Pros: Neutral and almost nothing to complain really
Cons: Soundstage, No bass boost
Audinst HUD-MX1 must be the most recommended budget entry audiophile DAC/Amp combo, while they are still a good DAC/Amp combo, but after years they are better players and competitor keep popping out in the market.
This is a good time Audinst make their announcement that they released the long waited Audinst HUD-MX2 that Earmass will review today. Thanks Audinst for sending me this review sample first of all, congrats to makes us a replacement/successor to the HUD-MX1.
Outlook and Packaging
Pictures talk million words.
Pairing headphone/Iem with HUD-MX2 is quite easy, it is neutral and give body to the sound, which in my opinion, is the best sound signature that I want.
Although it can powered Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 250 Ohm up for good and beyond listen sound level, but I have to turn the volume more than half (About 70%) of the maximum volume, which I don’t like. But power wise, it is indeed quite good and enough for most of the users.
I paired it with Creative Aurvana Live!, Sony MDR-1R, Hisound Wooduo 2, Koss KSC75, Yuin PK1, Thinksound TS01 and TS02, RHA MA350, NuForce NE-700M, all get fairly good to excellent sound. I love how MX2 cope with IEM and low impedance headphone.
Generally I have nothing to complain on sounding of HUD-MX2, why? Let me dig it up one by one.
High : Treble is quite crisp even with headphone such as Creative Aurvana Live!, treble is crisp and extension is great and quite smooth. Some sibilant can be detected during the review session.
Mid: Midrange is good and expressive.
Low : Quite neutral but provide good quality of bass, punchy and deep.
Sound Signature : It is quite laid back I can say, not as lively as I like. To be said, it is quite neutral but not boring, it is just that MX2 will not bring the music as front as most of the amp do. However MX2 will give body to sound and quite enjoyable to listen to. I am not particularly surprised or whatsoever in the first time when I listened to MX2, but this is not a bad thing as MX2’s voicing allowed me to listen to music for a very long hours.
Sound Stage : Sound stage is just normal. Not really big in size, anyway, it will not give you in the head feeling though.
I like how Audinst do for the sound so far. All seems right in place, price to performance ratio is great as well. MX2 is extremely versatile and will work in almost every way you connect it. You cannot use it as portable DAC/AMP though, it does not have an internal battery. But this is no big deal, it can powered directly by USB power and choose to use the included PSU, to be frank until now I have not plugged in the PSU yet, why? Because I am enjoying the convenience that with just a single USB output you can enjoy a good DAC with a headphone amp. I know this is quite common but I appreciated this convenience that Audinst provided.
Besides, Audinst had also features that more than I can use, such as a pre-amp for speaker and connect with ipad. An optical (Use Optical input can support bit rate to 24bit 192) input/output, also RCA output (so that you can just use the DAC section), MX2 has strike me with a lot of conveniency and flexibility.
Speaking of the matters of sound, it is good and performed solidly, For sure I can’t compare with something as big and as expensive like YuLong Audio D100 II. But if I did, the differences is clear, so no means for me to comparing them.
I compared it with iFi Audio iDAC (50USD more expensive than MX2) which can be powered up using USB power as well, I still think that iDAC is a better choice although iDAC hiss and has more noise floor (For the amp section), but iDAC stunned me with lively and vivid sound (Also better sound staging) that I wished to have for MX2. If you are going to pair with IEM, I will say MX2 is a good choice already though.
I hooked up MX2 with Hisound Wooduo 2 and Thinksound TS02 at office, MX2 never stopped impressed me with hours of good music from my office computer. MX2 is easily transportable and light as well, so I have no problem at all to carry it everywhere, and I know that as long as I plugged in the USB power to MX2, I will not be disappointed by bad quality of music.
Sound is indeed neutral and clear, with good amount of detail. MX2 will add body to the sound which is always a good thing, also provide some reasonable sound stage. MX2 does not have some true shine point nor weak point, it just sounded good, simple enough.
I can tell you that Audinst HUD-MX2 just lets your headphone/IEM show their true colour, it will not boost them in any mean, just let them sounded better, but a bright headphone will remained bright, bassy headphone still a bassy headphone, just they are better through HUD-MX2. I do however, really hope MX2 can have a better midrange and add in a bass boost function.
Time goes by quickly and every player in audio equipment seems stronger and stronger, this is a ultimate good news for consumer like us. We have so little of reasons to spend more on audio equipment. Audinst HUD-MX2 is a solid performer, in fact HUD-MX1 is one of the best DAC/Amp combo that available in few years back, it is quite normal to see audio reviewer and headfiers recommended the MX1 all over the place.
But things are different though after few years and now ae are in 2013, we can see a lot of good and talented manufacturer start to play in the audio market. Some of the older players keep improving their sound quality and launching better stuffs lately. So things are different now, can Audinst HUD-MX2 withstand the competitors in the market?
I will say Audinst HUD-MX2 is a good entry level amp/Dac, it worth more than its price stated. MX2 is a solid performer and give a lot of good sound particularly my IEMs and headphones. Depends on your sound preference, if you would like to hear the most upfront sound MX2 is not for you, but if you are after a good and well performed DAC/Amp, give MX2 a serious thought.