Audio-Technica AT-PHA100

General Information

Product Description ■ equipped with a discrete circuit of Audio-Technica own design in the power stage ■ The industry's first adopted the NJR manufactured by op amp MUSES 8832 in the pre-stage. (Currently Audio Technica Corporation examined 8 月 年 2014) ■ PCM 32 ~ 384kHz / 32bit, corresponding to DSD 128/64 (DSD128 (DoP), DSD64 (Native / DoP)) ■ for USB Audio of SAVITECH Inc. BRAVO-HD SA9227 adopt IC. Pull full potential with a high-resolution sound source ■ Adopt ESS Co. ES9018K2M of best-in-class DAC. PCM384kHz / 32bit, the DSD 128/64 adopted to support the high-end class DAC luxury portable amplifier IC ■ I / V conversion circuit, and supplies adopted ■ ample current operational amplifier TI Inc. LME49720 low noise in ultra-low distortion the large-capacity lithium polymer rechargeable battery supply sufficient current to every corner of the adoption ■ circuit the rechargeable battery of high capacity 3500mAh, is located on the side of high-quality volume ALPS Co. ■ you carry without leaving the power of sound is, can be transmitted without impairing the SN ratio. Such as to prevent erroneous operation has focused on usability as a portable ■ 5 stage sampling indicator installed. (Lit only when the digital connection) ■ rubber band × 2 in consideration the portability that carry by overlapping the player, comes with a rubber mat

Latest reviews


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Incredible build, long battery life, built in DAC
Cons: Doesn't play well with sensitive c/iems, DAC isn't as good as most DAP's
 Lately, it seems that I’ve found myself more and more frequently using high power requirement cans on the go. The downside with that is that my phone & likely not even my DAP has enough juice to properly power them. This is where portable headphones amplifiers come into play. They provide the needed power so i can fully enjoy the high end product I’m wanting to play with.
    Audio-Technica and their respective representative was kind enough to invite me to take part in reviewing a few of their product line. And one product in this line up was their portable amplifier, AT-PHA100. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and took full advantage of my time with this little booger and would now like to share my thoughts on it.
But before I do, I would like to extend my full gratitude  to both Audio-Technica and their amazing rep. who I’ve not only had the pleasure of working with, but also the honor of personally meeting and shaking hands with as well. But without further adieu, let’s get into this shall we?

A little about me
    I would like to say that first and foremost I am NOT an “audiophile” but rather an audio enthusiast. I listen to music to enjoy it. Do I prefer a lossless source? Yes, of course. But I can still be very happy streaming from Pandora or even my YouTube “My Mix” playlist. I also prefer equipment that sounds the best to me personally regardless of what frequency response it has or rather or not it's “sonically accurate” and I always have and shall continue to encourage others to do the same.
    I'm a 26 year old firefighter, for the City of Concord, North Carolina as well as the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.
    My interests/hobbies are power lifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.
    Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
    My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI & Zeus XIV, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.
Equipment used at least some point during the review
    -Schiit Bifrost 4490
    -LG V20
    -Luxury & Precision L3
    -HP 15634 Laptop
    -Cayin i5
    -Soundaware Esther M1 Pro
-Misc. Equipment
    -Source cleaner
        -iFi Nano iUSB3.0
    -Bowers & Wilkins P7
-Meze Headphones
-99 Classics
-11 Neo
-12 Classics
-Sennheiser HD650
-T5p (first gen.)
    -Empire Ears Hermes VI
    I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.
    The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.

The Opening Experience 
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   Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience
    Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.
    As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’
    This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?

    The “handshake” I for the AT-PHA100 was so much better than its headphone counterparts. However, it was still not what I would expect from a $550 (MSRP) product. The box itself it quite professional looking but is still too busy for my personal tastes. A lot of the information displayed could be redirected to the booklet on the inside but I understand the need to appeal to box readers.
    Upon opening the package (which is for some reason a box inside of a box inside of a box [yes 3]) you’ve a folded cardboard holder that folds into 2 halves. The side on the left, holds your instructions manual, start up guide, 2 Audio-Technica branded rubber bands, the 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect, and finally, the micro USB charging cable (no cube). Then on the right side, as you’ve likely guessed, is the AT-PHA100 portable headphone amplifier.
    Overall the “handshake” given by Audio-Technica regarding their AT-PHA100 was acceptable. Nothing about it wowed me or did anything to make me remember this experience (to neither be taken positively or negatively) but neither was I disappointed, it was just an general opening of a product.
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    When thinking of the makeup of a portable headphone amp. I like to think of one that’s relatively small, as to fit reasonably easy in one hand or a small pouch, lightweight, long battery life, and be durable enough to survive travel. When examining the AT-PHA100 I find that it meets, and in some areas even exceeds, those standards handsomely.
The AT-PHA100 is roughly the same size as a larger portable charging brick and only weighs roughly 240g which isn’t hardly anything. The durability is something I can see potentially being a problem for some. Not that it’ll break & fall apart, oh no, quite the opposite. The AT-PHA100 is made pretty much entirely out of aluminum (and I’m talking like 99%) which is great for the longevity of this product but not so much for its aesthetics.  The only problem I can potentially see is that scratches and scuffs will easily be shown and difficult to remove (if able to). For those who want “pretty” looking products I highly recommend buying a nice custom or universal case to prevent this from happening.
The front of the amp. holds a truly beautiful gold faceplate that simply says “Portable Headphones Amplifier AT-PHA100” centered at the top of the amp. with the power option slider (to choose rather you want to use internal battery power or external wall power) and power/digital input port centered directly underneath. The back of the amp. has the Audio-Technica logo, 3.5mm headphone output, 3.5mm analog input, source selection (between analogue input and digital), and lastly the gain switch (high and low). Lastly, on the right hand side of the amplifier you’ve the beautifully smooth and well crafted volume knob that has the power indicating led on the right and a 5 color led indicator when using a digital input (the light will not turn on with analogue input, will discuss the colors in the next section).
I honestly don’t have a single complaint as to the construction or build quality that Audio-Technica put forth in their AT-PHA100. It’s built basically completely out of aluminum but maintains a smooth appearance and light weight frame that is perfect for traveling.
    Though Audio-Technica advertises this as portable headphone amplifier, it’s actually a combi unit that has a built in ESS ES9018K2M DAC that can read up to 32bit/384kHz PCM and 2.8/5.6MHz DSD. That is very impressive stats to hardly show off but was a nice surprise when I found out it could do that (will discuss how it sounds in the Sound section).
    The AT-PHA100 has an incredible battery life that they claim has up to a 6 hour life using a digital source (thus utilizing the internal DAC) or 14 hour while using an analogue source. Though I can’t say the exact time frame I personally got I can say that I rarely had to charge the unit so I happily agree that the PHA100 gets every bit of life that Audio-Technica claims.
    Earlier I mentioned that on the right side there’s a led indicator light that changes to one of 5 colors based on which digital sample rate was coming through. The colors and corresponding rates are,
  1. Red for 32-96kHZ
  2. Green for 176.4 OR 192kHZ
  3. Blue for 352.8 OR 384kHZ
  4. Purple for DSD64 (Native or DoP)
  5. Orange for DSD128 (DoP only)
Though I personally never paid much attention to the led light, for those who wish to ensure their music is the correct rate then this may benefit you some. Regardless I still think it’s a cool feature that was included in the unit.
Specs. (Copied straight from Audio-Technica’s website)
System Requirements:    PC: with built-in USB port corresponding to USB 2.0
CPU: Intel Core2 CPU2.2 GHz or equivalent
RAM: 32-bit OS 2 GB or more, 64-bit OS 4 GB or more
Supported OS:    Windows XP (32-bit)*, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1
Mac OSX Mavericks (10.9)
* Technical support by Microsoft is no longer available.
Corresponding Headphone Impedance:    10 – 300 ohms
Maximum Output Level:    100 mW + 100 mW (10% during 16 ohms, THD)
80 mW + 80 mW (10% during 32 ohms, THD)
10 mW + 10 mW (10% during 300 ohms, THD)
Frequency Characteristic:    10 Hz – 100 kHz (-1 dB)
Signal-to-noise Ratio:    110 dB (A-weighted)
Total Harmonic Distortion:    <=0.001% (32 ohms 10mW output)
Input Connector:    Analog: 3.5 mm (1/8") gold-plated stereo mini jack
Digital: USB (micro-B)/asynchronous mode/
DSD128 (DoP), DSD64 (Native / DoP): 24 – 32 bit/
PCM 384kHz, 352.8kHz, 192kHz, 176.4kHz, 96kHz, 88.2kHz, 48kHz, 44.1kHz, 32kHz: 16 – 32 bit
Output Connector:    3.5 mm (1/8") gold-plated stereo mini jack
Power Supply:    5V DC, 500 mA bus power system (PC)/rechargeable lithium polymer battery (BATTERY)
Charging Time:    Up to 10 hours (DC5V, 500mA)
Battery Life:    Digital about 6 hours (JEITA) / analog about 14 hours (JEITA)
Operating Temperature:    41 – 104° F (5° – 40° C)
Dimensions (excluding protrusions):    1.1" (27 mm) H × 3.0" (77 mm) W × 4.6" (116 mm) D
Weight:    About 240 g
Accessories Included:    1.0 m USB cable (USB 2.0 to USB micro-B), 10 cm audio cable (3.5 mm gold-plated stereo mini plugs x 2), rubber mat, two rubber bands
Common spec for analog/digital without annotation
Fs=384 kHz, 32-bit for digital input
    Alas, the section most of you care the most about. How the AT-PHA100 transmits the signal to your portable audio product of choice. From the quite extensive time I’ve had with the unit I can certainly say it’s powered every full size headphone and hypersensitive c/iem I’ve thrown at it. Now tight quick, none of the headphones I’ve used require a small sun to power (the highest impedance can being the Sennheiser HD650 and the least sensitive product being the ATH-W5000) but the PHA-100 did a very good job with each of them.
It can play well with c/iems so long as they’re not super sensitive. My Empire Ears Hermes VI, though sounded great, did present a lot of hiss when played through the AT-PHA100 and in particularly made a higher pitched hum. That was honestly a little disappointing with respect to the cost of the unit (at full MSRP) but in the $350-400  I’ve only been able to find a very small handful of products that have a black background.
The overall sound is very transparent and, to my ears, doesn’t add any bias towards the sound thus keeping the signature of your headphones true (assuming your source is transparent as well). It may very well be the source I was playing through but I never felt that there was any more detail being revealed to me other than what the source was doing by itself. Now, I’m well aware that detail retrieval isn’t necessarily the job of the amp. but, often times a headphone will reveal more or less detail depending on the quality of power it’s receiving. Rather that’s a positive or negative attribute of the PHA100 is to each their own.
The DAC inside is a very nice feature to have and it does a respectable job at presenting detail but not so good that I’d use it in substitute of a designated dac. When I A/B between this and my Luxury & Precision L3 or my Schiit Bifrost 4490 I could instantly tell that the soundstage sounded much narrower and also had much less instrument separation. With how well the amp. performed it’s clear to see where Audio-Technica's focus was and even makes sense of their advertising this as an amp. Now don’t get me wrong, the DAC isn’t bad for it’s detail retrieval is spot on, just in direct comparison to the DAP’s I have at my arsenal and their internal DAC’s, I’d much rather run the AT-PHA100 in analogue mode.


    Overall my take on the Audio-Technica AT-PHA100 is that of respect. It does a very good job at what its primary role is and even given a few quality and convenience features to assist its users enjoy their music more. I will say that at full MSRP of $550 I would personally encourage you to shop around a little bit because at the often seen price of between $350-400 this unit makes for an absolute staple for those traveling and want to optimize their sound with transparent solid state sound.
My rating for this unit is at the price that you can find it for by shopping around a little bit. At full MSRP of $550 my rating would be between 2.5-3 stars.

Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.


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