Solid State Home Headphone Amplifier Reviews
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John Grandberg Feb 21, 2014 0 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 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 Feb 07, 2014 23 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 Dec 04, 2013 20 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Nov 08, 2012 18 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!

John Grandberg Oct 25, 2012 15 comments

Electrostatic headphones. Just mentioning to term conjures thoughts of supremely expensive systems and frustratingly confusing naming conventions. Example: the Stax SRS-4170 system is comprised of the SR-407 headphones and the SRM-006tS amplifier. But the official name is "earspeaker" instead of headphones, and "driver unit" rather than amplifier. And at $2,000 this is merely a mid-range system, with the top models selling for significantly higher prices.

Woo Audio aims to help make 'stats more accessible with their WEE transformer box. Read on to find out why this thing might just be your ticket to electrostatic goodness at a reasonable price.

Skylab Oct 04, 2012 14 comments

In what seems like a relatively short time, Burson Audio has developed a reputation for making good products, and they seem to have a pretty devoted and happy customer base. These are enviable things. I had read lots of good things about Burson's products, but never had the chance to hear one, until being sent this review loaner from Burson.