Allnic HPA-3000 GT – Rock solid!
Holo Spring 3 KTE (USB / BAL) → Allnic HPA-3000 GT (BAL) → Focal Utopia / Sennheiser IE 900 / ZMF VC
Going forward this will be my thoughts on the system as a whole. I feel like this will be more helpful because I don’t have multiple tube amps of similar tiers to directly compare nor a vast amount of experience with tubes.
The Allnic I find to be pretty dead-on neutral with just a touch of sweetness and more on the dry side of things. You get all the details without the disadvantages of an analytical character. It is a very capable amp, it performs as it should, and it lets the DAC do its thing–it’s solid!
Paired with the Spring, you get something holographic, dynamic (both macro/micro), detailed, black (background), and pretty much any of the adjectives audiophiles use. It’s a no-nonsense kind of amp with neutrality at its forefront but with a dash of tube magic. This is the first time I actually experienced something that sound holographic. With the Burson Soloist 3XP, you get a bit of stage but everything is still presented in a linear manner, meaning it doesn’t position elements as if they had “space” or distance between them. Listening to the Spring/Allnic/Utopia, I can actually hear one instrument/player placed closer than the other, for example.
If I were to put one weakness and one strength on this combo, I would say staging and bass based on my preferences. Staging is its weakness because I find it to stage a bit too much. I prefer a more involved and centered stage akin to being right in the middle. It’s like the Spring/Allnic puts you right in-between the balcony and the center. This isn’t really a downside but a preference thing, and I assume this has to do more with how the Spring 3 presents its stage. I mostly noticed this on the Utopia since it’s the most resolving/revealing I have. Bass, on the other hand, is its strength because I find it to be very authoritative while remaining very controlled and agile. It’s a very confident and full-sounding kind of bass, though I’m not sure if the amp or the DAC is the one responsible for this.
The synergy of this system with the Utopia is very good. Still very neutral with a hint of sweetness. Bass is very full and with good grip. Mids have loads of resolution and detail with good timbre. Highs are nicely extended and raw without the harshness. Staging and placement are also good, albeit a bit too much like mentioned above, and you also get that quality of elements sounding holographic. The whole system is a good match and I’m pretty satisfied with it. You can probably take the Utopia much farther of course, but this is a solid combo around this price bracket.
Sennheiser IE 900
Now…there’s a reason I put this second on the list. I was very curious how the IE 900 would sound on a tube amp and, to be honest, I was very paranoid that something bad would happen. Fortunately, I had confirmed it to be safe beforehand.
The IE 900 isn’t without its faults, of course. The treble can get a little hot at times, the upper mids are scooped out a bit, and the staging is a bit off. Pairing it with the Soloist, the treble is mostly tamed while the other two issues are still present but less bothersome.
Pairing it with the Allnic for the first time, I was floored! Honestly, I didn’t expect much but there were noticeable improvements all across the board. It didn’t tame some of the treble hotness but it extends so nicely and sounds so clean that I’m okay with it. The upper mids have been nicely filled up with very good detail and very good timbre. The staging is mostly fixed and the bass is so fun while being very technical, textured, and nuanced. The IE 900 is honestly a good value (with the right pairing), but unfortunate that most reviews undersell it imo. I guess it was pure luck that I stumbled across this pairing; I was genuinely surprised.
With all that said, I would definitely not recommend getting an Allnic just for the IE 900. But since I already have it, all the better. In terms of sound quality alone, the Utopia obviously beats out the IE 900. But in terms of enjoyment, I enjoyed it almost as much as the Utopia. It goes to show that synergy is king at the end of the day. What a pairing!
Ever since I got the Utopia the VC has taken a back seat almost entirely. It’s still a great headphone (especially being closed-back), but to me, it doesn’t stand out in any one way. Anyway, in terms of synergy, it’s very good with the Spring/Allnic. I found out I didn’t like the VC paired with the Soloist (stock form) as it sounded too thick and colored, but with the Spring/Allnic that isn’t the case. The low frequencies gain a lot of grip and tightness, the midrange frequencies are nicely textured and full, and the upper frequencies are nice and sparkly. Timbre is also improved, blackness of background, detail/nuance, dynamics, staging… in other words, all the good stuff gets improved. It sounds great and there’s not much more I can say. I will note that I like the VC out of the low-impedance output, whereas I liked the Aeolus out of the hi-impedance output.
Aesthetics-wise, the Allnic is very sleek and stealthy (I have the black one). It is a very handsome unit and one of the more aesthetically pleasing tube amps imo. The brushed metal look offers a nice complement to the Holo Audio aesthetics (all it’s missing is the copper lettering), but the Holo Audio stuff is still built and finished a bit better.
The tube silos are a very nice touch as it gives the Allnic brand a nice consistent and streamlined look. I was hoping at first that the tube silos would be pure glass but it is a plastic/glass compound mixture. I would have preferred the more premium feeling of pure glass but they probably did it for durability, which I’m totally fine with. Aside from aesthetics, these tube silos actually reduce heat by generating laminar flow and, in addition, guide the heat in a directional upward pattern instead of an omnidirectional one. I find that the Allnic does indeed stay pretty “warm” as I cautiously placed my hand over the silos and the transformers’ surfaces (not enough to cook an egg but still hot).
The side handles are also a nice touch—a very thoughtful and functional approach. They are mounted near the rear end since that is where the majority of the weight lies.
Let’s talk about the stock power cable…it’s crap! It’s thin, flimsy, and cheap. If you are considering this amp do yourself a favor and buy a solid, budget (or expensive) power cable as I was getting some noise and interference.
The Allnic paired with the Spring is a solid combo and a system definitely worth consideration around this price bracket. It has good synergy with the Focals (Utopia & Clear) and the ZMFs (VC & Aeolus) provided you’re seeking for a more neutral approach and a tube amp tilting on the dry side. It’s a well-balanced system that pretty much disappears and lets the music do its thing. In addition, the stock tubes are already great so for those of you not wanting to put much effort into tube-rolling (like me) and want a plug-and-play balanced tube amp this is a great option. Overall, I am pretty satisfied (for now) with this system and am enjoying it quite a bit. The amp is simple, relatively compact, aesthetically pleasing, and less involved (in tube-rolling).
Where to buy
I bought mine from Kevalin Audio. I’ve had nothing but a great and accommodating experience from John Ketcham. He was quick to respond and was very helpful. A-rating service!