Capsule Review: Beyerdynamic A1 Headphone Amplifier (Playback 32)

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Headphone amps and amp/DACs
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Beyerdynamic A1
Capsule Review: Beyerdynamic A1 Headphone Amplifier (Playback 32)

I recently reviewed the Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla headphones, which were more than a little impressive. Beyerdynamic was kind enough to send along their new A1 amplifier with the T1s, and it was one of the amplifiers I used for my testing of the T1s. In this capsule review, I consider the A1 itself.

SONIC IMPRESSIONS

To some degree the cat is out of the bag here. That’s because you can’t have the excellent performance that I found with the T1s when driven by the A1 if the A1 itself is mediocre. Sure, the T1 and the A1 might have offsetting errors, but that is something that mostly works in the realm of frequency response. If the A1 has high distortion or can’t drive high impedance headphones (the T1s are the highest impedance phones we’ve had in the lab), I would have heard it. But in any event the A1 sounded quite fine with the T1.

Since then, I’ve done more complete testing of the A1 with other headphones. Three things stand out from that work.

First, the A1 seems to have as much or more output capability than any amp we’ve had around (including the Woo WA22, PS Audio GCHA, Head Direct HA-1, Grace m902, and Peachtree Audio iDecco). This impression can be a function of gain or volume control taper, so I want to be clear that this is subjective. That said, the A1 has a sense of dynamic ease that is consistent with the observation that it drives all sorts of headphones easily.

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