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EPA-007x headphone amplifier – Phasemation (Japan)

  1. devouringone3
    Update: November 4th 2014, “EPA-007x” added to their website. Available in late November.
    New dual-XLR+TRS headphone jacks. 0.5W increase in power consumption. A few other small improvements, see “Internals Comparison” further in post.
    Phasemation makes almost everything, cartridges, CD transport, hybrid passive volume attenuators, receivers, phono/power/headphone amplifiers, two a DACs, a D2D converterand a rubidium external clock (discontinued, alas). Their flagship monoblock tube amplifier is costs USD ~25,000 per channel.
    About them (http://www.phasemation.com/):
    “Phasemation is the original audio brand of Kyodo Denshi Engineering Co., Ltd.

    KDE has been providing, since its startup, various types of reliable measurement equipment in the IT industry, adopting three core technologies in circuit, fine mechanism and algorithm.

    We hope to make use of this high technology in a field of art and culture, and aim to develop and produce the audio equipment steps into the technological practice and reproduction of music that the existing ones have not achieved. We have started up Phasemation as an audio brand.

    As far back as the era, place and moment when the past musical art of Artist (Musician) was produced, they let us feel vivid and realistic. Thus, we aim the products can represent "The reproduction art" ”

    The EPA-007 headphone amplifier (MSRP: 132 300 Japanese yen; though it can be had in Japan and on websites for around ¥95,220) (EPA-007x MSRP: 140 000 JPY)
    EPA-007x update (other than the model's name, nothing has changed here):
    Specifications (http://www.phasemation.com/product/epa-007x.html):
    FormatDual mono drive headphone amplifier
    Entry1 line analog (RCA / XLR)
    OutputXLR / 6.3mm stereo standard jack (×2)
    Input impedance10kΩ
    Frequency characteristic20 ~ 100kHz -0.5dB
    Corresponding headphone impedance16 ~ 600Ω
    Residual noise50μV or less
    Crosstalk90dB or more
    Power consumption2W (115 or 220VAC, 50/60 Hz)
    Maximum Dimensions (mm)220 (width) × 57 (height) × 234 (depth)
    AccessoriesAC power cable


    High Quality Headphone Amplifier Expressing Freshness of Music

    Received Prize

    1. Ongen PublisingAudio Excellence Award 2015 Headphone Amplifier Product Award

    We, Phasemation, released the Pure Audio Grade Headphone Amplifier, EPA-007x. Phasemation has been releasing the audio equipment for reproducing live music consistently. Also for EPA-007x, we aspire to have pure audio grade sound quality by adopting the high-quality sound technology specialized to music playback utilized to other Phasemation products.

    This amplifier is compatible for balanced headphones due to the dual monaural construction. Unprecedented natural lateralization is provided by the recently-developed dump controller.


    Product Concept

    Music outputted from the grade of high-end speakers should be also outputted from headphones; so we designed EPA-007x. Because headphones are overwhelmingly more sensitive than loud speakers (1000 times in power ratio), sufficient sound volume can be outputted at approximately 1mW.

    Because the headphones are sensitive, the quality of the device is sensitively reflected in the sound. Also for EPA-007x, freshness of music is ensured due to discrete circuit construction and minimum device construction to be utilized to other Phasemation products. The range of headphone impedances has a width of different order of magnitude, so it is hard to gain a damping force matching every headphone. 
    The damp controller adopted in this unit can vary depending on the damping force of the headphones; therefore softer sound and more natural lateralization suiting your taste can be gained.
    Main features

    1. Dual Mono Amplifiers consisting of Discrete Components in All Stages
    High-sensitive headphones reflect sensitively in the freshness reduced by passing through devices. In EPA-007x, an operating amplifier is not used in order to prevent reducing freshness; so carefully-screened devices are adopted in all stages. The dual amplifiers have independent power supplies; therefore balanced cable type headphones
    Completely separating L and R lines can be driven.

    2. Adopting Damp Controller for Providing the Damping Force to Headphones
    The damping force matching the headphones having on impedance variation of 16 to 500 ohms can be set by the damp controller adopted in EPA007x. In addition to contact degree of the head pad, by driving the headphones with an appropriate damping force, a pesante bass tone can be created; and the audio image existing at the head point is moderately alleviated; therefore your stress can be alleviated when listening for a long time.

    3. Adopting the Protection circuit for Protecting Headphones
    The cut-off protector which prevents propagating pop noises generated when the power switch is set ON/OFF and protects the headphones in an abnormal action is adopted.

    4. Resonance-free, vibration-free and interference-free chassis made of aluminum in all
    The unit consists of the front panel made of aluminum steel shavings to be a nonmagnetic material, (the 2mm thick chassis and top cover.) By exhausting heat from the chassis faces, the enclosed structure without slits is achieved.

    Available accessories include Acoustic-Revive dual (balanced) TRS male to 3-pin XLR female adapter and a HD800 balanced cable terminated with dual TRS male, on the amplifier's product page. (Or buy the updated EPA-007x which features balanced XLR, dual-3pin outputs)
    Internals comparison (credits to Yaluen; thank you!)
    According to Phase Tech [blog], the EPA-007x features an improved power supply section over the EPA-007. If you look at the specs listed for them, you'll notice that the EPA-007 has a power consumption rating of 1.5W whereas the EPA-007x is rated at 2W.
    As you can see, the only differences are the rectifier diodes and the RC network associated with the power supply, no significant redesign. Did a little digging and it looks like the diodes in the EPA-007 are Hitachi V19 while in the EPA-007x are ROHM SCS206AG. Both are well-suited to the application. Spec-wise an incremental upgrade but audibility is most likely next to negligible. A bit of A/Bing and I certainly can't hear a noticeable difference. Both are fantastic amps.
    Here's a video review of the EPA-007 in Japanese language
    Tracking: EPA-007 was first announced in February 2011
  2. Piotr Ryka
    I have Phasemation EPA-007 since yesterday to write review, and this machine is great. 
  3. devouringone3
    Hey, thank you for coming here. I'm really glad you're going to review it, this amp is my main prospect, but information about it on the internet is scarce, even in Japanese.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  4. Piotr Ryka
    I don't know if it is any facilitation, but review will be in Polish. After some days here:
  5. devouringone3
    I can't read Polish so nope, but I take every information I can and Google's translation of your review in English should be good enough to read, hehe. Thanks again for telling me about this review you're doing.
  6. ceausuc
    devouringone3 likes this.
  7. Piotr Ryka
    If Ear Stream is cold sounding headphone amp, I am tyranosaurus rex. And generally there are two kinds of headphone amps - good and bad ones. 
  8. devouringone3
  9. devouringone3
    ^ This review ^ was translated by 6moons in a agreement they made with the reviewer: http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/phasemation/1.html
    Also, the amplifier is now available to be purchased on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/PHASETECH-Phasetech-Headphone-Amplifier-Epa-007/dp/B00CD0NUSY
    Though it's priced the double of what you can get it for in Japan.
    It's only a matter of time before I get one and start talking about it.
  10. devouringone3
    EPA-007x for late November.
    First post updated
  11. borrego
    I have my EPA-007 (original version of the amp without the XLR headphone sockets) hooked up to the balanced output of my audio-gd NFB-1, driving my SA3000 in single ended mode.
    This amp is simply amazing.
    If someone had told me my SA3000 can be driven to as full sounding as my HE-500, I would have never believed it. The EPA-007 does just that. It really does wonders to dynamic headphones.
    There has been saying that Japanese headphones are best driven by Japanese amplifier. Now I truly believe this statement.
    devouringone3 likes this.
  12. yaluen
    I'm passing along my EPA-007. Why you ask? Well I have a EPA-007x due to arrive of course [​IMG]
    I would have to concur with you all in saying that what this amp is able to do with dynamic headphones is nothing short of magical. For orthos, I would perhaps prefer something with more grunt, but if you have a few dynamics in your stable (guilty), this is the one amp you would ever need for them. Amp/headphone synergy is an oft elusive characteristic and many of us have cycled through gear looking for that perfect combination. With the EPA-007, it really becomes a non-issue. Adjusting the damping knob from soft to hard produces a noticeable difference in tone and presentation, going from lush to dry, enveloping to flat. It seems to me that while the entire sound changes, bass response is affected the most. A softer setting gives a fuller midrange and more rounded bass while a harder setting imparts better bass articulation and tightness.
    Reading through what other EPA-007 users have written, it looks like most prefer the damping knob closer to the soft setting, as do I. However, I would like to point out the importance of volume matching after adjusting the damping knob when doing comparisons of different damping settings, as a hard setting does slightly reduce overall volume.
    devouringone3 likes this.
  13. borrego
    My experience with the EPA-007's dampening control is: The better control a headphone has for its diaphragm, the lesser amount of dampening you can use. That is, to use lesser overall negative feedback in EPA-007's case.

    Below is my dampening control setting for my headphones:

    T1: at 8 o'clock position (big difference between 9 o'clock and 8 o'clock position for the T1. T1 in 8 o'clock position just sounds sublime)
    HE-500: at 9 o'clock position (now I drive the HE-500 with the SA-31SE, the EPA-007 does not give enough current)
    MS2e: between 10 to 11 o'clock position
    HPH-MT220: between 11 to 12 o' clock position
    SA-3000: between 11 to 1 o'clock position (now sold after owning the T1)
  14. yaluen
    I think that's a reasonable assertion to make. Though I'm sure we all hope that headphones are designed and built with optimal damping, especially TOTL or flagship models, that is often not the case, to wit, the various mods HFers have conceived for the HD 800, Hifimans, etc. Admittedly those mods address problem areas present in acoustic damping, but it would probably be reasonable to assume that by extension there can be compromises made in the electromechanical design of the drivers as well. Audio-Technica woodies are a good case in point. I'm sure nobody would disagree when I say that they weren't designed with fidelity as the goal. Incidentally, I've found that they respond to the EPA-007 damping control quite favourably. Similar to you, I usually have the damping knob between 8 and 11 o'clock, but with ATs, I've found they sound the best with the knob at around 2 o'clock.
    Another interesting tidbit: if you fiddle around with the volume knob around the lowest setting, you'll notice that channel balance in that range oscillates toward left and right slightly, and that sound doesn't fully cut out at the lowest setting. The manual states that in implementing a special volume control circuit optimized for sound quality, these are some of the side effects.
  15. yaluen
    And on the subject of electrical damping of headphones, here's an article from Innerfidelity that is relevant to the operating principles of the EPA-007: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/musings-headphone-amplifier-output-impedance
    Be sure to give it a read [​IMG]

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