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Cayin iHA-6 - US Tour and reviews

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by project86, Feb 7, 2016.
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  1. project86 Contributor
    It's an interesting discussion for sure. When I first got the Auralic Taurus in for review back in the day, their brand was not very well known at all. They had a few products overseas in their home market like the Ark MX DAC and the Bugatti headphone amp, which seem to be the precursors to the Vega and Taurus. Somehow they went from a fairly unknown brand to something of a household name in audiophile circles. How did they make this transformation? There's no easy answer. 
    Here is an old thread for fun reading.
  2. tassardar
    Today I did some extensive testing of iha6 balanced vs my TT single ended. If taking what chord has said about their output, as Long as its within power limit its probably the most transparent sound from the dac. My test with the He500 and hd800s using a balanced adapter on the TT shows that the iha6 is very transparent. The tonality has little difference and if anything, the he500 gains from the additional power while the hd800s sounds about the same on either. If I had to be very precise, tonality wise isn't that much different, hd800 the TT sounds a little wider while the iha6 has a slightly more concentrated sound for the vocals. On the he500, the iha6 gives a mid with more body with almost everything else sound almost the same. Considering the TT cost just slightly lesser then 5x more, it really is a lot of potential.

    For now I will use my he500 balanced from iha6 and hd800s direct from TT
  3. Andykong

    According to Chord's recommendation, as long as its within power limit its probably the most transparent sound from the dac, so they don't recommend adding headphone amp to the chain. I am very interested to find out whether adding aheadphone amplifier such as iHA-6 will downgrade the transparency and overall performance of the system.

    Glad that you have provide some insight along this line. Transparency is the key of the claim, if iHA-6 can do the job to a large extend, there is hope that a better amplifier will actually enhance a Chord based system instead of downgrading it.
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  4. tassardar
    That is my general feel. If the amp is transparent enough, then the additional muscle of the amp may actually improve the sound especially on hard to drive headphones. That said, so far I only find planars having such a requirement. 

    On the other hand it does show IHA6 is pretty great for its price. Sadly I dont have access to the dac for a shoot out hmm.
  5. Andykong

    Indeed transparent is the key, but not everyone prefer transparent over other attributes such as wide and open soundstage or deep bass with punch and authority, that's why I think overall performance is more important than putting transparent at absolute priority position. Glad to know that adding iHA-6 didn't downgrade the transparent of the system significantly, this will open up a lot of possibility for Chord DAC users.

    I'll try to explain that with my limited understanding. Planar runs on magnetic effect which require current to control, this is why Planar speaker tends to partner well with headphone amp that has good current capacity, or with current-source amplifiers .

    In a very simplified terms, the pre-amp of an audio system is responsible for signal amplification and that is at voltage level, the power amp. will pump up the current to drive the speakers. When you drive a headphone with a DAC output stage directly, you have missed out the current amplification stage, which works fine with dynamic headphones but might run into problem with the planar as they are more demanding on current capacity.

    To test out the theory, maybe we can try the TT with a low impedance low sensitivity dynamic headphone, these headphones will also required a lot of current to sound right, maybe this will demonstrate whether current capacity is a bottleneck when driving a headphone with a DAC directly.
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  6. wadi
    What are output impedances of SE outputs? Does cayin have a detailed specification sheet or user manual for IHA-6? I might be interested in that amplifier in following days but there is almost zero information on the web.
  7. Andykong

    I have posted the specification of iHA-6 at Post #7.


    The "Low" jack has a 10 ohm output impedance, while the "High" jack is 120 ohms.

    You can check out John Grandberg's review in InnerFidelity for more detail. I actually copied the above line from John's report (Page 3) directly.

    Read more at http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/cayin-idac-6-and-iha-6-dynamic-duo-page-3#4DzRHzGcL4ltr9IJ.99

    There is a iDAC-6/iHA-6 tour stack somewhere around Portland/Seattle right now, They shall finish the tour schedule by end of July and I shall start a US tour immediately after that. Will provide a complete set of product information when I start the US tour thread. If you are located in US, maybe you can try this out in person before you make up your mind. :beerchug:
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  8. tassardar

    Running the abyss now with the iha6 fantastic combo. I didn't have access to many amps but it definitely sounds better then the TT with a smoother sound and a little more energy and air. It definitely is more significant then the questyle monoblock stack in terms of improvement over the TT.
  9. project86 Contributor
    Thanks for your impressions - looks like a very nice setup! 
    I can see how the Cayin could beat even the mighty Questyle monoblocks in the right context... those don't deliver tons of current like the Cayin does. With an HD800, I'd take the Questyle stack, but for many planars the Cayin is king.
  10. tassardar
    Yup in terms of sheer power, the cayin delivers. So far my planars all preferred it over the TT normal output
  11. Andykong

    What a coincident, I'll be trying exactly the same setup tomorrow (TT + iHA-6 + AB1266), will post some photo for fun.

    Better then the Questyle monoblock? That's very positive indeed, I like the CMA800r (2X) with LCD3 very much, it was one of my reference setup for LCD3 in past two years. I am really looking forwards to tomorrow's party after readying your comment because we'll have LCD3 and LCD4 in the mini-meet as well. :p
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  12. tassardar

    The questyle improvement was only noticeable at high volume in the bass section while the cayin can be notice even at moderate volume across the entire frequency.

    But the abyss is a finicky headphone for adjustment. It really is a bad headphone in a meet/quick test situation. The abyss driver maybe the same or not much better then most other planars but that ugly frame and adjustments you can do makes a huge difference in sound.
  13. Andykong

    Your observation is very interesting, does it imply the volume at play will affect the status of the Questyle? Because of current capacity in current mode?

    Improvement can be heard even at moderate volume across the entire frequency -- this sound attractive, lets see whether the iHA-6 will impress the AB-1266 owner at the mini-meet. I am really looking forwards to the audition now. :D
    Cayin Stay updated on Cayin at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
  14. tassardar
    Im doing it in comparison to the TT. To me the TT is the baseline and only at higher volume is there improvement in using the questyle. But the Cayin just improves it regardless of the volume.
    I think for its price, the Cayin is definitely a bang for buck especially in handling power hungry monsters. The thing is most owner of Abyss would have a decently good amp which probably cost many times the price of Cayin. I think the aim of Cayin is to be as good as the rest, that itself is probably one of the best compliment this little amp could get.
    Overall its a great stack!
  15. Tadamn
    Thanks for this awesome review, it is so accurate that I'm already thinking about buying one.
    Good job and keep going)
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