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Sony PHA-2

Portable headphone amplifier/USB DAC

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  • Sony PHA-2

    Front

  • Sony PHA-2

    Headphone output, line-level input/output, volume control

  • Sony PHA-2

    Interior component view

  • Sony PHA-2

    Interior component view

  • Sony PHA-2

    Supplied stereo miniplug cable

  • Sony PHA-2

    Supplied USB adapter cable (mini Type B for hi-res Walkman connections)

  • Sony PHA-2

    Supplied USB adapter cable (Type A to micro Type B)

  • Sony PHA-2

    USB connections

Item #: 158PHA2
 
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$599.99
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Our take on the Sony PHA-2

by Dave Bar
Sony

Why buy a headphone amp?

High-performance headphones need high-quality amplification to perform up to their full potential. If you connect them directly to the headphone jack on your computer, iPod®, or stereo receiver, you may be disappointed. A separate headphone amplifier sends a stronger, cleaner signal to your headphones.


High-res audio

A portable high-res powerhouse

Smartphones and portable music players are pretty amazing devices, but sometimes the sound quality of their headphone outputs can leave you flat. That's because cost constraints and power consumption issues usually rule out the use of high-performance headphone circuitry. That's where the Sony PHA-2 headphone amplifier and digital-to-analog converter comes in.

Small enough to take almost anywhere, it connects between your music player's or computer's headphone jack or digital output and your headphones to deliver the serious punch and clarity your tunes deserve. And for high-res music lovers, the PHA-2 can even decode PCM digital audio signals up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution and DSD audio sources at 2.8MHz / 5.6MHz, so you can enjoy better-than-CD audio quality. This potent little headphone amplifier's rechargeable battery supplies the power you need to pump out bigger, bolder sound. You'll immediately experience greater bass extension and low-frequency impact, along with more dynamic, detailed sound.

Versatile connectivity and sturdy construction

Sony PHA-2 headphone amp/DAC

Sony's rugged PHA-2 features strong alloy bumpers to protect the volume knob and headphone connector.

The PHA-2 works with a wide array of devices. Its three separate USB ports give you a direct digital connection for your iPod®/iPhone®/iPad®, hi-res Walkman®, and a PC or Mac®. This allows the Sony to bypass the DAC in your player or computer, and decode your tunes with superior audiophile-quality precision. The PHA-2 also offers an analog input for connecting most MP3 players, smartphones and other audio devices, as well as a line output for connecting to a receiver or self-powered speakers.

Built like a Swiss watch, this Sony's rugged aluminum enclosure protects the presicion circuitry inside from outside interference and impacts. Strong alloy bumpers also help protect the volume knob and headphone connector. Plus, recessed control switches reduce the chance of accidental access during playback.


Need headphones? Looking for great-sounding headphones for this headphone amp/DAC? Check out our selection.

Highlights:

  • battery-powered portable headphone amplifier with built-in USB DAC
  • decodes PCM digital audio sources up to 24-bit/192kHz
  • decodes Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files at 2.8MHz or 5.6MHz resolution
  • asynchronous USB data transfer for reduced timing jitter and better sound
  • TI PCM1795 32-bit/192kHz DAC for precise playback of digital music files
  • analog volume knob provides fine level adjustments without degrading audio quality
  • gain select switch provides compatibility for a wide range of headphones and earphones
  • three USB ports:
    • micro type-B input for charging & computer connection (adapter cable included)
    • mini type-B input for Sony Walkman™ (adapter cable included)
    • standard type-A input for iPod®/iPhone®/iPad® devices (these devices must use their own respective cables, not included)
  • combination minijack audio input/line-level output for connecting MP3 players, smartphones and other audio devices or driving an external amp or powered speakers
  • built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery provides up to 6.5 hours of playback with USB digital source (up to 17 hours when connected to analog stereo input)
  • durable aluminum body with alloy bumpers to protect volume control and headphone jack
  • recommended headphone impedance: 8-600 ohms
  • distortion: less than 0.01% (1kHz)
  • frequency range: 10-100,000 Hz (analog audio input)
  • 2-3/4"W x 5-5/8"H x 1-3/16"D
  • weight: 9.52 oz.
  • warranty: 1 year parts, 90 days labor
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Quick impressions from the Lab

Comment by Chris Advisor,

Don't spend all of your money on headphones

Written by Chris, Advisor, on 4/15/2014 10:40:00 AM

In the past couple of years, headphone demos have been plentiful here at Crutchfield. The thing I've been most surprised by is the difference a good quality DAC (digital-to-analog converter) and/or headphone amp can make, even on the least expensive headphones. A recent demo with the Sony PHA-2 might be the best example of that yet.

I got to listen to this unit connected to some "give-away" headphones we pulled out of a box at a recent training. The trainer's nicer headphones were tied up in another demo. In order to get listening time with all of the gear he brought, we improvised with an old pair of Sony MDR-XD100 headphones (retail price: $20).

The source material was high-res audio on a Mac®, which was connected to the PHA-2 via a USB cable. Our twenty-dollar headphones were plugged into the PHA-2.

I'm convinced after this demo, and others, that if I were spending $700-$800 on headphones, I'd split that budget and spend a good portion of it on a quality DAC/headphone amp such as this instead of dropping it all on the 'phones.

Maybe the coolest feature on this unit (if you're an Apple user) is that you can connect it directly to an iPhone® or and iPad®directly.

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