Neat Microphones’ Beehive Buzzes

Low, flat rectangular black boxes with a few buttons and displays. Boring. You need to add a little buzz to your stereo shelf. For example, how about a Beehive? If you’re looking for a tube-driven headphone amplifier and DAC, this might be the hive for you.

The Beehive, the latest addition to Neat Microphones’ Bee family, is a digital to analog converter (DAC) combined with a low-noise, tube-driven input stage headphone amplifier. The plug-and-play unit has a 96-kHz/24-bit converter. The headphone amplifier portion features an analog power supply and capacitor-less outputs that eliminate dielectric absorption that can otherwise cause distortion in capacitor-equipped output stages.

Flexibly, the Beehive can act as a standalone headphone amplifier if you already have a preferred DAC. In addition to the USB input, the unit has RCA and 3.5mm analog inputs, and ¼-inch and 3.5mm outputs. Frequency response: 8 Hz – 80kHz +/- 1 dB. THD+N @ 32 ohm: 0.04%. Size: 200mm wide x 190mm high. Weight: 1.46kg.

Other things that might interest you: Headphone impedance is 8 – 600 ohms with +10 dB boost for high-impedance headphones. (Typically, a headphone might use a comfortable 32-ohm design.) The tube heating filament circuit uses a slow-start, non-spike design to help preserve tube longevity. Additionally, the audio output signal is routed through a protection circuit that filters impulses upon power-up and -down that could potentially damage your headphones. Finally, you’ll be pleased to hear that the stepped volume potentiometer uses a hand-machined brushed aluminum knob.

Although the busy show floor precluded any critical listening to this low-noise amplifier, I can at least verify that there is no buzzing in this Beehive. (Although a headphone is pictured, no headphone is supplied with this unit.)

Price of the Beehive is TBA. And, in case you are wondering, Neat Microphones is a division of Gibson Brands – you know – the guitar people.