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phatlab Sassy2 Hybrid Portable Headphone Amplifier impressions and discussion thread

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by crabdog, Mar 14, 2017.
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  1. Aradea
    Small note from me regarding comparisons to ALO Cont v5. I've heard the v5 but unfortunately have not heard the Sassys (1st or 2nd one). But I do own a Phantasy..

    When I heard the v5, it was with my Noble Savants. First of all it is a good amp for IEMs, I honestly dont think that it will drive full sized headphones quite well.
    The v5 is not tubey, it just has that little tube warmth but I was not hearing any wow factor from it.
    I'd bet the Sassy would be a much better amp
  2. BunnyNamedCraig
    IMG_7076.JPG Stay sassy Y'all! I'm listening to "Vogue" by Madonna with the Phatlab Sassy 2 right now with HD 800. Really legit I have to say! (Don't hate btw on song choice :) )I wish more people knew about this unit... We have that and also the PHAntasy here in shop for demo. I am going to be giving the PHAntasy a shot here in a minute. If your in PA then check our shop out and hear it for your self. Not sure how many of these units we have left? PM me if anyone is interested!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 15, 2017
    crabdog likes this.
  3. BunnyNamedCraig
    I talked to MTMETim to get some "new" stuff put on our website. We are all Sassed up now on the MTMEwebsite ha. We are also having a big meet coming up on July 22nd. I am going to make sure the attendees gets a chance to drive the Sassy II for them self. I love hearing peoples opinion of it before and after listening. All is welcome to come btw. Feel free to bring your own gear as well to compare.
    crabdog likes this.
  4. crabdog
    Great to see some love for the Sassy! How did you like the Phantasy btw?
  5. BunnyNamedCraig
    You know I didn't get enough time with it yet! Been real busy so I haven't had the chance. Still plan on getting back to it though
  6. Aradea

    Can the phantasy be used while being charged?
    I've emailed phatlab to ask about this but havent received a reply for quite a while
  7. crabdog
    You can with the Sassy. I don't see why the Phantasy would be any different.
  8. Aradea
  9. Wyd4
    I tried the original sassy and the phantasy a while back with my ether ç and very impressed.

    I had an Alo cdm at the time.

    I wouldn't have said they sounded better than the Alo, but had a lot more power and a lot less ss sound.

    I am currently looking for an amp. Might have to revisit my sassy plans. Though I did prefer the phantasy. But it's approximately.... Extremely out of my budget.
  10. crabdog
    Yeah Sassy II is such a beast. The price is prohibitive though.
  11. paradisle
    This is the first tube based portable headphone amplifier I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. The Phatlab Sassy II looks somewhat similar to other products in the same class but does seem to be significantly more robust. Parts of the housing are cast and machined and that results in a nice finish, The precise assembly coupled with the rounded off design elements provides a wonderful in-hand feel. At 275 grams it straddles the middle ground of feeling substantial without the notion of carrying around a lead balloon.


    Turn the large and comfortable power-volume knob and you are greeted with some degree of ringing in your headphones as the unit powers on and warms up. In my case, most of my listening was done with Final Audio Sonorous IV ( S IV) headphones. The S IV’s are 8 ohm over the ear headphones and a very easy to drive without an amplifier. Despite this, when plugged into the sassy, the sound reached new levels of high – bass was punchier, the soundstage opened up and warmth and dynamics were tremendous.


    I’ve had the original Sassy on hand to compare and the Sassy II has a different internal layout than the original. Externally, the primary differences include a slightly higher than flush window that gives you a view into those glowing orange tubes and the addition of a ‘Gain’ switch on the outside. The Gain switch allows for a little bit more listening flexibility by making it easier to listen a greater variety of music sources. Internally, Phatlab claims the physical layout and signal paths have been changed from the original – what you will notice is a slightly smoother, sweeter sound. Voices are warmer and more airy compared to the original.


    The Phatlab Sassy II is definitely an amp for those that enjoy the virtues of a Single-Ended Triode (SET) (vacuum tube) amp in a portable form, with a strong emphasis on portable. I say portable because I happily listen to my $60 mini Bravo Audio desktop SET on a daily basis that approximates 90% of the quality of the sound I hear through the Sassy II. Alas, that amp is permanently plugged in and contains no power supply to make it portable enough to keep listening while I grab a cup of coffee from the Kitchen. The batteries on the Sassy II can make it through 3-4 hours of blissful untethered listening. When the on-board batteries diminish the sound starts distorting badly above 40% volume – a recharge fixes the problem. Unfortunately, neither the original nor the Sassy II let you know when you’ve reached that low battery threshold and the music starts distorting – the low batter indicator remained firmly unlit- Hardly what you want to see in this price range. I used the unit primarily while seated at a table or desk. I noticed that any slight contact with a solid surface (during handling) sent waves of ringing through the headphones. While in my pocket, walking around, I did not experience any of that. Ironically it seems more sensitive when placed on a desktop!?!


    I also tried my Echobox Audio Traveler earbuds with the combo of the Phatlab Sassy II and the Dragonfly Red. Once again I was enveloped in that old school tube warmth. The music sounded more spacious, less clinical without being overly bright and tiring. Justin B’s voice on the Despacito remix was remarkably airier and bass bounced like I was listening to sound from giant 70’s speakers powered by a class A amp at my favorite record store. Removing the Sassy II from the line sapped the music of warm dynamism and that old school sexy sound filter.


    I love the warm tube sound that comes out of the amp, and the amp is definitely capable of driving headphones to bring out their full amplified potential. Listening to rock, rap, rock, R&B and alternative tunes, the gain in dynamic punch is palpable. For those wishing for that old school sexy tube sound in a portable package, you will not be disappointed

    fuhransahis and gr8soundz like this.
  12. crabdog
    Nice write up! Such a great little amp, it often makes me consider the need for other desktop gear. I can't wait to see what Phatlab's upcoming new unit can do.
    paradisle likes this.
  13. paradisle
    Thanks for your kind words. Not sure what happened to the images :frowning2:, they showed up in the preview window... It's a lovely little amp. Wish it was a little cheaper. The Sassy II is noticeably better than the original and is the one to go for if you are able to...
  14. gr8soundz
    Pics appear to be fine (unless you had images of the Phantasy II?).

    Yeah, shame about the high price of Phatlabs' amp. I was really interested in the Phantasy but ~$1500 is crazy. Moving down to the Sassy runs about half that which puts it around the same price as ALO's CV5 (also overpriced but the CV5 tube can be rolled).
    Bengkia369 likes this.
  15. crabdog
    Yes, the price really is a bit hard to swallow especially if you haven't heard how good it is in person. Once you see/feel/hear the quality though it starts to make sense. The designer actually told me he thinks smartphone DACs are good enough nowadays so if you agree with that the price is considerably less than a lot of upmarket DAPs though of course it doesn't have the same portability. For home or office use though it's really all you need.

    What images are you talking about? If you mean the ones in your post I can see them just fine.

    Also it would be great if you could post your review in the Head Gear section here: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/phatlab-sassy-ii-portable-headphone-amplifier.22318/reviews
    If you look in the space just above where my review starts there should be some blank stars. If you click on them it should take you to the writing page (you can just copy+paste the article from your post here).
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