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Five-Part Review: Go-Vibe V6, HeadAmp AE-2, Xenos 1HA-EPC

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

This is loaner #5 (of 6) of my Loaner Program, for the Go-Vibe V6, HeadAmp AE-2, and Xenos 1HA-EPC portable amplifiers. All three amps are very recent and not in the hands of many, so in the interest of pushing more knowledge of them into the forum, 4 people were subjectively selected to review them for the community!

This thread is the repository for reviews (and pictures) of the amps by each person.

The 5 participants:
1 - Pete7 (NY)
2 - slwiser (VA)
3 - mrarroyo/vorlon1 (FL)
-- Xenos 1HA-EPC was removed from the Loaner at this point --
4 - digihead (TX)

Reviews follow below.


Edited by Asr - 4/25/11 at 10:42pm

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 6

I was the lucky first person to get a crack at these 3 great portable amps. I want to say thanks to Steve for being so generous with all of his various loaner programs.
I had a heck of a time trying to review each of these amps. The reason being is that to me, these amps all perform at pretty much the same high level and the differences are very minimal. I enlisted the help of my good buddy jamesp, and he listened to all 3 and completely agreed with me. So what I did was instead of a formal review of each amp, I kind of scribbled down some impressions over the last week and a half, and then tonight took a 10-minute listen to each and wrote my final impressions, which is what I'm going to document here. I listened to each amp using my imodded Ipod Photo 60 gb as a source, a cantsleep HGA silver 2" mini-to-mini interconnect, with my Westone ES2's as headphones. I also used my RSA Tomahawk as a basis for comparison, as I've been using it exclusively since early January so I don't think I could help it even if I wanted to. Anyway,here goes:

RSA Tomahawk- I find the T-Hawk kind of neutral sounding with a touch of warmth. Excellent clarity and extension both ways. The soundstage isn't very wide, but tall. The bass goes deep yet pretty tight, definitely not muddy.

Xenos 1HA-EPC- No hiss on low gain with my ES2's.The highs don't extend as high as the T-Hawk. Good detail. The bass has more quantity but isn't as tight. Has a more impactful,aggressive sound. The tone has a coloration I couldn't quite put my finger on. Has a nice, wide soundstage but not the height of the Tomahawk. I enjoyed this amp a lot, although I'd have to say portability is a big issue with this amp. It's a brick-almost the size of a PR II though not as heavy. It has a well implemented crossfeed(pretty subtle, although I thought I detected some treble roll-off with it engaged).

Go-Vibe 6- This was definitely the surprise of the bunch. Some hiss with no music playing, but not really noticeable with it playing. The sound reminded me a lot of the T-Hawk. Very similar tonality, but doesn't extend in both directions as well. The soundstage was a little narrow. Clarity and detail pretty good, but cymbals tended to sound a bit splashy. Without a doubt, the best value of the four. It performs at a level beyond it's price.

AE-2- No hiss on low gain. Very nice improvement from the AE-1 with the gain switch. The AE-1 had hiss up the wazoo. I thought the AE-2 sounded even more similar to the T-Hawk than the Go Vibe 6. But wheras I thought the Go-Vibe 6 fell short of the Tomahawk's greatness, I believe at the least the AE-2 is an equal. I think I would need to own an AE-2 myself to decide which of the two I preferred. The soundstage is wider, but without the height. The bass has more quantity and was seemingly as deep and more impactful. I read a couple days ago that the AE-2 has a focus on the upper mid-range, and after I read that I thought I noticed that the treble sounded slightly veiled. Probably placebo,because of what I had read. I found this amp to have a very engaging, involving sound overall. If the T-Hawk wasn't so darn portable I'd get one of these myself.

Anyway, I really enjoyed demoing these portable amps and thanks again to Steve. I think he is doing a real service to the Head-Fi community.
post #3 of 6
Pete7 sent me the package of three portable amps this week and I have been listening to them a bit and here are my first impressions.

I want to thank Asr for sharing these headphone amps with those of us that he is sending these too. Thanks, I would not have had the opportunity to listen to these in such a manner if you have not made the offer.

First Impressions:

Note: IEM (inter-ear monitor) free zone below.

I now have in house a iBasso T1, T2 (about 10 hours), Go-Vibe V6, Headamp AE-1, Headamp AE-2 and a Xenos 1HA-EPC thanks to Asr and his loaner program. The T1, T2 and AE-1 are mine. The T2, AE-1&2 and EPC have a "Skylab WOW" factor for me.

The Xenos 1HA-EPC has a plug issue when I am using my Super Cotton Dock in that it will not stay in. The eight inch plug does not seem as tight as with the other amps. My initial first impressions of the EPC's sound was that it did not have the bass or the highs of either the AEs. With further listening I have since put that aside thinking that this was more related to how the plug may have been seated. I need to listen to this one more this weekend. Checkout the up-close picture in my gallery of this interface in my portable comparison directory.
The link to my Head-Fi gallery is in my sig below.

The T1 and Go-Vibe V6 for me do not have the legs of the others while still sounding nice. They are much cheaper after-all. The Go-Vibe V6 is a little too laid back and soft for me. Someone suggested that the Go-vibe's grow longer legs with higher voltages than the standard internal battery supply. I will have to put it on its AC and listen and see what the results will be. The T1 has an effective bass boost that I use with my ATH-EW9s.

The T2 is even thinner than the T1. While the T1 uses a Maxim4411 opamp the T2 is using a set of AD opamps. Someone suggested that has the AD8616 in it. I have not opened up any of these except my longer term unit the AE-1.

For me the AE-2 is the top contender of the bunch and the AE-1 comes in second place and surprisingly close to it's newer brother. These units have a smoothness that I enjoy with the AE-2 being notably smoother at extended ranges of sound frequency. Note that this is not exactly how Skylab has positioned these units in his review. We all have our preferences I guess.

The AE-1 and AE-2 units have a synergy with my UE9s that I appreciate more than the others. The AE-1 has two capacitors for each channel for a channel value of about 2000+ mF. The AE-2 has one more capacitor than the AE-1 so there is the possibility that the AE-2 gets something out of that difference. The AE-2 was set at it's lowest gain and I have left it there since this provides all the volume I need. The sound that I hear from these is smoother and more detailed at this time. You can note that the screen printing on my AE-1 has been lost. The AE-2 having been laser etched will probably not suffer this loss. The botton AE-2 image of the gain settings appears to be a screen print and may have issues in the future. The image of the AE-2 is of beauty if a piece of hardware can be called beautiful. The AE-2 is slightly lighter to handle than my AE-1. The battery in the AE-2 may be a bit smaller.

The T2 and EPC are at about the same level from my perspective. The T2 is quite a surprise in how it sounds and it still is only in its startup phase of burn-in. The T2s bass boost is fairly tight increase when I am using my ATH-EW9s which is needed for them. The T2's wide switch does not miss with the sound as badly as the T1s switch. This is much improved and depending on the track can be very nice. The EPCs wide is very subtle in nature and provides some extra headstage when used. The EPCs gain switch provides a little more gain than I prefer using my UE9s, so I keep that on the low range.

The EPC has a sound somewhere near the Headamp's AE-1/AE-2 but does not provide the smoothness of either of them. I am wondering if the AE's have a higher capacitance to support better dynamics. I have looked for an internal of the EPC but yet have been able to find one to compare. I found the interanl photo but they have yet to download off a very slow server apparently here: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showpo...92&postcount=1

I will have these for about another week and send them on. I will continue to listen and further edit this report as my listening experiences evolve, if they evolve.

Note that I believe that current capacity of an amp has a great impact upon how a headphone will sound. All these initial impressions have been with my use of the UE9 which has a very level impedance curve. I will have to use these later using my ATH-ANC7 which I am sure has an impedance curve that has much larger variations. This will help show which headphones have issues with bass more I think.

Here is a picture excluding the T1. It was at work the day I got the amps and took this shot.



Follow up after extended listening sessions:

Following extended listening sessions with each of these portable amps I find that once my ears get used to listening to any one of these amps I fine myself enjoying the music. This is exactly what I expect from an audio component. While some more-so than others, all provide some level of increased listening pleasure over a direct DAP headphone output.

The least increase in listening pleasure belongs to the iBasso T1. The bass switch on the T1 worked very well while the wide switch failed to give me a good result. Moving up the latter next is the Go-Vibe V6 which adds a little something to what I hear from the T1 while on its internal batteries. The Go-Vibe has solid feel about it and feels more solid than the T1 which is its direct competition in this set of portable amps. Both seem to lack the capacity to handle the deep bass attacks as well as the other amps in this comparison. Although, the T1 bass switch helps mitigate this issue. Between the two I would probably purchase the T1 for its bass switch over the Go-Vibe V6 if I were only going to use the Go-Vibes internal batteries.

Others reviewers seem to find that the Xenos 1HA-EPC performs at a higher level than the Headamp AE-1, but I failed to hear this distinction. This is probably my own personal limitation. The EPC is certainty better in headstage and frequency extension compared with the Go-Vibe or the T1. The iBasso T2 performs somewhere between the EPC and my AE-1 from a smoothness viewpoint while the EPCs headstage may have been a bit more extended than the T2 without the wide option selected. Frequency extension between the T2 and the EPC was about equal with the EPC having more bass impact without considering the T2’s bass switch. Essentially, I just did not get enough out of the EPC for it to stand out against the competition. It continued to have the initial plug issue so that it would not stay put so this may have flavored my take on this unit.

The iBasso’s T2 bass switch seems to provide some additional help in handling the low frequencies as long as the headphone itself can stay under control. The T2s wide switch sounds better than the T1s. If the T2s wide circuit is the same as in the T1, I would be surprised and if it is, it must be something related to the increase in general amplifier capability that helps produce the differences that I perceived. The more I listen to these enhancements, the more I am enjoying them, they are not overly done. The more I listen the more they sound like what I have appreciated so much in the Headamp units as noted below. It is possible that some of the increase in sound quality that I am noting may be coming from the additional burn-in that my new T2 has undergone during the period of these comparisons. Being audiophiles at heart, we tend to dismiss these types of add-ons. But for this amp, I think if we do, we may be missing something that I have found adds something special to my musical enjoyment for certain types of music. In my opinion the impact of these features on the overall amp performance places this amp above the EPC.

The two that I preferred most were the Headamp AE-1 (mine) and the AE-2 which is on loan from Asr. I love the emotional presentation and smoothness of the sound which I perceived from these two portable amps. The AE-2 does outperform the AE-1 with better extension on both the highs and low ends of the sound spectrum. The AE-1s bass extension was equal to the EPC. Attempting to explain the differences between the Headamps AEs and the other amps in another way, I would put the sound that I hear from the Headamp amplifiers as being more analog or tuby as opposed to a more digital sound; with the AE-2 being more-so compared with its older brother, the AE-1. Justin has configured these amps with an especially pleasing sound that I really appreciate.


For myself, the leader in value is the iBasso T2. The overall sound quality leader is the Headamp AE-2. Of course, your mileage may vary and will from mine since we all have different ears and expectations from our equipment. Making comparisons between these amps has been a challenge since all performed in a positive manner and any of these amps has the potential to increase your listening pleasure when compared with a headphone out of a DAP.

Again, thanks needs to be given to Asr for allowing me the pleasure of hearing these amps. Now I must forward these units on to the next lucky guy for his evaluation. I will be looking forward to those results.
post #4 of 6
Today (7/3/07) I received a package from slwiser, it contained the Xenos X1HA-EPC, the Go-Vibe 6, and the HeadAmp AE-2. Each arrived with a clearly marked PSU. First thing I did was to plug them to top them off as needed, secondly is that I decided to due this review in three stages. These are:

I. Today (7/3/07) I will drive each of these amps using Apple Lossless files via iTunes in my Dell Desktop. The signal will be sent via an optical cable from my Chaintech soundcard to a Musical Fidelity X-Dac V3. I will use a Blue Jean Cable (BJC) RCA to Mini to send the signal from the X-Dac V3 to each of the three amps. This dac is stock except for a PinkFloyd Little Pinkie PSU.

The music I used tonight is Al DiMeola's Consequence of Chaos Album and the cans tonight will be my modded Equation Eartool RP21. To maintain some continuity I will compare the three amps received with my RSA SR-71.

Here are pictures of the amps, modded RP21, BJC IC, and the cover of Consequence of Chaos.













Review:

AE-2 vs. SR-71: The AE-2 is a bit faster and has more treble energy. I find the soundstage of the SR-71 slightly larger with a sweetness/lushness that is lacking in the AE-2. The SR-71 puts the listener closer to the stage, kind of a 1st row versus 10th row for the AE-2. IMO the SR-71 is a bit clearer and more detailed.

AE-2 vs. Go-Vibe 6: The AE-2 truly outclasses the Go-Vibe 6 and it should at 3.5 times the price. Is the any of these amps 3.5 or 4 times better than the Go-Vibe 6? No, and if I only had $100 the Go-Vibe 6 would be a fantastic amp and a heck of a performer at that price.

AE-2 vs. Xenos X1HA-EPC: The Xenos is more in your face and IMO has more detail and clarity. The AE-2 is mellower.

SR-71 vs. Xenos X1HA-EPC: I had to go back and forth a few times to hear the differences among these two amps, which speaks very well of the Xenos X1HA-EPC. The soundstage is a bit wider on the SR-71 with the stage being a bit closer on the SR-71. Say 1st row for the SR-71 and 5th row for the Xenos X1HA-EPC. The SR-71 has a mellower and lusher presentation while maintaining the same level of detail and clarity as the X1HA-EPC.

SR-71 vs. Go-Vibe 6: The SR-71 has a much wider soundstage, even more noticeable than when I compared the AE-2 with the Go-Vibe 6. As expected the SR-71 is more clear, detailed, and has more impact in its presentation.

Xenos X1HA-EPC vs. Go-Vibe 6: Pretty much the same as with the SR-71.

So in tonight's comparison with the above equipment which amp came on top? Well the answer depends on what you value most: sound, cost, or portability.

If sound alone was the sole criteria then I would rank them: 1) SR-71, 2) X1HA-EPC, 3) AE-2, and 4) Go-Vibe 6.

If we use cost as the sole criteria: 1) X1HA-EPC, 2) SR-71, 3) Go-Vibe 6 tied with the AE-2.

If we use portability as the sole criteria: 1) SR-71, 2) AE-2, 3) Go-Vibe 6, and 4) X1HA-EPC.

If all three are included giving sound a 60% weight and cost/portability 20% each then the ranking would be: 1) SR-71, 2) AE-2 tied with the X1HA-EPC, and 4) Go-Vibe 6.

At this point I would like to add that although my comparison may seem to indicate that the Go-Vibe may not be appealing that is far from the truth. The Go-Vibe 6 is a great amp and only when compared with amps costing more than twice its cost does it come short. BTW some of the differences are not that big. I would also like to state that I like the sound out of the Xenos X1HA-EPC a lot, it is very close to the SR-71 and if Xenos could maintain the current price while making the X1HA-EPC shorter by 1.5" it would IMO sell like hot cakes. I also would like to call attention to the placement of input and headphone in the X1HA-EPC. It is back wards of the norm amongst mainstream portable amps, I would suggest that Xenos find a way to reverse their location.

II. Tomorrow (7/4/07) I will use a 2005 Beyer DT990 (250 ohm) and an AKG K501 to listen to the same four amps. The music will be Wes Montgomery - Full House 'live' at Tsubo - Berkley, California and Chet Baker in Paris Barclay Sessions 1955-1956.









Edit 1: Well it is Wednesday, 7/4/07 and I have just listened to both Wes Montgomery and Chet baker via all four amps and my AKG K501. For some reason although the above impressions I had with the Equation Eartool RP21 were validated with the AKG K501 the differences were less pronounced. That is the sound only based ranking above stays the same but since the amps are much closer in sound quality it would be very hard to justify spending $400 or $350 when I can get such a great sound from the Xenos and Go-Vibe. I guess if you have the money and the source and cans are of high quality the SR-71 would still be the way to go. However if you have Mid Fi or less as a source and cans you would be perfectly happy with the Go-Vibe 6. Tonight I will listen using to Wes Montgomery and Chet Baker with a 2005 Beyer DT990 (250 ohm) via the four amps and update via an "Edit 2".

Edit 2: Now, is Wednesday Evening, 7/4/07 and I have listened to both Wes Montgomery and Chet Baker with all four amps using a 2005 Beyer DT990 (250 ohms). Although from an outcome perspective this is a repeat of the two previous listening sessions I was surprised at how much closer the four amps sounded. Not only did they sound closer but for some reason the sound seemed a bit veiled/congested as compared with the previous listening sessions with the RP21 and the K501. I can not explain it, perhaps the much higher impedance has something to do with it. The SR71 was the least affected by this veil/congestion. I should mention that the Beyer DT990 is one of my favorite cans and until today it is 2nd only to the RS-1 and like all the cans used it is fully burned in. Next Saturday (7/7/07) I will meet with Vorlon1 and we will be using IEM's (E500 & Triple.Fi) for cans and iModded iPods as sources.

III. Saturday (7/7/07) I plan on using various songs in a 4th Gen 60gB iModded iPod via Revelation Audio 99.999% pure silver Cryo IC with the same four amps. Perhaps Vorlon1 could be available and he could bring a 5th amp to the evaluation a TTVJ Millet Portable Amp and use it as additional reference point for the three amps Asr graciously loaned. I will be using a Shure E500 to change the pace a little bit from full size cans.



Edit 3: Well, Vorlon1 and I did get together tpday Saturday, 7/7/07 and spent about two hours going back and forth the three amps that Asr graciously loaned. For sake of reference we added two amp a Ray Samuel SR-71 and a TTVJ Millet Portable headphone amp. Today we concentrated on IEM's and to that effect we had four, these were:

1. Shure E500 (two pairs)
2. UE Triple.Fi
3. V-Moda Vibe

We also had an Equation RP21 to see if we could reproduce what I had heard on 7/3. I did! The second variation from the last two entries I have done here is that the source today was a couple of iModded 4th Gen iPod Photo 60 Gb.

Here is a pic of the gear we used (click on the thumbnail to view the full size picture):

Today I used to artist for my comparison, Mark Whitfield and Diana Krall. Both were recorded in Apple Lossless on my iModded iPod. Here are the covers of the two albums.





Basically the results I reported in the two previous occasions remains valid. As far as Vorlon1 I believe he liked the AE-2 much more than I did, I hope he has the time to post his impressions.

Edit 4 (7/11/07): I decided to include an opinion of the the three amps from a physical point of view. First all three amps are very well built but the AE-2 (like its predecessor the AE-1) is built like a tank on steroids. This amp exudes quality and inspires confidence it can go through anything you throw at it. Having a mini and rca adds to its flexibility, or you can use either as a loop out. The gain switch in the AE-2 is not the easiest to use, this IMO is a good because being recessed it would be very hard to change the setting and blow your ears out.

The Go-Vibe 6 is also very well built and I for one like the big knobs on the back door (used to access the battery compartment). Some have stated that they are big, yes but that is a good thing. Having lost some of the diminutive nuts in other amps I rather have the larger ones since they are easier to use.

Finally the Xenos, nicely built and I only have to issues and they are minor. First the light is way to bright and IMO should be toned down a bit. Heck doing so may add more playing time. The second item is that I also found that the input jack to be hard to use and not as confidence inspiring as the ones in the AE-2 or the Go-Vibe. And of course all three have an internal charging circuit which is a major plus in my opinion.

I like to close by thanking Asr for his generosity in sending these three amps to basically strangers to test. Thanks.
post #5 of 6
Mrarroyo is correct, I did like the AE-2 more than he did. With Triple-Fi's I found it to be a very warm sounding amp with a nice soundstage and very sweet highs. However, I didn't find the sound to be as well defined and articulate as either the SR-71 or the Millett portable, or quite as transparent. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable and musical. Listening to it I kept getting the mental impression of being engulfed in a big warm, soft, pillow. Not an unpleasant sensation, but when compared with the other two reference amps I preferred their more detailed presentation. Not that the AE-2 didn't have detail, it was just not as focussed, but it was enjoyable to listen to. I preferred it to the Xenos amp, which was smooth and musical, but for whatever reason I find Xenos amps ( I have one, but not this model) a bit two dimensional sounding and not transparent enough for my taste. I know Mrarroyo disagrees with me and really likes the Xenos, but there you are, we all have variations in tastes and perceptions.

The AE-2 sounded a bit less warm and "pillowy" with the RP-21. It sounded more detailed and clear than with the Triple-Fi's, but the other amps also retained their advantage in clarity and transparency with these headphones, so it would seem to be just a difference between the way the RP-21 and Triple-Fi reproduce sound with these amps.

The go-vibe 6 was quite good for it's very low price and I think had the best bass of all the amps.

So, I still prefer the Millett and the SR-71, but the AE-2 is a nice warm sounding amp with a wide and deep soundstage that I believe many people would enjoy, depending on what they are looking for, while I am not so enthusiastic about the Xenos, but I do think the Go-Vibe 6 is a very good value.
post #6 of 6
I used the AE-2 and the Govibe V6 in my main portable set up for comparison purposes. I also threw in the other IEMs I own the UE5c and UE10pro to see how they matched up with the amps.

A brief background…I use the iMod 4g > ALO SuperKind mini to mini > Hornet > Westone ES2 90% of the time for my portable listening. The other 8% is iPod Nano 8g>ALO Jumbo Cryo four wire dock> Tomahawk> UE5c, and the rest is some combo of the UE10. What I have found is that in all honesty, over time I have become less and less of a fan of the UE10. Crazy…perhaps, but I find it to be too clinical and analytical and too brutally revealing of recording quality. It is almost like going to your favorite club or local dingy watering hole in the middle of the day or with all the lights on. Once you have seen it for what it really looks like it kind of takes a lot of the fun out of it. I feel the same way about the UE10s. Their revealing nature takes the fun out of the music and I spend more time analyzing than enjoying. I have spent a long time trying to find a synergistic combo with the UE10. Best one I came up with was the iPod Nano 8g>ALO Jumbo Cryo four wire dock> Tomahawk. However, I actually like the UE5c more in this combo. I also like having the ability to use the UE5c straight out of the Nano when I want to go ultra portable.

Expectations in audio can be a real killer and we all hear differently.

Seems like whenever I read about something and get an idea of what I think it should sound like, then wait to get it, it never seems to live up to the expectations.

I was really fired up to check out the AE-2 and almost purchased one before I was given the gracious opportunity to participate in this loaner program.

I must say, upon my first several listens to the AE-2, I just didn’t get it. Didn’t see what the hype was about…what in the world did anyone see in this amp? Over time I came to appreciate its sound more than my first listens. The AE-2 has a warmish, up front kind of sound to it with a really nice midrange, good detail and some serious bass to it. The bass is actually one issue I have with the amp. For me, it is just too much, too intense in its presentation. I like bass, however I am not a bass head by any means. I like a nice bass presence that doesn’t bleed into the rest of the spectrum, and I appreciate a nice bass extension to hit the really low notes. The AE-2 bass is just overwhelming for me. Feels like I’m being hit in the ear with bass.

I actually thought of kind of a wacky analogy when comparing the AE-2 to the Hornet. The Hornet has a larger soundstage and is easier to pick out the individual instruments and details. It enables you to choose which instrument in a mix you want to focus on if you choose or you can take in the whole musical picture if that is your pleasure. In that sense, it is like an entrée at a restaurant. You can focus on eating individual items as you please, mix them together and eat as a whole, etc. Very much like the Hornet. The AE-2 on the other hand is much more like eating a burger. Good, but you’re getting all the flavors at once. The AE-2 doesn’t have the spatiality or layering capabilities like the Hornet does. It definitely gives you what it has, it just doesn’t have the variety of flavors like the Hornet entrée.

I definitely think the GoVibe v6 is a true audio sweet spot. For the price, the performance of this little amp is just outstanding. I can easily recommend this amp. Solid build, nice feel, good size. The sound it provides for the price is fantastic. It can throw a decent sized sound stage with fantastic bass and a very nice midrange as well. Bass is really nice and musical. Not the tightest but not offensive in the least. I do notice a small amount of hiss when using the ES2s, however the ES2s are crazy sensitive to begin with. The issue with the GoVibe seems to be that there is a fine line to walk between the right volume and one that is too high. Push the volume up just a bit too much and the sound starts to lose its composure. I also think that for my tastes, the GoVibe might be a bit fatiguing over time.

I definitely hear more detail with the Hornet and the Tomahawk than I do with either the AE-2 or the GoVibe. Things like background voices can be heard more clearly with the RSA amps than with either of these two. Also instruments in the background are more easily distinguishable with the RSA amps than either of these two.

So it might sound as if I’m being a bit harsh. Not intended to be, just my thoughts. Overall both the AE-2 and the GoVibe v6 are nice amps. Honestly, I’d pick up the GV6 any day as a budget amp and would pass on the AE-2. I can see how some might like it, just not my cup of audio tea.

In all this, I have also come to realize that I really do like the Hornet/ES2 combo. I think it is a rare find to get such killer synergy between an IEM and a portable amp. So making any comparison against that benchmark reference sets a very high standard to surpass.

Thanks again for the loaner program. I enjoyed it.
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