Solid State Home Headphone Amplifier Reviews

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John Grandberg Posted: Jul 18, 2014 9 comments

NuForce augments their Home Series lineup with a reasonably affordable and seemingly innocuous new model. Look closer, though, and you'll find the HA-200 has a trick up it's sleeve....

Skylab Posted: Jul 18, 2014 5 comments
I own British speakers. I love British speakers. My main speakers are B&W Nautilus 800's, and I LOVE them. What do I love about them? They sound very, very natural over the long haul, but they don't immediately hit you over the head with this or that. They are not flashy, but they provide superb musical satisfaction over the long haul. Nothing sticks out, and that's what provides the naturalness of the sound.

I have to think that the Tisbury fellows like this sort of British sound, because that's EXACTLY what I got from the CA-1. Nothing stuck out, but the music flowed in an remarkably natural way, and one that I would not have expected from a $600 solid state amp.

John Grandberg Posted: Feb 21, 2014 1 comments

I love relatively compact devices packed with features. Unfortunately many of them involve significant compromise to achieve their size or price point.

Here's one that doesn't.

Skylab Posted: Feb 12, 2014 6 comments

I was approached by MiniWatt to review their current USB DAC/AMP combo, the n4. I had not really heard much about this company before but they have had several previous products that were well received, including a very compact vacuum tube headphone amp. I hadn't reviewed an "inexpensive" product ($349 MSRP in this case) here on InnerFidelity for a while, so I decided to give it a try.

John Grandberg Posted: Feb 07, 2014 27 comments

Should a reference-quality headphone amplifier cost more than a slightly used jet ski? Because that seems to be the trend. AURALiC goes in another direction with their statement amp, the stunning TAURUS MKII.

John Grandberg Posted: Dec 04, 2013 21 comments

Resonessence Labs, the wizards behind the ESS Sabre DAC chips and the exceptional Invicta DAC, release their first product aimed solely at headphone users. And it's a doozy.

John Grandberg Posted: Aug 09, 2013 12 comments

Firestone Audio moves upscale—known for their products in the $200-300 range, they release a flagship headphone amp. Fully balanced, plenty potent, and innovative in several ways, the Bobby proves Firestone is worthy of competing with the big boys.

John Grandberg Posted: Jul 24, 2013 20 comments

NuForce is on a roll with new releases—pick a category and they likely have at least one new product on offer, or maybe several. All of it seems very desktop friendly, so I figured I should give several of them a go.

Dinny FitzPatrick Posted: Apr 25, 2013 24 comments

In many ways, the Essence One confounded my sonic expectations. It was disappointing with the phones with which I thought it would mate perfectly and soared with the phones I thought would break its back. This, folks, is why we actually need to listen to this stuff.

John Grandberg Posted: Mar 15, 2013 13 comments

Parasound hasn't released a DAC in nearly 2 decades. That streak is now broken thanks to their new Zdac. Was it worth the wait?

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Feb 21, 2013 13 comments

Emotiva is always full of surprises. They first made their name with a series of high-performance/high-value power amps and home theater surround processors, and their Airmotiv 4 speaker knocked me for a loop last year. The little speaker set a new standard for affordable desktop speakers, and Airmotiv 4 became my go-to reference. Now they've done it again with the XDA-2. The beautifully finished, full-size (17 x 2.25 x 14 inch) $399 component boasts a generous assortment of inputs and outputs. Getting acquainted with the sound with my Hifiman HE-400 headphones was a treat for my ears.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jan 07, 2013 10 comments
You know Bryston? The 35 year old company is based in Peterborough, Ontario, just northeast of Toronto, and they have over 150 dealers in North America. The BHA-1 may be their very first headphone amp, but it's a Class A, fully-balanced, fully-discrete design. Incredibly, Bryston may be the only major high-end audio company currently making a serious headphone amp, but I guess it's only a matter of time before Ayre, Mark Levinson, Rowland, Naim, Audio Research, Conrad-Johnson, Rouge Audio, VAC, etc. wake up and join the fray.
Tyll Hertsens Posted: Dec 25, 2012 50 comments

With just a few phone calls and emails, I've managed to get my hands on the amazing Stax SR-009 headphones, and some of the world's best electrostatic headphone amps and the gear to make use of them, and set them up my demo room for a week of comparative listening.

Quite the ear opening experience!

John Grandberg Posted: Dec 07, 2012 4 comments

I just love checking out previously unknown (to me) gear from Japan. They have quite a few high quality headphone-oriented brands that don't get much exposure anywhere else. Case in point - the Izmo M1. Check out the picture above: looks like a nice portable amp right? That was my first thought as well but it turns out I was wrong. Sort of. It's far more than just a portable amp but can impersonate one with the right accessories.

Confused yet? Allow me to explain...

Skylab Posted: Nov 08, 2012 20 comments

Meier amps are designed in Germany, but built in China by Shanling. This no doubt has contributed to a strong value for the money. And the subject of this review, the "Rock" home headphone amp, is clearly targeted at people who are looking for value--the Rock is the smallest home (non-portable) headphone amp Meier has ever made, and also the least expensive, at $240 USD, or EUR 220 (in the EU). That actually makes it LESS expensive than any of Meier's current line-up of portable headphone amps!

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