Solid State Home Headphone Amplifier Reviews

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John Grandberg  |  Jul 09, 2012  |  41 comments

Germany's Lake People refreshes their entire lineup of G-series headphone amps, with a focus shifted towards home users rather than just studios. I check out the lowest and the highest cost models in the series to see how they compare.

Wait, back up a second - Lake People who?

John Grandberg  |  Feb 21, 2014  |  2 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.

Tyll Hertsens  |  Jun 23, 2011  |  2 comments

My good buddy Todd the Vinyl Junkie (TTVJ) had donned his Hawaiian shirt in my honor my little visit to sample his new Pete Millett designed FET output amp.

It was a lovely 35 mile motorcycle jaunt on the interstate through flooded pastureland to Three Forks, Montana; and lovelier still to hear the Arête when I arrived at TTVJ HQ. Let's have a quick look at this new product ....

John Grandberg  |  Dec 04, 2013  |  22 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.

Wes Phillips, Sam Tellig  |  Sep 05, 2006  |  0 comments
I've been a little remiss in writing about one of the best tools for travel I've experienced recently: Ray Samuels Audio's Emmeline The Hornet ($350), a tiny (3" L by 2" W by 1" H) rechargeable portable headphone amplifier. I tend to travel with my iPod packed with hi-rez music files and a pair of low-impedance headphones. That's not a marriage made in heaven, so I also need a headphone amplifier. Over the years, portable headphone amps have gotten better and better while getting smaller and smaller. The Hornet is the smallest I've discovered so far and is my current favorite.
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 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.
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.
Skylab  |  Nov 08, 2012  |  20 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!

Skylab  |  Aug 23, 2012  |  26 comments

Editor's Note: Again I am so very pleased to welcome another new contributor to InnerFidelity's growing cadre of writers. Skylab is a long time member of Head-Fi (profile here) and has contributed numerous laudable gear reviews there. He'll be focussing his efforts here at InnerFidelity primarily on headphone amp reviews. I can't tell you how pleasing it is to find myself feeling more and more surrounded by a talented team of qualified reviewers. I'm stoked ... and humbled. I feel like I'm going to have to step up my game to keep up with these guys. Okay, I'll shut up now and let you get on with Skylab's review. Welcome aboard, mate!

Tyll Hertsens  |  Aug 17, 2011  |  4 comments

I'm very pleased to have Todd the Vinyl Junkie nearby. Thursday nights he has listening sessions of newly arrived vinyl and serves imported Belgian beer in proper glasses ... so that's cool. But in this case, I'm pleased because I get first dibs listening to Pete Millett's newest creation for Apex Hi-Fi and TTVJ: The Butte headphone amplifier.

John Grandberg  |  Feb 07, 2014  |  31 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.

Wes Phillips  |  Apr 23, 2006  |  0 comments
Looking at all of the high-end headphones and headphone accessories available today, it's difficult to even remember how barren the head-fi landscape was in the early 1990s. Back then, headphones got no respect, except for exotic, expensive electrostatic models, yet most of the world listened to music through headphones all the time, mostly through crappy cans connected to portable players. (Well, maybe it wasn't that different a landscape.)
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.

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.

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