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[Review] FiQuest portable headphone amp - adroit audio evangelism

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 


This review has been a looong time coming, and I am not even sure I am 100% done. The reasons are that the FiQuest isn't a normal amp. Progeny of MST and iBasso, it is simply a killer platform for sound tweaking and excellent earphone driving. This review is a paraphrase of the TMA review:

Full Review and pictures: FiQuest headphone amp in review – Adroit audio evangelism

I ordered mine in February and MST sent it pretty damn quick which was nice. iBasso even replaced the case which was stripped. But since then, I've been finding my favourite combination of op-amps and headphones.

Features
It is a BIG amp and as such, doesn't go out and about with me as much as I wish it would. But, I am totally sold on the platform. Firstly, it isn't just the op-amps that can be changed - there are many tweaks that can be done before it even arrives.

The charging circuit, replaceable battery, and easily-solderable board are all features in its favour. So too is the case which can be left off whilst tweaking.

You can order op-amps from MST, extra caps, even a replacement battery. The amp is a DIY training wheelset; you never have to worry about going too wonky as all the crazy stuff is done for you.

Build
Like a tank: The extruded aluminium case is strong, ~2-3mm thick with nigh on no flex. It shields signal away pretty well and even keeps the inner components somewhat cool. The screws, however, could be replaced with thumb-bolts for added longevity.

On the outside are easy-to-use bass and gain nobs as well as a charging selector. Fat headphone plugs can easily used since there is a lot of space between the input and output of the FiQuest.

For newb DIYers and gutzy solderers, the FiQuest is pretty much tip top since there is heaps of space for stackable op-amps, larger caps, and any good luck charm you want to toss in.

Love it.

Sound
I will put it this way: this amp does it for me. I am on IEMs and full size headphones often, so amps have to fulfil two things: channel balance and power.

The FiQuest is great on both fronts. Sensitive earphones such as the FitEar 333 benefit for a number of reasons, but the Maxed version of the FiQuest is best with full size headphones. Firstly, balance is very good even at low volumes, and with the proper op-amp selection, hiss is low. Lower in fact than iBasso's T3D which is made specifically for IEM's. It is also smooth where the T3D is grainier.

But let's face it, IEM's function with small amps if you are on the out and about. At home however, I seldom miss a chance to use the FiQuest.

Full-size headphones like the DJ1Pro, DT880, and HD600 are amazing through the FiQuest. Of course there is power - there are plenty of volts under the hood to make use of. My 600Ω DT880 are fully usable on low gain setting, but by mid, about 12 o'clock is power enough.

And, in comparison to mains-powered home amps, there is nothing lacking unless it is just character. The FiQuest is a neutral amp with low harmonic distortion, so don't expect it to transform your DT880 into something else. Whatever you use will remain the same headphone. It isn't cold, it isn't hot. It is just right.

The DJ1Pro react to power by putting out a couple decibels more bass than usual, but usually more with mains-powered amps. The FiQuest brought that bassy monster out.

Issues:
In the maxed version, I've noticed intermodulation distortion at high volumes - the same volumes that my T3D drove without issue. This wasn't evident with the DT880, but with my FitEar 333. I've not sussed the reason yet, but on paper, it is disturbing as the T3D is much cheaper.

Conclusion
Very good amp - will replace my mains amps - no doubt. I tend to prefer neutrality over distortion, but enjoy both and the FiQuest is neutral, but smooth. Lots of power for lots of headphones and earphones. At too-loud levels, however, there is some intermodulation with certain IEM's, but it isn't a real issue as those levels approach Rock-concert volume.

This review has been a looong time coming, and I am not even sure I am 100% done. The reasons are that the FiQuest isn't a normal amp. Progeny of MST and iBasso, it is simply a killer platform for sound tweaking and excellent earphone driving. This review is a paraphrase of the TMA review:

Full Review and pictures: FiQuest headphone amp in review – Adroit audio evangelism

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 

I want to add: Ryuzoh's company, MST Audio won't be taking orders until June, but after that, look for some amazing products. When I say amazing, trust me on this one... ;)

 

Here's a hint:

Portable optical DAC and hi-end version

Smaller FiQuest

post #3 of 19

Nicely written review.  I agree this is a terrific amp.  I will be adding it to my Portable Amp Round-up very soon - impressive offering.

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the kind words. I find it a happy medium between all my headphones - simply squarely perfect for most of them. 

post #5 of 19

I used it with the Edition 8 for a while during the review - that was a truly awesome combo.

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

It is very good with the ED8

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

MST audio also has a dual DAC optical DAC in the works. I bet MST plan to go balanced with it.

MST Cio mb

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

MST audio also has a dual DAC optical DAC in the works. I bet MST plan to go balanced with it.

MST Cio mb


Nice portable DAC. When is it coming out? iBasso's balanced DAC only has a balance out.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

I don't know when it will be available. But... I might step in line when it goes on sale. MST officially open doors I think in June, though that too could be wrong. 

post #10 of 19

I have a maxxed out fi.Q and a stock model. The maxxed out version is a step up but this amp just rocks. Power and a beautiful transparency yet plenty of power and a quality that it is hard to put my finger on. The circuit isn't simple but it sounds like little is between you and the music. Yes different op amps matter and this amp allows so many changes, with many for me, unexplored. 

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

I will be looking pretty stiffly at the prototype smaller models soon - they certainly come in a much more pocketable size and the simpler circuitry in some ways, offers some improvements for certain earphones. But the FiQuest has become my home amp for everything! Paired with a DAC, it serves everything.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigzeo View Post

I want to add: Ryuzoh's company, MST Audio won't be taking orders until June, but after that, look for some amazing products. When I say amazing, trust me on this one... ;)

 

Here's a hint:

Portable optical DAC and hi-end version

Smaller FiQuest


I feel this one mate http://www.touchmyapps.com/forums/showthread.php?559-MST-Audio-cio-mb-portable-optical-DAC-dual-DAC-chips
 

post #13 of 19

Hi anyone can point to where the official website is? thanks!

post #14 of 19

dont think there is one

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Not yet. MST will officially launch in June. I suppose that in certain ways, my unit could be considered a prototype, but hell, I'm pretty happy with it as such!

 

By the way, those cables are Qusp-made and the LOD comes from the same crazy man.

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