Hephaestus is an interesting and unusual choice of name for an amplifier company. Named after the Greek mythological god of fire, technology, metalwork and craftsmanship, Hephaestus was busily working away on his forge, satisfying the demands, of the Olympian Gods. Joey White, the head honcho and designer of today’s technological marvel, the HMA-1000, must have been inspired by the Gods to pursue such lofty goals and to try and satisfy the even greater demands of the Audiophile. Although, audiophiles can not physically throw lightning bolts at the designer, they will voice their displeasure with pointed barbs on blogs and websites, and can almost be equally destructive or constructive.
Joey White has created his own version of Class D amplification and without using off the shelf amplifier modules or power supplies. He developed his own designs for these critical elements and hand builds each unit. His HMA-1000 monoblocks are of a simple, functional design aesthetic at best called utilitarian and they only come in black. There are no on/off switches, indicator lights or even footers. Joey feels that any switches or lights add circuitry which could have deleterious effects on performance and as well as adding cost. He also reasons that most audiophiles will be using power conditioners with on/off capabilities or leave them on all the time. These highly efficient class Class D amplifiers use minimal current. Another cost cutting decision is the lack of included power cords. He feels that most audiophiles prefer to use their own choice of after market cords anyway so why include some throw away cord at all. That is also the reasoning behind not providing footers. How many footers and vibration absorbing devices do each of us have sitting in a draw somewhere just waiting to be played with to determine which produces the optimum result. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded a discreet, tasteful indicator light, but that’s me.
Now, let’s start the listening. Firstly, I couldn’t believe these diminutive black boxes, at about half the size and weight of my Nuforce V3-SE’s, not exactly large to begin with, would produce 1000 watts (rms) at 4 ohms and 600 watts (rms) at 8 ohms. That’s about three times the rated power output of my Nuforce amps. I installed them in my system, which requires four channels of amplification due to speakers which must be bi-amplified, thus requiring two monoblocks per speaker. How would all this power sound?
I performed a couple of hundred hours of burn-in time with various musical sources. Before burn-in they were thin and a little cold. After burn-in, they burst into life. Absolutely blossomed. One would expect, with all the power and headroom available, bass performance would be superb and one is not disappointed. Solid, deep and tuneful with utter control was the order of the day. And, by control, I don’t mean dry or analytical. This is full and tight with a complete reverberant envelope. Dynamics, as one would expect, were extraordinary with these amplifiers. Along with all this power and dynamics one also noticed that nuance and delicacy were not in any way short changed. If anything, they were equally present. All these factors contributed to a presentation of the music with full authority, weight and realism.
The soundstage that these amplifiers presented was a revelation. There was more air and separation than I’d been accustomed to as well as greater front to back depth placing musicians in a more realistic performance space. Images were more three dimensional with more body and substance then I’ve previously experienced.
Another preconception these amplifiers dispel is that digital means a non-musical presentation — an analytical edginess to the sound. Sorry, not here. The HMA-1000’s are smooth and non-fatiguing, yet replete with inner texture and detail giving them wonderful resolving power greater then my current amplifiers (which are no slouches in that area). And they do all this with an ease and naturalness that says music, not electronics. Voices are more realistically portrayed with more body, texture and intimacy than I’ve heard before. Choose your favorite singer and be prepared to hear them more clearly and with greater presence then you’ve been accustomed to. The HMA-1000’s bring you another step closer to the real thing.
As technology and understanding grow new products emerge. Joey White has hit the bull’s eye, creating a lightweight, powerful, efficient amplifier, miniscule in size, with Herculean performance and at a price/performance ratio that is staggering. It could easily be priced at 2-3 times its current price and you would still be getting a deal. Now, as previously stated, there are no bells and whistles, no carving out of a single billet of aluminum and you will not get a hernia moving them. In fact they are so light in weight that my power cords can pull them off the rack and I had to be very careful to weigh them down to keep them in place.
Bottom line is that if you want to be impressed with eye candy, look somewhere else. But, if you want to be impressed by awesome sonic performance look no further. My suggestion is that you try these amps and White makes it very easy to do with a no question, in home 90 day return policy. He must be congratulated for bringing Class D amplification to a level of excellence that should obviate the prejudices that some audiophiles still maintain. Highly recommended.
[It is with great pleasure that we award The Audiophilia Star Component Award to the Hephaestus Audio HMA-1000 Monoblock Amplifiers. Congratulations! - Ed]
I am absolutely thrilled that Mr. Appel enjoys the HMA-1000! When an audiophile appreciates my creations it truly means the world to me. To receive the Audiophilia Star in addition is a wonderful surprise and honor!
The Hephaestus Audio HMA-1000 Monoblock Amplifiers
Manufactured by Hephaestus Audio
940 Little Bardfield Road
Webster, NY 14580
Price: $4,900.00 (Seven year warranty)
Source: Manufacturer loan
Amplifiers: 4-Nuforce 9V2 SE’s monoblocks upgraded to 9V3-SE Status
Speakers: Wasatch Acoustics MUSINA (out of production)
Preamplifier: Marantz SC-7S2
Phono Preamplifier: AQVOX 2 Ci Mk II, PS AUDIO GCPH
CD source: Marantz SA-7S1
Analogue source: Avid Volvere/SME IV arm/ Cartridge: Shelter 7000
Speaker cables: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute, Wasatch’s Ultama (no longer being produced)
Power Cords: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute. Kaplan GS Copper
Interconnects: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute (xlr)
Accessories: Herbie’s Audio Lab Tenderfeet, Black Diamond Racing Cones, Soundcare products, Acme Audio Labs wall outlets
Surge Protection: Brick Wall 2R and 8R Surge Protectors
Power Conditioning: PS AUDIO Power Plant Premier
Processor: DEQX 2.6P Modified
JVC JM-XR24013 TCHAIKOVSKY: CAPRICCIO ITALIEN and RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: CAPRICCIO ESPAGNOL-Kiril Kondrashin and RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
25264-1 Warner Bros. Records DIRE STRAITS-BROTHER IN ARMS
TRIP JAZZ TLP-5530 BROWN/ROACH INC.- STUDY IN BROWN (mono)
CS 8192 Columbia Dave Brubeck Quartet/TIME OUT-MQ 30443
Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Bernstein / NY Philharmonic (SQ Quadraphonic)
LSC-2471-200 gram CLASSIC RECORDS reissue-RCA LIVING STEREO, RHAPSODIES with Stokowski and RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Napua Davoy ALL I WANT, www.napuadavoy.com
1.0kWrms into 4Ω / 0.6kWrms into 8Ω
2.5kWpeak transient capability into 4Ω
85% efficiency from ac input to speaker output
20Hz to 20kHz +0.0dB/‐0.5dB frequency response
70uVrms noise floor / 119dB SNR (20Hz to 20KHz)
26dB gain / 10kΩ input impedance
9.0” x 6.75” x 2.25” / 3.5 pounds