Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier
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  1. #1
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    Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    A Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amplifier arrived here in the Hudson Valley yesterday -- thanks to Mike's help.

    Spoiler: Even just warmed up but not broken-in, the HPA-1 offers richer and deeper music than any other headphone amp I've used.

    While I listen to Devore Fidelity Gibbon 88 speakers for my music about 80% of the time, I'm increasingly listening to headphones. And while the Chord DAVE also has an excellent headphone amp built-in, I had bought that (again, Mike's help!) several months ago mainly for its DAC capabilities.

    So while in a way the Pass Labs headphone amp is an extra, my curiosity drives me to try more audio toys. And in this case, the Pass unit edges out the Chord unit for a ever-so-slightly fuller sound. Perhaps my ears just prefer a volume control that's analog (Pass) rather than digital (Chord).

    My main system in headphone mode:

    • Aurender N10, with 2600 albums on its internal drives
    • Chord DAVE feeding the Pass HPA-1
    • Focal Elear headphones
    • Audience Au24 SE cables all around, mainly

    More perspectives to come, but if you're attracted to high-end headphone music-listening, you might want to put the Pass HPA-1 on your radar.

    Dave, who finds that excellent audio components are like good shoes since they're fine from the start even before they're broken-in and just become better as they do break-in which is an analogy his Brilliant SO suggested this morning while listening to music
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Aurender N10 >
    Audience Au24 SE AES/EBU digital cable > Chord DAVE DAC > Audience Au24 SE XLR interconnects > Luxman L-505uX integrated amplifier > Audience Au24 SE speaker cables > DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 88 speakers

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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  3. #2
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    Fantastic setup Dave!

    W10 Transport + JRiver MC 22 or HQPlayer | Audiocadabra Optimus USB | Goldmund Job INT | Green Mountain Audio Eos HX

  4. #3
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    It perplexes me that it does not also have a balanced out for the headphones, correct?
    Lumin U1
    Chord Dave Dac
    Pass labs Int-60 integrated Amp
    Magico S1 Mk2 speakers
    Denali 6000S
    Ansuz cabling

    Sennheiser Hd800 hp
    Fostex Th900 hp

  5. #4
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    Great setup, congrats! How would you describe the Elears soundwise?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Big rig: Vpi Prime with Phoenix Engineering Eagle and Roadrunner/ Ortofon Cadenza Bronze MC/ Stillpoints LPI/ Grandinote Celio/ Aurender N100H/ Curious USB/ Meitner MA-1/ Ayre KX-5 Twenty/ Ayre VX-5 Twenty/ WyWires Platinum IC+speaker+power cables/ Magico S3/ Shunyata Triton+AlphaHC/ Finite Elemente Pagode/ Stillpoints.

    Small rig: Naim UnitiServe/ Curious USB/ Ayre Codex/ Auralic Aries Mini/ Pass Labs INT-60/ Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II/ HiD Diamond 8/ Harbeth 3PSR2/ Shunyata Venom EU7 & Venom HD+3.

    HP rig: MacBookAir/ Audirvana/ Auralic Gemini 2000/ Charleston Cable Company Cardas Custom/ Sennheiser HD800/ Shunyata HD/ Shunyata Hydra 2/ AudioTekne Blue.

  6. #5
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Dguitarnut View Post
    It perplexes me that it does not also have a balanced out for the headphones, correct?
    Yes this is correct. No balanced out.
    I have the Auralic Taurus Mk11 and I do love it, but this Pass labs amp is certainly gaining a lot of interest. -
    Devialet 200
    Melco N1A
    Sonus Faber Olympica 2


    Auralic Taurus MK2 Headphone amp
    Hifiman HE1000 Headphones

  7. #6
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    I think it's a grave error. I doubt it will ever fly with the purists over at Head-Fi.
    Larry
    Lumin U1
    Chord Dave Dac
    Pass labs Int-60 integrated Amp
    Magico S1 Mk2 speakers
    Denali 6000S
    Ansuz cabling

    Sennheiser Hd800 hp
    Fostex Th900 hp

  8. #7
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Dguitarnut View Post
    I think it's a grave error. I doubt it will ever fly with the purists over at Head-Fi.
    Larry, don't think that's accurate.

    Take the Chord DAVE, for example. There are currently 424 pages over at Head-Fi devoted to that combo DAC and headphone amp, focusing on the latter function and mainly saying how wonderful the DAVE is for headphones -- even though it, like the Pass unit, has only a single-ended connection.

    Now, if you want only a balanced connection for headphones, yes, neither the Pass Labs HPA-1 or the Chord DAVE will be good for you. But both are really really good for sound quality...at least for me.

    Dave

  9. #8
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuoppis View Post
    Great setup, congrats! How would you describe the Elears soundwise?
    I love the holographic and rich sound of the Focal Elear headphones. It's one of the reasons I'm spending more of my music-listening time with headphones instead of speakers.

    I've had several other high-end headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD800s, and the Elears offer more detail and toe-tapping.

    That said, I love the Elears so much that I have their big brother, the Utopia headphones, arriving here this week. (Again, thanks to Mike for helping with that!)

    Dave, who will likely keep both the Utopia and Elear headphones for several reasons including times he and his Brilliant Significant Other listen to music via headphones at the same time

  10. #9
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Cycleman View Post
    I love the holographic and rich sound of the Focal Elear headphones. It's one of the reasons I'm spending more of my music-listening time with headphones instead of speakers.

    I've had several other high-end headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD800s, and the Elears offer more detail and toe-tapping.

    That said, I love the Elears so much that I have their big brother, the Utopia headphones, arriving here this week. (Again, thanks to Mike for helping with that!)

    Dave, who will likely keep both the Utopia and Elear headphones for several reasons including times he and his Brilliant Significant Other listen to music via headphones at the same time
    Eager to hear which you like better Elear or utopia. I want to pick up one not both. I just bought the audeze sine. Love them. I have Beyer t1, audeze LCD-x and xc, senn 650, and akg 7xx.

    We need a headphone forum.

    Mike I will be buying one of the focals.


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  11. #10
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    Re: Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Dpod4 View Post
    Eager to hear which you like better Elear or utopia. I want to pick up one not both. I just bought the audeze sine. Love them. I have Beyer t1, audeze LCD-x and xc, senn 650, and akg 7xx.

    We need a headphone forum.

    Mike I will be buying one of the focals.


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    I vote for the Utopia's based on hearing both. See what Dave thinks though.


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