Pan Am Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC
Slightly over 3¾ inches across the front, the compact Pan Am—with its two little glowing tubes sticking out of the chassis—is a lovely addition to any computer setup on a desk. You can put the metal sleeves over the tubes if you wish, but most users would want to see the glowing small tubes displayed. They are offered as both Russian make and Siemens OEM upgrades. And you can roll your own if you wish. These are the compatible tubes: 6J1, 6AK5, 6BC5, EF40, 5654, EF95 and WE403.
I found the basic Pan Am headphone amp very close in fidelity to my Benchmark DAC1 DAC/headphone amp. It has a rich tube-like sound, of exceptional fidelity and clarity, with great detail on my Grado headphones. The low setting of the two-option phone output switch was fine for the Grados. (The Pan Am doesn’t have the umph to handle my reference headphones: the AKG K1000 with its dedicated amp.) ALO suggests that the with the separate and optional Passport battery or the Gateway AC power supply, there is a quieter and “blacker” noise floor. I wasn’t able to hear that with the Passport (the Gateway wasn’t provided). However, I did hear a reduced distortion on peaks in the music from that provided by plugging the 12v wall-wart directly into the input on the rear of the Pan Am. The battery is said to run 10 hours before needing recharging.