I picked up a new audio toy a few weeks back that I’m enjoying quite a bit. A few years ago, my friend Ray got me paying more attention to the world of headphones. Although I’ve got a fine stereo system at home, most of the time I have available to listen to music is while working, via a pair of headphones. After years of listening to the cruddy analog output of my laptops, I had had enough and decided it was time to pick up a headphone amplifier.
I decided I wanted something with a built-in DAC so I could run digital audio out of my computer to avoid the analog audio interference that laptops can be afflicted with. It turns out that I was ahead of the curve. As best I could tell, only two products under $500 fit the bill. The first was the Presonus Central Station, which is a very neat unit, but as it’s a pro audio piece, it’s a big 19″ 1U rack-mount unit. I couldn’t find any alternatives until I stumbled (literally) across the Audio-Technica AT-HA25D.
If you clicked through the links above, you presumably noticed that they aren’t in English. It turns out the AT-HA25D isn’t available in the US. I found it and purchased it through AudioCubes, which drop-ships such Asian-market coolios to us Americans from Japan. They also have a brand new retail store in NYC on 8th near Broadway – not too far from Washington Park.
The unit works as advertised, and I’ve been quite happy with every aspect of it! The blue glow is way cool. Now if only someone could get Vista to do digital audio out properly…