There was a time when I didn’t care much about IEMs. They just did not do it for me because I was more used to the big sound stage that I was getting from my full size HD600 headphones which are my favorite among the 16-18 phones that I own.
Due to the amount that I travel, I found that music makes a wonderful difference when you are buckled into your seat for 4 hours, if not more because of flight delays. This created a need for a good pair IEMs that can ease the pain and give the pleasure of listening to music. What a wonderful opportunity to be able to have an uninterrupted listening session and shutout the noise that was all around me.
I got my first pair, the Shure E5C & later the 4C’s, both did well for what they were designed to do. From this, I saw a need start to rise for smaller and more compact headphone amps that are lighter and can take the abuse of traveling. But first things first, they would have to have good symmetry with these very sensitive IEMs phones and offer a soundstage and detail that would be close to my full size headphones while having the ability to fit in my pocket.
Now with new releases of much complex IEMs, like the Shure E500, & the UE-10 Pro, just to mention two, listening to IEMs is becoming quite satisfying to many DAP and PCDP owners especially those who use the line out to feed portable amps. The Hornet is the amp that can do it all, with the switch that allows for three gain settings it can adapt to the signal strength of the source or to the sensitivity of the drivers, whether being high impedance, low impedance or super low impedance.
The need of an amp dedicated to satisfy IEM’s was inevitable. It has to be very small, light, allows for long hours of play without worrying about carrying a charger or rechargeable batteries. It also has to be well made, so if it is dropped it won’t shatter to pieces. The most important thing is to make any moderate to expensive IEM sound great by giving them the sound stage that goes all around your head, from ear to ear.
Emmeline, “The Tomahawk”, has the smallest custom built aluminum chassis that I know of. The extrusion was drawn by an engineer twice and the die was made twice until it worked well. Due to the thin skin “walls” of the extrusion, we had to hire one of the ONLY five extrusion providers in the US who would have the capability to manufacture this kind of extrusion. The thinner the skin is, more is required of the press machines to do the job. The knob is also a custom built to match the size of the amp.
The Tomahawk has very simple circuitry, it is not God’s gift to human beings. I believe in a very FEW, HIGH quality components used on very high quality military pc brd, with 4 oz oxygen free copper to accomplish my kind of sound. The secret of the layout is very important in making the sound you are looking for, the separation of signal traces from those of the power are as important also. The solid ground copper is a must to lower the floor noise.
I do not like tone control, bass boost, cross-feed on any of my amps, call me what ever you want, it won’t change my mind. I lived in the era when stereo was just getting recognized by many. To the sound engineers of the past, it was just a thrill to be able to pan a singer in one channel & the drums in the other. It was fun listening to it when I was young. We used to wow, listening to those two speakers, one will do this & the other will do that.
Those were the days. Many memories come back to me when I listened to the Beatle’s old recordings. Now I want to listen to the same songs the way they were recorded in the past & pressed on the vinyl. It makes me smile hearing it that way. The question is do I want to have new recording being done the same way, the answer is no. I like to hear the recording the way it was intended with out adding bass boost, that to me is adding distortion. Call me what ever you want, this is my belief. The Tomahawk, has the simplest, purest design you can ever imagine. But it has a sound that I am so proud off, that I love introducing it to my friends who truly love there music and enjoy it.
The Tomahawk has a 2 position gain switch. The “low” gain of (1) which is dedicated to all IEMs and the “high” gain of (4) which is designed to drive the low impedance headphones. The battery life on the Tomahawk was so impressive that I decided not to include any wall adaptor or the charging capability, making the Tomahawk very light to carry around.