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.
Sometimes life happens. And you find yourself away from your home rig, or your home rig is gone period...as is your home. And you need to listen to "Don't Think Twice" by Dylan over and over, but the soundcard in your laptop isn't cutting it even though your JH13s otherwise sound awesome. Or you find yourself without power or worse after a hurricane and the only thing that can ease your mind is some tunes from your battery-operated portable rig. Then you realize, yeah, portable amps/DACs have a place in this world because right now I could really use one.
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.
There was a time, not long ago, when the terms "high-quality" and "computer speakers" were seldom used together. If one desired reasonably good sound from their computer, they spent $100 to $200 on something like a Logitech or Klipsch 2.1 setup and called it good enough. Things have changed since then and the MM-1 from Bowers and Wilkins was among the earliest models to offer serious sound to match their good looks. That was nearly 3 years ago - are they still relevant today?
The MP-301 Mk 3 is a very good sounding amplifier for the money. It wears its tube topology on its sleeve, both physically and sonically. Love it for that, or pass. But if you think it's a good thing, then you get a LOT of product for your $300 here.
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.