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Tom Christiansen Audio HPA-1 Headphone Amp Review

jtwrace

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If you're active on Head-Fi, I would very much welcome a blurb there as well. I can't say anything about my products there without paying $1k/month with a 12-month commitment (so $12k up front - their lowest pricing tier).
Tom
Holy crap!
 

tomchr

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That's what I thought. If they had a small business or start-up plan at, say, $20-50/month that offered the ability to post but no front-page ads, I'd probably sign up.

Are you making it to Tampa this weekend? The Florida Audio Expo is Friday-Sunday: https://floridaaudioexpo.com I'll be there with the HPA-1.

Tom
 

will.b

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@tomchr

I don’t often visit head-fi and I’ve not signed up with them so can’t help there sorry ☹.

TCA DAC-1, as it happens, I have just the right space on my desk
Even better would be the: “TCA DACS-1” dac+streamer with full Roon integration and the same footprint as the HPA-1. I'd probably have two of those.

If the BOM doesn’t make it too impractical I seriously I think it’s the way to go hence my interest in the Matrix devices.
I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking along these lines.

Will...
 

tomchr

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I don’t often visit head-fi and I’ve not signed up with them so can’t help there sorry ☹.
No worries.

TCA DAC-1, as it happens, I have just the right space on my desk
Sweet!

Even better would be the: “TCA DACS-1” dac+streamer with full Roon integration and the same footprint as the HPA-1. I'd probably have two of those.
Would such a device include the Roon Core or "just" be an output device that can connect to a Roon server? Sorry for the novice question. I haven't worked with the streamers and don't use Roon.

Tom
 

will.b

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@tomchr

For me anyway "just" the output device (Roon end point I think), as I run the core on my laptop and have the bridge software running on my Surface Go. USB hard drive on the laptop stores my flacs and I use Roon app on my phone to select what I want to listen to and where to output the audio.

Hopefully some more members can chip in with some other suggestions/recommendations as well.
 

escalibur

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That's what I thought. If they had a small business or start-up plan at, say, $20-50/month that offered the ability to post but no front-page ads, I'd probably sign up.

Are you making it to Tampa this weekend? The Florida Audio Expo is Friday-Sunday: https://floridaaudioexpo.com I'll be there with the HPA-1.

Tom
Consider giving us some review samples to spread the word as reviews around the forums not just at Head-Fi. ;)
 

aeshultz

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Just met Tom at the Tampa show today, then found this thread. I have to say that first, the HPA-1 sounds fantastic, and Tom is as much a gentleman in person as he is here - both are highly recommended.


Are you making it to Tampa this weekend? The Florida Audio Expo is Friday-Sunday: https://floridaaudioexpo.com I'll be there with the HPA-1.

Tom[/QUOTE]
 
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Tom,
I walked in the door to a surprise, the HPA-1 amp arrived.

I have only had a little bit of listening time but, the TCA Amp definitely shows it's has a very low noise floor at low gain. It is a very nice pairing with the Chord Qutest and the RAD-0 headphones. The combo has solid clarity and punches, good speed. Also, pair well Hifiman Ananda.

Most importantly, I need to bring out the headphone that kicked off this journey Dan Clark Audio Aeon Flow Open, which underpowered are muddy, lacks detail, and dynamics. This amp brings them back to life, dynamics, detail, and intimacy are all back
  • Keb Mo "The Itch"
  • Fleetwood Mac "Dreams Take 2"
  • John Lee Hooker It Serves You Right to Suffer, Serves You Right to be Alone ( the Avener Rework)
  • Dusty Springfield " Son of Preacher Man"
  • Kaleo "Way Down We Go"
  • Bob Dylan "Knockin On Heavens Door"
  • Foy Vance "Make it Rain
  • Massive Attack "Angel"
  • Trentemoller "Chameleon"
  • Parov Stelar "Jimmy's Gang"
  • The Piano Guys "Story of My Life"
  • Dave Mathews "Two Step"
  • Louis Armstrong "Summertime"
  • Gary Clark Jr "Bright Lights"
  • Elmore James "Dust My Blues"
  • Jimmy Hendrix "Hey Joe"
  • John Lee Hooker "Jesse James"
  • New Order "Dreams Never End"
  • Biffy Clyro "Many of Horror"
I try it with Topping D90 next week when it comes in.

g
IMG_9874.jpeg
 
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Last night I dragged out the

Trouble children in my headphone line up.
  • Beyerdynamic DT-880 600 Ohm - High Impedance kid - did not have an issue driving them with the low gain setting, put in high gain and around 1 pm bass kicks strong in Trentemoller “Cameleon,” they do not have rumble down my neck of HD-6XX or Focal Elex
  • Dan Clark Audio Aeon Flow Open 13 Ohm - The current monsters are tamed, I just started drifting off listening to the music, good detail, speed. And a lot more. This rig does well with darker headphones. Knocking on Heavens Door by Bob Dylan is like have first or second-row seats.
The Reference
  • HD-6XX With Trentemoller “Cameleon” engage high gain volume pot at noon bass extends to the top of my shoulder, Low gain is about 4 o’clock for the same feel. This combo really brings out the best of this headphone
The pack hunters
  • Focal Elex - sound great on this amp in low gain way too many songs. Cameleon, it starts rumbling hard little past 2 o’clock in low gain, feel at the bottom of the neck. Symbols are fast and tight
  • HIfiman Ananda a lot of great music that plays well with this, I did find a few songs where treble would poke out
The current King of the Pack
  • Rosson Audio RAD-0
    Keb’-Mo’. “Suitcase” is probably one of the best showcases for the headphone on this combo. Transparent to what as recorded
    Ben Howard " Old Pine" highly articulate acoustic guitars
Something has me going back to Aeon Flow Open’s with this combo…
 

jtwrace

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Yesterday I had a chance to try the HPA-1 with @tomchr at the Florida Audio Expo. While I'm not a headphone guy, the sounds was great with no downfalls that I heard or the measurements suggest. For $899, it's a no brainer if cans are your thing. The unit is clean, and there was a clear cover on one HPA-1 at the station and the board is just spotless. Well done TCA!

I look forward to the future offerings
 
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@tomchr have you see the NanoRanger from AltoNovus. not to bad £159.95

3.5 Digit, DC ammeter to measure very low currents, Auto-Ranging with 9 ranges across 8.5 decades. It is able to measure from 800mA to 1nA, whilst offering a maximum resolution of 10pA.

Whole+Nano.png
 

tomchr

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@tomchr have you see the NanoRanger from AltoNovus. not to bad £159.95

3.5 Digit, DC ammeter to measure very low currents, Auto-Ranging with 9 ranges across 8.5 decades. It is able to measure from 800mA to 1nA, whilst offering a maximum resolution of 10pA.
I hardly ever measure current, actually. I already have two 6.5 digit bench top multimeters (HP/Agilent/Keysight/Whatever Name This Week 34401A), a 5.5-digit meter (HP 3478A), a Keithley 236 source meter, and some handheld meters (Fluke 73 and a capacitance meter), so I'm note sure why I would need such a thing. Honestly, I only trust the pros when it comes to measurement gear. That's not to say that a new player couldn't emerge, but I highly doubt the claims of 10 pA resolution - especially on banana plugs. The pros use triaxial connections and driven shields to prevent leakage currents from corrupting the measurement.

If you're looking for an inexpensive meter of good quality, it's very hard to go wrong with the Fluke 70 and 80 series. Buy one that comes with a calibration certificate (and recent calibration). Typically they're less than $100 calibrated. Used-Line and the various test equipment dealers are good sources. The newer Fluke meters are nice as well.
For greater precision, the HP/Agilent/Keysight/etc. 34401A and 34410A are excellent. Again: Buy calibrated.

Tom
 
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I already have a Fluke Multimeter at home. I use Rohde & Schwarz Scopes at work, just did not want to buy one for home. When I find a tool like this they are built out of necessity, I never rule them out. I have seen too many corporate restructuring and divestitures screw things up. An example is of great tool is the Peak Atlas ESR70.
 
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tomchr

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Yep. As I said: New players can emerge. In this case, I would like to see actual specs before buying. Too often the new players don't spec their gear with the same thoroughness as the pros.

Tom
 
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One thing I would look at the spec on the new RME ADI-2 DAC ( with the AKM4493 DAC) they updated the headphone amp, also SPL Phonitor x/xe, the spec they show and shore up what you present. I know you're already looking at the Monoprice and Drop THX amp based on the specifications layout.
 

tomchr

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I own the RME ADI-2 DAC. It's a nice DAC. I still prefer the HPA-1 over the output on the RME.

The RME is nicely spec'ed and measures well. You can see Amir's review of it elsewhere on this site. That's, in part, why I bought it.

Tom
 
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Do you have the new one, I am seeing the new model just finally hitting the market now.

I know you have a great amp, I am listening to it now.

ADI-2 DAC FS

Only support Single-ended

Phones

As Cinch, but:

  • Output: 6.3 mm TRS jack, unbalanced, stereo
  • Output impedance: 0.1 Ohm
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) @ +22 dBu: 120 dB RMS unweighted, 123 dBA
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) @ +7 dBu: 118 dB RMS unweighted, 121 dBA
  • Output level at 0 dBFS, High Power, load 100 Ohm or up: +22 dBu (10 V)
  • Output level at 0 dBFS, Low Power, load 8 Ohm or up: +7 dBu (1.73 V)
  • THD @ +18 dBu, 32 ohm load, 1.2 watts: -120 dB, 0.0001 %
  • THD+N @ + 18 dBu, 32 Ohm Load: -114 dB, 0.0002 %
  • THD @ +14 dBu, 16 Ohm load, 0.94 Watt: -110 dB, 0.0003 %
  • Max power @ 0.001% THD: 1.5 W per channel
IEM

  • As Phones, but:
  • Output level at 0 dBFS: -3 dBu, 0.55 V
  • Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) @ -3 dBu: 118 dB RMS unweighted, 121 dBA
  • Max power, 8 Ohm, 0.001% THD: 40 mW per channel

On the ADI-2 Pro FS R BE ( Pro Solution for Encode/Decode )

Support Balanced input

Phones 1/2
As Output 1/2 TS, but:

  • Output: 6.3 mm TRS jack, unbalanced, stereo
  • Output impedance: 0.1 Ohm
  • Signal to Noise ratio (SNR) @ +22 dBu: 120 dB RMS unweighted, 123 dBA
  • Signal to Noise ratio (SNR) @ +7 dBu: 118 dB RMS unweighted, 121 dBA
  • Output level at 0 dBFS, Ref Level +19 dBu, load 100 Ohm or up: +22 dBu (10 V)
  • Output level at 0 dBFS, Ref Level +4 dBu, load 8 Ohm or up: +7 dBu (1.73 V)
  • THD @ +18 dBu, 32 Ohm load, 1.2 Watt: -110 dB, 0.0003 %
  • THD+N @ + 18 dBu, 32 Ohm load: -107 dB, 0.00045 %
  • THD @ +14 dBu, 16 Ohm load, 0.94 Watt: -110 dB, 0.0003 %
  • Max power @ 0.001% THD: 1.5 W per channel
Output Phones 3/4
As Output Phones 1/2, but:

  • Output levels at 0 dBFS: Hi-Power off +7 dBu, Hi-Power On +22 dBu
Balanced Phones mode
As before, but:

  • Output levels at 0 dBFS: Hi-Power off +13 dBu (3.46 V), Hi-Power On +28 dBu (19.5 V)
  • Output impedance: 0.2 Ohm
  • Signal to Noise ratio (SNR) @ +28 dBu: 123 dB RMS unweighted, 126 dBA
  • Signal to Noise ratio (SNR) @ +13 dBu: 121 dB RMS unweighted, 125 dBA
  • Output level at 0 dBFS, Hi-Power On, load 150 Ohm or up: +28 dBu (19.5 V)
  • Output level at 0 dBFS, Hi-Power Off, load 8 Ohm or up: +13 dBu (3.46 V)
  • Max power @ 0.001% THD: 2.9 W per channel
 

Yviena

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@tomchr just wondering but where we supposed get a tracking number for international shipment, I just get the message: We’ve accepted your order, and we’re getting it ready. Come back to this page for updates on your shipment status.
 
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If you're in the US, for Candian Mail Small Packet airmail there is no tracking number, it 5-8 business days from the ship date to receive the package. I just received mine in Austin on Friday. So latest it should be Weds, Thursday this week.
 

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