Published on February 16th, 2014 | by Greg0
Beyerdynamic A 200 p: Solid Headphone DAC And Amp
Plugging high-end headphones into your average mobile music player is like putting ketchup on your filet mignon. Sure, you can do it, but you’re ruining the natural beauty, removing the character of what you’re trying to enjoy. You might be familiar with the difference between modern digital and classic analog, and the trick is to balance both worlds with a DAC- a digital to audio convertor, that can take your digital music player and bypass the typical paths with superior circuitry devoted to audio.
We’ve reviewed many headphone DAC/amps, including several portable models, but the latest from beyerdynamic is a great advance- the A 200 p is nicely sized, and offers 24-bit resolution at 96 kHz sampling, suitable for lossless audio files that are far superior to your typical MP3. Of course, if you listen mostly to streaming services like Pandora or sources like internet radio, you won’t notice much difference with any DAC/amp, but even Spotify and iTunes now offer high bit-rate files and we certainly recommend using them when possible. We picked up ours at CES last month and spent some time traveling, using several sets of headphones from both beyerdynamic and other firms as well.
Compact enough to fit in just about any pocket, the internal battery offers plenty of juice, up to 11 hours of listening which should be enough for all but the longest flights. And while we’ve seen smaller DACs, they are generally for laptops and in a USB-stick form factor similar to the Audioengine D3- the beyerdynamic A 200 p is said to be the tiniest model currently capable of supporting a much wider range of devices: from the iPhone, iPod, and iPad via Lightning connector, Android smartphones or tablets with digital micro-USB audio output (Android 4.1+), as well as Mac and Windows computer via normal USB. All this at only 51 grams (plus accessories)!
All of the cables are included, along with a nice leather case that definitely sets this one apart from many competitors- as does the large dial volume control, easy to use without having to look down. We tried a variety of devices and music- albums like the soundtrack to ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ highlight the A 200 p’s fidelity when it comes to lyrics and strings, with details- breaths and depths- that you miss without it. It’s simple to test- all of our listeners noticed the immediate impact even blind, and works best with bold, big music that offers strong contrasts and plenty of subtlety, allowing the DAC to make it’s presence felt. The well-built, solid beyerdynamic A 200 p portable headphone DAC and amplifier is available online and in stores for around $299,