RSA vs. HeadRoom
Feb 22, 2008 at 12:25 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 38


100+ Head-Fier
Dec 27, 2007
I currently have an 07 MicroStack from Headroom. I am also looking for a more portable system to take with me for trips and stuff. I've owned a bithead in the past and while it was great didn't offer quite the level of performance that I like. I'm considering a predator from Ray Samuels Audio. The USB DAC is nice because I want to have something to listen to my laptop with without having to move my desk and take apart my Micro Stack setup everytime I want to listen to my laptop someplace other than home. I've also considered the Tomohawk as well because, while the DAC would be nice I would probably mostly use this portable amp for listening to my iPod on long trips and such. Any comments or other suggestions for a good small portable amp for sub $500?
Feb 22, 2008 at 12:58 AM Post #2 of 38
I had been using a RSA Hornet M before I got the HeadRoom Ultra Micro Stack. I do prefer the Ultra Stack to the Hornet but the Hornet is nice when on the move away from home. I've noticed used Hornet's for sale here at pretty good prices compared to new.

Feb 22, 2008 at 2:32 AM Post #3 of 38
I have had the Micro Stack, Desktop, and now the Ultra Micro Stack. The HR product line has a somewhat of a distinct sound. It's very lush and effortless. The transients, especially the bass, seem like they have unlimited power behind them.

From the reviews, and not by any personal references, the comments that I read on the Predator is that it sounds leaner in the bass and warmth than other products.

I had an iBasso D1 and I sold it because I could never get the warmth I like and I think the Predator could be the same way. But that is not based on any personal experience.

I just got a Go-Vibe Petite today for $195. It's incredibly small and it runs off of USB. It is very, very good sounding and is quite abit warmer sounding the the iBasso D1 but certainly not the Ultra stack but it's almost 10% the cost.
Feb 22, 2008 at 7:20 AM Post #4 of 38
Ok keep in mind that my primary set of phones are SE530s so the bass is already pretty effortless even out of an ordinary mediocre sounding headphone jack. I just want something to give it that last little boost of sharpness and clarity. More or less dynamic quickening not really tonal adjustments, since I personally don't find unamped SE530s lacking a whole lot tonally just a little sluggish in the dynamics coming out of the iPod.
Mar 2, 2008 at 9:06 PM Post #5 of 38
My view is that in the lower price bands the HR stuff wins - as you get to the expensive stuff the RSa amps (I have an Apache) is better.

Both are fab. Bit like saying which is best - red or white wine!
Mar 3, 2008 at 2:48 AM Post #6 of 38
Mar 3, 2008 at 3:19 AM Post #8 of 38

Originally Posted by Joelc87 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Well I guess my question then is should I buy a Tomahawk or a Micro portable?

what I can say is that I really like how the Micro Amps make a really good base for the iPod. and then with the Portable Micro Strap that HR offers. q:O)

most amps to me look very awkward with an iPod. like they were not even considered to be used with an iPod.

I have the 2006 MicroAmp and DAC and it is really a great sounding little rig. it and the Micro Portable are basically the same rig. I would give anything if me 2006 MicroStack was in that one case or had the money to pick up the Micro Portable. it's got such great features to it.

now I really like Ray Samuels products. the only other amps I really drool over other than HeadRooms but I always keep looking back to HeadRooms products..
Mar 3, 2008 at 5:04 AM Post #9 of 38
You know The Tomahawk is really good with IEMS. The Micro Portable will sound great with everything else and IEMS. What is your purpose? Just IEM's? Everthing? That is the difference!
Mar 3, 2008 at 5:30 AM Post #10 of 38

Originally Posted by Joelc87 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Well I guess my question then is should I buy a Tomahawk or a Micro portable?

I think the Hornet M and the 9V Micro Amp would be on a more level playing field than the Tomahawk and the 9V Micro Amp.
Mar 3, 2008 at 5:39 AM Post #11 of 38
HeadAmp Pico is way better than Predator
Mar 3, 2008 at 5:57 AM Post #12 of 38
My Predator (after 1000 hours) is miles ahead of my old Tomahawk. While the Tomahawk was good, the Predator just walks all over it. I haven't heard the 2007 HR portable amp, if you will never use optical/coax then the Predator is a great choice and is small enough that you'll use it everywhere.

I needed optical/coax, so I have combined my Predator with a new B-Stock 2006 HeadRoom Micro Portable DAC, and this combo kills my iBasso D1 even with upgraded opamps in the D1. The Micro DAC is just warmer and more open than the D1 when used just as a DAC (which I'm trying to find the optimal opamp for the D1 DAC section). I needed a good portable optical DAC now, but I didn't see a big need to buy a $300 matching HR portable amp to go with the DAC because the Predator is so much tinier than the HR amp!

The USB DACs on the HR and RSA don't sound a whole lot different yet. But the HR Micro Portable DAC is still burning in at 31 hours so far. So, my impressions may change with more hours on it.

For people who don't know. HR combined the portable Micro amp and DAC into one unit in the past month or two (2007 model anounced in Nov?). So, you buy the portable micro amp for $399 and add the DAC to it for about $199 = $600 for the micro portable amp with DAC in one case. Before they were separate cases and instead of two 9V batteries in each, this one is now rechargable and runs 14-20 hours! But, they changed the new DAC from the CS4398 to an analog devices DAC chip (no upconversion for portable) and there are no reviews available yet.

If the new 2007 DAC sounds as good as the 2006 model, I would think the new $600 setup would be a winner because of the optical/coax it offers that the other guys don't (except for the iBasso D1 which still needs opamp rolling to sound close). I will wait to see how the reviews go, then will consider selling the D1 and 2006 Micro DAC (new, made in Jan 08 but discontinued in Feb) to buy the new 2007 HR rig. But, it will only be replacing the D1, not the Predator. There is always a use for a uber-tiny USB DAC amp like the Predator.
Mar 3, 2008 at 6:26 AM Post #13 of 38
So they made a 2008 micro dac but then discontinued it in Feb?
Mar 3, 2008 at 6:30 AM Post #14 of 38
Ok, well based on what's been said here and elsewhere I will probably go with a Tomahawk. I have a good Amp DAC combo with my 07 MicroStack, and really just need a small amp to go with me on the road and fill out my iPod's sound a little with my Shure SE530s. Nothing too fancy or too expensive. The Tomahawk seems to fit the bill as far as SQ size and battery life.
Mar 3, 2008 at 8:36 AM Post #15 of 38
I don't think I'm going to have to look any farther than The Hornet M for my portable needs. Having said that, I must say the battery life on the Tomahawk is simply amazing! Guess I'm a Ray Samuels fan for life!

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