SPL Phonitor 3 Headphone Amp/Monitoring Controller/DAC (Black)

Original price was: $2,888.00.Current price is: $2,599.00.

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SKU: Phonitor 3 Black
Brand: SPL


Phonitor 3 DAC

The headphone amplifier, monitoring controller and DAC with 120V technology

Phonitor 3 DAC is not only the ultimate headphone amplifier and monitoring controller with 120V technology – the integrated DAC makes it the perfect monitoring centerpiece for demanding producers as well as sound and mastering engineers working with digital sources or in the DAW.

Whether if USB, AES/EBU or S/PDIF – the integrated DAC with analog SLP120 converts digital PCM audio signals with a resolution of 32 bit and a sampling rate of up to 768 kHz. It converts DSD signals with a resolution of up to DSD256.

On the analog side, the Phonitor 3 DAC, based on the SPL 120V technology, offers the same monitoring quality as the big SPL mastering consoles – on loudspeakers and headphones. The analog Phonitor Matrix allows mixing and mastering on headphones in the highest quality – with the same spatial perception of the stereo stage as on loudspeakers.

Great sound – for headphones

The Phonitor 3 DAC offers connection for a standard headphone with a stereo jack plug on the front. Thanks to the enormous output power, all kind of headphones are driven effortlessly. Thus, it plays out the advantages of the SPL 120V technology and rewards the listener with an honest, detailed and at the same time vivid sound experience.

Great sound – also for loudspeakers

On the rear of the device, Phonitor 3 DAC offers a stereo output which makes it a high-quality monitoring controller for any monitoring situation. Active speakers with an integrated power amplifier or passive speakers in combination with a power amplifier can be connected at this output.

Monitoring at the highest level

Phonitor 3 DAC offers the same key technology – SPL 120V technology – and signal quality as the big SPL DMC and MMC mastering consoles.

Headphones or Speakers

The Output switch – simply switch from headphone to speaker playback. In the center position (Mute), no signal reaches the outputs. The VU meters light up red.

Digital & analog stereo inputs – free choice

Up to six stereo sources can be connected to the Phonitor 3 DAC. The source is selected via the Source switch.

Analog inputs

On the analog side, two analog stereo inputs are offered, each with two XLR line inputs. Professional analog players with balanced outputs and line level can be connected here.

Digital inputs

On the digital side, the Phonitor 3 DAC offers four digital stereo inputs.


The USB input (type B) can be used to directly connect the DAW. No driver installation is required for operation with a Mac or an iDevice. Via USB, the Phonitor 3 DAC converts PCM audio signals with a resolution of 32 bits and a sampling rate of up to 768 kHz as well as DSD signals with a resolution of up to DSD256.

S/PDIF, coaxial

The Input S/PDIF coaxial can also receive a two-channel signal (PCM audio) with sampling rates up to 192 kHz and a bit rate of 16 bits to 24 bits. Unbalanced, 2-wire 75-ohm coaxial cables with RCA connectors are used for signal transmission.

S/PDIF, optical

The S/PDIF optical input can also receive a two-channel signal (PCM audio) with sampling rates of up to 192 kHz and a bit rate of 16 bit to 24 bit. The input jack is an F05 jack. This interface is better known under the Toshiba brand name TOSLINK.

Tip: You should attach importance to the quality of the optical fiber. With inexpensive plastic optical fibers, transmissions with quad sampling rates (176.4kHz/192kHz) may have faults. In this case a glass fiber optic cable should be chosen.


The AES input provides an input jack which corresponds to a standard XLR input (XLR, female). An AES signal can transport two encoded PCM audio channels with a maximum sampling rate of 192 kHz and a bit rate of 16 bits to 24 bits. This standard is defined under IEC 60958 Type I. Balanced, 3-core, 110 Ohm “twisted pair” cables with XLR plugs are used for connection.

The DAC – the best is just good enough

The converter chip in the Phonitor 3 DAC´s digital-to-analog converter is the highly acclaimed AKM AK4490 Velvet Sound™ premium DAC chip, which thanks to its architecture reproduces the finest sound details. It converts PCM audio at 32-bit resolution and a sampling rate of up to 768 kHz, which is 16 times the resolution of a CD. Direct Stream Digital is also supported up to a resolution of DSD4 or DSD256.


The analog output of any DAC chip must be filtered by a low pass filter when entering the analog world. In contrast to all other DACs in the world, the low pass filters here are built using SPL 120V technology, which provides a plus in dynamics and headroom and sound. The DAC in the Phonitor 3 DAC is equipped with the SLP120 – an analog “single low pass” filter with 120V technology.

Milled from solid

The massive 45mm volume control knob milled from aluminum is a haptic highlight. Its mass together with the Alps RK27 “Big Blue” potentiometer enhances the “spoon in the honey” feeling even further and provides perfect control of the monitoring level.

Monitoring without any compromises

The Phonitor 3 DAC is a full-fledged monitor controller:

  • Source selection
  • Phonitor Matrix with Crossfeed, Speaker Angle and Center Level (the latter can be switched off)
  • Mono/Stereo
  • Laterality control
  • Solo L/R
  • Phase inversion for L and R
  • L/R Swap
  • Output switchable to headphones or speakers
  • Mute


Mono or stereo – a matter of setting

The Mono/Stereo switch can be used to select whether the output signal of the Phonitor 3 DAC is a regular stereo signal or whether it is summed to a mono signal.

Finding the real center

Naturally, hearing can be directed more to the left or more to the right. This becomes particularly clear when listening on headphones. Therefore, the Phonitor 3 DAC has the uniquely finely resolved laterality control, which rebalances the stereo image on the monitoring side. The Mono/Stereo switch can not only be used to switch between stereo or mono playback. This switch is also used to activate or deactivate the laterality control.

Solo L/R

Only the right or left channel of the audio signal should be played back? The Solo L/R function makes it possible. If the triple selection switch is in the “L” position, only the left channel is played back – if it is in the “R” position, only the right channel is played back. In the middle position “Off” the Solo function is switched off. The regular stereo signal consisting of the left and right channel is thus present at the output of the Phonitor 3 DAC.

L/R Swap

A special feature is the channel swap function: L/R Swap. This function inverts the stereo image. Left becomes right and right becomes left. This is especially important and extremely time-saving, when you are monitoring samples in video dubbing that should match a scene with direction of movement. If the direction is not correct, you usually have to load the sample into the DAW to switch channels. before you can judge whether the sample matches the image. With the L/R Swap function, this is no longer necessary. You can now adjust the direction of movement on the Phonitor 3 DAC while pre-listening the sample library.

Phase inversion for L and R

With this switch the phase of the left or right channel of the audio signal can be inverted. If the three-way selection switch is in the “L” position, the left channel is inverted – if it is in the “R” position, the right channel is inverted. In the middle position “Off” this function is switched off. At the output of the Phonitor 3 DAC the regular stereo signal is thus present.

M/S – Mid or Side?

By using the mono/stereo and L/R phase inversion switch in combination, it is also possible to only monitor the mid or side signal. When the switch is set to “Mono” and phase inversion is active for L (or R), only the side signal is played back. 

If the phase inversion is switched off, the mono signal corresponding to the “M” signal is played back. Separate monitoring of the M and S signals has become a widespread standard for many mixing and mastering engineers.

Everything at a glance

Two mechanical VU meters visualize the input levels for the left and right audio channels.

The “VU Cal” switch can be used to reduce the signal visualized on the VU meters by -6 dB or -12 dB.

Thus, the VU meters operate in the ideal display range even at very high input levels.

The Revolution: Phonitor Matrix

The Phonitor Matrix is the revolution in the headphone amplifier.

One of the unique features of SPL headphone amplifiers is the SPL Phonitor Matrix. It enables mixing and mastering engineers to create perfect mixes on headphones, which will translate perfectly to all types of stereo speaker systems.

But the Phonitor Matrix is not only designed for professional use in the studio. It also enables the hifi enthusiast to enjoy music on headphones, like if it was played back on speakers.

How is this possible?

Music is normally produced and mixed for playback on stereo speakers.

Listening on headphones is different from listening on loudspeakers. The biggest difference is the lack of crossing signals of the sound signal from the left speaker to the right ear and from the right speaker to the left ear.

These crossing signals are missing in conventional headphone listening, because there are no signals crossing from one side of the headphones to the other. This results in an unnaturally wide stereo stage and sound sources are not played back at their actual position in the stereo spectrum.

The SPL Phonitor Matrix can correct this false stereo image with an analog circuitry.

Phonitor Matrix settings

With the Matrix switch you can activate the Phonitor Matrix – with the Center function (All) or without (Cr/A). 

In the Off position, the Phonitor Matrix is deactivated. The Phonitor Matrix creates a speaker-like listening experience on headphones, by mixing the left and right signals, each delayed (interaural time difference) and attenuated (interaural level difference), to the corresponding opposite side.

The two main parameters of the Phonitor Matrix are Crossfeed and Angle:

Crossfeed determines the crossing signals of the channels. Angle determines the opening angle of the stereo image.


With the Crossfeed switch you can adjust the interaural level difference. The level difference is comparable to the influence of different room sizes and their reflection and absorption characteristics. The interaural level difference is frequency-corrected because the sound is reflected and absorbed by the head in a non-linear fashion.


With the Angle switch you adjust the interaural time difference which is related to the placement of the speakers. The interaural time difference is frequency-corrected because the sound is reflected and absorbed by the head in a non-linear fashion.

During conventional listening on headphones, our brain can compensate a certain level of false playback representation – but this is very exhausting and leads to listening fatigue.

To make the listening experience even more perfect, the level of the center of the stereo image needs to be attenuated when the Phonitor Matrix is active. This ensures that not only the position of all sound sources is correct but also their volume.

In most Phonitor devices this value is set to a fixed attenuation of -1 dB, which is the best choice for getting an authentic representation of the sound stage. Phonitor 3 DAC, designed for the most advanced mixing and mastering applications, allows to adjust the center level in in fine steps of 0.3 dB or 0.4 dB with the “Center” switch.

When activated (Matrix switch = All) you control the intensity of the center signal with the Center switch. If the stereo width is narrowed through changes in Crossfeed and Angle (so as to correspond to your actual loudspeaker setup), the phantom center may likely sound too intense while mixing on headphones.

You normally would counteract by lowering the mid signals in the mix. However, listening to that mix on loudspeakers the phantom center appears to quiet.

Attenuating the center allows the center signal to be adjusted back to the appropriate ratio of volume in relation to the stereo signal when mixing on eadphones, so that the phantom center gains the correct volume in relation in relation to the stereo signal during speaker playback.

Summed up:

The SPL Phonitor Matrix corrects the false representation of the stereo sound image, which makes it much easier to find the right decisions for mixing and mastering engineers. The hifi enthusiast can experience the music, like it was originally mixed and recorded.

So nothing stands in the way of a successful and long mixing session on headphones.

Preamp Out or Direct Out

With a DIP switch on the rear of the device, the volume control for the rear stereo output can be switched out of the signal path. But that’s not all. It is also possible to output the Phonitor Matrix to the stereo output on the rear panel of the device – regardless of whether this is configured as Preamp Out (with volume control) or Direct Out (without volume control).

More power

If headphones have a rather low sensivity – no problem. With DIP switch 1 on the rear of the device, the level at the headphone output can be increased by 12 dB.

Sounds good

With all SPL devices we develop not only according to plan, but also by ear. All important components are installed on the circuit boards using Through-hole technology. This way we can ensure that we can use the best sounding components.

The 120V technology

The 120V technology is our reference technology. The 120V technology is unique in the world. It operates at a DC voltage of 120 volts. This is four times that of IC-based semiconductor op-amps.

The highest possible audio quality requires the highest possible audio operating voltage.

The 120V technology works with +/-60 V. To be able to handle such a high voltage, we have developed special proprietary operational amplifiers that can operate with a DC voltage of +/-60 V: the SPL 120V SUPRA operational amplifiers. This high voltage would destroy conventional components and operational amplifiers.

The 120V technology achieves exceptional technical specifications and sonic benefits. Technically, in terms of dynamic range, signal-to-noise ratio and headroom. Sonically, in terms of richness of detail and an absolutely relaxed listening experience.

By the way, the “120V” in the name of the technology has nothing to do with the local mains voltage from the mains power socket. This is about the operating voltage inside the device with which the audio signals are processed.

The mains voltage from the mains power socket is transformed to the required secondary voltage in the device’s internal linear power supply with toroidal transformer. Rectifiers convert this AC voltage into DC voltage required in the audio device.

The idea for SPL 120V technology and the SUPRA operational amplifier based on this technology were developed in the 1990s by SPL founder and chief developer Wolfgang Neumann.

With the goal of building the best mastering console ever, this basic technological philosophy then took shape for the first time – thus the SPL MMC1 Mastering Console for Galaxy Studios saw the light of day in 2000.

The outstanding sonic and technical features quickly got around in the scene – so further orders were not long in coming.

Besides the MMC 1, another legendary product with 120V technology was created with the PQ, the “King of Parametric Equalizers”.

Since that time, 120V technology has been the foundation for all SPL premium products. Meanwhile, not only for mastering applications, but also for the, studio or hifi use.

What exactly is that?

And what does it do?

Good questions need good answers.

And that’s what the 120V technology video gives you.


Most audio devices work with an internal operating voltage of +/-15 volts and can thus process a maximum input level of +21.5 dBu. If a DAC, for example, has an output level of +22 dBu at 0 dBFS, level peaks of the music material would already cause overloads in the input stage of the device. All components in the audio device often operate at their limits. The result is an unsteady sound that causes stress and faster ear fatigue.

SPL devices with 120V technology can handle input levels of +32.5 dBu thanks to the higher internal operating voltage of +/- 60 volts – thus offering 12 dB more headroom. All components consequently operate continuously in the optimum operating range. The result is a very pleasant, natural and relaxed sound experience. So you can enjoy your music in every detail.

Analog inputs & outputs: XLR (balanced)
Maximum input & output gain
32.5 dBu
Input impedance (XLR)
20 kΩ
Output impedance (XLR)
75 Ω
Common mode rejection ratio (XLR)
-82 dB
Frequency range (0 dBu)
10 Hz – 100 kHz
THD +N (1 kHz, 0 dBu)
0.0009 %
Noise (A-weighted)
-102 dBu
Crosstalk (1 kHz)
-95 dB
Dynamic range
134.3 dB
Digital Inputs: DAC768
AES/EBU (XLR), PCM sample rates
44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192 kHz
Coaxial SPDIF (Cinch), PCM sample rates
44.1/48/88,2/96/176.4/192 kHz
Optisch SPDIF (Toslink F06) sample rates
44.1/48/88.2/96/mit Glasfaser < 1m: 176.4/192 kHz
USB (B), PCM sample rates
44.1/48/88.2/96/176.4/192/352.8/384/705.6/768 kHz
USB (B), DSD over PCM (DoP), sample rates
2.8 (DSD64), 5.6 (DSD128), 11.2 (DSD256) MHz
0 dBFS calibrated to
15 dBu
Standard Headphones Output: 6.35 mm (1/4″) TRS Jack
Tip = Left, Ring = Right, Sleeve = GND
Source impedance
0.18 Ω
Damping factor (40 Ω)
Frequency range (0 dBu)
10 Hz – 100 kHz
Crosstalk (1 kHz, 0 dBu)
-91 dB
THD + N (1 kHz, 0 dBu)
0.0003 %
Noise (A-weighted)
-102 dBu
Output power (1 kHz, 1% THD, 250 Ω)
2 x 5 W
Output power (1 kHz, 1% THD, 32 Ω)
2 x 1 W
Dynamic range
134.5 dB
Internal Linear Power Supply with Shielded Toroidal Transformer
Operating voltage for analog audio
+/- 60 V
Operating voltage for relays and LEDs
+12 V
Mains Power Supply
Mains voltage (selectable, see fuse chamber)
230 V AC / 50; 115 V AC / 60 Hz
Fuse for 230 V
T 0.5 A
Fuse for 115 V
T 1 A
Power consumption
max. 40 VA
Dimensions & Weight
W x H x D (width x height incl. feet x depth)
278 x 100 x 300 mm
11 x 4 x 11.81 inch
Unit weight
4.9 kg
10.8 lbs
Shipping weight (incl. packaging)
5.6 kg
12.5 lbs


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