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HeadRoom Airhead (early version)

A Review On: HeadRoom Total AirHead

HeadRoom Total AirHead

Rated # 65 in Portable Amps
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Price paid: $75.00
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Pros: Compact

Cons: Construction

I own the earlier version of the AirHead portable amp.  Different packaging, and  uses 2 AA batteries.  I purchased it used after I had my Benchmark HPA2 stolen.  The HPA2 is a headphone amp on a little PC board mounted to a 1/4" jack, and I believe it is now out of production.  I had mounted it in a small box with a DC/DC converter to provide the required supply voltages from a 9V battery.  So, technically, it wasn't a "portable" amp, but I made it into one. 


I mention all of that because this might not be a fair comparison.  The HPA2 was simply a glorious sounding headphone amp, and I miss it still.  I got the TotalAirHead to replace its loss.  While the TAH is nice, it doesn't come close to the HPA2.  Even with the rather interesting "processor" switched in (designed to get the sound out of the inside of your head), it has lower impact, less dynamics, and less bass than the HPA2. 


I still use the TAH occasionally, but frankly, the concept of a portable headphone amp is just too cumbersome.  My portable use is either iPhone or iPod, and usually stuffed in a pocket.  Another box is just a pain, and though an audible improvement, the convenience isn't there.  However, I do use an amp when stationary using the same sources.  My current favorite is a custom amp I made, and it does make the TAH pale by comparison. 


So, this is a luke-warm review.  Perhaps the current version is better, hopefully worth the hassle of porting it around.  One feature I wish I had on the TAH is auto shut off with silence.  I almost always forget and leave it on to eat its batteries. 


HPA2 isn't out of production. It's just used within their DAC1 now. So it is done as a standalone from what I can see, but it is out there as a headphone amp in their DAC1 ($1000-1900 depending on model)
Yes, I saw that they still use it in the DAC1. It used to be a stand-along product, though, and it isn't shown as such on their site now, so perhaps "out of production" wasn't quite correct, but "unavailable" would be. I don't think anyone would buy a DAC1 just to rip out the HPA2 as a stand alone. Actually, I think what I had was an HPA1 anyway. They don't publish much on these, one had a discrete output buffer, the other used high current buffer chips. I had the discrete one, which I think came first, but I'm not sure. Point is, the TAH didn't impress me like th HPA(x) did.
Yeah I figured that was what you were saying there. And no, I can't see anybody spending $1000 for a portion of the DAC1.

And from what I'm reading, a reasonably well build CMoy can outperform a TAH at a lower price point . So I don't really know if the TAH should be compared to too much out there. The price seems a little excessive for the performance I'm hearing it has. The TBH has a DAC so I guess that's more justifiable than the TAH alone at the price they're at today.
The one thing TAH does that's different is the processor. It's relatively mild, but does help get the image out of head.
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