The silver Model 1281 Phonitor 2 Headphone Amplifier from SPL is a 120 volt monitor controller and preamp for three different switchable sources. The unit combines basic monitoring options, speaker simulation capabilities, and a headphone preamp. The Phonitor 2 is suited for any impedance headphone and its playback volume can be controlled remotely.
Its 120 volts creates a huge power margin, and the Phonitor 2 is therefore not limited in its power output, making signal processing more robust.Music therefore sounds more natural and hearing fatigue is drastically reduced due to minimized distortion. Engineers will thus find less listening fatigue into long listening sessions.
The Two Sides Of The 120 Volt Amp
As this headphone amp progressed in its design stages, SPL decided to make the Phonitor 2 capable of being a full-fledged stereo preamplifier, to become the heart of a modern listening system, as well for homes and studios where headphones are also prominently used.
The Phonitor 2 remains first and foremost a headphone preamp, especially with its built-in speaker simulation circuitry for headphones. However, as the unit has the capability of what's needed for system preamplification and its line-level signals, these connections are available in the rear of the unit. Besides headphones, it is possible to connect active loudspeakers and power amps directly at the output, and all controls can be used for both outputs with headphones and loudspeakers. Obviously, loudspeaker simulation makes little sense when using real loudspeakers, and so the bypass switch will take the process out of the playback circuitry. However, owners of electrostatic headphones could connect their headphones to the output and use the simulation feature as well. Likewise, all monitoring options (phase reverse, solo, mono, mute) can be selected for both outputs, so that the Phonitor 2 can be used as Monitor Controller for up to three different sources.
The volume can be controlled remotely. The audio signal is controlled via a motor potentiometer. In comparison, electronic adjusting with or without AD/DA converter - very common these days - would have a significant influence on the nature of the signal quality.
To control it you can use any IR remote control -- the remote must not learn the Phonitor 2, but rather the Phonitor 2 learns to understand your remote's signal.
Home users can enjoy a central control unit for modern music playback of stereo signals that supports all presently known formats. As the Phonitor in this playback situation will be in the central playback position, it will be comforting to know that all the present formats will be playable through it.
Phonitoring with the Phonitor 2
Already for the headphone monitoring - or phonitoring - part alone, the Phonitor 2 encompasses a number of kinds of monitoring methods. On one hand, there is the analytical headphone monitoring, which is like working with an acoustic magnifier, but without external room influences and with headphones; on the other hand, the loudspeaker simulation allows for monitoring which forgoes the microscopic effect, but provides for room ambiance.
Working with the magnifier effect of headphones has the advantage of safely hearing clicks or similar defects, such as for quality control, and helps in fine tuning crossfades or to judge tonal problems in individual tracks. On loudspeakers such analyses are much more difficult, as such problems just are not as apparent when one is working without being able to "zoom in" aurally. Conversely, loudspeakers provide monitoring with the advantage of spatial balance in a (definable through placement) stereo width, which in turn provides the illusion of an acoustic stage.
Traditional headphone reproduction produces one 180-degree stereo width in the middle of the head, and it is exactly this which creates the very problematic-to-impossible headphone mixing environment. An essential reason for such unnatural ambiance is the complete separation of the channels, which does not exist either in natural hearing or in stereo loudspeaker reproduction. This makes it nearly impossible to judge tonal balance, a stereo image, and the phantom center level. Panorama adjustments, as well as related EQ settings that one attempts to use on headphones, typically do not function on loudspeakers. Moreover, what is often called the "super stereo effect" with headphones can creates a great deal of ear fatigue in the long run. Listening through loudspeakers, the sound stage is felt in front, while in contrast, when monitoring through headphones, the stage is present on the left and on the right - but frontal and rear information is lost.
The Phonitor 2 gives you both options of listening, as your preferences and listening circumstances may change from moment to listening moment. And with the two color options, you also have a choice of the visual in your set-up.