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A few years ago I acquired my first, and until now, only 300b headphone amp in the Glenn 300b. Legend has it only a few of these amps exist, and it will never leave my collection. The sound is an intoxicating mix between heft, airy extension, and a 3d soundscape that is unlike any other tube. In an effort to share the 300b sound with ZMF owners we are now carrying the Cayin 300B MKII amplifier, and it delivers on every front! Some of my key takeaways after running the amp through its paces:
A. Extremely quiet, not just for a 300b amp!
B. Handles 1v to 6v inputs with ease, loves every source we throw at it.
C. Tons of range, sensitive headphones to Susvara and HE6 are all driven with ease.
D. Tubes change the sound a lot, a worthy tube rolling companion! Many changes just from rolling the input 6SN7 tubes!
E. Classic 300b sound weight, with just the right amount of tube harmonics to sound euphonic with great clarity and resolve.
I'm excited for ZMF owners to hear the Cayin 300b MK II. It's an exciting amp that's worthy of the ZMF sound! More info below:
HA-300 MKII has been built again as a Class A single-ended triode amplifier to preserve the all-important even-order harmonics audio enthusiasts crave from such topologies.
But Cayin's flagship remains a truly reference device. The direct-heated magic from Genelex PX300Bs – bearing the Gold Lion mark of quality – continues to provide Cayin with access to square law, load line and graceful soft-clipping triode functions at the drawing board to push down distortion without the crutch of negative feedback.
HA-300 MKII's high tube operating voltage ensures excellent open-loop linearity and additionally reduces the need for negative feedback. Power supply regulation is thorough, extending beyond typical small signal regions to encompass even the power stage and high-voltage sections of the amplifier.
Huge EI-core output transformers with reinforcing shielding are wound in-house to Cayin’s exact spec for frequency extension at the extremes, lowering impedances and providing immense inductance for the lowest bass reproduction, plus great top-end transparency owing to their shape.
Custom-built AudioCapX MultiCap coupling capacitors upgraded for MKII's signal path are also ideal for passing low frequencies and extending bass down to 10Hz. Phase reproduction in the audible human hearing range remains stellar as a result, with taut dynamics and impactful slam – not the wooly affairs of yesteryear's transformer amps.
That high bandwidth gets delivered into any working personal audio transducer, with HA-300 MKII's output transformers allowing it to drive low-impedance, low-sensitivity planar-magnetic headphones balanced via 4.4mm and 4-pin XLRs pushing up to 6 watts on the front.
That potent Class A power can even be switched to speaker terminals on the rear to drive high-impedance, high-sensitivity passive speakers from the likes of Rogers, DeVORE Fidelity or Zu Audio. What's crazier is this brute in ballet shoes produces next to no hiss into sensitive earphones via 4.4mm ... a true feat, barely imaginable, till this point.
Important refinements over its predecessor include a MUSES72320 resistor ladder electronic volume control part. This preserves signal-to-noise ratio and channel balance down to the ALPS-controlled encoder's lowest level – perfect for however much, or little, travel you need.
A 4.4mm output ensures yet more headphones can be plugged in via Pentaconn’s ubiquitous connector for transformer-balanced operation.
With headphones having developed leaps and bounds since the turn of the decade, Cayin guarantee their latest and greatest flagship keeps up with the times – such that any can you throw at it will perform in ways you hadn't even thought possible.