Behold: the Klipsch Heritage headphone amplifier. Price = US$499.
Headphone enthusiasts will want to know how well this unit pairs up with a range of transducers, from low impedance IEMs to high impedance over-ears. Inside, dual Class-AB TI TPA6120A2 op-amps load the single-ended 6.4mm socket with 810mW and 940mW into 16 Ohms and 32 Ohms respectively.
Thirstier cans will benefit from a move to the 4-pin XLR balanced socket from which those same TI op-amps push 525mW into 16 Ohms / 1440mW into 32 Ohms. For those needing more grunt, a switch up from low-Z to high-Z mode nets a 10dB signal boost.
Digital audio enthusiasts might look past the unit’s single line-level input to see three digital inputs – USB, TOSLINK and coaxial – that carry ones the zeroes onward to an internal Sabre32 ES9018K2M chip from ESS Labs. As indicated by the front panel’s LED array, the Heritage headphone amplifier contains a DAC that offers hi-res PCM (24bit/192kHz) and (USB only) Quad-DSD support.
The active loudspeaker owner will mentally join the dots between the back panel’s variable gain RCA output and his speaker’s own RCA inputs. The Heritage is a pre-amplifier.
For everyone else, the hardware’s aesthetics are as important as its sound quality. On look and feel, Klipsch put their best foot forward with: a “formed aluminium” case is sandwiched between two pieces of walnut-veneered MDF and augmented by weighted aluminium switches and knobs (that work internal relays) for a righteous Mid-Century modern appearance that instills a sense of desire in the end user, even before the power switch is flipped.
Coming from the USA’s most iconic loudspeaker manufacturer, it’s almost a given that the Heritage headphone amplifier will provide sonic satisfaction. Its appearance and tactility will seal the deal. After all, it’s not only what we hear that changes the way we feel but also what we see.
Further information: Klipsch