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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
    So Drew I have a question.  I read that review you posted for fun (don't usually need to read reviews for something you already own after all), and the author describes volume behavior that is very unlike what I hear from my IHA-1.  I postulated a while back in this forum that the logical way for Dennis to fix the amp's lack of gain/volume would be to change the configuration of the 6SN7 tubes from being parallel single gain stage to actually being two separate gain stages.
    Can you give any confirmation that such a design change took place?  Because if it did that represents a pretty significant design change that affects the amps performance and it means all the advice people like me give out about this amp might not be accurate for the current design revision of the amp.  Not only would the amp have much more volume, but it's ability to drive some types of loads would be different too.  So older impressions of the amp might no longer be applicable for current potential buyers.
  2. jelt2359 Contributor
    Interesting it can now be used as a pre. After I got mine I wanted to do just that and asked drew if it was possible but at the time the answer was no, no preouts. I think Dennis evolves his designs as it goes along, but the topology probably doesn't change much, he's clearly thought about this a lot after so long in the business.
  3. drubrew Contributor
    Send us your unit. We can eliminate the hum. Email us through contact form on front page of website.
    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/
    comzee likes this.
  4. Xcalibur255
    I've personally never been bothered by it.  As I mentioned, I am happy with my unit.  I was expressing the popular sentiment that has been voiceed in this thread since the amp was released.  Quite a few people decided to pass on this amp after hearing about both this and the gain issue, that's why I was looking for more detailed information to find out if people are basing their purchasing decision on old facts or not.
  5. comzee
    This would be of great interest to me as well. 
    I'm OCD about any background noise. Even though I know it won't effect SQ at any listening volumes, it's still in the back of my brain and doesn't let me enjoy the music.
  6. Xcalibur255
    Well, can't say I didn't try I guess.
  7. pedalhead Contributor
    Hi guys, still enjoying your Dragons I hope!  I've had my eye on one since they first appeared, but I came to the conclusion that it probably wouldn't drive my HE1000 to the full. I've since succumbed to the allure of the Focal Utopia (currently saving up), and on paper it looks a lot more suitable with its 104dB sensitivity. I also suspect they would make a highly resolving pairing. Has anyone had a chance to listen to the Utopia on this amp?
    Incidentally, as there are clearly fans of Dennis' work on here....I already own one of his previous creations, the Xciter amp, upgraded by Drew with Jensen caps and with EAT KT88 Diamonds & 1960's Mullard 12ax7. It's a super dynamic beast, bags of power (especially with those KT88s), even drives my desktop speakers and sub very well.  I'm hopeful that the Dragon IHA-1 may be a good complement to the Xciter.
  8. Pawn
    I'm mostly interested in this amp and the Ayre Codex. Wish someone would do a comparison. I kind of expect the iha1 to include proper tubes if we're paying $1600 for it.
  9. jelt2359 Contributor
    Did you find out in the end?
    Do not have the Ayre Codex so can't comment, but if you're into tubes you'll realise that 'proper tubes' is very much a subjective question. What I can say is, I certainly expect all tube makers to go with reliable tubes that are guaranteed to be working. These are mostly cheap, non-NOS tubes. NOS is very much a mixed bag. Where you go from there is up to you. The IHA-1 is very much the norm, not the exception- regardless of price, even for amps 5, 10, 15x the price.
  10. jelt2359 Contributor
    Short of the HE6 and the K1000, it can drive everything I own, but then those two cans should really be seen as speakers in terms of amping requirements.
    Besides, I actually think the gain is perfect. As another amp builder I respect once wrote, and I quote:
    "If you already have enough signal form your source (say 2V is all you want) then using an amp with 5X gain you would first need to cut your 2V signal down to 0.4V (with the volume pot) only to reamplify it with you amp. This is a recipe for bad sound, though it is what almost every system does. That is to say, if you are not using your system turned up almost all the way most of the time, you have too much gain."
  11. Pawn
    When I say proper, I meant decent.

    What about a comparison with other tube amp? Little dot mkiii, EC Zana D, Woo Wa6, decware etc
  12. jelt2359 Contributor

    I also meant decent, as in, guaranteed to work and last a while. NOS tubes, all the "good ones" you read about, are decades old- not a good choice at all for a stock tube.

    Among the list you wrote I would be personally interested in the EC ZD but that's OTL. Whether you like that romantic sound is going to be important. I have two other otl amps, the Apex Teton and Glenn OTL, and I'm still keeping the Dragon Inspire around.
  13. Pawn
    Reissued NOS tubes made in modern time sound just as good as the old school for a fraction of price. I personally tested this.

    For me, fun sound sig suits me over analytical. This is what EC and Little Dot are good at. I was interested in Ayre Codex, pass labs, mcintosh mha100 since they're made from legendary manufactures, but I always came back to tubes. A very good solid state amp that copies tube is the Graham Ultra solo and that's on my long audition list.
  14. jelt2359 Contributor
    Which tubes are you referring to? I use my IHA-1 with a pair of 1578 or a pair of 6SN7W metal base. If there were reissue versions of these I would love it. I also have 5692 which sounds great, and many other 6SN7 RCA, Sylvania, etc... Again, if there's a reliable source for reissues of these tubes I'd love to get on them. Please let me know :D

    I'm like you. I just sold my last solid state amp, having bought and sold the Moon 430HAD, Auralic Taurus, and EC Black Widow. Tubes-wise, I would say another great option to consider, and which I personally own, would be Apex Sangaku. It is fast, clean, clear yet smooth and sweet. Not lush nor syrupy though, if that's what you like. Wonderful combination. A bit more coin than the IHA-1, but then no tube rolling necessary (or possible!).
    One more option in this price range would be the Glenn EL3N amp. This is a wonderfully delicate, sweet-sounding SET tube amp. Comes with all-Lundahl transformers (output and power). I really like it in single-stage triode mode, where it's super analog, sweet and organic.
    I still like my IHA-1, though. :D
  15. Pawn
    The Reissued tubes I use are for a Woo amp and it was Mullard. Not sure if there's one for the iha1. Tested that against $250 vintage Mullard and sounded exactly the same. You're really only paying for rarity.

    There are many good tube amps out there. I just want one that sounds closest to the Mcintosh mc275 with speakers. I've heard the Decware is very good in value.
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