A while ago we ran a news item on the Coffman Labs G1-A preamp and thought you might also be interested in their new, tubed H1-A Headphone Amplifier which will debut at the Newport Audio Show in a couple weeks
Externally, the H1-A has a strong family resemblance to the G1-A. The design includes variable impedance output for both quarter-inch and mini headphone plugs, four inputs and an RCA line out for those wishing to use it as a preamp.
It uses a 6C4 tube for the gain stage which drives a pair of 50L6 or 25L6 tubes in push-pull mode which Coffman Labs say should be enough to drive almost all headphones and even high efficiency loudspeakers. Three separate output impedances are provided and you get four inputs (Three on the rear of the unit and a mini jack on the front). Right and left volume controls are provided on the front panel along with a source switch.
Like the G1-A it’s an all analogue design, completely hand-built in Hillsboro, Oregon USA.
Price is $2,295
Burson have introduced two new products aimed squarely at the headfi marketplace, the Burson Conductor SL9018 (pictured) and the Conductor SL1793.
The Conductor SL9018 is a streamlined version of the company’s already well established Conductor whilst the Conductor SL1793 is an enhanced version of Burson’s HA-160D.
The SL9018 will retail for $1550 whilst the SL1793 will be available for $1250. Both products will be released in June.
The SL9018 is a headphone amplifier, 32bit 200K DAC and 24bit 192K USB asynchronous DAC with fully discrete circuitry, a fully symmetrical FET input stage and will operate in pure class A mode. The 2 levels output stage will deliver 0.18W to 2W which Burson say will offer perfect control for any headphone. The SL9018 has 1 line level input using RCA inputs and 3 digital inputs.
The SL1793 is also a headphone amplifier and DAC and offers the same output power, uses the same USB receiver but differs in that it uses a Burr Brown 24 bit 192 PCM1793 DAC rather than the ESS9018 Sarb DAC of the SL9018.
Jerry puts the King Rex HQ-1 headphone amplifier into his system and gives his opinions on this £600 unit.
Read the full review here.
Schiit Audio announce the production of the Asgard 2 headphone amplifier. Asgard 2 is a complete redefinition of the company’s Asgard headphone amplifier, adding both a higher-performance gain stage based on their flagship Mjolnir amp, as well as features such as selectable gain and preamp outs.
“With these changes, Asgard 2 becomes a complete control center for desktop audio,” said Jason Stoddard, Schiit’s Co-Founder. “It provides switched preamp outputs for use with powered monitors, and exceptional flexibility to power headphones from sensitive IEMs to power-hungry orthodynamics.”
IEMs are a special focus of Asgard 2. At the low gain setting of 1.5x, the noise floor is said to be exceptionally low and the Alps Blue Velvet pot provides a “very fine range of control, with excellent channel matching”.
Asgard 2 offers a high gain setting of 6x, and can provide up to 1W of power into 32 or 50 ohms, making it suitable for many power-hungry planar-magnetic, or orthodynamic headphones. With output voltage up to 30V p-p, it also pairs with high-impedance, 300 and 600 ohm headphones.
Like all Schiit products, Asgard 2 is made in the USA.
Price is $249
With its Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC), standalone Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) & Preamp, Digital-to-Digital Converter (DDC), standalone Digital-to-Digital Converter (DDC) with analog input and Headphone Amplifier this little unit from Tokyo certainly seems to be well specced.
All in one device for USB DAC, standalone DAC & Preamp, USB-DDC, standalone DDC with analog input, headphone amplifier.
Asynchronous USB operation: bit-perfect digital audio and low clock jitter.
USB audio class 2 (up to 24-bit/192kHz) and high-speed asynchronous mode: Microsoft Windows® XP, Windows® Vista and Windows® 7 (32-bit/64-bit) with special driver compatible with WDM/Direct X, ASIO 2.1 and WASAPI exclusive. Apple OSX version 10.6.4 and above (no driver install required).
Up to 24-bit/96kHz full speed mode compatible. If enabled for UAC2 when connected to an FS hub, it will fall back to UAC1, full speed mode.
External 12V 2.5A high current DC power supply unit for high quality audio performance.
Full aluminum finished exterior design case.
Audio muting transistor for anti-pop control.
ESD protection varistor, USB Surge protection circuit enabled.
Standard dual RCA stereo line output jack with fixed gain and variable gain controlled by FIX/VAR select switch.
High−performance dual unit precision potentiometer for line output (at variable mode) and headphone output volume control.
Quad-level LED indication for sample rate status: 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz and 192kHz.
Dual line output mode support pure DAC mode (fixed gain) and preamp mode (variable gain, potentiometer volume control).
Up to 24-bit/192kHz S/PDIF input (TOSLINK optical & coaxial).
Up to 24-bit/192kHz optical S/PDIF output from USB input, optical input, coaxial input and 24-bit/96kHz optical S/PDIF output from analog line input path.
Price is expected to be around 450 USD
Hifi Pig reported on the Yamamoto YDA-02 DAC way back in March of 2012 and now the company has announced a headphone amplifier to add their range of high end audio kit.
The Yamamoto HA-03 uses two of the C3M valve from Siemens and a very simple circuit design to deliver upto 1.4 watts per channel into headphones and 1 watt per channel can be delivered to loudspeakers should yours prove efficient enough.
Switching between two inputs is possible by the flick of a small toggle switch.
TEAC have recently announced the launch of a new series of hifi seperates called the 501 Reference series. The series includes the AI-501DA class D integrated amplifier (pictured) with 192kHz USB Audio Input using BurrBrown PCM5102 D/A , the PD-501HR CD Player with 5.6MHz DSD-file-recorded disc nativeplayback, the HA-501full-analogue dual monaural headphone amplifier and finally the UD-501 DSD 5.6MHz / PCM 384kHz capable dual monaural D/A converter.
All the units are small footprint to fit on your desktop.
Schiit Audio have announced its newest products, the $99 Magni headphone amplifier and the $99 Modi USB DAC. Magni offers a fully discrete design and Modi has an AKM4396 D/A converter and active filter output stage for driving long cable runs. Both products are made in the USA.
“We’re excited to debut Magni and Modi,” said Jason Stoddard, Schiit’s Co-Founder. “Since our expansion, we’ve been working on seeing how far we can push the price/performance barrier, and Magni and Modi are the result. Combining large-scale production runs with highly automated assembly and efficient chassis design have really paid off.”
Magni delivers 1.2W into 32 ohms, and is capable of driving many orthodynamic headphones, as well as offering >100dB signal to noise for compatibility with many IEMs. It includes a 115V-compatible “wall wart” style power adapter in its $99 price. In addition, its distortion performance is less than 0.004% at 1V out across the audio band, and its output impedance is less than 0.1 ohm.
Modi uses the same CM6631 USB input receiver as Schiit’s USB module, running in USB Audio 1.0 mode for driverless operation at all sample rates from 16/44.1 to 24/96, including 24/88.
The good people at Deco Audio, the Aylesbury based hi-fi outlet will be holding their “Headonism” 2012 event on Saturday 27th October between 10:30 and 17:30.
They will have a wide range of headphones and headphone amplifiers for you to try out from the more affordable end of the scale to the much more high-end.
Headphones on the day will be from:
Sennheiser, ( HD500 series up to and including the top of the range HD700 and HD800 headphones and the new Momentum headphones, as will the top of the range wireless RS220 system.) Stax, Hi-fi Man, Grado and Audio Technica.
Headphone amplifiers on demonstration will include models from Rega, Edwards Audio, Project, Hi-Fi Man, Lehmann and others, some of which will be shown for the first time within the UK.
Free refreshments will be available throughout the day and there will be representatives from various manufacturers on hand to answer any questions you may have and even better Deco Audio are encouraging yu to bring along your own CDs, LPs and iPods.
Please feel very welcome to bring along your own CDs, LPs and iPods (etc).
Toronto-based exaSound Audio Design has introduced the new, e20 DXD/DSD DAC - a stereo asynchronous USB interface supporting 384kHz/32bit PCM, and 2822.4/5644.8 MHz DSD.
George Klissarov, founder of exaSound explained: “The e20 DAC takes to the next level the remarkable bit-perfect, low-jitter accuracy of the e18 DAC. It is refined for the perfect stereo experience, has even lower distortion and noise levels, improved headphone amplifier, balanced outputs and DSD support. The e20 DAC enables the leading edge audiophile to play DXD and DSD master files in their native format, without any conversion or down-sampling, offering a perfect reproduction of the recorded material. e20 delivers recording-studio precision and realism – nothing added, nothing taken away.”
Features of the exaSound e20 DAC include:
- Based on the ES9018 Sabre32 reference DAC chip.
- e20 operates in asynchronous USB transfer mode.
- Galvanic isolation between the USB and the DAC eliminates ground loops noise, and blocks computer-originated interferences.
- Jitter minimization is achieved by using three precision quartz oscillators (0.13ps master clock).
- Seventeen internal power cleaning stages.
- Second generation high-fidelity headphone amplifier, capable of driving the most demanding headphones.
- Simultaneously driven, gold-plated unbalanced (XLR) and balanced (RCA) outputs.
- Two S/PDIF inputs provide jitter reduction and superb D/A conversion when used with CD transports.
- Automatic sampling rate switching, up to 384 kHz software up-sampling.
Price is $2 499
The Burson Conductor is a DAC, Headphone amp and Pre-amplifier in one box.
At the heart of our DAC is the ESS SABRE32 Reference DAC chip with patented 32-bit Hyper-stream DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator technology. The Conductor also features the well reviewed Soloist Headphone Amplifier and a FET output stage Pre-amplifier.
The Conductor features a 24bit/192khz Tenor TE8802 USB receiver working in Asynchronous Transfer Mode. It also accepts coaxial and Toslink inputs supporting 32bit/192khz audio files. On the analogue front, it accepts analogue input via RCA and outputs in 6.35mm headphone jack, line-level output (DAC) and variable output (preamp).
Input impedance: 36.5 KOhms
Frequency response: ± 1 dB 0 – 50Khz
Signal to noise ratio: >96dB
THD: <0.03% at 30ohm with 1W ouput
Channel separation: >73dB
Output power: 4W at 16 Ohms
Input impedance: >8K Ohm @ 30 Ohm, 1W
Output impedance: <1 Ohm @ 30 Ohm, 1W
Power dissipation: >45W, internal, regulated power supply
When I was asked to review this little headphone amp I was a little hesitant as to what to expect, but I was assured by the UK distributor that it was a goodie.
Let’s get the technical spec out of the way first. This is headphone amplifier and USB DAC in one compact little unit with a power output rated at a healthy 1 Watt per channel in Class A. It has a switch on the back to switch between 32, 120 and 300 Ohm headphones, two stereo line inputs, a stereo minijack input, a USB input and a stereo line output. It can also be used as a preamplifier…more of which later.
In the packaging you get a small instruction manual, a pair of white gloves, the amp and its hefty separate power supply. Valves fitted are 1x6N2X1, 1 x 61X1 and 1x 12AX7X1 and the whole caboodle weighs in at 5Kg.
It’s an attractive little unit being matt black aluminium with the valves being kept from harm behind individual transparent ‘cages’. On the front of the DARED is a large input selector knob where you can switch between Line 1, Line 2, Aux and USB, a volume control dial, the headphone output socket and a round, illuminated VU meter which lends the amplifier a somewhat retro feel. It’s a nice looking bit of kit measuring 180 x 220 x 150mm (LWH).
You may not have heard of DARED but the Shenzhen Danyigao Audio Equipment Limited was founded in 1995 with the “sole purpose of designing and manufacturing vacuum tube audio equipment” and DARED is the company’s registered trading name. The name DARED derives from the Chinese pronunciation of ‘Dan yi gao’ which means “high-end tube amplifier and artistry” – In English the company use “Daring, Artistic, Reliable, Elegant and Definitive” as their mantra. DARED kit is designed and manufactured in Shenzen, China, the company say that all their products are thoroughly tested electronically and by ear before leaving the manufacturing plant and that every unit is properly “run in”. The units all bear the CE mark and letters of authentication can be found on the company’s website. There is a wide range of amplifiers in the company’s portfolio with the T300P monoblocs being their flagship product – a pair of these amplifiers boasts no less than 16 x 300B valves and weigh in at 95Kg for the two!
For the purposes of this review I’ll be using the DARED with a Wilson Benesch Circle turntable fitted with a modified Rega RB250 arm with an Audio Technica AT33EV moving coil cartridge, through an Electrocompaniet ECP 1 phono stage. For Redbook CD I’ll be using the Unison Research CD Primo and I’ll be using the Hi Sound Audio Studio digital audio player into the auxiliary input to test that out too. The USB DAC input will be fed by a netbook computer with FLAC files. Headphones will be primarily Grado 325i. More »
The HH-1 headphone amplifier from Cary Audio is a hybrid design featuring a valve input stage feeding a single-ended MOSFET output stage. The HH-1 operates in class A mode at all levels and Cary say MOSFETs were chosen as they have sonic characteristics very similar to valves.The Cary HH-1 features a pair of RCA input jacks and a loop-through output pair making it simple to plumb into your existing set up.
Only two stages of amplification are used in the HH-1 for the shortest possible signal path and It is designed to drive headphones with an impedance between 30 and 600 ohms. The 30-second muting circuit prevents any annoying pops and clicks when turning on the HH-1 headphone amplifier, and ensures that the amplifier is fully stabilised before listening.
Solaja Audio is a Serbian Hifi manufacturer of valve based amplifiers and preamplifiers and owned by designer Dragan Solaja.
The company have recently introduced a range of three products under the Sedra name and called the Sedra One, The Sedra Two and you guessed it The Sedra Three.
The Sedra One is a single ended headphone amplifier with one input and a passive volume control. A 6N2P feeds a single EL84 per channel and delivers 0.5W per channel in triode mode without negative feedback. It’s available in 115 and 230v versions on request and will cost.
The Sedra Two is an integrated amplifier with three RCA inputs and a 62NP double triode valve feeding a single EL84 per channel and delivering 1.5W per channel. With its tiny output the Sedra Two will be of interest to flea power aficionados.
Finally the Sedra Three (Pictured) is the line preamplifier in the series and offers 3 inputs and 2 outputs. Input is a 6N6P and the rectifier is an EZ81.
Each unit is 300€ plus shipping and we have contacted Soloja with regards review items.
This is another bit of kit that I’ve had for a good while (it was payment from Epiphany for some website work I did for them) and thought I really ought to write something about it. Epiphany are a small UK based company with a handful of products to their name but a growing reputation for great compact kit at reasonable prices if the comments on their website and forums are anything to go by.
The EHP-O2 is a compact little unit (8 x 11 x 3cm) but feels pretty substantial in your hand – it’s not an ultra lightweight item by any stretch of the imagination. It comes with a wall wart power supply to recharge the batteries that can be used as a power supply if you want to use it as a desktop amplifier. Epiphany say that it is perfectly safe to leave the EHP-O2 plugged in continuously and this is down to a clever in built power management system. If I was to have anything to say about the power supply it would be that the input is pretty inconveniently placed on the front of the headphone amplifier which is a bit of a pain. The circuit used in the EHP-O2 is the same as designed by the blogger NwAvGuy. More »
Custom HiFi Cables Ltd. (CHC for short in this review) was established in 2010 in the fine old English city of Leeds. It produces a wide range of hi-fi and home cinema accessories, including cables, power supplies and mains conditioners. Recently they have ventured into the area of dedicated headphone amplifiers and their 2 models are the subject of this review, along with two DC power supplies .
The HA10 (£234.99) headphone amplifier is based on a hybrid design, using a high quality E88CC dual triode valve for the first stage of amplification and then a pair of audiophile-grade MOSFETS for the second stage of amplification, which work in a class A configuration.
For the higher spec HA10SE (£269.99), improvements include an ALPS Blue volume pot, audiophile grade resistors in the signal path, and for the input audio signal capacitors high-end film input caps from Solen.
The DC1 (£139.99) and DC2 (£249.99) PSUs are both linear, not switched mode designs. For the DC2, improvements include a larger toroidal transformer (more than twice the power rating of the one in the DC1), larger reservoir capacitors (almost twice the capacity of the DC1), and mains surge and filtering. The DC2 is about twice the size and weight of the DC1. More »
The Nighthawk headphone amplifier by Audio Electronics (Designed and manufactured by Cary Audio) – is an all-new design, featuring “top quality parts mounted on a thick gauge fiberglass circuit board”.
Operating in Class A throughout, the Nighthawk’s front end is a high-speed FET, which then goes to a fully complementary high-speed buffered output stage for high linearity and low distortion.
No global feedback is used in the design of the amplifier, and it is designed to drive headphones with an impedance between 20 and 600 ohms. A five second muting circuit prevents any annoying pops and clicks when turning on the Nighthawk headphone amplifier.
The Nighthawk Headphone Amplifier will begin shipping on May 21, 2012.
Retail price: $1,195
More and larger Images at the bottom of the page
Hot on the heels of the original review of the Radford Revival STA15 I had the chance of a direct comparison with the original recently. I won’t say “with the real McCoy” as the Revival unit is just as “real” in terms of circuit topology and design. There were a few critics doing the rounds voicing opinions that older valves in unrestored versions were bound to sound softer, so setting the newer version in a glowing light, but if you read on, you’ll see that they completely missed the point.
During a brief recess in the downpour, which had been of biblical proportions of late, a knock came at the door last Friday and I found William Moores from Radford Revival was at the door accompanied by a large box containing an original STA15. The revival unit was still with me following the last review and so we settled down to an uninterrupted afternoon of music and amplifiers. They way it was going to go was to first listen to the system playing the recordings used for the previous review (all on LP) so that Will could get a feel for the system and each of the recordings before switching from my own amp to the Revival unit, then immediately to the original STA15. An important (as far as I was concerned) part of the review was to compare not just the sonic merits of each ‘amp, but also the physical characteristics, looking at internal build quality, exterior appearance and discussing measurements for both amps.
What’s immediately apparent is just how similar both units are – you have to look really hard to spot which is the Revival unit. A brief glance shows both to be identical, and only on second inspection do the slight changes become apparent. The biggest giveaway is the Revival unit is newer looking and everything is a little shinier, but look closer and you’ll see almost identical but better quality switches around back (taps for the transformer) on the new model, and notably that the casework lacks the crude folds of the original and is smoother and better finished on the newer model. Transformer casings are almost identical and there’s a story behind that too.
Old and New Transformers
The man behind the original transformer casings does in fact still make them (in a Bristol workshop) for the new amplifier, so there’s some of the original DNA from the same pair of craftsman’s hands involved in the new amp. It’s great that Will and Steve have managed to keep some of the links with the original amp manufacture. Their attention to detail and passion for these amplifiers is what makes them what they are, true but improved copies of the original. More »
Founded in 2000, the Chicago (US) based company CEntrance develops innovative audio entertainment products and licenses its technology to industry brands, such as Playback Designs, Bel Canto, Benchmark, PS Audio, and Lavry.
CEntrance will be demonstrating their “Audiophile Desktop System” at this year’s Munich High End show and very interesting it looks too. The system packs a stereo pair of “MasterClass™ 2504” desktop 2-way coaxial speakers and the “DACmini™ PX” desktop amplifier, headphone amp and DAC.
The bundle also includes a travel case with custom foam cushioning as well as speaker and USB cables.
The Audiophile Desktop System was designed from the ground up to bring Hi-Fi sound straight to the desktop for today’s Internet-connected consumers. The DAC, amp, speakers and cables are closely matched and voiced to work together perfectly. The system provides a complete digital audio listening solution for $2,000 USD and is available for ordering now.
Michael Goodman, Managing Director of CEntrance – “We have tuned this system for performance and it offers superior results than ad-hoc collections of components from several manufacturers. We’re confident that the new Audiophile Desktop System will turn some heads and ears.”
Hifi Pig hopes to have one for review soon.
An increasing number of music lovers use their computers to store and play music, yet still want better sound and more flexibility. The new Alpha Design Labs Esprit, aimed at audiophiles who wants “higher performance and increased flexibility” offering as it does 24 bit/192 kHz, a digital preamplifier and a headphone amplifier.
The Esprit is designed around the 24 bit/192 kHz Wolfson WM8716 DAC and the CIRRUS LOGIC CS5361 24/192 analogue to digital converter. It features optical, coaxial, USB and 2 analogue inputs. The USB output can be used for recording to hard disk and the S/PDIF output will support digital surround sound formats from allowing surround material stored on a hard drive to be played through a suitable digital surround decoder. More »
Founded in June 2010 by audio industry “old dogs” Jason Stoddard (former engineering lead at Sumo) and Mike Moffat (Founder of Theta, Theta Digital and Angstrom), Schiit Audio has a simple, if somewhat crazy, mission: “to bring superior performance, design, and quality to audio products at near-Chinese prices, while manufacturing in the USA”.
Schiit Audio has today released information on its first balanced products, the Mjolnir balanced headphone amplifier and Gungnir balanced DAC. Both products are designed to offer “end game performance at mid-level prices, significantly enhancing the price/performance ratio in balanced gear”. In addition, the Gungnir DAC is modular and fully upgradable, for what Schiit say is “virtually future-proof performance”. More »
Epiphany Acoustics is a small British company owned by Olivier Freeborn and are very much of the thought that high-end hifi should not be the preserve of the very wealthy.
The EHP-O2 has been designed from the ground up to offer the very best head-fi performance whilst maintaining its portability. All the components used in this diminutive headphone amplifier have been “exhaustively selected and tested to offer the user true audiophile quality” and result in a THD of just 0.0017% and a noise floor of -105dB.
With the two lightweight rechargeable batteries the unit can be used for up to 8 hours and with the included AC adaptor/charger it becomes a very capable and compact desktop amplifier to boot.
The amplifier can be optimised to almost any headphone you choose using the on board gain switch and connection to your source and headphones is made with the 3.5mm jacks to keep the weight and form factor to an absolute minimum. More »