I am a Mod of the biggest Hifi Forum in Germany, and this is my first review on Head-fi. I hope that you´ll be able to understand my bad English
After I heard the new headphone amplifier A1 from beyerdynamic on the Prolight+Sound at Frankfurt in interaction with the DT880, it sounded very well. After longer talk with Mr. Ibrom (greetings here) we arranged a little Review. So: I had and have the headphone amplifier A1 some days here and I will tell you some of my impressions.
As the first I unpacked the arrived package and “admired” the packing:
1. The headphone amplifier
2. Operating instructions
3. A high-quality Cinch cable
4. The Power cable
Beyerdynamic decided for a simpler Design. Intentionally a not very exciting Looking was selected.
The beyerdynamic A1 headphone is manufactured in Germany.
At first I noticed the surface coating in the available anthracite coal clay/tone. It is called Nextel® and finds its employment also with high-quality microphones (e.g. on the shank of report micros, which is not to reflect in connection with picture recording light). It was important to apply a high-quality lacquer on the construction, which absorbs impacts well and feels good.
The LED´s are let in the case, so that they can’t be destroyed inadvertently.
The potentiometer comes from Alps, a manufacturer, whom I personally experienced so far as very positive. The volume button continues to be not remarkable.
The input changing switches are small black buttons.
In the back are found massive cinch sockets as shown in the picture below.
There is nothing more to say to the quality. If you have any questions, feel free to ask
As I said, I’ve talked longer with mister Ibrom from beyerdynamic and so I know a few things about the concept of the A1 and the ideas of beyerdynamic. Those things I wanted to tell you:
Beyerdynamic wanted to make an absolutely discrete and 100% neutral headphone amplifier.
It should amplify over the entire audio band (also outside of human hearing) that means 96 kHz. It was not the intention of create an exciting or bombastic Amp.
For the headphone output was chosen a generally resist from 100 Ohms, so that all headphones could be amped. This decision has naturally their pros and cons. Explicitly: Some manufacturers proceed with the development still with the standard output impedance from 120 ohms. Meanwhile some manufacturers of the headphone amplifiers set on an impedance of 0 ohms, then some headphone manufacturers proceed from this value. I personally don’t believe that one would have heard a change on 0 to 120 ohms.
The change-over between the two sources makes a mini relays and a kind micro Controller. The relay is cross faded, so that the changing of the source and on/off is nearly unbearable.
One of the inputs is hard patched with the output, so that the AMP not even have to be turned on to patch the signal.
The circuit follows the philosophy „pure and simple “, i.e. beyerdynamic did consciously built the A1 without EQ or other working stages.
The technical dimensions are quite large for the claimed achievement, which - as with oversized output stages - which is pretty well for the sovereignty representing an audio signal. Ergo no Clipping (also during full rejection) and also super phase loyalty of the signal.
Like you can see in the pictures below, the schematic of the A1 is very thoroughly and cleanly developed. For me, the condensers of the power supply are a little bit too small, but that’s pure fanatic Around the discrete circuit with the 4 transistors are only best construction parts.
The amplifier has got two amplifier courses with discrete elements.
The potty comes from ALPS and the output resist is 100 ohms.
- 100 mW / 600 Ω
- 170 mW / 250 Ω
- 150 mW / 30 Ω
The next, I’ll show you a "few" pics. There are much of them, therefore the loading times can become unpleasant.
-The change of the sound:
So far the A1 was described in our forum as inconspicuous. After the first hearing, i agreed with this statement. As I said, that first hearing was on the Prolight+Sound in Frankfurt. It was loud and the conditions where bad (it wasn’t my music etc...). But there I already noticed the changing of the sound. The tone got more impact, the sound area opened and the instruments where clearly defined at their places.
The following descriptions result from the comparison of the A1 in relation to the 6,3mm of my Onkyo amplifier to the Low budget KHV B-Tech. A comparison with the Meier Corda Opera will follow
- The Bass
In the combination DT880+A1 the bass is clearly definated at its place. The combination seems to be absolutely nothing for “Bass heads” (even if any EQ can change this "problem" ) but the top model of beyerdynamic is not designed therefore. If you regard completely objective on the bass, it gets with the A1 little more mass (!), nevertheless it becomes more clearly! The separation of synthesized bass an real instruments can be nicely heared. So e.g. retort basses (like in Apocalyptica - Fade to black) sound never heared beautiful
The Kicks got more Impact and PRAT, short: it slams, if it is to slam! As i said, even with the A1, the DT880 don’t become a bass monster. On the contrary, that original sound signature is maintained.
- The Mids
The mids, that means the most instruments and voices where cleaned up. It seems to me nearly like the A1 would cut everything in pieces, set on the correct trace and build it then together again. This sounds kinda cool with singing voices like Katie Melua. The real Jazz feeling turns in the sound and you can hear whatever Katie is actually doing
- The Highs
Hard to describe! My opinion is, they are defused a little and clarified. Primary things like Hi hats and stuff sound more naturally. The highs insert better into the music, the whole music sounds more like "live" or "unplugged".
- The Stage
Wonderful! The music is presented in a 7x7 meter field. Every musician, every singer and every instrument can be localized. It sounds nearly like the AKG K701! The music sounds still how it should, but if you want, you can listen only to special instruments or parts of the music.
The enlargement of the stage is something that everyone is able to hear.
- The Dissolution
The dissolution of the DT880 is very good, even without the A1. Nevertheless the dissect or the examine of the music become more simple with the amplifier.
Bad recordings or MP3 with a quality lower than 128kbits become terribly.
-The price, its reason and what the A1 does:
The beyerdynamic A1 costs full 1000€. Let us be realistic: that is more, than I can (especially: I want) spend on a headphone amplifier and that is more, than most can spend on a headphone amplifier. From which now this price results? From the good sound? Like some other members of my forum already noticed the sound is, compared with other manufacturer, quite inconspicuous.
Even if that’s not the whole true, I can confirm with it in some parts. At least the expensive and high-quality construction units (first obviously: the enormous single-aperture core transformer) explain the price in parts.
In one of the pictures seen above can be seen, what’s the biggest reason for the price. There stands "made in germany"1. And that’s also how the A1 is looking like. Inside and outside made for the eternity. For sure, with building outside of Germany the A1 would be clearly cheaper. But, than the purchase argument would be killed. I don’t think that the A1 would have the same quality like now, if it beyerdynamic would produce the amp in China!
The 1000€ are payed for quality. You can decide to pay it than you´re right anyway, or you can or leave it undone like i do. For me it’s actually a bit too much.
- The quality
- The change of the sound
- The connection types
- The scratch-proof surface
- The purist circuit
- The price
- The quite inconspicuous sound
- No DAC, no large equipment
- Jan Meiers Corda Opera
- The Diabolo amplifier
Well, that’s the end of the review. I had a lot of fun writing it, and i hope you have the same reading my stuff. If you have any questions to the A1 please write them here. Even if I don’t know the answer I have a really good contact to beyerdynamic, so all of your questions will be answered.
If you find any English mistakes, please P.M. me and i will correct them.
1 = It´s not my intention, to hype Germany. There could stand even USA, England, France or comparable. The main thing is, that’s not a "low wage country".
Greetings and hope you can do something with my writing,