Preamp headphone amplifier

I just purchased a set of Sennheiser HD650 headphones and to start will be driving them with my Mark Levinson no.526 preamp built in headphone amplifier.  Does anyone have experience with this or similar headphone amp and is it a good headphone amp or should I look into a dedicated headphone amp?

Thank you. 


Congrats! those are probably going to sound pretty sweet. Sennheiser makes great headphones and those are rated at 103dB sensitivity. 

Looks like the No.526 has a low / high setting for the headphone amp output so may see how that sounds to your ears.

Personally I'd want to hear them on a Manley absolute or Cary CAD-300SEI

What types of music do you like?


Velocityofhue    Thanks for the reply. I like mostly 60's, 70's , 80's rock not much hard rock unless driving. More like Steely Dan, Boston, Ambrosia,  etc. Lots of music with instruments and harmonies. My current setup is the 526 preamp, Levinson 534 amp and Revel F228be speakers with all Cardas Clear cables so I like hearing the details and nuances of the recording.

Headphone amps in audio amps a largely an afterthought and really bad.  You have nice headphones, so don’t starve them with an insufficient amp.  This is a good one IMHO.

I have a pair of Seinhauser HD 600 which are my go to headphones, and have owned the HD 660's, and love them both balanced, with my Hybrid tubed Schiit Mjolnir 2 headphone amp. I have been having fun with tube rolling with this amp. This Headphone Amp/Preamp amplifier has been discontinued but you may find one used at a reasonable price. I see that they now have the Mjolnir 3, which is solid state, but I don't have any experience with this new offering. The size of this unit may also be an issue (it's quite large!). 

@soix + 1 - and even if the built-in one is not 'really bad', it would likely still be noticeably inferior to a relatively inexpensive but good separate headphone amp, so I would suggest looking into one. 

So I received my Sennhieser HD650 headphones and man they sound fantastic just after a couple hours playing. Using the built in headphone amp in my Mark Levinson no.526 preamp and its no slouch. Needs a bit more power but very good and the heaphones aren’t even broke in yet. I have a dedicated Feliks Audio Echo MkII tube headphone amp on the way, i cant wait! I hear it pairs will with the Sennhiesers and is a great amp. 

I glanced over the specs on your ML pre and it looks like the headphone section is fairly well designed so it’s not surprising that you’re getting good results.

Hope you enjoy the tube amp. I’ve also found Donald North’s designs to be truly exceptional - link.

I have a dedicated Feliks Audio Echo MkII tube headphone amp on the way, i cant wait!

Congrats!  Let us know what you think if you could.

Soix   I just received my Feliks Audio Echo mk ii headphone amplifier and man it's a beautiful piece of electronics soundwise and build quality. It is an improvement over the Levinson preamp headphone amp and plays considerably louder so can turn down and still get the impact I want. Just ran for a few hours and manual says 30-50 hours break in so expect things to just get better. Highly recommended for $995.00. It sounds great for this price.

Can’t say I’m surprised given what I’ve read of the amp, and congrats!  My bet is you have more goodness coming.  Enjoy!!!