Audio Technica AT-HA20
- Cheap, enhanced sound
- Not nearly as great as some other amplifiers
As a cheap way to increase the quality of your audio setup, the AT-HA20 is a reasonable alternative. However we would recommend saving your money and investing in a better amplifier later on, as the difference it will make and the scope for upgrading will be vastly increased.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Headphone amplifiers are a truly difficult product to review. For many people they will be nothing more than an expensive LED taking up space in their already cluttered audio setup. For others however, they are another step along the endless road to audio nirvana.
Most people believe an amplifier is something designed to increase the volume of something; this isn't always correct. Amplifiers add their own distinct colouration to the sound. You would have heard us describe different headphones sounds ranging from warm to dark and neutral. A headphone amplifier can exhibit all of these characteristics, thus it is important to pair it well with your headphones.
The AT-HA20 is an entry level amplifier; typically one can expect to pay upwards of $800 for a reasonable quality unit, so the low price tag on this model is definitely attractive. You do however get what you pay for.
Many pairs of headphones require an amplifier, merely to adequately drive them, and whilst we found the AT-HA20 could support most of our test models, some high end pairs such as the Beyerdynamic DT880s were simply too much for it.
What the AT-HA20 is great for is enhancing the sound of headphones that don't require an amplifier; things like the Audio Technica A900s. We found this amplifier to be extremely neutral in that, it didn't greatly colour the sound across any of the registers. What it did do is improve weaker elements of the headphones we used, and enhance the overall sound quality. On the A900s it gave the mid range more prominence (one of our few criticisms of that model) and really increased the resolution and detail. This was the case across multiple pairs of headphones; we found this amplifier gave them a fuller, richer sound.
Design wise, the AT-HA20 is quite nice. It is extremely compact for an amplifier, although probably still too large to be considered portable. It is housed in a solid, silver chassis with a clear Perspex roof allowing you to see the circuitry inside. The insides are illuminated by a funky blue LED, which we liked the look of, but some people may find annoying in a dark room.
It supports both small and large headphones jacks, which is a nice touch. Connection to your CD player or other source is achieved through a standard RCA cable. We would have liked to see optical or coaxial as an option here, but realistically for a budget product, RCA is more than satisfactory.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Motorola Moto X (2nd Gen) review: Raising the bar
- 2 Xiaomi Mi4 review: Xiaomi's best yet
- 3 Samsung Galaxy Note Edge review: Lightly flawed, Undeniably special
- 4 Sony Xperia Z3 review: The no-frills flagship
- 5 Samsung's Galaxy Alpha review: A peek into the Galaxy S6
Best Deals on GoodGearGuide
Latest News Articles
- Mass surveillance 'endangers fundamental human rights,' says study
- Developers begin work on LibreOffice for Android
- The Upload: Your tech news briefing for Tuesday, January 27
- Computer simulation eases real-world Chinese traffic jams
- Link between NSA and Regin cyberespionage malware becomes clearer
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.