Loaner IC: AustinAudioWorks Black Amp

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

  1. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    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. @dasman66 (PA)
    12. @MisterRogers (CO)
    13. @rtaylor76 (TN)
    14. @k4rstar (the other CA)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 9
    • List
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021 at 8:13 PM
  2. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    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
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  3. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    524
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Texas
    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.)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 2
    • List
  4. bilboda

    bilboda Florida boomer

    Friend
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    777
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Miama
    I'd love to participate and compare to a Jot 2, HP1 and a ZDS for tubes sake and the SW51+ to boot
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  5. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    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]
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  6. loadexfa

    loadexfa Friend

    Friend Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    SF Bay Area Peninsula
    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.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  7. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,340
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Heck yeah!
    I've just been rocking a Bakoon HPA-21 and would love to try another current mode amp!

    Count me in!
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  8. crenca

    crenca Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,915
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Southern New Mexico
    I would be interested as well. Interested in his assertions around distortion and frequency and how this may or may not reach my ears.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  9. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    awesome! thanks guys

    @Clemmaster what is your state?
     
  10. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2015
    Likes Received:
    2,340
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Sorry, CA (Los Angeles).
     
  11. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    524
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Texas
    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)
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  12. ChaChaRealSmooth

    ChaChaRealSmooth SBAF Gearmaster

    Staff Member Friend Gearmaster
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2018
    Likes Received:
    6,935
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Avalon
    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

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    @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

    Friend
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2015
    Likes Received:
    4,102
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    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).
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 1
    • List
  15. dematted

    dematted Almost "Made"

    Contributor
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2019
    Likes Received:
    1,266
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Westchester, New York
    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. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    524
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm terrible at describing what I'm hearing, but I was doing a comparison of Black Amp, Jot 2 and BHA-1 the other day and here are some of the notes I took. Fair warning, I don't know how to listen critically. I'm purely into headphones for enjoyment.

    "Black Amp
    Neutral to maybe a touch leaner than neutral (or at least not as beefy as BHA-1), spacious, liquid, great instrument separation, effortless,
    Soundstage much better than Jot2,
    Better than BHA-1 but BHA-1 is closer to Black Amp,
    Unfazed by complex passages
    Sounds more like a tube amp than a solid state. Better than normal-people tube amps in clarity and resolution."

    If I were in the market for an expensive solid state, I'd probably pick this one up because it's really good! But I'm really more into tubes and the price on this is almost an EC big boy tube amp so I'd buy one of those instead. Plus I tend to buy used because I'm a cheap bastard and the Black Amp doesn't exist on the used market.
     
    • Like / Agree Like / Agree x 3
    • List
  17. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    nah you're not terrible at all! your description matches my expectations exactly after reviewing the topology and speaking with Barry about the amp.
     
  18. crenca

    crenca Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    May 26, 2017
    Likes Received:
    1,915
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Southern New Mexico
    Not sure if I am next but if so I just forwarded ChaCha my address via PM...
     
  19. Phantaminum

    Phantaminum Friend

    Friend
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2018
    Likes Received:
    1,334
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    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.
     
  20. k4rstar

    k4rstar Done his time

    Friend BWC
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2016
    Likes Received:
    5,200
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    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.
     

Share This Page