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Decently priced neutral amp

A Review On: Project Palaios: Iona

Project Palaios: Iona

Rated # 48 in Portable Amps
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Pros: Well priced, neutral sounding

Cons: 9V battery, average/small soundstage, no limiter for voltage input

I've had the privilege of Charles Wong send me this prototype amp a few months back but didn't get a chance to listen to it until recently. Charles worked on this particular unit himself so it is still very much a prototype unit that I have in my hands. There were a few issues with the unit but since it's prototype, I won't dwell on that.


Overall, the unit is quite blocky due to the 9V battery it houses and the wooden case does have some thickness to it. The actual circuit board inside is actually quite small. Operation is quite simple, only a volume pot that acts as a off/on switch too. No gain switch option either. I did encounter an issue that any source with a "high voltage out" seems to introduce distortion in the amp. Therefore sources such as the HM-901 line out is too powerful for this amp. However other DAP/DACs (AK120, VentureCraft DD)  I've tried seem to be fine.


The sound of the amp is actually neutral with a slight treble bias. It's actually quite a reasonable amp to use if one wants to "cleanse their sonic palate" in preparation for critical listening of other amps. The soundstage is somewhat smaller than what I'm used to but at the same time I don't really hear congestion. It's price of $200, it's actually reasonable for what it delivers.


where is the thread for this :| ?

Billy has included a Palaios amp with the AX60 demo. Also peeked at the circuit and similar comments re size and 9v battery. I likewise also suspected driving it with anything more powerful than clip+ might make it start distorting since it'll start clipping somewhere but haven't tried it.

It measures well, and sounds overall neutral to me. The low output impedance is a must and a win for the amp. I'd be interested to see how it does with higher impedance load for the measurements
and find out more what the load and power output were for the one shown on their site (it might be there I'm just not seeing it). (among other things to see how well it handles higher

impedance,lower spl headphones)

The production versions (laquerred) do look pretty as well and it looks like the door battery holds better. If I had a DAP I really liked feature wise, but had impedance problems, or wanted to drive larger headphones I'd probably buy one. It sound good with my GMP450 pro (300 ohm) and for most song the volume dial is < 1/2. (driven off a clip+ at full volume). I don't hear

any odd changes to the sound of GMP450 so that's great as well.
I think they could use a different knob and in/out sockets (aethetics wise)

Personally I prefer Li-Ion + charger port, not 9v batteries and battery door. That said the amp opens and the battery slides out easily enough (on some amps you have to fiddle with it a lot and nearly snap the power wires off the amp before you can change it and need to carry screwdrivers or pliers

Price wise, I'm not too sure...
ps http://www.head-fi.org/g/i/1026725/d1000-ax60-h200-merlin-jh16fp/sort/display_order/

(mmm commenting galeries has interesting content rules - can't seem to insert images O.o)
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