If you're a music aficionado who prefers listening through headphones over speakers, you're likely passionate about catching every nuance of your favorite songs as well. You might know and savor the subtle differences between each studio take of Miles Davis's "Flamenco Sketches" or various live renditions of the Grateful Dead's "Playing in the Band." The true headphone obsessive knows there is no substitute for listening to high-resolution audio with an advanced headphone amplifier.
Understanding high-resolution audio
Many music fans prefer the warmth of analog media over all other formats. However, high-resolution digital audio offers a uniquely in-depth experience that goes beyond what's possible, even from CDs. Listening to lossless files through a high-quality system delivers a full range of sound that's deeply involving and incredibly detailed.
The difference between hi-res audio and lesser digital formats is defined by the sampling frequency and bit depth. These numbers tell you how often samples of the signal are taken during every second of the conversion from analog to digital. A CD has a 44.1 kHz sample rate at 16-bit depth, and any digital audio of higher quality can be considered high resolution.
These lossless files commonly have a sampling frequency of 96kHz or 192kHz at 24-bit. That level of quality opens up possibilities for extraordinarily immersive listening, but it also means managing very large files. To capture the full potential of listening in these formats, it's important to choose the right equipment.
Maximize performance with a headphone amplifier
To enjoy the best quality audio reproduction, a flimsy pair of earbuds won't do. That's why hi-res audio fans listen with an exceptional pair of headphones. It's key to have a pair with a broad range of frequency response so you can clearly make out every detail of a recorded performance.
To fully appreciate the breadth of possibilities of your digital audio collection, headphones should be driven by a quality amplifier. While a turntable or receivers may contain a digital-to-analog converter for headphones, these amps generally meet the demands of hi-res audio. However, a dedicated component like the Marantz HD-DAC1 is designed specifically to maximize performance for lossless digital media and drive high-impedance headphones up to 600 ohms.
If you prefer a more versatile amplifier, consider a digital integrated amplifier like the HD-AMP1, which includes high-resolution digital/audio conversion and compatibility with many different uncompressed formats. A dedicated headphone amplifier block is built to yield amazing results for a variety of headphone impedances.
Enjoying high-resolution audio through your headphones calls for amplifiers that are engineered for consistently stunning performance. Take a look at the full line of hi-fi components from Marantz to find the one that fits the way you listen.