Integrated with good headphone output

Hi all,

I recently bought some Grado SR60 headphones and I'm looking for a headphone amp. I got to thinking a budget integrated (3-400) with a good headphone output is more versatile than a dedicated headphone amp. Any ideas? New or used, old or new, whatever.

On a related note, are most headphone outputs on a seperate circuit from the amplifier output section?


The Onkyo A-9555 is a very fine integrated you could find used or refurbished in your price range and it has a good headphone output. There's a full review of the amp on the Stereophile site.

Another option for greater versatility than a dedicated headphone amp would be one of the many DAC's that include a headphone stage. Both the Beresford and Aune DAC's I'm using now have fine headphone output, as did the more expensive Benchmark I had before.
I can't give any recommendations for an integrated amp, but there are a lot that do take the headphones off of the speakers outputs, that is amplified through the whole amp. Without knowing if this is done from someone that has a schematic, or manufacturers provided info, there might be one way to tell. If the amp has a preamp amp loop with jumpers, if you take them out (jumpers) and the headphone jack keeps working, that should tell you it has its own amp stage, or at least is not going through the power amp too. If the jack shuts off, it obviously is going through the whole output stage also.
Willing to try some DIY?

Check out the CMOY pages. Most of what you'll need is at the RadioShack. The rest? A single order to any one of the electronic vendors. Than you can get into 'opamp rolling'. Buying the tools, for those without tools may be expensive, but you'll never have to buy 'em again.

You can build one for 30$ or 40$. It should drive the Grado phones just fine.
My first headphone amp was a Project Head Box II which I used to drive a pair of Grado 325's. I picked up the Project for $100 used and they worked great together. In fact I probably preferred the Project/Grado combo better than using a Creek Destiny 2 which was my amp at the time and had a headphone out. Don't think you have to pay a fortune to get those 60's working.
Thanks for the good ideas.

I've notices that Anthem processors (AVM-20) have headphone outputs. Anyone have any experience with them? I've seen several recently for around $400. Seems like a great deal for a quality piece of equipment.
among headphone lovers, the Japanese built Leben CS-300, which includes a number of variations (CS-300x, CS-300xs and just the plain CS-300), is generally considered to be the best integrated headphone amplifier.

Leben CS-300xs thread on Head-Fi

review of the Leben CS-300x on 6-Moons

thread about comparison of the CS-300xs to a $10k headphone amp

Head-Fi forum, best place for headphone questions

good luck.
The Leben looks nice but it's a little over budget!

I'll probably end up trying a dedicated headphone amp like the Aune, Project or similar.

Anyone have an opinion on the Creek OBH11?

Still wondering about the Anthems...kind of big, but they have good dacs and volume controls. Just don't know about the headphone output.

I had an NAD 320BEE and really liked the headphone section. The headphone section is a better in my Bryston B60, but it's also 10x more expensive. My NAD 304 integrated had a great headphone section as well.

Not sure how the headphone-philes rate NAD's headphone sections, but I sure enjoyed them. My Bryston B60's headphone section is better, but the B60 is also 10x the price. To be honest, the 320BEE's headphone section sounded more preferrable with my Etymotic ER4s. The B60's is better, but I think there's better synergy with the 320BEE and ER4s.
Had the Creek OBH11. Forget the no remote part. I always thought it sounded somewhat mechnical then two of us compared to a Rotel RA 972 integrated that was laying around it we both thought the Rotel was more natural and musical
Dared MP5 maybe a very good option
Sorry I forgot to include the link
The Marantz PM 5004 is a great integrated with headphone out. Check out, they have a no questions 30 day return policy. retail is about $450.