The UHA-6S compares very favorably with the current amps, IMO it is as good as any $350 or so portable amp and you get a DAC to further sweeten the deal!
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- Headphone Impedance
Leckerton UHA-6S vs. iBasso D10 - Your Impressions? - Page 2
Well, just caught wind of this thread. Whoops. Thanks Miguel for your insights.
Edited by khbaur330162 - 7/10/10 at 3:27pm
Just thought I'd report back with my findings. I've been listening to an iBasso D10 for maybe the past two weeks and have had a loaner UHA-6S for maybe 3 weeks. The first UHA-6S that was shipped to me was defective with a very apparent buzz when linked to my laptop through USB. I contacted Nick from Leckerton Audio and he promptly sent a new unit out with return shipping label. I bought the iBasso used and have had no issues concerning functionality, so I can't comment on their customer service, but Nick is a great guy and will back his product 100%.
Physically, the two amps are very similar in size. The UHA-6S is minutely smaller both in length and width while being a smidge taller. The differences are very small, though, and both stack well with the iRiver H1x0. The D10 aluminum case feels solid. Switches on the D10 like low/high gain and charging have a slight stick to them. It's not huge, but when you flip the switch it feels slightly cheap to me, almost like if I flipped one of them too hard it would break or something. I'm being very critical right now, but it's just my observations. The UHA-6S, on the other hand, feels industrial-like a rock, very tough. The switches like power on/off and charging flip up and down very smoothly and don't feel like they're going to break. The switch for high/low gain is good too, but if you're bypassing the DAC, as in have an interconnect hooked up to the line-in, it's a little hard to get at. I had to sort of try to switch the gain and I was using a cheap/very compact IC that was bundled with my H320 ages ago. If you had a Neutrik plug I'm pretty sure you can forget about it, you'll have to unplug the thing.
The D10 volume pot feels nice, but there's a pop when you turn the amp on and a very noticeable grain when turning volume up and down. Also, the knob on mine is attached a little too close to the case so when I turn it I can feel metal ever so gently scraping on metal if I apply any pressure inward. No scraping if I pull out on the knob and turn, but a bit counter-intuitive. The pot is slightly recessed so you'll never see any aesthetic degradation, but it's just something that I can feel in my teeth when the metal scrapes almost like nails to a chalk board. Not huge, but another annoying quirk. The UHA-6S pot has real resistance when you turn it up and down so it feels like a million bucks. There's also no pop or click on power up because there's a dedicated on/off switch on the back (thank you!). One thing I will note: the UHA-6S knob is larger and protrudes more than the D10's. With the H120/D10 in my back pocket and entering/leaving my car the volume never got messed with as sometimes happens with my PPAS. I can't try this with the UHA-6S as it doesn't stack nicely with the optical cord I bought (the optical cable is made specifically for the iBasso/H120 with velcro so distancing and angle is off completely, however, it can be done for testing/home listening), but I can see how it could happen due to the size of knob.
When first listening to the two units fed from my laptop via USB I didn't notice much/any difference with direct a/b comparison. I wasn't too surprised as they are priced very similarly and the DAC specs seem pretty similar as well. Then I stuck with the iBasso for about a week because I owned it and had no issue slapping some velcro strips on the sucker to make a semi compact portable rig. I was getting used to the sound, enjoying a rather detailed and musical presentation. Then I plugged my iM716's into the H120 h/o and I was a little disappointed... in the D10. Not a $190 increase in performance (again, bought it used). I took it a step up and gave my old FallenAngel built PPAS a listen linked to the H120's line-out. I regained the lowend control that the h/o lacked when comparing it to the D10, and detail of the on-board DAC in the iRiver sounded pretty much on par with that in the D10. At this point I'm thinking, "Alright, what gives?"
Then I took it another step further and figured out how to hook the UHA-6S up to the optical cable. Bam. The bass was layered with awesome texture. Cymbals were sounding much more life-like, and the midrange wasn't nearly as fuzzy, or veiled. Awesome micro-detailing for a portable get-up. I didn't really know what I was missing until the UHA-6S started to spoil me. Cymbals had better decay and snare drums a real tactility to them. My only gripe is it sounded a little brighter and my iM716's already have an "exciting" sound signature. Too bright for my taste on some tracks, but with the right music (and I'm sure with the right headphones) this thing can really sing! I hooked up my Yamaha YH-1's to the UHA-6S and on high gain it drives them to louder levels than both my PPAS (a beast of a portable amplifier so I thought) and the D10. The D10 seems to have a less pronounced jump in gain from low to high. I wouldn't recommend it for full sized cans unless they were relatively efficient. My iM716's with 75ohm adapter makes the D10 work which is kind of scary. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't ever max out the volume, but still, what's this thing for?
I hooked up the H120->D10->UHA-6S/PPAS to see if it was the amplifier in the D10 that was contributing to the lower performance. I don't have much to say here as they sounded too similar to me to really note anything. Maybe if I gave it more time, but I don't see the point. The DAC in the D10 isn't that impressive, so why would you output it to a better amp when this doesn't solve your problem? You need a better DAC... Also, the performance of the UHA-6S as a standalone amp is good enough at its price point I won't gripe that I think the PPAS sounds a little less shrill when sibilance occurs and the soundstage seems a little less congested. Soundstage/instrument separation is still better on the UHA-6S than the D10, however.
Seeing as I can't lay in bed for 12-15 hours listening to music I don't know what kind of battery life the UHA-6S gets being fed optical, but using it as a straight amp the thing never dies and charging seems to take no time at all. The front LED indicator is blue when all is good and turns red when it's getting low. Kind of nice because with the D10 all of sudden your music starts fading/cutting in and out and you think you broke something until you see the flashing light. So far the two units seem to compete very well in regards to battery life.
To finish things off I'm going to whole-heartedly recommend the UHA-6S as a stand alone DAC/amp combo for a great price. If you're looking for something to pair with your iRiver I don't think you can go wrong choosing this over the D10. For laptop applications it's still very nice. I can't compare it to any other USB DAC seeing as the D10 and UHA-6S are the only two I've ever heard, but for such a compact unit the UHA-6S definitely has its place in the market and I don't understand why it doesn't get more play around here. I'd like to see this thing stacked up against other portable DAC offerings because you can paint me impressed.
Edited by khbaur330162 - 8/14/10 at 5:39pm
I deliberately stayed away from this post until I was done with my little review on the UHA-6S. Now that I've posted mine, I read this and see that I pretty much agree with the other folks here.
Here's mine in case anyone is interested:
- Leckerton UHA-6S vs. iBasso D10 - Your Impressions?
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