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Reviews by: project86

Top level amp

Posted

Pros: Extremely good measurements but more importantly, equally good sound.... amazing clarity makes other great amps sound dull and veiled.

Cons: Spiky feet can be dangerous!

This review is one of the most difficult I've had in quite some time. Not because the product had flaws, or because I couldn't make sense of what I was hearing (which sometimes happens), but because I struggled to understand the concept behind the design. I'm still not totally convinced that I have a handle on it, but I know some people are waiting to read this so it's time to move forward regardless. The product in question is the CMA800 headphone amplifier from Questyle, which is a new company hoping to take off in a big way. Based on what I've heard so far I think they have a good chance of succeeding.              Chinese firm ...
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Dedicated DAC with "True DSD" capability

Posted

Pros: Excellent sound, neutral but not at all boring, high build quality and great looks, One of the best DACs I've heard with DSD,

Cons: "True DSD" playback sounds excellent but involves more setup than a typical DoP-capable DAC, no extras like onboard HP amp or volume control

        Questyle Audio Engineering has thus far received lots of attention for their CMA800R headphone amplifiers. And rightfully so - those amps are extremely nice, a veritable match made in heaven for the Sennheiser HD800. But Questyle doesn't limit themselves to just headphone amps. No, they are a diverse company with expertise in many other areas. For example - a lossless wireless amplifier system for speakers (available with ICEpower monoblock amplification). That device may not fit the HeadFi demographic but it sure looks unique.... I don't recall seeing much else like it on the market. Thus, I can see why "headphone amp" still jumps to mind when we hear...
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Excellent performance from a balanced amp, without breaking the bank

Posted

Pros: Neutral with just a hint of warmth, plenty of resolution and grunt, powerful, good looks and build quality, not crazy expensive

Cons: Needs a fully balanced system for best result, inconvenient rear panel switch for input selection, output impedance could be lower

    Around these parts, there's not much that needs to be said about Yulong Audio. Quite a few HeadFiers have experienced the neutral D100 series, the warmth of the A18 and D18 models, and of course the DA8 which is just a masterpiece in my opinion. Yet if you browse over to some other audio forums, you might find that Yulong remains virtually unknown. The brand is spreading, but nowhere are they as prominent as right here at HeadFi. Lucky us - Yulong makes some killer gear at reasonable prices. Under the microscope today is the latest headphone amplifier, dubbed A28. Yulong has a history of catering to headphone enthusiasts - all but a few of the prior...
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The Spinnaker system from Edifier: perhaps the most unique speakers you'll ever encounter... In all meanings of the word.

Posted

Pros: Vivid, energetic sound with good thump and sparkle, size and shape forces good tweeter positioning with no stand required

Cons: Can be fatiguing for certain music in the long term, can't handle really high volumes very well, questionable input choices

    Remember Edifier? The company that now owns Stax? I recently covered their e10 Exclaim desktop speakers and found them rather impressive for just $99. While making a nice budget speaker is certainly noteworthy, part of that equation involves most other speakers in that price being rather poor. Edifier is able to stand out merely by not being terrible. Doing a higher-end design is another matter altogether - in the $300-600 range, competition is fierce, and quality options are plentiful. Could Edifier climb the ladder into this hotly contested segment?   Their entry in this field is the Spinnaker, which I refer to as a "system" because of its unique traits....
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A solid Bluetooth headphone at a reasonable price

Posted

Pros: Pleasingly fun signature, comfortable, seems well built

Cons: Bass could be a bit much at times, midrange distant for some music, sounds worse when used with a cable (which bypasses the onboard DSP)

When a new company called Voxoa contacted me about reviewing their new Bluetooth headphones, I was this close to turning them down. I had no idea who Voxoa was but the very idea of a wireless headphone seemed rather unnecessary to me. When I listen to headphones, I'm usually sitting right next to my audio rack. Or maybe I'm using my iPad or an Android tablet - which is either in my hands or propped up a few feet in front of me. None of these situations involve me needing freedom from a cable. But it's been a while since I tried a wireless headphone so I figured I might see how things have evolved in recent years; I agreed to check out the Voxoa product.   The last few...
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Excellent amp - even better when used in a monoblock configuration

Posted

Pros: Takes the already great CMA800 and improves it - both in sound quality and features - without raising the price

Cons: You'll want to add another for monoblock operation.... so tempting!!!

      A while back I reviewed the CMA800, which was the flagship product from a brand new company called Questyle Audio Engineering. I actually screwed up and listed that review under the CMA800R heading.... I created a proper entry and migrated the original review there, and I'm now replacing this section with the proper content. Anyway, I was absolutely smitten by the CMA800's ultra-transparent presentation - it was easy to recommend for the asking price of $1,500. Since then, many others have gone down the Questyle road and  arrived at similar conclusions. The Questyle name has become rather well known in a relatively short amount of time, and for...
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A great sounding balanced amp at a reasonable price

Posted

Pros: Well balanced sound, black background, ultra precise volume control, low or high impedance jacks (in single ended mode) to adjust for flavor,

Cons: 0 ohm output impedance on one jack would be ideal, I dislike the 3-pin XLR balanced style

See my full review HERE. In summary, this is a well rounded, high performance amp that really offers a lot for the price. It's neutral, clear, and balanced - literally speaking and in terms of sound. Not sure why it isn't more well known. 

Among the best of the "generally neutral" sounding custom IEMs out there

Posted

Pros: Sounds like a junior version of the JH13 FreqPhase! Mostly neutral with slightly exciting highs and more bass impact than an Etymotic type

Cons: As with any IEM, some people may prefer a different sound signature - but for what it is (a generally neutral IEM), the Noble 4C is superb

4C The Noble 4C ($699) is a quad driver design in the same vein as the Heir 4.A, which means a three way crossover, dual low frequency drivers, and separate drivers for mids and highs. I still have my 4.A and still enjoy the heck out of it, as a mostly neutral, but slightly forgiving model with very broad appeal. But I gotta say the Noble 4C is probably better for most people. Those who remember how much I enjoyed the 4.A will know how big of a statement this is.   Why? You may recall some complaint about the 4.A having a rather potent "dip" in the response centered around 4kHz. This was measured in the 4.Ai which was the universal model, and I have to say I did hear that fairly...
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My favorite custom IEM!

Posted

Pros: Intoxicating low frequency response combined with even handed mids and highs - extremely detailed but completely non-fatiguing

Cons: May have too much bass for some people who don't like that sort of thing

  8C The Heir Audio 8.A was (and is) one of my all time favorite CIEMs. A flagship design with 8 drivers per side. A pile of 5 star reviews at HeadFi. A coveted spot on the Wall of Fame at InnerFidelity. How do you top something like that? The answer comes in the form of the Noble 8C ($1299). Wizard describes it as having a slight increase in high frequency response, while still maintaining the buttery smooth mids and textured lows of the original Heir 8.A model. I could probably stop right here because that pretty much nails it.   Much (digital) ink has been spilled about the Heir 8.A and the rich, creamy sound it produces. It remains one...
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Still one of my favorites - at any price

Posted

Pros: Exceptionally clear and accurate, very well defined soundstage and pinpoint imaging, integrated amp section is especially high quality

Cons: minor quirks - using HP section doesn't mute the line-outputs, no "memory" for volume setting when unit is turned off, enclosure not as nice as the D1

I've had the Anedio D2 since it first came out a while back. It replaced my D1 which was a breakthrough product in my humble opinion - staggeringly good for the $1230 asking price. The D1, and later the D2, routinely came out on top when compared to other DACs in the $2,000 to $4,000 range. This is no hyperbole - I can list about a dozen such competitors which I feel are not as good (and I believe I have listed them around here numerous times).    The D2 replaced the D1 and in the process added a bunch of "wishlist" items - balanced outputs, an improved headphone section with "normal" and "high" gain selections, and XMOS-based asynchronous 24/192 USB. At the time, pricing went...
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