Jan 22, 2019

Dac/amp combos vs a reciever for headphones

TL;DR: Ive been using a reciever for a power source for headphones. Am I missing out on anything for not using a dac/amp combo? So I got a nice Pioneer reciever from a thrift shop for $15. It was originally for my 5.1 setup, but I noticed it had a quarter inch headphone jack and tried them with the Hifiman, AKG, and Sennheisers from Massdrop. All of them sounded really good. I even plugged in some okayish sounding earphones into them using the adapter, and it brought out so much detail. Any of you guys do this and compare it to an amp/dac combo?
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Receivers are, at least normally, quite capable as an integrated DAC/AMP. Are they the absolute best for headphones? No, as they are typically aimed more towards driving floor speakers. However, that doesn't mean they are bad at dealing with headphones either. I haven't done an extensive comparison between receiver and DAC/AMP stack, but I have tried out a few of my headphones on my receiver and they do sound good. I would say that overall I prefer my stack over the receiver, but that is mostly because of location - my stack is by my computer whereas my receiver is in the family room. I most frequently listen to music at my computer.
Most of the Massdrop offerings should be just fine from a receiver but dedicated headphone amplifiers have their benefits as do dedicated DAC's. Is benefit directly proportional to cost... no but there is benefit to be had. You have to decide if you are willing to pay for it. If money is tight don't lose any sleep over it.