Super small portable headphone amplifier with great sound , just like all Ray Samuels amplifier. Digital volume control and no caps used in the design produces very accurate sound and instrument separation.
Pros - Tiny, Great sound quality, LONGGGGGGG battery life and RSA reliability
Cons - Some people might think its expensive
I have been breaking in my new Shadow and Campfire Vega IEMs, When I decided to put together a portable system, I thought of Ray Samuels. I have lusted after his little amps for years. One poster here thought I wasted my money on my Shadow. Cheap Bastard. You usually get what you pay for. This is a tiny amp to mate with an iPod to play Apple lossless tunes. Listening to EDM on my iPod 120 GB Classic through my Shadow and the Campfire Vegas, you wonder if that is all you need. Great bass. Its quick and defined with a nice balance since it has about 50 hours on the IEMs and 75 hours on the Shadow. Midrange is smooth and not exaggerated. High Freqs are all there and again smooth as a baby's but. If you think I don't have a clue, check out my other systems.
Not only is Ray a great guy to buy from & deal with, he makes an outstanding product. The Shadow is everything he says it is & more. Extremely transparent, it doesn't color the sound at all. It gives your IEM the energy & power they need to spread their wings and FLY.
Paired with my Westone 4, which are already pretty damn amazing, it opens them up both spacially & soundwise. It gives depth & more precision to the soundstage, & it gives the music that much more depth. It's the difference between listening to an amazing pianist in the front row with the pianist facing you & on a stage & being there, not crowding but intimate, with the piano open. You can feel the pads hit the cords, you can feel the sound from the soundboard.
The only complaint I have so far is there is no memory for the digital volume, so it defaults whenever you turn the amp off.
Value is always subjective, but if you're reading this review than likely you are already considering spending around $400-500 on an amp. If the music is worth it to you, then this is a very good bang-for-your-buck.
Pros - SQ, size, no caps, runs forever on a charge, digi volume control
Cons - no complete silence with power on
bought from RSA directly. Ray is really nice and super helpful on the phone. I own 3 of his amps and he as let me use whatever I want as the serial # as long as it hasn't been taken - favorite athlete's jersey number, my initials, my favorite number...
The Shadow is RIDICULOUSLY small (width/depth size of a movie ticket stub) - I still can't believe it every time I take it out. I bought one of Ray's Mil Spec LOD's (good price, great product) and can use any iPod with the Shadow. It sounds so good - I think with IEMs, even though you can power them with any PMP, you should use an amp to get good sound since most don't have great soundstage and imaging like speakers or even good over-the-ear headphones. The Shadow makes up for this - the well controlled power and presentation really bring out the life from decent IEMs.
I like that the input is in the back - this is rare for a portable hp amp - and very convenient (especially considering the small size & light weight).
The minijack connectors are great - they really clamp on to the line out dock and your headphones. One of Ray's older amps used loose minijack plugs and my headphones or iPod would sometime come disconnected - especially moving around on a bus or airplane or lying in bed. The Shadow doesn't have this problem and is so light it can basically "hang" in the air between your PMP and 'phones. It never accidentally comes disconnected.
The shadow can power most headphones, not just IEMs. It's got some juice. It'll run for weeks listening for a couple hours a day.
I don't really mind this, but as soon as you plug in/turn on the Shadow you hear the music at the fixed "default" volume. The digital volume control is great - you can make really slight adjustments - but every time you power off the volume resets to the "default."
I love the Shadow and I'll never regret buying it. There's nothing else at this price in its league, particularly given size and build quality. I don't think it's breakable even if you tried, it's so well built.
Sonically it is just a dream. It really brings out the three-dimentionality even through IEMs. Probably RSA's best portable ever built, save maybe for the SR71B which is about 4 times the size and twice the price (check Ray's Web site to confirm that). I've never heard that amp, I'm just guessing based on its power supply (2 x 9V) and more recent release.
If you're on the fence a all just buy it. You'll never regret it.