Solid State Home Headphone Amplifier Reviews

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John Grandberg  |  Nov 14, 2017  |  8 comments
There's no shortage of choice for quality headphone amps. Whether your budget is $249 or $5,000, or somewhere in between, you should be able to find an amp that satisfies your requirements.

The same goes for D/A converters. The little Grace Design SDAC is killer at only $79 while high-end DACs routinely go for many thousands of dollars.

Preamps? Same story. As a more "traditional" hi-fi component, there's a seemingly endless supply of designs out there. A surprisingly large number of brands sport prices you might typically associate with a new luxury car. On the other end, Schiit's Saga does a bang-up job at $349.

Yes, there are more options than ever for building a system using separate components for each function. Yet things don't often go as well when using integrated devices.

John Grandberg  |  Feb 28, 2017  |  9 comments
A reference-caliber headphone amp with a plethora of unique features, the iFi Pro iCan has you covered...no matter what your preferences might be.
John Grandberg  |  Oct 28, 2016  |  10 comments
Now, Arcam turns their attention to the headphone workd. Frankly, I'm surprised it took this long. The company seems very aware of industry trends—they've been doing relatively affordable USB DACs for a while now, as well as various wireless widgets like the miniBlink Bluetooth streamer. They even have an add-on DAC/amp/charging case for the iPhone 6/6S which I'd totally use if I was an iPhone guy. Yet somehow, despite all these personal audio offerings, a dedicated headphone amp wasn't in the cards until recently. Now, Arcam joins other notable audio firms such as Pass Labs, Bryston, and Simaudio in putting their amplifier expertise to work in the headphone space.
John Grandberg  |  Jun 14, 2016  |  19 comments
The market for integrated DAC/headphone amp devices is surging. Is there still a place for separate components? Cayin makes a solid argument for independent components remaining relevant.
Tyll Hertsens  |  Feb 19, 2016  |  20 comments

Some audiophile gear is like fine jewelry, but lacks technical competence. Some audiophile gear is butt-ugly, but gloriously competent in musical fidelity.

The HeadAmp GS-X does both insanely well.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Dec 24, 2015  |  13 comments

If I were in this simply for personal listening pleasure it might be a different story. I might go with the lightning fast HeadAmp GS-X Mk2; or the meaty musicality of the Eddie Current Black Widow; or the tantalizingly clean yet euphonic Apex Teton. But I'm a headphone reviewer, and what I need in a headphone amp is to get the hell out of the way and let me hear the headphones at their level best. What I need is an amp that will drive any headphone, balanced and unbalanced. I need a no bullshit, competent headphone amp.

What I need, as a reviewer, is the Simaudio Moon NEO 430 HA.

John Grandberg  |  Jun 30, 2015  |  4 comments

An updated version of the DAC I enjoyed so much a few years back—with several minor complaints addressed. What's not to like?

John Grandberg  |  Jun 19, 2015  |  65 comments

Interested in a reference quality, powerhouse amplifier to drive any headphone in existence, from big cans to sensitive IEMs? Look no further than the Violectric V281.

n_maher  |  Jun 16, 2015  |  23 comments

Ok, ok, so it's not a whole lot to look at but that's one of the things that makes me like it. And I really like it a lot.

Skylab  |  Nov 03, 2014  |  22 comments
My previous review here on InnerFidelity was a large black box with a forest of vacuum tubes rising up from its surface, and nary a digital function to be found. Almost diametrically opposed to that, the Oppo HA-1 ($1199) took up residence immediately thereafter in my review cue—gleaming silver, LCD display, remote control, and as modern an integrated DAC/Headphone amp as one could imagine. And yet at the risk of spoiling the surprise, or lack thereof, I will tell you that the Oppo is also outstanding, and represents somewhat of a bargain.
John Grandberg  |  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  |  Jul 18, 2014  |  11 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  |  Feb 21, 2014  |  4 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.

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