Review: Auris Audio Headonia – Extraterrestrial

 

The Headonia – besides a little tube warmth and smoothness – doesn’t add anything to the sound. There’s no extra weight in the bass or sharper treble or anything whatsoever, it’s transparent and linear all the way as you’d expect from a reference amp. The overall pace of the amplifier is really good and it has great attack. The decay also is exemplary and you won’t miss any of the detail that is in your music. Of course that’s linked to the quality of your source as well.

So instead of a warm signature, you with the Headonia get a precise and balanced signature with a more neutral tone and with excellent dynamics. Now when I say neutral I don’t mean analytical, dry or boring in anyway. After all, it is a tube amp and even to the Headonia presents the music in a more neutral way, it does also have that touch of tube smoothness and warmth, making and keeping everything musical to the ear.

The nice thing also is that the Headonia, with all the headphones I used it with, is always fully in control and you can feel the power in the music. But more on that in the next chapter.

In balanced mode you get the widest and most spacious sound signature but in return you have to give up some body in bass and mids. Bass impact and punch becomes a bit lighter and the lower mids loose some of the body too. You don’t miss out on anything, but you get a lighter, yet very wide and detailed, more neutral sound (yes the tube smoothness and warmth is still there). In single ended mode the Headonia has that little bit extra bass and lower mid presence and it does make it easier to get your right foot tapping. The sound stage is still more than wide enough and you still get a spacious out of your head sound. This amp is a high level amp, so you shouldn’t worry about that. With some headphones I prefer the single ended over the balanced output (in example with the HE-1000V2) but most of the time I go for the balanced output. Do note the Headonia doesn’t have a balanced input.

Headphones

If you do notice some hum with your headphone, you can easily get rid of it by using the switches on the back to balance the tube.

The Audeze LCD-2.1 is back and now is called the classic, and that’s exactly what it is. The Headonia drives it with authority and you get a tight sound with punchy bass, great vocals and energetic treble. Compared to the more recent headphones the LCD2.1 doesn’t have the widest sound stage, most spacious sound or best layering but it’s still a very pleasing headphone. I prefer it in combination with the balanced output most as the LCD has enough bass on its own. From the balanced output it gets the best sound stage and precision with slightly more forward vocals. In Single ended mode you get a closer presentation but with thicker mids and fuller voices. I especially prefer the higher level treble from the balanced output.

The Sennheiser HD800 comes it at 300Ohm at it sounds at its best when selecting the 300 and 600Ohm outputs in both SE as balanced mode. The HD800 is a sublime sounding headphone that is capable of a very high level of detail, the difficult part however is that it is very amplifier dependent. Often when people don’t like the HD800 it often is a case of missing synergy and to those people I can fully recommend the HD800 and Headonia combination. The last few months my love for the HD800 has somewhat faded but with the Headonia the Sennheiser shines like never before. In balanced mode you get an extremely wide and deep sound signature with great layering. The detail, precision and speed is exemplary. To me the HD800 doesn’t become overly analytic, and it keeps a good amount of body at all time with plenty of musicality. In single ended mode you get more mid body especially and a less spacious sound, but the Senn has heaps of it, so it’s always wide and spacious. The extra mid body does give it that extra oompf to get your feet tapping. The HD800 and Headonia is a great combination.

I was still writing the synergy part with the Hifiman HE-1000 V2 when the headphone died on me in the middle of the listening process. When I switched cables something snapped in the connector of the left earcup and now I have mono sound from the HE-1000 V2. What I do remember was that the bass was on the lighter side when listening to the balanced output, but that’s all I can say about this Hifiman, until it is repaired. Sorry.

The Focal Utopia is easy to drive and gets loud very quick. In single ended mode you get incredible control and a very fast pace. Even with the most complex music, the Headonia and Utopia combo is perfectly in control. In balanced configuration you get a very neutral presentation which is incredibly detailed, spacious and wide with excellent separation. The richness level is very high but there is less bass and mid body and this gives the Utopia a lighter signature that some might call more forward. The Utopia is performing at a very high level however. In single ended mode you get bigger bass and mid body making the Utopia sound fuller and more musical. You get a less airy sound and lose some sound stage width but there’s a higher enjoyment factor. Layering, precision and depth with both outputs is at a very high level and technically this setup just might be the best I have ever listened to at home.

With the 250Ohm Beyerdynamic DT1990PRO you here a very faint noise with no music playing, but it’s so light it’s not audible when music is playing. With the Impedance selector set to 300Ohm the DT1990PRO to me sounds best. I can only try it in single ended mode but I’m very happy with this sound signature. You get punchy and tight bass, a very clear mid section with really great voices and very energetic treble. The mid section isn’t the thickest in body but that’s a DT1990PRO characteristic. Personally it doesn’t bother me and I actually like the mids in this Beyer tuning. Long story short, it’s also a great match with the Headonia but don’t expect the same kind of bass as with say the V281 (body-wise).

Sound continues on Page Four with more headphones and with comparisons to other tube amps 

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

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