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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. Steven Stone1

    The TAS review, which I wrote, was referrring to higher than 100 dB sensitivity. I was using a 115 dB sens in-ear. 15 dB is a big difference...
  2. comzee
    Update on 6F8G and 6C8G.
    Both models I bought in "round plate" versions.
    The 6F8G while good, I wouldn't say blew me away. It's very likely the pair I got were really worn out.
    It's impossible to find NOS 6sn7 or 6f8g round plates. Even used they're ridiculously priced $200-300, new $500+.
    Imo not worth it at all, I'd say stay clear (purely because of price).
    The 6C8G pair is just getting better and better with burn in. 
    At a fraction of the cost ($40 for the pair) and NOS instead of used, what a deal!
    Right now they're competing for #1 spot, with my Psvane CV181-TII. More listening is needed, but the Psvane was $150 for the pair, so the price v.s. performance easily goes to 6C8G. 
    Also, here is my highly subjective resolution ranking for rectifiers:
    JJ GZ34 - 0
    JJ 5U4G - 3
    RCA NOS 5v4g - 3
    JAN-Sylvania 5Y3WGTA - 5
    Mullard f31 fat base gz34 - 5
    Preferred Series 274b - 5.5
    Bendix 6106 (5Y3 Variant) - 6
    Sophia Electric 274b mesh - 6
    Psvane 274b treasure mkii - 6.5
    Sylvania 5931 (5U4WG sub) - 7
    GE NOS 5R4GYA - 7.5
    Philco Sylvania 5U4G Hanging Filament - 8
    RCA 5R4GY hanging filaments single bottom getter - 8
    PHILIPS 5R4GYS (made in holland) - 9
    NOS 596 (sub for 274A 5U4G 5R4)- 9.5
    1940s RCA Jan Crc 5R4GY hanging filaments double bottom getter - 10
    I only took into account detail retrieval (resolution). Each tubes has it's own tonal characters apart from that.
    Did I mention it's also subjective [​IMG] don't burn me at the stake, tube impressions are fickle.
  3. drubrew Contributor
    Great info!! Plan to try a few of those I have not tried yet. Please also post here: 
    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/
  4. drubrew Contributor
    Agreed, highly sensitive IEMs will yield a little hiss. But with the Lundahl Input Transformers, it is lower now. But still, this amp was not designed for IEMs. During music play it wont be noticeable.
    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/
  5. Xcalibur255
    Drew, you guys have any plans to follow the IHA-1 up with something end game?
    This same basic design done with amorphous core output transformers and a superior DHT tube such as the Emission Labs 30A, combined with Dennis's design expertise as already displayed in the IHA-1, would be truly endgame performance and the best expression of the potential of a single gain stage design.  Expensive to be sure, but worth it if done right.
  6. drubrew Contributor
    We are playing with a couple of ideas for a new amp option at the next level. Here is a new review on the Dragon Inspire: 

    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/
  7. gug42

    Is there anyone who has compare it against woo audio wa6se ? (or well perhaps the wa22)
    I'm really curious about the comparaison !

  8. Xcalibur255
    This might not be much help, but I owned a WA6 years ago. Spent too much money trying to squeeze better performance out of it. The IHA-1 is on a different level from the WA6 to the point where there isn't a lot of value in comparing the two to be honest. In terms of resolution, tone and transparency the Inspire is *much* better than thw WA6 ever was. Even when you take into account the price difference the Inspire is the better value for what it delivers. Nothing against Woo, their amps are very well made and lovely to look at, but I don't think they represent a very good value anymore.
    Steven Stone1 and comzee like this.
  9. gug42
    Thank you for your answer.
    I'm a litllte disappointed :frowning2: I've recently bought a wa6se before discover the inspire iha-1.
  10. Rossliew
    Can anyone comment on the Inspire as a preamp?
  11. Steven Stone1
    Yes. I liked it as a preamp - it was quiet and had plenty of gain for line-level sources. The primary limitation is that it only has one single-ended RCA output, so for a system with mains and a sub you may need to use splitters.
  12. Rossliew
    Thanks for your response. Quiet is something I value especially in regards tube amps. Have had mixed experiences but they provided a nice holographic sound that I valued.
    Steven Stone1 likes this.
  13. DelsFan
    Fancy finding you here; I just (re)read your review about the Inspire IHA-1 and was also confused about that one point. HOWEVER, I write not to complain but I do wish to understand, as I appreciate your writing(s).

    In this portion of the review you kind of go back and forth between the in-ear monitors and regular headphones:
    "Dennis Had told me that the two headphones he used when designing the IHA-1 were the Grado PS-1000 and Audeze LCD-3 [sensitivities between right at 100db, and 103db].
    My experience is that the IHA-1 is better suited for medium- and low-sensitivity headphones
    [do you mean in-ears rather than conventional headphones?]
    than anything with sensitivity greater than 90dB. With higher-sensitivity in-ear monitors, the IHA-1 has a noticeable hiss that obscures low-level details. Some of the headphones that were too noisy for my tastes included the Oppo PM-3, Audeze EL-8, and virtually every in-ear monitor in my collection."

    The high-end Grados have a sensitivity right at 100db, and the Audezes (LCD-2, -X, and -3) vary between 101db and 103db. So perhaps you mean the in-ears need to have a sensitivity less than 90db? This [guess] is contradicted slightly when you say the Oppo PM-3s and Audeze EL-8s were too noisy [since they have sensitivities of 102db each].

    It's got to be difficult with thousands reading and (only some) critiquing your efforts, but thank you for the service you provide. In short, would any of the $999 to $1999 open-back headphone offerings from Focal, Mr. Speaker, Audeze, Senn, or Oppo work well with the Inspire?


    And while I have you here; I've also considered the micro ZOTL 2.0 for a tube-based headphone amp. Do you have any experience with this unit, and perhaps an opinion between these two [when used as] headphone amplifiers? The Inspire has balanced outputs; however, I like the option the outboard power supply of the micro ZOTL offers. And, while each incorporates tubes, perhaps they are vastly different products. FWIW, I'm leaning towards the Oppo PM-1 headphones, but could easily change streams based on the "preferences" of whichever tube amp I choose.
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  14. Steven Stone1
    I currently use the IHA-1 exclusively with full-sized headphones, not in-ears, so going back to my original quote - I mean headphones, not in-ears. Many headphones within the $999 to $1999 work well with the IHA-1. Currently the MR. Speaker Flows spend the most time regularly attached. Personally, I've come to the conclusion that expecting one amplifier to drive both extremely high and low sensitivity transducers is an exercise in futility... :)
  15. DelsFan
    Several of the posts from about a year ago mention the IHA-1 is not a good match with the HE-1000 headphones (which a friend of mine has for sale, version 1, which brings them within my price range). Does adding the option of Lundahl transformers alleviate the problem, or is the (lack of) synergy with the HE-1000s something the addition of Lundahl transformers doesn't address?

    Are there still other better amps (MicroZotl MZ2? - a different animal...) that would be better suited to the HE-1000s? [The other option being, buy the IHA-1 and pair it with a different set of headphones.]

    Is this option (turning the amplifier volume all the way up) available as a good option in almost all cases where one's DAC has a volume control?
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