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Reviews by: AnakChan

Fostex HP-V8 Early Impressions

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Pros: Effortlessly produces a big presentation with very full wholesome and smooth sound.

Cons: Very big, heavy and expensive, Supports only unbalanced inputs.

Firstly thank you to Fostex for this opportunity borrow the HP-V8 for a week   Introduction Fostex has made desktop integrated DAC/Amps before with their HP-A8, HP-A4BL and compact HP-A3. The HP-V8 is a different beast altogether. It's a tube amp using 300B, KT88 and E88CC tubes and is as large as some speaker based amplifiers. It's almost like an announcement that Fostex is stepping into the high end desktop amp market and is making a clear statement "We're in the game too".   The HP-V8 comes in very well packed and huge box that weighs 31kg shipped. Its inputs at the back are simple - just a 3 prong power, and L/R RCA unbalanced inputs. The power switch is also at the...
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Master & Dynamic MH40 Impressions: A fashionable headphone that's comfortable on the head and decent tonal signature

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Pros: Very comfortable headphone, fashionably stunning looks, tonally decent

Cons: Congested sound with a small soundstage

Thank You's With big thanks to @shigzeo who's patiently loaned this to me since early this year and I've still hung on to it till now.     Introduction I've not heard of Master & Dynamic until @shigzeo asked if I was interested in giving it a listen. I have to say that I fell in love with its looks when I first googled it up. Aesthetically it's extremely fashionable and would really fit into the fancy shopping districts in Tokyo. But let's get into the product more. The MH40 uses 45mm Neodymium drivers, with lambskin earpads and cowhide-covered headband. Metal components are made from aluminium. There are 2x 3.5mm ports leaving the listener to choose...
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Cypher Labs Algorhythm Trio Portable Tube Amp Impressions

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Pros: Tonally balanced with that touch of "tubeness" and analogue smoothness in the signature.

Cons: Noticeable noisefloor with sensitive earphones.

Thank You's and Sorries A big thank David Maudlin for sending me the Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Trio to me back in late May and I apologise that it's taken me 3 months to put something up about it.   Introduction Cypher Labs as a company needs no introduction. It's been in the portable audio business being one of the first few companies to release an iOS approved DAC back in 2011 which carries the AlgoRhythm name used in most of Cypher Labs portable devices till this day. This AlgoRhythm Trio however is (if I'm not mistaken), Cypher Labs first portable tube amp. All of Cypher Labs past amps had been fully solid state or discrete.   I'm not going into the specs of the Trio...
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Fostex T50RP Mk3 Early Impressions

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Pros: Awesome value for money with the sound it produces for its price. A more transparent and clearer tonal signature compared to it's predecessor.

Cons: Treble sensitive audio listeners could find it a little "hot". Still lacking in sub bass.

Thanks You's A great thank you to Fostex Japan for graciously passing me this T50RP Mk3 and giving me the opportunity to write this review. Further a great big thanks to @Wallabee for loaning me his T50RP Mk2 for a comparison.   Introduction Fostex T50RP models actually require no introduction as it's been a running model since 2002 (with a revision around 2007). And in 2015, Fostex has done a 3rd revision of the T50RP. The RRP in Japan is 20,000 yen (equiv to USD$161).     Unlike it's predecessor, the Mk3 is more easily identifiable with changes to the text & colour of the labels, a padded headband. Strangely just such tiny little changes does make the...
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Beat Audio Top of the Line Prima Donna Impressions

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Pros: Premium sound providing good treble airy extension and bass control. Very supple that can be easily pocketable without fear of damage

Cons: Althought not stiff, it can get a little tangly. Comes with a matching premium sound

Thank You:  Firstly a big thank you to Stephen Guo for shipping these cables to me for review. I apologise that it's taken me so long to do it.    Introduction   Beat Audio is a brand that has been in the cable business for quite a few years now and is not new to the portable audio industry. It's name is also well known to the mature members of Head-Fi who are focused on the portable audio. For a few years, Beat Audio's Oslo was their TotL and later revised to the Oslo II. However late in 2014 Beat Audio introduced their new TotL named Prima Donna. This is a 4 core of primarily silver alloy however I believe there may be a little mix of other materials of which...
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Lotoo Paw Gold: A High End DAP that proving to be a worthy contender to the current premium DAPs

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Pros: Neutral signature with an expansive sound, fast intuitive UI, feels solid in the hand, and a practical battery life

Cons: Price - in Japan, more expensive than the iRIver AK240, visually loud...gold gold gold, no ExFAT support

IntroductionChina & Korea have been churning out DAPs that it's gotten to a point it's difficult to keep track of. A lot of these DAPs also have a rather idiosyncratic and non-intuitive user interface, and/or slow to react to user interaction, coupled with poor battery life. They may have good sound however their poor user interface and impractical battery longevity is almost a deterrent to take them out for use. Therefore when @audionewbi encouraged me to give the Lotoo Paw Gold a shot, I felt I was doing him more a favour than for the product as I had little interest a gaudy looking DAP from China. I managed to borrow a Lotoo Paw Gold from the local Japan distributor, Top...
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Early impressions of the Aurender Flow DAC/Amp portable component

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Pros: Very low noise floor, very good overall SQ that puts a serious challenge to the Hugo, accepts SSD storage and act as an external storage

Cons: Size and weight puts it in the borderline to transportable. Battery life is 7 hrs, less input features than the Hugo

Introduction   Despite the existence of DAPs in the past decade, in the recent 2 years DAPs seemed to have skyrocketed with big thanks to makers such as iRiver/A&K having decent quality SQ but more importantly in a more intuitive interface and more practical pocketable sizes. The expansion of DAP options seemed to have overshadowed the portable component market. Early in 2014 Chord came up with the Hugo which breathed life into the portable component are but at a pretty hefty cost.   Along comes Aurender which has made many high end speaker level components in the past but now with their portable Flow. The name Aurender is still quite new to the portable market however...
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Picollo from Cypherlabs: A simple, small, compact yet powerful amp with a very low noise floor

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Pros: Detailed sounding, compact, long lasting battery, powerful, very low noise floor, under 1 ohm headphone impedance out

Cons: A neutral bass gives it a somewhat dry analytical sound (could be a Pro if that's your preference though), smallish soundstage

Introduction   Cypherlabs' new Algorhythm Picollo is the latest addition to its portable component offerings. It's a no fuss simple single ended input/output amp that charges via a standard microUSB 5V port in the rear. It's claimed to last for more than 24+ hours on a single charge. No OpAmps were used but instead a discrete component layout consisting of 10 pairs of matched triodes.   More manufacturer specs can be found here: http://www.cypherlabs.com/products/algorhythm-picollo/   A big thanks to Cypherlabs for this tour demo which will make its arounds around Tokyo and (South) Korea!!   Design & Packaging   As can be seen with its other...
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Oppo Digital HA-1: A DAC Amp that's fully packed jammed with features

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Pros: There's all sorts of inputs & outputs to this DAC/Amp. In it's own class too for its price

Cons: Learning curve to the UI, SQ although probably one of the best in it's price range has room for improvement (for extra $$)

  Introduction   Oppo Digital has had experience in making SACD players and in releasing it first headphone, the PM-1, also released a matching HA-1 DAC/Amp that comes packed with features taking in miscellaneous ranging fro USB, Toslink, AES, Coax, iDevice, & even Bluetooth. It can also be used as a amp only taking balanced or unbalanced line in. As for it's output, it can output balanced and unbalanced line out, in addition to its XLR balanced headphone out or 1/4" single ended headphone out. The HA-1 also supports up to DSD256.   Now I have to admit, prior to getting the loan from Oppo Digital Japan (thank you to them by the way!!), I was looking forward...
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Oppo Digital's first headphone, PM-1 great value for money planar magnetic that can actually be used as a portable

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Pros: Light for a magnetic planar and actually quite portable. Good value for money and a very good first try by Oppo Digital

Cons: A little closed sounding for an open back headphone. Decent sounding but lacks the sparkle

  Introduction   Oppo Digital is a name renown for their Blue-ray & DVD Players but recently branched out to the headphone world by releasing their very first planar magnetic headphones, the PM-1, and matching desktop DAC/Amp, HA-1. With the courtesy of Oppo Digital Japan, I received a demo set of PM-1 and HA-1 for just over two weeks. The PM-1 comes in an impressive wooden storage box and a suite of cable accessories for portable and home use, velour ear pads which offer an alternative signature, and a denim carrying case.     Headphone Ergonomics   Of all magnetic planar headphones I've tried, the PM-1 is the lightest and most comfortable to...
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Head-Fi.org › AnakChan › Reviews by AnakChan