Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Tube Headphone Amp

In stock

The Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Tube Headphone Amp and Preamplifier has a warm and very dynamic signature that captivates audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike.

"While its price—especially for what is essentially a hand-built, made-to-order component—places the IHA-1 in the “affordable” category, its performance with the right headphones puts it firmly into the category of something you might buy if price was of no consequence."

— Steven Stone, The Absolute Sound | August 2016

Drew Baird, P.E. & President of Moon Audio and Dennis Had (Founder of Cary Audio) spent over a year perfecting this Exclusive Dragon version of the Inspire IHA-1 tube headphone amplifier.

Listen with various headphones seamlessly by means of the numerous output options that come as standard upgrades.

The Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Tube headphone Amplifier now includes Preamp RCA Outputs as a standard option.

No expense has been spared in this Dragon Version by Moon Audio. Endless tube upgrade options are available to purchase to suit the most critical of listeners.

Drew Baird (P.E. and President of Moon Audio) and Dennis Had (Founder of Cary Audio) spent over a year perfecting this exclusive Dragon version of the Inspire IHA-1 headphone amplifier.

Each amplifier is made by hand, to individual preferences, in Cary, NC. Custom headphone audio made to your specs every day, that's what we love to do.

Exclusive Dragon Features:

  • Gorgeous Copper Metallic Powder Clear Coat finish
  • Stepped DACT 100K attenuator running a pair of 6SN7's at over 1 watt of output power
  • Output impedance of 4.4 ohms
  • Transformer Pro Balanced output
  • 2 analog RCA input selector positions, including a mute position
  • 4pin XLR Headphone output
  • 1/4" headphone output
  • Preamp RCA Outputs with switch that mutes the headphone output
  • JJ 5Y3GT tube is standard
  • pair of 6SN7 Sovtek tubes come standard 
  • pair of 6SN7 New Old Stock Tubes are available for an additional $100 (Brand Depends on availability)
  • direct coupling and transformer output are included as part of the standard configuration.
  • 10 inches wide 8 inches deep, height varies based on tubes used.
  • Weight is 15lbs 
  • 2 Year warranty on Amp, 30 day warranty on tubes

Moon Audio is proud to host and share the return of the legendary Dennis Had, to the world of tube headphone audio. This IHA-1 Dragon Version, stereo vacuum tube headphone amplifier maintains Dennis' philosophy reinforced over decades of listening, designing and building audio amplification.

As with Dennis' previous designs, his main concern is always the sonic purity of the output signal as perceived by the human ear. The IHA-1 Dragon is vacuum tube amplification in its purest form. It is a very clean short signal path. There are no capacitors, resistors or other passive components that make up the circuit. The signal enters the RCA jack, travels to the DACT stepped attenuator, then the 6SN7 tube, followed by the Output transformer and exits via the Headphone Jack or Preamp RCA. The Tubes become very important in this sort of circuit. The better the tube the better the end result. You can also very drastically change the tonality based on the tube you choose to use. Each tube has a very different sound signature or flavor.

The Dragon IHA-1 utilizes a100K dual DACT stepped attenuator. No matter where one has the volume set the balance is equal at all times in each channel. The Amp has Pro-Audio outputs on the front panel. You will notice the locking 1/4" stereo output. In addition, we have chosen to have the XLR 4 pin balanced output connector. The IHA-1 is a single-ended design but as you know it delivers the output in a balanced form from the output windings of the air-gapped output transformers. Then a final touch is a dual process powder coat finish in a clear coated copper.

The input driving signal is directly coupled to the grids of the 6SN7 dual triodes. This signal is amplified and sent to the headphones through a set of special hand wound air-gapped output transformers. Once again, direct coupling straight through to the headphones. Utilizing the 6SN7 dual triodes, the IHA-1 is extremely linear and offers full bandwidth from 9 Hz to 33Khz without the use of feedback.

The power supply is vacuum tube rectification with dual filter chokes to provide a low noise level along with a low impedance B+ power supply to the 6SN7 tubes. All and all, he had little concern for how loud one could blast their ears but an ongoing concentration of full bandwidth, linearity, and a realistic music presentation. Once again, for fear of being repetitive, the new Inspire IHA-1 Dragon version, is vacuum tube amplification in the purest form.

For tube rolling, the rectifier tubes should be of the direct heater type like the 5Y3, 5U4, 274B or NOS and factory fresh direct heated filament types. The indirect filament type like a 5AR4 is fine to use but to his ear, they do not even come close to a directly heated filament type.

The output tubes can be 6SN7 or 6BL7  

Because of this purist approach, there is no gain stage or preamp circuit. Thus the DACT attenuator is the volume control and/or preamp circuit. Thus with some headphones that are not sensitive or have a higher impedance rating, this will mean a little less flexibility in a number of steps you have to control the volume. Do not get gain confused with output power. As the amp has plenty of power for most headphones. For people that are in the situation that they need more gain or volume control flexibility, we offer the Lundahl transformers. The Lundahl transformers which are input transformers and are placed between the RCA input jack and the DACT attenuator. They offer a 1 to 2.5 ratio. What they do is clean up the incoming signal, as all transformers can do, and increase the gain of the amp. So now whereas the Inspire might need the volume control set very high to get the desired volume it is now maybe half way. This will also boost low output signals from some Phono Preamps out there or when using a low output cartridge that gets a very little boost from the Phono Pre. In my opinion, no one makes a better transformer than Lundahl and this does not just increase the gain but adds a little more detail and definition to the sound. 

The THD is close to ultimate vacuum tube perfection considering zero feedback. The second and all remaining harmonic contents at the1.125 watt output level into 32 ohms are over 65 dB down. Actually, the only harmonics visible at these levels are the second harmonics down 65 dB and the other harmonics are in the noise floor. This is actually an amazing output spectrum. One would consider this for the board of health!!!LOLThe power levels vary with the impedance of the output load. At the 32 ohm level up through 570ohms the power is in the 1.125watt to .750 watt level. Higher power at the lower end of the range. It will drive the 600-ohm cans you have as one of your choices.

We are also offering a Preamp output option. We never thought about using the amp as a Preamp until we released the new Dragon Inspire QMB-25 Mono Block Amplifiers as seen Here. Just to experiment we used it with the amps and were blown away. Thus we added input RCAs and a switch to mute the headphone amp we switching over to use as a Preamp. All are placed on the back of the unit.

Please keep in mind this is a direct coupled design without any coupling caps or output attenuation resistors in the signal path. Purity at its best.


The Absolute Sound 2016 Golden Ear Award


Inner Fidelity Review
Inner Fidelity

by Tyll Hertsens
Oct. 2014

Headphone Guru Review
Heaphone Guru

by Frank Iacone
Jan. 2015

The Absolute Sound Review
Absolute Sound

by Steven Stone
Aug. 2016

HiFi Plus Review

by Chris Martens
Sept. 2017

Aornic Review

by Aamer Qureshi
Jun. 2018

This Exclusive Dragon version includes:

  • a Gorgeous Copper Metallic Powder Clear Coat finish
  • a Stepped DACT 100K attenuator running a pair of 6SN7's at over 1 watt of output power
  • Output impedance of 4.4 ohms
  • Transformer Pro Balanced output
  • 2 analog RCA input selector positions, including a mute position
  • 4pin XLR Headphone output
  • 1/4" headphone output
  • Preamp RCA Outputs with switch that mutes the headphone output
  • a Sovtek 5Y3GT tube is standard
  • an RCA 5U4GB Rectifier New Old Stock Tube is available for an additional $100
  • a pair of 6SN7 Electro Harmonix tubes come standard
  • a pair of 6SN7 New Old Stock Tubes are available for an additional $100
  • direct coupling and transformer output are included as part of the standard configuration.
  • 10 inches wide 8 inches deep, height varies based on tubes used.
  • Weight is 15lbs

Frequency Response 12 Hz to 32 KHz + - 0 dB

Power output into 40 ohms 1.7 watts less than 1% THD 2nd harmonic

Amplifier gain: 18 dB

Noise Floor -87 dB

Dual Headphone outputs 1/4” Pro-Type/ 4 pin XLR Pro-Type

Switchable line level dual channel line preamplifier output (optional)

AC voltage 120 or 240 VAC 50/60 Hz

Output power tubes X 2 6SN7 dual triodes

Vacuum tube rectification 5Y3

.090 aluminum chassis

Powder Coat: Copper/Clear Coat

Dimensions: 10” x 8” x 6” high with tubes installed

Weight: 15 lbs

4.9 / 5.0
11 Reviews
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
Favorite headphone amp ever
March 13, 2018
I bought the IHA 1 with the tube ugrades, the preamp outs and the Lundahl transformers. I'm now using it with Sennheiser 800Ss, a Cayin CD player, and Chord 2Qute D/A processor; interconnects and balanced headphone cable are all Black Dragons.

In a nutshell, the sound is amazing. I listen primarily to classical music, and on well-recorded performances the instruments are precisely located, both from side to side and front to back. The timbre of individual instruments sounds life-like, including the piano; my mother was a pianist, and I grew up with the sound of uprights and baby grands in my ears. Chamber music sounds warm, intimate and personal; orchestral works can run the gamut from so soft as to be barely audible to sforzando climaxes without ever losing detail or articulation. This is the most musical amplifier I've ever heard.

My previous headphone amp was a Schiitt Lyr, a hybrid amp that I liked quite a lot. I had thought about doing a direct comparison with the IHA 1, but then realized it wouldn't work. The Lyr only has a single-ended output, and I don't have a single-ended Black Diamond cable for the Sennheisers. So all I can do is compare the sound I remember from the Lyr with the sound I now hear from the IHA 1. From what I remember, the Lyr is more laid-back and a little cooler, with less immediacy and impact. I'd say it was more analytical, but that might imply that the IHA 1 is less detailed when the opposite is true. The IHA 1 is highly articulate, and maintains that clarity and detail through the loudest and most sonically complex orchestral passages I've listened to. So far, nothing has thrown it off stride.

My one caution, if that's what it is, is just to note that, unlike transistors, tubes need to warm up to sound their best, and they also need to break in. Expect to let the amplifier burn in for 20-30 hours before it really begins to sing, and I now let it warm up for 15 minutes or so before I start listening. Minor inconvenience, major payout.
March 11, 2017
Gorgeous euphonics
I've been thru Stax SR-009 + Carbon KGSSHV
Taurus Mkii, Torpedo III, Lehmann, Woo Audio, personally.
I've heard Eddie Current ZDS, Cavalli, and many other amps at meets.

The IHA-1 is special.
You cannot beat the price vs performance in my opinion.
End game amp for almost any audiophile.
February 24, 2017
I have very good HP amplifiers (EC Electra, AV Luminare, Schiit Mjolnir...) but this one is special.

With the right tubes, it's both very smooth and detailed, impressive soundstage.

The rather small footprint allows me to use it on a desk.

Addictive listening...
April 1, 2016
Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Headphone Amp
I now have about 40 hours on the Dragon Inspire and it is breaking in nicely. Sonically it sounds awesome. I got it with the basic tubes and I am very satisfied with them. I am not much of a tube roller but it might be fun to play around with them eventually. It is the best headphone amp I have had.

My only complaint is that the amp did not come with any papers or spec info or warranty papers. The serial number was on the outside of the box and that was it. It was packed in bullet-proof bubble wrap (it took me longer to unwrap the amp than it took to set up. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know how to operate a headphone amp but it would have been nice to have just a simple info sheet to suggest break-in time, tube rolling options and specs.

I am very happy with the amp. I know I will probably venture out and play with new headphones and cables to see how optimal I can get it to be and that makes it fun too. Thanks for a great product.
June 6, 2015
This amp never ceases to amaze me. The sound is so wonderful, holographic, 3-dimensional, airy and detailed (in a pleasant, extended manner). I am a very satisfied purchaser. I highly recommend this amp, without any caveats or reservations. This is the most enjoyable amp I have ever used, by far.

I am using NOS tubes: Brimar U52 and Sylvania 6BX7 and using the IHA-1 with TH900's, W3000ANV's and T1's.
December 31, 2014
I love the amp and plan on exploring different headphones. WOW!
And always blessings.

October 24, 2014
Positive feedback for the Inspire headphone amp
I have a lot of ++ feedback to provide on the new Inspire headphone amplifier.

I hooked up to a modified Cambridge Audio CD player as well as an FM-Scott (modified) tuner. Both provided excellent performance using Sennheiser's 650 and 800.

WOW!! I am very pleased with the purchase and outcome, THANK YOU!!

October 24, 2014
Absolutely love the Inspire IHA-1
I received the headphone amp today. Absolutely amazing, I love it.� I can already tell how good it's going to be.

I was hearing things I don't hear with my home stereo, and my home stereo has upgraded Cary V12's (tweeters and mids), a V12R (bass), Nola speakers, a Fosgate FAP-V1 vacuum tubed surround processor, a pretty sweet setup.

I went straight to some Tung-Sol 6SN7 round plates that I have and wow, just wow! Imagine when this thing gets warmed and up broken in. I'll let my friend hear it and he'll probably want one too.

This thing is beautiful too. You've done an awesome job, keep up the great work! I'm so impressed. Thanks for everything.

October 24, 2014
Awesome AMP
This amp is very transparent to the tubes you use.� I may have to go for Tung Sol VT231's.� I think my headphone amp buying days are done.�

There is something very live about the Inspire IHA-1. �It is almost like like it is creating a perfect Cartesian sound field.
October 24, 2014
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Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Tube Headphone Amp