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Unburdened music enjoyment, a magnificent soundstage, and a warm, transparent, and wonderfully musical tone – all of these are offered by tube technology in the realm of Hi-Fi. But what do you do when neighbors, roommates, or family members aren’t quite as enthusiastic about your vinyl collection? Operating headphones with an amplifier provides a wonderful opportunity to savor the full sound of a tube amplifier all to yourself. But why buy a specific amplifier instead of simply connecting via Bluetooth or a jack to the amplifier? We’ll reveal the secrets of sound and tubes for Hi-Fi headphones – but beware: good sound can be addictive!
Headphones with tube-based amplifiers – organic sound for enthusiasts
With the rise of integrated amplifiers and the almost obligatory headphone jack on amps, headphones somewhat drifted out of focus in the Hi-Fi world. However, it was brought back into the spotlight, not least by manufacturers like Brocksieper, who championed their use with tube-based amplifiers. These amps take on the task of elevating the output signal from the source (CD player, turntable, etc.) to a high level that drives the head- or earphones. Since Hi-Fi headphones work with very high impedances (up to 600 ohms is not uncommon), they require specialized preamplifiers.
Headphones with tube-based amplifiers offer the opportunity to transfer the benefits of analog tube technology to headphones – including all the advantages for dynamics, sound quality, and liveliness.
High-quality tube-based headphone amplifiers must not only deliver the mentioned sound qualities but also possess the necessary manufacturing quality to serve as a long-term addition to the Hi-Fi lineup.
Earmax by Brocksieper – Exquisite Components and Subtle Design
We have long specialized in Brocksieper amplifiers, and the reason is clear: the meticulously crafted amps like Earmax and Phonomax, produced in Germany, are all handmade, feature high-quality components, and deliver a breathtaking, natural sound. The sound of the utilized Hi-Fi tubes is faithfully reproduced due to the subtle design and optimized construction of the amplifiers. Any coloration of the sound is barely perceptible; only the presence, dynamics, and warmth of the tubes manifest in the sound.
Depending on your preference, Brocksieper’s headphones with amplifiers offer various models, primarily distinguished by their impedance levels. But which headphones are suitable for high-quality amplifiers? Let’s take a brief look:
Hi-Fi Headphones – Different Designs for Different Applications
To fully enjoy the magnificent sound of a high-quality head- or earphone amplifier, you need, besides a good source, one crucial element: high-quality headphones. The market for Hi-Fi headphones is as competitive as nearly all areas in the Hi-Fi sector. To gain an overview, it’s recommended to be familiar with the different headphone designs, along with their advantages and disadvantages. And just to clarify, as Hi-Fi enthusiasts, we’re only concerned with Over-Ear headphones. The small In-Ear plugs are particularly suitable for mobile use during sports and similar activities!
They operate with a “sound barrier” between the head- or earphones and the outside world. Special cushioning and transducers are used to contain the headphone signals, preventing them from reaching the outside world. Similarly, external noises are kept away from the listener’s ears. Closed designs are particularly favored in studio settings or for vocal recording, as they prevent unintended interference with microphones.
Pros and cons of closed design:
+ Blocks out external noise
+ immersive sound
+ no sound leakage to the outside
– less open soundstage
– usually denser ear padding, which can become uncomfortable during extended listening sessions
These operate with a “sound barrier” between the headphones and the outside world. Special cushioning and transducers are used to contain the head- or earphone signals, preventing them from reaching the outside world. Similarly, external noises are kept away from the listener’s ears. Closed designs are particularly favored in studio settings or for vocal recording, as they prevent unintended interference with microphones.
Pros and cons of semi-open design:
+ greater comfort during wear
+ greater spaciousness and transparency in sound
+ most distracting background noises are filtered out
– a compromise solution
– bass and high-frequency ranges are less prominent compared to open systemss
This design was developed for extensive listening sessions under ideal conditions (Hi-Fi room, listening room, etc.) and prioritize maximum focus on sound and comfort. Due to the open design, external noises can almost freely reach the ears, and the music playback is perceptible to those around. However, transparency, naturalness, and spatiality of the sound are much better than in all other head- or earphone designs.
Pros and cons of open headphones:
+ very good transparency
+ spacious sound
+ suitable for very long listening sessions due to high comfort
– external sounds are barely blocked
– music is easily audible to bystanders
Who is a tube-based headphone amplifier suitable for?
Tube-powered amplifiers are especially suitable for Hi-Fi enthusiasts who regularly enjoy their music through over-ear headphones. There are several good reasons for using high-quality Hi-Fi headphones. First and foremost, the “impact” on neighbors, roommates, and others is minimized even at high volumes, making them the gold standard for maintaining household harmony. Particularly with high-quality head- or earphones, you can immerse yourself deeply in the music, often referred to as “immersive listening.” For exceptionally precise and natural spatial reproduction, it makes sense to invest in high-quality products, including high-quality tube-based headphone amplifiers. Professional musicians and studio personnel also rely on headphones for their work. However, to maintain flexibility, tube amplifiers are less commonly used in this context – often, only monitoring headphones are operated with such amps.
Tube-Based Headphone Amplifiers – Conclusion
Headphone amplifiers are certainly niche products for Hi-Fi enthusiasts. However, the synergy between high-quality headphones and amplifiers has its own unique appeal. Direct music playback, the immersive sensation of “being in the middle of the music,” and the ability to enjoy your own music in great quality at any time make headphones with amplifiers a powerful tool with many applications. Purchasing a tube amplifier for enjoying head- or earphones with an amplifier requires careful consideration – a lot of emphasis should be placed on manufacturing quality and the quality of components. With our partner Brocksieper, we have a great ally who delivers exactly that with their Earmax amplifiers.