Home  |  Audio Reviews  Audiophile Shows Partner Mags  News     




September 2017
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Best Audiophile Product Of 2017 Blue Note Award
Best Of 2017 Blue Note Equipment Awards

Pass Laboratories HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier
Price: $3500
Click here to read the complete review.


  It took a while, but Pass Labs is finally selling a headphone amplifier. One can only guess why Pass hasn't introduced one until now. I doubt it is because they felt that there really was no reason to make one, as Pass Labs has a reputation of communication with their customer base, and I can't imagine them not being aware of the fact that many of their customers are headphone devotees. So, perhaps Pass Labs didn't want to introduce a headphone amplifier until they got it right; that is, wanted to wait until there were sufficient models on the market to find which design parameters they would pursue, along which what features they would make available.

And so, here we have it, the Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amplifier, which Pass Labs claims: "Like the XP preamplifiers, the HPA-1 is the result of great attention to detail". There isn't much to go on that vague claim, other than to correctly assume that the HPA-1 has been designed as a power amplifier rather than a headphone amplifier. Therefore, it can drive headphones with a very low impedance, such as some planar models. This unit is built more along the lines of a two-input preamplifier than most headphone amplifiers on the market. As you'd expect, this is not just any preamplifier, but a Pass Labs preamplifier.




Even before the Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amplifier was broken in it revealed itself to be a superb component. It might sound like I'm overstating this, but the HPA-1`s volume control moved as if its interior was lined with silk, with just enough resistance for to make fine adjustments in level. Using a volume control with this type of liquid action is one of the simple pleasures of using a high-end component, and the Alps dual potentiometer that Pass Labs uses for this unit is a wise design choice.



There are some who are going to be quick to point out that the Pass Labs HPA-1 is a solid-state unit, and because they might claim there will be limitations to its sound in the areas of "sweetness" and "naturalness". I'm sure if I delve into the body of work that Nelson Pass has written on the subject I'm sure I'll eventually come across his many treatises where he discusses how he's discovered how to get his solid-state components to exhibit the qualities of tube units without any of the sonic disadvantages that come with it, and therefore construct a unit that is neither solid-state sounding nor tube sounding. Pass Labs isn't the only one these days designing components that don't exhibit the stereotypical sound of their innards. To me, Pass Labs is one of the leaders in this field. And so, the Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amp doesn't sound like a typical solid-state unit, nor does Pass Labs deliberately voice the HPA-1 to sound like a tube unit. It just sounds like a great headphone amp. Period.


Click here to read the complete review.


    <--- Previous    

    Next --->    



Previous Annual Blue Note Awards

Best Audiophile Product Of 2017 Blue Note Award
Product of the Year Awards 2017
, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, and 2001.













































Quick Links

Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews


Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews


Enjoy the Music.TV


Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles

Show Reports
Pacific Audio Fest 2023 Report
T.H.E. Show 2023 Report
HIGH END Munich 2023
AXPONA 2023 Show Report
Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2023
CanJam Singapore 2023 Report
Florida Intl. Audio Expo 2023
Capital Audiofest Show 2022
KL International AV Show 2022
Toronto Audiofest Show 2022
CanJam SoCal 2022 Show Report
...More Show Reports


Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty


Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information


Partner Print Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HiFi Media
Sound Practices
The Absolute Sound
VALVE Magazine


For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics


Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!




Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us


All contents copyright©  1995 - 2023  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.