Review: Klipsch Heritage DAC/AMP

Disclaimer: The Klipsch Heritage DAC/AMP was sent to us by BELHiFi after I contacted Klipsch in the USA. This unit will be returned to BELHiFi after this review. Klipsch is not in any way related to Headfonia.

Klipsch

Of course we all know Klipsch as a speaker company but Klipsch actually has their own line-up of ear)- and headphones. Recently however Klipsch decided to launch a new headphone and desktop DAC/AMP aimed at the high end personal audio market: the Heritage series. In this review we’ll be looking at the Klipsch Heritage DAC/AMP combo. Klipsch’s product page can be found here: http://www.klipsch.com/products/heritage-headphone-amplifier

We are the Keepers of the Sound®

In 1946 Paul W. Klipsch, inventor, acoustics pioneer and maverick, founded Klipsch Audio with the sole purpose of bringing the power, detail and emotion of the live music experience into his living room. Through the use of highly efficient speaker designs, handcrafted cabinetry and a thirst for real engineering breakthroughs – Klipsch, the great American loudspeaker company, was born in Hope, AR. Today, our diverse range of quality audio products includes speakers and headphones for almost any consumer and professional application – including cinema, whole-house, wireless, home theater and portable offerings. Honoring our founder’s legacy, Klipsch continues to be the legendary high-performance brand of choice for audiophiles and aficionados around the world.

Heritage Headphone Amplifier

The Heritage is the typical DAC/Amp combo but first we’ll look at the amplification part. The Heritage unit has dual Class-AB TI TPA6120A2 amplifiers and the signal path minimizes cross-talk while increasing total system output. The Heritage is built to get the best signal to noise ratio possible and the chosen amplifiers had to be as quiet as the reference DAC. Klipsch also integrated a gain switch for a +10 dB boost in output to drive even the most demanding headphones.

The Heritage Headphone Amplifier is intended to work as a digital analog processor for USB audio, optical, and coaxial inputs. Beyond its primary use as a balanced headphone amplifier, it also works as a DAC for powered speakers. Toggle the output switch to “Line” and the amplifier will mute the headphone output and enable the line-out on the back of the amplifier. Flip the switch on the back of the unit from “Fixed” to “Variable” and you now have gain control through the volume knob on the front. Very straightforward, very easy, very nice.

As said, the Heritage Headphone Amplifier is designed to maintain the lowest distortion. To realize the full performance of the Sabre DAC, the signal path uses relays and an analog gain control. Klipsch coupled those elements with a highly customized circuit board layout and reference components. According to Klipsch this amplifier will enhance the quality of any headphone or audio system plugged into it.

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

DAC

The Heritage unit is driven at the core by the high-resolution ES9018K2M ESS Sabre32 Reference digital-to-analog (DAC) converter capable of 192kHz/24-bit sample rates. Featuring ESS 32-bit HyperStream® DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, the amplifier delivers a clear sound and minimal distortion.

The Heritage unit uses the famous XMOS USB audio receiver platform, this allows the amplifier to lock the audio stream to its internal clock, keeping the audio stream as clean as possible. ASIO support is included for audio software that supports it. iOS (with Lighting™ to USB Camera Adapter, sold separately) and Android (5.0 Lollipop and newer) devices can also connect directly to the USB interface for lossless playback of content, bypassing your device’s digital-to-analog converter.

To ensure that all the settings on your input source are correct, the Heritage displays the sample rate which is being processed. The front-panel LEDs will illuminate in white for PCM sources and blue for DSD files. I really like this feature even though you probably know the quality of your files without having to look at the Heritage front panel.

Inputs & Outputs

The Heritage, even though it’s small in size comes, is nicely equipped with in- and outputs

Inputs

  • USB Audio (Type B Connection)
  • Optical (TOSLINK) •
  • Coaxial
  • RCA Analog Audio

Outputs

  • Balanced XLR-4
  • Unbalanced 1/4”
  • RCA Analog Audio (Fixed/Variable)

The review continues on page two of this article, click HERE or below

Review: Klipsch Heritage DAC/AMP
4.1 (82.5%) 24 votes

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

24 Comments

  • Reply February 1, 2018

    Eduardo

    How does this amp / dac behave with the HD650 in SE mode?
    You missed this comparison, as usual you always compare the product to the 650.
    To use with the PC, is it just to connect the USB output of the amp / DAC on the pc?
    Can you use both outputs at the same time (balanced and Unbalanced )?

    • Reply February 1, 2018

      Lieven

      The King is dead. Long live the King. People want to hear about the HD660s now 😉

      Plug it in and install the driver. That’s it.

      I didn’t try both outputs at the same time though. Sorry but the unit has been returned.

  • Reply February 1, 2018

    Eduardo

    in your personal opinion, do you prefer 660 now? What are the distinctive headphones (600/50/60)?
    does it even replace the 650?

    • Reply February 1, 2018

      Lieven

      Dedicated comparative review soon. The HD650 can’t be replaced, it’s iconic. The HD660s is there for those wanting something in between of the 600 and 650 imo

  • Reply February 1, 2018

    Eduardo

    Edited*
    in your personal opinion, do you prefer 660 now? does it even replace the 650?
    or are they different headphones (600/50/60)?

  • Reply February 1, 2018

    Eduardo

    I bought the HD650 in December.
    AHHHHH! because when you said that the King was dead, you almost killed me !! Because in December before buying one of the two (50/60) I asked you the difference between them, and according to the answer, I preferred the soft and romantic sound of the 650, and from this I bought the 650. I hope I have done the right choice: D

    • Reply February 1, 2018

      Lieven

      Oh you did if you like smooth

  • Reply February 1, 2018

    Eduardo

    You recommend the A20 because it is an amp that fits very well with the sennheiser, but it is just an amplifier and this already requires finding a dac that is compatible. It would be better for me to go for an AMP / DAC together. Would this match well with my headphones?

  • Reply February 1, 2018

    Steve

    I have a Parasound Z-dac V1 that I use for headphones now . I only stream from my laptop Deezer in high rez service. Been thinking about a upgrade under a grand,I do like smooth over bright extreme detailed. Any thoughts on comparison . I too like the look of this dac/amp

  • Reply February 2, 2018

    Mike I

    Intresting review as usual, Lieven, thank you.
    However:
    1) in Europe, this DAC/amp is much more expensive (699 Euros),
    2) with old ES9018K2M ESS, the DAC-technology is no longer up to date,
    3) for the eyes, the “kitsch” of Klipsch will not be the taste of everyone.

    • Reply February 3, 2018

      Eduardo

      for this amount in euros, but worth going to the A20 + DF?

      • Reply April 4, 2018

        Mike I

        Have a look at the Pro-Ject Audio Pre Box S2 Digital (345 Euro); the DAC is really fantastic and if you need or want more power for your headphone(s), add an Arcam rHead or a Nuforce HA200 (their price is only about 250 Euro now).

  • Reply February 19, 2018

    Chris Baker

    I’m currently using a Music Streamer II+ dac and a Schit Asgard amp with my HD598’s. I’ve been looking to save some desktop space and upgrade my amplification (headphone upgrade will come later). Do you have any experience with those products and how they compare to this Klipsch Dac/amp combo?

  • Reply March 10, 2018

    Dave Hutchinson

    Did you ever get a chance to hear this compared to the Fostex HP-A4BL? They have very similar features and size and I’ve now heard both being described as very ‘musical’ amp/dacs.
    This one has the advantage of analogue inputs and extra power over the Fostex.
    Also, personally I love the look of it!

    • Reply March 12, 2018

      Lieven

      I have not had the opportunity, sorry.

  • Reply March 23, 2018

    Dan

    trying to decide between this and the marantz hd-dac1. does anyone have a view?

    • Reply March 25, 2018

      Lieven

      I’m sorry but I don”t have that one

  • Reply April 12, 2018

    Aaron

    I just ordered the Heritage set of Amp and HP 3 headphones and was considering having a custom balanced cable made for the setup. Did you have a chance to listen to the pair with a balanced cable in the mix and if so what was your take on the differences and value of the upgrade. I had some United air miles not getting used and this duo seemed as relaxing as any place I may visit on a trip. Thanks for any info on this.

  • Reply May 4, 2018

    Daniel

    Greetings Lieven,

    When you mentioned that the front panel indicators show white for PCM and blue for DSD, did you actually have success with DSD playback?

    I have this amp and cannot get DSD to play via Audirvana+ or Amarra Luxe …

    Thanks for any information!

  • Reply May 7, 2018

    Matt

    Hi there,

    I’d only imagine that you of course did not try this specific setup, but what would your thoughts be on this paired with the Philips Fidelio X2? I’d suspect and hope that the sound would be warm, smooth, and musical? Which would be the sound I am going for…

    Thanks for any info!

  • Reply August 8, 2018

    bunkbail

    I own a pair of HD660S’ and I’ve been looking for the best DAC/amp for it that doesn’t cost a fortune. I’m currently pairing it with a R2R-11, while I like the combination, it doesn’t hurt to seek for a better sound, isn’t it? In your opinion, would the Heritage headamp be an upgrade to the R2R-11/NFB-11? Thanks

  • Reply October 1, 2018

    Carl A

    I’ve never heard my T90 (Jubilee version) sound as good as they do from this amp.

  • Reply October 5, 2018

    DC

    as compared to A20 and LP 109?

  • Reply October 9, 2018

    plouplou

    I posted a comment on the HP3 review.I am very satisfied with this amp associated with HP3. As mentioned in the test, this amp has many connectors. It is connected to a Node 2 in RCA and an oppo 203 in toslink. It allows me to have a volume to listen very loudly with a DAC of better quality than the Q1 ii that I own and with which I used the HP3 until now. It respects the other sound signal V of the helmet and allows me to prolong the pleasure.

    Finally, to finish, except its audio qualities that suit me perfectly, it’s just a beautiful object. Buttons with wood used, with this amp is worth the money.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.