hear through speakers, but since the primary usage is speakers, your mileage may vary with headphones as they can be mismatched or noisy. Newer amplifiers usually have a dedicated headphone amp circuit today since they can be added quite on the cheap today using packaged integrated circuits.

I have used an old Technics SU-500 to drive my headphones and the headphone output is quite powerful listening to my HE-500s. Doing some back to back testing I still prefer the HE-500 being driven off the speaker taps of the Allo Volt +D and my closed MSR7 running off the Dragonfly Red. I also tried the Technics with sensitive IEMs and could not detect any obvious hiss so it is clearly decent with a low noise floor. One benefit of older amplifiers is that you can use the balance and tone controls. Many headphone amplifiers lack those adjustments today which is a bit of shame.

Offline Dhiveshan


Offline Gohde

Re: Vintage Integrated as Audiophile Headphone Amp?
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2021, 04:45:15 PM »
I played with my Sansui AU101. The headphone output is very high impedance, with two results:
- all my dynamic headphones are low impedance and sound frightful!
- my magnetic planar sound undistorted, but not great.

Like mentioned above, the Sansui headphone out just has a 200ohm resistor (I think) connected to speaker output internally. Itís not a solution worth contemplating.