We have literally been searching the world for an amazing DAC/Preamp/headphone (and this amp) component that fits this price range. Some had loads of features and sounded like a toy. Others sounded just ok and lacked key features we know our customers demand. Then we heard about the return of a legend. Then we read Robert Harley's incredible review in TAS April 2016 where he states, "The return of Audio Alchemy is welcome news for those seeking the highest possible price-to-performance ration in electronics." After talking with legendary Peter Meadnick we were sold! -- TA
"The DPA-1 stereo amp gives up nothing in sound quality to the monoblocks, except output power. The DPA-1’s 200W into 4 ohms was plenty of power for the 94dB-sensitive Magico Q7 Mk.II. In fact, I never saw the clipping LEDs illuminate, even at high listening levels. DPA-1 bring terrific sound and stunning value to the category."These amps are characterized by outstanding bass extension, control, and authority, coupled with explosive dynamics. They also excel at throwing a huge and three-dimensional soundstage with precise image specificity." Robert Harley. The Absolute Sound, April 2016
We are going to get in-depth about it. If all you need to know is Editors Choice and an incredible value you can stop and hit 'add to cart'.
If you want to fully understand what a wonder it is please read on.
A class D Amp! Are you Nuts!!!!
If the Audio Alchemy DPA-1 were like any other class D amp then we would've lost our minds. Instead its unlike most any other class D amp out there. It only uses the inner core of a class D and surrounds it with audiophile Class A input and custom output for real organic performance.
Audio Alchemy added their own twist to improve this even further, which we’ll explain below. Second, the amplifier puts the speaker load in the feedback loop, so the amplifier can automatically optimize its performance to suit the speaker load.
Why the DPA-1 sounds like anything but a class D
Audio Alchemy uses a fully Class A analog JFET input stage, which runs off a traditional linear power supply with a semi-toroidal transformer, rectifiers and storage capacitors. The input stage is the same type of topology you might find in the world’s most expensive Class A and AB amps. Then Audio Alchemy sets the gain on this analog input stage very carefully to further minimize the possibility of clipping. Normal Class D amps distort horribly especially when clipping.
Audio Alchemy also offers the option to add a second switching power supply for the output stage, which makes the output dual mono. The upgrade fits right into the existing chassis. Adding the dual mono power supply increases the isolation between the left and right channels, so it really sounds like two separate mono amps.
Radio-frequency (RF) emissions have been a problem in the past; that problem has mostly been solved as the design and layout of the modules have improved.
Audio Alchemy's Class A analog discrete FET input stage and its linear power supply give this amp the smooth character of the best Class AB amps. Audio Alchemy then combine Hypex’s anti-clipping circuitry with their own gain calibration to greatly reduce the possibility of clipping.
The DPA-1 has the sound quality, power and dynamics of a typical 50-pound Class AB amp, with a footprint just 30% larger than an 8.5 x 11 sheet of printer paper.
The DPA-1 is at about 80% efficiency; they lose a little bit of efficiency because of the Class A analog input stages and the linear power supply. So it’s slightly less efficient than a typical Class D amp, but it sounds a lot better.
In terms of idle power consumption (the amount of power the amp consumes when no music is playing), the DPA-1 runs at about 20 watts. A Class AB amp with the DPA-1’s power and sound quality might idle at more like 100 watts. So you could compare it to replacing an incandescent light bulb with an LED bulb.