субота, 17 вересня 2016 р.

Cognac with tubey coloration

When I've got offer from my dealer to test something what sounded for me like abracadabra I've been in doubts. But name of device in Skype helped me quickly to catch 2 points:
1. unfamiliar brand; 2. absolutely new type of device for reviewing.

lars & ivan THA-8X? Hmmm... Why not when you don't have idea at all?

I like to write about new brand. And I like to do it extremely when the brand is absolutely unknown for me. You feel yourself like a brave explorer who steps on terra incognita. I really had no any idea even about lars & ivan brand name. Despite "lars & ivan" presented their first product on the market in 2000 (!).

Familiar feeling when you've fall in love with device from the first sight?
Modest exterior hides decent fascination in case with THA-8X.

Indeed I couldn't resist the temptation to connect it to my Home System. Now I can discuss about neutrality, transparency, resolution and the rest of voodoo terminology of old, bold and deaf audiophiles.

Now - seriously.

What are the main goals from THA-8X you may get???

Punch. I've heard huge difference on such tracks like "Killing Strangers" or "Tlon" (see list below). Sounds of various drums are much more punchy, thus I will drive to the next point. Control over headphones.

Improvement in conrol over the phones is without controversy.
THA-8X has in times better control compairing to outputs of iPod Nano (4th Generation) or RME Babyface or Meizu Pro 5. Forget about percents! I repeat - in times.

Who doesn't know what is Meizu Pro 5 - you may hide the smiles. This model of Meizu easily will tear to shreds at least 70% of specialized audio players on the market.

 I consider that neutrality/transparency is on good level, I could easily recognize difference between outputs of iPod and Babyface (iPod was prefferable than RME and Meizu got a gold medal).

Resolution. Much higher with HeadAmp. On such non-expensive headphones as Sennheiser PX 100-II (retail price about 55 USD) difference between WAV and mp3 files was huge. And not so much objective difference was on iPod's output. Only this parameter is enough to get a reason for purchasing of any good portable headamp. Also light warmth adds to the source a nice pseudo-analog coloration. Same musical material sounds more analog on HeadAmp's output compared to iPod Nano for example.

THA-8X works good with AudioQuest Nighthawk and HiFiMan HE1000. Radically different phones, right?
And in case with HE1000 I always had some spare juice in volume, maximal position what I've reached was 04:00. Please, don't mix it up - 04:00 a.m., not 04:00 p.m.!

Set of supplied items:

- owner's manual (you may download manual from site of manufacturer on the following languages:
English/Finland/Sweden/Hungary/Japan. A strange bundle of languages as for me. Where is Spanish? 2nd language on the planet, by the way.) 
- 2 mini-to-mini 3.5mm stereo interconnect cables of dissimilar length
- mini-USB to USB charger cable (only for charging)
- ribbed snap-on plastic cover for its back
- 4 white straps of 2 various diameters.

Quite rich set. But I should take from my dealer interconnect cable of Shure brand, type "male mini-jack - male mini-jack" with LOA 155 mm, you may see it on all photos.


Light construction, only 150 grams (or 5.3 oz). When you look on photos your expectation is heavier.

Presence of 2 inputs from opposite sides is sophisticated solution. First - you will not need longer cable. And second - when you fix audioplayer by stripes you don't need concenrate too much from which side you did it.
2 indicators.

Red on back panel: when device gets charging (on bottom panel). If light will extinguish - battery is full. 

Green on frontal panel: when device is ON.

Red on frontal panel: battery is empty.

Voltage gain is provided by 2 US-made sub-miniature valves of model JA6418 from Raytheon.

High quality sound bipolar-input dual OP-Amp, model MUSES 8820 from JRC are used as well as in many other high-end devices.

Despite on my expectations the body of THA-8X stayed cool at all time during test/review. 2 valves will not add even 1 degree of temperature, so you can be calm and dispose headamp in any place. So, dear smokers, you don't have chance to light up your cigars from THA-8X and you should use for it the green banknote with Benjamin Franklin as usually. Oops, sorry, it's disjecta membra from very another my story!  

Usage of valves in portable headamp isn't so rare solution, I may call at least 5 such models of various brands. But, as I remember, price tags are always heavier then here.

Output power: 180mW x 2 (16Ohm Load), 22mW x 2 (300Ohm Load)
Headphone impedance: 16Ohm ~ 300Ohm
Total harmonic (THD+N):    <1%
Signal to noise ratio: less or equal 80dB
Frequency response: 10Hz ~ 65KHz
Capacity/ Cell / Battery life: 1800mAh/ Lithium-ion Polymer/16-18hours
USB OR Micro USB charging port Micro USB: 300mm
3.5mm: 110mm
Size (LxWxD): (including height of knob) 125.6mm(L) x 78mm(W) x 16mm(D)
Weight:    150.5g

Price (on site of manufacturer): 380 USD.


your headphones have a great chance to get good portion of warm analog cognac old-school tubey sound and or you may fill up the second life in old portable player. Or get higher level of sound spurring to your smartphone by connection of THA-8X (in my case it was Meizu Pro 5, so called
"audiophile smartphone". This device has own good sound, but connection of THA-8X can launch it to the next level of sound).

And few words about name of review.
Finicky readers may ask - why is so strange name?

Now you will try to switch off all your knowledge regarding the audio gear and take a look on the photo above. What may regular man (non audiophilliac) say about this photo? Rhetorical question.
Cognac flask, neh? Сliché is still ruling by the world.

Home System

        Speakers: Audio Physic, model Avanti, first generation.
        Power Amp: T+A, model 1500.
        as Pre-Amp: AMR DP-777.
        as DAC: AMR DP-777.
        as 2nd DAC: RME Babyface (1st version).
        CD Player: T+A, model CD 1220 R.
        Vinyl Player: ELAC, model Miracord 50H.
        Phono preamp: Abbas Esoteric Audio (Ukraine), model "Treble Clef".
        Rack (audio furniture): DYI from Ikea tables, model Hemnes.
        Speakers Cable: Acoustic Revive SPC-Reference (bi-wiring).
        Component Cables: 1) Acoustic Revive, model RCA-1.0PA; 2) XLO Reference 2 1A.
        Power Cables: 1) Sound-YP, light version (Ukraine); 2) DYI cables made from polished soviet    military copper bus with German connectors; 3) Neotech NEP-3001 MK3 3x5.25 OCC/SPUPOCC hybrid power cable with Neotech NC-P303 OCC EU power plug Gold (on Power Amp).
        Headphones: HiFiMan HE-1000, Audeze LCD-X (recabled by DYI silver wires cable), AudioQuest NightHawk.
        Head Amp: hybrid version between “Hi-Dynamic” and “Hi-Power”, 5 Watts in class A on 16 Ohms, MOSFET-transistor output, Amp made by Peeves (Lugansk City, Ukraine).
        USB Cables: 1) WireWorld USB Audio cable Starlight Platinum (1 m).
                              2) Sound-YP (Ukraine), top model Master SE (1.35 m).
        Accessories: DYI footers under units, speakers and acoustic cable.
        PC Laptop: Acer Predator 15, model G9-591-7451 (RAM 32 Gb, CPU Intel ® Core (TM) i7-6700HQ 2.60 GHz, Windows 10 Home).
        Software: Process Lasso Pro, Fidelizer Pro, Bug Head Emperor (version 7.54).
        Sources of signal: iPod Nano (4th Generation), smartphone Meizu Pro 5.

Test compilation:
01. Rex tremendae (Mozart – Requiem KV 626 – Philippe Herreweghe – La Chapelle Royale – Collegium Vocale – 1996 – Harmonia Mundi)
02. Tuba mirum (Mozart – Requiem KV 626 – Philippe Herreweghe – La Chapelle Royale – Collegium Vocale – 1996 – Harmonia Mundi)
03. Con Te Partiro (Andrea Bocelli – Romanza (XRCD))
04. Luca Ballerini –  Fantasia op 49
05. Manha De Carnaval (Susannah McCorkle – Most Requested Songs – Concord)
06. Koni Priveredlivye (Vladimir Vysotsky – Izbrannoe (1974-75) – Melodiya)
07. Mercy Street (Peter Gabriel – So – Geffen Records)
08. Hotel California (Eagles – Hell Freezes Over – XRCD)
09. Tlon (Nils Petter Molvaer – Khmer – ECM)
10. Growing Up (Peter Gabriel – Up – Real World)
11. Marche au supplice (Berliner Philharmoniker · Herbert von Karajan – Berlioz – Symphonie fantastique · La Damnation de Faust – Danses – Deutsche Grammophone)
12. Carmen Fantaisie (Ruggiero Ricci – LSO – Pierino Gamba – Carmen Fantaisie – XRCD24)
13. Lucky (Molly Johnson - Lucky - A440 Entertainment)
14. Wherever I May Roam (Metallica – 1991 – Elektra)
15. The Sound of Perseverance (Death – The Sound of Perseverance – Nuclear Blast)
16. Killing Strangers (Marylin Manson – The Pale Emperor – Cooking Vinyl, Loma Vista Recordings).

And I kindly remind you - you may leave comments below. 

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