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Firestone Audio, Fireye HD Impressions - Page 2

post #16 of 29

Nice impressions! I must say it looks nicely at home with your CLAS and iPod.

post #17 of 29
Thread Starter 

Many thanks.

It is a very good looking stack but it handles like half a house brick.

Fortunately I come from an age when anything smaller than a refrigerator with a handle on it was considered portable.

post #18 of 29

Here's my review of the Fireye HD: http://www.head-fi.org/t/649249/portable-amplifiers-from-the-far-east-firestone-audio-fireye-hd-tralucent-audio-t1-lots-of-pictures

 

If anyone is looking for a neutral, spacious, extremely detailed and layered sound in a portable amp, the Fireye HD is a great choice.

 

There's also a comparison against the Tralucent T1.

post #19 of 29

I have to raise the question whether the HD unit that was given to you is faulty or not; you state that the HD has lots of hiss and background noise, as well as the fact that it sounds muddy, and with the HE-500 as well. These observations are pretty inconsistent with every single report that I've seen on the HD, and don't match with my own experience. I don't hear any hiss, and no muddiness. I also find it to be a hint brighter than dead neutral, imparting the slightest of U-shapes, as well as extremely good transparency that approaches the best transportable/portable amp I've heard --- the Triad L3 (did a rough A/B test between the two before).

 

The other thing is that I will say that if there's one thing Firestone is at fault about, is that they stick to numbers a bit too much. Like the designer of the O2, they too stay glued to the DScope until they come up with something that has good numbers. The TPA6120 was designed by TI to benchmark super good numbers and drive every darn headphone under the sun. Firestone kept those numbers looking good with the HD. I'm limited in what I have for free time these days, but I'll try to ask about the developmental details on the Fireye HD's circuitry. However, they have been getting input from crowd feedback. I remember, over a year ago, I was asked to compare two prototype boards for the HD. One sounded distinctively warm, vocal-centric, and the other one was a lot more like the one that's in the production HD. I remember telling them to go for the latter board because it provided the bigger soundstage, and a slight U-shape --- all things that the consumer wants. Unfortunately, at that time, the bass boost was pretty unrefined, unlike what it is now. When the production version came out, it became the first product from FSA that I was actually truly excited about. I haven't heard the MyST or the Tube Amp (though I can say with fair certainty that the Tube Amp because of its size is probably an OTL design, which means that it probably can't handle low impedance load strain very well), but I have heard the Cricri+, and while I found it to be a nice amp for its size, to me it's not nearly in the same league as the HD. I've only heard a modded O2 (for the worse, even though it had high-end JRC MUSES components inside) before, so unfortunately, I can't comment.

 

I may be biased, yes, as I spent a chunk of my money on the HD and I'm friendly with their personnel, but I do honestly believe that FSA isn't being given a fair shake here. Firestone is a company that had to earn my respect over the years. I didn't find their Cute Curve/Beyond, Libby, or original Fireye all that great. They impressed me with their ILTW DAC, and then really impressed me with the Fireye HD, which is the first product of theirs that I thought could compete with the big boys in terms of both form and function.

post #20 of 29

Tom,

 

I will start with saying that my unit could well be faulty because the mini that i received along with that was faulty. However it is not so bad that i would call it faulty, it just really has not impressed me. That is only based off of the synergy with my headphones and the benchmarks other amps i have, have left.

 

For the hiss it is a small hum, easily heard at very low volumes with my Lear and still faintly when at listening volumes. As i also mentioned at the lowest volume setting you still have music playing with portable gear which is not ideal.

 

I agree with it has a subtle bass boost with a meaty bass but not really bright at all but i did tend to use warmer sources.

 

As for the HE-500 it needs a watt of power per channel and requires the load to be at 38 ohms as well. It is not a major deal that the HD cant drive it well as none of my amps can really quite manage it other than the Tube Amp and as a portable amp, i don't care if it can drive the HE-500 or not.

 

As for the Cricri comparison your right in saying that the HD is better, check my website rankings, i agree, i just said that the cricri is better than the HA.

 

Anyhow i am not doubting youve had a good experience i just personally have not. It seems like an amp that struggles to be used for portable because of its output impedance and that too me is not great. I think i did mention that it still did sound good with my HD580.

post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

 

For the hiss it is a small hum, easily heard at very low volumes with my Lear and still faintly when at listening volumes.

Do you mean the LEAR LCM-5? If yes, I'm not getting any hiss or background noises from it when connected to the Fireye HD even at low volume (even though I'm getting a slight channel imbalance at extemely low volumes) - your unit might really be defective.

post #22 of 29

oh really. can you still here volume when you have turned the pot to zero?

post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

oh really. can you still here volume when you have turned the pot to zero?

Yes.

post #24 of 29

is the music when turned down to zero on a dead quiet background?

post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

is the music when turned down to zero on a dead quiet background?

yes, I'm using an LOD right now and I still get some sound when the volume is turned to 0.

post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 

Swimsonny

 

Thanks for a very comprehensive and well written review, it's good to see Firestone get some attention.

My experience with the HD is very different

With my Shure SE215 I cannot detect any noise at all even with the volume on max, these are the most sensitive and low impedance units I have and I do not use them with the HD generally because the volume is too sensitive.

With the HE500 I really found the HD very good. My Violectric was out of action over the Australian summer and the HD was my only option, I thought it performed very well and never felt like a second class solution. Now the Violectric is back and in direct comparison there is a lack of authority with the HD but the Violectric is full balanced and outputting near 2watts so that is expected.

I cannot replicate any of the flaws you have noted with the HD and so must also question if you have a faulty unit.

I do not think the HD is perfect it certainly prefers high impedance units, my default set has become the Etymotic ER4s and with these it is the best portable amp I have heard.

post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

 

For the hiss it is a small hum, easily heard at very low volumes with my Lear and still faintly when at listening volumes.

As the others have corroborated, this is not something that has happened with the rest of us.

 

As i also mentioned at the lowest volume setting you still have music playing with portable gear which is not ideal.

Can you tell me why it's not ideal? I can't think of a scenario where it's definitely a bad thing. Volume imbalance, yes, is not ideal, and it's a problem all volume pots that aren't digital/digitally-controlled analog/step attenuator have, but for me, the volume at which it reaches L/R equivalence is perfectly acceptable.

 

I agree with it has a subtle bass boost with a meaty bass but not really bright at all but i did tend to use warmer sources.

Compared to all the other amps I've heard, desktop or portable, the HD errs very, very slightly to the side of bright. Then again, I don't know if you have a faulty unit or not.

 

As for the HE-500 it needs a watt of power per channel and requires the load to be at 38 ohms as well. It is not a major deal that the HD cant drive it well as none of my amps can really quite manage it other than the Tube Amp and as a portable amp, i don't care if it can drive the HE-500 or not.

With the TPA6120 as a current buffer, any amp should be able to deliver >500 mW into 38 ohms. It will deliver well over 1000 mW into 16 ohm. So, not exactly ideal, but certainly better than most. The TPA6120 was specifically designed for high current and high voltage swing at high slew rates == high power.

 

As for the Cricri comparison your right in saying that the HD is better, check my website rankings, i agree, i just said that the cricri is better than the HA.

I probably read it wrong then; I was having a bit of trouble following whether you were referring to the HD or the HA.

 

Anyhow i am not doubting youve had a good experience i just personally have not. It seems like an amp that struggles to be used for portable because of its output impedance and that too me is not great. I think i did mention that it still did sound good with my HD580.

Yes, the HD is basically a device built for driving big cans on the go (at head-fi meets or what not). I've told FSA to look into designing something not based off the TPA6120 to be a better match for multi-BA earphones. As for dynamic driver earphones or over-ear headphones, I think they're far less susceptible to electrical damping because of their flat impedance plot. The FR shouldn't be affected.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsMeHere View Post  yes, I'm using an LOD right now and I still get some sound when the volume is turned to 0.

 

You'll get sound even when it is "OFF", because of the way it cycles the power. It's actually never really "OFF", the input power is just turned way down. I think the only time it's "OFF" is when the battery is completely dead or if the battery is removed.

post #28 of 29

Does anyone know how the Fireye HA amp performs because it is on sale and I know it can supposedly power up to 600ohm headphones. I know it's main opamp is the MAX972 and I am not sure how it sounds but I was hoping someone had listened to it and or had hear about it's sound quality? please get back to me

post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiskeyJacks View Post  Does anyone know how the Fireye HA amp performs because it is on sale and I know it can supposedly power up to 600ohm headphones. I know it's main opamp is the MAX972 and I am not sure how it sounds but I was hoping someone had listened to it and or had hear about it's sound quality? please get back to me

 

I've never auditioned it at length, but it sounds fine. The performance is quite respectable for the price --- you could do a lot worse. What's even at that price --- the FiiO E11? Well, the E11's not bad, and it'll probably power 600 ohm headphones better. But I really couldn't say which one's better in terms of refinement.

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