I purchased the headphone amplifier first then the matching dac. As you can see from the picture in order to fit the units one on top of the other i used some sorbothane feet applied to the feet on the underside of the dac with glue dots. Have allowed an air gap for the units but they both run pretty cool anyway so temperatures should not be an issue . This was done as i do not have a lot of room on my table. Currently running through usb from my pc with Spotify. I have purchased a usb to spdif rca convertor (M2Tech Hiface Two), which will allow for the playback of some hi res files that i have (mainly Grateful Dead). i will report back on the sound once Spotify has gone hifi and i have the usb / spdif rca convertor fitted but as things stand i am very pleased with the sound so far. My headphones are Fostex T60RP and they sound good - i will be getting a pair of AKG K812 headphones as and when funds allow. No buyers remorse here !!! Thanks Rick Oliver (Lancashire)
Had my first proper chance to listen to my new DAC today. I can only describe the sound as both neutral and highly musical. Build quality far exceeds its cost.
Listening to my DAC this morning had me bewildered as to why audiophiles are spending 3 figure prices for DACS that simply don’t hold a candle to the NJC.
I shot a short video this morning which includes my new DAC. Here is a link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPIk5Ju16dw thank you for your craftsmanship and personal touches.Steve Petch (Cleveland)
Hi Really enjoying the amp, below some feedback for you.
All the best
I have been living with the NJC Ref Headphone Amp for a couple of months now and thought it was about time I gave some feedback.
Before buying the NJC amp I had auditioned a number of headphone amps in the £1200 - 2k range and was about to plump for a well known headphone amp from a 'high street' retailer at circa £1700. However I came across a good number of positive reviews of the NJC amp on various online forums and this prompted me to look at the website and in turn question why I was thinking of paying £1700 for an amp!
After making an initial email enquiry, which was answered quickly I took the plunge and ordered the NJC and in a couple of weeks the amp arrived. Now just a small thing but something that indicated to me straight away that these guys really care about what they do... the amp came meticulously packaged with every component wrapped to within an inch of its life! No way was it going to get damaged in transit.
As others have commented the build quality of the amp is top notch and certainly as good if not better than the 'branded names'. As for the sound, the amp has plenty of power, it gets out of the way and what you hear is what your source feeds it and in turn and what your headphones add.
Save yourself a packet and get something that sounds great and feels truly bespoke. I can't recommend the NJC Ref Headphone Amp highly enough. Tony Richardson (West Yorkshire)
Nick, Richard, Please feel free to put the following testimonial on your feedback page:
I've had the NJC Reference Phono Preamplifier for over a month now, and I want to express my gratitude for what it has brought to my Hifi.
I have been using a well-known Salisbury-based brand of pre and power amplifiers for around twenty five years now, and I had always been very happy with their sound, assuming that their built-in phono stage design was all that I needed. However, during the COVID-19 lockdown I had some time on my hands and I did a little research and some basic measurements of my cartridges’ frequency responses. I found that the boards from Salisbury with their 470pf loading give quite a severe treble peak coupled with an early roll-off on all my cartridges. Experiments with a cheap Austrian phono stage, configurable for capacitance loading and gain via dip-switches, confirmed that considerably improved frequency responses are attainable and that they translate to improved sound quality overall.
Some reading around the internet in search of a more sophisticated phono stage led me to the NJC website, and my email enquiry was promptly and competently answered. I placed an order and waited while the build progressed. The regular updates via email were very welcome. Three weeks seemed like a lot longer, but the wait was well worth it. I'll admit that my inner teenager had high hopes, but the grumpy old man I've become had somewhat lower realistic expectations. I need not have worried. The improvement in sound quality over the little Austrian box is just staggering, exceeding both my hopes and expectations by significant margins. I’m utterly blown away by the performance.
I'm not in the habit of describing sound quality in the flowery prose of the audiophile, so I'll just say this. The precision and accuracy of the sound I'm hearing is beyond anything I've heard anywhere, but that precision and accuracy hasn't come at the expense of any of the emotion or beauty of the music. It's all there.
I have been able to find the optimal capacitance loading settings for all my moving magnet and moving iron cartridges, achieving flat responses with Japanese, Danish and British examples. Something I've noticed is that the reference preamp seems to allow all of my cartridges to present their better qualities, where the little Austrian box had a tendency to show up their shortcomings. For example, where a cartridge might sound slightly bright on the Austrian preamp, on the NJC this translates to a detailed sound without straying into brightness.
Overall, the NJC Reference Phono Preamplifier is one of the best audio purchases I have made over the last forty years, and I'm glad that I was able to give my custom to a pair of talented enthusiasts rather than some faceless corporation. Dr Calvin Davidson MInstP (Gloucester)
I have had my DAC and Headphone amp for a couple of weeks now and the headphone amp is well suited to the Grado GS2000e and 3000e headphones I use.
I was a little unsure about how good the product would be at the price. I have spend tens of thousands of pounds of hifi, I'm amazed at the sound quality these products produce. The interconnectors are also amazing value for money, in fact, the build and sound quality of all three products is excellent.
I have two hifi systems and have been so impressed with NJC's products, I have decided to sell my expensive second system and replace it with another Reference Headphone Amp and 192DAC.
Mark Allso (West Midlands)
I bought my Reference Series MkII headphone amplifier just under two years ago and have been enjoying it so much I have only now been able to get around to being able to submit some feedback!
The amp was bought to replace a ”name removed” Ear unit and the difference in quality was immediately apparent. Background noise is completely banished at normal listening levels enabling me to appreciate a whole new level of detail through my B&W P7 headphones.
I am now planning to purchase the NJC Reference Series DAC as well. M Davies (Brighton)
Ordered the headphone amp and reference dac,communication great,was kept informed at various stages of the build/delivery details. Came from a "name removed" 3322 tube amp,and initially I was a little concerned as the new setup sounded a little harsh and bass light... My worries were unfounded though,my interconnect cables just needed a few hours to burn in to the new setup then the bass reappeared and everything sounded much nicer. Soundstage and detail much improved.
Very impressed with the build quality and the personalized instructions are a nice touch. Best of all though there is zero background noise-used to get a hum with the tube amp between tracks or when quiet. So to sum up I'm very happy with my purchase and wish Nick and Richard much sucess in the future.
P Read (North Yorkshire)
From the moment I unpacked the phono pre-amp it is was obvious that the kit is of exceptional quality. I have tried out the pre-amp today which was bought to improve my current system which used the phono stage in a NAD integrated amp. The results were immediately obvious with remarkably greater clarity and transparency and reduction in unwanted background. The high quality of the pre-amp will also give me plenty upgrade room as I improve the rest of my system over time. Controls are extremely solid and smooth and aesthetically, the machined aluminium front plate looks very stylish and reeks of quality. Thanks Nick and Richard for meeting my unreasonable demands in terms of timing too, this was greatly appreciated. (Tried to think of some negatives to give a balanced review.. but seriously can't think of any!). A very satisfied customer, J
J Witter (Surrey)
Superb amplifier, this was a very easy & obvious choice. 100% Recommended!
M Harris (County Durham)
Having purchased a MonitorII headphone amp 10 months ago and been so happy with it and the backup service I thought I would try a pair of the interconnects. A bargain is all I can say, I have interconnects which cost over £200 and these sound as just as good in my system. I cannot recommend these enough. Keep up the good work, I will be purchasing some more! Thanks for everything David.
D Woodcock (East Riding of Yorkshire)
One of the most fully featured & thought out SUTs around, as expected it pairs brilliantly with the matching phono pre transforming it into MM & MC. I have not found any cartridge that it does not work with or I should say sounds great with, some of the features of the phono pre are useful with the SUT giving it even more compatibility.
Its a little complex at first as there are a lot of settings which gives even more options but I had no trouble setting all of this up as it comes with proper instructions that covers everything to get it up & running & sounding terrific in no time. Only one minor downside, it can be quite revealing as this is proper HIFI but apart from one old record that has a lot of wear & noise, everything else is sounding better than it ever has. 10/10 recommended. L Campbell (Somerset)
Feedback re DAC
Well almost 3 weeks since the DAC arrived and I can sum that time up as the finest listening period that I have had since collecting CD's......
A few more observations may be helpful.
I have never owned a off board DAC so I can only compare your model with the built in one in my set up. I have a Musical Fidelity A1008 CD pro player and A1008 integrated amp with dedicated power supplies .These are 2007 vintage and when new were priced around £6000 and were very well reviewed .. Both the CD player and the Amp had similar on board dac's of no doubt some reasonable quality considering the price paid. Inter connects and speaker cables used are high quality and loudspeakers are origionel Rogers BBC LS3/5A monitors ,..Late in this listening period I upgraded to a Atlas pure glass optical cable , and more of that later..
Firstly , the purchasing experience was first rate and a model which very many other on line suppliers would do well to aspire to.You kept me updated and informed and answered and questions quickly and fully.. The item was delivered on the agreed date extremely well packaged..
First impressions..Good looking,even better than the photos, very well made and put together..
Listening. The DAC has been connected to a range of co-ax and optical cables. FRom a standard copper cable upto a quality £200+ one ,there were improvements up the range .Then a couple of plastic optical cables in the £30-40 range .Surprisingly they were as good ,if not marginally better than the best Co-ax.. I then searched for a better optical cable and settled on the Atlas MAvros multi strand pure glass cable.There are few reviews of optical cables ,so i took a gamble as it was in my target price range ..
I have a wide range of music ,from Mahler 8, to Joe Bonhamassa via solo instrumental and voice, small jazz groups,Electronica (brian Eno) and Pop ( Elbow etc ) Every type benefited greatly , from the amount of extra detail presented coupled with the improved sound staging which has brought the performances into focus with a rock solid presentation. There is now a clear and extended Bass line solid middle and clear top ..
I am very pleasantly surprised at the big overall gains this little box has achieved,,,My whole library has been refreshed and renewed ... I am a very happy customer ,at this price its a steal of an upgrade.....
The final piece.......You hear so much that you cant improve digital optical with expensive cables ,well let me tell you that within my system you can. The Atlas Mavros has allowed the DAC to produce another level of clarity coupled with extensive ,solid 3D sound staging whilst adding what I can only describe as a lovely maturity to the sound... Think of it like that expensive Malt / wine where everything is just right .....
Funnily a DAC upgrade had always scared me, I should not have worried , I am very very pleased with the outcome.. Thanks again and Best wishes David Baron
D Baron (Lancashire)
Very happy with this headphone amp, amazing build & sound. Many thanks. B Shaw (Yorkshire)
I just wanted to say that I've used the Monitor II and DAC for over 4 years now and it's still amazing. I am now using HD 800 with a modification known as the 'superdepont resonator' and it's just the most exquisite listening experience I've ever had in my life. Thank you. W Davis - (Hertfordshire)
The build quality of the NJC Reference DAC and Monitor II amplifier is some of the best that I've ever seen on any piece of electrical equipment anywhere. You can tell it's a real labour of love for the guys that make them. Every millimeter of the casework oozes quality. Even the bits that can't be seen such as the machined feet and sockets at the back look as though they belong on a Rolls Royce or Bugatti. A nice personal touch is that each unit which NJC make is individually tested and a print-out of each items unique distortion measurement results are included.
Not surprisingly given these impressive ultra low distortion measurements, the sound quality is superb with my Sennheiser HD700 headphones. Very clear and smooth with no hint of any background noise or hiss at all. I would particularly like to thank Nick for his outstanding level of customer service. I purchased my Monitor II headphone amplifier second-hand it was past it's 3 year warranty and had a fault that was due to damage caused by misuse of the previous owner (as opposed to a fault with the actual amplifier itself). Despite this, Nick spent several days running tests to find the fault then repaired it free of charge! S Goodman - (Devon)
Having been seriously impressed with the Monitor II I wasn't sure how much of a difference the DAC would make. I'm not an audiophile or a sound engineer and I don't possess "golden ears" but there are very audible improvements over my old DAC. Well beyond any placebo effect there is definitely a better separartion of individual instruments and greater clarity/resolution - guitars and vocals in particular sound sharper and "cleaner". I only listen to CDs and 96/24 lossless and my music has taken on a new lease of life. I really wasn't expecting the DAC to make such a difference and not only I am quite surprised, but also delighted! Again, it has been an absolute pleasure dealing with Nick and Richard. Great job and thank you A Webb (Portsmouth)
The customer service from yourselves has been first rate, it’s a rare pleasure to have such care taken in communicating with the customer and keeping them informed in this day and age, and little things like refunding the postage make a world of difference to the experience (and the big things like taking the time to give advice on usage tailored to my kit).
I should also say that the SUT is working beautifully. I don’t have any reference point for SUTs and fairly limited experience of phono stages, but the NJC pair are exquisitely built, a pleasure to use and certainly seem very transparent. Overall the sound coming off the TT is absolutely beautiful and only getting better as the cartridge breaks in. D Turner (Bournemouth)
I came upon this phono stage by chance one evening browsing the net, I had heard of NJC Audio before but never really looked seriously until I saw this phono stage, it was immediately apparent to me from the photos on the site that it had way better components & higher spec than anything I was looking at, even when stepping up my budget to silly amounts I couldnt find anything comparable.
The NJC phono stage also has more features than most but the ability to tweak the loading was the one that really caught my attention. My old amp had a built in phono stage with this feature but when it died I was forced to buy a seperate phono stage but I did not realise I would miss this feature so much.
I am using this with an Xperience turntable & Ortofon cartridge & it is one heck of a phono stage, variable gain is actually more useful than I thought it would be, but as I expected the variable cartidge loading on the front is just excellent & has given me back the control I was missing for so long. Now that I know how good these products are I am looking at adding the Monitor 2 headphone amp to my wishlist (thanks for everything & for a great product). M Jenkins (London)
A very high quality product at a sensible price!, would definately buy again & recommend this.
D Wright (Hampshire)
One of these was bought for me as a Christmas gift, I really had no idea I was getting one. My better half knew I upgraded from the Sennheiser HD650 to the HD800 headphones and she thought one of these amplifiers would be perfect for me. A headphone amplifier was never on my radar, let alone anything as nice as this one! & my goodness this is really high quality, but I am really happy I have one now because I thought the headphones were smashing before, but now they are amazing. D Pearson - (Norfolk)
I bought one of these phono stages August last year & its been excellent with my Bronze Ortofon MM & since getting the NJC it seems to have improved everything & taken it up several notches. I've since bought a Nagaoka MP-500 MM from Analogue Seduction which sounds absolutely fantastic! & is a really nice cartridge putting out 3mv which works great with the NJC. This phono stage really does seem to get the most out of a cartridge & its dead easy to change all the settings. It really is a lovely made phono stage, has top quality construction from top to bottom & it looks great but with a performance to match that neither adds anything or to that matter takes anything away, very happy. A Johnson (Dorset)
Its been some months now having received my NJC Headphone amp and just a couple of weeks since having my NJC dac delivered. Both are now sounding at their best. The NJC head amp replaced the Heed headphone amp. The NJC dac replaced the BMC DAC 1 (£3300). So I am now left with NJC dac and head amp and Apple iMac loaded with all my cds via iTunes and Audirvana software.
Having bought a new Naim Uniti 2 some weeks before the NJC dac you may well have thought what was the point of splashing out on head amp and dac as well!.The truth is the NJC head amp is superior to the Uniti head amp and in combination with NJC dac it is a magnitude better. I do enjoy listening to the Uniti cd player though. I have not tried to describe the sound of either amp or dac as I feel such information is not required. Up to 3 months ago my system was Classe CDP 300,BMC Dac 1,Aloia ST13.01i power amp,ART speakers,MIT Spectral cables, it is now NJC dac and head amp and iMac Beyerdynamic DT880,Shure srh1480 and a few other headphones.
Both products are of a high build standard with controls working beautifully.Thank you Nick and NJC for allowing this greater insight to my wonderful MUSIC collection. P Dalton (Staffordshire)
I've had the Monitor II Headphone amp since about January and it's taken me many months to write my feedback as I've been busy listening! I used the amp to drive my K701s, horrible clinical phones and it made them sound musical and a lot more involving...so I was tempted to upgrade to... The Audeze LCD 3...What an experience! The amp has left me open mouthed in awe at the power and control. It is a marvelous product that seduces you into listening...It's taken me more than 5 months to get around to writing these words it's that good, Nice one Nick! P Di Petta - (Middlesex)
I have had a few different makes of phono stages & turntables over the years but I have never owned an NJC until now. Everytime I listen just reaffirms that I made the right decision in buying the NJC. My current turntable has an arm with removable headshell which is great for swapping between cartridges : Ortofon, Denon & a Clearaudio (my current favourite) & with the all round superb performance of the NJC its really easy to hear the merits of each cartridge. Thank you, Will. W Browne (Surrey)
I had been planning to buy one of these headphone amplifiers for a number of years.It was only a lack of funds that had stopped me buying one sooner.There was never any doubt in my mind that this was an "end game" audio component.I briefly perused audio forums,etc.,but never found anything to measure up to NJC and their hand-built units.Nick was a joy to deal with. The unit is beautifully made,old fashioned precision engineering,something the UK used to excel at.It sounds great and drives my Senn.650s with ease.I may well change headphones,but I very much doubt that I'll ever need to change amplifiers! C Henman - (Oxford)
Well, it's been a number of weeks past since I purchased this Step-up transformer from NJC Audio. The delay with this review is mainly due to my own stupidity, which rendered the McIntosh Amp in hospital for the best part of a week, due to a Valve Flashover. Anyway, all is well now. Before I continue, all I can say is this is one piece of kit to rival almost anything out there at this price point and perhaps a great deal more. The NJC Audio Step-up transformer replaces my Whest Two phono stage and after trying out and loaning many other SUT’s that cost between 2 and 10 times the cost. My honest opinion is that the NJC kit equals, or in many cases surpasses the sound quality of almost all step-up transformers currently available. (unless of course
you have very deep pockets indeed).
A Brief insight to the kit this device is hooked up to is detailed below :- (not state of the art but in my opinion, not bad). Townsend Rock 7 / SME V / Benz Wood SL McIntosh MA 2275 NJC Audio Step-up Transformer. IPL SK4 Transmission Line Speakers The other bits are really irrelevant for this review, so are not mentioned.
The sound stage this step-up transformer produces is no less than stunning and of course of is fully adjustable, not only for the Benz Wood but for just about any MC cartridge currently available. I can only highly recommend the Step-up transformer as being “as good as it gets”. Finally, my thanks to Richard and Nick who supplied not only regular updates on the build but advised the best settings to match my system. To end…….. the equipment was also packaged with astounding attention to detail, which only further reinforced I was purchasing a quality piece of Hi-FI. Conclusion: If you have an unused MM Phono stage and wish to drive a high end MC Cartridge without an expensive phono preamp…… this is the way to go. “ Here endeth the Sermon”. P Boyse (Wiltshire)
The NJC Monitor II amp together with my HifiMAN HE-500 headphones sounds superb and very musical. The amp has the power to extract the best from the headphones and the control right across the frequency range to ensure that every detail is heard. The build quality is excellent and Nick is a pleasure to deal with.
R Outram (Derbyshire)
Been using the Monitor II for a while and can say it has been amazing. I have the Philips X2 & SoundMagic HP 100 and both sound great. The HP100 has a treble spike that can be fatiguing but with the Monitor II i did not get one bit of that. With the X2 vocals just sound so much more fuller. Also i was surprised how much the background is black, i heard absolutely no hum at all. M Hoong (London)
I bought this DAC from NJC a couple of months ago to pair up with the Reference Headphone Amp I bought last year. Having given it plenty of time I can say it's one of the best pieces of kit I have ever bought. Solid build quality, accurate switching, quality components and a perfect complement to the NJC Headphone Amp - I am using a couple of pairs of high end (and demanding at 600 ohms) headphones and am hearing things I have never heard in my music before. Ally all that to a ridiculously personalised service and order process and you get quality UK audio gear that's hard to beat with a personal touch that puts most other audio businesses to shame. Thanks Nick! P Quinn (Merseyside)
A delayed response but a month in & i am very pleased with SUT, & the different load settings i can now see are a real benefit & that degree of flexibility going forward will be invaluable.The build quality looks of the highest order & your level of service has been great & well communicated, i do hope plenty more folk see the light & experience a really high quality British SUT. Very many thanks Peter. P Steward (Bury St. Edmunds)
Everything works just as described, the casework finish is excellent & the sound from the DAC is of the highest quality. It was easy to connect everything to the DAC & the analogue input has already come in handy. Very happy with this so thanks to you both. C Lawson (Shropshire)
The NJC DAC is everything a DAC needs to be, transparent, functional and sounds great. It has the reliably solid and precise milled NJC build, and the signature clean clear substantial sound. Everything is placed where it should be and soundstage and separation of music is spot on.The analogue in, is a great addition and has allowed me to have a complete vinyl/digital system with out the need for an additional pre amp.
R Cressey (London)
About 2 months ago on recommendation from a friend I purchased a Monitor II headphone amplifier. I did this without any audition, purely because I was interested and liked what I saw on NJC's web site. Well what can I say? I was immediately blown away by the amp and within a month had purchased two of NJC's phono stages and also their DAC.
The DAC in common with other NJC products is clean and neutral, just like a DAC should be. It also has a host of useful features like filter settings and accepts all types of digital input - I use mine with toslink fed by an Apple Airport Express.
With NJC products there is no audiophile flowery language or descriptions. What you get is superb sounding equipment at competitive prices with a build quality second to none. NJC bend backwards to be helpful and offer great advice with no hard sell. I have never come across a hi fi company like them - they set a standard most other companies sadly fall short of. Highly recommended! P Bishop (Berkshire)
I think the best way I can describe the NJC reference phono preamp would be as a brilliant combination of British engineering & electronics design all merged together to create something thoroughly enjoyable, this is a very professional piece of equipment that even comes with its own test report & NJC were also a pleasure to deal with.
Differences in recordings even subtle details are no longer masked up, I suspect this is due to the extremely low distortion with no coloration of the sound & with such large headroom when I turn up the volume on my ART Alnico 8 loudspeakers (also British) the dynamics are marvelous. This is by no means the most expensive item I have ever bought but it is the most memorable for all the right reasons, recommended.
G Morgan (Cheshire)
Just taken delivery of my Monitor II Headphone amplifier and what a difference it has made to my set-up. I had been using an able all be it under powered O2 amp and needed a similarly transparent amplifier that would power my LCD3 phones. Lets just say the Monitor II more than provides the required power and had no notable colouring of my music. Excellent service and superb product. Thanks! G Martin (West Lothian)
Very pleased with the step-up transformer. This is matched to a Charisma mc1 cartridge that I've just bought fitted to an Acoustic Signature tonearm on a Roksan Xexes 20 turntable through to Roksans m2 integrated amp. Sound is provided by a pair of Russell K 100's. Sounds great to my ears so if your ever in Eastbourne please feel free to come round and tell me what you think. A Billings (Eastbourne)
Listening to all sorts of music genre with this new DAC in the chain I have come to the conclusion that music is a lot clearer, cleaner & much more focussed than what was coming out of my CD player outs, it sounds more correct & together if that is a right way to describe it? with the quality of audio gone up several notches I do find it more engaging to listen to, where before using the standard output of the player I found myself losing interest.
The build & level of finish on this DAC is also just as impressive as the sound & very professionally made, I also found the information on the NJC site along with the supplied manual helpful since it told me all about the actual product rather than just a load of useless buzz words or hype, I like the whole down to earth approach & especially that these are designed & made right here in England.
I am really happy & fortunate I found out about these, making recommending this DAC very easy to do as it is a good way to get better sound out of a CD player & probably anything else with a digi out (I use the optical with my player) thanks for everything, Ron. R Goodwin (Bristol)
Hi Nick, Holidays and a fair listening/running in period means I can now report my feelings about the 24bit Reference DAC. I own a £1000 Dac and have had Dac's worth several thousands of pounds in the past but yours is most certainly up there making the value for money unbeatable in my opinion. The 24bit Reference DAC separates and clarifies and adds wide ,deep soundstages to all types of music.You can hear the hand hit the congas on Santana's One Prison and I have never heard the range of percussion so clearly defined on this and many other similar songs. The bass is not as pronounced as on my other Dac but who's to say that is right! The bass is evident where it should be, Stanley Clarke's Fuse one album being proof enough, never mind Prince's latest single.
Once again I find myself listening to all manner of music, discovering new things(ie:-multi-tracked vocals I've never heard before) along the way and enjoying every moment of it. Never having given a mention to the phono cables before I feel I should mention these are top quality and represent real value for money. They are equal to various cables I have costing £80-100 and while they might not be as good as some I have valued at £250 the law of diminishing returns means I will never pay that sort of money again!
I do feel from the 80's 90's and 000's etc that I/we were ripped off when people such as yourself are making such great quality products at such prices when ,even now, major manufacturers are charging 5,10 times the price for very little significant improvement if any. I have had home trails of music streamers, for instance, worth £1000's and they do not sound (in my medium priced system £10,000-15,000) any better than what I already have! Many thanks and kindest regards David. D Woodcock (East Riding of Yorkshire)
I bought this on spec. for its flexibility and neat design and on the basis of the positive reviews. It certainly works.
Just how good it is is hard for me to say as I do not have a second pair of transformers to compare it with: I can only review it as part of a chain (Ortofon Cadenza Blue, Michell Gyro SE, Croft RIAA R, Icon Audio Passive, Icon Audio mono blocks) and in that context it works very well. I am pleased that I bought it now, even though I spent as much in total on the Croft plus passive plus NJC as I would have done buying an Icon Audio valve MC stage with volume control. How they would actually compare, I don't know. It was the online reviews that persuaded me to try the NJC, whereas the lack of physical address for the company on the web-site put me off initially, to the point where I almost got cold feet; one likes to know who one is dealing with. I am now wondering how good the DAC is, even though I have one, well, three, that should be better on price. DACs need comparing in detail side by side though, they need listening too as one is trying to find a DAC that makes a silk purse out of a sow's ear. R Buscall (Devon)
Several weeks ago I purchased the NJC Audio Reference DAC after having owned and been impressed by NJC's Audio Monitor II amplifier for the previous 7+ months. Both devices are well-built with convenient switches on the back and prominent power and input lights on the front. The amp's volume control turns with ease (although once both devices are running you won't need to turn it much to get as much volume as you could possibly need),whilst everything else feels rock solid and durable. Although I have no experience with any other amps or DACs to make comparisons, to me the NJC devices sound of a very high quality. The amp on its own was powerful enough to run my Beyerdynamic DT990s (600 Ohm) and Sennheiser HD650s with ease, so I have no doubt it could run even more demanding headphones if necessary.
The improvements in sound quality from the amp alone are very noticeable (even with my Grado SR225i where I felt the bass was given some much needed weight), but when the DAC is added the sound really shines on all headphones.Highs feel more refined, lows are much better defined with drums becoming intensely pleasing in rock/metal, sound stage feels larger (most noticeable in symphonic pieces on the DT990s – breathtaking!) and vocals stand out across all genres. Overall everything sounds wonderfully accurate and clean and as you would expect, there is greater detail and depth to music.
Even the so-called 'Sennheiser veil' on my HD650s is rendered almost unnoticeable. I only started my journey into the audiophile world last Autumn but I would definitely recommend anybody who loves music to get themselves a decent set of headphones, a powerful amp to drive them and a good netural DAC. Based on my experience I'd say NJC is a great place to start. Many thanks NJC! G Howard (Kent)
I ordered and received a headphone amp from NJC some time ago and have since spent some time with it. The order process and product itself were both absolutely flawless. The personal service I received from Nick during the build was also without comparison (where else do you get that from?). The amp itself is an extremely high quality product both in terms of build and performance. I can't recommend NJC enough and have a DAC on my shopping list! P Quinn - (Merseyside)
I purchased the 24-bit DAC and the Monitor II amp from NJC-Audio to improve my HD audio experience and compliment the wide range of excellent headphones available on the market. The primary idea behind purchasing the Monitor II was the flexibility to drive any headphone out there - thus creating the ability to get the maximum benefit from any tricky-to-drive headphones.The excellent thing about the stuff from NJC-Audio is the price. If you want this level of quality from elsewhere, you're going to be hard pressed to find a better price-performance ratio.
The devices I purchased are basic in operation; you're not paying for tons of fancy audio processing features and stuff that you probably won't use much. This isn't a bad thing at all because the devices sound great and if you're into Hi-Fi then you probably don't care too much for colouring the sound with equalizers and things like that anyway. By no means am I an audiophile. I just enjoy a good sound. So I cannot speak in fancy audiophile lingo. What I CAN say is how pleasing the output audio is, and how quiet the amplifier is. Pretty much zero background noise! If there is anything that could be improved maybe Dolby Headphone support or some such. Stuff like that can always be a blast for movies. However, I am confident that Nick will be releasing new items with even more features at some point. W Davis (Hertfordshire)
The Monitor ii is just stunning, it sounds so crisp and clear and has really solid and authoritative thump when called upon. It really feels like it has a grip on my cans, which are very hard to drive (Bayer 880 600ohm). I have heard few amps drive them so clearly and with such scale. Percussion and treble has a lovely airy nature which really opens out the sound stage, and vocals get placed correctly and given lovely textural weight, and as I’ve said its all held together with that solid heft of a low end. This amp has unfortunatly made my eyes start to wander up the path to higher end headphones as I know that this amp will easily drive them and I am curious to hear it! The pass through function is also very useful as I now have it working as a pre-amp driving a pair of active speakers. Nick is a pleasure to deal with too, super helpful and will make sure that things will fit in with your set up. R Cressey (London)
I bought the headphone amp to upgrade from a pretty good Teac unit and I can safely say that the Monitor II is a keeper. Build quality is excellent and the amp has clearly been designed by an engineer, not a marketing department. It's small format is perfect for desktop use and the sound is superb. It drives high impedance cans with ease but most surprisingly was the difference it made to a pair of Philips Fidelio X2. These 30 ohm 100db headphones are very easy to drive but when plugged in to the Monitor II the soundstage, bass control and extension, mids and highs took a quantum leap. Oh, and the background is inky black - zero hum, no noise, just silence. It was like going from 720 to 1080 HD. The interconnect cables are also very good quality. Customer service was excellent and I am now trying to justify buying the DAC! A Webb (Portsmouth)
Befor getting NJC Monitor II my HD650 headphones were driven by Yulong U100. I was debating with myself for a long time whether the money spent on the new more powerful amplifier would be worth the improvement in the sound. I should say that the quality NJC Monitor II brought to the sound of HD650 exceeded my expectations. Before getting NJC Monitor II I was listening to the drawbacks and flaws of HD650 and was always looking for a potential upgrade to my headphones. Now, with the new NJC amplifier HD650 headphones sound flawless to my ears and the anguish to upgrade HD650 to something else is gone. Thank you NJC Audio for restoring peace in my soul. Y Guskov (Manchester)
Hi Nick, Just a quick note to let you know how happy I am with the Monitor II headphone amp. They drive my Sennheiser HD650s with effortless ease and control, and I’ve already spent many happy hours lost in music. The build quality and finish of the amp is first class, and I really appreciated the updates throughout the build process. This is definitely not my last NJC product as I will be ordering a DAC from you in due course. Congratulations on such a fine product! Kind regards, Ray. R Cheung (Hertfordshire)
Thanks so much for another fantastic headphone amp. The Monitor 1 is well established on my computer setup and my new Monitor 2 is now installed downstairs with my Meridian CD/DAC and Naim amp- sounds really nice, and the gain adjustment is very helpful with my SRH 1840 headphones. As with the Monitor 1, the build quality and customer service is second to none. Thanks again! Nick. N Harvey (Hampshire)
I recently took delivery of the Monitor ll headamp and was immediately impressed by the build quality including the hand turned feet. This unit looks very professional. Whilst using my AKG Q 701's to great effect it became apparent that this headamp was deserving of a headphone upgrade.
I auditioned the Sennheiser HD800, the Hifiman HE6 and the Audeze LCD 2 before settling on the Audeze LCD 3. The latter costs four times the price of the Monitor ll but in no way did I consider it not up to the task. Indeed, the NJC compared favourably to a headamp retailing at £1400 which was available during my auditioning period. The dealer considered the Monitor ll a steal. In summary, unless balanced connections are needed, I see no reason to spend more. R Tausig (Hendon, London)
I purchased the original model of the Monitor II well over a year ago now, and said I would review it for Nick, however I never got around to it, and then the specifications of the amp were changed slightly and it became useable as a preamp. My amp is the original stand alone unit and has no output apart from the headphone socket. This being said, knowing the care that NJC build into every unit, I can honestly say, that should you purchase a Monitor II, you will consider it as one of the best hi-fi purchases you have ever made.
I use mine to drive a pair of HD 600's from a Marantz SA8003, and I can honestly say that in many many years of careful listening, my Monitor II delivers that audio rarity of controlled transparency. It gets out of the way and yet it somehow also manages to make virtually everything (good and bad recordings) sound wonderfully musical. I might also add that they are built like brick-outhouses. These aren't just churned off a Chinese assembly line, they are British built and a wonderful testimony to a fine engineering tradition.
I really love mine, and were I ever able to upgrade my system, the Monitor II is the one thing I would keep. You might be swithering about spending so much money on something like a headphone amp, but at the end of the day, listening to music is all about enjoyment, and simply because of that, a Monitor II is money well spent.
P Rogers (Dundee, Angus)
In forty years of buying high-end audio I've never known such personal service and helpfulness as Nick has provided since my first enquiring about the Monitor 2 headphone amp up to today as a proud owner of this brilliant product which, through the AKG 701 headphones which Nick steered me towards, is providing hours of quite undiluted pleasure. There's so much online stuff about the K701s needing hundreds of hours of burning in but already, after 50 or so hours, they sound quite lovely - and that is I'm quite sure because of Nick's amplifier.
The Monitor 2 itself is very beautifully made and is I'm sure a bargain compared to much more expensive competitors. And Nick is so detailed and helpful in his freely offered advice. Absolutely delighted with Nick and his company and very grateful to him. Richard Jacobs. R Jacobs (Eastbourne, East Sussex)
Just a quick note to let you know how thrilled I am with my new Monitor II. There is something very special about having an amplifier hand-built just for yourself. I really appreciated the regular feedback on the state of construction, the personalised instructions that came with it, and the detailed measurements of *my* amplifier, number 066 ! It also arrived exactly on the morning you had told me to expect it which was very helpful.
I ordered the Monitor II solely on the information on your website and the reviews that I could find on the net. For anyone who is dithering about whether to order one or not because they can't audition it first, I say: 'don't worry, just do it !'. Through my DT880s (which it drives perfectly, even though they are 600 ohms) the amp is loud, clear, neutral, noise-free and doesn't struggle one iota with any of material I throw at it. It just does what it is designed to do, and my goodness, it does it in spades.
Even the heavy-duty external mains transformer screams quality; so much more reassuring than a wall-wart, with no suggestion of compromise to try to justify an after-market sale of a power-supply upgrade.
It is also a gem of construction, beautifully finished with real attention to detail. I can sense that every one of these you make is rather special to you. Don't worry about its future; it has passed to a good home and will be looked after and cosseted for a very long time. I now understand why these amplifiers never appear on eBay !
Nick, I am absolutely delighted with the Monitor II you built for me and your commitment to service. Well done and thank you ! R Fowler (Bedfordshire)
My Monitor 11 amp arrived 8 weeks ago very well packed and WOW!!! looks really nice, well made and sounds superb with my HD800s, i also tried it as a pre amp (with my integrated amp that can change with the press of a button into a dedicated power amp ) its so clean, detailed and musical, the best i've heard so far and wont be changing back, its also hand built in the UK with top quality components and not at an over inflated price because of advertising and middle men.
I have never had a part of my hi fi personally hand built like this, Nick must be so proud of the finished product as i am to own one. R Attwater (North Ayrshire)
My music taste is not mainstream. I love listening to my music. Unfortunately, nobody else ( especially my wife %26 kids) likes listening to my music! I respect the craft of the artists I listen to, so went searching for a decent pair of monitor headphones and amp. Reading reviews and audiophile forums, a pair of AKG K702 were the choice and a few mentions brought me to NJC. After getting in touch with Nick, I also took the plunge and ordered the Monitor II. What a gem of an amp. Beautiful British craftsmenship. Designed and built by someone who obviously take pride in every detail. A Hi-fi review site said about my AKGs' "what listening to a £10,000+ system sounds like". Well, thanks to Nicks' Monitor II, my £10,000+ system sounds....... )-: such is the detail, transparency and dynamics. I'm in music nivarna, and am "rediscovering my CD collection".
Well done Nick. An amp to be very proud of. I wish you all the best. Dave
Submitted: 21/04/2012 (via online feedback form) - Name: D Brown - Location: Jersey (Channel Islands)
Comments from (NJC Audio): A lot of work & care goes into every amp I make, its always nice to hear it's appreciated, thanks Dave!
Having been in possession of the Monitor II headphone amplifier for 6 months I now can add to my initial thoughts, having found the time to sit and type this. After prolonged listening to all types of music through my Denon AH D5000's (I much prefer them to my Bose and Grado headphones)I can recommend the Monitor II to anyone who wishes to just hear the music and enjoy it. One can talk of soundstage,detail,bass and depth (it portrays all of these through the D5000's) but with the Dennon's it's just the pleasure of listenig whatever the music you're playing. The enjoyment does not diminish! regards David
Submitted: 19/04/2012 (via online feedback form) - Name: D Woodcock - Location: East Riding of Yorkshire
Comments from (NJC Audio): Thanks David, its always nice to receive feedback based on extended listening, all the best! Nick.
Beautifully made product and most importantly raises the performance of my H650 headphones to another level in terms of dynamics and scale.
Submitted: 18/03/2012 (via online feedback form) - Name: J Dagger - Location: Ceredigion
Comments from (NJC Audio): Thanks for your comment's Jon, it's much appreciated!, Nick.
I bought this amp from reading reviews online. I was using a pair of Sennheiser HD800 headphones with an MF 3DCD nuvista CD player and Anthem D2V audio processor. I however wanted to completely separate my hifi from my home cinema. After a lot of research on all of the amps out there I decided to take a leap of faith and order the Monitor 2 headphone amp. It arrived this morning and I have to say I am extremely pleased with it. It drives the Sennheisers with ease and sounds excellent, very detailed and controlled. I am now looking forward to listening to my collection again. I recommend this amp 100%.
Submitted: 8/03/2012 (via online feedback form) - Name: D Young - Location: Yorkshire
Comments from (NJC Audio): Many thanks for your feedback Darren, all the best!, Nick.
Hi Nick Very pleased with my Monitor II with my HD650s, it may seem simple but quiet music is quiet with no background noise and loud music is loud. The Monitor II is light on it's feet with plenty of pace and packs a punch too. The first thing I listened to was a Carlos Kleiber version of Beethoven No 5 - no problems with such an energetic recording. There's no loss of detail that I can detect from source-direct but more dynamic range. It does everything I'd hoped for so far and the option to use it as a pre-amp in the future is a definite plus.
Wholeheartedly recommended. Thanks again. Rob
Submitted: 17/02/2012 (via online feedback form) - Name: R Mayfield - Location: Manchester
Comments from (NJC Audio): I'm glad you are enjoying your Monitor II, thanks for your comments, regards Nick.