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Song Brothers, E1 Personal Audio.
Some first impressions now that I've had the HA-1 for a week.
It's totally natural on the my Beyer DT800/600s. The bass improved over the EMU 1616M I was using previously, which was fully expected. I probably shouldn't have been running a 600Ohm can on that interface, though it did a good job overall. Treble and mids blended well with great distinction on both cans and powered speakers.
Secondly, the soundstage on both the XLR outputs to my powered speakers as well as the cans had a more forward presentation. In fact, I'd say it's where it should be. The EMU really had a recessed soundstage. I like to listen nearfield, and one would think that the forward presentation puts you further into the room, but it doesn't. In fact, the stereo image is nicely presented from only 5 ft away (speakers are about that far apart as well). Vocals are clear, with no overhang or excessive warmth on male or female voices, but both acoustic and electric bass has nice weight along with excellent note delineation. Electric guitars have the rasp one would expect from their originating sound, but are not harsh. If you see or have experienced much live music in your life, you'll be impressed. Finally, I hate saying this since the description seems overused from new equipment reviews, but I really do hear more detail now than I did prior.
Oddly, I bought this as more of a DAC/Preamp than a headphone amp, but I believe it will cause me to rediscover my cans again. This said, it has exceeded my expectations in every aspect. I usually listen to it with the screen dimmed completely off, expecting that there may be some audible benefit, though I haven't heard a difference. I purchased the silver model because I read that the silver anodizing process makes it sound better than the black models. LOL.
Overall, I couldn't be happier. I can't believe what you can get for under $2k these days.
BTW, be careful with the Windows setup on this device. If you want a completely natural and pure presentation from the HA-1, you'll want to ensure that the driver enhancements are disabled as follows:
I am confused. What driver is being used here? And, wouldn't WASAPI or ASIO prevent any of these settings for being applied to the DAC?
I actually am thinking of using it as Preamp out, and after reading ur review, maybe i should use it as DAC & Amp for the time being.
I can't see why you wouldn't. As I mentioned, it's as fantastic as an amp as it is a preamp. Seriously, don't think twice, it's very good at everything that it offers. What would you be driving with the preamp out?
That was based on the basic driver config in Windows when you pull up the hardware from Control Panel, or Sound.
ASIO is used directly by an application. So, yes, it would bypass Windows settings *if* your application uses the ASIO driver in its setup.
Yes, but it's still good habbit to disable all the the silly window settings. If you listen to music online or youtube, I don't know of an asio or wasapi browser plug-in...
I intend to get the Woo WA22 too (with upgrade tubes) but somehow given the fact that i need to get the Audeze LCD3 and this HA-1, and maybe some good cables, i might postpone the WA22. There are too many items in my shopping list including Hugo (to power LCD3 on the go, hehe). In fact i just got the AK240 Gold version and AKR03 Roxanne just a month ago. Wallet is getting thinner..
What speakers? I'm thinking of getting a pair of Adam Audio A3x or A5x (with sub, perhaps) for my desk to run off the HA-1.
Both good points, thank you.
Focal Solo6 BEs. Though it shouldn't matter much, I run the HA-1 balanced rear outputs into a dbx Driverack 260. I use that as an xover for the satellites (Focals) and a PEQ for the subs (pair of Rhythmik F12s). I'm sure the Adams will rock from the HA-1!
The WA22 is certainly nice, but doesn't have all of the options that the HA-1 does, especially USB input and a variety of outputs. However, as a dedicated headphone amp using only analog sources, it probably matches the HA-1. I believe it's the options that set these two apart in the end.
I'm using PSB imagine mini's for my desk and they sound great with the HA-1! http://www.psbspeakers.com/products/imagine/Imagine-mini
of course, unlike the unit you were looking at you'd still need an amp.
they are nice and small.. perfect for a desk.
The PSBs are nice, but besides the need for a separate power amp (which I don't want) they're rear-ported and won't work well next to a wall. I plan to hang the front-ported Adams on Adam's wall-mounts.