In this review we take a close look at the Auris Audio HA2-SF tube amplifier, selling for $2,499 USD.
Disclaimer: Auris Audio is not related to Headfonia in any way. The HA2-SF was sent to me to be featured on Headfonia.com.
Auris Audio is a Serbian brand that mainly builds HiFi tube amplifiers and headphone amps but they also produce speakers and even turntables. Their signature design always involves real wooden accents. Auris Audio was formed in 2013 with a mission to fulfil the desires of the most demanding audiophiles. Sonically and visually.
Their team of in-house engineers all have high experience in the pro-audio field and in designing audio equipment. According to their website, they all work very closely together when they approach a new project. Every single one of their products is hand-made and using the best possible components for the price. They give a lot of attention to tubes, capacitors, transformers and connectors. Many of which they get custom made to meet their expectations.
Every new product of theirs goes through a series of strict tests, to ensure they are exactly what their customers want. All stages of assembly have their own quality control sections, just like it should be. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a dead unit, and Auris makes sure nothing faulty goes out their door.
We have covered all of Auris’ headphone amplifiers in the past. I suggest you read up on the HA2-SE, the Headonia, Nirvana and Euterpe review to get a full picture of their products. Today we are looking at Auris’ updated HA2-SE tube amplifier – the HA2-SF!
The Auris Audio HA2-SF
The Auris Audio HA2-SF is the successor of the award winning HA2-SE, and it is selling for $2,499 USD. The Original HA2-SE, when it was released back in 2017, was selling for €1.590 Euro, so that’s quite the price increase compared to the original. If you haven’t read the HA2-SE review yet, I suggest reading up on that one first:
When I asked Auris about the new name designation, I was told that F comes after E, so that’s that explained. You can find the dedicated HA2-SF web page right here: https://www.aurisaudio.rs/index.php/products/headphone-amplifiers/13-main-pages/products/headphone-amplifiers/36-ha-2sf. You can buy the HA2-SF here: https://www.aurisaudio.shop/collections/headphone-amps/products/ha2-sf.
The original HA2-SE was a really good amplifier and it put Auris Audio on the map in our Head-Fi world. While the HA2-SE was a really good amp and one of their best selling products, Auris felt they could make it even better and so they stopped producing it late in 2019. The new HA2-SF has multiple improvements over the HA2-SE design, as well as a number of new features which we will get to in the next chapter.
It’s very easy to spot some of the new things that Auris has integrated in the HA2-SF, with the most obvious one being a balanced input and output. Then there are the lovely VU meters on the front, as well as the gain switch on the back.
The HA2-SF can drive as good as all headphones on the market and because of the gain switch option, the VU meters now more easily dance around no matter what headphone you connect to it. With the Nirvana this is one of the downsides as it’s so powerful that the meters only move with really hard to drive headphones, or when you’re deaf and up the volume way too much. It’s nice to see that Auris listened to the market feedback, and know we have lovely moving VU meters on the front for most of the headphones you hook up to it in low gain.
New also is that the HA2-SF now sports a “pre out” function (RCA), allowing you to use the amp in your home setup. The power supply unit is external and is quite huge. Take that into account as you’ll need to “hide” it somewhere. The remote control I think is optional but I tend to use it a lot, so I’d recommend getting it.
The original HA2-SE used four PL95 or EL95 power tubes together with an ECC82 input tube. The new Auris Audio HA2-SF has completely abandoned that track and it is now using four ECC99 power tubes and a single input tube ECC82 tube (like in the Nirvana). The stock tubes are all JJ Electronic made/branded.
The ECC99 is a modern twin triode. The first 9 should indicate a B7G base according to the classical naming convention but here the valve is on a B9A base. So classically it would have been an ECC89. The design use of the ECC99 is as driver for power valves or as an output valve in headphone amplifiers etc. The anode dissipation is 3.5 Watts and the control grids have heat sink fins on the tops of the support rods. At 800 mA the heating power is substantial. You will mostly find these tubes from JJ Electronic and they are very affordable with prices around $/€ 20 a piece. I don’t really recommend tube rolling these, as the impact on sound will be minimal.
When tube rolling, the most impact will come from swapping out the ECC82 input tube. The ECC82 is a famous tube and it is the equivalent to the 12AU7, B329, CV491, E2163 and E812CC. The more famous and rare ECC82 tubes can set you back quite a lot when you want to buy them NOS (New old Stock). If you’re not really into tubes or don’t know much about these exact tube types, then I really advise you to read up on them if you’re planning to tube roll the HA2-SF. Luckily there is a lot of information available on these tube on the web, and you can spend days reading up on reviews, comparisons, prices, etc.
I have tried many different input tubes but I have to admit that the stock tube combination with the newly built JJ ECC82 is pretty good. Unfortunately my favorite CV491 tube, I was using in the Nirvana has gone bad/noisy, and now I most of the time end up using a 12AU7 RCA clear top or a Westinghouse branded black plate 12AU7. These tubes sweeten out the sharpness of the JJ tube and they make the HA2-SF sound more like a typical tube sound from the good old days. That being said, the new HA2-SF sounds very different to the original HA2-SE, but more on that later.
The article on the HA2-SF continues on the second page. Click here or use the jumps below.