CAF 2014: Did BorderPatrol just smuggle a headphone amplifier into town?


Capital Audiofest is currently underway, and I just snuck off for a quick update here. Yes, there’s going to be way more coming, but in the meantime, a teaser of a teaser.

Brian Hunter and I snuck into Gary Dews’ BorderPatrol setup yesterday morning, first thing. Gary’s a British ex-pat that’s been making crazy-good tube amplifiers for the last 20+ years. I first met Gary at the first CAF 5 years back, when he was showing his amps with Living Voice loudspeakers — that room nearly caused me to go postal, as I’d just spent something like $20k on gear that his gear clearly bettered and I was bitter. Ah well. Anyway, I’ve had some experience with his gear since, but today, he had something new. Something very new.

A BorderPatrol headphone amplifier.

I think this is a pretty natural move for Gary, and one that I’ve been babbling about since hitting CanJam last year — serious hi-fi guys are looking around at the head-fi space and saying, “What if we did it like this, instead?” I think this is gonna be a crazy convergence.

Anyway, Gary had a couple of prototypes he knocked together and Brian and I got a chance to fiddle about with them. Gary was running them off a new tube-rectified NOS DAC that he’d crafted in another bamboo enclosure, and the result was pretty sweet. 1 watt was crushing those LCD-X headphones! As a bonus round, he brought out his Frankenstein DAC. Bass was crazy-big. He’s estimating a price of about $2,000 to $2,500 or so, but that’s a guess at this point. All I can say is I’m pretty psyched. Might have to bring in one of these when Gary’s ready to let one them out of his sight.

I’ll have more details sooner or later, but no need to wait — check it out, below.