About the XC3

Why do audio enthusiasts use a headphone amp?

The reason you would have a dedicated headphone amp in your system is the same reason you would want a dedicated speaker amplifier: To produce higher quality music reproduction.

Everybody has a dedicated amplifier for their speakers. But many people get away without a dedicated headphone amplifier, because headphones are an easier load in general.
However,there are people who dont want to compromise on any part of their system.

We call a good set of HiFi headphones an Audio Stethoscope because it helps you pick out the good and bad points in your music collection.
But its no use if the signal going to the headphones is degraded by an inferior headphone output.

The headphone output on most audio equipment is an afterthought. With the main requirements being simplicity and low cost.
Even equipment with a dedicated headphone output will often force you to compromise. Especially when you start to use high performance headphones.

Connecting High end headphones to a standard headphone output can often produce very disappointing results.

Low impedance headphones will demand too much current, causing distortion and limited bandwidth.
High impedance headphones require a larger voltage headroom to produce the required power.
Often a standard headphone output would fail to some degree at both of these tasks.

Adding a headphone amp takes all the load off your system when driving headphones. The input stage of a headphone amp is very easy to drive. So your audio system is not under strain.
A good headphone amp also has some voltage gain. Giving a large boost in volume to go with the reduced distortion.

The output of the XC3 headphone amplifier has enough voltage headroom for the highest impedance headphones and enough current delivery for the most low impedance headphones at the loudest volumes.
Directly coupled mosfet output headphone amps like the XC3 also have extended bandwidth. With a flat response down to a few Hz with high precision and high damping factor.
Its a bit of a waste getting headphones that can do sub 20Hz if your standard headphone output starts to roll the bass off at 30Hz.
High frequency response is way above the human hearing range at 80KHz. So, with a good headphone amp you can be sure the headphones recieve the entire perceivable frequency range.