This is a new AT-HA30USB USB DAC interface from Audio Technica, the maker of my long-time go-to earphone, the CK10. This time, I've got it in the house with the ATH-IM70, about which Headfier, blazer78, wrote gobs and gobs.
But back to the DAC/headphone amp.
ohmage: build & finish
It's a nice-sized, sort-of pretty bit of plastic and metal. The outer strip is aluminium, the top and bottom are plastic. It has an iPod-shuffle style cap to cover its bits.
It plays back my 24/96 ALAC files with no hiccup and plugs and plays nicely. Though not pictured here, Audio Technica's trademark adorns the other side. Trust me, it looks great.
ohmage & porridge: sound
It's got power enough to put the DT880/300 up to semi-hurtful volume levels and thanks to the digital volume control of your computer, it will handle very sensitive earphones well. That said, there is a goodly amount of line noise. I can hear it through my current favourite FitEar Parterre earphones, and most definitely through the Sleek Audio CT7. Most definitely. Some USB DAC headphone amps are devoid of noise. It's a shame that this isn't one of them.
It is pictured on its box with a headphone that looks like the Audio Technica ES10. It must be a great pair, right? Sort of. This thing must have a high output impedance because even driving the 42Ω ES10, it loses a bit of resolution and stereo image. The Earsonics SM2 pummels the HA30USB into submission.
Audio Technica want 21.000¥, or about 200$ for it. No way, Jose. If street prices hit in the range of 100-120$, sure, why not. It's a nice plug-and-play instant hi-res upgrade for notebook computers with shite headphone outputs. But you had better make sure your computer sucks first. HA30USB isn't bad, but it's no keeper. It's a me-too device that undercuts the price of market heroes. And you get what you pay for.