With the world of Headphone listening growing in popularity and even spawning it's own category - HeadFi... there is an increased need for high quality specialised headphone amplifiers. Ferrum have released several award winning products sucas the Hypsos power supply and the all analogue Oor headphone amplifier - and now their latest addition to the family is the Ferrum Erco headphone amp/DAC.
Clearing the path for high end audio
Perfect mix of flagship Ferrum technology combined with high grade in house developed Digital to Analog conversion. Choose from three digital and one analog input. This creates great flexibility for multiple sources so the Erco can work with streamers, game consoles and many other devices.
The 'computer audio' input is on a USB-C port, which is very much on-trend – USB-B is so last decade – and for which a USB-A-to-C cable is supplied in the box. Via that input the digital section can accept an admirably wide range of formats, with PCM up to 384kHz/32-bit and DSD to DSD256, while there's also MQA decoding/rendering to suit Tidal surfers. Use the coaxial or optical inputs also provided, and as usual you'll be limited to 96kHz/24-bit and DSD via DoP
Industry leading technology is applied. All digital ports are optimised for audio, MQA decoding and rendering is optimised for use with internal ARM chip. This filter is part of a suite of digital management strategies here: the team has written its own code, running on an ARM processor, to optimise the performance of all the digital ports (USB, coaxial and optical S/PDIF) and handle the MQA functions – after all, the HEM team was involved with the manufacture of Mytek DACs. Meanwhile, the audio path is fully balanced from the DAC to the modified IC amplification used for the outputs, which is rated at 300mW/300ohm and 1.7W/50ohm at the unbalanced outputs, and 1.2W and 6.1W into the same impedances via the balanced feed.
Inputs – digital and analogue – are selected by a simple control on a very easy-to-understand front panel. Aside from a large volume control, the only other setting is for headphone amplifier gain, to help you match the ERCO to your chosen headgear. A choice of –5.8dB, +6dB and +17.8dB is provided for the balanced (4.4mm Pentaconn) output and –11.8dB, 0dB and +11.8dB for the unbalanced 6.35mm socket. There's also a brightness setting, for the panel's illuminated logo, located on the rear along with two power inputs – standard coaxial for the plug-top PSU, plus a Power Link connection for use with Ferrum's Hypsos.
Suited for high end personal audio
Connect your favourite headphones to the balanced 4,4mm jack or unbalanced 6,35mm headphone jack outputs or powered loudspeakers on your desktop to the XLR or RCA outputs to perform to their max.
The signal path is truly balanced from early D/A stage and becomes truly balanced using the RCA inputs.
Discrete/IC hybrid design
Ultra-wideband ICs fine tuned for audio use to achieve the best possible analog quality.
The whole design remains focussed on a balanced and very transparent sound signature, making listening fatigue something of the past.
Ease of use
Hassle free operation. Only three knobs on the front panel to control the most important settings.
Ferrum Power Link
ERCO performs very, very good right out of the box. But ERCO is made to excel above and beyond when used together with HYPSOS. We use what we dubbed our Ferrum Power Link (FPL in short) to connect the two. HYPSOS then will perform to its maximum, unleashing unheard musicality from the combination with ERCO.