Beyer’s A20 Amp: Small Size – Big Sound

Disclaimer: The A20 amplifier was sent to me by Beyerdynamic (site advertiser) for review. I was supposed to keep it 3 weeks but I’ve easily had it for 6 months. So first of all a big thanks, and sorry, to Beyerdynamic for the delay!

Reflections

Beyerdynamic launched their more expensive A1 amp first before putting the A20 on the market. They also released the A200, a portable mini amp (an AK10 mod) a few weeks ago. I don’t think the A1 amplifier was very popular with audiophiles and I was quite surprised to see Beyer using A20 amps themselves at all their booths at the meets they visited.

As I have said on Headfonia before, the longer I am in this hobby, the more I like/appreciate the Beyerdynamic headphones with my favorites being the DT770, Custom One Pro and the T90. The first two I tend to use straight out of my DAP or with a portable amp (ALO/Cypher Labs/JDSLabs) but the high impedance T90 to my ears has always sounded best on an OTL tube amp like the cheap but great Bottlehead Crack for example. So seeing Beyer use this A20 as a standard amp for their full line-up got me very curious. And how would the A20 behave when used with other high impedance headphones like the Sennheiser HD650? And what about Orthodynamics headphones?

The last few months have been extremely busy and I just couldn’t find time at home to listen to the A20. I finally decided to smuggle it in to work where it could get a lot of air time. I tend to use the Cypher Labs Theorem at work lately, so I just took a 3.5mm to RCA cable with me so the Theorem can serve as the DAC et voilà: review time!

 

The A20 Unit

The A20, which is based on the A1 design, is developed for dynamic headphones from 30 to 600 ohm. It is a small solid state desktop amplifier using SMD Technology. Only measuring 164 x 212 x 55 mm it is leaving a small but heavy (1.64kg) footprint. It’s not the lightest unit around but the A20 first of all is a desktop amp and secondly it has an all-metal housing from brushed aluminum.

On the front, right next to the LED power button, you can find two (1/4’) in parallel connected headphone outs so you can connect 2 headphones at the same time. There is one really (good and quiet) smooth and light turning ALPS potentiometer so both headphone outs will get the same output level (however when you connect two headphones simultaneously you will hear the volume drop). On the back you have the RCA inputs and a pair of outputs. The input is directly wired to the output. That means no signal loss and you don’t need to power on the unit when using the output (to a power amp or to a pair of active loudspeakers)

The A20 has an impressive 100Ω headphone output and delivers 100mW@600Ω, 170mW@250Ω and 150mW@30Ω. These last numbers don’t impress but we all know it’s not just about the numbers.

I really like how it looks; it’s well designed, looks modern, elegant and doesn’t upset my girlfriend when I leave it in the living room near the couch. You can’t see any screws on the external surface either. It’s slick! Can it get any better? Well yes, it has to sound good, or even better: great!

 

Sound

Beyerdynamic says: “With the A 20 you will rediscover your dynamic headphones… The discrete output stage provides plenty of power even for high-impedance headphones while the dynamic, open and precise sound sets the A20 apart. The A20 supplies an impressively natural and transparent sound with excellent resolution and spatiality”. How could you not expect this to be a great sounding amplifier after having read that just now? Can it live up to the marketing talk?

The answer is easy and short: Yes it can. “Really?” you say, well yes I am very impressed with this amplifier. I did not expect it to sound this good. The A20 has a neutral balanced sound that may be is a tad tilting to the warm side, but only ever so slightly. This isn’t a warm sounding amplifier; it is very clear and fast sounding. Dynamics are very good and it overall is nicely musical sounding, managing to portray the details in the music as well. Great left-right separation too.

Bass is great. It is tight and fast with a good amount of body. Maybe even a little too much body for some or with some headphones but I found it just perfect, it doesn’t overpower the mids but it is very present. The mids section is where the A20 really shines: clear, smooth and musical mids with good body and lovely detail, what’s not to like? The treble section to me isn’t too bright but I can imagine it being a bit hot when using a treble liking headphone like the DT880 in example.

So is everything incredibly good then? Let’s be realistic, some things could be better. Sound stage and 3-dimensionality in example could be wider, deeper and better. There could be even more detail and air in the sound and there are amps with blacker back grounds on the market and there of course are more resolving amplifiers. But isn’t there always something better? The A20 is dead quiet till you turn the volume pot up 85% but you would be deaf by then.

Am I saying the amp is not good then? Au contraire my friends, the A20 overall sounds really good and it has an incredibly high toe tapping factor. It just carries you away with your music. I love it. If you’re not convinced, keep reading and do check out the conclusion below the headphone part.

Read more on the next page

Beyer’s A20 Amp: Small Size – Big Sound
4.2 (84.12%) 34 votes

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650.

130 Comments

  • Reply February 3, 2014

    Sasmit

    Hi Lieven, thanks for the great review. The output impedance is extraordinarily high.
    I suspect that it won’t work so well with other low impedance dynamics with more variability in their impedance curves.

    • Reply February 4, 2014

      L.

      Thank you. I am afraid it will be trial and error indeed.

      • Reply February 5, 2014

        Emil Chakalov

        it has no usb and that’s a deal breaker really, especially considering so many options for the money from the likes of Shiit, Burson etc.

        • Reply February 5, 2014

          L.

          Guys, this is an AMP not a combo. If you need a combo look elsewhere, it doesn’t mean the A20 is a deal breaker.

          • Reply February 5, 2014

            soundblast

            Again, for the money, why, when you can get a combo that’s just as good or better?
            Nice review and i like the amp, but big companies need to think ahead, not play catch up, just an opinion, sorry..

            • Reply February 5, 2014

              L.

              Sure you can have your opinion. Personally I am not a fan of combos at all

              • Reply February 5, 2014

                soundblast

                i wish i had the money to try new stuff..but have to think good yet good value too:)
                why is that you prefer separates?
                Does it sound more analogue like maybe?

                • Reply February 5, 2014

                  L.

                  I find separate components to have higher quality

                  • Reply February 5, 2014

                    soundblast

                    I guess you have a point

                  • Reply February 5, 2014

                    George Lai

                    I’m old school but the connecting of interconnect (!) wires adds to the charm of using separates. Like the old days of cleaning LPs to get ready to listen to scratchy songs. No instant gratification in those days.

                • Reply February 5, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  Separates are more flexible too. If you find an amp you really, really like – you hang onto it and then find a DAC that works well with it. Not an easy task sometimes, but when you get the right synergy you can almost hear through the wires to the original performance.

    • Reply February 4, 2014

      ohm image

      Low Ω dynamics tend not to be THAT hard to drive. But low Ω headphones like Final’s Pandora uses dual drivers, one balanced armature and one dynamic. That may present multiple problems for amps with high output impedances.

      Single driver dynamics may have problems in the low end and stifle some of the stereo image, but won’t be as hard on an amp as a multiple balanced armature earphone. In Beyer’s defence, most of Beyer’s headphones are at least 32Ω, so an output of ±2 4Ω or so should present nearly no load to the amp.

      I note from the headfi thread that the A20 has an output impedance of 100Ω. If so, it would preclude perfect use for all but 800Ω headphones. I don’t buy that. Has it been measured anywhere?

      • Reply February 4, 2014

        dalethorn

        I wasn’t aware of Beyerdynamic’s orientation toward high output impedances until about 2 years ago when someone mentioned that they have a long history of that with their early headphones and audiometry. Isn’t Beyerdynamic one of the co’s that do free-field measuring of their headphones, like Sennheiser does?

  • Reply February 4, 2014

    Rūdolfs Putniņš

    Well, surface mount technology doesn’t tell us anything about the amp, does it? However I’m very glad that many manufacturers are going this route, especially where no large signal is involved.

    I did take a look at the nudies of the said amp and it looks like a decent enough layout. Input stage has opamps and output is discrete. There is a protection relay for the output. What I didn’t like were the 100 Ohm resistors in the output. Luckily they are easily removable and replaceable by pieces of wire. I don’t think it will affect the stability of the amp. Power supply is switch mode which is fine by me, if done correctly.

  • Reply February 4, 2014

    Lower Listening

    Hey Lieven…for the price difference (1k sterling vs 600) is the burson ConductorSL much better in your opinion with the lcd-2 over the violectric. My choice is ditch my Mdac and SPL auditor for the conductor OR keep the mdac and pair with the v200. A review of the new SPL phonitor 2 could be interesting also…and very photogenic 😉

    • Reply February 4, 2014

      L.

      This is an A20 review but ok… Violectric is warmer and slower, Burson is more aggressive and faster.

  • Reply February 4, 2014

    ohm image

    I’m very glad to see manufacturers of home equipment pay attention to earphone listeners, too. In the end, it aids the noise/balance performance of sensitive headphones. Great review.

    • Reply February 4, 2014

      L.

      Thanks Nathan

  • Reply February 4, 2014

    Austin Morrow

    That thing is a beauty. I can picture that thing looking stunning next to a MacBook Pro and a Halide Design DAC HD or something simple…

    • Reply February 4, 2014

      L.

      And it sounds good Austin!

  • Reply February 4, 2014

    netmask254

    Nice review and pretty amp! I just sold out my HD650 (since it doesn’t sound as good as T90 directly from my HP-A8, while Bottlehead crack is too big to me), after reading this review I’m considering buy it back 🙂

    • Reply February 4, 2014

      L.

      Never ever sell a HD650, one of the best headphones ever made 😉

  • Reply February 4, 2014

    Jeff

    I had a Burson amp next to me when I tried this amp out with my HD650 and I had the impression that it was a great amp; fast, transparent, and so on, but I didn’t like how it sounded with the 650. It made it a bit too sparkly for me in the highs. With the Beyer headphones it seemed pretty good. It’s probably because of preferences. I just don’t enjoy the 650s with amps that messes with the so called “Sennheiser veil.” I tell people who complain or wish to rid of the veil to get a different headphone. For Beyer fans, this amp or a Burson amp will be the last thing they’ll need.

    • Reply February 4, 2014

      L.

      I am still using the A20 with the HD650 daily at work, I don’t mind the treble at all, it’s very nice actually. But that’s preference of course

      • Reply February 4, 2014

        Jeff

        I wish I could buy the Burson and a pair of Beyers but my wallet died too many times in recent times. As soon as my wallet recovers, I’ll look into either A20+Beyer headphone or Burson + Beyer headphones. What is a better match do you think? Burson or the A20 for Beyer headphones?

        • Reply February 4, 2014

          L.

          Just beyer I would go for the A20 but the Burson can do much more. I do think that is the wiser choice

  • Reply February 8, 2014

    rosgr63

    Nice review L, as always.

    Has anyone tried the T1 with it?

    • Reply February 9, 2014

      admiralwiem

      Ah yes with T1. I’m waiting for someone to reply this question too.

      • Reply February 9, 2014

        L.

        If someone has any experience, please do post

    • Reply February 9, 2014

      L.

      Thank You my friend. I am not a fan of the T1 and I have only tried it for 5 minutes on the A20 at a meet. But as I don’t like the T1 sound signature, I didn’t like it on the A20 but that is me not liking the T1 and doesn’t mean anything about the combination

      • Reply February 9, 2014

        rosgr63

        I know.
        Remember the re cabled T1 with a quality Copper cable is a different animal all together.

        • Reply February 9, 2014

          L.

          You should come over so I can have a listen!

          • Reply February 9, 2014

            rosgr63

            Quite the opposite!
            You are much younger and wiser!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Reply February 10, 2014

      Mike

      I tried it with the T1, out of Violectric’s V800 DAC. Best T1 set up I’ve heard. Not sure if it was the amp or the DAC but certainly both played a part.

      • Reply February 11, 2014

        rosgr63

        Selamat Sore Mike,
        When I ordered my Zeus recabled T1 I told Lieven I might be making a big mistake, not my first one, but one of many.
        I was pleasantly surprised how well it matched my SET amp.
        It sounded noisy out of one of my OTLs, I’ll check it again.

  • Reply March 19, 2014

    Sergio Mejia

    After many questions (and thanks for the comments) and several headphones amplifiers analisar I decided for HD650 headphones with amplifier “PanAm” or “Beyerdynamic A20”. Two simple questions: 1. Do you think that is a good combination? 2. What “DAC” you, they would recommend me to be economical, if it is really necessary.

    • Reply March 19, 2014

      L.

      I would go for the A20 and not the tubes. You could just use a simple Fiio E10 as DAC or the dacport LX in example

      • Reply March 19, 2014

        Sergio Mejia

        Thanks L. another question, What is the reason why we recommend using a DAC device (eg Fiio E10) in an amplifier as the A20 which has included the DAC?

        • Reply March 19, 2014

          Dave Ulrich

          The a20 doesn’t have a built-in DAC. Could you be thinking of the a200p?

          • Reply March 19, 2014

            Sergio Mejia

            is correct, I was confused with the amplifier “PanAm”.

            But what is the reason for the PanAm Dac amplifier if you have connected, according to some references, through a dac to Ipod, for example

            • Reply March 20, 2014

              L.

              I have no idea what you mean good sir

              • Reply March 20, 2014

                Sergio Mejia

                Sorry for my English. The question is, why is it necessary to use a dac in an amplifier that has it built? For example the amplifier PanAm.

                If I buy the A20 amplifier and buy separate amp + dac for the use of more portable way to accompany the mobile phone, does the amp + dac can also be used alone as a DAC when connected via the A20?

                • Reply March 20, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  Probably yes. Most DAC-plus-amps have a LineOut that can connect to a separate amp. You really need to get a one-on-one audio consultation, since you can’t take a lot of unconnected advice and piece it into a seamless plan. That’s going to cause problems.

                  • Reply March 20, 2014

                    Sergio Mejia

                    understand and you’re right, but I’m in Colombia and in my country there is no such market or consultations and so I look for ways to make purchases the most accurate possible.

                    • March 20, 2014

                      dalethorn

                      Consultations come from people like you, and like me. I’ve sent audio gear to several S.A. countries, so I imagine there are a lot of experts there.

            • Reply March 20, 2014

              dalethorn

              What do you have now, and what change are you looking to make?

  • Reply April 15, 2014

    rich

    Hi Lieven. Maybe you or Mike may like to explore and review the new Beyerdynamics A2 as a follow up to your excellent and well written article here.

    • Reply April 15, 2014

      L.

      Thanks Rich. It is on my list indeed.

  • Reply May 5, 2014

    Juan David

    hi, between the bottlehead crack and the a20, which one would be better for the sennheiser hd650? right now I have an aune t1(have you tried it?), and would like to upgrade it, thanks.

    • Reply May 5, 2014

      L.

      Both excellent amps for the HD650. We have never tried the Aune, sorry.

      Crack: tube sound & A20: fast ss sound. Both warm sounding, great bass. It really depends on your preferences. Do you want to roll tubes or do you want a easy to like ss amp?

      I really love them both. I use the A20 at the office cause I can’t have tubes there end the Crack is at home with my other amps.

      If you really make me choose I would still choose the Crack.

      • Reply May 20, 2014

        Harley Chen

        Think about replacing Crack with A20, using it mainly with HD700, any opinion on that? 🙂

        • Reply May 20, 2014

          L.

          I have been listening to the HD650+A20 combo for months now and I love its sound. I recently however took the HD650 back home with me to use it with the Crack and I have to admit the crack still has that magical sound.

          Both are very good combos but the Crack still tops the A20 amp anytime. It just sounds perfect.

          My advise is to stay with the Crack for the HD700. Lovely combo!

          • Reply May 20, 2014

            Harley Chen

            Thanks for the quick reply. How much worse will it be? I travel a lot (move places every 4 months) and the crack is just way more difficult to carry around. What do you think?

            • Reply May 20, 2014

              L.

              if I set the Crack as 100%, the A20 would get like 85% tops. you could also go portable like the Cypherlabs Theorem or duet

              • Reply May 20, 2014

                Harley Chen

                Ahh, thanks! 😀
                Does it change anything with HD700? :O

  • Reply May 27, 2014

    L.

    Mike tends to recommend the dacport lx a lot with the senns (and crack)

    • Reply May 27, 2014

      Dave Ulrich

      I would second that.

  • Reply June 5, 2014

    Nathalie

    Hi Lieven, you made me want to arrange a meeting between the HD 650 and the A20, but I’m very new to this, so please forgive me for the stupid questions I may ask.

    -I’d like to use a Sony NWZ-ZX1 as a source for the A20/HD650 combo. Would I still need a DAC ? (First idea was to buy a PHA-2, but I think Mike said it’s not so good)

    -Is it a problem to use a jack/cinch adapter to plus the NWZ-ZX1 ? (Should I use a LOD instead ?)

    Thank you, and again, sorry for the stupid questions.

    • Reply June 5, 2014

      L.

      no the ZX1 has a built in DAC. I don’t know if the ZX1 has a digital out but you don’t need an extra DAC.

      If you want to connect your player to an external amp you always better use the Line Out of the player and not the headphone plug. To do that you need a LOD or a Line Out

      I hope that’s clear

      • Reply June 5, 2014

        Nathalie

        Thank you very much for your help, L. this is perfectly clear.

        One last question : have you tried the HD650 with The National ? Is it a very different experience from the A20 ?

        Thanks again !

        • Reply June 5, 2014

          L.

          I have not, sorry

  • Reply September 16, 2014

    Tibor

    Hi. Could you answer me one question please? If we can forget for a while that these are different amps, in terms of pure sound quality, which is better and why? A20 or vorzamp pure ii? Thank you guys

    • Reply September 16, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      Pure is cleaner, tighter, more neutral. A20 is warm, body, bass but less detail

      • Reply September 16, 2014

        Tibor

        That’s what I wanted to know. Did you try to plug in two headphones at once? What if they have different impedance?

      • Reply July 15, 2015

        Yongky

        so u mention that A20 is warm, body, bass, but less detail. its sounds like graham slee solo to me. is this a great amp for impact lover?

        • Reply July 15, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          Depends on the headphone you pair with it

          • Reply July 15, 2015

            Yongky

            so my DAC is dacport lx
            my headphone is Phillips X2 and HD25
            my previous amp is graham solo
            i found it too “slow” and “bold”
            i want something that has a great impact (punchy, not boomy), clean, neat, and had a great speed (faster than dacport lx is enough)
            for my main music genre is rock.
            A20 is the right amp for me or u had another suggestion?
            thanks i really appreciate it man!

  • Reply September 16, 2014

    Johan De Spiegeleer

    Lieven,

    Is the soundquality of the hd 650 with theorem720(dac)+A20 (amp)much better than hd650 with theorem(amp,dac)alone
    Thanks

    • Reply September 16, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      A20 will have warmer, thicker sound and bigger bass body. 720 is actually very good on its own, I wouldn’t make a combo with the A20 but use it as a standalone.

  • Reply September 16, 2014

    Johan De Spiegeleer

    better,means what’s the difference in sound quality?

  • Reply October 14, 2014

    Mojodojo

    Would it be a good to go if one has a T90, buys an A20 and uses this one straight to the Macbook Pro, without a dedicated DAC? Music comes from iTunes and is 256Kbps AAC or ALAC. No highly sophisticated classic, just plain rock, pop, jazz etc.

    Would there be a noticable benefit of having an external DAC?

    • Reply October 14, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      I think the quality will always improve, even with a simple USB DAC

    • Reply October 14, 2014

      dalethorn

      I’d use the A20 with a phone or similar music player, or a CD player that has a Line Out etc. But i wouldn’t use it from a headphone out on a laptop, unless the laptop volume is too low. If you don’t have a DAC that’s a good match to the A20, you might find a USB-powered mini-DAC like the Microstreamer or Dragonfly will work fine. I’m using the Microstreamer with MBP and T90, and there’s plenty of clean volume with a good variety of music.

      • Reply October 14, 2014

        Mojodojo

        Uhm, so if I need a DAC, would be the Fostex HP-A4 a good one? Could I just stay with this as this one is also an amp? Or is the A20 far superior amping wise for my set up? How does the A4 go with the T90?

        I would love to have a solution with preferably an all-in-one unit because it should fit onto my desktop. Maybe not too expensive. 500€?

        • Reply October 15, 2014

          dalethorn

          I would use the HP-A4 alone. You can always get a separate DAC and amp, but you need to research carefully. Consider that with separates, you have the output wiring and jacks on the DAC, the input wiring and jacks on the amp, and the interconnect cables between them. It’s possible that all of those things can kill the improvement you would normally expect from separates, so that’s something to think about.

          • Reply November 24, 2015

            The Truth

            Hi Dale,

            I know this is an old topic but I was looking for a way of powering two DT1770s from a single unit and I thought that the A20 would be up for that job.

            So, I know I’ll get a DAC for it (with a 3.5mm to RCA) but what do you think of a combo if a combo DAC/AMP like the Fiios would suffice to drive the DT1770 so instead of an A20+DAC I can just get two Fiio XX or Ibasso?

            • Reply November 24, 2015

              dalethorn

              One FiiO alone would drive the 1770 OK, but I would expect a better, fuller sound with more power reserve using the A20 as the amp, instead of the amps in the FiiOs. In fact, a Dragonfly etc. used with a computer would be better than FiiOs, unless you use FiiO’s best DAP. But I don’t understand how you want to drive two 1770’s at the same time. My biggest problem with amps that drive 2 headphones is that each really needs a separate volume control at the least.

              • Reply November 24, 2015

                The Truth

                Hi Dale, thanks for the swift reply. I was thinking of two E10K from fiio. From what I hear, that or the E18 will do well. So, you say ragonfly+a20 will work better for two 1770 than 2 fiio e10k for each 1770?

                Reason for two 1770 is that I would at some point need to monitor/mix with someone else.

                I was only exploring the two dac/amp option because of independent volume but also portability. I can carry an a20 when needed, but two fiios are better. Right?

                • Reply November 25, 2015

                  dalethorn

                  According to Headfonia’s review “The E10k can even handle the Sennheiser HD650 at 300 ohms”. So since the DT-1770 Pro is 250 ohms and fairly efficient (from my experience), the E10k should work fine for it. And 2 E10k’s for 2 1770’s should be good. But that’s for average music listening, not on the tube or a jet plane. So if your mixing should have any unusual demands (which I can’t predict), then that could change things.

                  • Reply November 25, 2015

                    The Truth

                    Thank you very much, Dale. Really grateful for your time and help. It sounds to me that the best combo to try should be Dragonfly+A20. I better cough up properly once than regret it and pay twice.

                    Thanks!

                    • November 25, 2015

                      dalethorn

                      Dragonfly and A20? Yes, big time.

  • Reply October 20, 2014

    Sergio Mejia

    I see that this amp works great with the HD650 according to what was published, would you recommend for the HD700? Would this be a good combo?

    • Reply October 20, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      It wouldn’t be bas but for the hd700 I would get an amp with clear sound, more detail and a bigger sound stage. The hd700 is too good

      • Reply October 20, 2014

        Sergio Mejia

        Thanks L

      • Reply October 20, 2014

        Sergio Mejia

        It would be more appropriate then the Crack or Panama?

        • Reply October 20, 2014

          Headfonia_L.

          No i dont think so

          • Reply October 20, 2014

            Sergio Mejia

            What I recommend having price below 500USD?

            • Reply October 21, 2014

              Headfonia_L.

              You keep asking the same questions Sergio. So this will be my final reply. For the hd700 under 500USD it will be very hard to find anything better than the Bottlehead Crack.

              Good luck

  • Reply January 4, 2015

    Jinx

    Is this worth getting for DT990 600 ohm or is there something else in that pricerange or lower that would be better? I prefer Solid State. I can get it for arround 460€ / 555$

    • Reply January 4, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      You could look for a hybrid or an OTL amp

      • Reply January 4, 2015

        Jinx

        I tried to see under FAQ but couldnt see OTL amp, what is it?
        I forgot to mention that I like EDM if that matters.

        • Reply January 4, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          • Reply January 4, 2015

            Jinx

            Haha xD I knew it.

            “It is a term used to describe amplifiers, particularly tube amplifiers, that do not have an output transformer”

            any OTL amps you can recommend vs a20 then?

            • Reply January 4, 2015

              dalethorn

              How much do you need to know about OTL amps before the discussion here?

              • Reply January 4, 2015

                Jinx

                I’ve decided to go for A20 and Henry Audio USB DAC 128 Mk II for my DT990’s. So nevermind 🙂

  • Reply March 2, 2015

    hgon

    Hi, L. I recently have bought A20 and T90 Jubilee. I uses my Macbooks as a source without a DAC, but I want to buy one. Would you recommend a DAC to use with MacBooks and A20+T90?

    • Reply March 2, 2015

      dalethorn

      How do you connect the Macbook to the A20?

      • Reply March 2, 2015

        hgon

        I connect the A20 to my MBA with a mini-to-RCA audio cable directly.

        • Reply March 2, 2015

          dalethorn

          From the headphone jack? Not good. Get a USB DAC asap.

    • Reply March 2, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      I don’t know your budget but I’d make sure you get a good and clear/detailed one that works well with the A20. Low budget I would recommend the E10K, Mid budget the Reosnessence Labs Herus, and high end there are so many options

      • Reply March 2, 2015

        hgon

        ‘a good and clear/detailed one that works well with the A20.’ – that’s what I want. 🙂 My budget is not enough to buy the Herus, but I want to buy one. Thank you for your recommendation.

  • Reply April 1, 2015

    atoniolin

    Hi! I was wondering if the A20, beyer T1 pairing will sound fantastic?
    I am planning for USB->ODAC->A20->T1. the current O2/ODAC combo seems very detailed and has a large soundstage, but lacks body and smoothness across the spectrum.
    Will the A20 help?
    Thanks!

    • Reply April 1, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      The A20 will add body for sure, in that regard it’ll be a good amp. On the other side it isn’t the most detailed amp, but your T1 has a lot of detail, so they might balance eachother out, I personally would pair it more with a V200 or V281

      • Reply April 1, 2015

        atoniolin

        great! Thanks. I live in London though, and can’t seem to easily find the Vioelectrics for testing. Through your experience, is there any distributors near London? Or perhaps other amps with nearby distributors.
        I prefer to test it before paying.

  • Reply October 11, 2015

    Jinx

    The A20 is indeed amazing with HD650.

  • Reply January 30, 2016

    Peter Hyatt

    Great review. Could you compare, for an amateur, the practical sound difference between the Beyer A20 and the O2? I have Macbook Air 2012, and Beyer T1 (2nd gen) but no DAC at this time.

    • Reply January 31, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Thanks. O2 is neutral, detailed but rather emotionless. The A20 is on the complete other side: warm, smooth, full of life and musical

      • Reply January 31, 2016

        Peter Hyatt

        Thank you for the reply. Amazon warehouse has a good deal on it now, so I should experience it this coming week. The 2nd gen T1 is something special and as others have written, for someone of my age, it is like bringing fresh life back into a music catalog that I stopped listening to due to years of repetition. Since obtaining the T1, I have heard, for example, instruments I had not heard previously, from songs I have listened to for more than 30 years. Detail is bringing St. Pepper’s back to life for me with startling clarity. I never knew that Dylan’s “Precious Angel” had a finger style guitar backing throughout. I hope to raise this, even more so, with the Beyerdynamic A20.

      • Reply February 1, 2016

        Deepak

        Any portable Musical DAC/AMP Recommandation Within 500$ ??

        • Reply February 1, 2016

          dalethorn

          To use with what other gear?

          • Reply February 3, 2016

            Deepak

            Sony MDR-1A.And for use with iphone 5s and laptop as source as well.Is audioengine d3 is a ideal choice ??

            • Reply February 3, 2016

              dalethorn

              Audioengine D3 is laptop only, not iPhone. For laptop and iPhone the new Dragonfly 1.2 volt (I think) is $99 and will work with both. Other possibles are Oppo HA-2, FiiO E17k, FiiO K1 – but my first choice would be the new $99 Dragonfly.

              • Reply February 7, 2016

                Deepak

                For Desktop Use Which one i pick audioengine D3,Geek out v2 “or” Apogee Groove.Thanks.Dont want to stick to power source.

                • Reply February 7, 2016

                  dalethorn

                  Can’t really compare these, but, I had the D3 and it’s very good. I’m not a fan of Geekout, but if you do buy make sure it’s not the one that gets very hot. Stereophile likes the Groove, but I don’t see any other audiophile reviews on line. BTW, the Groove also gets pretty warm. I’d probably get the Groove because it’s different, and sounds good, but it will be more expensive.

                  • Reply February 13, 2016

                    Deepak

                    I got a pair of D3.So for this which headphone combo will be good.Between these should i for beyer dt770,dt880 pro 250 ohm,dt990 pro “or” senn hd600??.Thanks.

                    • February 13, 2016

                      dalethorn

                      HD600 too difficult to drive for the D3. Everyone here likes the DT770 32 ohm, including me.

                    • February 13, 2016

                      Deepak

                      dt770 seems v-shaped.Any neutral and forgiving headphone to pair with the little D3 DAC??i have sony mdr-1a;it has too midbass.

                    • February 13, 2016

                      dalethorn

                      I think Sony has many good sounding headphones in different prices. I avoid them because of Sony warranty service, but that may not be a problem with your headphones. You could check out the AKG K553 – very neutral – I love them.

                    • February 14, 2016

                      Deepak

                      Thanks.I am also think of go over Fidelio x2 ;as it do not ship to my country;so will i go for Philips Fidelio L2BO.
                      I have checked the frequency response from golden ear measurment;its good neutral can.

                    • February 14, 2016

                      dalethorn

                      Good choice – I had the L1 and it was very good – the L2 is even better.

  • Reply August 30, 2017

    Danni Veng

    Lieven, I know this amp has been a good friend in your office. I have my DT1770pro and 650 in my office and use mojo as dac. Would a20 be a good buy for 400 usd? Or would you go with another amp? I feel it’s worth a try for this price.

    • Reply August 30, 2017

      Danni Veng

      Or maybe Lake People G103P would be better?

  • Reply November 7, 2017

    Eduardo

    Does this amp retain the hd650 signature, or does it make it shiny?

    In the review he loses power when used with two headphones. Would he have power for a HD650 and HD600 together (using the two exits)?

  • Reply January 12, 2018

    Mont

    Does the A20 modify the headphone’s signature?
    I was thinking of using it with my sennheiser, but I do not want the amp to increase more treble for example

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