Combo Streamer/Headphone Amp

I'm having shoulder replacement surgery in a few weeks so I'll be laid up without use of my right arm for sometime afterwards. Pretty much means spinning vinyl is off the table. And I will be pretty much immobile in a recliner for the first couple weeks/ So, I thought this would be a good time to catch up on my headphone listening. I have some OK Bluetooth (Bluetooth SQ limitations noted) Sennheisers, but I really want to use my HiFiMan Sundaras. What would make it great is if I could find a single box streamer/headphone amp combo using some relatively common app like BluOs. The Blusound Node looks like a candidate, but I'm not sure it has enough of a headphone amp to drive my Sundaras. Thoughts? Alternatives?


First and foremost, best wishes with the surgery and for a speedy recovery.  Especially if this is a temporary stopgap during your recovery I’d consider an Audioquest Dragonfly Red and just use that plugged into your phone or tablet.  I drove my Hifiman HE400SE ‘phones with them quite successfully and your Sundaras seem even a little easier to drive.  Plus, if you ever want to take your music on the go in the future the Dragonfly makes a great portable travel companion.  Just a thought, and best of luck with everything!

I would not recommend a Node just for headphone listening.  The headphone section of the Node N130 is an afterthought.  The headphone section on the Node X is supposed to be much better, but you'd be paying $750 for a unit where headphone listening isn't its primary function.  However, if you're looking for a stand-alone streamer/DAC for your main system anyway, then the Node X might work for you.  But I would not get it just for headphone listening.

As @soix points out, using your phone or tablet as a streamer along with a dongle DAC (like the Dragonfly series) or a headphone DAC/amp might be a better alternative.  Cheaper, better sound, and much more portable.  I'd investigate something like the iFi Gryphon or the iFi Hip-Dac 3.

@soix @dinosore Tanks for your input.  I hadn't considered a dongle. I have a late model Samsung tablet that would work for this. Do the dongles provide a charger passthrough, or am I either on charge or on dongle? 

Well, I’m an Apple user and they offer an adapter that allows you to charge and stream simultaneously, so there’s probably something similar for your Samsung.  Here’s the Apple version just fyi…

But, I found this adapter to sound much better than Apple’s if they have one that’ll work with your tablet (shoot them an email as they’re pretty responsive), but it won’t charge as you listen…

Hope this helps. 

Consider a miniDSD SHD Studio. (Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify, Pandora, Roon+) You’ll have to research the HP amp power. It has plenty for my planars.

@panzrwagn If you're worried about draining the power of your tablet, you can also look at DAC/amp combos such as the ifi HipDac or Gryphon.  They have their own internal battery. They are not quite as portable as a dongle DAC, but still pretty small.