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HiFiMan - EF-5 Headphone Amplifier

by HiFiMAN
4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
| 4 answered questions

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  • Hand-built headphone amplifier
  • Separate-chassis DY-1 power supply with toroidal transformer
  • Tube: RCA Clear top 12AU7
  • Input: one RCA
  • Detachable IEC power cord
2 new from $488.98 1 used from $398.14

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Technical Details

  • Brand Name: HiFiMAN
  • Model Number: EF5
  • Color: Black

Product Description

HiFiMan EF-5: High Performance Tube Output for Almost Any Cans The HiFiMan EF-5 was created for demanding headphone listeners who want no-compromise performance at an affordable price. A two-box design, the massive power supply is isolated from the delicate signal. A dual-triode 12AU7 delivers silky smooth richness and tonal purity. The EF-5 is a must-hear. "[A headphone] amplifier with a good measure of resolution, a lively and dynamically expressive sound, and available levels of gain that can easily handle most hard-to-drive 'phones. We can't overstate the benefits of that last point so let us reiterate: the EF5 easily and gracefully drives 'phones that can cause many mid-priced headphone amps to audibly "run out of steam." Bluntly, this amp comfortably goes where many others fear to tread." - Chris Martens, Playback "Drums in particular benefited from the EF5's speed and clarity. They sounded more like drums, each whack on the tom toms was more visceral, and the snare drums' snap was far more realistic sounding. ...it's not worth investing in great headphones if you're not going to use them with a headphone amp at least as good as the EF5." - Steve Guttenberg, CNet.com

Product Details

  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 pounds
  • ASIN: B004I3WB5M
  • Item model number: EF5
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,610 in Electronics (See Top 100 in Electronics)
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here
  • Date first available at Amazon.com: January 5, 2011

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Verified Purchase
I won't call myself an audiophile because that conjures images of someone adjusting panels on the wall to attain some level of sound that they'll never achieve. I like to listen to music that's well reproduced and yeah I like the toys that come with that pursuit. I have a pair of Audeze's LCD-2 headphones and after looking at many reviews and listening to them for a while I knew I needed some more power to really get the most out of these headphones. I picked this amplifier after reading several reviews and I couldn't be happier. I won't use flowery audiophile language to describe the sound, only that the amp provides plenty of clean power that allows me to turn up my LCD-2s to a level where they allow the music to really sound great.
After having this amp for about two months I attended a headphone convention in the San Francisco area where there were many multi-thousand dollar amplifiers available for a listen. I took a CD with me and was able to listen to these $1,000-$2,000+ headphone amplifiers using my headphones and there wasn't a single amp there that I thought made the music sound any better than what I got here on Amazon for a fraction of the price. Yes, some of those amps look really cool and every few months I'm tempted to get one of these creations that looks like it was designed by Tesla, but sense intervenes and I realize there's no reason to pay all that money if the sound isn't any better so I'll stick with my EF5 and snicker at those who believe their $1,500 amp gives them a better soundstage or imaging...
2 Comments 32 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I purchased this used to drive my Beyerdynamic DT880/600ohm headphones. Solidly built, slick glossy facade, gold plated RCA's. The plexiglass accents and see-through window are nice touches.

The DT880/600's are known as tough headphones to drive given the high impedance, and typically people recommend OTL tube amplifiers. But the Hifiman EF5 makes them sound great, especially with a great source.

The EF5 is a hybrid amp, using a 12AU7 tube for voltage gain as a cascode amplifier in the first stage and a OP275 opamp for a solid state output stage. It sounds great stock (though mine came with a Full Music tube vs the RCA clear top sold with this edition), but you can easily tube-swap to get different sonic signatures. I'm using the stock tube now, but decided to swap the OP275 opamp for Analog Devices AD797AZ op-amp (using a two-to-one SOIC to DIP adaptor since the AD797 is a single opamp and the EF5 requires a dual opamp).

The ability to tweak the sound and great out of the box sound for a variety of different headphones makes this a very versatile choice. You get a nice combination of tube warmth and solid state punch.
14 Comments 20 of 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Verified Purchase
Let's see... I got this for 350, it's one of the new ones with the FULLMUSIC tube. You have to change the gain to high for orthos, and that switch is on the bottom of the top part with the tube in it. The volume knob is very non-specific so while sometimes I'd like the music to be maybe a bit louder, even turning it up a bit explodes the ear drums. You kind of have to deal with either medium volume or a volume that scares you thinking you'll go deaf. On some albums you need the extra boost for the music to be exciting as well as to sound realistic, although I guess if you were to exercise self-control and just keep with the moderately high volume (instead of trying to find the perfect volume) you'd be fine.

The reason I put up with the crappy volume knob is the music is usually very realistic and very good. I use HiFiMan HE-500S, with their silver looking copper cable. If you use any lesser headphone cable with this amp right now, then don't. I heard a big difference when I went from a the 10' silver-coated copper cable into a Grado extension cord to the HIFIMAN 26' silver-coated extended copper cable. Only a hundy, worth every penny.
With my old cord set-up I thought the amp had problems, but it was just that grado cord distorting everything. I was gonna write a bad review of this amp for being inconsistent, but luckily I listened with the now burned in silvered copper cable 10' and realized what I was doing to myself.
Really good bass, drums, the combo of HIFIMAN 500s and the EF5 turned up to HIGHGAIN is a very sweet combo. Now, some reviews have spoken about how the higher transients, or fast paced music, or high treble, or especially cymbals can sound splashy or distorted.
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Comment 13 of 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Verified Purchase
I`ve Had this for right at one year.......I wasn't gonna do a review. But Decided to after a year of ownership....
To maybe give some one a idea(I Hope) of ownership other than a couple of months....
I have to say this is one of the best Headphone Amps Ive ever bought....Got it for 399us(499Reg) on sale....Might still be that price right now i think.....399 that is.....
I have some lcd-2 headphones it works great with........Im no audiophile.....I own several headphone amps....
But out of all of them this (To Me)this is definitely the best sounding to me of all the Headphone Amps Ive used...
great highs and good bass....and a pretty clean sound....

The reason i didn't give it 5 stars....When i got the package it was pretty generic...just a box with hifiman an one side in small letters...on opening it...there was no instructions, warranty, etc.....just the amp, tube, power supply, power cord and umbilical for connecting both units....to change gain...on the older model..it was on the top....on this one its on the bottom...using two dip switches......With no instructions..It was kind of hard how gain was adjusted..but I figured it out....

The other main reason after about 10 months of ownership....The volume (stepped attenuator) starting acting up...
it would lose one channel or the other depending where the volume was...now only works at max volume.....I opened up the front of the unit..it looks like the volume pot would be easy to replace...but I have no idea where I could find this from Hifiman....
If anybody could give me some info on this it would be appreciated. Luckily i have audio sources that has volume control....I just use them.......Till I can find a replacement Maybe..........
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