Epiphany Acoustics, the superior hand-crafted high-performance British Hi-Fi unit manufacturer, is a brand that's beating heart lies within an incredibly detailed product line presenting users with unparalleled audio quality and transparency at a highly competitive price-point. To your left you may notice the rather modest design of the Epiphany Acoustics EHP-02D, but don't be fooled by its aesthetic simplicity, this unit packs a punch.
Standing in a beautiful marriage of the award winning EHP-02 and the E-DAC, the Epiphany Acoustics EHP-02D is a perfect micro-system for the audiophile who wants both the full functionality of a crystal clear plug-and-play digital-to-analogue converter in combination with the power of a low-noise high-output portable headphone amplifier. Typically speaking, this unit is a Hi-Fi audio interface and can run at a respectable 24bit 98kHz which means it caters for the average Compact Disc 16bit 44.1 resolution as well as DVD, or moving image, sound resolutions of 24bit 48kHz and the DAC component does not require any additional drivers so you plug it into your PC or Mac and it runs without compatibility issues.
With the formalities out of the way let us discuss the unboxing... When the EHP-02D arrives your package arrives in a white box that contains void fill chipped foam to make sure that its contents don't get damaged in transport. Inside this box you will find a USB to Micro USB, a 1.2 meter 3.5mm jack to jack lead, a 15v black power supply, four silicone feet so that the unit is stable and does not scratch your desk, and the EHP-02D itself.
Overall the construction of this unit is extremely solid and appears to be made out of black anodised aluminium, a material which makes this unit lightweight and tough, with screen printed feature detailing on the front and back panels. The feel of the volume pot is nice, it has some smooth resistance whilst moving freely and has a sense of quality to it which mimics the feel of the power and gain buttons. In addition the input, output and USB ports appear sturdy and will easily be able to stand their ground from the odd knock here and there - although this isn't recommended. In the build there is a couple of odd placements, being that the power input and audio input is on the front of the unit which can have some aesthetic detraction in terms of organisation, but I don't really feel that this is a huge downside... this unit is portable and, arguably, when it is just used as a headphone amp this can make setup a bit more straightforward. Finally in terms of build I would have liked to see the output not as a 3.5mm but instead as a 1/4" jack; the more high-range headphones on the market demand this but, as again, we need to take into consideration that this is a micro-unit and space is limited in the box.
Lets talk sound... For this review I am using four headphones; The Grado RS1i's, Beyerdynamic DT250's, Musical Fidelity EB-50's and Thinksound MS01 and throughout all of these tests the unit has provided well in excess of what any of these headphone impedances demand. This is to say that there is a huge amount of power under the hood and if used incorrectly can either damage your headphones or your hearing. However, all in all this unit has performs beautifully and has a rather smooth and refined overall sound - particularly where the mid-range is concerned. Moving on to the treble frequencies, this is literally where the unit shines. The high end is wonderfully sharp, crystal clear and right on the beat. In this region you really can hear the sizzle emanating from from crash cymbals or hi-hats and presents a notion of air whilst the lower frequencies are controlled whilst maintaining a natural warming tonality. In comparison to my Prism Sound 'Orpheus' headphone output the EHP-02D noticeably has that modern Hi-Fi feel to it that will attract any audiophile. The soundstage of the EHP-02D is awesome! It feels natural, not too cluttered and when listening to a number of well produced live tracks I have to report a sense of physically being at the event but without that 'I'm just in your ears feel' that can come other units in this price-range.
During my tests, when used as a headphone amp or DAC, I have not detected any distortion - even when the device is not connected to any audio input source and run at maximum volume and gain. This alone is amazing and I have to say that the EHP-02D is truly a special unit for the features and sound quality it offers at its price-point. The Pro Audio Web Blog rates the Epiphany Acoustics EHP-02D a full 5/5 rating.