AMPAPA A1 Tube Amplifier Review
AMPAPA A1 Tube Amplifier Review
Ampapa is a US based company founded in 2018 in Seattle, Washington. The A1 is the first product designed by Ampapa, which is a Phono Stage – Pre-Amplifier & Headphone Amplifier that is equipped with JAN GE5654 vacuum tubes.
I would like to thank Ampapa for providing me the A1 Amplifier as review sample. I am not affiliated with Ampapa beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.
Price & Availability:
The actual price of the Ampapa A1 is about 139.99 US$ that has been dropped from 199.99 US$. More information’s can be found under the link below;
Package & Accessories:
The A1 came inside a rectangular black box with the Ampapa branding on the top.
This box of the product contains the following items:
- 1 x Ampapa A1 Amplifier
- 2 x JAN GE5654 vacuum tubes
- 1 x RCA Cable
- 1 x Power Adaptor
- 1 x Cleaning Cloth
- 1 x Print Material (User Manual, Warranty Card & Certificate)
Design & Build Quality:
The Ampapa A1 is a great looking little Phono Stage / Audio Pre-Amplifier / Headphone Amp that offers a beautiful eye-catching retro look with all that tubes and dials, which adds also some modern elements such like LED lights to its design.
The A1 surprised me with is solid appearance and good overall built quality especially for its actual price. The body of the amplifier is made from aluminum sheet material that has a smooth black surface finish. The device
On the top of the Ampapa A1 are 3 dials (volume, bass, treble), 3 switches (power on/off, select, led) 2 female sockets for the vacuum tubes, and the 3.5mm headphone output.
The aluminum alloy dials are dedicated for volume, bass and treble adjustment, which do offer a nice click and grip.
The 3 switches on the top do remind me to the ones mainly used in plain and helicopter cockpits. The first switch is for power on & off; the second one is to select between Phono and Line-in. The third switch allows you to choose between the orange and green LED color of the tubes and the lights that do surround the device, which can be completely turned off by positioning it to the middle. The Ampapa A1 offers only a 3.5mm Single Ended output that is located nearly he switches.
The vacuum tubes are one of the highlights of the device that do look pretty nice especially when you turn the LED lights on that are integrated in to the tubes.
On the front of the A1 is the Ampapa brand logo that is located right between a top and bottom perforated surface that continues on to both sides of the device. The perforated areas of the A1 do feature LED lights that do add the device a really nice fancy look.
The rear side of the device sports from left to right the GND (ground) connector for turntables, left/right phono inputs, left/right line inputs, left/right RCA outputs and the 12V DC power input and some industrial certifications (CE, FCC,RoHS, etc.)
At the bottom of the amplifier are four stands that do have rubber isolations feet’s.
|Audio input||Phono MM / Stereo RCA|
|Audio output||Stereo RCA / 3.5mm Headphone Jack|
|Input level||0.775V RMS (RCA); 0.005V RMS (Phono)|
|Frequency response||20Hz-20KHz (±0.5dB) (RCA); Ref to RIAA +/-2dB (Phono)|
|Headphone output power||125mW（32Ω）|
|Headphone impedance range||16-300Ω|
|Working voltage||DC 12V (≥1.5A)|
|Output level||1.5V RMS (RCA); 0.6V RMS (Phono)|
|S/N ratio||≥106dB (RCA); ≥80dB(Phono)|
Amplifier Section and Audio Parameters:
The 3.5mm Single Ended output of the Ampapa A1 offers an output power of around 120mW @ 32Ω and works with an headphone impedance range between 16-300Ω. The A1 was able to power full sized Planar Headphones such like the HiFiMAN Edition XS and SIVGA P-II to pretty high volume levels when coupled with the FiiO New K3 DAC.
The background of the device is pretty clean and shows only a fairly low level of white noise production when paired with sensitive In-Ear Monitors.
Equipment’s used for this review:
- Sources : Ampapa A1 + FiiO New K3 DAC
- IEM’s : FiiO FH7S, 7HZ Timeless AE, Final Audio B2
- Headphones : HiFiMAN Edition XS, SIVGA P-II
Albums & tracks used for this review:
- Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
- Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
- Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
- Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Hysteria – Muse (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Rush – YYZ (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – Nobody Weird Like Me (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
- Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
- Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
- Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
- Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
- Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
- Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
- Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
- Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
- Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
- Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
- Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
- Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)
The Ampapa A1 shows a nice touch of coloration and smoothness that is added with the small JAN GE5654 vacuum tubes. The general tonality is mildly warm and it adds to your headphones and IEM’s a nice sense of additional fullness without to remarkably affect the clarity and resolution, which is one of the highlights of this little Tube Amplifier.
This review has been written after a burn-in period of about 80 hours. My sound experience below are mainly based to pairings with headphones like the HiFiMAN Edition XS, SIVGA P-II and In-Ear Monitors like the Final Audio B2, QoA Margarita & FiiO FH7S.
Bass / Midrange / Treble / Soundstage & Imaging:
The Ampapa A1 shows a mildly warm tonality and a relative smooth overall presentation that is not overdone, which was pretty audible while listen to headphones like the HiFiMAN Edition XS and the SIVGA P-II. The subbass region is reproduced with an efficient level of depth and intensity songs like Daft Punk’s “Doin’ it Right”, Massive Attack’s “Angel” or to Lorde’s “Royals”.
The midbass region of the A1 shows slightly amount of coloration that is not overdone. This area sound pretty controlled and impactful when I pair it with the SIVGA P-II. This depth, impact and rumble of this are can be easily increased thanks to the bass adjustment/control dial that is pretty efficient up to 11:00 o’clock, while it starts to create distortion and loses also some of its authority towards 12 o’clock, which was quite audible with headphones like the Edition XS and IEM’s like the FiiO FH7S.
What I really like about the Ampapa A1 is the nice touch of warmth and smoothness to the midrange area, which is pretty welcome when I do listen to headphones like the Edition XS and P-II that do miss some fullness in the lower midrange. The A1 adds come sense of addition fullness and softness to these areas, without do remarkably decrease the clarity and resolution. Male vocals like such like Isaac Hayes, Dave Gahan and Sting are reproduced with a touch more body and depth, while strings and pianos do sound a bit richer and a musical. Female vocals and instruments such like a violins, cellos and flutes on the other do sound a bit softer and less prone to sibilance and sharpness, while their extension is a bit shorter than normal.
The Ampapa A1 offers a slightly relaxed and softened treble presentation, which is a main character of amplifiers with vacuum tubes. The treble extension is a bit shorter than normal with all headphones and IEM’s I have listen to it, while the sense of additional body and airiness is on an decent grade. Percussions do have a mildly bright tonality and are reproduced with a sufficient level of extension, while pianos do sound a bit more warmish, soft and yet controlled. The treble dial is a nice feature that helps to add some additional clarity and sparkle if needed, while it can sound a bit thin and unnatural towards 9 o’clock.
The soundstage of the Ampapa A1 pretty expansive and shows a adequate sense of airiness, which makes it pretty enjoyable while listen orchestral music with lots of instruments. The soundstage is pretty wide, while I would wish a bit more depth.
The Ampapa A1 is a nice little device that impressed me with its general sound presentation, its solid build quality and the beautiful retro look with all the dials, the vacuum tubes and some newer design elements such like the LED lights. The sound that offers a nice touch of coloration, a unique timbre and smoothness that is generated by the small JAN GE5654 vacuum tubes and the mildly warm tonality and smoothness that is added to some headphones and IEM’s without to remarkably affect the clarity and resolution is one of the highlights of the A1 Tube Amplifier.
Pros & Cons:
- + Smooth, Somewhat Relaxed Presentation
- + Good Clarity for a Vacuum Tube AMP at this price level
- + Pretty Clean Noise Floor
- + Small Size & Beautiful Retro Look
- + Volume, Bass & Treble dials with decent response
- + Good Price to Performance Ratio
- – Not enough power for high impedance headphones
- – Only 3.5mm Single Ended Headphone Output
- – Nothing remarkable for that price
Thank you for the Read!