Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier Review

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Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier Review

New from Klipsch, the Heritage Headphone Amplifier doubles as a DAC and retails for a cool $499.  But what kind of technology is this throwback touting?  And why should you consider it over flashier, more modern models?

Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier Review

The Heritage Headphone Amplifier comes with a power cable, four different outlet adapters, and a USB cable.

The front of the unit features weighted aluminum controls for volume and source (USB, optical, coax, and line), as well as switches for line out or headphones, and high or low gain.  Headphone output includes balanced and unbalanced.

On the flip side (the back side), this unit sports USB audio and USB service ports, as well as a optical, coax, and line in and line out (RCA) ports.  There’s also a switch for the line out, to toggle between fixed and variable.  Lastly, a jack for the power adapter rounds out the unit.

Of decent weight, the Heritage Amp exudes a certain air of sophistication.  Solid feel and excellent craftsmanship make this amp a thing of beauty, and it’s clear from the get-go that this amp was designed to sound great and look beautiful.

Specs

AMPLIFIER TYPE Dual Class-AB (TI TPA6120A2)
DIGITAL ANALOG CONVERTER ESS Sabre32 ES9018K2M
USB XMOS Asynchronous Audio Interface  
AMPLIFIER POWER Balanced XLR-4

525mW into 16Ω

1440mW into 32Ω

1050mW into 150Ω

540mW into 300Ω

270mW into 600Ω

Unbalanced 1/4”

810mW into

16Ω 940mW into 32Ω

270mW into 150Ω

135mW into 300Ω

68mW into 600Ω

FREQUENCY RESPONSE   Balanced XLR-4

20 Hz – 40 kHz, +0 / -0.1 dB

9 Hz – 90 kHz, +0 / -3.0 dB

Unbalanced 1/4”

20 Hz – 40 kHz, +0 / -0.1 dB

9 Hz – 90 kHz, +0 / -3.0 dB

SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO   Balanced XLR-4

118 dB A-Weighted

Unbalanced 1/4”

118 dB A-Weighted

THD+N Balanced XLR-4

< 0.009%, 20 Hz – 20 kHz

Unbalanced 1/4”

< 0.009%, 20 Hz – 20 kHz

CROSSTALK Balanced XLR-4

< -75 dB, 20 Hz – 20 kHz

Unbalanced 1/4”

< -60 dB, 20 Hz – 20 kHz

GAIN Lo-Z 0 dB, Hi-Z 10 dB
SAMPLE RATE SUPPORT 16 – 24 Bit | 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 88.2 kHz, 96 kHz, 176.4 kHz, 192 kHz
DSD SUPPORT 2.8M, 5.6M, 11.2M
INPUTS • USB Audio (Type B Connection)

• Optical (TOSLINK)

• Coaxial

• RCA Analog Audio

OUTPUTS • Balanced XLR-4

• Unbalanced 1/4”

• RCA Analog Audio (Fixed/Variable)

PRODUCT DIMENSIONS 2.28” (58mm) H x 7.87” (200mm) W x 5.7” (145mm) D
BOX DIMENSIONS 4.52” (115mm) H x 11.73 (298mm) W x 6.45” (164mm) D
ENCLOSURE MATERIAL Top and Bottom: MDF with Walnut Veneer Case: Anodized Aluminum Extrusion
VOLTAGE 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz
PRODUCT WEIGHT 1.7 lbs (.77 kg)
BOXED WEIGHT 2.75 lbs (1.25 kg)
INCLUDED ACCESSORIES • 2.0m USB Type-B Cable

• Universal Power Supply

• US, EU, UK, and AU Plugs

BUILT FROM 2017

Wow, such specs!  Feel free to scroll through that table and salivate over those numbers.  Basically, we’re looking at an amp that offers low harmonic distortion, decent sound pressure level, and a choice between unbalanced and balanced outputs.  You can also hook this sucker up to your speakers with a good ‘ole RCA cable, allowing you to flip between speakers or headphones with ease.  And as far as inputs are concerned, this baby takes almost anything – coax, optical, USB, or RCA.

Sound

Imparting a precise, slightly warm sound to the ‘phones I auditioned, I was quite pleased with the Heritage Amp in the role of a standard desktop accessory.  Really, though, this particular amp is a must have for the Klipsch HP-3 Headphones.  As a combo, the headphones definitely benefit from the natural sound of the Heritage Amp, smoothing out some sharp highs and improving detail in the low end.  But because this natural sound works so well across multiple genres, I could also see it replacing any other desktop amp in my test setup, including the Hifiman EF100 or the Beyerdynamic A20.

Compatibility

Thanks to so many input options, compatibility remains pretty wide open.  USB audio, optical, and coax inputs will woo audiophiles, while the standard RCA inputs will accommodate casual listeners sporting simpler sources.

Other Observations

Design is impressive.  The weighted aluminum controls and walnut veneer ooze class and sophistication.  Even if you’re bumping some basic noise like Nikki Minaj or Taylor Swift, you can still look dapper while doing it.

The sound actually impresses me.  Sometimes I need a harsh, exacting high end.  But for most of my daily listening needs, I prefer a slightly relaxed high end – the Heritage Amp nails this, while also lending a little extra secret sauce to the low end.  The result is a sound the waxes strong in the lows and the mids, but never gets unbearably screeching in the high end.

Final Analysis

Need the perfect amplifier/DAC combo for everyday listening under $500?  The Klipsch Heritage Amplifier is the horse to bet on.  Actually, no, don’t bet on it; ride this stallion into the sunset and never look back.  Few other contenders even come close, and the ones that do are really just one-trick ponies.  But don’t just take my word for it – hear it from the horse’s mouth; stop by our shop at try this filly out for yourself.

Find more Klipsch Gems at the Klipsch Headphone Store at Audio46!

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