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Pico - USB DAC/Amplifier From HeadAmp

post #1 of 711
Thread Starter 
I have to admit I wasn't all that fired up about Justin's upcoming offering when I first heard about it, other than his stellar build quality I just didn't quite get what was going to separate it from the other offerings on the market. Ok, yeah, I knew it was supposed to be a higher quality DAC than what we've seen implemented in these types of combo units before and at a size that is previously unheard of but I still wasn't getting all hot and bothered. OK, OK, that's probably due to the fact that I've been looking for a DAC with more input options not a USB only DAC.

Even though it doesn't quite match the feature set I've been looking for ever since I first heard about it the Pico has remained on the periphery of my list of possibles, that is until I started reading some of the recent meet threads, namely the NorCal Regional and Boston meet threads. With comments like these
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the Pico is the new gold standard all portable amp should be judged by and additionally has taken portable headphone amps to a level I've never imagined possible. The Pico is the most state of the art portable I've seen and an absolute engineering marvel
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Justin's Pico was a big win for me... the DAC section of that thing was just unbelievable.
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Very articulate and definitely comparable to some of the bigger set ups out there. The preciseness and imaging were phenomenal for something so small.
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The new Headamp "Pico" DAC/amp was the item of most interest to me, since learning that Justin had managed to cram an upsampling DAC with a flagship D/A chip and USB to I2S all into a pocket-sized amp. Given what he has done in the past, I expected it to sound good, yet I was still surprised when a couple of tiny boards pumped headphones full of great sound in a manner consistent with (if not better than) my much larger Apogee Mini-DAC. The bass control was much better than I expected from a portable amp, and the DAC was quite impressive with a detailed, yet smooth and unfatiguing sound. I can't wait to hear some more from this little wonder. Thanks to AMB we were able to do some comparative RMAA testing of the Pico and Mini-DAC, and found the Pico performed significantly better in nearly every measurement.
I have to admit the Pico is starting to get me hot and bothered. I knew it was supposed to be better than most if not all the other USB DAC/Amp offerings on the market I just didn't realize it was supposed to be this good. In fact it's got me rethinking my priorities now, if the Pico can truly approach the league that has been suggested by some of these comments at approximately the size of a Tomahawk and a $500 price tag with DAC ($300 amp only) then I'm prepared to sacrifice a level of versatility and limit myself to a computer when using the DAC.

So who else is excited about this upcoming USB DAC/Amp from HeadAmp?
post #2 of 711
I'm very interested in this DAC/amp. It would be even better if it had an optical line-in.
post #3 of 711
I spent some time with it at the Boston meet last weekend, it's definitely worth getting excited about.
post #4 of 711
n_maher: did you try to drive your K340 or ER4P with the Pico?
post #5 of 711
No, I was using HD650s. I don't think it's fair to ask any portable to drive the 340s since most home amps have issues unless specifically configured for them. I mean I'm sure it'll make them sound ok, but probably not drive them properly. It handled the 650s with ease though.
post #6 of 711
i'm pretty interested in one.
post #7 of 711
Quote:
Originally Posted by n_maher View Post
No, I was using HD650s. I don't think it's fair to ask any portable to drive the 340s since most home amps have issues unless specifically configured for them. I mean I'm sure it'll make them sound ok, but probably not drive them properly. It handled the 650s with ease though.
Thanks. I was asking, since it seems that the Xin Reference is able to drive the K340 better than a Darkvoice 336.
post #8 of 711
Quote:
Originally Posted by antonyfirst View Post
Thanks. I was asking, since it seems that the Xin Reference is able to drive the K340 better than a Darkvoice 336.
I would suggest that while that may be one person's opinion the engineering behind that would argue a very different outcome. Given that my PPA running a 30V PS and a gain of 11 had a hard time driving them my experience tells me that no portable is going to be able to have the combination of current and voltage output necessary to make those cans sound their best (to my ears, or course). IMHO, YMMV, etc., etc.
post #9 of 711
My table at the NorCal meet was right next to Justin's and I had a chance to listen to the Pico over and over.... it is a WONDER! Justin "promised" I could buy myself a Christmas present.
post #10 of 711
I got a chance to listen to this amp/DAC a lot at the last MA/VA meet when Justin showed it off for the first time. I was absolutely blown away. Do not let the small size throw you off track. If Justin would put it in a huge case, you will think that inside, there is a huge amp/dac and will never be able to tell how small it actually is. I am eagerly waiting for it to probably replace all of my gear.
post #11 of 711
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSlacker View Post
I got a chance to listen to this amp/DAC a lot at the last MA/VA meet when Justin showed it off for the first time. I was absolutely blown away. Do not let the small size throw you off track. If Justin would put it in a huge case, you will think that inside, there is a huge amp/dac and will never be able to tell how small it actually is. I am eagerly waiting for it to probably replace all of my gear.

So how big is it?
post #12 of 711
similar in size to the RS Audio Tomahawk but the Pico drives nearly every full size headphone and IEMs plus the optional DAC--it sounds superb and incredibly tiny.

post #13 of 711
Size of a tomahawk? No it is significantly smaller. It's not like half the size and obviously we havent seen it with a chassis. But I think 20 percent smaller isn't outside of the realm of possibility for a rough estimate (Maybe more, maybe slightly less). It is fricken tiny.
post #14 of 711
Please do not quote me on this, but I believe Justin said it is 45% smaller than AE-2 and same or smaller size as the Tomahawk. However, unlike Tomahawk, it also has a USB DAC and runs any headphones with ease (someone should send Justin K340 for testing lol)
post #15 of 711
I asked Justin and the size is approximately the same.
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