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iBasso T2 - 10 minute review.

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 
Its out, its here, its small, its in my hands.

Looks/Build

Good looking amp, very neat, perfect to combine with Nanos and Meizus, and anything you can fit in your change-pocket. The light is giving an extra edge, all the switches are firm, and the inputs/outputs are on opposite sides to avoid confusion.

Features/Accessories
Includes 2 cables - shorter and longer one, to connect the amp to your player. Very thin, not sure about their quality but they do not seem to have any problems. They will take up minimal space in your pockets.
Includes a Leather Pouch - big enough to put a small player and the amplifier in there, avoiding a mess in your pockets. It is pretty cool but I will stick to using the pouch that came with my ATH-EW9 as it has internal pockets and generally better shaped.
Includes a very interesting charger. There is a USB cable, and there is an AC adapter that has a slot for the USB cable. I like that as it avoids me dealing with more cables in my room (its like a snake-pit here, not very safe). It is light, fairly small, I like it.

Ease of Operation
It was obviously not charged upon arrival, so I plugged it into my USB, turned it on, and we got listening. Will let it charge later. All the switches are firm so I am not afraid of anything being changed in my pockets.
One complain would be the volume knob, some kind of jam for it would be nice, thats one thing thats easy to move with a brush of the hand, but at least it won't move just because of stuff shifting in your pockets.
There is a pop when turning it on, but not a loud one.

Sound < Take this with a grain of salt, this is totally in reference to
my portable rig and my experience using it with Porta Corda, which frankly is so neutral in this setup I don't bother using it >

My setup is a Trekstor Vibez player with ath-ew9 headphones (woody clip-ons, ya dorky). Due to low impedance of the ath-ew9 I am sticking with low gain. I can tell you one thing right away (tested it), this amp will not drive 600 ohms, don't even try. You get volume and nice chunky distortion, kinda like an Ibanez electric guitar out of a Marshall Half-Stack.

I always start out comparisons with percussion. If the setup screws up on percussion, everything else will blow, end of the story.
Well, this guy does not. Its tactful and punchy, especially in the more melodic drums (tom-toms, congos, bongos).

Guitar/keys - no failure here either. Notes are distinct, musical, tasteful, there is nice bite on acoustic guitars meaning there treble is not being lost.
I decided to test vocals, a big thing for me, using Jesse Cook's - Down Like Rain. Male vocal over a rather large group of guitarists + spacious percussion, flamenco jazz. Results? Well lets be honest, vocals are falling behind guitars and all. I am not sure what this indicates, because usually vocals are on even level with everything else on this song, and on top of the my headphone is an Audio-Technica. I am guessing there is a resulting minor pit in midrange that I will elaborate on later. Don't worry, vocals are still clear, just not up front.

I like to cover different styles of music when trying, so after doing acoustic stuff (Al di Meola, Jesse Cook) I quickly switched to Porcupine Tree's Blackest Eyes (from In Absentia). Main interest here - distortion guitars, synths, and more industrial type of sound. I think this amp does not fail here either. EW9 is not particularly strong in this area, but coupled with some bass-boost from T2, we are rocking out! Synths on quiet parts are clean and distinct, and there is great sense of instrument separation, which is always nice to have on heavier tracks making them not sound like just noise. Vocals are fairly distinct over the rest of the mix, me likey.

I wouldn't be me if I did not cover Pink Floyd - Money in trials. Here we go.
A bit of a complaint here, guitars sound bit plastic-like, but this is property of EW9, it has a spike in upper midrange which makes things sound tiny bit strange sometimes. Hear it all, kicking, here I really like the manner of the lead instruments in which they go to the back, behind the main band which gives them a spacious feeling. It is the original intent of the song, and it does not fail to come through with T2.

Well, ok, I got lazy, already too much for 10 minute review. Here are some thoughts in more technical manner.

Mids: fairly even when used on neutral setting, no complaints, nothing muddles.
Treble: there is no harshness, but there is plenty to give good bite to all instruments, everything sounds clean. I think its tiny bit slow in the treble.
Bass: I don't have a neutral IEM I could test its roll-off or boost with. EW9 is the wrong headphone for that. I'll tell you this, with the boost it gave a nice bottom end to the EW9 which it is usually missing, making it fairly impactful and making bass-lines groovy. Wouldn't say this combo is accurate, but its very musical.
Soundstage Switch: Its weird, I would not say it degrades sound-quality, it just makes things a bit strange to me. It does increase perception of space though, but I don't think in a manner where it is useful. There is also some sense of reverbation going on when its on. Wouldn't worry about it.

Noted weird thing with vocals/midrange, here is what I think is going on. Using bass-boost I also slightly boost lower mids, while ath-ew9 has a spike in upper midrange. With this combined, we are resulting in a certain scoop in exact mids, which could easily put male vocal in the background. I do not think this should be an issue if you are using more even-sounding IEMs. More so this could be very worth a try with the bass-boost with Etymotics or Shures.

Morale of the story:
I think this is a nicely musical amp without compromising the sound quality of portable players. Even when running out of my Stello DA100 (Don't ask me why), it did not cause any problems with EW9, and more so made it a very nice headphone across the range.
I like the size, I like the cost, I like the musicality, I think this will mate well with Grados and any low-impedance efficient phones. This is not a Tomahawk or a Hornet, but neither does it cost like one, and there is no wait-time unlike Xin SuperMicro. Its also very sexy, and has 2 headphone outputs, and it has 30 hour battery-life (I did not check that yet...). For the money its a fine amplifier as long as you are not using high impedance phones =]

< I'll think about pics, but I bet as these start arriving people will fill in for me so I don't have to go steal a camera somewhere >

Thanks for reading.

- Stas

Post-10 Minute Mark Additions:
- This thing is immune to cell-phones.
- It gives my ew9 warmer/organic sound that makes it a very competent portable rig. (not isolating).
- I think I am keeping it.

This has been noted by another head-fier, who listened to my iBasso using ES-2
The highs are a bit recessed, but the amp adds to crispness of the sound.
Bass boost extends into the midrange.
post #2 of 110
Nice review. Can't wait to get mine.
post #3 of 110
i had one for a while- its great for the size- you can stack it with a nano and still fit them in your wallet lol.
post #4 of 110
any links?
price?
post #5 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Advil View Post
any links?
price?
http://www.ibasso.com/
$109.
post #6 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaseD13 View Post
i had one for a while- its great for the size- you can stack it with a nano and still fit them in your wallet lol.
You had a T1, right? Cause T2 frankly just got released -_-.
post #7 of 110
whats the big difference between the 2?
post #8 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shiezan View Post
whats the big difference between the 2?
T1 kinda sucks. T2 kinda rocks. =]
post #9 of 110
Nice review...I await mine. I have a T1 so I will do a comparison soon...
post #10 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaloS View Post
T1 kinda sucks. T2 kinda rocks. =]
I take it you've heard the T1 too then, what are the differences? They seem to share the same features so I guess they sound quite different then?
post #11 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by in_the_membrane View Post
I take it you've heard the T1 too then, what are the differences? They seem to share the same features so I guess they sound quite different then?
Improvement in treble in bass if my memory serves me right, soundstage boost does not suck so bad.
post #12 of 110
Nice review. I was supposed to get one for review - not sure if I still am. Sounds like it's a nice little amp!
post #13 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Nice review. I was supposed to get one for review - not sure if I still am. Sounds like it's a nice little amp!
x2
post #14 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylab View Post
Nice review. I was supposed to get one for review - not sure if I still am. Sounds like it's a nice little amp!
x3
post #15 of 110
I can't blame them in sending them to paying customers before those five free ones they offer. We must wait a little longer I guess and we can hope for the best.
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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › iBasso T2 - 10 minute review.