Spotlight on the Yamaha HA-L7A Headphone Amplifier

Yamaha has been scaling new sonic heights for over 30 years, introducing some of the most revolutionary Hi-Fi components the audio world has ever seen. The new flagship Yamaha HA-L7A audiophile-grade headphone amplifier is one such product. Let’s take a closer look at some of its key features.

AUTHENTIC SOUND

Electronics unit on desk next to laptop.

When listening on headphones, it’s easy to hear all the components of sound, including some that may not be audible when listening through speakers. The HA-L7A has an extremely high slew rate — something that’s essential for ultra-high resolution — ensuring that even the most delicate signals are handled with precision. As a result, every sound, from instruments to vocals and dialogue, is reproduced authentically without any unnatural coloration or timbral changes.

THREE FRONT PANEL HEADPHONE JACKS

Electronics element.

The front panel of the HA-L7A features two balanced headphone jacks that allow you to fully enjoy the detailed high quality of balanced circuitry, as well as an unbalanced headphone jack that reduces contact loss thanks to gold-plated connectors. NEUTRIK jacks are used for the XLR balanced headphone jacks, and Pentaconn terminals are utilized for the 4.4 mm 5-pole terminals, allowing you to connect your preferred headphones and unleash their full potential.

CONNECTIVITY WITHOUT COMPROMISE

Rear panel view of electronics showing where cables etc. plug in.

The HA-7A offers a comprehensive set of input terminals, including USB (type B), coaxial and optical, allowing you to connect a variety of devices, such as high-resolution DAPs (digital audio players), PCs and CD players. Because it is compatible with such a wide variety of music, video and entertainment sources, you can immerse yourself in your favorite listening content with unparalleled sonic performance.

A long thin remote control.

It also features built-in XLR and RCA pre-out/line-out output terminals, allowing the HA-L7A to serve as a standalone D/A converter (see below) or preamplifier, providing exceptional connectivity and expandability options when using an external amplifier.

SIX SOUND FIELD MODES

The HA-L7A utilizes the unique signal processing and multi-channel expansion technologies Yamaha has developed over its many years of designing AV components, including the same Yamaha CINEMA DSP Sound Field creation technology incorporated into many of our AV receivers.

The supplied remote allows you to choose from six convenient options that create optimal sound for music, video and other specific sources, allowing you to enjoy all kinds of entertainment content with a full sense of realism and immersion that takes headphone listening into uncharted sonic territories.

Screenshot.
HA-7A Sound Field options.

OLED DISPLAY WITH HIGH VIEWABILITY

View of two piece electronics.

The top panel of the HA-L7A features a large OLED display that provides a variety of information, including the input source, its sampling frequency, volume, and the name of the current Sound Field mode — all in an exceptionally easy-to-read manner. The display automatically turns off after being operated, eliminating any distraction to the sound.

ELEGANT ROTARY DIALS

Two dials on top of electronics unit.

The robust chassis is comprised of thick aluminum, as are the master volume and mode selector rotary dials. A sandblasting process provides a luxurious textural feel, contributing to the elegance of high-end audio right down to the smallest detail — delivering a supremely satisfying tactile experience.

ADVANCED DESIGN AND COMPONENTRY

The HA-L7A adopts a low-noise design that isolates the three circuit boards: the main board, the amplifier board and the power supply board. The main board eliminates any undesirable cross effects between the digital and analog signals by utilizing a multilayer design that thoroughly eradicates ground loops.

Following traditional audio principles and maintaining a low center of gravity, the two toroidal transformers employed by the HA-7A (see below) are mounted on the main frame and are prominent in the unique external design, evocative of fine modern architecture. The main transformer is located immediately above the power supply board, minimizing the power supply path for both high sound quality and a very cool cosmetic.

By using only the highest quality parts meticulously selected through repeated listening tests, the HA-7A delivers the most natural sound reproduction possible. For example, a MUSES72323, famed for its exceptionally low distortion and low-noise output, is used for the volume IC, while the power supply IC made by Analog Devices boasts low output noise with high ripple rejection. The converter section features the ES9842QPRO, made by ESS Technology.

DUAL TOROIDAL TRANSFORMERS

Two small transformers wrapped in copper wire.

The power supply section employs independent transformers for the minute-signal circuitry in the front stage and the amplifier section in the second stage, all designed to minimize noise due to mutual signal interference. The usage of toroidal transformers also significantly reduces magnetic flux leakage. In addition, the employment of bifilar winding minimizes voltage variations, which in turn enhances the stability of the power supply and imparts extraordinary spaciousness to the sound, with powerful low-frequency reproduction.

UNIQUE PATENTED AND BALANCED POWER AMPLIFIER TECHNOLOGY

Yamaha has optimized its patented Floating and Balanced Power Amplifier technology for the HA-L7A. A total of four sets of power amplifier circuits on the plus and minus sides of the left and right channels of the output stage are floated from the ground, resulting in thoroughly symmetrical push-pull operation of the output stage. Connected headphones can be driven without altering the amplifier configuration between balanced and unbalanced, minimizing any sound quality discrepancies due to different output terminals.

Diagram.

In addition, all circuitry, including the power supply, is completely independent of the ground, and all effects of minute voltage fluctuations and external noise surrounding the ground are thoroughly eliminated. This design allows the HA-L7A to deliver a natural and fatigue-free sound, even when listening for long periods of time.

ELITE ULTRA-HIGH PERFORMANCE 32-BIT D/A CONVERTER

Sparing no expense to realize superior sonic quality, an ESS Technology ES9038PRO D/A converter is incorporated, renowned in the DAC industry for top-quality reproduction of even the softest audio signals. Its dedicated master clock utilizes a crystal oscillator with ultra-low phase noise to attain highly precise D/A conversion and features an eight-channel D/A converter housed inside the chip that applies four-channel conversion to the left and right sides respectively. Utilizing this four-channel bundle delivers exceptionally high-quality audio output with broad dynamic range and superior signal-to-noise ratio. This unlocks a greater sense of enjoyment in headphone listening so you can intimately experience even the background noises of the concert hall and the most minute details in the sounds of the instruments.

The DAC processing employs two dedicated clocks: a 44.1 kHz system and a 48 kHz system that uses a high-precision crystal oscillator with low phase noise. The entire DAC section is designed to be less susceptible to external clock jitter through placement of the clock with the crystal oscillator as the master clock near the device.

BALANCED TRANSMISSION

All major stages after the DAC are unified with balanced circuitry and discrete configuration, achieving a fully balanced transmission from the D/A converter output to the headphone jack. This same type of conversion is also performed internally for unbalanced inputs, delivering the unique advantages of balanced transmission and amplification such as minimizing external noise and sound quality deterioration, while applying them to a wide range of input sources.

Additionally, when combined with headphones that support balanced drive, the common impedance of the transmission system is suppressed, further enhancing the signal separation that is crucial for quality headphone listening.

PURE DIRECT

A Pure Direct function, selectable from either the remote or the top panel, reduces noise by bypassing all circuitry that is not present in the original input source, such as DSP processing and analog-to-digital converters for analog audio. It ensures purity of the signal and enhances the sound, letting you fully enjoy the subtlest nuances in the music.

USB DAC FUNCTIONALITY

The HA-L7A’s USB DAC functionality allows DSD (Direct Stream Digital) files of up to an 11.2 MHz sample rate or 32-bit PCM files with sampling rates of up to 384 kHz to be played with asynchronous transfer under the control of the HA-7A’s high-precision clock. This greatly reduces jitter and allows accurate reproduction of even the most demanding high-resolution sound sources.

HEAVY-DUTY CONSTRUCTION

To eliminate any detrimental impact of external and internal vibrations on the audio signals, the HA-L7A has a rugged construction that combines an original design concept with parts of high rigidity. An 8 mm extruded aluminum panel forms the L-shaped top surface, while the naturally vibrating toroidal transformer is mounted firmly onto a 2 mm steel plate. Even stronger support is provided by a thick front panel, a double rear panel, and a unique housing design that features a bottom cover at the end. Through this heavy-duty housing, unnecessary vibrations are suppressed, enabling powerful yet supple low-frequency reproduction, and allowing you to completely feel the energy and realism in the music.

SOLID METAL FEET FOR STABILITY

Small cone shaped metal leg on electronics unit.

The HA-L7A’s distinct L shape is supported by five conical steel feet at each corner of the chassis, with dampers cushioned between each foot and the bottom panel that effectively suppress any vibration, allowing firm and stable support on just about any surface. Combined with the massive 11.7 lb body, all elements work together to effectively eliminate unwanted vibrations while achieving focused and realistic sound reproduction.

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The HA-L7A is the perfect partner for the Yamaha flagship YH-5000SE headphones. Learn more here.

Explore the HA-L7A.

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