Gadgets pa2v2_01

Published on July 11th, 2013 | by Greg


Electric Avenues: The Inexpensive, Surprisingly Good Pocket Amp 2

We always enjoy being the bearer of good news. So often, when it comes to audio equipment, we end up discussing a decidedly big downside: the price tag. Because the simple fact remains that there are some very good reasons that such gear ends up being expensive. Part of it is the niche market, which means that economies of scale are tough, and that much of the gear is hand-made or custom-tuned or built to order. The components are also pricey, with analog circuitry, vacuum tubes and separate power supplies all adding up.

But with a few compromises, you can achieve 80% of the results for about 20% of the cost. Serious audiophiles probably should look at another option, for but the rest, a minimal expenditure is enough to impress friends and family and show them what they’re missing. The Electric Avenues PA2V2 is a solid, fairly small, and definitely affordable portable headphone amp that can do wonder with digital music sources. If your smartphone, tablet, or laptop sounds a little flat or doesn’t offer enough oomph to power your headphones, then it’s definitely time you considered getting a headphone amplifier. Though this model doesn’t really serve as a DAC, or digital-audio-converter, it does provide a lot of boost for your music, allowing for headroom where you might have previously found them to sound strained or lacking.

Basically, if you’ve spent over $200 on headphones, then you could probably appreciate and should consider upgrading your music files and sources. Low bit-rate files sound pretty bad through good sound equipment, and almost as awful is the fact that most devices don’t really do a solid job of providing a straight, balanced, separate path for your digital sound to travel. Instead, that music file is treated as just more data, which leads to noise as well as jitter. With a battery-powered amp, you can go on the road or use it anywhere, versus a stationary amplifier that are usually fairly heavy. Of course, the plastic case is less attractive than brushed metal. A cord is included so that you can charge your batteries while in use, but with 100 hours of play time on a set of AAs, we didn’t find it too necessary.

The largest difference in audio fidelity could be heard with over-ear models like high-end beyerdynamics, but also the Grado SR225is, but it was definitely noticeable even with earbuds and in-ear headphones. Apparently, most mobile devices output with about 20 mW of power, but the Electric Avenues PA2 (version 2) pushed up to 200 mW. We weren’t shocked at bass improvement, but liked the mids and highs especially at higher volumes, as well as the broader soundstage. Most songs sounded richer and a bit more full, kind of like going from 92 kbps MP3 files to 128 kbps. For $60, it’s no wonder that there are more than 6000 owners across more than 60 countries. We love the “no questions asked” repair offer too. Available online, directly from Electric Avenues.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Appleā€™s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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