Headphone amp with Uniti2

Posted by: Mike Sullivan on 23 December 2018

I recently landed a mint condition Uniti2 - pre loved - for my media room. Itís great, but the headphone stage is a bit pants for driving my Sennhiesser HD800ís. Are there options for connecting a headphone amp off the Uniti2 that can operate via the Naim App and remotes for volume control? The Naim headline looks like a painful option for setup.

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by ROOG

Hi Mike, I notice that the uniti 2 has a din pre amp output, and a line output. You could use a separate head phone amp fed by the din pre amp output on the uniti which will respond to the uniti volume control, but you would have to switch the uniti speaker amplifier stage off during head phone use, and remember to turn the uniti vol down when switching the  speakers back in. Or use the RCA line output which would give you a fixed level out, which would mean you forego the cconvenience of the uniti  Volume control and would require you to use the volume control of the head phone amp, which would be keeping with convention. 

I use the former solution with my superuniti and my Stax headphone energiser/amplifier mainly because the superuniti doesn't have a 'fixed' line output. :0(

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan

Thanks Roog, I was just looking at the rHead and the Naim site for the Uniti2 outputs and wondered about those two options. Do either of the options mean you can keep the headphone amps connected to the Uniti2 and alternate between speakers and headphones? I don't see an option in the App for switching the speaker phase off. Anyway, sounds like there are options I can discuss with my dealer. How much difference have you found does the headphone make over the SU headphone stage?

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Richard Dane

Mike, I would use the LINE OUT on RCA phonos to connect to a dedicated headphone amp.

You could use a Headline with little setup pain - just specify the RCA Phono version and then choose the power supply that best matches budget and performance requirements.

As a budget option, the Arcam rHEAD is an excellent choice, although I haven't tried it with high impedance headphones like the HD800s.

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Richard Dane

When connected via LINE OUT, you can keep the headphone amp connected.  Just turn the volume down on the Uniti2 when listening to the headphone amp, and vice versa (or switch of the headphone amp), when listening to the speakers from the Uniti2.

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by ROOG
Mike Sullivan posted:

Thanks Roog, I was just looking at the rHead and the Naim site for the Uniti2 outputs and wondered about those two options. Do either of the options mean you can keep the headphone amps connected to the Uniti2 and alternate between speakers and headphones? I don't see an option in the App for switching the speaker phase off. Anyway, sounds like there are options I can discuss with my dealer. How much difference have you found does the headphone make over the SU headphone stage?

Hi Mike, before I went for the Stax electrostatic headphones I used a chord mojo with my Oppo planner magnetic headphones, I connected the mojo to the BNC digital output from the SU. This gives you individual vol control over the speakers and head phones, but this loses the benefit of the uniti vol control. In effect the digital output is not attenuated and vol control is via the mojo buttons. I used to have the mojo on a 2m long digital lead and had it on the arm of my chair so that I had local control.

I found the sound quality from the chord mojo to be an improvement over the standard SU headphone socket with the Oppo's . Just thought I would mention this as an option.

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by ROOG

I should have mentioned, you can turn the speakers off on the SU by, going into set up, 'speakers' and selecting 'external' Only, I assume that the  uniti 2 is similar in operation.

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan
ROOG posted:
Mike Sullivan posted:

Thanks Roog, I was just looking at the rHead and the Naim site for the Uniti2 outputs and wondered about those two options. Do either of the options mean you can keep the headphone amps connected to the Uniti2 and alternate between speakers and headphones? I don't see an option in the App for switching the speaker phase off. Anyway, sounds like there are options I can discuss with my dealer. How much difference have you found does the headphone make over the SU headphone stage?

Hi Mike, before I went for the Stax electrostatic headphones I used a chord mojo with my Oppo planner magnetic headphones, I connected the mojo to the BNC digital output from the SU. This gives you individual vol control over the speakers and head phones, but this loses the benefit of the uniti vol control. In effect the digital output is not attenuated and vol control is via the mojo buttons. I used to have the mojo on a 2m long digital lead and had it on the arm of my chair so that I had local control.

I found the sound quality from the chord mojo to be an improvement over the standard SU headphone socket with the Oppo's . Just thought I would mention this as an option.

Thanks Roog, Merry Christmas. The Uniti 2 doesnít have a digital output, so I think Iíll look at the RCA options.

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan
Richard Dane posted:

Mike, I would use the LINE OUT on RCA phonos to connect to a dedicated headphone amp.

You could use a Headline with little setup pain - just specify the RCA Phono version and then choose the power supply that best matches budget and performance requirements.

As a budget option, the Arcam rHEAD is an excellent choice, although I haven't tried it with high impedance headphones like the HD800s.

Thanks Richard, and Merry Christmas. I think Iíll look at the Headline option, with the lower cost power supply. There seems to be a lot of options, but Iím a bit of a fan for staying in the Niam lineage as, rightly or wrongly, I think matching architecture is sensible for consistency in sound signatures. Thanks for the advice. Iíll be close to my dealer early next year, so Iíll pop in for a chat.

Im pleased I picked up the Uniti2, with this option for the headphone amp, I think that would be harder with the UC2?

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by NickSeattle

I use a Headline with FC2X.  HCDR was better, but here I am, happy all the same.  Traded Senn 650s for AKG 701s, by the way, FWIW.  Loved Ďem both.

Nick

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by ROOG
Mike Sullivan posted:
ROOG posted:
Mike Sullivan posted:

Thanks Roog, I was just looking at the rHead and the Naim site for the Uniti2 outputs and wondered about those two options. Do either of the options mean you can keep the headphone amps connected to the Uniti2 and alternate between speakers and headphones? I don't see an option in the App for switching the speaker phase off. Anyway, sounds like there are options I can discuss with my dealer. How much difference have you found does the headphone make over the SU headphone stage?

Hi Mike, before I went for the Stax electrostatic headphones I used a chord mojo with my Oppo planner magnetic headphones, I connected the mojo to the BNC digital output from the SU. This gives you individual vol control over the speakers and head phones, but this loses the benefit of the uniti vol control. In effect the digital output is not attenuated and vol control is via the mojo buttons. I used to have the mojo on a 2m long digital lead and had it on the arm of my chair so that I had local control.

I found the sound quality from the chord mojo to be an improvement over the standard SU headphone socket with the Oppo's . Just thought I would mention this as an option.

Thanks Roog, Merry Christmas. The Uniti 2 doesnít have a digital output, so I think Iíll look at the RCA options.

My apologies Mike, I had assumed it did. Well at least you have the line out which naim seemed to have left off the SU. Best wishes Roog

Posted on: 27 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan

Hi again. I don't fully understand how the Headline works. Does it take the signal from the pre-amp section of the Uniti2. If so, does the Uniti2 limit the potential performance of the Headline? My sources would be a Core, Tidal hi-fi, and digital from the Bluray and TV.

Also, would I be able to use it on my Nova, if I ever moved that to my media room?

Posted on: 27 December 2018 by NickSeattle
Mike Sullivan posted:

Hi again. I don't fully understand how the Headline works. Does it take the signal from the pre-amp section of the Uniti2. If so, does the Uniti2 limit the potential performance of the Headline? My sources would be a Core, Tidal hi-fi, and digital from the Bluray and TV.

Also, would I be able to use it on my Nova, if I ever moved that to my media room?

Mike,

A Headline will work with any pre-amp or integrated amp you can find that has a Tape Out, which not all amps do.  It has that in common with most analog headphone amps.  A Headline differs only in that it needs a separate Naim power supply ó iSupply, Flatcap, Hicap, or Supercap.  Also, Headline is available with either a DIN or RCA captive interconnect ó if you have the wrong type there are adapters.

Nick

Posted on: 27 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan
NickSeattle posted:
Mike Sullivan posted:

Hi again. I don't fully understand how the Headline works. Does it take the signal from the pre-amp section of the Uniti2. If so, does the Uniti2 limit the potential performance of the Headline? My sources would be a Core, Tidal hi-fi, and digital from the Bluray and TV.

Also, would I be able to use it on my Nova, if I ever moved that to my media room?

Mike,

A Headline will work with any pre-amp or integrated amp you can find that has a Tape Out, which not all amps do.  It has that in common with most analog headphone amps.  A Headline differs only in that it needs a separate Naim power supply ó iSupply, Flatcap, Hicap, or Supercap.  Also, Headline is available with either a DIN or RCA captive interconnect ó if you have the wrong type there are adapters.

Nick

Thanks Nick, thatís really helpful. Iím also interested in how much the pre-amp/int-amp impacts on the SQ from the Headline - does the headphone amp process the music independently of the amp?

Cheers, Mike

Posted on: 27 December 2018 by NickSeattle

I think the mission of Tape Out is to color the signal as little as possible on its way to being recorded.  It is interesting to ponder if all amps are equal in implementing this mission, or if they (must?) differ, and in what ways.  Naim pre-amps with two rows of buttons (and Supernait1) are said to have ďbufferedĒ Tape Out, the benefit of which I take on faith, but do not know the effect of.

In my taping days, I took it for granted that the pre played no role, which I might feel compelled to question now.  Not a well-covered subject, maybe.

Nick

Posted on: 27 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan

Iíll see if I can arrange a demo to test that out. I think Iíll grab the headline, as I do a lot of late night viewing of music Blu-rayís and donít wont to disturb the sleeping princesses.

Posted on: 27 December 2018 by NickSeattle

The Line Output RCAs on Uniti2 appear ideal, or at least intended, for this purpose.

There are many others to choose from out there.  Naim DAC V-1, Rega Ear, various Sennheiser models, and Chord Hugo and Mojo are worth considering.  I bought the Headline.

Nick

Posted on: 28 December 2018 by NickSeattle

My reading indicates Tape Out and Line Out are similar, but not identical ó the standard output levels for each may be slightly different, according to intentions.  Where both are present (somewhat rare in audio-only Hi-Fi these days, more common on AVRs) Tape Out is optimized for recorders; Line Out is optimized for multi-zone purposes; but they can be used interchangeably if only one or the other is available.

If you have the choice (which Uniti2 does not), I do not know which is better for headphone amps.

Nick

Posted on: 28 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan

I had a chat with my dealer. I can trail a Rega Ear, but the Headline is order only from the UK, so that would be bought without hearing - though on all counts the better option and retaining the Naim sound, but a quite a step up in cost over the Rega. So, I think the first stage is to test the Rega over the internal Uniti2 headphone stage as a comparison.

As an aside, my HD800ís sound exce;lent from the Nova headphone and at a recent demo the Naim dude was saying the new Unitiís have had a big uplift in the headphone stage.

Posted on: 29 December 2018 by Bob the Builder
Mike Sullivan posted:
Richard Dane posted:

Mike, I would use the LINE OUT on RCA phonos to connect to a dedicated headphone amp.

You could use a Headline with little setup pain - just specify the RCA Phono version and then choose the power supply that best matches budget and performance requirements.

As a budget option, the Arcam rHEAD is an excellent choice, although I haven't tried it with high impedance headphones like the HD800s.

Thanks Richard, and Merry Christmas. I think Iíll look at the Headline option, with the lower cost power supply. There seems to be a lot of options, but Iím a bit of a fan for staying in the Niam lineage as, rightly or wrongly, I think matching architecture is sensible for consistency in sound signatures. Thanks for the advice. Iíll be close to my dealer early next year, so Iíll pop in for a chat.

Im pleased I picked up the Uniti2, with this option for the headphone amp, I think that would be harder with the UC2?

Yes UQ2 only has RCA pre out so does mean that though you can connect a head amp volume control is via the UQ2 still although if you have a dac with head amp and vol control you can connect via digital out.

Posted on: 29 December 2018 by Speedtrip

Hi all, new member here. Iíve been lurking around this forum for a while now but finally decided to join up a few days ago So Iíve decided to say hello on this particular thread as I have a uniti 2 and a headphone amp, the Sennheiser HDVD800. Previously I had the uniti lite and was able to use the pre amp out for the Senn thus being able to use the liteís remote for the volume control, switching off the speakers from the liteís menu but with the 2 this didnít work and it is now connected via the line out so I have to mute the speakers and get up off the sofa to adjust the volume on the Senn. Anyway, hope this has a little relevance to the op. Iíll stick some pics up on the Ďsystem picsí  when I get home.

Cheers all

Jez

Posted on: 29 December 2018 by Gazza

Welcome Jez

Posted on: 29 December 2018 by Mike Sullivan
Speedtrip posted:

Hi all, new member here. Iíve been lurking around this forum for a while now but finally decided to join up a few days ago So Iíve decided to say hello on this particular thread as I have a uniti 2 and a headphone amp, the Sennheiser HDVD800. Previously I had the uniti lite and was able to use the pre amp out for the Senn thus being able to use the liteís remote for the volume control, switching off the speakers from the liteís menu but with the 2 this didnít work and it is now connected via the line out so I have to mute the speakers and get up off the sofa to adjust the volume on the Senn. Anyway, hope this has a little relevance to the op. Iíll stick some pics up on the Ďsystem picsí  when I get home.

Cheers all

Jez

Welcome and thanks Jez, how does the HDVD800 compare to the Uniti2 headphone out - much better I assume, does it have the Naim character? What are your headphones? I have the HD800.

Posted on: 29 December 2018 by Speedtrip

Thanks for the welcomes chaps..!

i have the same cans as you Mike and also a couple of pairs of Denonís. The amp gives a crystal clear sound, very focused with good depth. Iíve not actually used the 2ís headphone circuit as I already had the Senn when I got the 2 but it is significantly better than the liteís...

Posted on: 29 December 2018 by ANTARES

I am the only person who is a music lover in my household so for some time I have been using my UQ2 as a dedicated headphone unit with the speakers (neat iotas supported by a 50 watt REL) switched off and disconnected altogether.

The phones I use most are venerable  Sennheiser 600s. This makes for  a very acceptable listening experience straight from the UQ2 headphone socket. There is an improvement in SQ using the digital out to my chord mojo which was originally bought to use with an iPad.  It is a worthwhile improvement over the standard set up for a ďdedicated sessionĒ  I have no idea how this compares to the Naim headphone unit which I have never seen in the flesh let alone heard. The downside is the need to charge the Mojo and, for me, using up and down volume buttons instead of a remote or rotary dial. 

Posted on: 01 January 2019 by Mike Sullivan

Hi [@mention:3678285645782720], I saw you had a thread in 2016 about your HD800ís and whether to go with the Headline - what did you decide in the end?