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    Cayin N8iiCayin N8ii

    Cayin N8ii

    Cayin Audio, you keep outdoing yourself. When every release from these innovators is expected to be a revolution, N8II had to break significant new ground. This tube or solid-state flagship music player achieves exactly that, with upgrades on every front. N8II plays with a deftness of touch to dynamics, realistic distances and imaging, plus a soundstage bathed in a gentle light that is at the same time detailed but never fatiguing. Headfonics heard N8ii up Cayin's tube DAP game. It went right onto Headfonia's Recommended Buys list. Twister6 heard "Cayin take their original N8 DAP to a whole new level ... beyond of 'everything but the kitchen sink'". Ear Fidelity declares it a "masterclass of a DAP", with "tube and Class A a game changer". Dual ROHM BD34301EKV DAC chips make their debut in N8II and portable audio, fronted by a full Google Play Android 9 operating system. That all feeds Cayin's new timbre selector that applies to both balanced and single-ended discrete amplifier outputs. [See Product Desc. For More] Four years in the making since Cayin's original N8 made history as the first portable tube music player ever, N8II achieves what its predecessor couldn't even have begun to dream of. It doubles up on its 6P1 tube complement in its small signal gain stage, packing two Nutube dual triodes for true balanced, differential, operation from either its 4.4mm or 3.5mm outputs.  N8II's Nutubes can be turned on or off on both outputs to match your listening preferences. If you choose to bypass tubes, signal direct from the DACs runs to the power stage, benefitting your gear that loves the precise, clean detail associated with transistors. READ ALSO DAPs have gone down the tube Taking inspiration from Cayin's tube/solid-state C9 portable amplifier, N8II's differential analog design relies heavily on common-mode rejection to serve as a clean, transparent – but never sterile – flagship reference with 125dB of signal-to-noise ratio. A marvel of miniaturisation, N8II packs C9's discrete power stage, operating in switchable Class A or Class AB to put out up to 1,200 milliwatts. This bias system ensures the output of watts that are supreme in quality – a result of individual transistors being turned on and operated where their open-loop linearity is optimal to further push distortion down. Cayin leave you the ability to boost N8II's operating voltage beyond 14 volts, further ensuring transistor linearity while guaranteeing headroom for large dynamic swings on bigger cans that need it. However, it's not only about the quantity of power, but more importantly the quality. Signal integrity is key. N8II's volume control remains fully analog, eschewing a lossy digital control thanks to JRC's NJW1195A resistor ladder part, implemented only after the gain stage. Any attenuation is kept far away from the delicate output signal from new ROHM DACs – of which Cayin's implementation has been key. READ ALSO C9 – nothing is too extreme for Cayin BD34301EKV decodes DSD as a native 1-bit stream without PCM processing, owing to N8II's external analog volume control. ROHM's flagship chip's ability to output analog in current, pushing distortion figures down and upping tuning potential via N8II's extensive current-to-voltage I/V converter, also cannot be overlooked. This small-signal segment beginning from the ROHM DACs has been overbuilt for a music player. But what might be considered extreme elsewhere, is only expected from Cayin.  Currawong says "N8II is for people who must have the best DAP of its kind, regardless of the cost".  ROHM's input signal processing via dither and advanced clock handling, plus a chip layout that's been streamlined for silent operation, are also talked up. N8II's FPGA feeds a pristine I2S signal to the dual DACs, after which they are upsampled by up to 32 times before being converted according to ROHM's linear-phase digital filters. Cayin have deployed the perfect Google Play-based Android 9 UI to feed every imaginable kind of content to its shiny new digital sub-system hardware. Direct Transport Audio bypasses otherwise mandatory sample rate conversion of stock Android. So play Tidal 16X MQA, Qobuz and Hi-Res Lossless Apple Music as the file was originally encoded with full confidence, with no undue digital tampering. The flexibility yielded by Cayin's Snapdragon 660 CPU and 6GB of RAM running optimised Android 9 is phenomenal, and fully at the service of N8II – Head-Fi's most advanced and complete music player in 2022. Those wanting more horsepower yet from Cayin can look at C9 as a potential stacking option from N8II's balanced line-outs here, browse Cayin's other revolutionary products here, or view all our other music players here.


    Our Price | $4,200

    Cayin C9Cayin C9
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    Cayin C9

    Cayin Audio's famed amplification packs up to join you back on the road with the launch of C9, featuring 4.4mm and 3.5mm inputs and outputs. Headfonics praise it to the roof as it "revitalises tubes on the go, a traditional niche in our hobby that seems to be forgotten", going on to name it Best Portable Amp of 2021. This battery-powered, tube and solid-state hybrid lands in time for use on your office desks and in hotel rooms, establishing your reference headphone listening anywhere you so choose. [See Product Desc. For More] C9 is a fully-balanced, truly differential amplifier built upon the essentials establishing a device as basically thoroughly engineered. READ ALSO The full blow-by-blow story of C9's technical innovations A high operating voltage of more than 16 volts and a reliance on discrete parts for over 90 per cent of the design means C9 is not only capable of putting out over 4 watts per channel, but also ensuring it is the cleanest, most linear kind of signal possible. Achieving 125dB of signal-to-noise ratio would not have been otherwise possible in a discrete design, with all the benefits that brings, without exacting layout. The input section exists on the popular Nutube. C9's dual timbre circuit revolves around two of Korg's fluorescent triodes or toggled solid-state FETs, the philosophical transistor alternative. READ ALSO C9 blurs the line with desktop amplifiers The delicate input signal is then passed to a discrete solid-state output stage that can be switched between working in pure Class A mode or Class AB. Built with individual transistors of Cayin's choosing allows great control over tuning and an innately linear open-loop circuit, with minimal negative feedback, to be fashioned, while producing genuine current for demanding headphone loads. C9 is a brute in ballet shoes, confirmed by the big volume pot controlling dual precise MUSES resistor ladder attenuator parts occurring after the driver stage, kept far from the input signal for maximum integrity.  READ ALSO The benefits of adding input tubes to a circuit Sources like Cayin's N7, iBasso Audio's DX260 and HiBy Music's RS6, R8II and RS8 will never be better pampered than via C9. Use it in a mobile stack acting as the platform for flagship trans-portable sound. Everything from Focal to a Fostex and Rosson Audio Designs plus Yamaha and ZMF Headphones is applicable.  "And while DAPs come and go", Twister6 believes "C9 should last you a while to enhance any source you pair it up with". Headfonia say it "should really be the first amp to look at to get four completely different sound signatures that's simply impressive". See how Cayin's design chops translate to their desktop amplifier offerings here, or view our other DAC and amplifier offerings here.


    Our Price | $2,699

    Cayin N3 UltraCayin N3 Ultra

    Cayin N3 Ultra

    Cayin Audio's N30LE flagship proved so popular, they shrunk it down into a mini-me. Introducing the N3 Ultra, the entry-level tube music player with dual JAN6418 valves that yield warm, liquid sound to both single-ended and 4.4mm balanced outputs. Baby Cayin's strengths are clear to Twister6. Dual AKM AK4493SEQ DACs help bring N3 Ultra's concept into the future. Its tubes then sweeten Cayin's decoded analog. But, not content to just extend tube timbre to its balanced outputs, Cayin also adopted N30LE's dual modes to give N3 Ultra the same Classic and Modern tube flavour options. Working its JAN6418 pair either as a triode, a pentode, or turned off entirely, yields clear, audible differences that lets you find the perfect synergy with your transducers. This swappable tube signature then flows on to powerful solid-state output buffers capable of driving the low impedances of your IEMs and headphones. The evolution from Cayin's original N3Pro kick-started a tube DAP genre and indeed inspires flagships these days. But Head-Fi's foremost innovators show us first never follows, staying ahead of the curves with guaranteed hits like N3 Ultra. [See Product Desc. For More] N3 Ultra is so much more than its DAC chips, which as Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM)’s resurgent AK4493SEQs deserve a mention as lowering power consumption and performing better than their predecessor's metrics. Where N3 Ultra really begins to impress is the presence of its pair of JAN6418 tubes – each taking care of one channel. READ ALSO The past, present and future of Cayin tubes Placed at the voltage gain stage where it will yield the biggest sonic impact, the small output of these pentodes makes its presence heard on all four analog outputs by popular request – 3.5mm single-ended phone out, 4.4mm balanced headphone out, 3.5mm single-ended line-out and 4.4mm balanced line-out. Indeed, N3 Ultra is a huge upgrade. It throws out the lossy DAC digital volume control of its Pro predecessor – catastrophically located in the signal path before the tubes back then, already diminishing dynamic range performance before the arrival of the precious decoded analog at arguably the noisiest section of its circuit. Never again. N3 Ultra incorporates a JRC NJW1195A electronically controlled analog volume control only far AFTER its tube gain and right before its power stage, where its quality can be showcased. This resistor ladder volume control comes only after the voltage drivers, kept far from the input signal for maximum integrity, and the best signal-to-noise performance. READ ALSO DAPs have gone down the tube Cayin count on the square law function of N3 Ultra's JAN6418 to push down distortion at the drawing board. The huge operating voltages of this valve section, and their Class A operation, in a portable player means that open-loop linearity exceeds virtually every other non-tube DAP ... at any price. The signal that goes in, comes out amplified the same. You'll hear from N3 Ultra the kind of effortlessness yielded only by high operating voltages, Class A bias and the non-existent capacitance of tubes. These factors allow minimum negative feedback to be applied, as what enters Cayin's JAN6418s has little error that needs correction. You can focus on the music in either Classic or Modern – the latter working each JAN6418 as a pentode – tube modes, knowing that you're hearing back the track close to the way it was recorded. The single-ended operation of Cayin's valves emphasises even-order harmonics for natural, engaging and warm sound. And the small quantity of tube feedback means distortion remains low order, rather than complex intermodulation. N3 Ultra's highly-linear small signal is then converted to balanced and flows into the player's differential solid-state output stage. These op-amp buffers give Cayin's prodigy the grunt to drive lower impedance IEMs and headphones like Focal perfectly. In this way, you can bask in the natural allure of tube sound, and still trust your player to act as a proper voltage source, packing low output impedance and high damping factor.  READ ALSO N3 Ultra's development story You'll want to get your music aboard N3 Ultra, and Cayin build in a Snapdragon processor as well as lightweight, non-streaming Android skin to keep operation bloat-free. Microphonic control is well in place around N3 Ultra's tubes – learnt from generations of Cayin tube music players – and abundant heatsinking is applied around them to keep rising temperatures away from critical components. As evidence by N3 Ultra, Cayin don't build entry-level players. Each release is over-built to stand up to the rigours expected of it, and beyond. Check out the rest of these innovators' releases here, or view our other music players here.


    Our Price | $759

    Audio-Technica AT-BHA100Audio-Technica AT-BHA100
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    Audio-Technica AT-BHA100

    If you're going to add a tube to a circuit then put it on the input, and that's exactly what Audio-Technica have done with their hybrid AT-BHA100 headphone amplifier. Four ECC83S tubes take care of voltage gain, leaving the heavy lifting to a solid-state power stage built from discrete components. [See Product Desc. For More] With balanced connections back and front, AT-BHA100 promises source and especially headphone versatility from the Audio-Technica stable and beyond, those from Focal, Rosson Audio Design, Sennheiser and ZMF Headphones also being present. Alternatively, share the fun and listen with a partner through the use of two single-ended outputs each with their own volume knob! Tuned with a reference sound flat from bottom to top with beautiful sparkle in the highs, this is one infinitely pleasing listen your headphones will never tire of. We've been impressed by Benchmark Media's DAC3 supplying AT-BHA-100's signal. Also check out the rest of Audio-Technica's catalogue here, or view our other amplifiers here. 


    Our Price | $1,301.07

    iBasso AMP14iBasso AMP14

    iBasso AMP14

    By popular request – iBasso Audio send DX300 and DX320 further down the tube with their balanced Nutube 4.4mm Amp14 amplifier card. Twister6 loved "fine-tubing" the sound! Building on Amp13, and the clamour for a balanced version on the back of its success, iBasso have come up with another Nutube module capable of swinging twice as much output voltage for bigger Focal and Fostex headphones.  iBasso's DX3XX series is a great platform to launch a design as ambitious as Amp14, with its dedicated analog section battery and extra chassis space for an uncompromising audio circuit put to great use here. Amp14 is the natural evolution for DX320, its strong liquidity and air the natural complement to one of Head-Fi's most detailed music players – despite its Nutube's cathode input providing strong immunity to Wi-Fi and external interference, in a reference implementation of Korg's direct-heated triode. [See Product Desc. For More] Placed at the voltage gain stage where it will yield the biggest sonic impact, the small output of Amp14's Nutube then gets boosted by Toshiba FET buffers. The differential stage begins there while preserving the square law function of the Nutube, and grants the voltage section enough juice to drive the rest of Amp14's solid-state output stage.  DX320's dynamic range is maintained through two NJR NJU72315 digitally-controlled analog volume parts. The fully balanced, differential, Amp14 is additionally able to count on common-mode rejection plus adequately applied negative feedback for more linearity and less distortion and noise. The separate 2,000mAh analog battery aboard the DX3XX line supplies the backbone of power for Amp14's high operating voltages, with clean, individual DC power sections for crucial parts of the module including a 14 volt supply for the Nutube's anode. Dual Texas Instruments OPA1622 op-amps make up Amp14's power stage with operating voltages of 8 volts, such that higher impedance transducers are given the swing necessary to perform. A dedicated 4.4mm line-out section on Amp14 also supplies DX320's excellent small signal to an outboard amplifier. Such is expected of a high-performance iBasso Amp14 module that yields excellent distortion and noise specifications, while capturing the romance of tubes in DX320. ichos-reviews says Amp14 completes iBasso's family of amp cards with its natural timbre. Also view Amp13 here, all of iBasso's other portables here, and our music player catalogue here.


    Our Price | $399

    Feliks Audio Euforia EvoFeliks Audio Euforia Evo
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    Feliks Audio Euforia Evo

    Purity of sound is everything that Feliks Audio is about, and Euforia EVO is the full realisation of that legacy. This uber-revealing output transformer-less OTL tube amplifier built on the CV-181 (6SN7 derivative) unearths every detail in your music. Now with a 4-pin XLR output for balanced connections, EVO bears similar upgraded parts broadly carried over from the Feliks Euforia Anniversary Edition. EVO is a Headfonics pick for hours of fatigue-free listening, a Headfonia Recommended Buy, and "wildly recommended" by Ear Fidelity. UPOCC copper wiring in the signal path, enhanced coupling capacitors and a power transformer with great AC line performance come as standard. EVO sets a new benchmark of stock transparency that will serve you well with many an Audio-Technica, Sennheiser or ZMF Headphones. Feliks present the Euforia line its latest, timeless, new member ... in a beautiful satin gloss black finish packing sound quality that will remain unrivalled for years. [See Product Desc. For More] As another single-ended triode amplifying in Class A, EVO remains fully transparent and yet never overbearing in its presentation of detail. Natural and wholesome even harmonic sound dominates – a direct result of EVO's single-ended Class A topology. The holy grail of all bias schemes isn't undertaken lightly, and rock-solid current sources ensure Feliks Audio's flagship OTL runs stably fully biased at all output levels. This is a decidedly low-distortion affair in an inherently linear amplifier given high tube operating voltages and current. Transconductance increasing with bias current is optimal. And while tube imaging, emotiveness and liquidity is de facto, EVO always sounds natural and fully transparent. Certainly, a massive audio bandwidth is guaranteed given its output transformer-less OTL construction. Literally nothing separates you from your music. Pairs of transparent CV-181 drivers and NOS 6N13S tubes power your headphones directly, without any chunk of transformer iron in the signal path.  This Feliks champions frequency extension – the fast, deep bass and airy, open highs from the best OTL associations. Phase reproduction in the audible human hearing range is stellar, and dynamics crash especially potently bottom to top, rivalling even the best solid-state competition. Boasting a new 4-pin XLR connection, EVO eschews the headphone cable adapter you might have used with its predecessors, powering your flagship cans even more directly in the spirit of maintaining total purity. This makes the case of EVO being the only amplifier you need – at least, till you aim for the extreme Envy... Whether you go up or down, you'll be served browsing the rest of Feliks Audio's offerings here, or all our other DAC & amp options here.


    Our Price | $4,399

    Feliks EliseFeliks Elise

    Feliks Elise

    Adding scale and stage to Feliks Audio's impressive Echo II is Elise. Tube character abounds but never enough to take away the life-like realism of actual music in this OTL amplifier in single-ended triode format, based on the 6SN7 driver stalwart. You'll struggle to dispute Elise's quality at portraying an orchestral piece of work, or its magic synergy with Audio-Technica, Sennheiser or ZMF Headphones. Give it one listen, or many. Rarely will a single piece of gear fit as many sources, genres or set-ups. [See Product Desc. For More] Its mids are liquid and forward, great to address any flaws still present in your flagship cans. Warm, natural and wholesome even harmonic sound dominates – a direct result of Elise's single-ended Class A topology. The holy grail of all bias schemes isn't undertaken lightly, and new current sources ensure Feliks Audio's classic single-ended triode amplifier runs stably fully biased at all output levels. This is a decidedly low-distortion affair in an inherently linear amplifier given high tube operating voltages and current. Transconductance increasing with bias current is optimal. And while tube imaging, emotiveness and liquidity is de facto, Elise always sounds natural and fully transparent. Indeed, despite its mid-range vivacity, a massive audio bandwidth is guaranteed given its output transformer-less OTL construction. Literally nothing separates you from your music. Pairs of 6SN7 and NOS 6N13S tubes power your headphones directly, without any chunk of iron in the signal path.  Elise champions frequency extension – the fast, deep bass and airy, open highs from the best OTL associations to perfect phase reproduction and respectable damping factor – therefore. Long tube operating lifespans come courtesy of improved thermal management and more efficient passive cooling driving up to 60 per cent lower operating temperatures in the incumbant, versus its predecessor. Really, it's never only about the parts, and Elise is further proof boasting a new tube cathode heater and power supply design derived from the flagship Euforia. Great design nous gives a premium, Polish-built amplifier the platform to perform quietly and transparently.  Whether you go up or down, you'll be served browsing the rest of Feliks Audio's offerings here, or all our other DAC & amp options here.


    Our Price | $2,799

    [EX-DEMO] Feliks Echo II[EX-DEMO] Feliks Echo II
    On sale

    [EX-DEMO] Feliks Echo II

    One of our favourite Feliks Audio amps that we're letting go since it's discontinued. Perfect working condition, beautifully built and a rare gem since Feliks Audios won't be making an entry level model like this again.Warranty: 6 months


    Our Price | $900

    Cayin iDAC-8Cayin iDAC-8

    Cayin iDAC-8

    After the flagship N30LE music player that ended up receiving rave reviews for leashing AKM's vintage AK4499EQs to tubes, Cayin Audio are back with a valve iDAC-8 DAC/pre-amp that repeats the feat with the new AK4191EQ – AK4499EXEQ tandem. AKM's flagship digital ecosystem makes the claim to be the top dog among chips today, and iDAC-8 counts on that as it outputs via a quad of 6H6b-B tubes ... or its alternative, selectable solid-state path. Sophisticated, open and airy, there's a refined flavour imparted on top of iDAC-8's neutral yet forgiving transparency. Cayin intends for iDAC-8 to be used in tandem with their matching iHA-8 and iDAP-8. Its I2S and AES/EBU inputs certainly allow it to be a wonderful intermediary in digital-to-analog conversion duties.  iDAC-8 makes for a wonderful tube or solid-state pre-amp too. No matter how well its AK4191EQ's 64-bit digital filters and volume control perform, Cayin didn't opt for half-measures here. A JRC NJW1195A analog volume control is built in to avoid any digital loss, to preserve the resolution of iDAC-8 at any attenuation level. [See Product Desc. For More] A modern-day DAC is so much more than its DAC chips, and Cayin have gone the extra mile in hope of everyone seeing the extent of their efforts.  They ensure the very best platform for Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM)’s resurgent flagship DACs to make their mark. Back on their feet with a clean slate, AKM started afresh expanding the basic footprint of a single DAC chip IC into three separate parts – to similarly multiply capabilities by a factor of three. AKM’s AK4191EQ DSP is the brains of the operation, receiving pristine I2S clocking and data from Cayin's MCU. Aboard, AK4191EQ’s delta-sigma modulator takes advantage of its expanded, dedicated, silicone footprint to lay claim to the title of the first chip IC working at seven bits. These seven single-bit modulators flow on into Cayin's AKM 4499EXEQ DACs, one for each channel and built with a single purpose in mind: to turn the interpolated, noise-shaped, digital data it receives into the most precise analog waveform possible afforded by its large footprint. Silicone size matters when it comes to a great DAC IC, and AK4499EXEQ has it. Enabled by much more exact, matched resistors and capacitors aboard for precise DC single-bit decoding, plus dynamic element matching that is less burdened by switching errors – granted by parts accuracy from a bigger footprint. Any conversion errors from AK4499EXEQs outputting in current manifests as DC offset, and not total harmonic distortion, that is easily filtered out. Current analog outputs are expected of any source claiming to be high performance. Cayin's current-to-voltage I/V section follows these AK4499EXEQs, befitting of more expensive DACs and indeed chips that output analog in current for best distortion performances. Four 6H6b dual-triodes follow, divided into two separate pairs that each take care of balanced and single-ended outputs respectively. That's to implement each output specially, with Cayin paying particular attention to iDAC-8's RCAs – with which you can feed their Single-Ended Triode tube amps HA-2A, HA-3A, HA-6A and HA-300B particularly confidently bypassing the latter's input transformers for a cleaner, shorter signal path. These single-ended tubes operate in parallel and supply voltage gain in the stage where they will make the greatest sonic impact, before getting boosted by a Vishay FET buffer. This transistor preserves triode square law, and lowers output impedance to 60ohms granting iDAC-8's RCAs enough juice to drive downstream amplifiers. This low output impedance also ensures there's no risk of a high-pass filter forming with the input resistance of another amp. And to further prevent any loss in low frequencies, large coupling capacitors sit at iDAC-8's output to extend its full-range reproduction capably to 5Hz at -3dB. Phase response is therefore excellent in the human hearing range, preserving taut and fast bass. Its high frequencies also soar above 100Khz for preservation of pinpoint musical imaging, should you ever use this overachiever in a stereo speaker system. Its built-in analog pre-amp also keeps dynamic range high, even when you listen soft. These little elements in the signal path hint at Cayin's typical attention to detail. Its overbuilt power supply announces their extravagance in material cost building an affordable compact DAC. An over-specified 45 watt toroidal transformer, nearly 30,000 uF of filter capacitance, linear voltage regulators, dedicated tube and solid-state output supplies plus low-dropout regulators complete this mini-masterpiece of ambitious engineering. You'll want to connect as many of your digital sources as possible to iDAC-8. I2S compatibility is guaranteed via Cayin's own iDAP-6 and iDAP-8, as well as AES/EBU from Matrix Audio's Element S and iFi Audio's NEO Stream. CD players enjoy AES/EBU and coaxial RCA connections. And even TV audio benefits from its tube stage via optical. Check out the matching family iHA-8 and HA-2A for iDAC-8 today. Or, view the rest of Cayin's gear here, and our other desktop items here. 


    Our Price | $1,650

    Cayin iHA-8Cayin iHA-8

    Cayin iHA-8

    Cayin Audio are back with their tiny but mighty, discrete Class A solid-state amplifier that could. iHA-8 returns these tube whizzes to the transistor fold, providing almost 20 watts of Class A power in a compact desktop form factor perfect for any Focal up to HIFIMAN. Don't judge Cayin's solid-state marvel by its size. iHA-8 plays with the same microdynamic, vibrant zeal that charges up notes and brings your music to life, typical of this company's best Class A solid-state work. A 75 watt power supply, discrete FET construction biased into Class A plus optional Hyper Mode's huge operating voltage allows you to throw any low-impedance headphone at it in total confidence. iHA-8's newly-added 4.4mm headphone output adds to the convenience of a member of Cayin's new desktop family together with iDAC-8 and iDAP-8. If you're tempted to plug IEMs in, its resistor ladder electronic volume control control keeps noise low. Indeed, these precise controls preserve signal-to-noise ratio and channel balance down to iHA-8's ALPS-controlled encoder's lowest level – perfect for however much, or little, travel you need. [See Product Desc. For More] Because, it's easy to play it loud, but everyone knows it's in playing back tiny sounds that is the litmus test of a powerhouse capable of outputting as much power as iHA-8. Transparent at any volume setting down low as much as up high, with virtually perfect channel-matching, this Cayin behemoth exposes detail buried deep around the noise floor of your music. You'll want to hear it all given iHA-8's linearity – what goes in at the input, comes out amplified the same. To support the signal-to-noise excellence of dual NJR MUSES72320 high-tech volume controls, Cayin resort to the old school of Class A bias, and high operating voltages. The latter can be further boosted to over 30 volts at the push of iHA-8's Hyper Mode button. Already, iHA-8's FET voltage and power amplification brings a tube-like square law function to reduce distortion at the drawing board. Throughout it all, Cayin's individual transistors are kept in their sweet spot and ideal range of operation for best open-loop linearity. They don't rely excessively on the band-aid of negative feedback to correct errors, because there are so few.  In fact, iHA-8 relies on a novel mode of gain control, only adding it as part of the feedback loops sitting around this amplifier's output stage. Excessive open-loop gain is something Cayin absolutely can't be accused off here, allowing you to climb up your volume knob for the best dynamic range performance.  Again, this benefits iHA-8's quiet performance. Cayin's input stage – where the majority of any amp's sonic signature is defined – is built on Toshiba's ubiquitous 2SK209 JFET. Famed for its low noise as a driver, these JFET's serve another purpose: allowing Cayin to direct-couple iHA-8's power stage.  Frequency performance is therefore virtually flat, running 10Hz up to 80Khz and plumbing bass depths so that phase response in the human hearing range is preserved, for fast bass, outstanding dynamics and impactful precision. Meanwhile, high frequencies climb as expected from anything claiming to be high-fidelity. iHA-8's input JFETs run in parallel to output the current needed to drive the large capacitances of Cayin's 24 beastly Vishay MOSFET amplifier devices adequately. The wide bandwidth yielded preserves phase, and adds spatial cues, imaging and treble ambience. iHA-8's abundance of power transistors are mounted on copper bus bars while the chassis gains heat-sinking compared to its predecessor. This heavy hardware allows these MOSFET buffers to keep cool and operate at temperature equilibrium. That way they are able to handle the most current on top of withstanding abundant voltage – useful as Cayin's Hyper Mode comes to mind. The high count of output transistors ensures immense current-handling for good reason, to reap the benefits of a typically-overbuilt Cayin power supply with a 75 watt toroidal transformer at its heart, 50,000 uF of filtering capacitors, ultra-fast recovery rectification and voltage supply regulation throughout – even to iHA-8's power stage. All this leads to Cayin's ultimate voltage source to date – once more capable of the feats of powering ABYSS Headphones' AB1266 Phi TC, Audeze Headphones' LCD-5, Dan Clark Audio plus HIFIMAN's HE-6 and Susvara on a budget. But crucial signal path optimisations mean this brute also wears ballet shoes to elevate any other real-world load. Be it a Fostex, Focal, Final Audio, HEDD Audio or ZMF Headphones, there's nothing iHA-8 cannot tackle ... even IEMs like Subtonic Audio's Storm. Make Cayin the centrepiece of a do-it-all desktop headphone rig feeding it via their own iDAC-8, HIFIMAN's EF500 or Matrix Audio's Mini-I Pro 4. It's that good. If you'd like to explore the tube route, HA-2A awaits you here, as do the rest of Cayin's valve amplifiers here. Otherwise, browse the rest of our desktop amplifiers here.


    Our Price | $1,399

    Cayin HA-2ACayin HA-2A

    Cayin HA-2A

    If HA-6A and HA-300 MKII were amps you would argue for, HA-2A is the one that's impossible to argue against. Building on HA-3A's success, Cayin Audio again wrapped a single-ended Class A NOS tube amplifier into a compact A4 size for the desktop ... but reduced size, weight and cost at the same time! HA-2A does that, but it's no OTL pussycat despite its reduced size and weight. More than anything, Cayin's baby of the bunch brings the benefits of output transformers designed and built in-house to meet the power requirement demands of modern headphones – both planar-magnetic and dynamic, high or low impedance. Flexibility might be the first topic discussed with the lightweight and compact HA-2A, but compromise in quality was never an option. Headfonics say "HA-2A is a very endearing and well-equipped compact tube amplifier for space-conscious audiophiles". Cayin's point-to-point wiring is de facto again for signal integrity, and HA-2A's EI core output transformers surpass even HA-3A's, extending signal out to 50Khz. [See Product Desc. For More] That frequency extension up high will already yield great improvements in HA-2A's mid-range and treble compared to HA-3A, with Cayin's latest preserving phase response in the human hearing range that much better for superior sound-staging, dynamics and imaging precision. Mixing fidelity that was once the domain of Output Transformer-Less (OTL) amplifiers in the same desktop footprint as iDAP-8 and iDAC-8, with actual power – all while reducing in price – is a true feat of Cayin.  The sense of value doesn't stop there, with premium New-Old Stock (NOS) valves – US-production Amperex ECF-82/6U8 driver and 17BF11 power tubes from the 1950s – included. Operating the ECF-82/6U8 only as a triode unlocks load line and soft-clipping functions at the drawing board. Their presence at the voltage gain stage is significant, where the majority of an amplifier's final sound signature is defined. HA-2A's novel implementation of the composite designs of both these driver and power tube types make for very interesting transfer characteristics and distortion curves. Still, linearity is a given through the holy grail of bias operation, even at this price point, while tube voltages allow for large operating points. Measured distortion is below even the threshold of HA-2A's bigger HA-6A and HA-300 MKII brothers.  And any distortion will be of the even-order variety expected of single-ended Class A amplifiers, for a smooth, warm and holistic sound. In there is Cayin's promise – for low cost of entry, weight and size, the flagship trappings of HA-2A are impossible to deny. Class A bias, high tube operating voltages, low capacitances, even-order harmonics and premium EI core output transformers ensure HA-2A gets mentioned over similarly-priced solid-state competitors, and even higher-priced tube alternatives. Even its power transformer is a loosely-wound EI core for greater AC line performance over a conventional toroid, avoiding saturation more naturally plus the negative effects of the latter's high magnetic flux and coupling between primary and secondary windings. Even for those shopping with limitations to size and weight, HA-2A's power supply is fully regulated and absolutely sounds like an offering without limitations. Particularly if Audio-Technica, Sennheiser and ZMF Headphones are your typical port of call.  As for those without space or weight constraints, make the HA-6A and HA-300 MKII your first candidates, or view Cayin's other offerings here and our other desktop amplifiers here.


    Our Price | $1,799

    iBasso PB5iBasso PB5

    iBasso PB5

    iBasso Audio imagined tube magic in DX320 Max TI, and so conceived PB5 'Osprey' – losing the ROHM DACs, but gaining you two Korg Nutubes for a 4.4mm balanced tube/solid-state hybrid portable amplifier. Indeed, PB5's output stage should appear very familiar to fans of DX320 Max TI, packing iBasso's expertly designed, proprietary discrete stepped resistor volume control, Super Class A output stage and an over-the-top, clean power supply of six separate batteries. Twister6 praises PB5's "analog texture with bigger soundstage expansion" before becoming a dynamic duo with D16. While DX320 Max TI is a distant memory, its PB5 descendant could arguably ascend to greater heights.  As a fully analog product PB5 grant you the ability to line-in via today's amazing DAP sources ... while retaining the other aspects that went so far in defining iBasso's greatest flagship DAP. And adding tubes. Head-Fi now finds itself blessed with accessible opportunity. DX320 Max TI was more than a product but the birth of the super portable concept that has more applications than one. PB5 is such an example, iBasso's gift to the masses helping listeners enjoy the vast majority of DX320 Max TI solid-state output stage plus tube magic and – whisper it quietly – perhaps even surpass it with a high-performance DAC/DAP source of your choice. [See Product Desc. For More] Whisper it quietly, indeed. PB5 works near-silently because iBasso's stepped resistor analog volume control shows up where it could be most crucial – in their first battery-powered tube and solid-state hybrid amplifier. Said stepped attenuator preserves the resolution of your best DAP sources in the presence of Nutubes that may not otherwise share the same noise performance as the rest of PB5's carefully assembled transistor circuit.  Before that begins to sound like a problem, the gains from inserting Nutubes into PB5's (read: mini DX320 Max TI's) signal path far outweigh any cons. Beyond granting the kind of natural, spacious and effortless sonics tubes are known for, Korg's fluorescent 6P1 dual triodes pay dividends on the circuit design front too. READ ALSO The benefits of adding input tubes to a circuit As triodes, Korg's 6P1s provide iBasso access to an all-important square law transfer function for wide operating conditions. With tubes – audio's long-established ideal input device – now working differentially in balanced push-pull configuration to receive signal from your 4.4mm source, iBasso's proprietary stepped resistor attenuator takes charge of volume. Additionally counting on common-mode rejection, it's this proprietary volume control that enables PB5 to play it delicately into your flagship earphones for enjoyment at realistically lower volume levels. Because, it's easy to play it loud, but everyone knows it's in playing back tiny sounds that is the litmus test of a hybrid tube/solid-state amp capable of outputting as much SPL as PB5. Transparent at any volume setting down low as much as up high, with virtually perfect +/-0.1dB channel-matching, this iBasso tubed behemoth exposes detail buried deep around the noise floor of your music. So begins the rest PB5's fully-balanced, true differential solid-state circuit whose push-pull operation produces odd harmonic distortion that dovetails perfectly with the naturalness of its Nutubes. Built with individual transistors of iBasso's choosing allows great control over PB5's tuning, while an immense operating voltage over 16 volts grants an innately linear open-loop circuit, with substantially less negative feedback, to be fashioned. At the tip of PB5's spear are buffers capable of outputting more amperes of current than is needed in reality, while keeping output impedance near zero. Said power stage is another call for iBasso's Super Class A to appear.  Current mirrors ensure PB5's push-pull operation works without crossover distortion, yielding Class A-like performance at all power output levels. That makes for extremely linear open-loop operation before negative feedback is applied ... yet mostly avoids the heat and inefficiency typically associated with Class A designs. With superb damping factor as a voltage source, enough standing bias current and signal-to-noise performance to follow today's flagship IEM impedance down low, you still know PB5 will be even more in its element pushing TOTL headphones. That's especially when you consider its six separate batteries providing clean, independent power to each critical section of PB5's circuit.  Everything from Focal to a Fostex and Rosson Audio Designs plus Yamaha and ZMF Headphones is applicable. Flexibility is the operative word here and sources like Cayin Audio's N7, iBasso's own DX260 plus HiBy Music's RS6, R8II and RS8 will be queuing up to lend their signal to PB5. PB5 is the perfect segway to add tubes to your portable flagship sources, but it's so much more. Through Osprey's stepped attenuator volume control and Super Class A output stage, DX320 Max TI's spirit lives on. Check out the rest of iBasso's sources for PB5 here, or view our other DAC/amps here.


    Our Price | $2,079

    Audio-Technica NarukamiAudio-Technica Narukami
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    Audio-Technica Narukami

    Named after “NARUKAMI”, this headphone amplifier/pre-amplifier, “HPA-KG NARU” has been carefully crafted to capture the intricate details and emotional depth of sound, offering a unique, refined, and natural listening experience. NARUKAMI intertwines the majesty of nature with human innovation, combining Audio-Technica's expertise - over 60 years of pursuing the purest analog sound – with the transcendent aesthetics of KUROGAKI, an ancient wood treasured by Japanese nobles and literati with a rare, ink wash painting-like pattern.  “HPA-KG NARU” is not just a headphone amplifier; it also serves as a preamplifier with output functionality. It can drive power amplifiers using the signal from the output transformer driven by TA-300B vacuum tubes, making it suitable for use as a preamplifier for speakers. To accompany the amplifier, a limited-edition NARUKAMI Headphones “AW-KG NARU” has been exclusively designed with the same KUROGAKI wood housing as the amplifier, featuring specially tuned sound characteristics. Each set comes with a custom-made headphone cable, ensuring an exceptional listening experience. The output transformer features a headphone matching circuit with three impedance positions, allowing users to choose the impedance that best suits their headphones' characteristics and desired sound quality. The amplifier also features a convenient volume balance control knob, allowing users to adjust the volume balance between the left and right channels according to their individual preferences and requirements, and provides a 4.4mm XLR 4-pin balanced headphone socket, as well as a 6.3mm single-ended headphone socket, ensuring true versatility. The circuit design incorporates the use of the finest components available. This includes: Lundahl's LL1532 input transformer. Custom-made Lundahl Amorphous Core Silver Wire Output Transformer LL2765AgAM, offering extremely low magnetic hysteresis loss, high saturation magnetic flux density, and excellent frequency response. High-quality TAKATSUKI TA-300B vacuum tubes handcrafted in Japan, carefully selected specifically for headphone amplifiers for robust driving power and high-quality sound. AmTrans's premium audio aluminum shell resistor with exceptional heat dissipation properties. Custom-designed power transformer for independent power supply to L/R channels by Someya Denshi. SRPP circuit with rare JJ ECC83S-gold vacuum tubes, providing a rich and flavorful sound.


    Our Price | $113,888

    Cayin HA-3ACayin HA-3A
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    Cayin HA-3A

    If HA-6A and HA-300 MKII were amps you would argue for, HA-3A is the one that's impossible to argue against. Cayin Audio managed to wrap a single-ended Class A 6V6 tube amplifier into a compact A4 sized package, for desktop headphone versatility. Weighing in at just over 10KG, not one gram is wasted with Cayin packing their famed power and output transformer iron into even the smallest member of the pack. It immediately leapt onto Headfonia's Recommended Buys list for a reason. HA-3A is Headphone Guru's "slice of heaven", bringing the benefits of transformers designed and built in-house to meet the demands of modern headphones – both planar-magnetic and dynamic, high or low impedance. [See Product Desc. For More] Flexibility might be the first topic discussed with the lightweight and compact HA-3A, but compromise in quality was never an option. Cayin's point-to-point wiring is de facto again for signal integrity, and the EI core output transformers utilise their shape to take the transparency of 6V6 power tubes out beyond the human hearing range. These power tubes popularised by their use in Gibson and Fender electric guitar amplifiers are run in single-ended Class A. Linearity is a given through the holy grail of bias operation, even at this price point, while tube operating voltages allow for large operating points. Distortion is below even the threshold of HA-3A's bigger HA-6A and HA-300 MKII brothers – clipping theoretically only occurring beyond the former's maximum power envelope.  And any distortion will be of the even-order variety expected of tube amplifiers, for a smooth, warm and holistic sound. Tube rectification rounds out HA-3A's fully-regulated linear power supply built around Cayin's in-house toroidal power transformer. In there is Cayin's promise – for low cost of entry, weight and size, the flagship trappings of HA-3A are impossible to deny. A fully-regulated linear power supply, Class A bias, high tube operating voltages, low capacitances, even-order harmonics and EI core output transformers ensure Cayin's baby of the bunch gets mentioned over similarly-priced solid-state competitors, and even higher-priced tube alternatives. For those shopping with limitations to size and weight, HA-3A absolutely sounds like an offering without limitations. Particularly if Audio-Technica, Sennheiser and ZMF Headphones are your typical port of call.  As for those without space or weight constraints, make the HA-6A and HA-300 MKII your first candidates, or view Cayin's other offerings here and our other desktop amplifiers here.


    Our Price | $2,399

    Hifiman EF400Hifiman EF400

    Hifiman EF400

    There is always something futuristic about R2R, so the R2R EF400 is not exactly out of type for HIFIMAN whose spirit for innovation spurred them to develop this DAC/amp. It's on Headfonia's Recommended Buys list as "one of the best all-in-ones". Headfonics concur EF400 is a huge crowd pleaser. It's an Audiophilia Star Component. Taking the company's discrete R2R Himalaya DAC and slapping on a 4.4 watt per channel amplifier, EF400 is HIFIMAN's claim that they are all you'll need to run a complete personal audio chain on your desktop. [See Product Desc. For More] EF400 wildly outperformed Ear Fidelity's expectations who didn't expect HIFIMAN's pedigree at building great headphones to extend to an amplification system. It's the best Audiophile Heaven can recommend today. Disregarding its entry-level standing, this diminutive powerhouse is a statement of technological ambition from China's leading headphone manufacturers, changing the game by equipping all levels of Head-Fi with an extremely capable source.  HIFIMAN originally developed its discrete Himalaya R2R for its portable bluetooth gear. But ever one to dream, Fang Bian's team strapped its technology to original DSP work carried on a FPGA and a massive toroidal linear power supply, before stepping back to marvel at their progress. The promises EF400 make in terms of fidelity and power output are not small. Head-Fi has paid attention when Himalaya decodes up to 24/192 PCM ala typical R2R – NOS (non-oversampling). That's double the feat because the precision demanded in exact resistor values – for the buttery, natural and resolving ability that R2R DAC topology is known for – goes up. For an entirely different sound otherwise, EF400's grants users the ability to switch from NOS to oversampling mode, for the cleanest possible result. That scrubs any last distortion and artifacts beyond the audible human hearing range, claiming over 115dB of signal-to-noise ratio. That's signal that sees EF400 output in fixed voltage via line XLRs and RCAs, in the sense of a conventional DAC. But HIFIMAN – famous for its immensely challenging Susvara and HE6 – challenge you to bring its balanced headphone outputs to bear. A full balanced, differential, Class A/B amplifier swings plenty of signal voltage and backs that signal up with a power stage bristling with current, to claim a mighty 4.4 watts of power. That's power beyond measure but HIFIMAN says it's always better to have more than you need. So EF400 can go about driving the likes of their headphones, plus any HEDDphone, Sennheiser or ZMF Headphones, with tons of headroom, and no worry at all.Throw any headphone at EF400: you won't regret it. Also, view our other offerings from HIFIMAN here, or our other amplifiers here.


    Our Price | $649

    Feliks Audio EnvyFeliks Audio Envy

    Feliks Audio Envy

    For OTL tube manufacturers Feliks Audio, the route to the top of Head-Fi's hill ran contrarian with massive output transformers – and still proved to be the Envy of everyone. A flagship powerhouse amplifier, its design centered around famed 300B tubes. While Echo II to Euforia had proven to be delicate, pure and low-powered affairs, there is nothing subtle about the construction of Envy. Feliks set out to build the ultimate tube amplifier pushing over 5 watts of Class A power at clipping. Stereophile "admit to being taken by the Envy's bold but tasteful style ... it's top-of-the-world wonderful". Effortlessly able to drive Susvara – in fact lauded by Ear Fidelity and Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity as the best headphone amp they've heard HIFIMAN's flagship through – Envy is a true statement of ambition by these prolific Poles. Headfonia warn it'll be the Envy of you after electing it to their Recommended Buys list. And Headfonics call it an essential demo if you want to elevate any elite flagship headphone – echoed by Hifi Pig. [See Product Desc. For More] As you'd expect of a statement amplifier, Envy can have no weaknesses. Depending on output transformers for brute power, this Feliks flagship still retains all the purity that this brand has come to be defined by. It's a champion of frequency extension both up and down; chunks of iron in the signal path or not. Running in single-ended Class A to preserve the all-important even order harmonics triode enthusiasts crave from such topologies, Envy is inherently linear. Its high operating voltage and high bias means that its entire circuit operates stably with zero feedback. That's aided by the use of 300B tubes providing Feliks Audio access to square law and load-line characteristics to push distortion down from the drawing board. Triode plate impedance also means that any clipping is soft and graceful, veering from harshness. Running in the open loop doesn't stop Envy from producing enormous frequency extension up to 100Khz at -3dB. The preservation of high-frequency triode transparency is certainly no mean feat without the aid of negative feedback. Meanwhile, the finest coupling capacitors and its large output transformers sees low frequencies plumb down to 8Hz – truly subterranean levels, for a tube amplifier of any sort. WATCH ALSO Timelapse: the painstaking hand-assembly of Envy This Feliks frequency extension pays off in truly flat phase reproduction in the audible human hearing range, for impactful bass and realistic portrayal of musical images. Dynamics are life-like and on par with the best solid-state amplifiers. Indeed, none of the resolution Feliks Audio has been associated with from its OTL work has been lost in Envy, bearing uber-revealing CV-181 drivers from Psvane. But users wanting to squeeze the final drops of detail have the opportunity to build this behemoth in its Performance Edition, featuring UPOCC point-to-point copper wiring, and upgraded 300B power tubes from Electro-Harmonix to Full Music for the ultimate signal path. Inside and outside, Envy is a prestige product that belongs in a reference Hi-Fi rack. Its balanced pre-amplifier outputs allow you to operate it just that way into a full-sized, stereo power amplifier, passing through the entire 6SN7-300B stage and out through the rear. Definitely place Envy somewhere prominent: you won't be able to tear yourself away from gazing upon its beautiful wood build, nor hearing this pinnacle, for long. Otherwise, seek Feliks Audio's other OTL builds if you're looking for a smaller footprint here, and our other amplifiers here.


    Our Price | $9,999