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Headphones sound harsh with Reflex-M, suggestions?

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Ash View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 11:30pm
The Solo ULDE is a very competent headphone amplifier and allows simple unbalanced/single-ended connection of a very wide range of headphone impedances and sensitivities. At half the price of my above suggestion/consideration, it probably makes more sense both ergonomically and economically to select the Solo.

AKG K1000 from Solo UL vs K1000 from Proprius pair and I could not tell the amplification quality apart (when the headphone drivers were only half opened out so power availability was not a limiting factor). Both Slee products were equally capable and unsignatured in that application and I could not recommend either of them more highly.

My current headphone is 15 Ohms and 96 dB/mW. I have a resistive cable that increases impedance to 110 Ohms with a slight drop in sensitivity. I also have a resistive/potential-divider cable I use with it that alters it to roughly 120 Ohms and 74 dB/mW (equivalent load to K1000) so I can adjust it to whatever amplifier I have available to drive it with.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DT999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 10:47pm
Thanks both, I don't want to go down the path of changing my main amp, which I am happy with after much auditioning and which is improved with the Reflex phono stage. 

As I do only use headphones occasionally I don't really want to mess around with switching amps over between speakers and headphones etc.

The ULDE seems to be the way to go as it appears to drive a range of headphones and is purported to have a 'tubey' sound which may well help tame the highs causing the problem.


Rega Planar 3; Ortorfon 2M Bronze; Accession MM / Thorens TD160; Denon DL-110; Reflex M > Rega Elex-R > Monitor Audio Silver 500
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CageyH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 9:32pm
surely a headphone amp is more than suited to the headphones Derek has?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 9:20pm
Depending on your budget, choice of headphone and on the practicality, I would recommend the Proprius monoblocks as a dual-purpose amplifier for your speakers or headphone. Some headphones can be adapted to be a suitable load for driving from these speakers amps, either by considering their standard impedance/sensitivity ratings or a change of cable terminations/impedance. Maybe a good investment as you can get more out of less. I use my Proprius for driving speakers or headphones. If you are sensible with dial positions, no problems with noise floor or equipment damage. Can't have them them connected at the same time though.

Edited by Ash - 01 Apr 2020 at 9:23pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DT999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 9:47am
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

I would substitute the headphone amp with a Solo. Would probably solve the problem. The Rega electronics is probably adding distortion. I once used the AKG K550. It was okay but nothing outstanding. Quite flat and undynamic if I recall correctly. Sennheiser HD540II or HD560II are a good place to start if you want to hear an involving flat frequency response. Or possibly try that K240 Studio praised in another topic, which may be better value for money.

Thanks Ash

I have read through a lot of your posts and know you have a lot of knowledge regarding headphones so I appreciate your input.

I think I will definitely be starting by trying a GSP headphone amp on the loaner program to see how that works.
Rega Planar 3; Ortorfon 2M Bronze; Accession MM / Thorens TD160; Denon DL-110; Reflex M > Rega Elex-R > Monitor Audio Silver 500
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 7:24am
I would substitute the headphone amp with a Solo. Would probably solve the problem. The Rega electronics is probably adding distortion. I once used the AKG K550. It was okay but nothing outstanding. Quite flat and undynamic if I recall correctly. Sennheiser HD540II or HD560II are a good place to start if you want to hear an involving flat frequency response. Or possibly try that K240 Studio praised in another topic, which may be better value for money.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DT999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Apr 2020 at 6:39am
I agree that it is not the Reflex-M causing the problem, but it is showing up the problem, as you say with either the headphones or amp.

I don't know much about headphones as I only use them as I have to to not disturb the household, I much prefer my speakers.
Having said that my speakers cost considerably more than the headphones so maybe to be expected.

I do have 2 pairs of headphones, one is planar magnetic and one dynamic and I chose both based on multiple positive reviews in numerous forums so hope they are reasonable - but I accept there will be better and they will have limitations.

My headphone amp was chosen to match my amp and for synergy but that may be the problem as alluded to by Graham in his earlier post, that the synergy is not right between the Reflex and my current headphone amp; my original phono stage was also from the same manufacturer as the amp and headphone amp.

The Reflex-M still is a VAST improvement over my other phono stage when listening through speakers, which tends to show the main amp is not the issue, but it is the headphone amp.
Rega Planar 3; Ortorfon 2M Bronze; Accession MM / Thorens TD160; Denon DL-110; Reflex M > Rega Elex-R > Monitor Audio Silver 500
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