Pros: Sound quality, sound quality, sound quality, low noise floor, amazing stereo separation, perfect gain stage
Cons: Battery life, odd gain selector positions, horribly bright lamp
There is no entry for PURE II, so I have added this review to the original PURE, which I also love... just not as much.
I did my best not to effuse about the PURE II at ohm image. I think I got away pretty clean. I did not get away from the PURE II though. And though I have several camera lenses to shoot rather meticulously for some relentlessly hounding magazines, I cannot get away from my desk, from Bruce Springsteen, or from the PURE II. Currently, I have the 600Ω Beyerdynamic DT880 headphones on. The PURE II runs them just fine on low gain at 50-75%. Near the end: about 90%, it starts to thin out. That's why there is medium gain.
And I listen to music at levels that average slightly below 80dB, measured. I have this thing about protecting my hearing. Even if I didn't, I am confident I could blow my ears with the combination of the DT880/600 and PURE II in very high fidelity.
But PURE II is a better portable headphone/earphone amp. I'm surprised. It outperforms the old PURE by a margin both measurable and audible. It outperforms every portable amp I've picked up, ever, when paired with difficult to drive low-Ω multiple-armature IEMs with intense impedance swings. The Earsonics SM2, for instance, puts most portable amps and players out of sorts, dropping stereo levels to -55dB. At best, they kick out -69dB. The PURE II does -79dB, which really helps. SM2 is somewhat of a dark-sounding earphone. Opening its stereo image helps bring back cymbal splash and sense of space.
But enough of that. This thing has a obvious smooth, melty signature. Neither is over done. Details expand to all sides and to the front and back in all frequencies. Not a one steps too far ahead of the other. Detail is retrieved extremely well- but not to an etchy-sketchy effect. It's not that PURE II sound neutral. It's not that it sounds natural. It's that it just sort of melts out of the way. I've begun using an iPod 5 from 2005. Why? Because my ears have developed this thing for a slightly softer sound signature. But when I'm doing trance and progressive, I go back to the DX50 or iPod nano 6G. The latter can't handle my earphones perfectly. The former does a very good job. But both audibly benefit from adding PURE II into the mix. DX50's audible hiss goes bye bye. The forced congestion along the borders of midrange/bass, which riddle the iPod when paired with certain bastard earphones: gone. PURE II is the great equaliser of equipment.
I'm sure more sound signature oriented reviews will pop up. I'm in it for the way the PURE II melts away without leaving a trace. If I want that old iPod sound, PURE II. If I want that harder-edged Cirrus sound, PURE II. If I want my music to sound as close to the recording as possible through the most ridiculous of earphones out there, PURE II and my favourite source.
And yes, it works great with other portable headphones as well as low-current high-impedance headphones. The only problem is its battery life. The old PURE did 26-30 hours on a charge. The new one gets 9-11 hours, volume depending. That surprised me at first. Generally, I'm a battery-life-and-resolution-trumps-all sort bloke. It's hard to still fit into that mould. PURE II has me putting up with shorter listens and thrice weekly charges.
If this is indicative of what Vorzüge are up to, this is the company to watch.