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Cayin HA-300 Headphone Amplifier

Cayin’s HA-300 came about as an 18 month expedition to create a headphone amplifier that would meet the expectations of audiophiles. 

To deliver on that promise, the HA-300’s circuitry was designed to utilize the musical fidelity of the 300B tubes, powered by custom-built transformers to create perfectly balanced output through the headphones. The amplifier also utilizes a two-box design; a dedicated tube-controlled power supply and the amplifier. To add to Cayin’s traditional high standards of quality, this amplifier is built with US-Aviation grade electrical plugs and RC22DE4 rectifier tubes to provide clean DC power to the 300B tubes. All in all, the HA-300 amplifier is a powerful workhorse that will live up to the hopes of audiophiles.

As of 3/12/18, The HA-300 has won 2nd in Stereoplay’s Golden Ear Award for Headphone Amplifier.

Review by Dave Hanson

Technical specifications: 

Device:300B Tube Headphone Amplifier
Input Connectors:XLR or RCA
Tubes:2 x 300B, 2 x 6SN7, x 4 x 22DE4
Frequency range:10 Hz – 60 kHz (+/- 3 dB)
Total harmonic distortion (THD):1% (1 kHz)
Unweighted signal-to-noise ratio:100 dB
Input impedance:100 kOhm
Input sensitivity:440 mV
Output power (RMS):8W + 8W Class A
Input power:120 VAC
Dimensions:Amplifier: 286mm x 368mm x 210mm 
PSU: 59mm x 345mm x 210mm
Weight:75lb
 

Reviews & Feedback

“I’m not usually an early-adopter of new audio products, but between my respect for Cayin, my love of 300B tubes and the glowing (no pun intended) review in The Absolute Sound’s Guide to Personal Audio, I found myself ordering a Cayin HA-300 headphone amp from Steve Leung at Vas Audio sight unseen.  I’ve lived with the amp for several weeks now, and I have to say that it measures up to the praise heaped on it by TAS – the HA-300 is wonderful!  (And it isn’t fully broken in yet . . .)

First, a quick word about the amp as a product.  Everything about it suggests a labor of love.  The build quality is absolutely top notch and the packaging and product presentation are quite luxurious.  Also, the HA-300’s VU meters are large enough to be easily read but not so large as to overwhelm the amp’s understated beauty, and the tube cages fit snugly enough not to resonate but are easy to remove – even while the amp is operating, if desired.

But the HC-300 is primarily intended to deliver exceptional sound, and it does that in spades.  I’m using it with Focal Utopia headphones with the stock ¾” cable (I’m thinking about upgrading to the Danacable 4-pin XLR, but the checkbook has to cool off first).  (The preamp it is a Nagra Classic.)  The HA-300 has three impedance settings (matching is easy enough – just look at the headphones’ specs and toggle the amp’s three-way switch as required), so I expect it will drive anything.  And it certainly hasn’t struggled with any source I’ve thrown at it, from vinyl or DSD, and no matter how dynamic or transient the music.  The amp has headroom to spare for pretty much anything.  (One word of caution, though: the HA-300 doesn’t play favorites and won’t hide a recording’s flaws.  If a recording is terrible, the HA-300 will let you know that quickly . . .)

As you would expect with a finely-tuned 300B amp, the midrange and high-end are spectacularly beautiful – as unforced as I’ve ever heard with lots of air and a lovely natural-sounding decay (especially with human voice), and the amp has precise, consistent and utterly believable sound-staging.  But the HA-300 also delivers beautiful, rich bass – surprisingly so given its topology and relatively low wattage.  The lower registers are lush and warm without sacrificing detail or descending into mush.  To be clear, the HA-300 is definitely an SET amp – the bass doesn’t ever quite slam­ – but unless you’re listening primarily to funk or some other genre dripping with over-hyped electric bass, the integrity and sweetness and of the HA-300’s lower register will be all you need or want.    

In short, I can’t imagine a better headphone amp than the Cayin HA-300, whether tube or solid-state.  At $4,000, it’s expensive, but given its build quality, its sound, and what one would have to pay for a comparable SET headphone/integrated amp from any other top-tier manufacturer, the HA-300 is something of a bargain.  Cayin has really done itself proud with this flagship product!” – HS , Jan. 2019