Headphone Amp Question not a HD600/RS-1 debate

OK, I've done my homework (I think) but I value the advice of you experts that have been around the block a couple of times. I've been to the headphone sites. I've read more then my fair share of debates over the best headphones, etc..I have Sennheiser 590 (not 600/580's) and I'm quite happy with them overall. However my new system doesn't have a integrated headphone amp and now with my girlfriend moving in, I think this may become my most important piece of equipment. My system is as follows:

McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe (with HG Silver Lace 1m IC's)
Conrad Johnson PV10a (with the phono)
Phillips CD/DVD player
DH Labs Q10 speaker cables
B&W 805 Nauts on Target 60 stands

Now, I don't want to spend a lot of money, but I'm assuming that the CJ tube with the SS amp (McCormack) also holds true for the headphones and what I need is a respectible SS amp. However, the 590's as everyone likes to point out are "bright" and my thinking was that a tube Headphone amp might tame this a bit. So, two questions.

1. Set up. I'm assuming I can hook the RCA's into my CJ (it has two sets of Mains and I'm assuming one is for the speaker amp and the other is for the headphone amp) Documentation doesn't say?? Someone please confirm or is there another way to set up a headphone amp.

2. Choices for a good match to my system and the Senn 590's
I'd like to keep the total cost way under $500.

- Looking at the Grado, Creek lines for SS
- Looking at ASL (antique sound labs) for Tubes
- Looking at early Marantz product(2265) double as tuner
(advice from the www.head-fi.com folks.).
- Lastly does anyone have any feed back on the Meta42 amp on these Headphone sites, they sound very interesting.

Sorry for the long write up. Please help!!!
Check out the Mapletree audio designs
Ear+ Purist Headphone amp
Its $365 assembled or $295 as a kit

I would advise to also get the Alps Pot upgrade for the volume control as well as the Black Gate Upgrade

the Alps upgrade is free currently but the blackgate would up your price by $20


this version of the amp works great with low impedence headphones like the grado's and high impedence like the senn's

I would also suggest getting a Ei 12AX7 tube its a copy of the telefunken 12AX7 and is very low noise. this tube runs $12 bucks from vaccuum tube valley.

so for a little more then 400 dollars after shipping you could have a pretty sweet tube headphone amp.

hope this helps
I've owned a Grado RA-1, Headroom Max (Latest Version), Sugden Headmaster, Creek OBH-11, Gilmore V2, and Musical Fidelity X-Cans v2- All used to drive Sennheiser 600's with the Cardas Headphone Cable.

On the solid state side, I liked the Sugden best, but....

My advice is: Buy an X-Cans v2 from Kevin at Upscale Audio, and purchase the Private Reserve 6922 tubes at the same time- Total cost with shipping will be under $345.00. Later you can purchase a bigger power supply from Ault for about $19.00 with shipping if you wish. I'll be honest with you...of all my Headphone rigs, this is the combo I've enjoyed the most, and I'm as picky as most of us. I've found that there's just something right about this combo that makes it outperform everything else I've tried...an immediacy, warmth and delicacy that fit oh so well with the Sennheiser 600's.

Now having said this, we each have our preferences, but I think this combo would work quite well for you.

Experiment and enjoy!
Usually the best way to run an headphone amp off a preamp is to put it on the tape or processor loop out. That way, it is in no way keyed to the volume pot on the preamp and you only have one volume pot in the circuit to potentially muck with the sound (the one on the headphone amp). The second main outputs on a preamp are just that, and they're intended to run to an amp -- mostly useful if you're biamping. Most "headphone amps" are indeed mini integrated amps -- they've got an amplification section and a volume pot (some, like some of the Headroom amps, will actually have a main out and can be used as a single source preamp in addition to a headphone amp). I'm beginning to confuse myself. Let's regroup.

Yes. You can certainly run a headphone amp off of the second main output on a preamp. It is somewhat less than ideal due to the fact that, as I tried to explain, this puts the volume control from the preamp as well as the volume control from the headphone amp both in the circuit. The more you attenuate or amplify the signal through a volume control, the more opportunities you have to potentially degrade the sound. If you use the tape loop, you've only got one volume control. If you use the second main out, you have two. It'll work fine, but, if you have a tape loop that isn't busy already, I'd use that first. If you use the main out, you may want to experiment a bit. It could be that the best sound comes from dialing in the preamp to 0 gain (where it is neither attenuating nor amplifying the signal from the source) and then controlling the volume for the cans from the headphone amp. Trouble with this is 1) who'se to say where 0 gain is (although it's likely someplace generally between 12 and 2 on the volume knob) and 2) if you happen to turn on you amp at that volume, it'll be alarmingly loud in a big hurry.

Reason I've prattled on about this is that I've recently switched out my preamp with one that doesn't have a tape loop and have spent some time wondering this one myself recently. The tape loop route for the headphone amp works great, but since I've reworked things (now have the headphone amp hooked up the the second main outs on the new preamp) I haven't had a chance to listen to the cans yet. Maybe I should do that before I go on like this....

As for amps, I got a Headroom about four years ago and really don't know what's out there these days. I like the Headroom, though.
Some good information from you guys, but I was hoping to get some more suggestions or a discussion on how critical a good amp is for headphones??
A good 'fones benefit from good upstream components (including cables)
just like regular speakers.

More capable the 'fones, resolution and stage ability get better, too.
I guess how much of headphone listening you do will determine
how crazy you want to go.

Whatever the amp you are considering, make sure it can support the impedance
of Senn. which tends to be higher than norm.
Check out the McCormack MID (Micro Integrated Drive). I suspect you can find a used one on the web. I've had mine for about 7 or 8 years now. Used it at one point as a minimalist amp in my office ... the past several years it's been seeing duty exclusively as a headphone amp (Sennheiser 580's). Stereophile called it Class A. Who am I to argue? I happen to like McCormick's sound (I have a DNA-1/TLC-1). But 'phones on the little MID are truly a life-expanding experience.