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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Aug-18 > HOW TO BUY HEADPHONE AMPLIFIERS


Looking to make the most of your headphone setup? Paul Rigby looks at the power source and offers useful buying advice on a range of headphone amplifiers…
Sennheiser’s HDV 820 Digital Headphone Amplifier/DAC

How do you listen to your records? Do you use speakers or headphones? Or both? Some people prefer to listen to their music via headphones while, for others, there’s little choice. If you’re in a small living space and have late-night listening and the neighbours to consider – or you run the risk of waking up the kiddies, or if they or your pets threaten the safety of your precious speakers, then headphones it is.

But how do you use your headphones? Do you plug them into your main amplifter, perchance? If that’s so, then I have to say that I’m frowning right at you. You’ve – quite possibly – invested a lot of cash on your turntable, arm, cartridge, amplifter and, let’s not forget, the headphones themselves… and you’re just plugging them into the amplifter’s headphone socket?

You might ask: what’s the problem with that? Well, it’s a basic argument of hi-fi, really. Hi-fimanufacturers prefer to divide the signal chain up into separate component parts. there are plenty of integrated amplifters on the market – some nice examples, too.

That said, generally speaking, you’ll achieve better sound quality if you separate the controls from the power source to get a preamp and a power amp. You’ll improve sound still further if you separate the stereo power amp into two mono-block power amps. You can ramp up the quality beyond that if you take the power supply out of the preamp and separate it, too, and so on. Th perfect amplifter should occupy about 30 boxes. I exaggerate, but only slightly…

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About Long Live Vinyl

The Godfather, Super Fly, Blade Runner, Purple Rain, Clockwork Orange, The Graduate, The Wicker Man, Pulp Fiction, Help!… In issue 17 of Long Live Vinyl we salute soundtracks, round up 50 of the greatest film classics ever committed to vinyl and talk to the good people at Invada Records, who brought us the Stranger Things and Drive soundtracks. Elsewhere this issue, in our packed interviews section we speak to Creation Records founder Alan McGee about the albums that shaped his incredible career in vinyl, working with an astonishing array of bands that included Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Oasis and The Libertines. Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reflects on travelling the world to write the band's best new album in years, Islands, and Gruff Rhys tells us about his own new record Babelsberg. The ever-outspoken John Lydon completes our artist line-up, telling us why he's happier in Public Image Ltd than he ever was in the Sex Pistols. You'll also want to dig into our feature on Grime, arguably the most exciting and fresh musical movement to emerge from British shores since Lydon's punks shook up the 70s. The Trip pays a long-overdue visit to the record shops of Birmingham, while we wish Kate Bush a happy 60th birthday as our Classic Album series turns the spotlight on her 1985 masterpiece, Hounds Of Love. The Who fans, meanwhile, are in for a treat as our Essential feature rounds up the 40 records by Townshend, Daltrey, Moon and Entwistle that every collector should own. We meet the people behind Hypergallery, visit Newport's Diverse Vinyl and, if all that's not enough, you'll find the widest range of new release, reissue, turntable and accessory reviews anywhere on the newsstand, plus essential hi-fi buying advice. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers! Enjoy the issue.