Seeing the $9,500 Egoista headphone amplifier from Viva Audio in the coverage of High End 2014, certainly piqued my interest. That’s an enormous investment in a headphone fidelity! Turns out, it’s also an enormous amplifier.
There’s not a lot available yet on the Egoista, so I had to resort to actual research and interpolation. It seems that the big amp is pretty much the same as the Solostino integrated amplifier, even if this pre-production/demo unit (there’s only the one of them floating around right now) does come in some spanky colors — Go Steelers!
The amp uses a pair of 845 tubes for output, generating up to 15 watts/channel. Doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? But most headphone amps usually put out less than one watt per channel, so the Egoista pretty much takes the cake here. It’s an SET design and therefore fully Class A, and leverages 6n1pi and 6sn7GT for input and gain. The power supply is also entube-en-ated, with a pair of 5u4G tubes handling that end. There are five line-level (all RCA) inputs available on the rear of the chassis. This is a singled-ended amp, from tip to tail, so there’s no balanced anything.
I did mention size, right? Expect 20″ square and 12″ tall, all wrapped up in about 65lbs worth of metal. The aesthetic comes across pretty well in pictures, but there’s a vintage thing that may not — the bent metal really does look like 1950’s kitchen appliances. For me, that works. Speaking of which, that fancy channel/trough design is also a heatsink — and yes, the entire case will get quite warm. Definitely not a desktop amp.
Blackbird Audio‘s Dan Muzquiz was on hand with a pair of Audeze LCD3 headphones, and I’ll be honest, that short listening spell was very seductive. I’m hoping to get some more time on this before it flies back overseas, but we’ll have to see. 15 watts fully illuminates the relatively easy-to-drive Audeze cans, but I’m staring at a pair of Sennheiser HD800s and a pair of Abyss AB-1266 with some curiosity as I type this.
Playback came courtesy of the attached (but sold separately) $10,000 Numerico DAC/CD transport. More to come on this, and the Egoista, as Viva gets closer to full production.