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Recommendation: headphone amp (do I need a balanced one?)

Tj99

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Dec 16, 2020
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Hello there,
I am on the search for a simple clean headphone amp to connect to my studio Interface with balanced outputs.
I will use headphones like DT880s 250ohm, DT990s and ATH M50x and my budget is around 200€.

So according to the reviews I narrowed my search down to
- S.M.S.L SH-8s (200€ here)
- Schiit Magnius Bal (240€ here)
- Topping L30 unbalanced (150€)

Would you recommend to hook up the unbalanced Topping to my interface with balanced->unbalanced cables, or is that a no go, because of possible intereference/ground problems or a impedance mismatch?

Thanks!
 

twsecrest

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Your headphones can't advantage of a balanced headphone jack.
So i'm not seeing a big need for a balanced headphone amplifier.
 
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Tj99

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Your headphones can't advantage of a balanced headphone jack.
So i'm not seeing a big need for a balanced headphone amplifier.
Yes, but directly connecting a unbalanced device to a balanced one isn't usually a thing to do in a professional studio environment AFAIK. My question is, if there are any downsides to this when connecting a HP amp to an interface with balanced outputs only.
 

NTK

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If your source(s) to your headphone amp has balanced output(s), by all means get a headphone amp with balanced input. Balanced headphone outputs from headphone amplifiers in most cases do not provide any benefit and are unnecessary. The exception is USB headphone dongles that have to operate from a limited voltage supply.
 

sq225917

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A balanced headphone amp can better drive balanced headphones. Without a balanced headphone plug though its pointless having a balanced amp, your just throwing away half the amplification circuit. You could use that waste for a better SE amp.

You're very unlikely to suffer any penalty from not having a fully balanced end to end replay chain unless you have cables all over the place in an electrically noisy RFI rich environment.

Never say never though.
 
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Tj99

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Thank you all for your insight! So I think I'll get a balanced one, since they are not a lot more expensive and the interface already has XLR out. This way there are also no real risks of interference, since that sometimes happens where I live. Much appreciated.
 

ExEnemy

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Balanced just sounds way cooler than unbalanced isn't it? :). If you dont need gain(not with your current phones) or very long cable length, balanced makes no difference at all. You should get a Topping DX3 pro+ or similar dac/amp for a compact footprint.
 
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