RMAF 2013: Sony is stylin’


Sony is making a big play in the high-resolution audio space, leveraging both their expertise and deep background with SACD and the huge library of high-res music files along with their penchant for sweet electronics. Honestly, if anyone can move the needle with DSD and high-res generally, it’s Sony. Whether or not that particular boulder is movable is moot, but put that aside for now.

Because, for now, we have a sweet new head-amp/DAC combo worth seeking out. The PHA-2 High-Res Portable DAC/Amplifier ($599) is rated for cans from 8 ohms to 600 ohms (that is, just about everything) and supports high-res up to and including double-DSD. There’s an auto sensing and auto muting circuit that’s completely transparent to the user, which means, you play whatever you want and it “just works”. Best part? It works fantastically well. I know why Mercer is so hot on these guys — this is a killer head-amp.

It’s async-USB, high slew-rate and is an output capacitor-less design (which may be why it sounds like an open window), and supports connections to both your computer and your iDevices/Android products for pure-digital input. Lithium batteries are good for 6.5 hours digital/17 hours analog of run-time.

Also on display were some desktop units that were announced earlier this year, but I actually preferred the clear, open and neutral presentation that the PHA-2 brought, to that found in the bigger units. Yeah, really. If and when I get an opportunity to get one of these, I’ll spend some more time talking about it, but don’t wait. Go out and catch this. Smashing-good sound.