Tom Christiansen Audio HPA-1 - Impressions Thread
Oct 17, 2019 at 9:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24


Headphoneus Supremus
Aug 25, 2014

This is Tom Christiansen's (of Neurochrome) newest headphone amp.

Looks pretty sweet!

$749 (first 40 units pre-order price)
$899 (regular price)

Expected to ship in January 2020

- Specs -
Output Power = 1.0 W 20 Ω
Output Power = 1.0 W 32 Ω
Output Power = 250 mW 300 Ω
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) < -130 dB (300 Ω, 100 mW, 1 kHz)
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) = 0.0003 % (-110 dB) (300 Ω, 100 mW, 1 kHz)
Intermodulation Distortion (IMD) < -112 dB (18+19 kHz @ 1:1, 300 Ω, 100 mW)
Multi-Tone Intermodulation Residual < -140 dBr (AP 32-tone, 300 Ω, 100 mW)
Gain = 0 dB (1x) or +12 dB (4x)
Input Sensitivity = 2.8/0.7 V RMS (Low/High Gain, 32 Ω, 200 mW)
Output Impedance = 35 mΩ (1 kHz)
Channel Separation = 95 dB (1 kHz)
Dynamic Range (AES17) = 130 dB
Signal-to-Noise Ratio = 132 dB
Residual Mains Hum & Noise = 1.25 µV RMS (A-weighted)
Mains Voltage Requirements = 80–264 V AC / 47–440 Hz
Size = 140 x 55 x 210 mm (W x H x D) = 5.5" x 2.2" x 8.25" (W x H x D)
Weight = 850 g = 1.9 lbs
Designed and Manufactured in Canada
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Oct 18, 2019 at 3:29 AM Post #2 of 24
Looks solid but I think the price will put off a lot of potential buyers. Especially with so many options (Archel 2/2.5, THX 789, THX 887, SMSL SP200, Topping DX7 Pro (has a balanced DAC included)), in sub $700 category (or even $800 with shipping and customs included). Yes this might have more power but it would still be hard to justify the 30-40% extra price especially if you dont own such power demanding headphones.

At sub $400 this would be an excellent option.

Just my 2 cents.. :)
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Dec 18, 2019 at 9:42 AM Post #4 of 24
Just my 2 cents,

I looked at this a while back, was very tempted as design specs are among the best I've seen for a potentially simple & affordable, especially when the early adopt price was $595 inc Shipping but given where I am, the exchange rate is average 1.8 x so had to make a hard pass as the price in local currency was even harder to swallow.
Hope those who swing for this enjoy it.

Hope everyone has a great day !
Mar 2, 2020 at 12:57 PM Post #9 of 24
After several days with the HPA-1 and having a really GREAT time with it over a wide variety of headhones and dacs....(just got thru using that great measuring Topping D90!) I can say the amp is about as perfect as one could engineer and build.

But like all things there are things I do not like about it, which IMO may or may not be of a concern to you?

So here is "my" pro and con list:

PRO: Great Specifications, Transparent, Ample Power. Balanced and SE Inputs, Easy to understand and use front panel layout. A nicely visable mark on the volume knob to help see where the actual position is....some amps dont have this !!

CONS: PRICE, less than desireable an advanced DIY case IMO. No XLR output for XLR balanced headphones. 2 yr warranty, even the sappy verbiage manufacturers have a 5 yr warranty on their "good" stuff and even Monoprice has a 3 yr warranty on there $400 THX AAA amp?

Even though an amp has spectacular measurements there are a few more things to look at other than the numbers!

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Mar 4, 2020 at 2:55 PM Post #10 of 24
Looks like TCA has changed its warranty!!

This is a good thing a step in the right direction.

Almost as good as some other amp makers that have a 5 yr warranty on stuff thats less than $500:

Schitt Lyr $499 - 5 yr warranty
Hagerman Labs - Tuba amp $649 - 10 year warranty
Schitt Jotenheim - $399 - 5 years.

Even a $400 Monprice THX AAA has a 3 year warranty

When vendors make good stuff, which the HPA-1 is.....and claim superior parts....then I would hope they would step up to the plate
with a equal or better warranty.

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Mar 4, 2020 at 4:18 PM Post #11 of 24
You could have definitely increased your price to $2299 with the 4-pin XLR. :stuck_out_tongue:
Mar 4, 2020 at 4:47 PM Post #13 of 24
But really is there that much of a difference between SE over XLR???

Some think so..
Oh, just a difference of $1400 more in sales. :smile:
Mar 4, 2020 at 5:09 PM Post #14 of 24
Really, Rupert Neve is a living legend no way you can compare and this might be the last amp that he will get to test and approve before he gone.
$900 for a amp you can buy find in the $100-$200 rang is way over price and you still need a source to match
Mar 8, 2020 at 12:01 PM Post #15 of 24
To be frank looking at the THX AAA amp from Monoprice for $400 compared to the $899 HPA-1 its hard for me to justify the $599 difference. Even with the claims that the HPA-1 is a better built amp and has better parts. Made in Canada vs a Chinese made unit. But as always the race to the bottom can not be ignored, its a reality. So us consumers have many choices and IMO this is great for us out here in headphone land.

To some paying $899 for an amp over a similar spec amp for $400 is indeed worth it. But many will look at the missing features, good or bad, as a determining factor in purchasing one or the other.

The HPA-1 as noted does not have a balanced headphone jack, while the Monoprice THX AAA has one, only 2 gain switches on the HPA-1 vs 3 settings on the Monoprice one. Until recently the HPA-1 only had a 12 month warranty while the THX Monoprice amp had a 3 yr warranty right out of the box. But recently TCA updated its warranty into a 3 tier warranty based on price, and the HPA-1 now has a similar 3 yr warranty, this is a good thing!

Even when I compared the Schitt Magni 3 (not the new better measuring versions ie the Magni 3+ or Magni Hersey) listening and AB'ing both amps provided a wonderful listening experience and this is with a $99 amp compared to a $899 amp!

My hats off to TCA with their HPA-1, but IMO for that price you really should have the features and connectivity that a $400 amp has and explanations as to why the amp is what it is, is great but people will vote with their wallets as to which one they would purchase.



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