Austin Audio Works

Austin Audio Works

Black Amp Critiques

I have been a longtime tube enthusiast though I have listened to and owned many discrete amps as well.  At the end of the day, smoothness they provide has been the driving factor.  When I first listened to the Black Amp, I knew it was different.  It is the smoothest discrete amp I have ever listened to.  It has speed and articulation without sounding clinical.  I have struggled to find amps that have authority with the T-1 headphones I use primarily.  This is amp has no problem with them at all.  It has relegated my WA-2 to only get occasional use at this point.  I have both a Yulong & Cambridge Audio balanced DAC and both are very good pairings with this amp.  I have not used the single ended side of the Amp, but as a balanced device it is miles beyond anything I’ve heard that is even close in price.  

For my T-1’s this is a perfect amp, but it does a great job on my set of TH-x00 as well (totally different listening experience between the two sets of cans) and I have listed extensively with the HD-800’s and Alpha Primes.  I never thought I would move on from my VTL or my WA-2 but the transparency and presence of this amp are amazing and it does it without becoming dry or clinical.  I am looking forward to Austin Audio Works future offerings”
Tim Little- October 2017

Being an audiophile means that you are an explorer, an adventurer and (let's face it) at least a little bit of a masochist.  I have spent many, many years on my personal sonic journey, and have heard transcendent highs and grating lows in that time.  Speakers, headphones, DAC’s, turntables, moving magnet, moving coil, solid state, tube, digital, analog, professional grade, high-end, boutique, lo-fi, summit-fi, etc. have all manner of gear has passed through my life.  Around 2012, my quest became centered on headphone rigs, as I was confined to small quarters and could not spread out and set up a speaker rig.  I dove quick and deep into this equipment category, and soon after getting my bearings, ended up owning HD-500s, T1’s, HD-800s and JH-16s.  However, somehow driving these amazing beasts to their highest potential proved to be harder than I had thought it would be.  I had naively approached amplifiers as somehow second-tier to speakers, but these new and highly resolving headphones demonstrated to me that there was so much more to amplifiers than I had originally appreciated.  So again, I dove straight in.  I tried solid state, tube and hybrid set-ups at varying price points and power levels, but there was always something keeping me from achieving what I knew was possible.  Some amps stayed longer than other, but the synergy I craved was only ever glimpsed, not fully achieved.  That is until Barry Thornton showed up with his current-mode “Black Amp”.  Holy moly!

The Black Amp has done what I have always felt was impossible - it is a solid state amp that is more listenable and lovable than tubes.  It has tamed the sometimes shrill HD-800’s, while at the same time remaining clear, precise, fast, open and unfathomably powerful.  It plays a magic trick on your audiophile senses; you start out amazed at some specific aspect of the sound quality like how fast and accurate it is, or the incredible soundstage, or the intense blackness of the background, or maybe it’s the deep slam that it can deliver, but then that analytic amazement just melts and you are just left with a deep well of satisfaction and enjoyment as you forget to analyze any further, you just keep listening.  Seriously, this thing can be so hard to review because it is just so engaging to listen to.  It draws you into a space INSIDE the music — you become the flow, the timbre, the texture and the rhythm.  I probably look like an idiot every time I listen to this thing because it either plasters a smile on my face or I am eyes-closed and enraptured.  There has never been a single piece of equipment that I have encountered that has brought me as much satisfaction and joy as “The Black Amp”.  This thing is something magical to behold.
Scott Peterson – October 2017

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