Disclaimer: Beyerdynamic is a site advertiser and they sent us the A2 on loan. It will be returned to Germany right after this review is published. I have to apologize to Beyerdynamic for the review not being online sooner though.
The A2 Amp Inside Out
The A2 is a stylish, timeless looking, modern amplifier that was designed from zero. Beyerdynamic already had experience with the A1 and the A20 but they decided to start from scratch.
On the front you will find two single ended outputs, the input selector and the volume control. These single ended outputs can be used in parallel so that two people can enjoy the selected music at the same time but there do is an audible difference when two headphones are connected together. Especially if one of those is an orthodynamic.
On the back you’ll find both RCA inputs and one RCA output, next to the power plug. On, the bottom (no idea what they were thinking there) they put the gain selector (-4dB/0/+4dB) and the output impedance selector buttons (0-100Ohm and +100Ohm).
Together with the A2 you will receive a headphone stand that connects to the A2 amp and a remote control. There are no balanced in- or outputs on the new A2, and that’s a shame, though it’s not a necessity.
I like how the A2 looks, it’s an elegant design with smooth rounded housing edges without visible joins, screws or rivets made of massive, anodized aluminum. Another special eye-catcher is the transparent charcoal-colored glass panel, which is flush with the top surface, enabling you to look through the famous Beyerdynamic sound-wave logo into the interior of the A 2. LEDs illuminate the circuit board in a warm light, like that magic tube glow we all like. It’s no surprise to me that the A2 won a Red Dot Award for Product Design in 2014.
The A2 measures 216 x 235 x 55mm, it’s pretty small and it is practically invisible in my living room. It won’t draw any attention to it like the Violectric V281 does, and that’s a good thing. It weighs 2.23kilograms and power wise it delivers 170mW/250Ohm which isn’t too much on paper. Numbers don’t mean everything though. For the rest is a pretty well-kept secret what’s going on inside the A2…
Beyerdynamic describes the A2 as following: “With its powerful and lively response, the A2 brings out the best performances from all dynamic headphones and supplies an excellent reproduction quality that is as close as possible to the original sound: From highs with a brilliant resolution and absolutely authentic mid-range to a deep, natural bass. Amazingly noise-free operation and precise control can be enjoyed via all headphones that are connected, regardless of their impedance”. I have to say that for at about 95%, they are right.
A few key words come in to mind when listening to the excellent Beyerdynamic A2 amplifier: clarity, detail, transparency and smoothness.
This is one of the better transparent sounding amplifiers I’ve had the pleasure to listen to. There’s no particular focus on anything and while I don’t always like that, the A2 does it in a smooth and musical way. The A2 has a very good sound stage with a high level of clarity and air between instruments. There is a lot of detail from bass to treble without being to analytical. The typical reference tuning as I call it.
Bass is tight, fast and detailed. The A2 delivers very good bass but it could have even been better with some added layering and depth. The mids section is a pleasure to listen to, but don’t forget, these are Beyerdynamic mids. That means a lot of clarity, musicality, detail and air but with a little less body. The A2 shows the typical Beyerdynamic treble tuning which I can appreciate but it might be a bit much for the treble allergic listeners. Treble is lovely sparkling with a lot of extension and detail.
This Beyerdynamic amplifier produces a very good solid state sound. It’s fast and tight yet there always is a lot of detail and all that in a very musical way. The A2 has a more forward sounding sound signature, like the Beyerdynamic units often have. There’s no surprise there.
The recently reviewed Violectric V281 has more power and adds more to the sound than the A2 does. You won’t find the bass body and full bodied mids of the V281 in the A2. In return there’s more clarity, a bigger sound stage and more detail, all presented in a more forward way with a touch of typical Beyer brightness. When using the V281 in balanced mode, you get closer to the A2 sound signature but you’ll always hear more of the Vio’s characteristics.
It continues right after the click!