Hephaestus Audio HMA-1000 Monoblock Amplifiers

by admin on August 17, 2010 · 13 comments

in Amplifiers, Stars

by Martin Appel

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]

Manufacturer’s Comment

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!

Joey White
Hephaestus Audio

The Hephaestus Audio HMA-1000 Monoblock Amplifiers

Manufactured by Hephaestus Audio

940 Little Bardfield Road
Webster, NY 14580
USA

website
email

Price: $4,900.00 (Seven year warranty)
Source: Manufacturer loan

Associated Equipment

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

Associated Music

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

Specifications

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

{ 1 trackback }

Hephaestus Audio’s Harpocratus Monoblock Amplifiers (Special Edition) — Audiophilia
01.15.14 at 2:36 pm

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

admin 08.17.10 at 10:05 am

Great review, Marty! These young guns of the high end world are producing better and better products. The amps sound intriguing. Looking forward to hearing them in your system.

Cheers, a

Bill Lamprou 08.20.10 at 3:18 am

Dear sir,

a great review,of a rather,since I do not have “hands on experience”, great amplifier.

My only “problem”,is,that your review, devotes circa 100 words,to the savings,by not throwing in footers and power cable.No doubt,the designer has his reasons for doing so,but what are the costs of not excluding them.
With street pricing,$ 3 tops,times 5 ,until the retail price $ 15. While not insignificant,added to the $ 4900 retail price are peanuts.

Let’s not make such a big deal of things that do not deserve it.

Best regards

B.L

ivan 08.20.10 at 3:49 am

I’m not a fan of the name. Hard to say it. I’m sure it would be harder for them to market it.

martin appel 08.20.10 at 6:50 am

Hi Bill, I agree with you about the insignificant costs of these items but it had to be pointed out and not including this info in the review would have been poor reportage and misleading.

Regards, Martin Appel

martin appel 08.20.10 at 6:58 am

Hi Ivan, it is a difficult name to say but I think the marketing aspects of this product is an area the reviews in this magazine are not concerned with. The business of marketing is out of our realm of expertise. The word quickly gets out in Hi- End audio if a product is worthwhile or not. I’m sure that this will be the case here.

Regards, Martin Appel

Joey White 08.20.10 at 8:11 am

Hi Bill, You’re right, the cost of basic footers and a power cord is insignificant. In fact, early on I did include them, but dropped the practice after realizing that people end up using their own thing anyway.

Hi Ivan, Yes, it’s a name that can generate mispronunciations and blank stares. I chose it not so much for marketing reasons, but because I love mythology and can identify with Hephaestus working at his forge.

Best Regards,

Joey White
Hephaestus Audio

Philip 08.20.10 at 8:19 am

Is it just me or did a Hephaestus logo just appear in the sponsors line? ;)

admin 08.20.10 at 8:26 am

Welcome Philip.

Yes, you are correct. Audiophilia happily accepts advertising revenue. The Disclosure paragraph on our About page will help ease your worries and modify that wink into a satisfying smile!

;)

Cheers, a

Philip 08.20.10 at 8:52 am

Thank you for the welcome!

;) -> :)

admin 08.20.10 at 9:33 am

lol

Cheers, a

vdorta 08.21.10 at 11:35 am

I agree with the difficult-to-pronounce name, but there is another problem: the low input impedance, not good for many tube preamps. bel canto and wyred4sound had to modify their ICEpower circuitry to increase the impedance.

Joey White 08.22.10 at 7:04 am

Hi Vdorta,

The 10kohm input impedance is for lower noise - from resistor self-noise and from external interference. I have offered in the past to make custom units with a 100kohm input impedance for no additional charge and that offer still stands.

100kohm at the input of a completely noiseless amplifier with 26dB of gain gives an unweighted output noise of 116uVrms/20Hz-20kHz. For reference, the output noise of the HMA-1000 is an unweighted 70uVrms/20Hz-20kHz.

The source impedance of the preamp can help to lower the noise, but I like the amplifier to be as quiet as practical whether an input is connected or not.

Best Regards, Joey

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