Headphone Amplifiers East Providence RI
East Providence, RI
N. Attleboro, MA
Home Audio, Design & Installation
Audio / Video, Furnishings, Home Automation / Systems Integration / Home Networking, Home Theater, Multi-Room Audio
Atlantic technology, Boston Acoustics, Canton, Denon, LG, Samsung, Lutron, Snell, Panasonic, Stewart, Vutec, Stealth Acoustics, Somfy, Kinetics, BDI, Bello, Fortress, Salamander, Life/Ware, Sonos, RTI, Universal Remote
One or more employees at this company have achieved CEDIA Professional Certification status:- Thomas Kossler, CEDIA Certified Professional EST II
North Attleboro, MA
POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 5
the Max and Little headphone amplifiers
as reviewed by Carlo Flores
Many audiophiles view headphone listening as playing with toys or trying to get the most from portable fidelity. Others believe that a well-designed transducer powered by quality amplification can yield good results regardless of the type of system. Headphones offer a choice to those who are limited in space. If you can live with a soundstage that exists within two inches of your skull, you can, with proper care, assemble a system that rivals similarly priced speakers. There are headphones and amps to power them in just about every price bracket. In the case of Headroom, a complete line of headphone products is available from one manufacturer, including the Blockhead, a fully balanced amp that can only be used with a specially terminated Grado RS-1 or Sennheiser. For those (like me) who like other headphones, the Max is Headroom's best offering, so I view it as their statement product, and the one I decided to review.
The Max has some nice features that allow for great flexibility. It can be used as a two-input active preamp, a one-box solution for those looking to incorporate a headphone amp with a speaker system. One of its inputs can be changed to a loop out, so the user can use the amp between a preamp/integrated's tape output and a recording device, with minimal influence on the sound. The Max's class AB circuitry is encased in a long rectangular chassis that is about half the width of most stereo components, with the simple, nondescript faceplate allowing for easy integration into a living environment. The Max's front panel is covered with user controls: toggle switches control gain (a welcome addition for better control of the stepped attenuator), Headroom's patented Crossfeed Circuit, and their filter settings. Two headphone jacks that lock in theory, but not in reality, allow for shared listening, and a toggle switch allows the user to float ground. Missing from the front panel is source selection; instead, it's on the rear plate, which will make the Max unpractical for many people. On the back, the IEC receptacle, fuse, and power switch are a one-piece unit, which means that that the large IECs on some power cords may get in the way when trying to turn the unit on or off. The Max is surprisingly lightweightI had to place books on its top lid to use aftermarket power cords.
After the obligatory interconnect and power cord changes, I settled on the Tara Labs Air 3 for its soundstage and the Tek-Line PC12W for its top end linearity. I set the Max's crossfeed circuit and filters to their off positions (more on what they do later), and hardly fiddled with the amp again. I had the opportunity to borrow Grado HP-1s, Audio Technica w2002s, and Sennheiser HD600s during my time with the Max, along with the Grado SR225s and Sennheiser HD580s (with Cardas upgrade...