Tube Amps for Pocket Change SainSonic Biggermouth A1 Headphone Amp

SainSonic Biggermouth A1 Headphone Amp

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $35

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Svelte
Fantastic sound
$35!!!
Minus
No power switch (seriously)
Tinnitus simulator
Massive power brick

THE VERDICT
How is there no power switch? Other than that (and the squeal), a pretty great-sounding cheap amp.

The SainSonic was the last amp I tested, and it had a lot going against it. First, the skinny tubes in my sample didn’t sit perfectly vertical, appearing like a pair of fingers giving the peace sign (or the two-fingered salute, if you’re British). Second, it has a power supply that is, no joke, larger than the amp itself. The silver chassis is about the size of a pack of cigarettes, but somehow, with the skinny tubes, it all ends up looking rather...perplexed. And third, believe it or not, there’s no way to turn the amp off, so you’ll just have to enjoy the music at all times, forever.

Like the Nobsound, the SainSonic has a name on the faceplate that doesn’t match the name on Amazon. The faceplate says, “Biggermouth A1.” Amazon says, “SainSonic 6J5 Class A Vacuum Tube Buffer Classic 47 Headphone Amplifier Decode Audio Hifi Diy Amp with Power Supply”—or, as I like to call it, the SSCAVTBCHADAHDAWPS for short. It is also another hybrid model, using the tubes as buffers for solid-state output stages.

Oddly enough, the lack of a power switch wasn’t the biggest issue with the SSCAVTBCHADAHDAWPS. When it was connected to my computer, there was a high-pitched squeeeeee (a squeeeeee being about 1.4 kilohertz, not to be confused with a squee, which is only around 900 Hz). None of the other amps had this issue, and neither did the A1 when it was connected to my phone, laptop, or iPod, unless the latter was also connected to my PC. I tried the Biggermouth on my biggergamingPC, and the squeal was lower in pitch but still there. Bummer.

Which is all too bad, because sound-wise, I actually liked the A1 the best. Through the Oppos, the bass was easily the best: warm, defined, big. The bass and drums on Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” punched but were never boomy. The sound was just that little bit more lively and open, the bass just that little bit fuller, than what I heard from the Nobsound. The A1 wasn’t as clean when I turned it up, but I got plenty of volume out of all these amps (with all the headphones used), never turning them up even close to half of the volume control’s range.

The multilayered guitars, bouzouki, mandolins, and pipes of Planxty’s “Little Musgrave” rang true in the Beyerdynamics. The Mountain Goats’ “This Year” had strong bass via the Sony. The A1 didn’t sound quite as neutral as the FiiO A3, but again, it was a pleasing, more lively sound.

Did I mention you can’t turn it off? Even if you unplug the power cable from the amp, the brick still glows, drawing some power. I guess if you’re buying a tube headphone amp, being green isn’t too high a priority, but still.

Spend the extra $15 and get the Nobsound.

Specs
Dimensions (WxHxD, Inches): 3.76 x 2.9 (est) x 3.94
Weight (Ounces): 5.6
Inputs: 1/8-inch stereo (1)
Outputs: 1/8-inch stereo (1)
Output Power: N/A
Output Voltage: N/A
Output Impedance: N/A
Compatible Headphone Impedances: 32 to 300 ohms
Price: $35

Company Info
SainSonic
sainsonic.com

COMMENTS
pw's picture

As long as I have read S&V you have never mentioned Dared Audio or other Asian brands.. I wonder why?

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