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Reviews by: ClieOS

A Solid Value on the 'Bright' Side

Posted

Pros: Good Bass, Excellent Build Quality and Accessories.

Cons: Edgy on upper vocal.

Brainwavz needs no introduction. They have been in the IEM market long enough that they have made a name for themselves, especially in the bang-for-bucks section. The S5 has been in the market for a while now, and the price has dropped from the initial US$130 to the current US$100. However, the price tag is still right in the ‘warzone’ as far as IEM goes, where many competitors coming from China are all trying to outdo each other for being the next budget giant killer. So how does S5 fair?       Spec Drivers: 10mm Dynamic Rated Impedance: 16 Ω Frequency Response: 18Hz ˜ 24kHz Sensitivity: 110 dB @ 1 mW Rated Input Power: 20mW Maximum Input Power: 40mW Cable:...
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Unique Design With A Few Drawback.

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Pros: SQ

Cons: Overly High Gain, Low Current Output, High Output Impedance.

I have covered Tube Amp’s portable amps in the past (here and here). While the company is called ‘Tube Amp’, they don’t limit themselves to only tube amp, but also discrete amp. The LF-15 however is their first venture into the world of desktop gears with another fully discrete design, priced around US$450.     Spec Frequency response:20Hz~30kHz Maximum Output:82mW (+20dBm) 1kHz 600Ω or 633mW (+20dBm) 1kHz 40Ω Input: XLR or RCA Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 0.06% (1kHz) Signal to Noise Ratio: -91dB Recommended Headphone Impedance: 32Ω~600Ω Power Supply Voltage: 110/220V 60/50HZ Fuse (slow-blow fuse): 250V/50Hz,1A Power Consumption: 15W Dimension: (W x D x...
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Full Discrete Class A portable amplifier

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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

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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.

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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

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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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Head-Fi.org › ClieOS › Reviews by ClieOS