Loaner IC: AustinAudioWorks Black Amp

Discussion in 'Loaner Programs' started by k4rstar, Jan 7, 2021.

  1. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    Loaner rules:
    • FedEx/UPS only, insure for $500 USD, signature required.
    • 5 day period
    • Impressions required in relevant thread

    @Erroneous mentioned this new company and their headphone amplifier in a profile post. It looked cool so I got in touch with the manufacturer and they are willing to send a loaner unit our way if there is enough interest

    the Black Amp is a Class-A, fully balanced, current-mode operation solid-state amplifier with no (global) feedback. in other words, it's kind of as good as it gets for a low compromise transistor-based design (IMO). the current sale price as of this writing is $1800 US

    the sales price of the Black Amp is now $1,500 US

    more info here:
    https://austinaudioworks.com/amp-description/
    https://austinaudioworks.com/amp-specifications/

    if you are interested in trying this amplifier out please reply to this thread with your location. I think US only for now. if there is enough interest i'll let the manufacturer know and we'll get a loaner started

    interested participants (so far):
    1. @bilboda (FL)
    2. @dematted (NY)
    3. @zonto (MA)
    4. @crenca (NM)
    5. @Phantaminum (TX)
    6. @loadexfa (CA)
    7. @rhythmdevils (CA)
    8. @Clemmaster (CA)
    9. @ChaChaRealSmooth, CA
    10. @E_Schaaf (CA)
    11. @roshambo123 (CA)
    12. @penguins (CA)
    13. @dasman66 (PA)
    14. @MisterRogers (CO)
    15. @jexby (CO)
    16. @rtaylor76 (TN)
    17. @k4rstar (the other CA)
     
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    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021 at 6:44 PM
  2. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    my 2 centz:

    I am a tube guy, but I had the opportunity to speak with Barry Thornton, the owner and designer of AAW today for an hour on a Zoom call. a very nice guy, and if nothing else, it's obvious to me he understands and is trying to address the shortcomings of traditional solid-state amplifiers and is passionate about audio and music. Barry has been into audio for decades and involved in product development as a designer or consultant for SAE, Parasound, Monster Cable & Fostex.

    I realize the amp is expensive compared to what is available in the mass market today, but he is bootstrapping a start-up company and at small volumes, costs of production is understandably high for a fully balanced & discrete amplifier.

    Barry also mentioned to me he is working on a DAC which will employ a similar current-mode analog stage as his existing headphone amp and phono stage.

    if there are any questions about the amp, please let me know and I will try to answer based on my understanding
     
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  3. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    I found a unit to borrow from someone locally. If there ends up being a loaner and therefore an impressions thread, I'll volunteer to make a fool of myself by trying to compare it to the other amps I have. For Solid State comparison, that should be BW1 and Jotunheim 2 (Jot 2 already ordered but not here yet.)
     
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  4. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

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    I'd love to participate and compare to a Jot 2, HP1 and a ZDS for tubes sake and the SW51+ to boot
     
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  5. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    bump, cmon, no one wants to hear this thing? my money is that it sounds really good. let's get at least 3-4 people so it's worth Barry's time to send a unit out

    here's a pic of the old style chassis without the LEDs (still available):
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

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    I could join. I hesitated because I’m not planning on spending that much on a solid state amp. But impressions are useful to others, I’m happy to help make the loaner happen. Located in the SF Bay Area.
     
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  7. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Heck yeah!
    I've just been rocking a Bakoon HPA-21 and would love to try another current mode amp!

    Count me in!
     
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  8. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    I would be interested as well. Interested in his assertions around distortion and frequency and how this may or may not reach my ears.
     
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  9. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    awesome! thanks guys

    @Clemmaster what is your state?
     
  10. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    Sorry, CA (Los Angeles).
     
  11. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    My Jot2 is shipping today. I should be able to compare Black Amp to it, BHA-1 and Aficionado. Aficionado doesn't really seem fair, but can do if wanted. Like I've said before though, I don't have golden ears and I'm sure anyone else could do it better, but I can try!
    I have Black Amp in house now. For comparison, will do balanced in/out on all of them pi2AES>Yggdrasil>Freya+>(amp)
     
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  12. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

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    Whoever is the first in the tour order: please send me shipping information so I can forward it to Barry.
     
  13. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    @bilboda @crenca unless one of you has a clear preference who goes first or last it doesn't seem to make much geographical difference to the itinerary.

    if there is no clear preference we will follow the order in the OP
     
  14. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    I'm interested in this (Greater Boston, MA area). If there's room, would it be possible to throw me on at/near the end so that those earlier in the tour can first confirm whether (1) RCA inputs are OK (all I have available) or if it's only worthwhile to use the XLR input and (2) whether it's worth trying with Focal Utopia (assuming @Clemmaster will try the pairing).
     
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  15. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

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    I would certainly be interested in trying this if you'd be willing to have me as a lowly contributor. I'll compare to a ZMF Pendant from a Soekris 2541 and be sure to write a couple paragraphs (probably more, knowing my verbosity) up of impressions.
     
  16. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    nah you're not terrible at all! your description matches my expectations exactly after reviewing the topology and speaking with Barry about the amp.
     
  17. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Not sure if I am next but if so I just forwarded ChaCha my address via PM...
     
  18. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

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    Holy moly! I have not seen this amp since 2016 - 2017. Either a rep or a Head-Fier came down to Houston for a Head-Fi meetup and they brought this amp with them. Wish I could remember what it sounded like but it did run all of the LCD models that an Audeze rep brought with them.

    Sign me up if there's an opening.
     
  19. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

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    I just wrote people in the order they signed up!
    @ChaChaRealSmooth do your gearmaster thing and come up with a loaner route
    let's also ask Barry how many peeps he would like to cap it at.
     
  20. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils Best SBAF member of all time

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    If it’s not too big (i have limited space to fit anything new) and you’d like SE Impressions with planars I could give it a go.

    but it’s way out of my price range so totally unnecessary.

    I’m very close to @loadexfa
     

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