Pros: Powerful and spacious sound, remote control, pre-amp mode can go against more expensive options, built like tank,
Cons: Single ended mode impressive, too big for some desktops, requires a 30 minute warmup to sound its best, the feet could be better
In nutshell: if you are looking for neutral amp with a smooth sound signature, the Phoenix is a good buy at its price.
DESIGN & BUILD: weighing in at over 10 kg´s, it´s massive for a headphone amplifier. It looks suprisingly good, something you won´t need to be embarrassed to show. There´s no amplifier in this price range that can match the Phoenix in features: remote control, relay based 70/100 step volume control, pre-amp mode, tons of inputs and the power supply build is hardcore (twin R-Core). All the connectors are high end ones (Neutrik mostly). Only minus is that it needs a 30 minute warmup to open up. Some people also dislike the fact that it runs very warm - but it was designed to run this way and I don´t really see it as a problem. Just don´t leave it on 24/7.
VALUE: as with Audio-gd gear in general, as you are ordering directly from the factory in China the value is beyond most western products.. Feel free to look for a western amp with these features and a power supply anywhere near the Phoenix at its price range... There are risks with ordering from China of course, but Kingwa´s company has a good reputation and a nice 3-year warranty. The customer service I had from Audio-gd is the best I´ve had from any audio company. I was answered around 20+ emails before I even ordered anything. That speaks for itself.
AUDIO: neutral and smooth with a very dark background. Like a good amp should, the Phoenix doesn´t have much of a sound signature of its own. It shows your source. Paired with an ACSS outputting DAC, it has amazing synergy. It´s great with other sources too though. The single ended operation is not on the same level as the balanced mode. Don´t buy it if you intend to run SE - this is a balanced design with separate power supplies and amps for both channels. The lower than expected quality in SE mode drop the rating to 4.5 starts though...