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Sony announce portable PHA-2 DAC/headphone-amp

  • The market for iDevice-piggy-backing DAC/head-amps is really hotting up. I last mentioned Sony’s PHA-1 alongside Cypher Labs’ Theorem and CEntrance’s HiFi-M8 but its 24bit/96kHz decoding ceiling and comparatively weaker power output pegged it third in a three horse race.

    This week Sony paper-launch* the all-new PHA-2.

    Like its American rivals, you can digitally feed the PHA-2’s asynchronous USB input from your PC/Mac. It will decode up to 24bit/192kHz PCM as well as single- and double-rate DSD. (Sony are getting behind super hi-res formats in a big way, aren’t they?).

    I suspect its broader appeal will come from an ability do decode digital audio streams direct from an iPhone/iPad. In this mode the Lithium-ion battery will give you 6.5 hours of listening; that rises to 17 hours if you feed it an analogue signal e.g. from Android phone but with which you’re then at the mercy of your phone’s internal cheap-as-chips DAC and not the Texas Instruments PCM1795 inside the Sony.  Two master clocks – nice.

    The ‘roll-cage’ really gives it a fighting chance with the rough and tumble of road use.  No power specs yet on the PHA-2’s TPA6120 headphone stage.


    Here be specs from the press-release…

    • Full Hi-Res audio: PCM 192kHz/24 bit, DSD 2.8/5.6MHz
    • Direct Digital Connection for PC and Apple® devices
    • Enhances non hi-res music sources (via analog input)
    • Asynchronous, precision USB clock for superior sound
    • Premium DAC with separate operational and headphone amps
    • Durable aluminum enclosure with protective alloy bumper
    • Selectable gain supports impedances from 8 to 600 Ohm
    • Lithium-ion battery for up to 17 hours battery life
    • Line-out to connect external amp or active speaker
    • Mounting straps, protection sheet and cables included


    *Hold your horses though – the PHA-2 won’t be available until March 2014 when it will sell for US$599.

    Further information: | PHA-1 on

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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