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Inspire IHA-1 tube headphone amp

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by burn1, Oct 18, 2014.
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  1. Xcalibur255
    I have strangely come to view the low gain as a feature rather than an issue.  You can tell the difference when the volume pot is completely out of the circuit (as it is on the 24th step), and when I back down a few clicks it is ever so slightly but perceptibly less transparent.  With the 6BX7 and the low sensitivity of the LCD-2 there is never any reason to move the knob from the max position either.  With 6SN7s the nominal volume is usually a couple clicks down, and I inevitably go up to max for a little while anyway depending on what I'm listening to.
  2. cakebreaker
    Well, regardless the unusual gain design, I really enjoy the quality of this amp. It works equally well with my LCD2.2F and HD800s. It is growing on me hourly )) It pairs great with Audio GD HFB-28 DAC for sure. Especially considering that HFB-28 can add some gain to the IHA-1.
  3. Highbury73
    Hi guys
    hope you can spare a little time for a 'noob'.  Would this Inspire amp offer a significant increase in SQ and detail from my current Woo WA7d ?  Seems a lot of you guys on here have extensive experience with lots of different gear whereas i have next to none.  I dont use the DAC element of the Woo as the amp has ended up placed next to my main hifi rig and this gets fed by my main DAC. Im sat ten feet away with my HD800S cans and it sounds like they would match well with the Dragon.  Any advice would be gratefully received.  Thanks in advance.
  4. Compassionator

    I have both the Woo and the Inspire.  I use the Woo to drive any headphones that the Inspire cannot (drive well/dynamic); HE1000, HE560, T1.  The Woo can drive just about anything out there, but is a bit cloudy when compared to the Inspire.  The Inspire is uber clear/transparent without being sibilant, very alive sounding.  I did briefly listen to the HD800s recently and it sounded almost the same as the non "s", which is clear but lean with bleached sounding vocals.  I'm guessing but I don't think the Inspire would be an ideal match and probably would be a better match with the Woo.
  5. Highbury73
    Many thanks. That was just the kind of insight I was looking for.
  6. jelt2359 Contributor
    I have the opposite insight, but in my case I am guessing with the woo as I only have the wa5. I do however have another hd800S tube amp, the apex teton, and I would say my inspire is a great match for the S tonally- the Teton being better for the non S. For what it's worth I also think the mids on the S are noticeably more even, weightier and tonally better than on the non S.

    It's flip flopping like this that's led me to own both of these hd800 variations!
  7. Highbury73
    many thanks jelt2359.  do you prefer a balanced cable connection or single ended with the Inspire? or are the differences too subtle to care about?
  8. Xcalibur255
    For this amp the single-ended output should sound better given this is a SET amp.  The balanced output is derived from the single ended output so there are a couple more parts in the signal chain to accomplish that.
  9. dpump
    As far as I know,when there is a balanced output on a single ended amp, there aren't any extra parts needed. You connect the L+ from the single ended output to the L+ of the balanced output and the R+ from the single ended output to the R+ of the balanced output. You then connect the Ground connection from the single ended output to both of the ground connections on the balanced output. You can then use a balanced cable on a single ended amp but you get the same signal you are getting on the single ended output. Keeps you from having to switch cables or use a balanced to single ended adaptor cable.
    FYI. Don't try to use a single ended cable with a single ended to balanced adaptor cable on an amp that has a true balanced output. A true balanced amp will  have 4 separate amps and trying to use a single ended cable with a single ended to balanced adaptor can short 2 of the amps since the Grounds would be common instead of separate.
    Please correct me if any of this is wrong.
  10. jelt2359 Contributor
    That's what I think too. Basically there is no balanced output on this amp- there's just two different single ended jacks.
  11. Highbury73
    Many thanks for the replies, very informative and helpful.
  12. comzee
    You might have already made your decision, but I'll chime in.
    I owned the WA7 for almost two years. I recently picked up a "Fire-Bottle" the power amp version of the Inspire IHA-1.
    I've been using the Fire-Bottle with my hd800. I have a banana plugs to 4pin xlr adapter I made so I could do this.
    If the IHA-1 is anything like the Fire-Bottle, the IHA-1 will destroy the WA7 in every way imaginable.
    If this means anything, I used to own Stax 009 + kgsshv Carbon.
    The hd800 + "Fire-Bottle" destroys that combo for me. The WA7 isn't even on radar in this scenario. 
  13. Rossliew

    In which area does the fire bottle/hd800 combo sound that is sonically superior to the 009/carbon combo?
  14. drubrew Contributor
    Moon Audio is very excited to announce that the Abolute Sound has just rewarded the Dragon Inspire IHA-1 with the Golden Ear award. Review by Steven Stone is here:
    Some new pictures for your enjoyment.
    Moon Audio Stay updated on Moon Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/MoonAudio/ https://twitter.com/MoonAudio https://instagram.com/moonaudio https://www.moon-audio.com/
  15. Xcalibur255
    This amp never really did catch on around here, which is a shame.  I still love mine.
    Honestly I think the only real flaw in the amp is that Dennis tried a little too hard to give it that friendly small size footprint.  If the chassis were bigger and more physical distance could be put between the transformers the low level hum would be eliminated.  That, and it could still use about twice the gain it actually has.  The sound competes with tube amps twice its price though and don't think people have given the IHA-1 enough credit for that.
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