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Sony's DSD-capable PHA-2 portable headphone amp/DAC - Page 20

post #286 of 567
Yep. Picked it up today in person. E-earphones ( n the Akihabara district) I can vouch for. It's a really good place to shop.
Edited by fkrieger - 11/30/13 at 2:07am
post #287 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by fkrieger View Post

Picked up a pha-2 from e-earphones in Tokyo today. Really cool. I won't bother to submit a review because I'm somewhat new to this blog.
If you are looking for a good deal however, I got mine for 44900 yes (about $438). So good deal for a (perhaps?) slightly used amp.

 

I'd be interested to read your thoughts and how to get the best out of it, I had a nightmare time downloading the drivers, think I did everything correctly using google-translate, I used the PHA-1 user-guide as suggested in this thread to help out (cheers for that).

post #288 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noble-Geezer View Post
 

 

I'd be interested to read your thoughts and how to get the best out of it, I had a nightmare time downloading the drivers, think I did everything correctly using google-translate, I used the PHA-1 user-guide as suggested in this thread to help out (cheers for that).

Try reading the FB2K setup for the VentureCraft SounDroid Typhoon also.  I have a feeling that the two might be similar and it should help.

 

p.s. found this too and it might help: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f12-headphones-and-speakers/sony-pha-2-headphone-amplifier-and-dac-mini-review-17941/


Edited by DrSheep - 12/2/13 at 7:25am
post #289 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noble-Geezer View Post
 

 

I'd be interested to read your thoughts and how to get the best out of it, I had a nightmare time downloading the drivers, think I did everything correctly using google-translate, I used the PHA-1 user-guide as suggested in this thread to help out (cheers for that).

I got the driver from here: http://www.sony-asia.com/support/download/576681

 

And you are right Noble-Geezer, it did take a little while to have the computer recognize the PHA-2. I looked at the instructions for the PHA-1 and it says to keep the unit turned off. In the case of the PHA-2 what I did was the following:

- Connect the PHA-2 to the computer (using the miroUSB-to-USB cable that came with the unit)

- Turned on the PHA-2

- Started the .exe file.. .and it updated the drivers

 

- - - - My unofficial thoughts and setup tested - - - - - 

Listening was done via iPhone 4S (running Onkyo HF app) > Apple CCK > USB-to-miniUSB cable (generic) > PHA-2 > JH13 Pro (freq phase)

I then downloaded a few sample tracks from here: http://www.2l.no/hires/ so I could compare DSD to 24/96 and 24/192.

 

Source: Mozart: Violin concerto in D major - Allegro (Marianne Thorsen / TrondheimSolistene) in DSD64 & 128, FLAC 24/96 & 24/192

iPhone 4S: Volume at 13/16

Onkyo Application: PCM

PHA-2: Volume dot placed half way between the protective "bars" on the right side, normal gain 

This drives enough volume to the JH13's without blowing me away. Gain is set to "normal"

 

Thoughts on the source:

There really isn't a replacement for a good source recording. This is really evident since starting to get into higher quality listening.

 

Regarding the source from above (and differences between FLAC, DSD, etc. if it's the same file) honestly, I'm not sure that I can tell a difference in a blind test. I have been trying to do A/B tests by myself by only throwing the same music piece into the app and then randomly pressing FWD on the app to "lose" where I was (so I wouldn't have a bias on DSD vs FLAC). This is too tough. I like the fact that I CAN play DSD files via the PHA-2, but I think if I had the choice of downloading DSD vs using the 24/96.. I may as well go for the latter in order to save space and fit more music onto the HDD.

 

Getting used to better sourced material is a bit disappointing because some of the music that I once loved so much (i.e. Sunset Rubdown's "Stadium and Shrines II") now just sounds so awful due to the recording being so crummy. I've listened to this song off of Spotify (320 VBR) and am not pleased... so will purchase the CD and rip it to find out if I can find a better source (I'm dubious however).

 

So, why the PHA-2 versus the PHA-1 then?

I think that the volume problems of the PHA-1 were annoying. I'd listened to it prior to my PHA-2 purchase. It didn't have the mark of a quality product. The PHA-2 does not have this unbalanced volume problem at the low end. Aside from that, I like the flexibility of the PHA-2. It's compact. It's an amp and a DAC. The build quality is good. And I got a good price on it while in Japan. So overall I'm pretty satisfied.

 

Choice going forward

I also have provided myself an opportunity to continue to look into the DSD versus 24/96 versus 24/192 question. In limited listening I'm not sure that I can tell a difference (provided it's the same source). But at least I have the option to make this determination for myself and play files that get released to market no matter the format (unless of course next year Sony releases the PHA-3 that can play 32-bit files or something). A purchase for a device that can play higher-res than the PHA-2 would not be one that I'd be interested to make any time soon- as I should be satisfied for a while with the PHA-2.

 

Conclusion

I am by no means qualified to provide a deep "audiophile-type" review. However from my perspective the PHA-2 is a really fun, transportable DAC that provides flexibility and more than enough power to drive my JH13's. I am just starting to listen to hi-res music and kick out some of the crummy low-quality rips from years ago (replacing what is needed with the original CD or downloading another source if available off of Sony, HD tracks, etc). I should have many smiles listening to rediscovered music in Hi-Res formats. I just kick myself for ever ripping my old CDs to something like 192k (years ago) and then trashing/ giving them away/ boxing them up and putting them in the basement. 

 

<edited for better flow of my thoughts (wrote this at lunch)>


Edited by fkrieger - 12/3/13 at 1:15pm
post #290 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by fkrieger View Post

Overall. I'm pretty satisfied.

So, why the PHA-2 versus the PHA-1 then? I think that the volume problems of the PHA-1 were annoying. That is a problem that should have never been released to the market. The PHA-2 does not have this unbalanced problem. 

Summary: I am by no means qualified to provide a deep "audiophile-type" review. However from my perspective the PHA-2 is a really fun, transportable DAC that provides flexibility and more than enough power to drive my JH13's.

Thanks for the impressions.

Can you comment about the sound of the PHA-2. Bright or smooth ? How is the soundstage ? How is the sound compared with PHA-1 and compared with 4S ? Thank you again.

post #291 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by fkrieger View Post
 

I got the driver from here: http://www.sony-asia.com/support/download/576681

 

And you are right Noble-Geezer, it did take a little while to have the computer recognize the PHA-2. I looked at the instructions for the PHA-1 and it says to keep the unit turned off. In the case of the PHA-2 what I did was the following:

- Connect the PHA-2 to the computer (using the miroUSB-to-USB cable that came with the unit)

- Turned on the PHA-2

- Started the .exe file.. .and it updated the drivers

 

 

That and I installed this little player from Sony

 

http://www.sony.jp/support/netjuke/download/hi-res-ap-win/

It uses the Sony ASIO driver and sends everything in DSD to the PHA2.

 

 

I like it so far, but for 470 € alltogether, it did not flash me at all.

 

EDIT:

 

 

 

EDIT2:

 

I found a very good partner for the PHA-2. The ATH-ES10 sounds so great combined with the PHA-2. I just miss a tad bit mid-forwardness.


Edited by RAFA - 12/7/13 at 12:41pm
post #292 of 567

I had a pair of Sony PHA-1's and the Sony PHA-2 is better than it in pretty much every aspect. 

 

I'm a big fan. I used both Grado RS1i's and HF-1's and enjoyed it on both immensely. 

post #293 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by tradyblix View Post
 

I had a pair of Sony PHA-1's and the Sony PHA-2 is better than it in pretty much every aspect. 

 

I'm a big fan. I used both Grado RS1i's and HF-1's and enjoyed it on both immensely. 

Glad to hear that you like PHA-2. It is brighter than PHA-1 ? How is the soundstage compared to the PHA-1 ? Thanks.

post #294 of 567

With XPA-2 and UDA-1, looks like Sony is really pushing the DSD hard. For the price is consider cheap. However DSD file format is still somewhat limited in availability. If I can find a DSD source for all my favorite music I might go for it.

 

Without a portable DAC-AMP now XPA-2 looks so poisonous....

post #295 of 567

Hi. First-time poster here. I am not a full-on audiophile per-se, but I do love good sound, and I work all day in a Starbucks in Japan that plays the most incredibly annoying music (especially this time of year--Christmas music) so I picked up the PHA-2 and some Klipsch 11i's to save myself from aural hell. 

 

I find it hard to quantify the effect of the PHA-2, but it makes the sound thicker in some way. I think most of my friends would have no idea what I'm talking about, but I bet you all do. :smile:

 

Anyway, a couple questions: Do I need the driver if I'm not playing DSD files? The device works fine for me on my Macbook Pro and iPhone with no drivers whatsoever. 

 

Also, I'm trying to figure out what sounds best. For example, to me it sounds a little better to turn the gain to hi, then reduce the volume a little, but is there a difference in sound characteristics in doing this? Also, should I max out the volume on my computer/iPhone and lower it on the PHA-2, or do the reverse? Or does it not make any difference? 

 

Finally, the one disappointment I have is the inability to charge the device and use it at the same time. All other USB devices I'm aware of can be charged and used simultaneously. Why not this one? Would it introduce noise into the system? 

 

Thanks for any feedback! 


Edited by zachawry - 12/10/13 at 5:51pm
post #296 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by zachawry View Post
 

Hi. First-time poster here. I am not a full-on audiophile per-se, but I do love good sound, and I work all day in a Starbucks in Japan that plays the most incredibly annoying music (especially this time of year--Christmas music) so I picked up the PHA-2 and some Klipsch 11i's to save myself from aural hell. 

 

I find it hard to quantify the effect of the PHA-2, but it makes the sound thicker in some way. I think most of my friends would have no idea what I'm talking about, but I bet you all do. :smile:

 

Anyway, a couple questions: Do I need the driver if I'm not playing DSD files? The device works fine for me on my Macbook Pro and iPhone with no drivers whatsoever. 

 

Also, I'm trying to figure out what sounds best. For example, to me it sounds a little better to turn the gain to hi, then reduce the volume a little, but is there a difference in sound characteristics in doing this? Also, should I max out the volume on my computer/iPhone and lower it on the PHA-2, or do the reverse? Or does it not make any difference? 

 

Finally, the one disappointment I have is the inability to charge the device and use it at the same time. All other USB devices I'm aware of can be charged and used simultaneously. Why not this one? Would it introduce noise into the system? 

 

Thanks for any feedback! 

 

Welcome to HF. Wow, if you're working in Starbucks in the Tokyo area, possibility we may have bumped into each other. I did most of my audio reviews in the Starbucks in Roppongi Hills :p.

AFAIK, I think you need a player that supports DoP to play DSD files. So something like Audirvana Plus but set the detection mode to manual and DoP v1.0 and you should be able to play DFF/DSF files natively through the PHA-2.

 

About high gain/low gain and volume matching, I think this varies. Personally I do hear the difference and talking to Currawong (who's from Fukuoka but comes to Tokyo often), there may be some kind of impedance (mis)matching going on in low/high gain to the earphones which seem to alter the FR even though it's volume matched at different gain settings.

 

The not charging isn't that bad. For some products charging whilst playing would last only an hour. The only device that seems to be able to charge and play with a practical longevity is the CLAS -dB. So for me for the other brands, I'd prefer not to charge to have an overall longer listening time.

post #297 of 567
Thanks for the reply.

I'm down in Kyoto, actually, although I do make it up to Tokyo once in a while.

So you mean that unless I play DSD files (I don't), I don't need to worry about drivers?
post #298 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by zachawry View Post

Thanks for the reply.

I'm down in Kyoto, actually, although I do make it up to Tokyo once in a while.

So you mean that unless I play DSD files (I don't), I don't need to worry about drivers?
Yep. If no DSD & you're using a Mac, it's good to go. I believe to connect from the Mac to the PHA2, you'll need to use the (mini? micro?) USB port. You can just go to Settings on the Mac & choose the PHA-2 as your USB device audio output and you're good to go.

As for your iPhone, I can't remember if it's a different USB port you'll need to use (Lightining to Type A USB) and it should work too.
post #299 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by f198 View Post
 

Thanks for the impressions.

Can you comment about the sound of the PHA-2. Bright or smooth ? How is the soundstage ? How is the sound compared with PHA-1 and compared with 4S ? Thank you again.

OK, I've been using the PHA-2 almost daily, but much of the time time on flights here around the West (the territory I cover for my job). Note, I too inexperienced to post adjectives on the performance or the sound quality  and will leave a more in depth review to those who have heard different rigs throughout the years. However, for my setup (see above) the PHA-2 certainly helps when using the iPhone4s as a DAP by opening the sound stage a bit more. In terms of brightness- I haven't experimented that much with the "high gain setting" as the few times I have my impressions led me to believe that this was a little too bright for my ears (JH13 fp). I suppose using this setting and adjusting the volume may be interesting in the future.

 

I can not comment on the PHA-2 versus the PHA-1 as I only had a few mins with the PHA-1 prior to moving to the PHA-2.

post #300 of 567
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post

Yep. If no DSD & you're using a Mac, it's good to go. I believe to connect from the Mac to the PHA2, you'll need to use the (mini? micro?) USB port. You can just go to Settings on the Mac & choose the PHA-2 as your USB device audio output and you're good to go.

As for your iPhone, I can't remember if it's a different USB port you'll need to use (Lightining to Type A USB) and it should work too.

Hi Sean
For the iPhone 5 or 5 s or iPad 4 and iPad air I use lightning to USB type A is no problem .

Did you noticed that sony USB to dac cable can not use for. Charging. My Walkman WMZ ZX 1 ?

Thank you
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