or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Currawong › Reviews by Currawong

Reviews by: Currawong

The Noontec ZORO II headphones are surprisingly good-sounding for the price and are attractive and comfortable too.

Posted

Pros: Sound quality well above their price range. Well-balanced frequency response. Attractive, light and comfortable. Easy to fold and carry.

Cons: A regular 3.5mm cable is not included (only a phone one). A little harsh in the mids and highs. Durability is still a question.

  It all started with a message asking me if I’d like a free review sample of some headphones from a creatively off-beat name. I’d seen the name around Head-Fi and only guessed that they were inexpensive and may actually be half-decent, so I accepted. Later it turned out that they appeared to have given away quite a few pairs to people to review and that they were cheaper than expected. At $89.99 in blue or $99.99 in three other colour combinations they were on the end of the scale that I usually ignored except when a handful of cheap-headphone-spotters would start arguing about over them in the forums.   The small box that arrived with a front...
(read more)

The MrSpeakers' Ethers are all of outstandingly detailed, neutrally-toned and very comfortable. Dan Clark has made a winner.

Posted

Pros: Highly resolving, effectively neutral, awesome treble, light-weight, comfortable and flexible, yet fairly easy to drive.

Cons: Bass impact is lacking, very sensitive to source and amp quality.

  Note: This review was primarily conducted with a pair of Ethers using the DUM cable.   An early welcome greeted me when I arrived in Los Angeles for the 2015 CanJam SoCal meet: A new pair of MrSpeakers headphones. Dan Clark, having spent many years modifying the inexpensive Fostex T50RPs, up to and including 3D printing his own cups and modifying their drivers, was working up to something even bigger as it turned out. The Ethers are 100% unique, using no parts from other headphones, but encompassing all the technology Dan had developed making his previous models, having taken the T50RPs to their limits.   In the Alpha Primes, we not only saw his cleverly 3D printed...
(read more)

The Bakoon HPA-01 is a unique amp which works very well with planars, but seriously challenged in value by other products.

Posted

Pros: Battery power, good planar headphone driving ability.

Cons: Benefits of current output limit headphone choices. Voltage output has higher distortion. Not as resolving as should be for the money.

  I purchased a Bakoon HPA-01 off Massdrop for around $1200 (it is normally around $1700 retail) due to the reputation of Bakoon Japan for making stunning amps. The HPA-01 is from Bakoon Korea, utilising the same technology as the Japanese models.    I had just purchased a Hugo and was looking for a compact amp to have on my desktop to pair with it, especially one good with planar headphones. The Bakoon technology is unique in a number of ways. First, it uses battery power, charging automatically when switched off. It also has two headphone outputs: One "current" output, and one regular "voltage" output. The former, instead of the usual low output impedance, has a very...
(read more)

The FiiO X5 is a good value DAP if your needs aren't great and can be readily used as a transport or source.

Posted

Pros: Inexpensive, great battery life, good with most IEMs. Can be used as a transport or with a separate amp for good results. Dual microSD card storage.

Cons: Poor performance with full-sized headphones and needs a separate amp to work best with those. No touch-screen UI.

Thanks to FiiO for the loaner unit.   If there is a brand other than Apple that is more well-known at Head-Fi than FiiO I’d be very surprised.  A number of their products have become pretty much standard entry-level recommendations and their flagship amp, the E12 is a mere $129! However portable amps have been rapidly going out of fashion with the increasing number of DAPs, or Digital Audio Players on the market, itself a consequence of the increasing number of Android-based phones available, including inexpensive models in China, which in turn have provided much needed components to manufacturers of portable audio gear.   While not Android-based DAPs in themselves,...
(read more)

The Aurorasound HEADA is one of those hidden gems of a product from Japan with excellent performance.

Posted

Pros: Very detailed and revealing sound with a touch of warmth. Compact design. Can easily drive most headphones.

Cons: Not ideal for IEMs. Balanced inputs go through the SE phase splitter. No pre-amp option.

  Every 6 months I've had the pleasure of talking to Shinobu Karaki of Aurorasound at the Tokyo headphone festivals. As an ex-Texas Instruments employee he has come up with some interesting designs, most significantly the VIDA phono stage. I’d previously built his DIY balanced amp, which, primarily due to the case cost, was a bit expensive for what it did. After lending Karaki-san a pair of Audeze headphones, he was very clear on the direction he should take with his designs, the result of which is the HEADA. So when he suggested I audition the HEADA I readily agreed.     Aurorasound’s VIDA and HEADA, as befitting an expensive product come by default in a...
(read more)

Pendulumic have made a great-sounding and versatile pair of Bluetooth headphones for relatively little outlay.

Posted

Pros: Great sound with an all-round, slightly warm presentation that is good for most music, 30 hr battery life, versatile design, very good comfort.

Cons: European volume limits, some people may want more bass or a more extended treble. Isolation is not so great.

  Back at the So-Cal headphone meet in March (2014) I met Mike Johnson, who was enthusiastically promoting a new headphone brand, Pendulumic. His spiel was that they had made a very good sounding pair of Bluetooth wireless headphones with the help of a Sennheiser engineer and they only cost $200. That's a pretty big ask in my book, so I had a listen. What I heard was pretty good, though I wasn't expecting much. It was pretty clear from the start that APTx, which claims CD-quality wireless transmission is pretty good. I've used it from my AK240 and to my Hugo and it is only slightly behind in sound quality from a direct USB connection.   After a chat with Mike I agreed to...
(read more)

The Schiit Valhalla 2 is a excellent value, flexible amp that gives a wide and clear presentation with high-impedance headphones.

Posted

Pros: Inexpensive, solidly-built, wide soundstage with high-ohm headphones, pre-amp is handy with active monitors.

Cons: Headphone choices are limited to high-impedance models for the most part.

“You know, I’ve never owned any Schi….um, any of your products..” I was saying to Jason Stoddard in LA in March. Indeed, the last time I’d sampled anything from his company was years ago at a meet in Australia, where an original Asgard hadn’t impressed me. So I asked Jason if he would send me a Valhalla 2 once they were in production, as the amp seemed to be something of a potential all-rounder, which is unusual for an OTL tube amp, which would normally be suited only to high-impedance headphones of 300 Ohms and above. When the Valhalla 2 turned up, I was greeted with a small, but weighty box. The amp itself looks like it should be light, but the aluminium chassis is thicker than I had...
(read more)

Sony's MDR-Z7 is a very solid entry into the market that has fantastic imaging, quite a bit of detail and importantly, fantastic design and comfort.

Posted

Pros: Detailed bass, very good imaging with a spacious presentation. Very light-weight and beautifully made. Balanced and aftermarket cabling too.

Cons: The darker, somewhat bass-heavy and mid-thin sound doesn't work well with a lot of music.

Videos only at the moment. I'll do a write-up later. Apologies if you were hoping for something to read.   Unboxing and design details:     More details about the cables, sound and possible mods:    
Head-Fi.org › Currawong › Reviews by Currawong