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post #31 of 85

Isabellina HPA receives SoundStage! “Reviewers Choice” award


I am very excited and humbled to see that the SoundStage! review of the Isabellina HPA came out today, and received a "Reviewers Choice" Award!

SoundStage! Equipment Review - Red Wine Audio Isabellina HPA Headphone Amplifier-DAC (4/2010)

I want to thank Uday Reddy (and SoundStage!) for taking the time and effort in evaluating the Isabellina HPA - and highlighting the sonic characteristics that make the HPA unique and very addicting to listen to.

Quote from: Uday Reddy - SoundStage!

Its freedom from the AC grid allowed it to provide the purest music signal, elevating my enjoyment of what truly matters: the music. Couple its performance with headphones to its qualities as a standalone preamplifier-DAC and you begin to see its value. Yes, there are cheaper and more compact competitors, even ones with USB DACs, that are getting rave reviews. But none offers the Isabellina HPA’s combination of musicality, versatility, crystal-clear sound, and battery power. As I said above, once you get a taste of the Red Wine sound, you won’t want to settle for anything less -- and with RWA’s 30-day, money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose.

Happy Listening,

post #32 of 85
Congrats on the good review. It really is a good dac/amp combo.
post #33 of 85

Headphonista Review of Isabellina HPA


Another sweet review of the Isabellina HPA  8)


I want to thank Daryl Hoffman for his time and efforts in reviewing the
Isabellina HPA, and for awarding it a Headphonista Editor's Choice Award  :notworthy:


“…Red Wine Audio Isabellina is the best USB DAC / amp solution I have heard. There’s nothing more to say really, this is quite clearly the best sound I have heard coming out of my headphones, and by quite a margin.”




post #34 of 85



I have some very exciting news to release at the end of this month - and it applies to all RWA products (including the Isabellina HPA).


Also - the Isabellina HPA is listed in the "Head Gear" section of headfi.  I greatly appreciate customers taking the time to post a review!




Thanks again for all your feedback and support!


Best regards,



post #35 of 85




I have some very exciting news to release at the end of this month - and it applies to all RWA products (including the Isabellina HPA).


And here it is:





Also discussed starting in this page of this thread: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/437559/isabellina-hpa-owner-s-thread-and-impressions/270





post #36 of 85

Is Isabellina HPA's amp section the same as Amphora's? 

Has anyone heard the HD800 on HPA and can comment on it's performance compared to the Auditor/Phonitor?

post #37 of 85
Originally Posted by Amarphael View Post

Is Isabellina HPA's amp section the same as Amphora's? 

Has anyone heard the HD800 on HPA and can comment on it's performance compared to the Auditor/Phonitor?

Hi Amarphael,


The Amphora uses a very similar amp section as the HPA, but for the HPA, there are a few changes on the board.  Also, the battery is totally different, and now with the LFP-V Edition, there is the new LFP battery and tube stage in the HPA..


Regarding HPA customers with HD800s, see:




and feedback on the HPA webpage:




As well as impressions buried in this thread, and others on headfi...


I have not seen any comparisons to the Auditor/Phonitor, but there may be somewhere...


All the best,



post #38 of 85


Gents, here is my review on the Isabellina HPA LFP-V as posted on the Isabellina HPA Owner's Impressions forum....there are some great reviews on the original Isabellina HPA there as well as some great reviews on the subtle changes seen with the LFP-V modification...the new battery, addition of a tube phase, ability to run off straight AC if desired, etc. There are some great reviews from others better versed in audio speak than myself and with more history on the forum but this is my two cents. Here is a link to to the forum to see others impressions: http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/437559/isabellina-hpa-owner-s-thread-and-impressions/345#post_7003760 


To set up the review, my review follows a great review from Ken at ALO with some good pictures...we have moved into a little discussion on sound signatures with different tubes in the Isabellina HPA LFP-V (as well as the Isabella LFP-V version in Ken's case)....so here it is....



Well, my tube orders started to trickle into the house a couple of weeks ago and I began my first tube rolling listening tests last week....first in the idea that this is my first tube set up. I work overseas and was initially worried about the longevity/ sturdiness of the tubes being shipped, etc, etc. I used some of the recommended vendors from this forum and everything has arrived perfectly...I did miss out on on some of the Amprex Orange Globes....Ken bought all of them...haha. I was going to do as a couple people had mentioned here and spend a couple weeks with one, change back and reassess the subtle changes...but I have not quite gotten that far yet. I spent the first couple weeks with the stock tube and now a couple weeks with a German CCa.


My set up is similar to Ken's in many ways though I do have the Isabellina HPA LFP-V versus the Isabella with the modification. Most of my listening these days is with the Audeze LCD-2s (recabled with an ALO aftermarket cable, specifically the  LUX-FEP Chain Mail 8 Wire). I used the DAC setting on the Isabellina HPA through a Macbook Pro 17 inch with AIFF music files. I do have the Wadia iTransport 170 as well but it has been a bit glitchy as of late so I have been using the DAC almost one hundred percent of the time. I have the variable audio version of the Isabellina HPA and the LFP-V upgrades were done on an older Isabellina HPA. I am not as versed in audiophile speak as many of the great reviewers here but I will write what I hear. (Update: the Wadia sorted itself out and is working flawlessly again...I think it was mad at me as it had to sit for awhile while I waited on the LFP-V mods to be completed)


First off I want to say that I was very happy with the original Isabellina HPA. I used it as my main amp for quite some time...so much in fact that I wore the battery out. I really did enjoy many of it subtleties and the way it presented the music...the non fatiguing, inviting sound of RWA. The LFP-V upgrades initially appealed to me primarily for the fact that I could change the battery myself as I am not very capable with soldering. I have lived overseas for many years and I enjoyed the Isabellina HPA to a point where I did not want to give it up for a month to send it back...the capacity to run on AC while waiting for a new battery is a plus for me as well. I found the tube phase desirable as I do like a warmer, more intimate sound and I have always wanted to try tube rolling...so it was more "the icing on the cake" for me to take the plunge. So I packaged up the Isabellina HPA, sent it the 8000 miles back to Vinnie, and then waited for my turn in line to receive the upgrade. My amp has traveled almost 40,000 miles over the course of its life...which looking at the way my mail usually arrives it really is a testament to the work that Vinnie puts into his amps and his attention to detail. The LFP-V upgrades really put the Isabellina HPA into another league in all honesty, it is a surprisingly better amp....and again I was thoroughly impressed with it before the upgrades. 


I work with alot of non-audiophiles (don't we all) but this is the first time that everyone that has listened to my set up has told me not to touch anything...they say it is perfect now...haha. They all get that look in their eyes...the distant far off look of one lost in the music, the same look we all get when we find that new song that speaks to our souls...audio nirvana. Vinnie took an amp that was beautiful on it own accord and then returned with a product that is simply amazing. The upgrade to me was worth every cent....for any of you on the fence out there I would say go for it!


Ok, so I spent the first couple weeks with the stock tubes the system comes with and the micro detail continually amazed me. Once again, the music collection was new...the little bits here and there that had been "missing" on older set ups appeared. The music was new and the night's listening sessions rolled into those should be sleeping hours. Luckily for me I work on a set schedule and due to my location there is plenty of time at night for lengthy listenings. I noticed that cymbals seemed to be very pronounced, has anyone else noticed that as well...the midrange is very open. The percussion in many of the recordings was much more detailed than anything I had listened to previously. I really liked this particular tube with female vocals in particular and for me the tube had a nice edgy sound that works well with more aggressive music...it added an extra grit to "dense music" that is very alluring...more on this later. I have a varied palette when it comes to music and can go from progressive metal to classic pieces in one session or even from song to song. This tube really works well with rock music and made it very lively and fun...


So, as the tubes began to trickle in the first tube on deck that arrived was:


The fist tube on deck was a German Sieman CCa (I am not sure on the year)....I must admit that this tube is quite magical to my ears for classic rock, indie rock, and blues. Classic and indie rock have been getting alot of play time in my system lately and I guess I never really took particular note of it before but many times in the audio recordings or the way the songs are reproduced in my set ups the lead vocals are very forward in the soundstage. This is especially noticeable in some of the lower quality indie rock recordings where you have the singer up front and the band is "somewhere in the distance" far back in the soundstage...likely purposeful in some recordings as it is a characteristic of the sound of this type of music. The really cool thing on this tube for me was that it seemed to slightly push the singer back about 10 feet and at the same time widen the sound stage, really almost a sense of a 360 degree sound stage in some recordings. I found it to be almost 3D at times as it really does seem the sound is coming from everywhere as it should sound versus from the  L and R or the front imaging you get with headphones. It is a little hard to explain but you get a natural echo at times from the music....as if you where sitting and watching the band play in a smaller venue and the bass was echoing off a wall behind you. I checked my door a couple time thinking someone was talking outside only to re-listen to a passage and realize that is was a band member shuffling or a back up singer was taking in a breath prior to coming in on a chorus line...or even a drummer picking up his sticks in one song. The mids are slightly less prominent than the stock tubes and from what I have read this is somewhat common for CCas but I would not say they are "dark". The micro detail is definitely there, the tube has a great bloom....the music seems to flow at times as if it was almost liquid, like the ebb and flow of a wave building in the ocean. It really just gives an amazing "live" sound to the music that is very addicting. In fact, if I was given one word to describe the sound I would use the word "live" as you get a sense that you are sitting in the sound room with the band in many of the recordings...you hear a small noise off the side of the room and you can hear the lead singer looking a little to his side to see what the noise was while he is singing. 


To give another example of the impact of this tube in the set up...I have a buddy who is a huge Led Zeppelin fan...he has spent years hunting down every bootleg, live recording...every possible version of their songs that he can find but he would never listen to them on headphones as he said it never did their sound justice or just didn't sound like Led Zeppelin to him. We have a common passion for music so every time I get a new set of cans, cable or amp I will set him down and have him give me an impression of what he hears...the subtle changes to the sound or the presentation as he hears it, his impressions, etc. So, I sat him down with the Isabellina HPA LFP-V and ran him through a couple of tracks off of The Black Crowes, Croweology album which is quite good...I am not a huge Black Crowes fan but this album really is something special. After a couple of songs from the Crowes I moved into a couple other genres to give him a feel for the changes.....but he asked me to put on some Zeppelin and you could almost see the tears in his eyes...perfect. There is a special little slice of heaven when all the pieces of your set up come together...some times it is for a certian song or a certain type of music...where it just reaches out and grabs you....it has been a couple of weeks now since the Sieman CCa, the LCD-2s and the Isabellina HPA LFP-V came together for my ears...it works so well for me that I have not gotten around to switching out tubes yet...sorry guys. 


A small side not is that on what I call "dense music"...more in the melodic or doom metal sphere (think Hypocrisy for those who like this genre of music or older Amorphis for example) this tube has such great separation and detail that the "wall of sound" effect that many of these bands use is broken down into smaller separate pieces and I think it takes a little of the edge away from this types of sound...I assume this is due to a flatter mid range than the stock tube. It still does well with some progressive metal bands such as Opeth that move from extremely complex "clean" passages into large crescendoing passages and back. For many of the wall of sound, darker melodic bands I do prefer the stock tube for its mid range presentation giving what I would refer to as an extra grit...punch or graininess.


I have really enjoyed both the stock and the CCa tubes in the Isabellina HPA LFP-V....each seemed to excel in their own special ways across the spectrum of music that I listen to. I do think that the CCa has some magical qualities on certain recordings while not as "edgy" on other recordings that the stock tube excelled with...but with right genre of music like Zeppelin, southern rock, classic and indie...I have never heard them all sound quite so good!


Thanks Vinnie for all your hard work...wish I was better able to put what I hear down on the review in a way that would convey the subtleties of the sound.



post #39 of 85


Does anybody have any experience with HPA and JH16s?  Is it a viable setup without a gain switch? Any comments would be appreciated. Thank you.

post #40 of 85

New CNET Blog Review of the new Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition:


Special thanks to Steve Guttenberg for taking the time to critically listen to and
blog about his experience with the Isabellina HPA LFP-V Edition!  :singing:

For those not aware of it, his blog "The Audiophiliac" can be found here on CNET:

Happy Listening!


post #41 of 85

I heard the new balanced version that Vinnie is coming out with today.  It was at the New York City meet (Than ks Vinnie for coming out and supporting Head-Fi!!) and despite the loud environment, it was CLEAR that the Isabellina is a phenomenal piece of audio gear.  I had my LCD-2's and listened to them on the best balanced amps available there and the RWA shined above them all!  The dynamics (both macro and micro) were stunning as was the liquid midrange.  Bass extension and control was the best I've heard on the LCD's...and I have a Lyr and a WA6SE to compare it to) The soundstage was more out of the head than either of my amps and only equaled at the meet by the Woo WA22. 


To say I was skeptical about the whole 'battery powered' thing is an understatement, but it clear my skepticism was unfounded.  Vinnie and crew (shout out to Alexsis too!) have really hit a home run with this.  I can't tell you what it does for other cans, but for the LCD-2's, it makes them sound better than anything else.  I sat there listening to VERY familiar music (from my iPhone connected to his computer feeding the Isabellina, so it's not like it was some special file) as kept muttering 'Wow' as I struggled to keep my jaw from hitting the table. 


Kudos Vinnie!

post #42 of 85

Waiiiiiiiit a hot minute... that sucker was balanced? confused_face%281%29.gif Hard to see from the pics in the NYC meet thread.



post #43 of 85

I was at the meet as well and have to whole-heartedly agree with Leesure's assessment of the Isabellina. Prior to listening to this amp, the LCD-2 sounded like a good phone that could have been better. I was stunned at how that all changed after listening to Eric Clapton's, "Tears in Heaven". The LCD-2 opened up and sounded so vibrant and energetic. Bass extension was phenomenal, the mids were to die for and the highs were so smooth it's tough to put down as words. It was akin to heaven on earth or maybe even better biggrin.gif. No other amp could hold a candle to it except for the WA22 which tied it in my opinion. It's unfortunate I couldn't pair my cans with this wonderful amp or any of the other top headphones through it but I am certain they will be taken to another level.

Vinnie you have truly produced a stellar amp.

post #44 of 85
Originally Posted by Paganini Alfredo View Post

Waiiiiiiiit a hot minute... that sucker was balanced? confused_face%281%29.gif Hard to see from the pics in the NYC meet thread.



Yep...and she was beautiful


post #45 of 85


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