I have done both and found that straight from the source is the best. Let you system pre influence the external, open environment, and you head pre influence the closed environment.
10 responses Add your response
It depends on the input sensitivity of the headphone amplifier and certainly the sensitivity of headphones.
I use Consonance M20 headphone amp connected to the preamp's tape output driving AKG K701. I found it more refined and controlled than directly from the CD player. In addition I have analogue rig with most of M- records in my vinyl collection that do not produce clicks pops even through the headphones.
To be quite frankly, I would look for better driver than I currently have in the future, but I bet it will still stand great against any speakers.
I'd look for more bass that probably would never get with tubes and aim to some better deals on Grace Design M902 headphone amp.
I use a balanced headphone amp plugged into the 2nd balanced output of the preamp...the 1st balanced output goes to my balanced amp for the speakers. When I use the headphone amp, I do not power up the amp for the speakers. When I use the amp for the speakers, the headphone amp is off. I can use both at the same time, but never do.
To my understanding to reach the best performance running directly from the source to the headphone amplifier you should find one with balanced input and balanced bypass so you use fully balanced signal path among your components, but running as you've stated AT THE SAME TIME... isn't a problem.
Grace Design M902 that had been already mentioned is one of the best contenders. You might even want to use it as a preamp vs. the one you currently have.
I would ask Audio Research first before using the CD'7's RCA outputs. The balanced and RCA's might be tied together.That would change the impedance of the CD7's
output,possibly degrading the sound plus causing other possible problems.I would try the tape RCA outputs from the preamp first since they are made to be used at the same time.
Otherwise,the using preamps tape outputs with the power amps powered down seems like the best option until you find out if the CD'7s outputs are tied together.