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Fostex HP-A4

Headphone amplifier and D/A converter with USB interface

  • USB 2.0, with up to 24 bit / 192 kHz PCM audio
  • DSD with 2.8 / 5.6 MHz (DoP or ASIO)
  • Frequency range: 20 to 80,000 Hz +/- 3 dB (1 kHz, 32 ohm loaded, 100 mW, FS 192 kHz)
  • High-resolution audio playback via "FOSTEX Audio Player" software
  • USB bus-powered
  • Asynchronous data transfer via USB interface
  • Selectable digital filter
  • Headphone output with switchable amplifier gain
  • Analog RCA outputs and S/PDIF in- and output (optical) enable operation as a stand-alone converter and line preamplifier
  • MicroSD slot for future firmware updates
  • Dimensions: 113 x 34 x 155 mm
  • Weight approx. 500 g
  • For Windows XP SP2 (XP 64-bit is not supported), Vista, 7.8, and MacOS X 10.6.1 or later
  • Incl. USB cable and 4 rubber feet

Further information

Amount Of Channels 2
AD Conversion No
DA Conversion Yes
Max. Resolution 24 bit
Max. sampling rate 192 kHz
S/PDIF Connecor Yes
AES/EBU Connector No
Word clock No
Number of analog inputs 0
Number of Analog Outputs 2
Headphone connection Yes
10 customer ratings:
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  • 1
4.8 / 5.0
  • handling
  • features
  • sound
  • quality
8 written ratings Read all reviews

Hard pressed to find a better Dac in this price range!

S5690, 30.12.2014
A/B'd against: Dac Magic Plus (£350)
Xonar Essence One (£350)
Arcam IrDac (£400)
Running through the headphone amplifiers on each device using Sennheiser HD 600 headphones

By no means am I an audiophile: I appreciate clean, detailed sound and am drawn to a sonic balance (neutrality). This Dac really gives others in its price range a run for their money!

I bought the HP-A4 for around £200 and the only Dac that surpassed it was x2 the price (Arcam IrDac) which it does by a small margin... In my opinion, the Fostex trumps the Xonar in sound quality: it has punch in the bass, a clean mid-section, which, the Xonar seemed to become muddy and a bit too messy and too forward.
The Dac Magic Plus was very close in sonic quality! shockingly close. The only difference I could tell from the small amount of time I had with this device was the treble of the Dac Magic getting slightly lost in a Rage Against the Machine song (I do not recall) in the treble region; I believe this was because the Fostex has a brighter top end by a light notch, giving it the edge in detail, whereas the Dac Magic seemed very laid back and neutral; I had high expectations for the Dac Magic considering it cost £150 more; the difference was minimal and the HP-A4 was my winner here.

Describing the tone of the Fostex HP-A4 I'd say laid back with punch and edge; simply put: Tight-punchy bass, a cleverly revised mid section (extremely clean despite being subtly reduced), and detailed highs with a slight treble boost to give life to cymbals and such.

A side note: don't be alarmed by the reduced mids, what Fostex have done is make an awesome sounding unit while not making it dull and lacking in any way. My ears actually hear a reduction in the muddier frequencies to give recordings more space and a cleaner reproduction.
Definitely recommend this Dac/Pre-amp!
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Not only au en hui!

Do not be annoyed by the fact that the A4 gets its juice only via USB. I would not have thought it possible but with the gain function activated the small box has enough power to drive also a 250 - 300 Ohm KH. Only the bass could be a bit thinner but for models with 45 - 200 ohms it is really top!

Attention! If you prefer a gentle, warm and dark sound: Fingers away! The A4 is rather "bright" transparent but nevertheless quite well balanced in the basses. If one however a darkly tuned Kh as the B & W p7 or similar. And would just like to compensate for this property, the A4 would have to be perfect!

Technically an absolute tip product I must say. It is very sturdy and ready, and never as plastic as the Denon Da-300, for example.

To the sound: As already mentioned, a bit high and moth-stressed but not at all in a negative sense, rather on the contrary. It provides a very clear, clear sound and, despite the somewhat highlighted heights, they do not interfere with any disturbance, but feel slightly silky.

Likewise the mids. Singing is extremely natural, clear and yet velvety reproduced.

The only criticism (if at all) would be the basses, which for my taste but punctually hit but almost a bit too fast and hard hit. Since I had wanted a little more volume but compared to the bass of the Denon Da-300, one should not complain.

All in all, a great, handy device that delivers a super sound without hitting anger!

Absolute purchase recommendation for this price!
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399 €
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