Sure, most AV receivers have "good enough" built-in headphone amplifiers, which are fine for occasional listening.
But if you regularly listen to a decent set of headphones over your home theater system or computer, I recommend moving up to a high-quality headphone amplifier, like Benchmark's DAC1 USB ($1,275).
AV receivers' headphone amps, even on $1,000+ models either sound anemic, with little or no bass, or they're muffled sounding things. Whenever I review high-end headphones, I always plug them into an iPod, AV receiver, and a dedicated headphone amplifier, just to see how they perform in different contexts. But headphones always do their best when plugged into a good headphone amp.
Benchmark is one of the few manufacturers of professional audio gear that has consistently wowed audiophiles. The company offers a range of headphone amplifiers, and I reviewed the Benchmark DAC1 USB when I tested the Denon AH-D5000, Grado GS-1000, and Ultrasone Edition 9 luxury headphones for Home Entertainment magazine. … Read more