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REVIEW: GoVibe MAGNUM USB DAC/AMP

post #1 of 71
Thread Starter 
I received my unit today, and all I can say is

Equipment used was:
Source: Laptop playing through iTunes and/or Foobar lossless and/or 128-256 AAC or mp3, iPod nano
DAC: Keces DAC-151 (when used as JUST an amp)
Interconnects: ALO Au/Ag, Turbodock
Headphones: UM2, RP21, DT770, SR80 (my buddy wasn't around to use his RS2's)

Songs used:
Rise Against – Prayer of the Refugee
Guster – Satellite
Joe Budden – Three Sides to a Story
Nouvelle Vague – Too Drunk to F**ck
Superbus – Radio Song
Pepper – Zicky's Song
At the Drive In – Arcarsenal
Beatnuts – No Escapin This
Chiodos - Prelude
James Freeman and Orchestra – Black, Black, Black is the color
Julius Airwave – Marina
Radical Face – Welcome Home
Kid Koala – Fruit Belt
Randy Travis -Three Wooden Crosses
Le Tigre – Decepticon
United States of Audio – Back to the Basics (2003)
Xenakis – Metastaseis
Wu-Tang – One of These Days
30 Seconds to Mars – The Kill
Operator Please - Two for My Seconds

I was supposed to get it at the Jam, but work prohibiting me from going meant this was delayed a week or so as I was to pick it up in person and meet Wilson. He's really a great guy, and holy crap is the shipping fast, lol.

Oh yeah, pics:







Pardon the last pic, I for whatever reason couldn't get a good focused pic.


Build quality
Seeing as how this unit is a prototype, the finish is flat black and nothing is as "finished" as how it will be when sold as finished product. But, even as it sits, I actually REALLY LIKE the matte finish with silver lettering. But as it sits, it's pretty nice.

Ergonomics
Since the amp is a little bigger than the Petite(about the size of a Hornet), the jacks are far enough apart from each other where you can use whatever you want, as there's sufficient room. Unlike on the Petite, for the input, you were limited to smaller/thinner plugs.

The gain switch on the front is pretty neato. It's a LITTLE close to the power switch, but nothing bothersome, just something that's noted. The bass dial is what's neato. You don't have another knob to bulk things up, it's a dial, and works great, no feeling of clutter, considering the amp is so small...and unlike some amps out there, the gain switch doesn't seem to affect SQ. It doesn't push the limits of it's batteries and voltage swing, lol. It keeps things realistic.

Also, the Magnum has a wallwart, unlike the Petite. My batteries actually died when hooked up via USB when I was playing music for a couple hours, so I don't think there is a USB charging circuit. If there is, it's probably just not implemented on my proto. But it's right under the USB port, and there's no clutter, great location.

Treble
Wow, they're crisp AND smooth. The iQube and Voyager are the only amps that best this little box. Unsure of the modifications to the circuitry to implement the bassknob and gain switch, but this amp is a LARGE step up from the already good Petite. It has no harshness, or unruly jagged edges, just smooth tone. It does however, sound a LITTLE on the dry end of the spectrum, but still very well controlled and extended.

Midrange
FORWARD is what best describes this range. With Grados, it gives you a VERY forward feeling. I think it adds the right amount to DT770's to lessen the "dreaded" recessed midrange. And like the treble, it has a tad bit of a dry sound. Women vocals are VERY nice on this amp. It synergizes best with DT770's and my Grado's though...

Bass
Having an adjustable bass knob on this makes it very nice. I like ebing able to tailor my bass. I don't like EQ, but I like to fine tune the bass if I'm able to. The bass with it all the way down sounds VERY close to a Hornet's bass. With it up, it sounds like an LisaIII's bass. It has a SMOOTH organic sound. Also, the bass knob is very similar to the LISAIII in that it doesn't really do A TON, rather, it accentuates it. No bloat at all here. I actually like to listen with it at about 50%. The bass lacks the LAST BIT of oomph and depth that the Diablo, iQube and Voyager have, but it's nothing HUGELY noticeable, but coming directly off of those, you'll notice.

Neutrality
Here's where this amp exceeds. Its somewhat dry and clean sound doesn't do ANYTHING to the sound coming out of it. With the bass knob off, it's SQ reminds me of the Indigo DJ. It has a DEAD NEUTRAL, sterile sound. Although, not as sterile as the DJ, it's still fairly flat. But, IMO, it's not quite as engaging with no bass added when using Grados.


DAC section
It doesn't lose a bit of punch or anything when plugged in via USB. Also, I had it plugged in the wallwart and there was still nothing added hiss or hum wise. The DAC is actually pretty damn respectable. Although it's no match for a dedicated DAC, it does a GREAT job none the less, and I'm now debating bringing my Keces unit with me to Vegas for the simple fact it's another unit I need to carry for my 6 week trip...however, I probably will bring it anyways for the hotel room, lol.

In Summary
I feel this amp is a GREAT buy. The bass knob makes things great for bassheads, and if bass isn't your thing, don't use it. Again, no bloat, just SMOOTH accentuated bass when using the dial.

It's a SMALL amp, so portability is awesome. It doesn't have the problem of the petite where the jacks are too close, so it makes it even better for me since alot of the plugs I have are larger than the neutriks that would only fit on the Petite. Since I work out of town, I HATED bringing my Keces unit and hooking it up, only to unhook it at the end of the week. I hated having the horrible SQ out of the HP jack on my laptop....now I have a good solution/middle ground.

The amp is definitely step up from the Petite, in all respects. It doesn't have the warmth the Petite has, but I feel the cleaner sound, the addition of the wallwart, and bass knob make for a better amp.
post #2 of 71
Great review. Stupid question, but where do you buy these, and for how much?
post #3 of 71
Thread Starter 
You can get them here:

Jaben Network

PM Uncle Wilson, or goto that site and send him an eMail and see what it will be with shipping. I suspect the pricing is in the same ballpark as the Petite.
post #4 of 71
wo wo wo, have you heard the pico w/dac also?
post #5 of 71
Thread Starter 
Naw...haven't had the opportunity...hmm, I thought I mentioned in there that I didn't/couldn't compare it with the Predator or Pico as I haven't heard it...meh. Probably mentioned it in my amp review thread and is why I thought otherwise.

Definitely a step up from the Petite though.
post #6 of 71
Hmm, very interesting, and the dac is an added benifit.
post #7 of 71
i had a chance to test one of these out at canjam....i wasnt able to test the dac though since i was in a hurry. Great little amp.

I was wondering, where did you buy it and how much?

Also, are you using vista?
post #8 of 71
Oicdn, any chance you can snap comparison pics with other amps/DAPs? Kind of hard to gauge the size with nothing for reference.
post #9 of 71
I snapped off this pic at canjam while i was testing it. Thats my Zen next to it.

post #10 of 71
hows the battery life as a portable amp ? does it charge by usb ?
post #11 of 71
Jaben and uncle Wilson is bringing the go-vibe brand to a next new level..

impressive work from them
post #12 of 71
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HighLife View Post
i had a chance to test one of these out at canjam....i wasnt able to test the dac though since i was in a hurry. Great little amp.

I was wondering, where did you buy it and how much?

Also, are you using vista?
I am not using Vista. But my dad is, and it still doesn't need a driver.


You can get it direct from Jaben, although, I don't believe it's available JUST YET (maybe in another 2 weeks), but will be in the price range of the Petite I believe. As said, it's a prototype and was just a quick thing to get it ready for canjam. The circuitry will remain the same, but the case will likely not be flat black, although, I think it's great as flat black. Or possibly have better printing....unsure. Iw as just told it will have better a better finish as a final product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aevum View Post
hows the battery life as a portable amp ? does it charge by usb ?
I don't think it will recharge via usb. When I received it, it was near dead and it died on me while attached only via USB. As far as hours go, it has battery life sitting over 50 hours on niMH batteries. Drop some lithiums in there and expect a huge jump.
post #13 of 71
Great review as expected, and I'm sure eager to hear how the final product will sound when it's out. When I heard a prototype of it quite a while ago, what struck me most was the very clear sounding treble, and the fun surprise is the ability to customise bass.

Nice to know from your review that the newer prototype layout allows for 3 gain levels and for bigger plugs, so perhaps I can use my Ultimate Link Black emperor (Canare F12 plug) or the C&C mini crystal (Pailiccs plug) interconnects. It is really great to know that the amp makers heard of some of our feedbacks and are responding well to address some of the preferences.

I wonder how customisable will the sound be when this amp is used with a Sleek SA6, it should be what I'll like to try on my next visit to Jaben, now just got to save my monies first...

I like the way the magnum looks from the pics shown in this thread, black and silver. But IMO it'll be fun and nice to have some assortment of colour choices or cool/fun logos. Good to have stuff to look as good as they sound too! Lol.

Cheers.
post #14 of 71
Thread Starter 
I think the circuitry is complete, Wilson just had to get a case printed and done for canjam. But yeah, the treble is amazingly smooth as you say...I wasn't expecting the clarity that I was hearing. It is nice to see that Jaben and some manufacturers are listening to the feedback we have.
post #15 of 71
Anyone tried with IEM? Livewires in specific? Are there any noticeable hissing sound?
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