Styled in silver, the SPL Phonitor xe is a headphone amplifier with a built-in 32-bit DAC. It's designed for pro audio and hi-fi applications. On the analog side, it sports XLR and RCA inputs, while digital connections are secured over S/PDIF, TOSLINK, USB, or AES connections. You can switch among the inputs with a prominent Source knob. Output jacks for headphones are provided on both the front and rear of the Phonitor xe.
You'll note one set of 4-pin XLR inputs for balanced headphones, and one set for conventional, 1/4" unbalanced headphones. You can switch between the inputs on the front and rear, so you can compare different sets of headphones easily. Please note that you cannot use both balanced and unbalanced headphones at the same time.
Of interest to audiophiles who usually prefer loudspeakers is the Phonitor Matrix, which aims to create an experience akin to listening to studio monitors. It simulates the effect of audio emanating from one speaker hitting the opposing ear. More than a simple crossfeed controller, this Matrix can simulate different-sized listening environments and different speaker angles.
This application is designed not only to promote a more realistic listening experience, but to reduce listener fatigue. The control for this is variable: you can set the level of crossfeed, as well as the simulated speaker angle to emulate a variety of speaker-placement scenarios. Ideally, you'd set this control to correspond to your actual loudspeaker arrangement.
You'll also note a Mode switch that dictates several types of operation. Stereo and mono playback modes are achievable through this switch, as is a Laterality mode. Laterality aims to correct the mix for any hearing damage you might have incurred throughout your long career of mixing/listening to records; if you experience broadband hearing in the left ear, for example, you can favor more signal coming into the left channel. You're given 2.25 dB of range for this control, making the adjustments very fine indeed.
Via DIP switches on the bottom of the unit, you can drive headphones that require more output power, or change the sensitivity of the RCA input between -10 dBV and 0 dBu. The Phonitor xe utilizes SPL's VOLTAiR 120V Rail Technology to maintain high-headroom and preserve audio clarity by processing audio signals with ?60 VDC of power.