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Favourite High End Headphone Amplifier?

Discussion in 'audio' started by mikechadwick, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. alan967tiger

    alan967tiger pfm Member

    For me, the T8000 wasn't even that detailed; for the RRP it's not a good amp again IMO.
  2. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    Congrats on picking up the Utopias - great headphones. Ideally you should go to your local dealer and hear as many amps/ DACs as possible - easy if you live near HiFi Lounge, Unilet or similar, harder for the rest of us. Tempted to recommend a Hugo2 but Chord isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
    alan967tiger likes this.
  3. monya

    monya pfm Member

    I’d have a look and preferably visit high end headphones where you can hear pretty much the whole range. The headphones-themselves do vary a lot in tone and transparency.
    But Stax is a slippery slope as the range of energisers is fairly limited in comparison to ordinary headamps which you can’t use with electrostatics. Whether they are worth the investment only you can decide.
    alan967tiger and mikechadwick like this.
  4. monya

    monya pfm Member

    The same comments apply to the Trilogy which I found to my cost. It is “gutsy” however but hi frequency detail is absent.
    alan967tiger likes this.
  5. echann

    echann pfm Member

    I just picked up a used Hugo 2 which should arrive next week. That fixes my transportable DAC/amp and main system DAC needs, but I'm still looking for a pure headphone amp for the main system. Pass Lab's HPA-1 seems like a very well regarded end game choice but pricey as hell! Its a shame the Hugo 2 can't be used solely as a headphone amp.
    alan967tiger likes this.
  6. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Why can’t it?
  7. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    The HPA-1 gets great reviews as does the HP-4 & GS-X MK2. A lot of us highly rate Mjolnir Audio and they have the Pure BiPolar which at $2100 must be worth a look at. A bit left field but there’s a Tron Antares currently on eBay and the iFi Pro iCAN is a very versatile amp.
  8. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    If you already have a DAC the Hugo2 doesn’t have an analogue input. For a digital only setup the Hugo2 could be all you need.
  9. echann

    echann pfm Member

    I just spent about 1hr listening to three DAC/amps, the Chord Dave, Chord Mojo, and two headphone amps, Hafler HA75 and Simaudio 430HA headphone amp. The best sound was from the Simaudio (not sure what the rest of the system was). Worst was the Hafler which was very thick sounding with boomy bass.
    alan967tiger likes this.
  10. Complin

    Complin pfm Member

    The Carbon was originally conceived and designed to run the 009's
  11. Complin

    Complin pfm Member

    If you want to get a flavour of what Stax can offer then their entry level Lambda headphones are a good start. https://www.cheshireaudio.co.uk/acatalog/Stax-SRS3100-873.html#SID=74
    You might be able to pick up earlier versions of these for about £250/£350 great bang for the buck :)

    There was a set of the next level up for £400 but they appear to have sold https://theartofsound.net/forum/showthread.php?61132-Stax-SRM313-and-SR303-headphones-and-energiser
    alan967tiger likes this.
  12. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Or you could buy my 404 Signatures, which are another step up from 303s. You would need an energiser though.
  13. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    Despite the best efforts of Parcelforce my Carbon arrived today. Sounds pretty darn impressive with the Voce’s
    alan967tiger and monya like this.
  14. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    Just saw that Fanthorpe’s have an HPA1 available for £2249. Seems to be doing the rounds as I’m pretty sure it’s the same one that was sold 7 or 8 weeks ago. Definitely not in the market at the moment - seriously considering going full time electrostatics. The only thing putting me off is the sound bleed into the room disturbing the wife.
  15. monya

    monya pfm Member

    Changed the fuse in the rear of the energiser for a Synergistic Research Black to see if there was any difference. Blimey! Had to turn the amp down a notch. A bit like moving forward about 10 rows. Frankly, more of everything with no downsides. Ridicule now expected....
  16. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    I found a pic of the internals, I’m puzzled why the thing would cost that even if it was RRP! Though I do know manufacturers can pull the SQ rabbit out of the hat, at which point you say ‘it’s a fair cop’ and hand the card over.
  17. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    I know you can't go by reviews and I know someone who was pretty underwhelmed when he heard one but...........

    Awards and Reviews

    "To put it bluntly, Pass Labs HPA-1 is an exceptional, very addictive headamp/preamp combo every aficionado should at least audition once an opportunity strikes."

    HiFi Knights

    " If I did not know that the HPA-1 was transistor-based, I would've been fooled: the HPA-1 had the natural warmth and slight fullness that mimic tubes." " In my view, headphone listening is about intimacy, and the HPA-1 is nearly perfect in this regard."


    "As far as headphones go, the HPA-1 is a brilliant amp which deserves every bit of praise I’ve thus far heaped on it."

    Part-Time Audiophile

    Headphone Amplifier of the Year - 2016

    The Absolute Sound

    Best Headphone Amplifier - Best of Awards - 2016


    "One Of The Best HPAs In The Audiophile World!"
  18. ivanouk

    ivanouk Member

    Having the KGSSHV Carbon three months now, very impressive.
    Rockhopper likes this.
  19. mikechadwick

    mikechadwick pfm Member

    Agreed - it’s a stunning amp. What electrostatic ‘phones are you using?
  20. doctorjuggles

    doctorjuggles Member

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