CanMania 2014: Cypher Labs, Coffman Labs, definitely not meek


CanManiaCypher Labs has teamed up with Coffman Labs to create an amazing looking and sounding headphone amplifier, called Prautes ($3,900). This thing has tubes and knobs and textured sides and I get all quivery just looking at it.

Some things to note. One, it’s not tiny — expect it to take up some space. Two, it’s a tube amplifier, using a 12AU7 tube gain stage to drive a pair of 50L6 tubes in push-pull mode. Plan on a total of 1 watt (load-dependent) available for your headphones, and the attendant amount of heat.

But the device has some serious flexibility to go along with its good looks. There are four single-ended/RCA inputs and terminals for speakers if you want to use it as an integrated amp (for ~2wpc of output) with your high-sensitivity speakers. On the front faceplate, there are ⅛” and ¼” jacks on the front, as well as two 3-pin XLR outputs (left and right).

Turning to the chunky knobs, there is a lot you can do besides just turn it up. Opposite the input selector is the impedance selector, with 5 settings to choose from (300Ω, 100Ω, 32Ω, 8Ω and “IEM”) to tailor the outputs accordingly. Like bass? Have a troubling source? Or a headphone you want tweaked? Well, there’s an adjustable bass-boost knob (3dB at 31, 36, 41, or 47Hz) that allows you to customize to taste. Oh, and around back there’s a ground lift switch lets you deal with pesky mains issues. This sucker has a lot of features. Wish I’d been able to fiddle with it some more, but what I heard was pretty sweet.

Turning to the more traditional Cypher Labs suite, David Maudlin had his hands full of teeny portable doojabbers. The new Piccolo, a thoroughly mobile headphone amp suitable for use with whatever, but tailored to provide a quiet enough background for IEMs, is $400 and comes in a hot-looking gold finish.

The new Theorem 720 ($799) is a headphone amp and DAC, made to pair with your whatever, be it a Mac, a PC, an iDevice or an Android thingie. The 720 can do the following for you:

  • 16bit/48kHz sampling from Apple devices
  • Sampling on Mac (natively) or PC (with included driver) up to 24bit/192kHz
  • Android devices (using USB Audio Recorder Pro app) up to 24bit/192kHz
  • Up to 18 hours of playback while charging Apple devices
  • Fully balanced headphone output (4 pin RSA)
  • Single ended headphone output
  • Single ended analog line-level output (2.1vrms)
  • High capacity lithium-polymer battery – 8700mAh – isolated AC switching
  • Three volume gain settings for all headphone types

Wired inline between an iPhone and the big Prautes, the sound was remarkably open and neutral when driving a pair of Audeze headphones. The size is a little bigger (taller and thicker) than your average iPhone, but with good bands, should make for a tight portable brick.

Oh, last thing: “Prautes” is a Greek word, drawn from Aristotle, usually translated as “meek”, but really means “the appropriate response”. Think “exactly what your music deserves” and I think you’ll be on the right track. But definitely not meek. From my hands-on, I think that would be a mistake — this is killer stuff.










About Scot Hull 1039 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.


  1. That Prautes looks like quite the beast. Might work well as a heater during the colder months.

  2. I saw CanMania and was disappointed to see that it’s an article on headphones…bummer

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