Naim headphone amplifier

I use ‘phones a lot, and I think there is much to be gained from eliminating the listening space from the music. Currently, I use a Headline powered by a SupercapDR, which is the best Naim has to offer.

I am no electronic expert, but a glance at the Headline board suggests that it could be improved if money was no object. Also, I’m sure that mechanical isolation could be improved, and the captive cable, not to mention the superior power supplies available from the Supercap, rather than a single 24 v rail.

Mostly, I want a remote control for the volume.

I am not super-rich, or unusual in any particular way, so if I would buy a “SuperHead”, my guess is that there is a market for one.

This topic comes up here from time to time. Any ideas why Naim don’t make one?

Malcolm

Original Post

Funny enough I asked Naim the same question at this years Bristol Show were they were thinking of introducing a better headphone amplifier with remote control they never really gave an answer.

After a few discussions I ended up with a Ex Demo Dac V!

I seem to recall that Kuma's Headline had a DIN fitted by the then-distributor, NANA, so that a different interconnect could be used to the standard captive i/c.

However, while it was accepted by the factory, it wasn't given the full nod, doubtless because it hadn't gone through the proper R&D listening regime, so I'm not sure whether Naim would be willing to sanction it from the factory. I think the reason it captive was to avoid an extra i/c type, and to avoid confusion with customers using a standard i/c and then wondering why there was no sound, or using the "Headline i/c" on say a Naim CD player, and again wondering why no sound (different pins connected for signal).

However, I do like the idea of a "super Headline", especially now there are headphones like the Focal Clear, Elear and Utopia in the family stable.  Naim hit the ball out of the park with the Superline, so it would be fascinating to see how far they could take a headphone amp.

I used an Olive Headline very briefly powered by an Olive HC and though I was using a budget AT set of headphones I was really underwhelmed and would not be surprised if for the money spent on a Supercap DR powered Headline something like a STAX system would be money better spent.

Naim havent really invested much time and energy in a headphone amp but I have to say the one installed in the UQ2, 172XS and VI Dac all sounded pretty decent.

Richard Dane posted:

 

However, I do like the idea of a "super Headline", especially now there are headphones like the Focal Clear, Elear and Utopia in the family stable.  Naim hit the ball out of the park with the Superline, so it would be fascinating to see how far they could take a headphone amp.

Yes, it would be rather interesting to see what Naim could do here. Multiple power supply options and the ability to provide a balanced output would be rather nice. 

Bob the Builder posted:

 would not be surprised if for the money spent on a Supercap DR powered Headline something like a STAX system would be money better spent.

Naim havent really invested much time and energy in a headphone amp but I have to say the one installed in the UQ2, 172XS and VI Dac all sounded pretty decent.

I tested a current Stax setup and while they do some amazing things, it was not of a league with a HCDR/HL2 that I later acquired. 

As for the UQ2, I've moaned about it's headphone amp on the forum countless times. I went from a Rega Ear to the built in UQ2 headphone amp (you can't really use the UQ2 with a headphone amp and use speakers) and it was a huge downgrade. And the Ear is a budget headphone amp. I would expect the V1 to be in a different league to a UQ2 entirely as a headphone amp.

I'm prefectly okay with the performance of a HeadLine. Functionally, remote volume control and balanced headphone lead support would be nice. It certainly has it's detractors. But as there are plenty of quality non Naim Headphone amps out there too, I'm not sure there is anything for anyone to complain about... unless of course you dislike the HeadlLine and are so OCD that you hate buying a headphone amp you do like without a Naim logo even more.

Personally, I find a HeadLine fed by a DR power supply hard to beat. 

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