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Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC

B&H # SOPHA1 MFR # PHA-1
Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC

Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC Front View Back View

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Product Highlights

  • 24-Bit/96kHz DAC
  • Built-In Rechargeable Battery
  • 10-Hours of Analog Source Use
  • 5-Hours of Digital Source Use
  • 1x 1/8" Stereo Mini Jack Input
  • 1x Micro-USB Input
  • 1x Dedicated iOS Device Digital Input
  • 1x 1/8" Stereo Ouptut Jack
  • Gain Control Knob
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You Pay: $349.99

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The Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC can be used for portable audio playback from analog and digital audio sources such as compatible computers or iOS devices. It has a built-in digital to analog converter with asynchronous digital transfer to reduce jitter. It supports sampling frequencies up to 24-bit/96kHz. The PHA-1 has a micro-USB input for use with compatible computers as well as a dedicated digital input for iOS devices. It also supports analog audio sources via its 1/8" stereo mini jack input.

The amplifier comes with a built-in rechargeable battery that provides up to 10-hours of playback when in use with an analog audio source and up to 5-hours of playback with a digital source. Its gain switch provides compatibility with a range of headphones ranging from 8 to 600 ohms. The unit's analog and digital circuits are isolated and housed in an aluminum-shielded case to reduce electrical noise.

Inputs 1x 1/8" (3.5 mm) Stereo Mini Jack
1x Micro-USB Type B
1x iOS Device Connector
Audio Output 1x 1/8" (3.5 mm) 3-Pole Stereo Mini Jack
Frequency Range Audio In: 10 Hz to 100 kHz (Distortion 0.01% or less @ 1 kHz)
Sampling Frequencies USB Input: 24-bit/96 kHz (maximum)
Impedance 8 to 600 Ω
Maximum Input Audio In: 1 Vrms
Maximum Output 175 mW + 175 mW (8 Ω, 10 % distortion, approximate, with built-in battery)
26 mW + 26 mW (300 Ω, 10 % distortion, approximate, with built-in battery)
Power Source Built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery
USB power (from PC)
Battery Life Audio In: 10-hours (approximate)
Digital In: 5 hours (approximate)
Charging Time: 4.5-hours (approximate)
Operating Temperature 32 to 104°F (0 to 40°C)
Charging Temperature 41 to 95°F (5 to 35°C)
Voltage Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery: DC 3.7 V
USB Power: 5 V
Compatibility Windows 7:
Starter (SP1 or later)
Home Basic (SP1 or later)
Home Premium (SP1 or later)
Professional (SP1 or later)
Ultimate (SP1 or later)

Windows Vista
Home Basic (SP2 or later)
Home Premium (SP2 or later)
Business (SP2 or later)
Ultimate (SP2 or later)

Windows XP
Home Edition (SP3 or later)
Professional (SP3 or later)
Media Center Edition 2004 (SP3 or later)
Media Center Edition 2005(SP3 or later)

Mac OS X (10.5.8 or later)
CPU: Pentium II 266 MHz or better
USB port (USB 2.0 Full Speed)

Note: Unit is not guaranteed to work with the below:
With all or home built computers
With operating systems that are personally upgraded
With multiple operating systems simultaneously
With power-saving functions such as system suspend, sleep, or hibernation on any computer.
Dimensions (W x H x D) 2.6 x 1.0 x 5.1" (6.7 × 2.6 × 13.0 cm) (approximate)
Weight 8 oz (220 g) (approximate)
Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC
  • 30-Pin to USB Cable
  • Walkman Audio Cable
  • Micro-USB Cable
  • Stereo Mini Cable
  • 4 x Silicone Belts
  • Protection Sheet
  • Limited 1-Year Warranty
  • REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

    by PowerReviews
    SonyPHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC
     
    4.3

    (based on 3 reviews)

    Ratings Distribution

    • 5 Stars

       

      (1)

    • 4 Stars

       

      (2)

    • 3 Stars

       

      (0)

    • 2 Stars

       

      (0)

    • 1 Stars

       

      (0)

    100%

    of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

    Pros

      Cons

        Best Uses

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No (3)

          Reviewed by 3 customers

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          Displaying reviews 1-3

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          (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          A Nice Portable Amplifier

          By WindView

          from San Jose, CA

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Good sound quality
          • Sturdy build

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Computer Sound Card
            • Headphone Amplifier

            Comments about Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC:

            Sony PHA-1 has reasonably good quality sound, it is nice that it can take USB digital input. The only drawback to me is that it doesn't provide the user with the option to bypass its internal amplification circuitry and act as a straight DAC, but otherwise it's a good product.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            Share this review

            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Great for Portable Audio Enthusiasts

            By NS

            from Astoria, NY

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Audiophile Sound
            • Build Quality
            • Trusted brand

            Cons

            • Purported Battery Life

            Best Uses

              Comments about Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC:

              This is Sony's first foray into the niche market of portable headphone DAC/amps. I use this with a 4th generation iPod Touch and various full sized headphones, my current main headphones being the Ultrasone Signature Pro. I own other portable amps (ALO Audio Rx MkII and Fiio E11) but this is my first DAC.

              The build quality of the unit is great and I personally find its utilitarian design to be appealing. It's admittedly quite thick especially once it's stacked with the iPod, but I guess for a DAC/amp combo it needs to be. The straps that hold the player in place work very well (I think this is an advantage over the Fostex HP-P1, for those of you who are debating between the PHA-1 and HP-P1).

              As far as sound, I do notice a difference in the presentation of detail when running the iPod through the PHA-1's DAC vs. using a line-out cable into the amp's analog input. The PHA-1 easily drives my Signature Pros and other more demanding headphones like my HD650s. The bass is tight (not boomy), and the mids and highs come through well. Overall I'm happy with the sound, and knowing that this is is a "complete package" with a DAC + amp is satisfying. I don't think that I will need another upgrade to my portable rig for quite some time to come.

              Just docking one star for the purported battery life (Sony claims only 5 hours during DAC mode) and the fact that this is a niche product and the value you get out of it is very subjective and will depend on how discerning your ears are.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              A Great DAC/AMP

              By -dm / FL

              from Central FL

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Pleanty Of Clean Power
              • Works With Iphone 5

              Cons

              • none

              Best Uses

                Comments about Sony PHA-1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC:

                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. I was leery at first, but have come to appreciate their simple genius.

                There are two thin narrow rubber strips that run the length of the top. They do a wonderful job of avoiding any slipping/shifting of one unit on top of the other.

                Lastly if I HAD to nit-pick, it would be the silver metal protection brackets on the front. They limit access to the volume knob. That's the bad news, the good news is four screws will remove them.

                Enough said. It's a great combo for any smart-phone / iPod / iPad etc. It's not cheap, but you get what you pay for and the SONY PHA-1 is worth every nickel and then some.

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                • No

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                Batteries & Power

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                Always keep spare batteries or a power supply handy so you won't get caught without power.

                Xuma - Portable Power Pack (6000 mAh)
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