Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amp

I’m receiving a Pass Labs system (X260.8s + XP-22) this Friday. I was considering adding a Pass Labs HPA-1 with a set of Focal Utopias or Senn 800S to it. While, I know the HPA-1 has some limitations, system synergy is important as well.

I was wondering if anyone here has any experiences with the Pass Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amp and what headphones you would recommend with it? Of course feel free to recommend a different amp as well. I normally use Shunyata Cables so since everything matters in audio we should add this to the mix as well.

Thanks in advance.

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No experience with HPA-1 but it has always been on my curiosity radar, I owned a Threshold pre-amp and amp back in the 90’s.

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Threshold was great! Wish I could have afforded it back in the day!

Pass makes good stuff, and I enjoy sticking with the same name brand, but with headphones, I don’t have much experience. I’m not even sure I need them. Presently just exploring the possibility … Anyway thank for replying.

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Hi, Perhaps I can chime in here, as I have owned the Pass HPA-1 for around 2 years. This amplifier costs a bit more than I was happy to spend, but I found this mint example on eBay. To my ears, it’s simply the best headphone amplifier I have heard thus far. I listen primarily to Classical / Opera plus a small amount of (nearly) everything else, so I need an amplifier which is tonally truthful. It is very fast and transparent, not ‘solid state’ sounding in any way. Even unmodified HD800’s don’t bite my ears off. I only use CDs and SACDs as have built up a large collection over the years. My DAC is the Yggdrasil A2. with various transports. Other main headphones are: Beyer T! (1st gen.) and Focal Utopia, plus several other lesser headphones. All of them dynamic, as I have never warmed to planar magnetics. All in all, I don’t think I will be looking for a replacement headphone amplifier any time soon. Another winner from Pass Labs !

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Welcome to the forum.

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Hello and welcome @Nematolebias.

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Many thanks. What a review!!! I’m getting it. Many thanks.

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Many thanks for the welcomes. Much appreciated.

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I’ll be using Focal Utopias and yes many CDs and SACDs. My DAC is in my Luxman D-08u SACD player. An amazing player- sounds like tubes.

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I’ve always wanted to do a shootout between the HPA-1 and the McIntosh MHA150. They’re both amps that have drawn my interests over the years.

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I actually listened to the Mc in my sessions. It’s a very nice looking amp. Actually, I was considering a complete Mc system before I purchased the Pass Labs one that I own. I was raised on Mc’s - my father’s. The old ones have an awesome sound. But IMO the new Mcs have changed their sound somewhat and I don’t enjoy them as much as the older ones. PS: this doesn’t mean they’re bad, just different.

I didn’t get to compare the Mc to the HPA- but did compare the Mc against the Focal Arche. The Focal was a clear winner “to my ears.”

But each of us has a sound we’re looking for and IMO Mc - even the new ones - will be perfect fits for some people. It’s an individual choice and taste …

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Hi guys, Many thanks for the welcome. This is a great forum. Keep up the good work.

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How do you like the HPA-1 with the Utopias? How does the HPA-1 compare to the Focal Arche?

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I’ve become more interested in this amp, especially with all the praise it receives elsewhere. Can anyone further elaborate on their experiences with the HPA-1?

Thanks!

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What limitations are you talking about with the HPA-1?