This one is gonna be a quickie and it was a new headphone amplifier we by chance noticed at the show. At first it looks like a pretty standard headphone amplifier, then your notice that it has a headphone stand built on top of it and finally the luminous green button on it. Whats the deal with that? Well this is far from a standard headphone amplifier, in fact for this amp, you send off your choice of headphones, they measure them and then they tune the amp to flatten the frequency response. The button allows you switch between the original headphones signature and then when the processing and neutralising is turned on. I tried with the AKG 702 and Sennheiser HD650. Having owned the HD650 I know their sound well and I couldn’t believe the difference when letting this amp do its thing, they not only were clearly more neutral, but you had the Sennheiser veil removed and the speed and detail seemed to be improved. As a finishing touch they then engrave all the headphone of choices details on the front plate of the attached headphone stand, which in turn is padded with imitation leather.

 

The price is dependent on what of the three models you choose. As for now you can’t seem to order this, but when you can there will be 3 versions, one with the standard ¼ inch output (AHA-A1 = €1800), a version with that and a XLR output so you can have a pair of electrostatics tuned (AHA-1XL = €2200) and then a version that can run both outputs in parallel (AHA-2XL = €2500). I would love to send a mega coloured headphone such as the Apollo Audio X1 and see what they can turn it into. That would be a real test for the amp. Maybe a gimmick, this is indeed an interesting direction for a headphone amp from a company who usually specialise in recording music, including using a binaural head.

EDIT – They have now changed the name to Headphone Optimiser and also added a fourth version that has a switch for the output that can optimise two different headphones from the measurements they make. I am not sure on price but I presume this to be the most expensive.

Sonny Trigg