The Little Dac/Amp that Could (Drive 600ohm DT880s)

A Review On: Beyerdynamic A200p Portable Mobile DAC Headphone Amp for iPhone and Android Phones, Black/Silver

Beyerdynamic A200p Portable Mobile DAC Headphone Amp for iPhone and Android Phones, Black/Silver

Rated # 14 in Amp/DACs
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Review Details:
Audio Quality
Design
Quality
Value
MrEleventy
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Pros: Smooth sounding signature, Powerful amp, easy to set up and use.

Cons: Sticky jog wheel, Proprietary Port, price

INTRODUCTION

When the opportunity came up to review the Beyerdynamic A200p, I jumped at the chance and volunteered to do one.
Warning: DISCLAIMER (Click to show)
I'm not an audiophile, even though I've been called one, I just enjoy my music. I don't think I have Golden Ears nor do I think my opinion is to be definitive. I just know what my ear likes and know that there are plenty others that will disagree and I'm cool with that. My musical taste is a bit eclectic, artists like Dave Matthew Band, Lorde, The Knife, Rihanna, Springsteen and Beethoven all share the same playlist through out my sessions. Hopefully the wide berth in genre range can allow this review to apply to a wider audience as well.

I am kind of a Beyerdynamic fanatic as my headphones collection will point out. They just check off a lot of boxes for me so I'm quite familiar with their pros, cons, signature, etc.
Warning: EQUIPMENT (Click to show)
NFB12 (Pre-jumper)
Aune T1 (Amperex 6DJ8 Orange Globe & Sylvania 6BK7B)
Galaxy S3

Beyerdynamic : DT770 (Prem 250 & Pro 80), DT880 Prem 600, T90s and DT1350 (I would've tried the T1 as well but I didn't have a 1/4 to 1/8 converter on hand.)
Fischer Audio DBA-02 MKII, and Fostex TE-05.

A200P

FORM
The A200P is a portable dac/amp that meant to work with iOS and Android devices. The compatibility list can be found HERE. The device is well packaged and bundled. It comes with 3 different cables (Android, Apple and USB.) and a carry case. It's surprisingly small and light weight, thus making it easy to pocket for portable use. The build is simple and elegant, very minimalist. I've tested this device with a Samsung Galaxy S3 and a Windows computer. I don't have access to an Apple Device so the review will be limited to those tested. Set up was easy and hassle free. Just plug everything in and turn the device on. A little bit more fiddling with settings in Windows for Foobar was required but nothing major. No driver issues to deal with, which is definitely a plus. My only gripe is that the A200p is equipped with a "proprietary" usb port. The usb port is recessed and shaped in a fashion that your average usb cables won't fit into the device, leaving you to either buy their cables or fashion one yourself.

FUNCTION
The A200p is equipped with a jog wheel for volume, 3 playback control buttons (Which also worked in Windows), and a power toggle switch. Operating the A200p is simple and easy but I did hit a snag here. Using the jog wheel isn't as smooth as I thought it would've been. It tends to get stuck and not want to budge until you apply some force to it, then it'll slide smoothly. The device comes with a small black "mole" that you can stick to the jog wheel to help with movement but, this being a loaner unit, I didn't want to tarnish it in any way. I will have to admit though that I would have quite an internal struggle whether to put it on or not. The device is beautiful the way it is and I wouldn't want to mar the look with the "mole" to increase functionality... until I find that I can't stand to use it without the "mole". Overall, aesthetically and functionally the device is a hit. But this is Head-Fi and what really matters is... How does it sound?

SOUND
The first thing that jumped out at me when listening through the device is that it's very smooth, very balanced overall. Nothing really stood out but I detected a slight roll off of the treble. It's non-fatiguing nature allows for long listening sessions and pairs well with bright headphones like the DT series and the T90, taming the highs enough to reduce/remove some sibilance but keeping the highs airy and detailed. It also does the same with my primary IEMs, the dba02-mkII and TE-05. Overall, a very satisfying performance from a dac of this size.

AMP
Paired with the great performing dac is a powerful little amp. It handled the range of headphones quite well from the low (13, TE-05) to the high (600, DT880). The 880/600ohms ran really well when listening to modern songs that are brickwalled but it also performed admirably on older quieter tracks, mainly classical pieces. It does a respectable job to getting the 880s to a listenable volume in an average household/workplace. Very impressive performance from an amp of it's size.

SHORT COMPARISONS
Note : T90s were the primary cans used. Volume matching was done by playing the same 10 second test track and taking the max with my a Sound Meter app on the S3... except when I compared against the S3.

A200p vs...
NFB12
A200p : Thinner sounding overall, less body. Treble extension is better on the NFB12. Soundstage doesn't feel as wide, probably due to shorter treble extension.


Aune T1 w/ Amperex 6DJ8
A200p : Thinner mid section but bass is tighter and more extended. Treble is similar in smoothness, maybe less roll off in T1. Hard to tell.


Aune T1 w/ Sylvania 6BK7B
A200p : Treble roll off is more apparent in this comparison. Everything else is very similar.


Samsung Galaxy S3
A200p : Very clear and clean sounding, smoother and very pleasant. S3 is very grainy in comparison. I'm going to miss this unit when it goes back.




OVERALL
This little dac/amp does a lot of things well and doesn't get in the way with it's size. It has it's little snags like the jog wheel and proprietary usb port but outside of that, I really liked my time with the A200p. If I couldn't have my Aune T1 & Darkvoice 336 at work, I wouldn't mind stepping down to the A200P. It's extremely convenient to be able to have a versatile dac/amp on you at all times w/ weighing you down.

P.S.
Thanks to @beyer1924 for the opportunity to test out the A200p. It's a great little device.

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