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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 Darko

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

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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