CanJam at RMAF 2013: Sony PHA-2 Portable Headphone Amplifier

Twenty some-odd years ago, unbeknownst to them, I made a bet with Sony, a bet that my future life depended on. It went something like this:

In 1991, there were no iPods, there was no internet, and the best portables were CD players. I wanted better sound from my portable CD player and came to the conclusion that the missing link to great portable sound was an outboard portable headphone amp. I felt that starting a company on that idea was really cool, but there was one big hitch: What if Sony actually started building portable players with really good headphone amps in them? I reasoned that 99% of portable player customers would not appreciate a good built-in headphone amp; and that Sony would never budget the battery power needed for a good headphone amp section. No, in my mind, Sony would never make a killer portable, and maybe, just maybe, one day they too would decide a portable headphone amplifier was a cool idea and would follow my lead.

Last year, with the advent of the Sony PHA-1, my day came. And this year, with the introduction of the PHA-2, Sony has firmly planted their feet in the portable headphone amplifier game. I. Am. Complete.

Before I let Jeff Hiatt tell you all about the new PHA-2, I want to take a moment to thank Naotaka Tsunoda, one of Sony's lead headphone design engineers, for joining me on the "Headphone Target Response" panel. It was great fun chatting with four distinguished headphone designers, and having Sony's viewpoint available in the dialog was excellent. Thanks Nao!

Now, here's Jeff talking about the new PHA-2!

guerillaw's picture

DSD is interesting, but his claim of 6.5 hours of battery life is what really intrigues me. The prior Sony portable lasted a couple hours and was thus a big letdown because it was otherwise solid and enjoyable to listen to. 

If it can really support a long listening session that's exciting. Its an awesome product because it can be used as a computer dac in a main system then you can grab it for use on the go with an iphone or other portable. 

ScuderiaHeadFi's picture

Sony might complete you, but you, Tyll Hertsens, complete me.  (At least, the knowledge and wisdom you provide my brain.)

Even the biggest, best managed, and usually-market-leading companies can't ALWAYS lead.  Still, you can't help measuring your success by how / when your peers decide to follow your example.  You've earned your right to be proud, friend.