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Sony PHA-1 Headphone Amp

4.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
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  • USB Audio 96kHz/24bit compatible for high resolution music source
  • High quality Digital Audio Converter (DAC) to achieve maximum sampling rate at 96kHz/24bit quantization
  • PC jitter-free USB Audio with Asynchronous Transfer Mode
  • GAIN switch allows headphones of a wide range of impedances to be used
75 new from $299.29 5 used from $184.46

Technical Details

  • Brand Name: Sony
  • Model Number: PHA-1
  • Item Weight: 0.49 pounds

Product Description

The PHA-1 is an ideal portable audio accessory for users on the move. In addition to multi-audio player support, the PHA-1 allows direct digital transfer from iPod, iPhone and iPad devices, enhancing the sound quality for music enjoyment when users are browsing the internet or watching films. The PHA-1 also features high quality DAC and PC jitter-free USB Audio with Asynchronous Transfer Mode to support up to a 96 kHz/24 bit high resolution audio signal. Using high quality parts normally associated with high-end audio components to enhance sound quality, the PHA-1 has isolated analogue and digital circuits to minimise unnecessary internal electrical noise as well as an aluminium shielded case to prevent external interference noise. Additionally, the PHA-1 features custom integrated circuits which are designed for generating high quality sound and an Operational Amplifier that offers low distortion, low noise and a high slew rate for analogue signals. Compatible with many music players, the portable headphone amplifier has a battery life of approximately 10 hours in analogue mode and five hours when used in digital mode with iPod, iPhone or iPad. The PHA-1 also comes with a GAIN select switch which allows for headphones of a wide range of impedances to be used.

Product Information

Product Dimensions 7.2 x 4 x 3.4 inches
Item Weight 7.8 ounces
Shipping Weight 7.7 ounces
ASIN B00931SFZO
Item model number PHA-1
Customer Reviews
4.4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
Best Sellers Rank #170 in Electronics > Accessories & Supplies > Audio & Video Accessories > Headphone Accessories > Amps
Date first available at Amazon.com October 4, 2012

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Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here

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Customer Questions & Answers

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By -dm / FL

I started with a FiiO E6, then an E11 (the best of the three), then the E12 Mont Blanc (the worst). They all just boosted the signal coming out of the iPhone.
My current headphones are Grado RS1i's (up from SR225i), which sound real sweet on their own and don't really NEED an external amp. So much for needs. What I wanted was to bring out all that the Grado's had to offer, without having to rob a bank. That said, the other problem was the new Apple Lightning connector. Worldwide there are very few direct cable connection options, especially with the Lightning.

Enter the SONY PHA-1. It's made to work with the iPhone, including the iPhone 5. It can be used as a straight amp or better yet to bypass the internal Apple DAC/AMP by using the Lightning connection (out) to the PHA-1 USB (in) - one cable, no adapters. I'm using a Lightning to USB Digital Short Cable by VentureCraft, but Apple sells a similar less expensive one that I can confirm works just fine.

So how does it sound? In one word >DYNOMITE!
When you first plug in and go to music, sound comes out of the phone. Then you turn on the PHA-1, the volume bar on the phone disappears, and the sound flows out of the SONY and you instantly know you've struck gold. I'm not a die-hard Audiophile, and will spare you all the flowery audio speak. Anyone with two working ears will instantly hear the soundstage open up, the L/R separation expand, the overall dynamic range sonically improve, and the low end gain significant punch. Overall maybe the difference between being twenty rows back and right up onstage with the musicians.

Odds & ends - SONY has an unusual rubber strap (4) to hold your device to their unit as opposed to giant rubber bands.
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Okay, I'm not gonna go into a ton of detail. I just don't think I'm quite the right person for that. I have an AKG Q701 65Ohm, a Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 250Ohm and a few other headphones, but these two headphones really demand an amp to really shine their best. Your basic computer, laptop, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Zune, or whatever just can't drive any truly decent pair of headphones. You're limited to 32-35Ohms. So you obviously need an amp that has enough umpfff to drive something of quality.
I had a FiiO E11, which did a good job at driving the Q701, and even helped boost the bass some. The only thing is, is the headphone jack and input jack isn't well made and is easily broken. The battery life wasn't the best, and I could only get maybe 3-4 hours on constant use. I then bought an AstroAmp hoping that would adequately drive both headphones. Well, it kinda works, but just not good enough. I still need to pretty much max the volume if I really want to hear some thump or enjoy TV/movies.
I'd started looking at the FiiO E7 or E14, but I really want something like the Fostec HP1, but who really can afford to fork over nearly $700 just for a headphone amp without their partners/wives or whomever complaining? I certainly can't. But when I first heard about the Sony HPA1, I thought that it'd be a good compromise with price. It's half way between the Fostec and the FiiO E14. With a price tag of $400 can still be a hard sell, but it is worth it.

The HPA1 looks very well made with an all metal housing. The on/off volume knob is very sturdy and feels solid like it'll last. It also has two arms that extend out and covers the knob and jacks protecting them. So you can't accidentally jar or hit, or bang the knob, which is a boon.
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What a beautiful sounding AMP/DAC , much better detail and stereo separation than my more expensive portable amplifier.
Tonally wise , just right , sweet highs , MIDS and low ,tight and control bass
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This is a GREAT "portable" dac/amp. There are better sounding dac/amp (HiFi-M8 and HP-P1), but neither is as portable. Great Sony build.

My only major issue is with the power cable. The plug looks to be proprietary. I am a big fan of Sony, but don't understand why they continue to try to gain every advantage over the consumer. This is one of many reasons that Sony continues to lose market share. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
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Pair this with Spotify and good portable headphones (ie: B&O earset 3i or Sony EX1000) and you have audio nirvana wherever you go, enjoying your music with clear and precise sound.
It will also work very well with hard-to-drive headphones like the Sennheiser HD800, being able to amplify them to very loud volume levels without distortion, just as if it were a dedicated home-headphone amp.
On the battery side, I have used it to power B&O 3i and HD800 for more than 3hrs without reaching dead battery. Cannot state yet its full capacity.
Its design permits to fit an iPhone4 or 5 without a problem. You just have to get the iPhone5 connectors elsewhere.
I can compare it with the GoDap 4.0 which also has digital out and prefer the sony unit because it has a more powerful amplifier and feels more solid-built.
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This is my first purchase of a Headphone Amp/DAC, and for the price, I think it is a great offering. Music sounds better. With this device you'll notice richer hues and more defined, varied and luxurious textures. Music becomes deeper and more fulfilling - provided you use headphones which justify this device. For a cost effective unit, the Sony PHA-1 brings a lot to the party.
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