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Hel

HIGH POWER DAC/AMP FOR GAMING, MUSIC, AND COMMUNICATIONS

$199.00

Ships in 1-3 days.

Description

Specs

FAQ

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Hel 2E is the latest generation of our super-popular, super-power transportable DAC/amp. A lot of people think Hel 2E is just for gamers, but it’s really much more than that. It’s so powerful and versatile you may find Hel 2E is everything you need—in one single box.

If You’re a Gamer
Just plug Hel 2E in to any PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, or Switch, and you’ll get tremendous sound…and you’ll also sound amazing to all of your friends. Super-high-quality headphone audio, combined with a podcast-quality microphone input, means you are going to hear every detail…and sound great while doing so.
 
If You’re a Keyboard Warrior
Hel 2E seriously ups your game in the office or home office. Your voice will stand out on Zoom calls with 24-bit TI analog-to-digital conversion,  and you’ll enjoy headphone audio with much higher power and lower distortion than any PC.  
 
If You Just Want To Listen
Hel 2E is also an amazing DAC/amp, with incredible flexibility. The high-end ES9018 digital-to-analog converter delivers exceptional sound. Connect to your computer via USB, your TV via optical, and create an entire system with powerful headphone output and versatile preamp output for powered monitors or external speaker amplifiers. 
 
Top-Shelf Components
Like DACs costing many times its price, Hel uses the ESS ES9018 D/A converter. Coupled with an Alps RK09 potentiometer, high-quality filter and amp stages from Texas Instruments, a sophisticated bipolar +/-12V supply, and precision thin-film resistors and film capacitors, Hel delivers amazing performance for its price. 
  
Designed in California, Built in Texas
By “designed in California, built in Texas" this is what we mean: the vast majority of the total production cost of Hel—chassis, boards, assembly, etc—goes to US companies manufacturing in the US. Our chassis are made in California. Our PCBs are made in Utah or Nevada, and it all comes together in Texas.
 
2-Year Warranty, Easy Returns 
Hel is also covered by a 2-year limited warranty that covers parts and labor. And if you don’t like your Hel 2, you can send it back for a refund, minus 15% restocking fee, within 15 days of receiving it.

Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, +/-0.3db

Maximum Power, 16 Ohms: 1350mW RMS
Maximum Power, 32 ohms: 1200mW RMS
Maximum Power, 50 ohms: 800mW RMS
Maximum Power, 300 ohms: 200mW RMS
 
THD: <0.0008%, 20Hz-20KHz, at 1V RMS
IMD: <0.0008%, CCIR
SNR: >110db, A-weighted, referenced to 1V RMS
Crosstalk: >-80dB, 20Hz-20KHz
 
Output Impedance (headphones): 0.25 ohms
Output Impedance (line out): 75 ohms
 
Gain: Low and High, selectable via front panel. Low has maximum output of 1.3V RMS, high has maximum output of 8VRMS.
 
USB Receiver: C-Media CM6635
DAC: ESS ES9018 with TI OPA1656-based filter stage
 
Sample Rates and Bit Depths: 
USB Playback: 16/44.1 to 32/384 supported without drivers on Windows 10, Mac, Linux, Android (any UAC 2 device) with autoswitching to UAC1 for PS4, PS5, and Switch consoles.
Mic Input: 48kHz
Optical Input: 16/44.1 to 24/192
 
Output Stage: TI OPA1656 (4 amp stages per channel) 
 
Power Supply: Via USB, with +/- 12V rails via high-current dual-polarity switching regulator, with inductor filtering and local regulation
 
Power Consumption: 2.5W typical
 
Size: 5 x 3.5 x 1.375” (including knob)
Weight: 13oz
 

So what’s the difference between Hel and Hel 2E?
Lots. Let’s break it down:

  • More power: Hel 2E is rated at 1200mW into 32 ohms, 20% more than Hel.
  • More connectivity: Hel 2E adds an optical input, so you can connect it to any TV with an optical output.
  • More compatibility: Hel 2E has built-in UAC2/1 switching, which means it’s now compatible with many gaming consoles like Sony PS4, PS5, and Switch. 
  • More modernity: Hel 2E uses USB-C connectors, rather than Hel’s USB-micro.
  • More quality: Hel 2E offers lower noise and distortion than Hel.
Wow! So now I can connect to pretty much any TV and many console games, as well as PCs?
Yes. And Macs. And iPads. And phones and tablets. Hel 2E is super-versatile.
 
But no support for Microsoft Xbox?
Talk to them about UAC1 or UAC2 support. It’s not like they can’t do it. Heck, Sony does it. Not sure what their problem is. 
 
Sounds like a great update. What’s the catch?
No analog input. That’s the catch.
 
Well, it’s not like many phones have 1/8” output anyway, right?
Yeah. And they tend not to be the best analog source. So Hel 2E is all-digital. Sorry if that doesn’t work out for you. 
 
Why should I buy this over the Fulla? 
Because you want more power or flexibility. Hel 2E offers much higher power than Fulla, it has a gain switch for harder-to-drive or more sensitive headphones, and it has front-panel adjustable microphone gain and a stereo mic input. If any of those features are important, it might be worth more than Fulla for your needs.
 
Wow, you’ve given us a whole lot of serious answers in a row. Are you off your meds?
Maybe!
  
Let’s change the subject. Why is this black and red, when everything else you make is gray and silver?
Well, technically, we also do gray and black. Just not all the time. As far at this being black and red, we thought it would look kinda cool. Plus, it’s called “Hel.” As in the Norse underworld.
 
So is this a satanic product?
We sincerely doubt the Norse pantheon has anything to do with Christianity. We’re not dissing any religion, but seriously guys, this is just a name. It means pretty much nothing to most people on the planet. Just like “Schiit.”
 
So this is just a gaming device?
Nope. It’s also great in your office. 
 
Actual office or home office?
Is there any difference these days? But to stay on the serious side, either is fine. If you want great sound (and if you want to sound good to the people you’re staring at in the Zoom window), Hel 2E is a great choice for office and home office communications.
 
Can I use this for Linux?
If your Linux distro supports UAC2 (as in, USB Audio Class 2, the standard for audio transmission over USB), then you’re set. However, we haven’t tested all distros. 
 
How about MacOS and iOS? 
Yep, you’re good.
 
Android?
In general, yes. Some older phones may need an external application such as USB Audio Player Pro to work. As with Linux, we haven’t tested all variations.
 
What about Windows 7 and 8.1?
Windows 10 and 11 only on this one.
 
Okay. Fine. Let’s talk power. How much power does this need from my computer or phone?
None. Hel 2E is powered by the included 2.1A USB power supply. 
 
So I have to plug in the USB power supply?
Yes. Hel 2E draws nearly 2A at full clip, so it really needs a 2.1A supply. It won’t run off most USB ports or 1A chargers.
 
Instead of your 2.1A USB power supply, can I use a super-crazy linear supply that costs 3X as much as the Hel to get better performance?
Go back and read what you just asked. Seriously, just use the 2.1A supply we gave you. 
 
Yeah, I hear you, but I really really really want to spend a lot of money on a linear power supply that does nothing!
We understand. And you should be free to waste your money any way you'd like. But really, your super-pristine linear supply with the Regurgitson Ultraregulators isn't gonna do anything, since it's running through a switching supply anyway. You know, just like lots of other, more expensive products do...except we tell you this, and don't encourage you to throw money down the loo.
 
Can I use this with both headphones and powered monitors? 
Yep! All you’ll need is a 1/8” to dual RCA or dual XLR cable to connect to your monitors.
  
Can I use this as just a DAC?
Yep! Just put it in low gain and turn it all the way up. Plug into the line out on the back panel and you’re set.
 
If I plug in headphones…
It automatically mutes the preamp outputs. See, we’re getting good at predicting what you’re gonna ask. Kinda like autocorrect. But with less embarrassing mistakes. We hope.
 
And the microphone input is stereo?
Yes. You can use an external stereo electret microphone if you’d like, or use the mono one built into your headset. Both work fine. But yes, there’s a really good TI ADC in there, together with an OPA1662 pre-amp with an Alps potentiometer for gain control, so it’s a very nice mic input.
 
Will it work with all of my headphones?
Pretty much anything, yeah. 1200mW is a ton of power. Even if you have planar headphones, it should run them to ear-bleeding levels. And if you have sensitive IEMs, you can use low gain for a vanishingly low noise floor.
 
Whoa. That’s a whole lot of features! How do you do it for $199 in the USA?
By making tons of them, selling direct, and not being greedy.
 
So why would I step up to a Magni/Modi stack? Or Vali? Or Asgard 3?
More power, more flexibility, bigger wallet, bigger desk—remember, Magni/Modi/Vali combos range from $198 to $398, and cover basic USB-powered DACs to True Multibit DACs, solid-state to tube amps. Also, they don’t provide microphone input for gaming. Asgard 3 is at least $299 with a DAC, and it doesn’t have a microphone input, either.
  
What comes in the box, besides the Hel? Do I get a cable with this?
Yes, we supply two USB-A to USB-C cables, as well as a 2.1A USB power supply and a 1/8” to 1/4” headphone adapters. 
  
Can I use a fancier cable to get better sound?
You can do whatever you’d like, including dancing by the light of the full moon and making small, non-living sacrifices to the audiophile gods.
 
No, seriously.
We are being serious.
 
I’m asking specifically about the cable.
As long as it’s a USB 2.0-minimum USB-C terminated cable, you can use it, sure. 
 
And it’ll sound better?
Probably about as much as taping $100 bills to your headphones. Or sending the $100 bills to us. We prefer the latter.
 
Wait a sec! Wasn't there a Hel 2 for a while?
Yes. Like Fulla 4, it was a brief sighting. The AKM factory fire put a crimp in any product using the AK4490 DAC, like Hel 2. So now you have Hel 2E, with the ESS ES9018 instead. 
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