Thanks to Focal-Naim America who actually hires communication professionals to let the world know about new products shipping from companies such as SPL, we learned that the company is shipping a new headphone amplifier from its outstanding Phonitor line. The new Phonitor se model sells with or without a DAC, so it can become even less expensive for those headphone enthusiasts who already invested in a good quality, recent DAC.
And the new Phonitor se features the same audio signal amplification of the Phonitor x and Phonitor xe models - which have multiple extra features, including balanced headphone connections - and they all use SPL's own VOLTAiR 120V circuit technology - so they basically all offer the same sound experience. And of course, the high-quality look and feel is maintained in a more compact chassis. The playback of analog signals is done via an unbalanced stereo RCA input and for digital players, via the optional DAC768xs digital-to-analogue converter.
The optional DAC768xs conversion circuit uses the highly acclaimed AKM AK4490 Velvet Sound premium DAC chip, supporting 32-bit with sampling rates up to 768kHz. It accepts PCM signals and Direct Stream Digital up to DSD256. With the optional DAC768xs board, in addition to the standard analog inputs, the SPL Phonitor gains three more digital sources: USB, Coaxial and Optical.
The volume is adjusted with a milled all-aluminum rotary knob, using an Alps RK27 “Big Blue” potentiometer that provides a pleasant “spoon in honey” turning feeling. The Phonitor se uses a proper 1/4" jack on the headphone output (unbalanced), providing up to 2 x 5 watts of output power at 250Ω (1 kHz, 1 % THD) or 1 watt at 32Ω. This allows driving even very power-hungry headphones such as magnetostats or electrostats. The headphone input is easily accessible on the front of the device, allows the connection of all common types of headphones.
The exclusive SPL circuit offered by the Phonitor se is a simplified version of the company's Phonitor Matrix switchable crossfeed, that allows users to listen to music through headphones with the sound experience of listening through speakers. The crossfeed function determines the crosstalk of the channels, the so-called interaural level difference. This helps avoid the artificial super stereo effect or the exaggerated reproduction of reverberation and effects, positioning the stereo image where it should be and helping to make long music listening sessions less fatiguing. The Phonitor se offers three setting parameters: Crossfeed, Speaker Angle and Center Level. The Center Level is preset to -1 dB and the speaker placement Angle to 30°. These are the most common values and are controlled with two switch positions. The larger Phonitor models offer even more extreme Matrix options.
"The connectivity options and functions of the bigger SPL headphone amplifiers are too extensive for some occasional headphone listeners. After having developed the Phonitor xe, the ultimate headphone amplifier, I am pleased that we now have a version reduced in feature set and price on the market - the Phonitor se," says Bastian Neu, the engineer responsible for this SPL design.
The new Phonitor se is available in silver, black and red anodized finishes with a retail price of $1190 USD in the US/Canada . The Phonitor se with DAC768xs retails for $1590 USD in the US/Canada.
SPL has been developing and manufacturing professional audio equipment for demanding applications in studio, mastering and broadcasting for more than 35 years. The company's products are respected by people who use them for their unique features, user-friendliness, and outstanding performance. Among SPL's most celebrated developments are the patented Vitalizer sound-optimization processing, the first-ever level-independent dynamic processor known as the Transient Designer, the 5.1 microphone system Atmos, as well as compact monitor controllers and channel strips. The development of the SUPRA 120 Volt op amps by SPL allowed analog signal processing to outperform the best digital processing in terms of quality. Ever since, the 120V technology has become a quality trademark of SPL products, laying the foundation for all SPL Mastering devices as well as various devices of the SPL Studio line, like the 120V microphone preamplifier Crescendo. With the latest SPL Hi-Fi series, the company introduced its Professional Fidelity concept, successfully repackaging its technology in new products for the home, and rebranding the 120V technology under the name of VOLTAiR.