(Last updated 01/24/2007)
News: HeadLines are shipping!
Have you ever been out in the field and needed to monitor an S/PDIF
digital audio data stream but didn't have a portable DAC
(digital-to-analog converter)? Have you ever wanted to monitor on
headphones instead of speakers but couldn't find a portable DAC that had
a pro-quality headphone amp? Have you ever wanted to listen to your
favorite analog or digital sound source over a great set of headphones
instead of the crummy built-in headphone amp and ear buds that came with
your player? Have you ever needed to monitor both an analog source and
a few digital sources? Have you ever needed to monitor a source and
also drive another device's Line-level input? Have you ever wanted an
audiophile quality DAC and headphone amp that's good enough to use in
your home High End AV system and also portable enough to take on the
Core Sound's new HeadLine
does it all!
HeadLine is the first portable, battery-powered, audiophile-quality
device that combines a DAC, headphone amp and source selector. It
allows you to select between three S/PDIF digital audio sources (two
coaxial and one optical) and one analog Line-level source. A switch
lets you select whether HeadLine functions as a Line-level DAC,
headphone amplifier or both simultaneously. Unlike almost every other
headphone amp on the market, it can effortlessly drive both consumer (30
Ohm) and professional (600 Ohm) headphones and in-ear monitors (IEMs).
It will operate on a pair of common alkaline nine Volt "transistor
radio" batteries for more than five hours. And when the batteries'
voltage drops, you can continue listening while you swap them out one at
a time for fresh batteries.
HeadLine is designed to be neutral in sound quality and add
essentially no sound of its own -- it simply gives you what you feed it,
only louder. It accepts 24-bit S/PDIF digital audio data at sample
rates up to 192 KS/s. Its performance is outstanding: line-stage noise
floor is typically down at -140 dB, separation between channels is
typically 105 dB at 1 KHz and total harmonic distortion plus noise
(THD+N) is typically down at 0.00055%!
HeadLine is powerful enough to drive speakers. It's a mini power amp
rather than a milliWatt earbud driver.
HeadLine provides clear indications about the charge state of its
batteries and external power supply. An LED on its front panel glows
solid green when running on an external battery pack or AC wall wart.
The green LED blinks when running on internal batteries that are in good
condition. It turns yellow when the batteries' voltages drop to a point
that you should start thinking about changing them. When the LED turnes
red and starts flashing slowly, it's time to change at least one
battery. As the batteries' voltages drop further, the red LED flashes
faster. And finally, when the red LED stays on continuously, the
batteries' voltages have dropped below what HeadLine needs to operate
per its specifications.
HeadLine optimizes battery life by allowing you to shut down unused
functions. If you're only using it as a DAC, you can shut down the
headphone amplifier to save lots of battery power. If the Toslink input
is not selected, the Toslink receiver is powered down. Also, when
running on batteries, the S/PDIF Lock LED turns on for a few seconds
when a valid data stream is detected, and then turns off.
Compare HeadLine to the Grace Design 902 ($1700), Benchmark Media
Systems' DAC-1 ($975) and Headroom's Micro Line Micro Amp/Micro DAC
combination ($600). You'll see that HeadLine ($399) offers audiophile
quality performance and more features at a significantly lower
price. And HeadLine is portable!