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Graham Slee Voyager Headphone Amplifier - Graham Slee Voyager Headphone Amplifier

By Jonathan Bray



  • Recommended by TR
Graham Slee Voyager Headphone Amplifier


Our Score:


Maximum volume levels go up, of course, with a headphone amp, allowing the connection of high impedance studio headphones as well as easy-to-drive earbuds and noise isolation designs. But as well as going loud, this amp delivers dynamics, and it delivers them by the JCB scoop-load. The opening to Mahler's 5th Symphony, for example, is a very difficult trick to pull off, requiring both subtlety and power, but the Voyager managed it without breaking sweat. The clarion call of the trumpet sounded clear and natural and the orchestral strike crashed in with and edge and power that I've never heard from an MP3 player on its own.

The bass from the Voyager is balanced and defined too, without being excessive, but even here if a fuller sound is your thing, or your headphones are a little lean, you can correct this by flicking the Contour switch on the side of the Voyager. Unlike equalizer settings on most MP3 players this boosts the bass without warping or degrading the sound quality.

I also own a home-brewed headphone amp based on the popular CMOY design, and while the Voyager can't match its sheer brute force and aggression it is far more forgiving and subtle, presenting the music in an unforced and ‘easier to listen to' manner, yet without ever veiling the details.

And it'll pull off its tricks no matter what source you connect it to. I tried the Voyager hooked up directly to the stereo outputs on my high-end rack-bound CD player - a Unison Research Unico CD - and it did just as good a job. This highly revealing source, which makes use of a hybrid transistor/valve design, can be painfully revealing and difficult to listen to when paired with the wrong kit. I can't connect my CMOY headphone amp, for example, and listen to it for longer than a few minutes at a time, but with the Voyager the music is phenomenally involving and enjoyable. Hooked up to a PC, a Squeezebox and my home made DAC proved the point further with excellent performance in each case.


There's no denying that the Voyager is an expensive piece of kit. It's not very practical or good looking either. And there are far more economic ways of beefing up your portable audio experience - if you're happy to go with the DIY approach, you can buy a decent amp on eBay (such as the CMOY-based amp mentioned above) for a fraction of the price.

But if you want the best, at least in the world of high-end audio, you have to be prepared to pay for it, and this is undeniably there or thereabouts. For this level of quality, £179 to me sounds like a pretty good deal.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Value 7
  • Sound Quality 10
  • Features 10


August 22, 2008, 12:07 am

"Sounds" great, but I think it's priced too high. If it was 䀏, no question about it, I'd jump on it. But at 𧵫 with no discounts available anywhere, I'll pass.

Kevin Jewula

October 5, 2008, 3:22 am

I agree with Shaka's comment, but would prefer if this "Made in Barnsley" unit was not even 䀏, but closer to, say, 㿨. There are lots of similar - and dare I say - smarter-looking alternatives on Ebay and from Xenos(direct)in my desired priceband or even less.


December 13, 2008, 5:24 pm

Please do not slam a product just because of its 'looks'. Despite the looks it offers top-notch music, even comparable to the likes of household portable names like Ray Samuels Audio and Xin. And just FYI, the "cheap looking plastic" is ABS plastic - Graham apparently made the Voyager so that it suits its use : portability.

That you'll drop your portable rig, or slam it against some surface without knowing it. ABS is well known for its ruggedness and durability - and your "smarter-looking alternatives" metal casing may not save your money from going down the drain when you drop your 'alternative amplifier'

IMO you will *never* find an amplifier sounding even 50% of the Voyager's SQ @ 㿨. You can keep dreaming about it.

And I repeat, *never* slam a product based on looks alone. You might just lose out on a lot...

Aidan Wilson

May 20, 2009, 12:58 pm

I´ve just had a bit of a spending spree and bought a 120gb classic ipod a Graham Slee Voyager Headphone Amplifier and a pair of Shure se530 earphones connected with an Audio Elevation i-Lead for Graham Slee Voyager. I live in Spain and am waiting for it all to arrive in the post. Once it´s all here and been listened in i´ll get back to you with my thoughts if it´s money well spent. What i´d like to know is if there is any kind of case available to carry the ipod and GSV together. Or any other advice. This is my first foray into "quality" musical equipment and don´t know if this is a good set up or not for the money.


June 1, 2009, 5:05 pm

Aidan - very interested to hear your feedback on the Graham Slee when you get it. I have a pair of sennheiser hd650 hooked up to my PC and also to my Amp and they are stunning. However, I do want to take them on business to the UK (I also live in Spain) and they don't do anything special without the kind of power a pre amp can chuck at them when hooked up to my ipod. Regarding a case - I hear that an elastic band is best for keeping them together - substance over style I think.

Mark P

February 1, 2010, 2:37 am

You never did get back to us Aidan. Anyhow, I have the exact same set up, which I've had for over a year now. Breathtaking is how I would describe the whole package. Jawdroppingly good. I use Apple lossless as you DO notice the compression with this rig. I use the contour switch for more bassy tracks, like Kanye West's Love Lockdown. Swimming in bass. And Pendulum's Slam is another great track. Dire Straits' Love Over Gold album is utter magic. Switch the light off, light down in bed and prepare to be transported into world of total musical submersion.


July 10, 2010, 4:20 am

I have an 120gb ipod classic in a clear plastic case, attached to the Graham Slee Voyager using velcro coins. I rip CD's onto the ipod through i-tunes into Apple Lossless format. I use a SendStation Pocket Dock to bypass the ipod's EQ and take the signal straight into the Voyager with an Audio Elevation i-Lead. This bundle slides into a large Berghaus E-case which I attach to my belt, making the whole bundle about the size of an '80's Sony Walkman. Headphones are i-Grados. Sound is gobsmackingly good, as Aidan has no doubt discovered by now. Admittedly I'd like the music source bundle to be a little smaller, but the sound quality overrides the slight inconvenience of the belt pouch rig.


May 11, 2012, 2:45 pm

I like the http://www.headphoneedle.commonster headphones.. Don't know its price and type what...

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