A New Level In Our Understanding
Most headphone amplifiers use standard IC Opamps in their designs. Such opamps are very cheap and easy to apply, however they are inferior (learn more). This is because they are not tailored for a particular audio circuitry, and they contain many low quality and unnecessary components (learn more) which degrade audio signals.
Three years ago we developed the HA-160 headphone amplifier. Instead of using standard IC opamps on the signal path, we designed tailor made circuitry using high quality discrete components. Because of this, we were able to reduce components on the signal path to optimise its operation. It offered higher resolution and superior dynamics to any IC based design, and yet presented a mid range intonation that many thought only possible from top-tier tube amps. It was good, like a properly designed solid state should, and many in the industry saw it as a benchmark.
Instead of celebrating and introducing newer versions each year with small refinements, we have been studying and developing circuitries that can realise more of our ideals. Now, our dream of an even more idealistic circuitry, with even less components on the signal path is realised. And it sounds more beautiful than any of us could have conceptualised at the beginning of this project. We named this new headphone amp Soloist!
The New FET Input Stage
The input stage of the Soloist is a symmetrical current feedback circuit with only 21 components on its signal path (compare that to a typical IC Opamp of over 50). It's signal path is so short and with so little blockage on it, that it can achieve amazing sound. Also because we only had to select and match 21 components, the Soloist sounds absolutely amazing