Raise your hand if you expected to see a $999 USD headphone amplifier and $700 DAC from Audio-Technica in 2021? The Audio-Technica AT-BHA100 and AT-DAC100 both look rather intriguing, but we’re very curious about the price points because the Japanese brand usually focuses on the entry-level where it has developed an excellent reputation from both quality and value.
Audio-Technica offers a rather wide selection of affordable phono cartridges, headphones, and turntables, so it will be interesting to see whom they target with these two products. Are they going after the iFi and Schiit Audio customers or are the targeting their existing customer base who know the brand?
Releasing a high-end headphone amplifier and DAC certainly suggests that they see growing consumer interest in hi-res streaming and better quality desktop audio solutions.
Audio-Technica is now shipping its AT-BHA100 balanced headphone amplifier ($999) and AT-DAC100 digital to analog converter ($699), two high-resolution audio components designed to deliver extraordinary sound quality.
The high-end AT-BHA100 and AT-DAC100 utilize premium-quality chips and internal components, and the AT-BHA100 features a hybrid vacuum tube/solid state design to deliver rich, detailed, enveloping music reproduction. Both components are perfectly matched for use with each other, and can also be used separately.
The Audio-Technica AT-BHA100 headphone amplifier is aimed at the high-end headphone listener including those with balanced audio connections. It builds upon the acclaimed AT-HA5050H and AT-HA22TUBE models and offers improved sound and greater flexibility.
The AT-BHA100 employs four JJ Electronic ECC83S vacuum tubes, one for each audio circuit, and four power transistors, to combine the warmth, detail and spaciousness of tubes with the impact, definition and low-frequency authority of a solid-state output stage.
The left and right channels and the balanced amplifier circuits are separated from each other, a configuration of four independent amplifier circuits that maximizes sonic purity and delivers a well-defined and expansive sound field.
The AT-BHA100 offers two balanced outputs: a 4.4 mm (0.17-inch) TRRS jack and a 4-pin XLR terminal for compatibility with a wide range of balanced headphones, along with two 1/4-inch (6.3 mm) jacks.
Two headphones can be used at the same time, with independent volume control of each (in unbalanced mode). The AT-BHA100 also features a line-through output, which is useful for connecting to a desktop audio system or powered speakers.
The left and right channels are independent of each other, to suppress crosstalk and deliver exceptional imaging and sound field reproduction. The AT-BHA100 utilizes a New Japan Radio (NJR) MUSES8820 op amp, WIMA and Shinyei film capacitors, a four-layer circuit board construction that separates the signal, power and ground circuits for maximum audio purity, and other refinements.
Like the AT-DAC100, the AT-BHA100 comes with an external power supply, and it can be placed vertically using the supplied brackets.
The Audio-Technica AT-DAC100 digital to analog converter is compatible with DSD and supports up to 768 kHz, 32-bit linear PCM and 22.4 MHz DSD, for playback of the highest-resolution digital files and streaming formats. It does support MQA which kinda makes me happy.
It incorporates sophisticated design techniques and premium components including an AKM AK4452 VN DAC for extremely low distortion and noise, an Analog Devices power supply, a filter circuit that utilizes a Texas Instruments LME49860 op amp, and Nichicon and WIMA capacitors.
The AT-DAC100 offers two USB inputs (USB-C and USB-B), plus optical and coaxial digital inputs and, for easy connectivity to high-resolution and streaming audio sound sources. Its external power supply eliminates the possibility of power supply noise and ensures stable performance. The AT-DAC100 comes with brackets that enable it to be mounted vertically if desired.
Price & Availability
The Audio-Technica AT-BHA100 balanced headphone amplifier and AT-DAC100 digital to analog converter are currently available.
- AT-BHA100 balanced headphone amplifier – $999
- AT-DAC100 digital to analog converter – $699