HIFIMAN Debuts the GOLDENWAVE Prelude Reference Headphone Amplifier

Price: $2,495.00

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HIFIMAN just debuted a new fully balanced Class A desktop headphone amplifier, the GOLDENWAVE Prelude.

Originally released by the GOLDENWAVE brand that was acquired by HIFIMAN earlier this year, the Prelude headphone amplifier (SRP: $2,499), which is GOLDENWAVE’s reference headphone amplifier, boasts several features that make it an appealing option for audiophiles and music lovers seeking lifelike, full range sonics.

HIFIMAN's New Prelude Headphone amp priced at $2,495
HIFIMAN’s New Prelude Headphone amp priced at $2,495

“Prelude is a perfect example of GOLDENWAVE’s approach to amplifier design,” says Dr. Fang Bian, President and CEO, HIFIMAN Electronics. “The reference Prelude, in particular, stands out as a performance leader at its price point.”

The Prelude is designed for personal audio and music fans who want a personal listening experience that rivals full-size, audiophile-grade in-room systems. The amplifier uses a fully balanced Class A MOSFET design that delivers high current output, providing clean and powerful sound reproduction.

The amplifier’s circuit is fully discrete, meaning it uses individual components rather than integrated circuits. This approach can lead to better control over the audio signal and potentially improve sound quality. It includes  a precise single-ended-to-balanced conversion circuit, allowing both single-ended RCA and balanced inputs to convey the benefits of fully balanced drive, which helps reduce noise and interference, enhancing the overall audio performance.

The Prelude’s preamplifier circuit is entirely independent, ensuring a strong driving force and producing a pleasing timbre in the audio output. In order to achieved balanced tone control, the amplifier uses an ALPS* quad balance potentiometer, known for its high quality and precision, to achieve a natural and balanced tone control. (*Designed and manufactured by Alps Electric Co. Ltd.)

Specially customized for Prelude, the high-power and low-noise toroidal transformer provides clean and stable power to all levels of the headphone amplifier, contributing to improved sound quality. The amplifier’s housing is made from a single piece of aluminum, helping it to isolate harmful resonances that may degrade audio performance, ensuring cleaner sound output.

The Prelude’s frequency response is measured at 20-50KHz, +-1dB@1KHz. Headphone amplifier power output is 10W@32Ω, 6W@64Ω,2.5W@150Ω, 1W@300Ω, 560mW@600Ω. It measures 330mm x 56mm x 260mm/12.99” x 2.2” x 10.2”, and weighs 6.5 kg/14.3 lbs.

Adds Dr. Bian: “The Prelude headphone amplifier is a precisely-designed, meticulously crafted device that is typical of the GOLDENWAVE design philosophy emphasizing audio quality, signal purity, and overall user experience. Audiophiles looking for a premium headphone amplifier will be satisfied with the quality and possibly surprised by its affordability.”

The Prelude is currently available at a suggested retail price of $2,499, from authorized HIFIMAN dealers

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Thank you for the informative article. I have a gripe with these manufacturers. They do not put any sort of tone controls on their equipment because of a few that complain about tone controls being available. There probably would not have been any complaints if a better job was done with the eq’s or tone controls implantation. They were put there as an afterthought, not as a feature. For those who don’t want tone controls or an eq, there is always the good ole’ button to cut it out of the circuit. Tell these manufacturers to start putting some sort of meaningful was we can adjust our sound.

Jerry Del Colliano

I too like tone controls.

I am a Cello guy and we had program EQ on the Audio Palette.

We’ve got a review of the Schiit Loki Max EQ pending from Mike Praeger. That’s in a few weeks.

I’d like to see a little digital tone control in the preamp/DAC section of some of these products.



Thank you, for responding so fast and the fact that you also like some sort of tone controls. I look forward to reading your review on the Schiit Loki Max Eq.

Jerry Del Colliano

You got it my man.

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