Two months ago I began my quest to find a portable amp solution. I wasn't quite ready to sink a ton of money...basically trying to find a cheap solution. So I did my research on good old eBay. So in my under $100 search I found several cMoy based amps. I read that many of the cMoys by JDSLabs and Bioscience Geek had really good reviews but I couldn't get over the fact that the guts were packaged in a tin. I wanted something in an aluminum case that could get me some compliments like, "Wow...what is that lump in your pants...pretty impressive." So the choice came down to the Little Bear B-2.
Here is what you get for $60 and a month wait for it coming on the slow boat from China. By the way I am Chinese and the wait was painfully long but well worth the wait. You get a cMoy based amp encased in a hefty black aluminum case. (Stuff this thing in your jean pocket and you may get some looks from some chicks...)
So it's what's inside the package that counts right? Right away I see big knobs I want to get my hands on them.....on the amp that is.
Now there is a reason why there are two knobs that you can get your fingers tips on. This allows you to slide out the internal board to swap out the OP chip. When I first opened up the case there was a little black bag that had three other OP chips. Yes three additional OP chips. I did not see that in any of my other searches. JRC4556/BB2604/NE5532/BB2134.
The JRC4556 came installed. I listen to each of the OP amps briefly and settled on the BB2604 with my Alessandro MS-1's. One word of warning. Make sure you use a IC pulling tool or you can end up with a seriously bent pin. Being the cheap person that I am I took a pair of sharp foreceps and bent both tips inward to get under each side of the chip. When inserting the chip take extreme care to line everything up and GENTLY seat it in. Also note the little notch on the chip to make sure you don't insert the chip in backwards.
The other thing you will notice in the picture is the blue brick. Cann't tell if it is LiPo or NiMh...but either way it's rechargable and hasn't heated up or blown up (for those worried about Chinese rechargeables) in the past month of use. As far as I know $60 doesn't get you a cMoy with a rechargeable battery pack....BYOB (battery not beer). One thing that was different from the other designs was that when I plugged in the power adaptor to charge the unit, everything turned off. At first I thought that this was a defect. After sending a message to the seller, whom I must say was pretty quick in replying to my questions, I was reassured that this was normal. The design of the circuitry is to divert power to recharging the battery when the adaptor was plugged in. This is different from the other amps which allows for a increase in voltage when both external and internal (battery) power is used.
So the important thing is how does it sound? Well I would have to say that the unit needs a couple of hours to get burned in. Whether it is psychological or not...."it just sound beddur.." Initially I had a little scratchiness with the volume which eventually went away permanently after a couple hours of listening. There is a good amount of clean power from this box. I don't hear any background hiss...just clean sound. Note I am not going to give any incite to whether this is a warm or cold sounding unit. I think this may depend on the OP amp that is installed. What I can say is that everything sonically is brought several notches compared to the head out from my ipod touch. Oh..by the way I realized what a difference the line out from the ipod into the amp made compared to using the head out. As for what kind of cans this baby can handle? I trialed monoprice IEM 8320, Alessandro MS-1, Sony v6, and AKG 240S. All did very well. Compared to the amp on the FiiO e17, this trumps it on power. It may not have the fancy treble and bass adjustments but it packs a punch. I can not keep the cans on with the knob turned more than half up.
Overall I would say that this is the best $60 I have spent. A decent rechargable portable with extra OP amp chips and a charger in a light purple felt bag. Didn't care much for the purple sack...but cann't complain. One gripe I can say is that the input and headphone jacks have slightly larger openings. When plugged in there is slight play. Also the large nipples...no I didn't say that..knockers....uh...screws next to the input and headphone out jacks can be a problem with large diameter plugs. I would say anything larger that 1 cm in diameter will not clear the screws unless you replacement with a smaller screw. Please note I have no affiliation with Little Bear Audio nor am I getting any type of comp from them. I was too lazy to take my own pictures and they had great shots so I used theirs with permission. Oh...please for give any typos or gramatical errors...me ah Chilese. Thanks for reading my first review.
Edited by hchanrn - 3/23/13 at 7:04pm