SPL Phonitor X DAC/AMP - Official Thread



Using the balanced output of my RME ADI-2 DAC, set at +13 dBu (so actually +19 dBu at the XLR output) into the XLRs on the Phonitor X, driving my HD650 from the balanced output, I have a perfectly usable range of volume output up to 12 o’clock on the volume dial.

That’s a significantly higher level of output than you’ll get from a Gungnir MB via it’s balanced outputs.

But, again, that’s with the “X” … I’ve not tried it with the “e”. While I assume they have essentially the same amplifier topology and fundamental implementation I’ve not tested that personally (nor am I likely to).

It does … and personally I wouldn’t buy a Gungnir MB (or DS, for that matter) if I wasn’t going to use its balanced outputs (or at least in the very near future). Yes, it’ll still sound better single-ended than a Bifrost MB. but not enough, for me, to warrant double the price.


How much play do you have using more efficient headphones such as your Utopia or Clear/Elex etc.? Would I be correct to assume you set the balanced output of the RME ADI-2 DAC to a lower level for those headphones?

The ability to control the output level of the RME ADI-2 DAC seems to me to be a nice option to have.


I just switched in the Utopia to see for sure, and on the same output (+13 dBu setting, so again +19 dBu at the XLRs) from the RME ADI-2 DAC then 11 o’clock is about as high as I’d routinely want to go on those.

Which gives me almost half the dial as adjustment range … ample for me.

And as it happens I do not keep changing the output level on the RME ADI-2 DAC in use. I do for testing and comparisons, in some cases, but since it maintains its best dynamic range when set AutoRef and sounds best (to me) at 0 dBr, I leave it there for actual listening.

If I was experiencing channel imbalance at low levels with the Phonitor X I could see being concerned about this, but I’m **not**. And if I was only getting a range of say 7 o’clock to 8 o’clock it’d be a bit tight, but having almost half the dial is ample granularity and doesn’t require me paying any special attenuation to it.


Interesting. I just plugged in my Clears and my Modi Multibit (RCA) and I can’t go past 9:30 on the Phonitor X, 9:45 for some tracks. All my music is red book PCM.

What is odd though, and I feel like I am going insane, is that the VU meters are not reading anywhere near as hot as what they were the other day, using the same piece of music. They never hit 0 or go past -3, whereas the other day they were hitting 0 all the time (with the attenuation dip switch on). While the RCA input is still hotter than the XLR input, the two are much closer than they were when I first got this amp and I no longer feel like it is borderline clipping. Nothing in my chain has changed. I don’t know what’s going on.


Cheers for that, I already assumed I like to listen to lower than average levels.


If I get a chance this weekend, I will hook-up the current (October 2018) Modi MB I have to the Phonitor X, plug in my Clears and measure the output level from them with the volume set at 9:30.

That’s a good thing!

I tend to listen around 80 dB, if that helps.


I’m pretty sure I listen lower than 80db usually, maybe more around 60-70. HArd to guess though.


I have a decibel reader/ monitor I keep on my desk that I use to check my listening levels, I try to stay under 85db, I average around 70-75db


I just purchased a Phonitor X. Gotta see what all the fuss is about. Gumby A2 > X > HD650 / Eikon / Verite / Auteur / Aeolus / LCD2C (on loan) / Emperian (on loan).


I’m looking at the XE model…but I have a couple other purchase desires still before I jump up to that price point for a piece of audio gear


Yeah, it was a stretch for my fun and games budget, that’s for sure. I did find a great deal on one though.

I’m getting away from tube driven stuff, as rolling for “that perfect sound” keeps turning into a pipe dream, besides being very costly. It was either this or a Wells Milo (which I have owned before and did enjoy), a GSX Mini, or something off the beaten path like an ECP dsha-4 which costs twice the Phonitor. Considering I have studio monitors to drive as well, the X seemed like a no brainier.


You are not helping me… :wink: I do want one, just a hard pill to swallow… working up to it though…need to look at my fun money fund and make some decisions… I was looking at full frame cameras also…


Oh hell, I thought the headphone hobby was expensive! Then my friend showed me his Nikon D5 and the 12+ lenses he has for it. Granted, that’s his job and all, but holy crap.

Good luck man. Haha


yeah, I just started getting into it…but I tend to dive fast down rabbit holes…I’ll dip my toe in then if it is even remotely nice I tend to “justify” going whole hog lol


RIP your wallet. I hope you don’t have kids, they need to eat you know…


My daughter likes soup… lol “please papa, can I have some more?”
“No! Papa needs a new headphone amp!” Lol… seriously though, I always put savings and the daughter first along with the wife, my hobbies and myself 2nd. I’m fortunate enough to have a decent fun budget…but can’t go too crazy lol…too many hobbies on top of everything else lol


I think you’re really going to enjoy that setup!

While the raw neutrality and transparency of the Phonitor X means its pairs well with with pretty much every headphone - it does so because it lets that headphone “show its stuff”. Which is a particular treat with several of the ZMF models.

For those that try to use component matching or “synergy” as some kind of tone-control, it’s probably the wrong amp to buy. For those that to hear what’s in the source and hear exactly how their headphones render that, I’ve not found anything better in the solid-state world.

Incidentally, did you receive your Vérité already? And if so, how are you liking it? Mine shows as being in assembly, so it’s on the latter part of the cycle now. After listening at RMAF I’ve very excited for those to arrive.


the vérité arrived today.

on a quick first listen, adi-2 pro -> phonitor x -> vérité sounds remarkably good. more as it settles in…


Yeah, I have a BW2 for “warm” and a Crack for “tubey” if I want to do any kind of tone control thorough hardware. What I don’t have is “wire with gain”, although I don’t care for the term much.


@Torq, How does the Phonitor X compare to the THX 789, purely on the amp side without all the extra features. I know that the Phonitor will outclass it with all the extra features, but purely on the amp side of things…how close does the THX 789 get to the Phonitor X?

Also if you could do it again…would you get it in red? =)