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Reviews by: JoeDoe

Top-tier Sound for the Rest of Us

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Pros: Sound Quality, Looks, Price/Value, Storage, Versatility

Cons: UI, Wheel

The X5 from Fiio. Where to begin...   Perhaps I'll start with dual-CPU processing power... or maybe the dual TF card slots... or perhaps USB DAC functionality... then again how about the exceptionally black background...   So many options. You know what? I'll make your life easier. Since every other review is pretty dang thorough, I'll just include the highlights and then my personal impressions.   The Hits  Support for every lossless format under the Sun USB DAC capability Two TF-card slots (up to 256 GB!) Exceptional firmware/UI development that continues to improve   The Misses The click wheel implementation Non-removable battery   My...
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Desktop Tube Stack That Knows What's Up!

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Pros: Size, Construction, Power, Versatility

Cons: Discontinued, So-so DAC

So the Pan Am from ALO Audio. This little guy is pretty dang impressive. An excellently-built, functioning desktop solution that is pretty easy on the eyes too! For the record, I've got the whole stack - Pan Am, Passport, and Gateway. Haven't done much comparison between the two power supplies yet.   As for the sound, the presentation is not glaringly tilted towards the bright or dark end of the spectrum. In a word: neutral. Now of course the tubes you pick can change that, but it's nice to know that with a conservative tube like the Yugo 6HM5 or RTC, you're starting pretty close to neutral.   I think that DAC implementation is equal to the ODAC. Very capable and revealing...
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Quintessential V-Shaped Sound

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Pros: Design, SQ, Durability, Case

Cons: Treble-hot at times, Y-split?, Tip-dependent

The new S5 from Brainwavz will certainly please most casual listeners. It's sleek design, tangle-proof flat capable, and pop-ready sound signature certainly justify it's price - not to mention probably the best IEM case I've ever seen short of an Otterbox.    Before I get into it, I owe a thank you to the good people at Brainwavz for reaching out to me for a review. They shipped the IEM to me quickly and have been very courteous and communicative throughout the review process. Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with them in any way.    (If you want to read about the packaging and included accessories, check out one of the numerous other reviews, as this one will jump...
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Reference-esque Sound for the Masses

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Pros: Reference tuning, soundstage, accessories

Cons: Size, comfort (maybe?)

The B3 from Havi is one of the best values for a reference-style IEM I've ever heard. In a time where most IEMs being sold for under $100 are tuned for the masses (i.e. V-shaped sigs that are easy to drive) the B3s refuse to conform. Here we have a dual-driver IEM that gives the budding audiophile a chance to get in on the neutral sound game.    Sound   Bass - Tight, textured, and fast. Bassheads should certainly look elsewhere. Anyone wanting to get bass as it was recorded presumably in studio can rest assured. The B3's deliver.    Mids - Rich and in place. Neither forward nor recessed. The mids are very lifelike in they're portrayal of texture and detail....
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Very Impressive Amp/DAC Solution

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Pros: Resolution, sound quality, input/output options, clean design, plenty of power.

Cons: Heat (but barely)

Well I suppose the good people over at Audio gd would be quite proud. This is the first product out of their largish lineup that I've heard and well, I'm sold.   The NFB 11.32 was purchased after reading up in its appreciation thread. Even though I didn't need one, I'm still interested in mid-tier amp/DAC combos to see how they'll synergize with my gear. I have a MacBook Pro running Fidelia and 2-in-1 combos are the most logical option for my setup. The 11.32 was an excellent purchase for the following reasons.   Sound/Resolution:   It has a very neutral amp presentation that retrieves plenty of detail. It sent the O2/ODAC combo packing (who sent the...
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Best Modified T50 Out There

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Pros: SQ, Comfort, Price, Mod Options, Detachable Cable

Cons: Weight, Clamp

Well let's admit it. Open-back headphones spoil closed-back cans for most of us. While closed cans isolate, they've never been able to match up in terms of soundstage and instrument placement. Luckily for us Zach over at ZMF is helping to bridge the gap.    The ZMF Master Model is a stunning variation on the Fostex T50rp. Among other mods, Zach offers cup painting, recabling, headband padding, and of course his special blend of damping/sound-altering mods.    I was the very lucky winner of a pair of the V1 variation at the Music City Meet organized by @theogenes earlier this year. Honestly, when I listened to them at the meet, it was hard for me to adjust and...
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Very Fun Mid-fi IEM

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Pros: Fun signature, value, design, style

Cons: Availability

Many moons ago, early in my head-fi journey, I had the SE215 and thought pretty highly of it. Very good all-around sound, nice form factor, under $100, and removable cables. What wasn't to like?! Those guys served me very well for yardwork and gym-time for a few months before I moved onto something else. Now I'm back with the 215 LTDs and I think they're to be a staple in my lineup.   These guys look great. The aquamarine color is gorgeous. The color reminds me of some nice CIEMs I've seen before so that's cool. The size/shape of the housing fits well inside my ear and the proprietary cable pin is also pretty low-profile. Cable is nice and sturdy without excessive microphonics....
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Excellent Desktop Amp that Won't Break the Bank

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Pros: Build quality, sound, power, simplicity

Cons: Simplicity (for some)

The KICAS from Purity Audio is a very clean and capable sounding solid state amp that's been spiced with a touch of tube-esque warmth.    KICAS (Keep It Clean And Simple) says it all. 1/4" headphone out, power switch, a pair of RCA inputs, and AC power input. That's all you get, and the guys at Purity proved that's all you need.   This one has excellent synergy with my Grados as well as the SM64s. The RS1's sound very punchy and dynamic (even more than normal) with sibilance only on poor recordings. Separation is very natural and coherent. This amp may not be the most neutral, but it certainly doesn't do anything weird to the source. Music is presented very naturally...
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Sometimes in Head-fi... there are things that must be experienced...

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Pros: Excellent SQ, Value, Lightweight, Modifiable

Cons: Requires some DIYing

Ah yes, the SennGrado. Like a unicorn or a woman with brains and beauty, this one is almost impossible to believe. But I'm here to tell you: believe it.   If you want background info, head over to the non-Grado thread. Basically a handful of modders (led by @wje) have installed the drivers from Senn's portable PX100 II in Grado-style cups with astounding results. If you're not sold yet, consider the fact that most who have tried the SG have considered, if not already sold their higher end Grados.   The SennGrado bests anything in the Prestige series to these ears. They are of the same sound as the RS1/GS1000  with slight differences.    Bass The...
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Great First Step into Planars

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Pros: Natural Sound, Build Quality, Easy to Drive

Cons: Heavy

The HE400 from Hifiman is a great value. For someone looking to a.) try a planar magnetic headphone or b.) find a pair of cans that will offer excellent, natural sound at a solid price, then this is one you need to consider.    They're built like tanks! Although the amount of visible plastic is scary at first, its very obvious once you pick them up that they're going to take a few knocks before you have to worry. From the headband (very comfortable) to the metal gimbals to the shielded cable to the plush earpads, the HE400 won't make you feel timid in handling them. Also, since it comes up all the time, I've had no problems with the cable connectors. I can't say why or why...
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Head-Fi.org › JoeDoe › Reviews by JoeDoe