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HiFiMan - EF-5 Headphone Amplifier
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
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...
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.
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.Read more ›
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..........Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am a former high-end audio salesman, so I know how things are really done in this industry. Regarding headphone amps and DACS, the law of diminishing returns starts at around... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rick Grimes
Five star for the amp and seller. NO STAR for Amazon. This is fulfilled by Amz, they took a week and not sure about the inventory. Read morePublished 3 months ago by wei Jin
I am giving this five stars because when combined with a really good set of headphones (OPPO rocks!) this amp will help you hear music in ways that will touch your heart and bring... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Adam Trombly
Great low end bass...more than the Sennheiser HDVD 800 I had...really! The sound is almost enough to work on the Audeze LCD3 O have. Read morePublished 12 months ago by brent
I had this amp for a short period of time because I wasn't impressed by it even after rolling in an opamp 627bp from Texas Instruments and tube rolling in some high quality tubes... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Audiobahn808
I can't comment on the performance of this amp because it failed to turn on. At first, I thought I must have connected something wrong. Read morePublished on January 9, 2014 by Daniel
I bought a pair of HE-500 headphones based on all the reviews, and thought an EF-5 would be a great way to drive them. Read morePublished on December 4, 2013 by Sean Herbeck
Well the first thing you notice out of the box is how beautiful the amp is and how well made. Well that should have been the case but sadly this wasn't the case for me. Read morePublished on July 25, 2013 by Andre
I am using HiFiMan HE500 headphones so it seemed logical to select the HiFiMan amplifier. However, since I'm pretty picky I had to test a few other amplifiers anyway. Read morePublished on July 12, 2013 by Donald Scarinci