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Headroom Ultra Desktop Amp

September 21, 2009 By Steve Guttenberg

What are you plugging your super headphones into? Please don't say a receiver. I'd strongly suggest a dedicated headphone amplifier.

HeadRoom isn't just a full-service online headphone store; it's also a manufacturer offering a range of headphone amplifiers. They have everything from compact portable models to state-of-the-art home units designed to produce the very best headphone sound, like this Ultra Desktop Amp.


Headroom Ultra Desktop Amp


Like all of HeadRoom's headphone amplifiers, the Ultra Desktop is handcrafted in Montana. The gently curved chassis is nice and small, just 3.3 inches high, 6.25 wide and deep; small enough to easily fit on a crowded desktop.

The amp sports a 6.3-mm full-size jack and a mini-plug stereo headphone jack. Yes, it can drive two headphones simultaneously.

The front panel also sports a few controls to help fine-tune the sound. There's a three-position Brightness control that toggles between Off and Filter 1 and Filter 2. The filters boost different ranges of treble frequencies. Another three-position switch, Gain, lets you select the ideal operating volume range for headphones of any impedance or efficiency rating.

The Headroom Ultra Desktop Amp has a claimed frequency response of 5 Hz to 50,000 Hz. With 1-volt of output, its Total Harmonic Distortion is less than 0.002%.

Finally, there's a switch to turn on and off HeadRoom's proprietary Crossfeed processor. It's a fairly subtle effect, but Crossfeed produces more speaker-like stereo imaging. I used it for all of my listening tests. Once you get used to using Crossfeed you never want to be without it.

The Ultra Desktop Amp's rear panel has two sets of stereo RCA analog inputs and one pair of stereo outputs that could be used with powered bookshelf speakers—or hooked up to a stereo power amplifier to drive speakers. The rear panel also sports USB, optical and coaxial digital audio inputs. Curiously, the tiny toggle controls that switch analog and digital inputs are located on the rear panel. The Desktop is so small it's not a big deal to reach around and select the input you want.

The Ultra Desktop also features a built-in high quality DAC that sends the converted-to-analog audio signals to the amplifier on their way to headphone output jack.

As for the Ultra Desktop Amp's sound, that's hard to describe, but it's more than transparent enough to demonstrate each headphone at its best. The amplifier was absolutely dead quiet and worked flawlessly throughout the test period.

This article is part of our larger High End Headphones article. 


Desktop Ultra Amp: $1,599

CONTACT: 800.828.8184, headphone.com


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