Solid State Home Headphone Amplifier Reviews

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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.

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.

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.
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.

Sam Tellig  |  Oct 09, 2008  |  1 comments
Most of this column is dedicated to two hi-fi products for the masses—not from Lvov, via Vladimir Lamm, of Lamm Industries; or from Leningrad, via Victor Khomenko, of Balanced Audio Technologies; nor from any other Soviet-born audio hero. (Neither Vladimir nor Victor is on the list of "Name of Russia" contenders for greatest Russian of all time.) Nor from any consumer audio company, but from the world of professional audio. An Iron Curtain almost separates the two.
John Atkinson  |  Jan 18, 2008  |  0 comments
In his July 2005 "The Fifth Element" column, John Marks enthusiastically wrote about the Benchmark Media Systems DAC1 D/A processor and headphone amplifier. Comparing its sound playing CDs with that of a three-times-more-expensive Marantz SA-14 SACD player, he concluded that the DAC 1's "Red Book" performance was at least as good as that of the Marantz, being "slightly more articulate in the musical line, and slightly more detailed in spatial nuances, particularly the localization of individual images in space, and in soundstage depth."
John Grandberg  |  Oct 28, 2016  |  11 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.
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.
Rafe Arnott  |  Jan 16, 2019  |  2 comments
This is a more than capable phono/headphone preamplifier at $600 USD, at $299 USD it is an out-and-out bargain and why I named it to my InnerFidelity Editor’s Choice 2018 – Under $500 list. Dynamic, punchy, nuanced when it needs to be, this simply makes listening to LPs a fun, engaging and educational experience as it revealed a lot of detail in its resolution-abilities that had me relaxing and enjoying albums that I hadn’t hauled down from the shelves for years.
Rafe Arnott  |  Nov 30, 2018  |  3 comments
Little box, big, ballsy sound. That’s the first thing you notice about the Cambridge Audio DUO Moving Coil/Moving Magnet Preamplifier with integrated Headphone Amplifier.
John Grandberg  |  Jun 14, 2016  |  17 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.
John Atkinson  |  Jun 14, 2010  |  0 comments
I have built up a large collection of CDs since the medium's launch more than a quarter century ago, along with a modest number of SACDs and a small number of DVD-As. But I find these days that, unless I'm getting down to some serious listening and can give the music my uninterrupted attention, I use iTunes to feed computer files to my high-end rig (footnote 1). I've mostly been using the superb-sounding combination of dCS Puccini U-Clock and Puccini player/DAC that I reviewed last December to take a USB feed from a Mac mini, but I've also been using the Bel Canto USB Link 24/96 and Stello U2 USB-S/PDIF converters, particularly for headphone listening, when I use one of those two format converters with a Benchmark DAC1 D/A headphone amplifier.
Wes Phillips  |  Oct 23, 2005  |  0 comments
Back in March, I wrote a reviewlet of Channel Islands Audio's VHP•1 headphone amplifier for the Stereophile eNewsletter. (What—you aren't receiving that free download yet? Well, log on to www.stereophile.com and opt in.) The VHP•1 has continued to enchant me—reason enough to examine it in greater detail, I reckoned. But the real reason I returned to the VHP•1 ($349) is that CIA's Dusty Vawter recently sent me his new VAC•1 ($159), a replacement power supply for the VHP•1's stock wall-wart supply. Could a new power supply really offer a substantial improvement in performance?
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.

John Grandberg  |  Aug 09, 2013  |  11 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.

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