OPPO Digital today introduces an updated version of the a HA-2 portable headphone amplifier and DAC, HA-2SE. ha-2se-top-view

Aesthetically, the HA-2SE continues the HA-2’s design – genuine leather casing with contrast stitching and bevelled aluminium edges. Inside, the digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) chip is upgraded to the ES9028Q2M, the top-of-the-line from ESS Technology’s SABRE32 Reference series for portable designs. The headphone amplifier is further optimized for very sensitive In-Ear Monitors, with a lower noise floor and higher signal-to-noise ratio over the HA-2.

Featuring hybrid class AB amplification and a USB DAC, the HA-2SE offers high performance digital-to-analogue conversion for Apple’s iPhone/iPod products, a wide range of Android devices, PC and Mac computers. Equipped with a 3000mAh internal battery and OPPO’s patented safe rapid charging technology, the HA-2SE may be conveniently used to charge mobile devices on-the-go and can itself be efficiently charged in 30 minutes.

Being a “Made for iPhone” certified device and coming with a Lightning cable included, the HA-2SE can charge the iPhone and play music at the same time. When used with the right apps, the HA-2SE supports bit-perfect playback of high resolution music, exceeding the 48 kHz sample rate limitation of using the phone’s built-in headphone output or headphone adapter.

In addition to the USB DAC inputs, the HA-2SE provides a 3.5 mm line-in jack for portable music players that do not have a USB-compatible digital output. The same jack doubles as line-out when the HA-2SE is used as a DAC. The headphone amplifier has two gain level settings. The High Gain mode is capable of driving large power-hungry headphones, delivering up to 300 mW into 16-Ohm headphones. The Low Gain mode is intended for sensitive In-Ear Monitor type earphones. For users who like a bit more punch and impact with their music, the HA-2SE offers a Bass Boost function that is implemented purely with analog audio circuits.

Priced at $299, the HA-2SE can be ordered from OPPO Digital’s web site or resellers. The HA-2SE will be available for audition and demo at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver during the weekend of October 7 – 9.

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Three of Erzetich’s headphone amplifiers (Bacillus, Bacillus Tilia and Perfidus) have gone under the knife. While their entrails are mostly untouched, the most obvious difference is now their appearance. Acrylic front panels have been replaced by 7 mm thick aluminum that demanded a different graphic approach, along with some other tweaks and upgrades on their exterior. erzetichheadphoneamplifiers

During the first few years we gathered feedback from our users and resellers and took note of their remarks and wishes,« says Blaž Erzetič, the owner. »We had to update our units for the purpose of manufacturing optimisation and this led to a slight redesign of them. While Bacillus has only a new dress, the other two models have also some technical upgrades, especially Perfidus.”

The main story stays the same: exclusivity of a boutique low volume production and attention to the sound and appearance. All units are handcrafted and tested several times during the production by ear and by measuring instruments.

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Chord Electronics has launched a comprehensive Cable Accessory Pack for the Mojo DAC/headphone amp, to include cables, adaptors and a USB adaptor block.mojo-cable-pack-all

Chord Electronics’ new Cable Accessory Pack for its Mojo DAC/headphone amplifier contains a great selection of cables and adaptors to get your Mojo workin’ straight from the box. Designed to offer compatibility with a wide range of partnering devices, the Mojo Accessory Pack also features Chord’s first-ever add-on Mojo module.

The new USB adaptor block module makes connecting Mojo with an OTG (On-The-Go) Micro USB cable or Lightning-to-USB Camera Adaptor cable much simpler. The module attaches directly to the Mojo’s inputs as an extension of the device and a hollow recess houses the bulky end of Apple’s Lightning-to-USB cable and Android-type OTG cables.

The additional length the USB adaptor module brings to Mojo allows plus-size smartphones to align more suitably with the device when strapped together, giving full access to large smartphone screens; Chord-branded rubber band straps are provided in the pack. The module also contains an internal circuit board which extends the Micro USB charging port when the adaptor block is in use and retains visibility of the battery indicator light.

The Cable Accessory Pack includes the following:

1x USB Adapter Module

1x Standard Optical Cable

1x 3.5mm to Standard Optical Cable

1x 3.5mm to ¼” Headphone Adapter Cable

1x 1m Type A USB to Micro Cable

1x USB Micro to USB Micro OTG Cable

1x USB Micro to Female USB OTG Cable

1x Dual Play and Charge USB Cable

2x Chord Branded 180mm Rubber Band Straps

2x Chord Branded 160mm Rubber Band Straps

1x Ferrite RFI Suppression Choke

Note: Apple’s Lightning-to-USB Camera Adapter cable is sold separately

The Cable Accessory Pack case sells for £59.99 and is available from dealers now.

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McIntosh has announced the launch of the new MHA150 Headphone Amplifier made in their Binghamton, NY factory, they say ‘the MHA150 Headphone Amplifier is a worthy successor to the critically-acclaimed MHA100. The MHA150 contains the same feature set and performance standards but adds our new 2nd generation digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) that provides support for DSD and DXD files to give access to the latest in digital music.’ McIntosh’s Autoformer technology found in their large mono and stereo amplifiers has been adapted to produce three headphone impedance ranges of 8-40, 40-150 and 150-600 Ohms so that ‘every headphone will receive the legendary McIntosh sound quality and performance’.


.For enjoying DSD and DXD files, the USB input accepts PCM signals up to 32-bit/384kHz and supports DSD64, DSD128 and DSD256 along with DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz.. Their proprietary MCT input has also been added to the MHA150; when paired with the MCT450 SACD/CD Transport, it offers a secure DSD connection for playback of the high definition audio on SACDs. For connecting digital devices, an optical and coaxial input are included along with the USB and MCT inputs; two analogue inputs are also available. They have also included Headphone Crossfeed Director (HXD®) The MHA150 is smaller than McIntosh’s other amplifiers, it’s the same width as the MB50 Streaming Audio Player and the two can be combined to start building a complete system as the MHA150 can drive a pair of quality desktop or small bookshelf speakers via its 50 watt stereo speaker outputs.

The MHA150 is available to order now from authorised McIntosh dealers with shipping anticipated later this month. Suggested retail price (VAT, shipping and any customs duties related to current standards of individual countries are excluded): $4,500 USD.


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Designed by Arcam’s founder and Class-G design Guru John Dawson, the new Arcam rHead is a discrete true-linear Class-A analogue headphone amplifier, built for the highest possible performance and to outperform competition at anywhere near the affordable price, says the company’s latest press release.

Arcam of Cambridge: The rHead is a discrete true-linear Class-A analogue headphone amplifier, designed for the highest possible performance, outperforming all competition at anywhere near the affordable price. www.arcam.co.uk - www.robfollis.com

This compact, solid analogue product is designed to complement the audio system of any headphone lover. It delivers enough power to drive small speakers, let alone the least-efficient headphones.

Arcam say the the rHead is “ultra-low-distortion, ultra-low-noise and totally musical. Timing is fast and precise, with well-controlled bass and although the output is very wide-band, the extended treble is smooth and flat with no artificial exaggerations. Dynamic headroom is massive and all headphones we know of are handled with ease”.

Key Features 

– Class A design delivers zero crossover distortion for the purest sound.

– Extensively optimised 2 layer fibreglass PCB for cleanest sound and lowest crosstalk

– Multiple low noise power supplies eliminate cross-interference between sections

– Fully direct coupled signal path from the volume control for cleanest bass

– Ultra-linear resistive-ladder analogue volume control, eliminates L/R volume tracking errors

(taken from Arcam’s $6000+ flagship A49 amplifier)

– Precision metal film resistors in the signal path for lowest distortion

– Phono socket and balanced XLR inputs

– 3.5mm and 6.25mm headphone outputs

– Output impedance <0.5Ω eliminates frequency response errors

– Enough power to drive the least-efficient headphones

Other Bullet Points 

– Very high build-quality

– Die cast metal case for mechanically stable structure

– World-class analogue circuitry

– Vibration damped non-slip rubber base

Tech Specs

Frequency response – 10Hz – 20kHz / +/- 0.1dB 20Hz–20 kHz

Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise – 0.001% at 2V output, 32Ω load
Signal-to-noise ratio (A-weighted) – 109dB at 2V output, 32Ω load
Headphone output power
– 2.0W, 16Ω load
– 1.1W, 32Ω load
– 0.13W, 300Ω load
Headphone recommended impedance – 16Ω – 600Ω, 3.5 or 6.35mm plug
Output impedance <0.5Ω
Input levels – 0-4V (RCA) – 0-8V (XLR)
Dimensions – W194 x H44 x D135mm
Weight – 0.71kg
 £399.00 UK inc VAT / US $600 + sales tax
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Australian brand Burson have announced a Noir Edition of the Conductor V2+ headphone amplifier/DAC/preamplifier. Hifi Pig had one of the older versions of this in house for a few months driving Audeze cans and it offers very good value and great sonics for money at USD 1499.Burson_conductor_dac_headphoneamp_preamplifier

The Noir Edition will have the same spec as the classic silver one. ie.

8.2W per channel @ 16ohm,

Class A

SABRE32 ESS9018 DAC + Xmos USB receiver making it DSD256 / DXD / 32bit384khz able

Remote Controlled Preamp

5 years of warranty

The Noir version will be Available later in August.

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Burson got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us they are introducing the pocket sized, USB powered “Conductor Air”.  Details are pretty scant at the moment but they say that just like its full sized sibling, its a USB  DAC, Head amp, Preamp 3 in 1 unit.  Conductor-Air-S4

Key Features:

  • 185g uni-body aluminium enclosure
  • Xmos USB receiver capable of native streaming DSD256, DXD, 32bit/384khz audio files
  • SABRE32/ESS9018 DAC chip, just like the desktop Conductor V2+
  • Raising a 5V USB power to 18V resulting in 4 times the dynamic range and 500mW into 32ohm of power
  • Remote controlled preamp.

The conductor Air will come in both silver and black and will cost $499 when it is available in late August.

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Dan Worth has a listen to the £3000 Chord Hugo TT for Hifi Pig. More »

The Nēo ACE from Moon is “A Complete Experience of musical ecstasy” says the company’s press release. The all-in-one ACE is an integrated amplifier and streaming DAC music player so all you need do is simply hook up a pair of speakers, connect to the internet and play. The ACE features Moon’s MiND* control system which provides a full graphic interface allowing access to a digital music library or streaming service.MOON ACE low res 2

The ACE features all-new advanced setup software and will decode DSD up to DSD256 and 32- bit/384kHz PCM. The ACE also features a moving magnet phono preamplifier and has RS-232 and IR ports for use in custom-install environments.

RRP £2,800, though on offer at £2500 until July 1stMOON ACE low res 1


  • Three line-level inputs including a front-mounted 1/8” mini-jack for personal media
  • Headphone output on 1/4” TRS jack located on the front
  • Seamless integration with MOON’s MiND
  • Eight (8) digital inputs include USB (hi-res audio), SPDIF (2), Optical (2), aptX® Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi and Ethernet
  • The first MOON product using an OLED type screen – provides more detailed information.
  • Simple MiND setup via on-board software
  • Moving magnet phono preamplifier
  • Analogue inputs are configurable to “pass-through” mode, which bypasses the gain stage to accommodate components like a home-theatre processor


  • Output Power at 8Ω: 50 Watts per channel
  • Input Sensitivity: 370mV – 3.0V RMS
  • Input Impedance : 11,000Ω
  • Gain: 37dB
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 100dB @ full power
  • Frequency response (full range): 10Hz – 60kHz +0/-3dB
  • Crosstalk: 90dB

   THD (20Hz – 20kHz @ 1 watt/50 watts): 0.015% / 0.02%

  • Intermodulation distortion: 05%
  • PCM Bit-depth range/sampling rates: 16-32bits / 1-384kHz
  • DSD sample rates: DSD64, DSD128 & DSD256
  • Shipping weight: 24 lbs / 11 Kgs
  • Dimensions (width x height x depth): 42.9 x 8.9 x 36.6

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The long-awaited DAC/valve headphone amp and preamp from the Danish brand Copland has arrived in the UK courtesy of Absolute Sounds.

DAC 215 is a Universal Hi-res DAC, Preamplifier and Headphone amp.4478_Copland_DAC_215

The heart of the DA215 is a D/A converter with multiple S/PDIF inputs, PCM, and DSD capabilities using the ES9018 Reference 32-bit DAC in quad-mono configuration, 8 mono to 2 stereo configuration.  The company’s press release has the following to say “Combining four in-phase and four opposite-phase converters per channel, the statistical properties of the signals are taken to advantage; the signal power of the phases correlate and add-up in constructive addition, whereas the noise power of the phases are de-correlated, improving the signal to noise ratio of the resulting analogue waveform”.

The class-A buffering technology of the analogue filtering sections is borrowed from the Copland CD-players and composed by discrete transistors.

The DA215 incorporates an asynchronous USB input, three S/PDIF digital inputs, an analogue input, two analogue outputs (fixed and variable) and a complete pre-amplifier with analogue volume control and front panel headphone output featuring vacuum tube gain stages.

You can use the DAC215 for headphones playback. However, you can also use it as a high-end pre-amplifier with volume control, using the amplifier RCA outputs. The volume control and pre-amplifier functionality can be bypassed for pure DAC mode.4485_Copland_DAC_215_(rear)

The DA215 USB features USB 2.0 PCM 24/32 bit data transfer to 384 kHz, including native DSD64 and high resolution DSD128. The input is converted to i2s and it is connected directly to the DAC chip. Once connected, the computer recognizes the DAC and routes the digital audio data to it, bypassing the source device’s internal audio circuitry. The asynchronous USB-B port connects to the computer’s USB-A port. No power is taken from the computer. The regulated power supply for the USB input section has its own winding of the power transformer and the noisy computer line is completely interrupted by the use of digital Isolators.

UK RRP: £1998; available with black or silver fascia

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The Wadia Dl122 Digital Audio Decoder will decode files at 24-bit/192kHz has a USB input that accepts up to 32-bit signals and support for DSD64, DSD128, DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. It has an onboard headphone amp, a host of outputs and costs a pound under £1500. Dan Worth takes a listen for Hifi PigMore »

Mytek Digital has announced the release of the MQA™ firmware update which enables the new Brooklyn DAC/ Headphone/Phono Preamplifier to decode all MQA files — in addition to all other formats, including PCM 384k/32bit and DSD256. After Meridian, Mytek is the second MQA licensee to release the firmware update with the MQA technology.Mytek_dac_MQA

MQA is an end-to-end technology that captures and delivers master quality audio in a file that’s small enough to stream or download. And because it’s fully authenticated, the listener can be sure they are hearing exactly what the artist recorded and approved in the studio.

Later this year, availability of high-resolution music streaming services using MQA format is expected.

In a move that is rather unusual in a $2,000 DAC, Mytek has engineered the very Brooklyn DAC to also include a Phono Preamplifier and Headphone Amplifier.


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KR Audio, famous for manufacturing their very own tubes will be at this year’s Munich High End where they will have their VA 200 amp rated at 200 Watts and utilising the KR 842 vhd tube application.11-kronzilla-sx

Also on show at High end 2016 there will be their P-130 pre-amplifier with KR 05 tube application and the VA300i with KR 300B tube application.

As well as more traditional amplifiers, KR Audio will also have a headphone system showing a VA355i with Abyss with KR 100 tube application. The KR T-00 is, say KR Audio a superior 845 and the amplifier is also known as the ‘baby Kronzilla’.

Read more news about Munich High End 2016 Here and Hifi Pig’s coverage of last years High End Munich here


DACportable is a powerful, palm-sized device that turns the average audio of your smartphone, tablet or computer into a concert-hall listening experience” says the recent press release from CEntrance. CEntrance DACportable (1)

Encased in anodized aluminium, DACportable comes packed with audiophile-grade components the company continue.

DACportable is said to be plug and play via a USB connection. DACportable has  features like EQ filters, digital volume control, a quick charge battery. DACportable’s high-res sound (backed with 32-bit/384kHz digital audio) is self-powered, so it won’t drain your phone’s battery.

The DACportable will also work with future iPhones with or without headphone jacks.

CEntrance recently launched DACportable on Indiegogo and received an amazing response, already surpassing their funding goal with $53,000.


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Unison Research are expanding on their valve-based hifi electronics to produce their first ever dedicated headphone amplifier. The SH is a single-ended, two-stage full-valve headphone amplifier designed to accommodate both traditional analogue sources and modern computer-based audio.


Unison Research have created SH in order to cater for the growing world of headphone audiophiles. As most readers will be well aware, headphones have become increasingly important in the high-end home listening environment and the SH was developed to offer a high-end valve alternative to the many solid-state headphone amplifiers that are currently available.

The SH began with the same basic aim as the company’s Simply Italy integrated amplifier; to produce a world-class sound from a specialised device, using the best technology available. However, to suit the particular factors associated with headphone listening, the development team also had to ensure that the amplifier was designed with low noise characteristics and low internal impedance.

The result was a fairly simple linear circuit with low negative feedback that produces an output voltage which is capable of driving a wide range of headphones, while keeping distortion low throughout the frequency range. To compensate for the low negative feedback required in the design, attention was paid to ensure optimal linearity and increased attention on managing noise to a minimal level throughout the electrical path. “It’s thanks to this design that the SH is able to deliver a consistent, coherent, rich and identifiably “valve” sound character when in use” says the recent press release from Henley Designs, the UK Distributor.

The input stage uses an ECC83 valve, while the output stage uses one EL84 (both valves operating in triode mode). The benefits to using this specific combination of valves are said to be two-fold. First, the application requires reduced power compared to how the valves are usually employed, resulting in extended life. Second, the EL84 is capable of producing enough power to also drive the specially-selected output transformer with optimal electrical and sound character.

The SH has two headphone outputs that are connected in parallel (each with their own EL84 valve) for easy switching between headphones, or to accommodate multiple listeners. There is also a “Sensitivity” switch, to ensure the widest possible range of headphones can be comfortably driven  by the amplifier. When set to “High Sensitivity”, the output voltage from the amplifier is reduced, and at “Low Sensitivity” it is at its maximum. The volume stage is entirely passive.

In addition to a standard un-balanced RCA input for connecting any Line-level source, the SH is also equipped with a USB DAC. The asynchronous USB 2.0 technology is the same as found on the recent Triode 25 amplifier, and supports audio formats up to 384kHz PCM and DSD 128. There’s a patented jitter-elimination circuit and galvanic isolation employed between the power areas of the USB interface and the conversion IC.SH_RETRO

SRP £1,250.00


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Burson have announced that they have completed the R&D of our 3rd generation Conductor., which is their reference class headphone amp, USB DAC and preamp, 3 in 1. They say “is a major update from previous Conductor models”. The Conductor V2 headphone amp and pre-amp section are powered by a dedicated 70W transformer. Tuned to operate in pure Class A, it outputs over 8 Watt per channel into 16ohm, making the Conductor V2, claim Burson “one of the most powerful headphone amplifiers in the world, capable of driving any headphone”. On the digital front the Conductor V2 features the flagship ESS Sabre DAC, has completely new supporting circuitry and an independent power transformer. The new USB module features a digital interface from XMOS with their 8 core U6 chip supporting native DSD256 playback and up to 32bit depth.

Burson are yet to set a price for it. Instead, they have put the design on Indiegogo to seek community support. With enough contributions from the community, they are hoping to push the price as low as $999 USD for the analogue version (V2) and $1,499 USD of the fully equipped version (V2+). Burson have told us: “We want it to have a lower price so more audiophiles can own this truly amazing machine.”


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After strong demand, Lotus hifi brings the Allnic HPA5000 headphone Amplifier to the UK.AllnicHPA5000

The HPA5000 is a unit made for the headphone audiophile and is a tubed output transformer-less (OTL), output capicitator-less design (OCL).

It uses x2 6AN, x2 E180CC and x4 7233 tubes. Each tube sits on Allnic’s patented Absorb GEL vibration damping socket and is enclosed in a protective chimney. The HPA5000 has +28db of gain and an output of 5 watts into 8 Ohms. It is designed for headphones between 30-50 ohms and will drive almost any headphone on the market.

Available in silver or black and priced at £4500 the amplifier comes with a 2 year warranty and 1 year on factory supplied tubes.


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Janine Elliot continues her series of articles for Hifi Pig highlighting classic hifi from yesteryear. This month, given that Sennheiser have recently announced a new $55 000 Orpheus, she turns her attention to the original Sennheiser Orpheus, first released in 1991.  More »

Manley Labs has unveiled the company’s latest product for the Hifi market at CES 2016, The Manley Headphone Amplifier which they say has been built to meet the demand of audiophiles turning to personal headphone listening.   CES_2016_MAnley_Headphone_Amplifier_2

Information from Manley’s website says “There are twelve independent controls designed for maximum performance and customizable handling of sonic adjustments for a wide variety of audio experience. Of special import are the custom hand-wound air-gapped dual-mode MANLEY IRON output transformers, designed and manufactured at the Manley Labs factory in Chino, California. With a push of the button, these transformers are easily user-configured to drive three ranges of headphone loads, from 12 to 600 Ohms or greater”.

The output stage of the Manley Headphone Amplifier can be switched on-the-fly between all-triode Push-Pull and Single-Ended topology.

The Volume Control is performed by a Precision Stepped Relay ladder matrix whilst left-right Balance control is provided to trim out uneven recordings. The Manley Headphone Amplifier operates fully symmetrically, enabling it to drive balanced headphones through its XLR outputs but of course non-balanced ¼” jacks are also present. A direct preamplifier output which routes your first line input through the system to feed an external power amplifier or powered loudspeakers is also available when the headphone amp is powered down.

The Manley Headphone Amplifier also, and somewhat unusually in this day and age, incorporates bass and treble tone control to allow listeners to adjust the flavour of the sound to their preference… but you can totally bypass of the EQ circuits also.

The Manley Headphone Amplifier is available in three different colours fu: Champagne & White, Titanium & Bronze, or Copper & Black.CES_2016_MAnley_Headphone_Amplifier_1


  • Vacuum Tube design, 2 x 12AT7A Drivers, 4 x 6AQ5 Triode Strapped output tubes
  • Single-Ended or Push-Pull amplifier operation
  • Precision Stepped Relay Volume Control with Thumb Wheel
  • Selectable headphone load settings: 12-50 Ohms, 50-200 Ohms, 200-600 Ohms
  • Variable Feedback Control: 0–10dB of negative feedback
  • Balance, Treble and Bass Controls use silent conductive plastic potentiometers
  • Tone Bypass for purist signal path
  • All switching via high-grade gold-contact relays
  • 3 x Stereo Outputs: Balanced XLR headphone outs, Unbalanced standard ¼” TRS headphone jack, RCA Preamplifier Outputs
  • 2 x Analog line-level RCA inputs
  • Mono / Stereo function
  • Mute Switch
  • User adjustable Headphone Overload Protection System
  • MANLEY IRONhand-wound wide bandwidth air-gapped output transformers
  • Preamplifier Direct output routes Input 1 direct to output when unit is in standby
  • Soft Start, mute-controlled power-up sequence
  • High Speed, Low Impedance, Low Noise custom switching PSU
  • Operating Mains Voltage: 90~250VAC universal works worldwide
  • Mains Voltage Frequency: 50~ 60Hz
  • Solid Aluminum Billet Chassis
  • Real Wood Walnut Burl Trim
  • Maximum Output Power: 1W
  • Unit Dimensions: 11.5 x 5.5 x 8.2” (LxWxH)
  • Unit Weight: 12 lbs.
  • MSRP: $2950

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The Stratos combines USB DAC with A/D converter, preamplifier, MC/MM phonostage and headphone amp in one surprisingly small, portable box. Built with the audiophile in mind, it supports PCM playback up to an impressive 32bit / 384kHz and DSD up to 11.2M.ADL STRATOS front

If you’re looking to convert your vinyl or other analogue sources to digital, or to record web-streamed audio, the Stratos offers a range of options to help you obtain the best sonic results.

At the same time, if it’s a powerful headphone amplifier you’re after – one that can drive any pair of headphones on the market, again the Stratos delivers. Whether you use the latest generation of earbuds or the most dynamic audiophile headphones available, the Stratos will reveal the true character of your music.

The Stratos may be small, but it contains an amazing amount of technology…

ADL Stratos key features at a glance

  • XMOS high speed USB 2.0 input.
  • Audiophile-grade DAC which supports PCM playback up to 32bit / 384kHz and DSD up to 4x (11.2M).
  • High performance A/D converter for recordings via analogue inputs, enabling conversion of analogue sources into high resolution 24bit / 192kHz digital audio files over a choice of USB, optical and coaxial digital outputs.
  • In the case of vinyl recording, no need to worry about a phonostage: the Stratos includes the requisite input, with simple switching between moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) or line input.
  • Electronic volume control allows use as a multi-functional digital and analogue preamplifier that can be connected direct to a power amp or active speakers. Volume control has a memory function, so volume can be set at different levels for each input (phono, line, USB).
  • Headphone amplifier with ample drive for good headphones and its own volume control.
  • Three two-channel headphone amplifiers, two of which power the XLR (4-pin) balanced output, while a third powers the 6.3mm stereo phone jack output. All three deliver superb drive capabilities, being able to drive headphones from 12 to 600 ohms at >120dB dynamic range.
  • Convenient gain switch for recording attenuation: Adjust the recording attenuation to avoid overload distortion during recording: -6dB, 0dB or +6dB (Rec/db signal light comes on when input level exceeds circuit gain).
  • External power supply; while a USB-powered device might be convenient, it won’t develop the power required for high resolution playback, so the Stratos features a dual power supply system: the 5V USB bus powers the input circuit only, while all other circuits are powered by an external 15V power adaptor.

The ADL Stratos is available now priced at £995 (including VAT).


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The New Pass Labs’ HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier  was designed on a “clean sheet of paper” as though it were to be used as a power amplifier.

The HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier is capable of driving difficult loads in terms of impedance, power consumption or both and it has been designed as a real Class-A power amplifier in its own right.HPA1+Front

The foundation of the HPA-1’s engineering is a custom, low-noise shielded toroidal power transformer feeding a discreet low noise regulated power supply for the audio circuits.  The HPA-1’s amplifier circuits are low-feedback, wide-bandwidth discreet designs employing a J-Fet input stage and a Mosfet output stage biased into Class A-biased direct-coupled output stage.HPA1+Back

The HPA-1 has a single headphone jack on its front panel, two sets of single-ended analogue inputs via RCA jacks on the rear panel, and also a set of switchable “Preamp” line-level output jacks on the rear panel.  The HPA-1 can be used as a stereo preamp. The rear panel holds the power switch and fuse. Volume control is via a hefty rotary knob connected to an ALPS Potentiometer. The other front-panel controls are three pushbuttons, to select inputs or to engage the Preamp output.

Price $3500


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LH Labs via Audiobility are launching their new high-end mini Headphone Amp/DAC in to the UK, the Geek Out V2. This initial launch in the UK over the next few months will be offering a 15% discount via indiegogo with delivery before the holidays. Launch offer starts from $254.00gov2plus_diagonal

Geek Out V2 has selectable gain settings of 1000mW & 100mW. “Geek Out V2 pairs perfectly with those monstrous power hungry cans or your uber-sensitive IEM’s” says the company’s recent press release.

You can now play any music on the market today from MP3’s all the way up to 32/384 kHz and DSD 128 ultra-high-resolution files. The V2 + version has a built in battery so this Headphone Amp/DAC can be completely portable.gov2_horizontal

There is also an Infinity version which has the added benefit of a third gain setting of 450mW, plus a third digital mode to optimize the DAC for streaming music through services like Tidal. Its THD performance is further improved by -3 dB.


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Janine Elliot takes a listen to the NuForce DAC80 Digital to Analogue Converter and the company’s HA200 Headphone amplifier. Linette Smith then takes the HA200 for a second opinion. More »

Audeze is introducing new products at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, October 2nd through the 4th at the Marriott Denver Tech Center, CanJam Booth C23.

It began when the Audeze team met the legendary electronics designer Bascom King in his design lab. Bascom has designed amplifiers for Infinity, Marantz, Constellation Audio, PS Audio and others. He demoed a prototype headphone amplifier that incorporated elements of all he’s learned over the years. “Even in prototype form it was The King was the best headphone amp we ever heard, and we’ve heard just about everything,” said Audeze CEO Sankar Thiagasamudram. “We were so excited that we signed Bascom on the spot to continue developing the new amplifier exclusively for Audeze. It sounds even better in its production form.”qudewe8the8king

The King is a two-stage hybrid design featuring a pair of twin triode tube inputs (E88CCs), a differential P-MOSFET driver and MOSFET output devices. It uses NPN MOSFET output devices delivering perfect device matching for faster response times, far better than typical PNP/NPN output designs. The King’s symmetrical circuits won’t ring at high frequencies keeping it very stable, it’s servo-DC-coupled, and will offer years of trouble-free, adjustment-free use.

“We also wanted to offer a great price to those Audeze fans who’ve supported us as a way of saying thanks,” explained Mark Cohen, VP Sales. “It is not just about money to manufacture the Bascom King amplifier, we’ve already paid for all the development. The big news is we can ship in about 8 weeks. Since R&D is already done there is no risk to the customer, they’re not buying an experiment,” he continued.

The retail price of The King is set at $3,995 USD. Audeze is offering it through Indiegogo for 30 days only at $2,950. But the first 10 buyers get an even better deal, only $2,750 with shipping beginning in December.


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Burson Audio, manufacturer of fine USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier/Preamplifiers, Headphone Amplifiers and Stereo Amplifiers, and its subsidiary Supreme Sound Audio Components, will be running a demo day in the USA, showcasing both lines. There will be brunch and drinks and everyone will get a gift. Sales Manager Martha Manea and US Service Centre Engineer Mike Mona will present products including Burson’s Conductor Virtuoso DAC Headphone Amp/Preamp and the powerhouse Timekeeper Virtuoso Stereo Amp. SSA will demo the Lycan Op-Amp Test Bench/Headphone Amp/Preamp, stethoscope into the heart of your system. All demos will be on Audeze headphones.  Burson say ‘We’re so confident you’ll love the sound of Burson and SSA products that we encourage you to bring along your own headphones, headphone amplifiers and even players for what we know will be revealing comparisons.’


Demo Day takes place at JMP Electronics, the Burson Audio Distribution Centre.  14741-B Franklin Ave, Tustin, CA 92782
Friday September 18th 2015,10:30am to 4pm, please email Martha at usa.sales@bursonaudio.com if you’re coming.


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Pangea Audio has announced the introduction of the HP201 Hybrid Tube Headphone Amp with 24/192 USB DAC. The HP201 is now available with an MSRP of $299.99. Pangea_HP-201_front

The Pangea Audio HP201 combines Class A solid state circuitry featuring MOSFET output devices with a vacuum tube.

The Pangea engineering team, led by engineer/designer Jay Victor, selected MOSFETS rather than more affordable op-amp devices because of their performance advantages. “I tested a variety of solid state output devices and vacuum tubes in the design process of the HP201, selecting the combination I thought delivered the best performance despite their substantially higher cost,” reported Victor. The 12AX7 vacuum tube is protected by an easily removable shield, making it a simple task to swap in compatible tubes from different manufacturers for enthusiasts interested in experimenting with the sound..


The output stage of the HP201 is compatible with a wide range of headphone makes and models, and the analogue stereo outputs can be connected directly to a power amplifier and controlled using the large, aluminum volume control if desired. The HP201 also features a pair of auxiliary RCA inputs. The internal linear power supply features an upgradeable rear panel IEC connector, enabling the use of a premium Pangea power cable.

The HP201 is also a USB DAC. The 24/48/96/192kHz compatible input lets you play high-resolution digital audio files directly from your Windows or Mac computer. Conversion is managed by the Cirrus Logic CS4344 24-bit/192-kHz DAC chipset.


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McIntosh Laboratory has launched the new D150 digital preamp — a flexible DSD- and DXD-compatible digital preamp. McIntosh_DI50_digital _preamp

The new D150 has been designed to offer flexibility when adding digital source components to an audio system and supports many of the latest digital audio formats. With its five digital inputs (2x coaxial, 2x optical and 1x USB), plus balanced and unbalanced connections for both variable and fixed volume audio outputs, the D150 is suited to exploiting today’s high-resolution studio-master- quality digital music.

Its USB input accepts up to 32-bit/384kHz signals and supports DSD64, DSD128, DXD 352.8kHz and DXD 384kHz. Its two coaxial and two optical inputs accept up to 24-bit/192kHz signals, plus its DIN input also connects to select McIntosh SACD/CD transports/ players.

The D150 is a simple and cost-effective solution to adding digital music to an existing system, or with the addition of a power amp, speakers and digital source, the D150 can become the high-performance ‘hub’ of an all-digital set up.

The D150 also boasts a built-in headphone amplifier and uses the same DAC as the D100 (launched at CES 2013) and features an eight-channel 32-bit/192kHz D/A converter (used in stereo Quad Balanced mode.

The D150 is distinctly McIntosh, too: it shares the same classic visuals, controls and hand- crafted black-glass front panels as all the other McIntosh components and yet is easy to position with its compact, 10cm-tall chassis.


Distortion                                                                    0.002%

Frequency response                                                    (+0, -3db) 4Hz to 68kHz Maximum output voltage (balanced/unbalanced)                      16/8V rms

Input impedance (balanced/unbalanced)                  44kohm, 22kohm

Signal to noise ratio                                                    110db

Headphone output                                                      6.35mm

Variable outputs unbalanced                                      1x stereo

Variable outputs balanced                                          1x stereo

Digital USB input                                                         1x 2.0, 32-bit/192k asynchronous; 44.1kHz to 384kHz, 32-bit (PCM) DSD64, DSD128, DXD352.8kHz, DXD384kHz

Digital S/PDIF inputs                                                   2x Opt, 2x Coax, 24/192

Power control output                                                  1x

Rear panel data ports                                                 1x

Rear panel IR sensor input                                         1x

Dimensions (WxHxD)                                                  44.45 x 9.8cm x 40.64cm

Weight                                                                        6.1kg

The D150 sells for £3,495 and will be available in the UK in late January



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Burson Audio has announced the introduction of the new Conductor Virtuoso USB DAC, Headphone amplifier and Preamplifier Conductor-Virtuoso-2that can be used to drive headphones of desktop systems. The new Virtuoso supersedes all previous Conductor models.

Burson say that it has “significantly upgraded and refined previous generations of the Conductor. Besides big power, the Conductor Virtuoso includes a new, stunning 100-step volume control with a fresh and easy-to-read display. When the Virtuoso is turned on the volume indicators appear on the face of the thick, antiresonant aluminum front plate”.

Consumers can choose from two interchangeable DAC boards with different sonic characteristics, and the modular design should make for no-fuss upgrades. Another important consideration say Burson is that the Conductor Virtuoso doesn’t use densely-packed opamps, but instead all discrete circuitry which they say offers superior tonality, clarity and a lower noise floor.

The remote control is carved from solid aluminum with no visible screws.

The Conductor Virtuoso is shipping now with the ESS9018 Sabre DAC at $1,995USD / €1,850 Euros. The Burr Brown PCM1793 version is priced at $1,495USD / €1,451 Euros.

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Schiit Audio has introduced Fulla, its new micro-sized DAC/headphone amp combo for use with virtually any computer. The USB-schiit-logopowered Fulla delivers up to 24/96 HD audio with a digital to analog converter, together with a headphone amp with up to 10x the power of a typical computer headphone output port. Priced at $79, the Fulla is the most affordable dongle DAC/amp available today say Schiit.

“Best of all, Fulla has a real, analog volume knob on it—a feature that makes it easier to use than any other dongle-DAC,” said Jason Stoddard, Co-Founder of Schiit Audio. “There’s no software volume, no drivers, no digital volume processing—just plug in, turn the knob, and you have great music.”

Fulla uses many of the same parts as other Schiit products, from the CM6631A asynchronous USB input receiver, to the AK4396 digital to analog converter. Combined with thin-film resistors, and Analog Devices ADA4610 and AD8397 output devices, Fulla is said to provide “excellent sound quality beyond its modest price”.

Fulla also features a custom steel and aluminum chassis. “We made a conscious decision to keep Fulla simple and concentrate on sound quality first,” continued Jason Stoddard. “Fuller’s designed to take with you, and use on multiple computers, so plug and play operation was very important. We also wanted to get away from complex or gimmicky feature sets that might require custom applications for different OSes. The result is a small, good-sounding, and quite powerful little device that sets the bar on value for money.”

Like all Schiit products, Fulla is made in the USA, with the vast majority of its total production cost going to companies manufacturing in the USA, and local assembly, testing, and support through Schiit’s Valencia, CA offices.

Fulla, (in Norse legend, a goddess, a “bountiful healer,”) is available to order now.


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TEAC has introduced its HA-50 portable headphone amplifier which also sports an integrated USB DAC.TEAC_headphone_amplifier

The new headphone amplifier is designed to operate with laptops as well as Apple iOS devices and will support 24-bit/96kHz using the unit’s BurrBrown PCM5102 DAC chip.

The TEAC HA-P50 uses OPA 1652 op amps and achieves a distortion rate of 0.001% at 100mW output.
The high output (160 mW per channel at 32 Ohms) is designed to drive 600 Ohm headphones at full power and has a high/low gain setting switch.
It has a dual function optical digital/analogue input which accepts either and optical cable with a mini-plug or a standard audio cable with a 3.5mm stereo mini-plug. The unit can be charged via USB or the DC IN 5V connector with the optionally available power supply and a full charge will give users eight hours of use.

Price is $299.99.


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Slovenian company Erzetich got in touch with Hifi Pig to tell us all about their new high-end headphone Deimos_headphone_amplifieramplifier, the Deimos .

“Despite the rough, 19th century industrial look, with an aged linden wood faceplate and milled thick aluminum parts, there’s a gentle soul inside. This 6.5-kg-headpone amplifier sounds balanced and precise and makes an important visual statement on your desk – no wonder it was a great success among visitors at this year’s Munich High End Hi-Fi show” says the company’s press release with the company’s CEO and founder Blaž Erzetič commenting
“I’ve rediscovered the music with Deimos, This is a supercar among headphone amplifiers. Every album I listen to on it is a spectacle on its own. Visually, we studied a lot the exterior, too, to make this machine not only an ear-, but also an eye-candy”;

Due to the complexity of manufacture, Erzetich plans a very limited yearly production of this completely hand crafted, headphone amplifier;

·  dual mono class-A

  • three separate power supplies (two for analog, one for digital)
  • 43000 uF smoothing capacitors per channel
  • digitally controlled 64-steps relay-based volume attenuator
  • gain boost switch
  • RCA and XLR inputs
  • superior quality RCA connectors
  • Neutrik gold plated XLR connectors
  • chassis made of steel, aluminum, wood and acrylic

Deimos will be available at the beginning of 2015 for around 4,000 EUR but Erzetich will start accepting preorders with a special discount in late September.


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Tame teen Harry Smith and somewhat more elderly Stuart take a listen to the Lehmann Audio Traveller Headphone Amplifier as part of Hifi PIg’s « Headphone Month » More »

Dan Worth continues « Headphone Month » at Hifi Pig with the a review of the Epiphany Acoustics EHP-02Di  Headphone Amplifier & USB DAC More »

French manufacturer Focal aren’t the fist name that comes to mind when you think about headphones but perhaps they should be given Harry and Linette’s opinion on their Spirit One S headphones costing just 179 EUR. More »

« Headphone Month » at Hifi Pig  continues with Janine Elliot’s review of the German AudioValve Verto and RKV Mk 3 headphone amplifiers costing £690 and £3262 respectively. More »

Hifi Pig’s « Headphone Month »  continues with Stuart and Harry Smith’s thoughts on the little Tisbury CA-1 Headphone Amplifier that is made in the UK and costs £349 More »

headphonemonth facebook bannerAugust is Headphone Month here at Hifi Pig and we’ve dedicated all our hifi reviews to reviewing nothing but headphones and headphone related products.

We’ve reviewed headphones from Final, Stax, Sennheiser, GOJI and Audeze with more to come from HifiMan and others.

As well as headphones we’ve published a headphone amplifier review of a Graham Slee  product with more to come from Lehmann Audio, AudioValve, Schiit and Tisbury.

We’ve got a fabulous prize package to give away too so please make sure you keep an eye on our Hifi news and Hifi reviews section of Hifi Pig as well as the next edition of the FREE Hifi Pig Magazine which will be published on 3rd September.

You can see all our headpohone reviews here.


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Shortly after the successful launch of its PM-1 planar magnetic headphones, OPPO Digital has HA-1-Black-Frontreleased another member of its family of personal audio products – the HA-1 headphone amplifier.

The analogue audio section of the HA-1 is a fully balanced design with an emphasis on keeping the audio signal in the analogue domain once it leaves the DAC. The HA-1 is anchored by a hefty toroidal power transformer, and linear power regulators and filters with custom made capacitors to help ensure that the headphone amplifier has a clean power source with plenty of reserve energy. The fully balanced Class A power amplification section uses “hand-picked and paired discrete components to ensure symmetry”, and a motor-driven volume control knob allows for both manual and remote control volume adjustment.

Its digital inputs include coaxial, optical, balanced AES/EBU, and an asynchronous USB DAC. The USB DAC supports PCM audio up to 384 kHz 32-bit resolution and DSD audio up to 256x the CD sample rate and it uses same ESS 9018 Sabre32 Reference DAC and output driving stage used in OPPO Blu-ray players. The HA-1 is compatible with Apple’s iPod, iPhone and iPad for use as an external DAC, enabling the listener to directly tap into digital music played from these devices.

Retail price of $1199, and the silver version is estimated to be available in June.

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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chord Electronics’ DAC 64, the company will be launching something very CHORD_Hugo Top V4 Circ Ant SPOTLIGHTspecial at CES 2014. Based on their FPGA DAC technology the company will be introducing a reference-level.

Called the new device offers “studio-master-tape sound quality, advanced connectivity and uncompromising file playback capability, all from a palm-sized player”. Hugo is a headphone amp/DAC, offering five digital inputs including A2DP aptX Bluetooth, plus 384kHz PCM and DSD 128 playback.

The new Hugo, which can be used as both a portable headphone amp/DAC as well as a source component in a static system.

Hugo benefits from two advanced USB inputs: one driverless input for legacy USB devices and one asynchronous high- definition USB port for operation up to 384kHz plus coaxial and optical digital inputs.  

Hugo has a built-in battery-charging circuit, with a full charge reached in approximately two hours. Hugo takes no power over its USB input and only takes signal data, therefore, it is fully compatible with all iPhone, iPad and Android devices. 

Price will be £1200


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Time for a left turn into tubeland for the guys over at Schiit Audio whose Magni and Modi kit we’ve reviewed in the past.vali pcb(1) The new Vali headphone amp uses a tiny NOS JAN Raytheon pencil tubes which supply all the gain (not just an buffer!) and whilst the Vali resembles the Magni, the only thing they actually share is a case.

Here’s a look at the innards.

Price is a very reasonable $119 considering this product is made in the US

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Meridian Audio has announced the introduction of their Prime Headphone Amplifier which replays audio from both Meridian_prime_headphone_ampanalogue and USB-based sources. The Prime Headphone Amplifier also provides a preamplifier output to drive an external audio system or active loudspeakers. 

The metal enclosure of the Prime headphone amplifier is a dual-skinned design of interlocking extrusions which Meridian say makes the circuitry far less susceptible to interference. There are no screws – the box is opened by a hidden magnetic release mechanism

The Prime Headphone Amplifier can be powered by the wall-mounted supply provided or by the optional Meridian Prime Power Supply, available early December.. 

Meridian’s Prime Headphone Amplifier, features Analogue Spatial Processing (ASP) which “transforms headphone listening, providing a more natural spatial soundstage that’s more like listening on loudspeakers”.  

Price is £1200

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