• Balancing Act—Fully balanced, tube-powered desktop headphone amplifier. ($3950)
• 2A3—2A3 tube-powered desktop headphone amplifier. ($2800)
• Super 7—6SN7 tube-powered desktop headphone amplifier, shown in prototype form. (Projected price, $1300)
Designer Craig Ulthus founded Eddie Current in 2005 with the goal of offering extremely high performance tube-powered headphone amplifiers through a factory-direct sales model. Ulthus’ background is an interesting one in that he has previous worked for UREI, JBL Pro Sound, Surround Sound Inc., and also co-founded—along with Jim Marshall—the also tube-oriented high-end audio firm Moth Audio.
I spent most of my time listening to the gorgeous Balancing Act, which is Eddie Current’s flagship model, and to the prototype of the firm’s new entry-level Super 7 amp, both of which showed real sonic panache coupled with a retro-cool design vibe (think in term of some the great Mesa-Boogie guitar amps you may have seen and you you’ve got a good idea of the Eddie Current design ethos.). Meanwhile, Eddie Current’s middle model, the 2A3-powered “2A3” was winning friends over at the Audez’e table, where it was doing a fine job of driving Audez’e’s new LCD-3 headphone.
• Signature Headphone Amplifier—Tube-powered desktop headphone amplifier with “Surround” imaging control and bass trim controls, shown in pilot production prototype form. (Projected price, about $1500).
Designer Jim Fosgate is probably best known for his work on surround sound (he is credited as one the primary creators of Dolby Pro Logic II) and in high-end car audio (Rockford-Fosgate), but in truth one of his first loves is high performance, high-end tube circuit designs. This fact is already crystal clear to those who’ve had the privilege of hearing Fosgate’s award-winning Signature Phono Stage (which is sold under the auspices of high-end audio distributor Musical Surroundings).
But now, Fosgate has leveraged some of the design thinking behind the Signature Phono Stage to create a new product called the Signature Headphone Amplifier. Indeed, the Headphone Amplifier uses the same SRPP (shunt-regulated push-pull) circuit topology employed in the phono stage, a topology Fosgate feels offers an ideal combination of optimal linearity, low noise, and low distortion. Two very interesting design “wrinkles” are that the amp provides switch selectable bass EQ settings and—get this—separately switch selectable Surround effects setting. Purists need not worry, though, as it is of course possible to set bass EQ for flat response and to disable surround processing, if so desired.
The Signature Headphone Amplifier wasn’t shown at Can Jam, per se, but rather was part of the larger RMAF exhibit where it was proudly being demonstrated outside the Musical Surroundings demo room (which was reserved for loudspeaker-based audio systems). Final pricing isn’t set yet, but Musical Surroundings folks projected the price to be “about $1500.” Did I mention the Fosgate is real “looker,” too?