Need advice on headphone amp voltage being too low for vinyl playback

amplifiers, receivers and loudspeakers
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matty007
England
Posts: 4
Joined: 26 Sep 2019 22:17

Need advice on headphone amp voltage being too low for vinyl playback

Post by matty007 » 18 Nov 2019 20:44

Hi,

I was wondering if someone could advise me -

I have a Pioneer PLX 1000 with a VM540ML (4mv) going into a Phono Box DS and then into a JDS Atom headphone amp (I only use headphones). Well, the cartridge sounds excellent, however, I am having an issue with gain. The JDS Atom is a very powerful amp that drives my 600 ohm headphones with ease through a digital source (2v). However, on my vinyl setup, I am finding I am having to max out the headphone amp to get mediocre volume. This is obviously due to analogue being quieter and the output of the preamp most likely being 1.4v. So it's not pushing enough voltage to the headphone amp.

Now, I can obviously increase the preamp gain from 40db to 50db. This gives great volume, however I am thinking it is too much gain for my 4mv cartridge. Using calculators, I can see that the optimum gain for a 4mv cartridge is 38db. So I am 12db over optimum. And listening to it on 50db, I can hear that it is less dynamic and getting too hot.

Is there any possible way to remedy this rather than having to suffer quality degradation by running it at 50db to get sufficient volume?.I have seen many threads etc on cartridge gain, but none that actually address how to remedy this issue of low voltage with a headphone amp.

Thanks.

kalaur
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Re: Need advice on headphone amp voltage being too low for vinyl playback

Post by kalaur » 19 Nov 2019 05:19

If you can hear a degradation in sound when you turn your phono stage gain up it may indicate an overload either in the phono stage itself, or on the input side of your headphone amp. If its an issue with the phono stage, obviously you could buy another phono stage with a better gain setup.

Your JDS atom has two gain modes as well, are you using high gain mode? If so, you may want to look at upgrading your headphone amp to something with either more power output (potentially balanced output if you can get headphone cables), or with more gain.

aardvarkash10
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Re: Need advice on headphone amp voltage being too low for vinyl playback

Post by aardvarkash10 » 20 Nov 2019 06:18

matty007 wrote:
18 Nov 2019 20:44

Now, I can obviously increase the preamp gain from 40db to 50db. This gives great volume, however I am thinking it is too much gain for my 4mv cartridge. Using calculators, I can see that the optimum gain for a 4mv cartridge is 38db. So I am 12db over optimum. And listening to it on 50db, I can hear that it is less dynamic and getting too hot.
Not sure if you are implying that the 50db gain might damage your cartridge. It won't.

Legrace
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Re: Need advice on headphone amp voltage being too low for vinyl playback

Post by Legrace » 21 Nov 2019 12:29

To achieve satisfaction either switch to a lower impedance headphone, or alternately (as already suggested), a higher output rating headphone amp. 125 mW into 600 ohm is actually not so powerful.

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