Disclaimer: Auris Audio is not related to Headfonia in any way. The Headonia was sent to me to be featured on Headfonia.com
Last year we covered the Auris Audio HA2-SE tube amp so our readers will probably already know all about Auris Audio. Lately Auris has also been touring with the Head-Fi Canjam shows all over the world and the Serbian brand has become very popular in the personal audio market in a very short time. When I covered the HA2-SE back in 2017, Auris wasn’t as well-known yet in the headphone world but after our review and Auris’ presence at the different shows, everyone seems to know about Auris Audio. Of course if you make great products, word travels quickly.
For those of you who aren’t familiar yet with Auris Audio, make sure to check out the intro in our HA2-SE review first. Auris Audio was founded in 2013. Their mission is to fulfill the desires of the most demanding audiophiles and delight both listener’s ears and visual senses. Auris Audio puts tubes first, and how I like it. Now Auris Audio doesn’t only make headphone amplifiers but they have full product line-up with speaker amps, speakers, pre amps, DACs, and even more.
After the HA2-SE, Auris decided it was time to develop a high-end, top of the line tube amp to complement and complete their line-up. They also launched a competition on Facebook where you could send in suggestions for the name of their reference unit and so in the end the Headonia was born.
“There is a large number of audio enthusiast who enjoy our HA2SE headphone amplifier, however, there are those who always seek to rise their thrive, satisfaction and delight, to the next level. They are called hedonists! So welcome to HEADONIA.”
According to some people, Hedonism is something completely different though, but let’s not go there. And according to another source, Headonia is a constitutional republic and representative democracy. But no, let’s not go their either. So what is happening here? The Headonia is a single ended tube amplifier and in contrast to many other units in this price range, it is a headphone amplifier only. The really nice thing about it is that is has both a Single Ended as well as a balanced output, each with their own impedance selector. As a result the Headonia can easily drive almost all known headphone models on the market (see later) and it can easily drive two pairs simultaneously. It also comes with the same remote control as the HA2-SE does and I just use that one of the HA2-SE on the Headonia as well. The remote is made out of a single block of aluminum. It’s quite heavy but very beautiful. It only lets you set the volume just so you know, it can’t change the input selection.
The Headonia comes in black or in white, just as most of the Auris units and I of course asked for a black one to compliment the black HA2-SE. As said, the Headonia is Auris’ TOTL headphone amplifier and the price for this high-end amplifier is set at €8.899. That’s a lot of money but the 24kg weighing amplifier will be delivered free of charge for that price.
The Headonia comes delivered with a pair of Auris branded gloves, a user manual, a remote, 4 spikes, the warranty and the full set of stock tubes. Auris does not ship any cables but I’m pretty sure that audiophiles at this level will want to use their own power chords.
Back at High-End Munich 2017, Auris was already showing a prototype of the Headonia and it sounded great. At that time the plan was to build two different version with different power tubes.
The goal actually was to let the buyer choose between a 2A3 and 300B tube version but in the end, only the 2A3 version saw the daylight. The 2A3 tube is a power triode capable of outputting 3.5 W in a single-ended Class A configuration. You can find out more about the 2A3 tubes here: https://www.radiomuseum.org/tubes/tube_2a3.html
Auris chose the well-known ECC81 tube as input/preamp tube for the Headonia. The ECC81 is a double triode and it is also known as 12AT7, CV455 and CV4024. You can find out more about it here: https://www.radiomuseum.org/tubes/tube_ecc81.html
The Headonia on the backside also has two controls, with which you can fine tune the output tubes (tube balance). When you change the 2A3 tubes you can use this potentiometer so that you get the least amount of hum.
Stock tubes & replacements
2A3 tubes in general don’t come cheap and the stock tubes that come with the amplifier are a set of Electro Harmonix GOLD tubes which go for about $80/piece. The ECC81 tubes it came with were the Siemens ECC81 but unfortunately one tube popped when I first turned on the amp. These things can happen with tubes and the really bad news was I had no spairs. Auris came to the rescue and they sent me a new set of ECC81 tubes. These were also Electro Harmonix tubes which are not as well regarded as the Siemens tubes and so I started looking for replacement tubes.
It took me quite some time to find a replacement tube for the broken Siemens with the same internal construction, but I did manage to find an identical one branded Zaerix made in Eastern Germany (G.D.R). At the same time I also sourced a pair of 12AT7WA/CV4024 MULLARD NOS BOXED matched pair. This is a military spec valve which was made in England in the 1980’s, and they come highly recommended as ECC81 replacement tubes.
After going back and forward with the different tube combinations, I in the end settled for the stock 2A3 tubes in combination with the Mullard CV4024 tubes as this to me brought the best mix of technicalities, musicality and tune smoothness. It might be different for you though.
Do note that the popular ECC81 and 2A3 tubes everyone speaks about are quite costly. If you want the best of the best you can easily spend €500 to €1000 on replacement tubes.
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