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Reviews by: ClieOS

Full Discrete Class A portable amplifier

Posted

Pros: Sound Quality, Build Quality, Price.

Cons: High Output Impedance, Short Battery Life, Relatively Low Output Power.

Originally running a well-known audio DIY forum in China, the company behind the Aune brand has managed to turn itself into a fairly reputable audio brand in recent years, producing mainly PC based desktop Hi-Fi gears. As far as I know, the B1 portable amp that is going to be reviewed here is the company’s first foray into the portable amp market – and not a run-of-the-mill design at that. Not only does it has a fully discrete design, it is also running at Class A configuration. That sound promising on paper, but does it deliver?     Spec Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16~300ohm Size: 65 x 110 x 18mm Weight: 230g Typical THD: Less than 0.0008% @ 1 kHz, 600 ohm /...
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The Overachiever

Posted

Pros: Plenty of Features with Excellent Performance

Cons: Size. Not the best standalone amp for the price.

At this point of time, iFi Audio shouldn’t need much introduction at all. The British company is the more budget oriented sister brand of the prestige Abbingdon Music Research and have made a name for able to punch above its weight when it comes to price/performance ratio. If anything, the micro iDSD that is going to be reviewed here has set a new bar on what it means to be an overachiever in the world of portable audio gear. Never have we seen so many features being packed into one portable USB DAC + amp while still having such level of performance.     Spec DAC: Dual Burr Brown DAC, custom interleaving for maximum SNR Clock: Ultra low jitter GMT computer controlled...
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A 320ohm earbuds that demand good voltage swing but also reward with excellent SQ.

Posted

Pros: SQ.

Cons: The high impedance requires a good source (of power) to sound good.

Prelude: A few weeks ago I was contacted by a mutual 3rd party on whether I will like to give some Chinese made high-Z earbuds a review. Immediately I recalled a review article I read awhile back in erji.net that comes with fairly high praise (and subsequently get knocked around a few times, see reason below). We don’t see a lot of high-Z earbuds around so I was fairly certain they should be the same things. I don’t keep high hope for earbuds these days but I am still an earbuds lover in heart, so I agreed to give them a look, and indeed they turn out to be the same model I saw earlier. They are made by a small Chinese company called VE (52VE.cn, with a Chinese name translated to ‘micro...
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Open Sound with an Open Heart

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Pros: Well-rounded Sound. Good Soundstage. Price.

Cons: Poor Isolation. Slight stiff cable.

It might be a bit odd to name an IEM the O-16, as in ‘oxygen’. But given their first IEM is the carbon (C-12), I guess the India based Signature Acoustics does meant to create a real ‘Element’ series based on the periodic table. As their second product, the O-16 continues to target the budget IEM market and one can be found for just US$30 or so.       Spec Driver: 8 mm (CCAW) Open Back Dynamic Impedance: 17 Ohms @ 1Khz Frequency Response: 12 to 22 Khz Sensitivity: 102 dB Total length: 1.2 m Channel Balance: Less than 2.5% dB @ 1 Khz Connector: 3.5mm Gold Plated Stereo     Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality The new IEM comes in the case...
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Right Stuff for the Smart Age

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Pros: Features Packed, reasonably Priced

Cons: Hiss as pure amp, Too high a gain for PC use..

Over the recent months, Creative has been bursting out some pretty nice portable gears aiming from the basic casual user all the way up to serious audiophiles. Most importantly, they are pricing them in a way that almost makes all other major brands look greedy. Usually that’s the strategy reserved for new start-ups or lesser known companies, but I have no complaint. If anyway, I am glad to see Creative getting, well, creative again. Two of the major factors for any tech companies to success are innovation and addition of extra value to the user – that’s what Creative is doing now, finally coming out of the shadow of other big tech brands and remaking a name of their own in era of the...
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FiiO X1 - A New Beginning

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Pros: Price, Features, Overall Build Quality

Cons: None, at least not for its price.

FiiO has been quite successful with their X series of high resolution digital audio player. So much so that perhaps even they themselves didn’t anticipate that the company will have to shift its focus away from their portable amp business in order to keep up with the DAP demand. But with Apple fading grip on the pure DAP market, a new niche of higher end DAP is born from music lovers seeking a better device to replace their aging iPod. Well, maybe ‘new’ isn’t the right word here - the higher end DAP niche has been around since Hifiman HM801’s invention late last decade, but now it is in a new era of growth and competition. The significant of X1 is not in its technology or sound quality,...
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Custom foam for the Custom IEM

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Pros: Improve Fit and Seal

Cons: Degrade over time.

Comply foam tip should need no introduction at this point, as it has become a norm for many brand name IEM to include a pair of them. But what we are talking here is something new – or should I say something old that has been put to new use - Comply has been selling a special foam wraps called the ‘Soft Wraps’ for custom hearing aid for a while now. The idea is that, by sticking a piece of soft foam strip to wrap around / near the nozzle of the custom hearing aid, it will ensure a tighter fit. This is especially useful since custom mold – as much as it is custom fitted to the person, it is still mostly a handmade product that subjects to tiny imperfection. Sometime it is just a tiny bit...
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Good Runner-up among the Sea of sub-$200 Protable Amps

Posted

Pros: Build Quality. Unmatch EQ with XBass and 3D Halographics Sound. Better than Average SQ.

Cons: Too High a Gain for Sensitive Headphone. EMI issue. Bulky as Protable.

[Impression] iFi nano iDSD and iCAN with a splash of iPurifer iFi Audio has gained a great success over its Micro line of small sized desktop gears, and now it is pushing into the portable world with the Nano series. The nano iDSD is USB DAC that not only works with PC, but also has OTG support for the iDevice with OS7 (via camera connection kit / CCK) and Android that have USB Audio Class driver built-in (*for older Android that doesn’t have the driver, there is still a chance that USB Audio Player PRO will work). The nano iCAN on the other hand is a pure portable amp, but infused with the magical XBass and 3D Holographic Sound we have seen on the micro iCAN. Both are retailed under...
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Great USB DAC with Decent Headphone Amp

Posted

Pros: Well built, features rich as a DAC with native PCM/DSD/DXD support, OTG for smartphone.

Cons: Headphone amp section isn't the best, Slight bulky for portable use.

[Impression] iFi nano iDSD and iCAN with a splash of iPurifer iFi Audio has gained a great success over its Micro line of small sized desktop gears, and now it is pushing into the portable world with the Nano series. The nano iDSD is USB DAC that not only works with PC, but also has OTG support for the iDevice with OS7 (via camera connection kit / CCK) and Android that have USB Audio Class driver built-in (*for older Android that doesn’t have the driver, there is still a chance that USB Audio Player PRO will work). The nano iCAN on the other hand is a pure portable amp, but infused with the magical XBass and 3D Holographic Sound we have seen on the micro iCAN. Both are retailed under...
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Stick of All Trade

Posted

Pros: Lots of features. Good price point.

Cons: Master of None.

With desktop PC sale declining and mobile devices on the rise, thumb drive sized USB DAC has become the quick fix for poor sound quality that is all too common in portable computer and smart devices. Creative’s answer to that demand is the new Sound Blaster E1 – a multipurpose USB DAC + headphone amp + mic that boosted with quite a few impressive features.     Spec SBX Pro Studio: Supported CrystalVoice: Supported Scout Mode: Supported Max. Playback Quality: 24-bit / 44.1kHz (Stereo) Max. Recording Quality: 16-bit / 44.1kHz Output: Stereo Battery Life: Up to 25 hours SNR: 106dB Headphone Out: 1 x 3.5mm jack Headphone Out / Mic In: 1 x 3.5mm jack Line In:  1 x...
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Head-Fi.org › ClieOS › Reviews by ClieOS