At this point, I’m not sure how you could have wandered through the head-fi high-end without stumbling across Cavalli Audio at some point. In short, Cavalli makes some of the best headphone amplifiers on the market. The amps are high-power and high-fidelity class-killers, and can drive any headphone on the market. The fact that they look the part I’m sure doesn’t hurt.
Here at CanMania, attendees could pick their poison and follow the solid-state linear stylings of the Liquid Gold ($3,950), a headphone amplifier rated to up to 9 watts into 50Ω, or following their tube-rolling heart with the Liquid Glass ($2,950). Either way, you’re pretty much done — it’s just a matter of headphones. The only problem, as I see it, is choosing.
Personally, I’m still torn. Of course, this is a little late as I already own a Liquid Gold (it’s my reference-level component in the headphone arena), but whatever. Every time I see a Liquid Glass, I get a twinge. Or two.
The review of the Liquid Gold is coming soon, so keep an eye out for that. I’ve been using it to drive the living snot out of a pair of Abyss AB-1266 headphones, one of the most stunningly awesome headphones ever made. Yes, they’re also one of the most expensive too, and yes, they’re also quite controversial in their looks. Whatever. Put all that aside, if possible, and drive them with the LAu and you’ll understand what all the fuss is about. It boils down to this: bass performance. There is nothing like this on the market. Believe me. I’ve looked. The pair here, with the Abyss driven by the LAu amp, is so far past reference level it sets the high water mark for the category. It is unbelievable. Full stop. End of line.
For those interested in “rolling their own”, the Liquid Glass is pretty awesome. The amp supports tubes with 6.3v and 12.6v, so there’s a really long list of input tubes you can fiddle about with. Got your favorite? I bet you do. Whatever you choose, the LG will put about 6 watts into 50Ω, so you’ll be more than prepared for whatever headphone you ever want to try out.
While both amps are fully balanced, both do support single-ended ¼” plugs in addition to the 4-pin XLR. The LAu also supports dual (3-pin) XLR left/right outputs, too (and each of those jacks also supports a ¼” plug — very clever).
Last awesome bit — late in the weekend, Mat Weisfeld of VPI was wandering about with Nomad turntables. An awesome way to enjoy vinyl directly through the included headphone amp on the ‘table, but dumping that signal into the LAu was outstanding. Mmm, mmm. Good!