- Feb 21, 2007
I've already discussed the Cayin iDAC-6 DAC and matching iHA-6 solid state amp around here. And I gave them both a thorough review over at InnerFidelity not too long ago. To sum it up - versatile DAC and very neutral, powerful amp, both with excellent build quality and competitive pricing. Along with their fairly recent portable devices - the C5 amp, the N5 and N6 DAP, etc - Cayin is looking rather impressive in the personal audio segment.
Now to switch gears a bit. Cayin has another amp on deck, something completely different from the iHA-6. And as much as I love their solid state offering, this one might actually be the more significant release in some ways. The amp in question is totally new yet vintage at the same time.
Confused? Don't be. The amp I'm discussing is the HA-1A MK2, which is, as the name suggests, a sequel to the original HA-1A from about a decade ago. Search for HA-1A discussion on HeadFi and you'll find all sorts of praise for the original model, dating back about a decade or so. The form factor remains the same but this thing is new from the ground up in all other respects. And I'm totally hooked on it.
I don't want to gush too much - let's save that for my upcoming review which should go live soon over at Part Time Audiophile. I've submitted already and I'm not sure how many other articles the editor has on deck to post prior, but I'll update here when it's up and running. Short version: the HA-1A mkII is a spectacularly "tweakable" tube amp. By that, I mean it takes on completely different characteristics based on whatever tube complement is used - more so than the majority of tube amps I've experienced. That opens the door for nearly endless variation... a quick, detailed sound? Warm and smooth? Neutral with liquid midrange? The HA-1A MK2 can any and all of those given the right tubes. No matter which experience you choose, the HA-1A MK2 is an excellent performer. The one "weakness" involved is the lack of ultimate resolution as found in uber-amps from Eddie Current etc. Not that I would expect a $999 amp like this to match, in every single aspect, those models which go for 2-7 times the price. Still, I don't recall hearing a Woo Audio amp I'd choose over this (to name just one example), regardless of price. And I've heard most of them. The Woo amps are stunning in a classic sort of way, very different from the modern lines and non-exposed tubes of the Cayin, but for pure SQ I don't think it's much of a contest imho.
This thread is to get the word out - the Cayin portable stuff is quite popular these days, and the i-series DAC/amp is picking up steam, but now there's another entry in the desktop landscape. Cayin is very well known in other regions of the world so perhaps there are even some others who already own the HA-1A MK2 and can share some impressions.
And now, bring on the eye candy!