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Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
2016-01-25, 03:22
Post: #1
Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
An impediment for some in purchasing the very affordable Exakt only DSM player is that there are no analogue outputs, and most importantly, there is not a headphone jack. This was an impediment for me, however, having selected one, please let me share my journey and selection with you.

There are a few needs to selecting a headphone amplifier that will be compatible with an AEDSM: it need be able to accept a Coaxial Cable output; or a Toslink output; or, it seems, HDMI. The favoured output is the Coaxial. There are not a lot of headphone amps with this feature. As well, one would hope to find a headphone amp that at least matches the sound quality that is provided by the excellent Akurate Kontrol [or whatever pre-amplifier you have]: it was so good, an amp was not needed for my headphones [Sennheiser HD800s].

Having switched to Exakt two weeks ago, and after a lot of research, I rolled the dice and purchased a second hand, recently purchased Oppo HA-1 headphone amplifier. It was released this past spring, and there are many solid reviews of it online. While I may have preferred the Sennheiser HDVD800 to match the headphones, an excellent price for the Oppo, and the sinking value of the CDN$, convinced me to go with my second choice, and I am here to report that I am very glad to have made this decision.

The Oppo arrived approximately two weeks before my Exakt equipment did, and I had sold my Akurate DS and Kontrol, so Gary at Bettermusic kindly lent me an Akurate Kontrol and a Sneaky DS to get me through the Christmas holidays Smile I am so blessed to have such a good friend.

I was able to also borrow from him an AXM Titanium Digital Audio Coaxial cable interconnect to test the Oppo. Well I was really surprised, for the Oppo sounded about a step above the Akurate Kontrol for sound quality. Needless to say, I was extremely pleased with the purchase. While waiting for the Exakt equipment, Gary made for me a Linn Coaxial Cable interconnect and for this I was really looking forward to hearing: who has really ever heard of AXM?

I knew from experience that the Linn cable would need some time to "burn in", so I ran it for 6 hours a day for the first week to loosen it up. Well, after living with it for two weeks or so, I found that the sound remained muffled and closed, darker than the AXM cable. I subsequently borrowed the AXM back from to test, and indeed, it sounds MUCH better than the Linn coaxial: needless to say, you know which one is staying installed Big Grin.

Ultimately, this is an endorsement for those who are in need of a headphone amplifier that is qualitatively compatible with the sound of Linn to give very serious attention to the Oppo HA-1. If you end up purchasing one blindly like I did [no test listen], do not fret for you will be amply rewarded by its wonderfully clear, precise and neutral sound.

Victrola 1922 Floor model.
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2016-01-25, 05:50
Post: #2
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
Nice write up, Eldarboy.

This helps remove the uncertainty of adding headphones to the mix, when going Exakt.

I am also wondering how to connect my 8 track player. Tongue

Good luck with your new Exakt system and your new found headphone experience.

Is there such a thing as a headphone amp that takes an hdmi input, as that may be another way to send the signal from the DSM?

Exakt Surround 5.0:
Katalyst Akubariks, AEDSM, Akurate Exaktbox 6/4200 for 225 Centre, Majik Exaktbox I for 212 Surrounds, OPPO 105 on StillPoints.
Power: Environmental Potentials 2460, Shunyata Triton, Zitron Cobras, Alpha Digitals
Room Acoustics: SPACE, SubDude HT's, Acoustic Panels
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2016-01-25, 09:27
Post: #3
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
Thanks for the write-up Eldarboy.

Paul - according to Rowlandhills the AEDSM strips the L & R front information out of the HDMI signal so there's nothing there on the output.

As for your 8 track, I will bring a 5 pin DIN to HDMI cable with me next month.

Main: AK/0/D; AEDSM; MeiCord AExaktbox10; Silvers 2x A4200/1; K400 NSL Exakt dual-mono PMC Twenty.26; Twenty.C; Blacks AV5125 PMC Twenty.21
Playroom: SBT; V-DAC1; Cyrus6; M773e
Garage: SBT/Rega DAC; Arcam AVR100; 2x AV5125; Aktiv Ninkas, Trikan, AVSeKretan
www.audiophilemusings.co.uk
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2016-01-25, 13:08
Post: #4
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
Eldarboy,

Gary made you a "Linn Coaxial Cable Interconnect"? With what? Linn analogue interconnect?

'troll
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2016-01-25, 13:12
Post: #5
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
(2016-01-25 13:08)moomintroll Wrote:  Eldarboy,

Gary made you a "Linn Coaxial Cable Interconnect"? With what? Linn analogue interconnect?

'troll

With Linn Coaxial cable...Linn apparently made it years ago but no longer does. It was called "Digital Interconnect".

Victrola 1922 Floor model.
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2016-01-25, 14:32
Post: #6
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
(2016-01-25 13:12)Eldarboy Wrote:  
(2016-01-25 13:08)moomintroll Wrote:  Eldarboy,

Gary made you a "Linn Coaxial Cable Interconnect"? With what? Linn analogue interconnect?

'troll

With Linn Coaxial cable...Linn apparently made it years ago but no longer does. It was called "Digital Interconnect".

Yes, it was supplied to connect the Karik and Numerik. I'm surprised that he had some!

'troll
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2016-01-25, 16:18
Post: #7
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
(2016-01-25 14:32)moomintroll Wrote:  
(2016-01-25 13:12)Eldarboy Wrote:  
(2016-01-25 13:08)moomintroll Wrote:  Eldarboy,

Gary made you a "Linn Coaxial Cable Interconnect"? With what? Linn analogue interconnect?

'troll

With Linn Coaxial cable...Linn apparently made it years ago but no longer does. It was called "Digital Interconnect".

Yes, it was supplied to connect the Karik and Numerik. I'm surprised that he had some!

'troll

I am more surprised that the AXM vastly out performed it.

Victrola 1922 Floor model.
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2016-01-25, 19:16
Post: #8
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
(2016-01-25 09:27)sunbeamgls Wrote:  Paul - according to Rowlandhills the AEDSM strips the L & R front information out of the HDMI signal so there's nothing there on the output.

Indeed. Just to give the reference for this:

http://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/HDMI_Setup

Which says:
Quote:In Stereo mode the DSM will not pass audio to its HDMI output (TV) while an HDMI input is selected for listening

Unfortunately, this means that on a KEDSM there is no way to get the main stereo audio signal out to a headphone amplifier, as far as I can tell, as the KEDSM lacks the spdif and toslink outputs on the AEDSM.

Main System: KRDSM > Lejonklou Tundra > 242s (Mk2)
Second System: Sneaky > Majik 109s
Third System: Sneaky DSM > K104s
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2016-01-26, 15:03 (This post was last modified: 2016-01-26 15:06 by Klingsor.)
Post: #9
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
(2016-01-25 03:22)Eldarboy Wrote:  I was able to also borrow from him an AXM Titanium Digital Audio Coaxial cable interconnect to test the Oppo. Well I was really surprised, for the Oppo sounded about a step above the Akurate Kontrol for sound quality. Needless to say, I was extremely pleased with the purchase. While waiting for the Exakt equipment, Gary made for me a Linn Coaxial Cable interconnect and for this I was really looking forward to hearing: who has really ever heard of AXM?

I knew from experience that the Linn cable would need some time to "burn in", so I ran it for 6 hours a day for the first week to loosen it up. Well, after living with it for two weeks or so, I found that the sound remained muffled and closed, darker than the AXM cable. I subsequently borrowed the AXM back from to test, and indeed, it sounds MUCH better than the Linn coaxial: needless to say, you know which one is staying installed Big Grin.

Just a little suggestion: Try the Linn Silver Interconnect as coaxial digital cable. This performed a lot better than the old Linn Digital Interconnect, when I tested it some time ago.
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2016-01-28, 17:58
Post: #10
RE: Headphone Amplifers for Exakt Only DSM
(2016-01-25 19:16)rowlandhills Wrote:  
(2016-01-25 09:27)sunbeamgls Wrote:  Paul - according to Rowlandhills the AEDSM strips the L & R front information out of the HDMI signal so there's nothing there on the output.

Indeed. Just to give the reference for this:

http://docs.linn.co.uk/wiki/index.php/HDMI_Setup

Which says:
Quote:In Stereo mode the DSM will not pass audio to its HDMI output (TV) while an HDMI input is selected for listening

Unfortunately, this means that on a KEDSM there is no way to get the main stereo audio signal out to a headphone amplifier, as far as I can tell, as the KEDSM lacks the spdif and toslink outputs on the AEDSM.

Having read the link and possibly got it wrong. The statement is 'in stereo mode the dsm will not pass audio signal to its hdmi output while an hdmi input is selected for listening.
Am I being over optimistic in interpreting this as if the input is NOT hdmi or the dsm is streaming then then the headphone amp connected to the hdmi output will work. Has anyone a headphone amp with an hdmi input that can test this, or am I just delusional.

Harvey and Pookah
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