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Tom Christiansen Audio HPA-1 Headphone Amp Review

tomchr

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One step closer every day. Now I just need 48 more sets of these foam end caps. :) The white box you see in the picture will go into a plain cardboard box for shipping.

The box may not feature a luxury black velvet interior and magnetic clasp, thus, may lack some in the unboxing experience compared to other products. However, it will ensure that the HPA-1 will arrive unscathed. Besides, I figured you'd rather have an Alps "Blue Velvet" volume pot than a fancy box. :)

The black foam is made from recycled materials. It is also recyclable. As is the cardboard.

Tom

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Doodski

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One step closer every day. Now I just need 48 more sets of these foam end caps. :) The white box you see in the picture will go into a plain cardboard box for shipping.

The box may not feature a luxury black velvet interior and magnetic clasp, thus, may lack some in the unboxing experience compared to other products. However, it will ensure that the HPA-1 will arrive unscathed. Besides, I figured you'd rather have an Alps "Blue Velvet" volume pot than a fancy box. :)

The black foam is made from recycled materials. It is also recyclable. As is the cardboard.

Tom

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That's heavy duty packaging for sure. It will last a lifetime if one keeps it. Keeps the resale value up too for those that insist on having the proper box and packing.
 

tomchr

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That's heavy duty packaging for sure. It will last a lifetime if one keeps it. Keeps the resale value up too for those that insist on having the proper box and packing.
That's indeed the thought. The man jewels shall be protected. :)

My packaging guy figured out that the cutouts in the end caps allowed for four L-shaped foam pieces to be produced, basically for free. These will suspend the white box within the outer box. Yes. You know you run a small business when you geek out over packaging. :)

Tom
 

Yviena

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I'm thinking about maybe getting a HE1000SE to compliment my HD800, do you think the amp will have enough juice to power them sufficiently?
 
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Hmm I see, wonder why many people are saying then that they need 3-5W to sound good then.
Sorry I need to adjust calculation it is 96 dB sensitivity, not 98 dB. Still should be ok. @ 110 dB @ 1 Vrms it still pretty efficient and <30 mA
 

tomchr

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I'm thinking about maybe getting a HE1000SE to compliment my HD800, do you think the amp will have enough juice to power them sufficiently?
35 Ω , 96 dB @ 1 mW efficiency -> 126 dB SPL at vanishingly low distortion with the HPA-1. That's enough to permanently blow your hearing, so yeah... I'd say the HPA-1 has more than enough power.

Hmm i see, wonder why many people are saying then that they need 3-5W to sound good then.
Maybe because many amps start to distort heavily before they reach the max output power. The HPA-1 is not one of those amps. It could also just be than people are repeating what so-and-so on the internet said without working through the math.

Just a heads up: The preorder discount will disappear once the HPA-1 is in stock. All I'm waiting on now is the packing foam. That should be here within a week.

Also: Those of you in Florida (or within reach thereof) will have a chance to meet me and hear the HPA-1 in person at the Florida Audio Expo. It's February 7-9 in Tampa. 10AM-6PM Friday and Saturday. 10AM-5PM Sunday. Admission is free. More info: https://floridaaudioexpo.com

Tom
 

tomchr

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@tomchr Here is what I used to working with bottom one is 50 Watt Hiwatt style Amp, Top one is 100 Watt Two Rock which is more like Fender style amp.
I hope you'll enjoy the ~70 dB improvement in THD (and many other parameters) with the HPA-1. :)

Tom
 
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I am sure I will. I think i can fix the harmonics issue by using a Strymon Iridium Amp and IR Cab Pedal via it's Stereo Line out's. The black box, It emulates Guitar AMP and has Speaker IR onboard. The other two different Delay and Effect pedals.
IMG_9237.jpeg
 

tomchr

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I am sure I will. I think i can fix the harmonics issue by using a Strymon Iridium Amp and IR Cab Pedal via it's Stereo Line out's. The black box, It emulates Guitar AMP and has Speaker IR onboard. The other two different Delay and Effect pedals.
Heh. Yeah... The good thing about adding effects at line level rather than in the amp is that you can tweak to your heart's desire to get the sound you want. And if you end up preferring a clean sound, you can just turn the effects off.

Will you be using the HPA-1 for recording/mastering?

Tom
 
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I was teasing, I also play electric guitar. hence the paint peelers, next to those are to Marshalls JMP 100 Watt and JTM45 on 4x12 cab. Running Wet-Dry mix with my Clean and Marshell is a total treat. My favorite daily guitar amp is my Benson Earhart 15 watts. But rig above is for when I wake up early in the morning do not want to wake up the family or traveling. I know your amp is going to be great for recorded tracks and pinch using for Line level output to a headphone.
 

tomchr

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Very cool. Yeah. I figured you were either into playing music or recording it (or both). :)

I played the trumpet for a few years and had a brief stint with a drum set in high school. Good times. Everybody on my dad's side of the family plays the piano.

Tom
 
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My Daugther is natural at Piano and Bass Clarinet, it has been great to see her progress. My dad played Trumpet as well in the High School band.

For me, Guitar playing is another creative outlet from my day job developing advanced GPUs for computing and the software driver and compilers to make them sing. Love recording as well. Upgraded to UA Apollo x8 for my main I/O last year. I am trying out a new Ribbon Mic an AEA Nuvo N22.
 

tomchr

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I had a fun trip to the post office yesterday. I think I left the lady there in a mild state of panic when I dropped all these boxes off less than an hour before the Canada Post pick-up. :) We know each other well. She's awesome. Judging by the tracking info, it looks like she got all of them originated and underway yesterday. Yay!

All but two preorders of the HPA-1 have now shipped and the HPA-1 is in stock.

Tom
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will.b

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@tomchr Were one of those boxes mine? All arrived safely to Hong Kong thank you.

Unboxed and hooked up to my SMSL M500.
Demotes my SP200 until I can choose an appropriate DAC upgrade for my primary listening location with the HPA-1.

Physical impressions: practical and competent layout/format, responsive volume control, solid button press, cool to touch after a few hours of constant playback on low gain - about the same as the M500.

Sound impressions: drives all my headphones without a sweat in low gain - can’t imagine what would need high gain (see sig.), iems: BGVP DMG sound just perfect, dead silent and obviously transparent.

Any suggestions for a DAC to go with this?
Matrix Element M or Topping D90 (MQA version) are on my radar but I’ll give it a few months to see what else gets released.
 

tomchr

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@tomchr Were one of those boxes mine? All arrived safely to Hong Kong thank you.
No, actually. Yours shipped about 30 minutes before I took the picture as yours went by DHL Express. :)

Physical impressions: practical and competent layout/format, responsive volume control, solid button press, cool to touch after a few hours of constant playback on low gain - about the same as the M500.

Sound impressions: drives all my headphones without a sweat in low gain - can’t imagine what would need high gain (see sig.), iems: BGVP DMG sound just perfect, dead silent and obviously transparent.
Thank you for your impressions so far. I appreciate it. 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).

Any suggestions for a DAC to go with this?
That's a very common question. I don't have a good answer at the moment as I haven't had a chance to survey the market. Some of the Topping products test well. In fact, I recently bought a Topping D30 to play around with. Unfortunately, I had to place two orders as the first one was dead on arrival (and had obviously been returned by someone else before it was sold to me as "new"). You could easily argue that it's not Topping's fault, but I think it falls on the manufacturer to select a good dealer network rather than relying on Amazon Randos. At least with Amazon's generous return policy, I was only out my time, frustration, and additional drive to the post office to return the defective one.

I think it's obvious that a much better answer would be: "The best DAC for the HPA-1 is the TCA DAC-1". :) Thus far, the DAC-1 is vapourware, however.

Tom
 

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