“After several months of research and development, we are pleased to unveil the newest flagship - Cloud Nine, our very first portable amplifier intended for use with In-Ear Monitors, headphones, and high impedance headphones. Designed primarily, and most importantly, on improving sound quality. We succeeded on offering better clarity, imaging, and adding more 'slam' to the music by only using the highest quality components. With various features such as reverse battery protection, cryogenic treatment, and a sleek custom made anodized aluminum shielded enclosure, Cloud Nine may just be the only amplifier you will ever need.”
Device Type: Solid State
Battery Type: 9V (x2)
Frequency response: 20hz - 20khz +/-0.1dB
Gain: 1x/0dB, 5x/10dB, 10x/20dB
Input impedance: 50K
Output impedance: <1 ohm
Maximum output: 200mA
Power rating: 1.28W into 32 ohm, 1W into 50 ohm, 250mW into 300 ohm, 120mW into 600 ohm
Noise floor: ~-150dB
Protection: Reverse battery
Input/Output: 3.5mm Switchcraft / 3.5mm Switchcraft
Dimensions: 2.3" x 4.5" x 0.95"
Weight: 3.2 oz (without batteries)
Accessories: This amp comes with a ton of accessories. plusSound was kind enough to include a heavy duty case for the Cloud9 which is made in America. They also include 2 space 9V batteries, some plusSound bands to strap your portable rig together, and some feet, so you can use the amp as a home desktop amp (but we will get into that later). I believe they will also include one of their mini to mini cables. It also comes with some extra thumb screws.
Build Quality: The build quality on the Cloud 9 is pretty nice, it doesn’t looks like it will be breaking from a 2/3 foot fall from you trying to put it in your pocket. The finish on the Cloud 9 is a glossy silver paint, you can also get it in black. The front plate of the Cloud 9 has 2 screws, which houses the volume knob, the gain switch, the power switch and the input and output ports. The back plate has 2 thumb screws, so you can easily access the batteries, it also has the order in which you put the batteries on the back plate.
Power: The Cloud 9 puts out more power than the Asgard original, with an output of 1.28 W into 32 ohms, which makes it one of the most powerful portable amps out right now. Which is why they included the feet, because you could easily use it as an office desktop amp, or as an entry level home desktop amp. However that doesn’t mean it can power everything, I doubt it can power the HE-6 in any kind of decent fashion. It can however power the K1000, to a decent listening volume. I have tried this amp with multiple headphones, such as the HE-400/i 35ohm 95db, the K701 62ohm 102db, DT880 600ohm 96db, D600 25ohm 108db, Noble PR 250ohm, and this amp can power all of them efficiently.
Sound: The sound of the Cloud 9 is what you guys have all been waiting for huh? Okay let’s get down to it, I used 2 sources when doing this review, my first one is the Galaxy Nexus, and my other one being the HM-700 with balanced output.
Nexus: The sound of the Cloud 9 out of the nexus is very mid oriented, however it doesn’t fail in the bass extension or highs. This sounds good with headphones such as the D600 because it is normally bass heavy but more balanced with the Cloud 9, and the Noble PR because it is a very mid sounding IEM, and it needed more bass extension. This chain didn’t work well with the HE-400i, I think it was due to the HE-400i already having strong mids but also having a strong bass impact and I think the extension of the bass, made the HE-400i sound a bit out of place
HiFiMAN HM-700: I am pretty sure this is my new favorite combo, I am also sure that it is not only the Cloud 9 that makes it sound like this, I know the HM-700 has something to do with it as well. The sound of these two together is simply amazing, very detailed and everything is balanced, I actually love this setup even more than my desktop setup at the moment, the highs aren’t as strident on this setup while normally they’re and they are a lot less sibilant. The Bass is punchier and keeps the overall extension, and the mids aren’t as forward and more laid back and musical sounding.
I think that is the best way to explain it, the HM-700, Cloud 9 combo is very musical sounding, I actually wish that you could get the Cloud 9 with a balanced output, I think it would make the amp overall, stronger sounding and would probably make it more appealing to head-fiers like me that want the best sound even on the go.
Final thought:: I think that plusSound are off to a good start if this is the direction they want to do with in the portable audio industry, I think a good suggestion for them would be to have an option for a balanced Ibasso or maybe RSA out if they could do it, or just a standard 4pin XLR out or maybe a 1/4th output or a 1/8th output not just a 1/8th. I would also love to see in future projects a rechargeable battery but besides that I like the Cloud 9 and Ilike the direction that plusSound is going in and I wish them best of luck in the future. I would also like to thank Christian for sending me the loaner unit, which I will be buying from him in the near future.
Edited by shiorisekine - 9/18/14 at 1:05am