I apologize if I have offended anyone by including the statement "one of the best" in the thread title. I have now removed it.
This thread’s title was actually an emotional reaction on the "Will it achieve High End status ?" thread where I felt some negativity. I created this thread and wanted to start out with a positive attitude instead. Hence "one of the best" in the title, but of course I should at least have added a question mark. It was never my intention to give an objective statement as substantiated by years of empirical studies of all available headphone amps in the world. I was just happy to own HPA-21!
The goal with the review was and is only to compare HPA-21 with BHA-1 (and the amp in Hilo), nothing else. "A review is only good if you have experience with gear and make relative comparisons". I agree to that. IMO I did relative comparisons with BHA-1. The problem must be my experience then.
I am more of a "studiophile" guy than an "audiophile" guy, I do not like coloration of any kind. I want "wire with gain". Hence I have not listened to that many tube amps or other amps that I from reading reviews etc. understand have a colored sound. The most expensive tube amp I have listened to is the Atma-Sphere MP-1 preamp driving HD800 ("romantic" sound) and HE400 (terrible). But that is a tube preamp and not a dedicated headphone amp, of course. I own EAR909, a no compromise Swedish headphone amp in the same price range (if that is important) as BHA-1 (in Sweden), but I’m going to sell it since BHA-1 is better IMO. So there is no need to compare HPA-21 with EAR909. I have also listened to other cheap amps like V200, LBC, 160D, HDVD800, Phonitor etc. Even if these amps are not "high-end" in your world you learn from listening to various equipment. You learn from comparing DACs like DA11, Hilo and Zodiac. You learn from comparing a veiled and a non-veiled LCD-3. You learn from comparing headphone cables (that I hopefully will be able to do this weekend!). You learn from comparing studio monitors. You really learn from listening to the instruments you play and to your own (recorded) voice through headphones.
BTW BHA-1 is approx. ½ of the Bakoon’s price in Sweden.
Now let’s forget about that old thread title and discuss HPA-21 instead! It seems that some people think that it is one of the best…