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HippoHiFi - The Bloat

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Equipment Used

Bloat DAC/Amp:
Non-Upgraded, Black with AD823’s

Headphones:
Sennheiser HD650/Stock Cable

Comparison Source:
Sound Blaster Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic

Test Music:
Augie March, One Crowded Hour, One Crowded Hour
Black Eyed Pees, Monkey Business, My Hump
Chillout Annual, 2002, iiO - Rapture
Muse, Black holes and Revelations Starlight
The Saboteurs, Broken Boy Soldier, Intimate Secretary

Initial Impressions

The unit is a neat aluminium box; simple and to the point, USB input, and a decent output jack. My first impressions of sound were one of overwhelming power on all levels; though that’s to be expected after all I am coming from an X-Fi. But bear with me, that is the reason I looked into an amp in the first place – the X-Fi just felt like it was not giving the HD650’s near enough. Things appeared held back as if muffled not so bad in entertainment mode though.

I was very impressed with the unit, it provided crisp clear and deliberate power to the HD650’s opening them up to their full potential. While all music in general appeared opened up and atmospheric the extremities were particularly noticeable. I was initially confused to find that controlling the volume had to be performed via the Wave volume and not the normal all volume. After setting up my player to use the Bloat, then adjusting the player volume worked fine.

Critical Listening

Its taken me a month to actually get around to actually really testing out the unit. I set the test up so I could quickly switch between sources without interfering with my listening. I levelled the two sources volumes, first on a low volume and then at the X-Fi’s maximum volume which is only about 7% on the Bloat, although I did ask if my unit could have twice the normal gain.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the low tremble of the bass on My Hump. Not a huge fan of Pop but it’s not a bad song. The bloat surfaced a whole lot more texture to the backing base that seems to just cut-off or is plainly not audible to the X-Fi. I played this one many times over as I just couldn’t get over the texture it was giving.

Having had my fun I tried some Augie March. The lead has some very subtle vocals; I’ve noted that this band often sounds very ho-hum on average setups but is amazing on great setups. The Bloat didn’t disappoint, I was immersed in the singing. Its hard to describe but it brings out all the edges to the vocals and it carries you away with the song.

Conclusions

Advantages:
Outstanding performance for a great price
Neat compact unit.
Disadvantages:
Volume controlled via Wave

Overall I would definitely. This unit uses the best of the best of components but is extremely price competitive at $170.
post #2 of 4
Where did you find this amp... a google search didn't hit anything?
post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by drew8mc View Post
Where did you find this amp... a google search didn't hit anything?
http://www.hippohifi.com/

Don't know how you were using google, but it found this pretty easily. Looks like an interesting amp/DAC package
post #4 of 4
Thanks for the detailed review, good to see you are happy with it.
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