Headamp always has their great Blue Hawaii and GS-X amplifiers sounding excellent at RMAF but this year was an introduction of the much more affordable Gilmore Lite 2 at $499 USD. Shipping in a few weeks time, this amp really impressed me for its price point.
This device uses the same circuit (!) as their flagship dynamic amp the GS-X Mark II driving even difficult magnetic planar designs with 1.5W of pure Class-A power. The casework is superb but the amber light on the front gives almost an industrial/steam punk kind of vibe. The case is fairly small so smuggling it on to a busy desktop is no issue.
The front of the case has a large centrally located volume control (Alps Blue potentiometer), a headphone jack on the left and an input selector switch for either input 1 or 2. On the back of the case, the off/on switch is to the right, the two gold RCA input options on the left and a connector for the power supply which uses a beefy 15 volt wall wart with the larger multi-pronged power supply connector. There is also a switchable on/off active preamplifier jack.
As one might expect with Headamp, the specs are impressive. THD+N is a low 0.006%. Frequency response is 10hz to 90 khz +/- 0.2db. Input impedance is 50k ohm and output impedance is less than 1 ohm. This piece will drive such difficult headphones as the Audeze LCD-4, HiFi Man HE6, and Focal Elear headphones. The wall wart helps keep noise away from the amp.
Very portable at 4 lbs shipping weight, this unit had excellent dynamics and a clean sound. Peter and Michelle had some computer laptop stations set up and I played a wide variety of music and the nice liquid midrange I am used to on Peter’s more expensive amps was also evident here.
Of course, I also listened to the big tube Blue Hawaii amp which sounds spectacular at every visit. However, for $499 USD, this Gilmore is a great, affordable way to enjoy the Headamp sound.
Very impressive debut. And I believe further evidence that more expensive gear does lead to trickle-down tech that enhances the affordable solutions. True GS-X sound on a budget.