Head Gear Reviews by Grimbles
  1. HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphone and Amplifier

    4.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion The Hifiman Jade 2 amplifier and headphones (the “Jade 2”) provide an exceptional desk based electrostatic ecosystem for your ears. If you have the kit necessary to eek the highest levels of performance out of these headphones, you won’t be disappointed. This said, the Jade 2 is not perfect – I have some questions around the build of the headphones (specifically the fixed cable - UPDATE: see post script below) as well as the practicality of integrating the Jade 2 into your set up. One of the reasons main reasons I listen to...
  2. Lime Ears Model X

    4.50 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion I joined the review trail for the Lime Ears Model X (universal) (“Model X”) reasonably excited about the proposition of switchable tuning. I have seen a number of IEMs including this sort of functionality over the last few years, and the Model X was the first I got my hands on. The Model X is a remarkable bit of kit – two IEMs in one really; at first, you have a very neutrally tuned detail master, then flick the switch and the corresponding lift to bass and lower mid frequencies gives a much more relaxing and (to my ear)...
  3. RHA CL2 Planar

    4.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion RHA have created an amazing “audiophile starter pack” with their CL2 IEMs (the “CL2s”). A stunning set of cables, APTx Bluetooth headset, carry cases and tips galore make the CL2 pack an excellent high-end entry into this hobby. The sound is, in the words of RHA themselves a little “marmite” (meaning you either love it or you hate it). The high mid/low treble spike created, in certain tracks, a sort of metallic/tinny tinge I did not enjoy. So then, a 4 overall – 5 as a package, but a high 3 for the sound signature of the...
  4. Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci IX

    4.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion I set out to review the CTM DaVinci IX and X to figure out if I could tell the difference between my mid-fi kit, and some properly premium, top of the range equipment. Unfortunately for my wallet I can! These IEMs are absolutely sublime and from the second you open the spectacularly pretty box to the thousandth hour of listening, you will have a smile on your face as they stun you again and again. If I was dropping this $2k+ myself, I would spend the extra and buy the CTM DaVinci X – that treble, that soundstage, that...
  5. Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci X

    5.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion I set out to review the CTM DaVinci IX and X to figure out if I could tell the difference between my mid-fi kit, and some properly premium, top of the range equipment. Unfortunately for my wallet I can! These IEMs are absolutely sublime and from the second you open the spectacularly pretty box to the thousandth hour of listening, you will have a smile on your face as they stun you again and again. If I was dropping this $2k+ myself, I would spend the extra and buy the CTM DaVinci X – that treble, that soundstage, that...
  6. CustomArt FIBAE - Massdrop Edition

    5.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion The masterpiece of the FIBAE MEs is musicality delivered through their very own sound signature. Sure there is a real emphasis on the lower frequencies, but this doesn't come at the expense of the rest. Mids are still sweet, highs fine… opulent almost and never recessed. The FIBAE MEs are not quite a "V" shape signature; I would say they are more of a "shallow U"! But what they deliver, in abundance, is a thoroughly pleasurable listening experience, with oooooodles of bass! Introductions and General Bumf I purchased the...
  7. iFi iPurifier 3.0

    4.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion I really had to shuffle the iFi iPurifier 3 USB ("iPurifier") around my kit before I noticed any difference with it. Subtle though that difference is, once I started hearing it, I quickly came to enjoy the sound with the iPurifier more than without it. Given my current equipment, and given that I really only notice a difference using my AK70 as a DAC, which I rarely do, I struggle to justify the c.£130 (c.$170 at Google's exchange rate on the day of publishing) outlay required to drop an iPurifier into my signal path. But...
  8. HiSenior B8

    5.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion The Hisenior B8 is a fantastic pair of IEMs for its price, going head to head and holding its own against IEMs costing twice its price. If you are prepared to take a punt on a Chi-Fi brand, you won't be disappointed by these 8BA marvels. What they lack in bass punch and soundstage, they nail in detail, clarity and separation, and you've got to spend an awful lot more money before you start exceeding their capabilities. Introductions and General Bumf This is an interesting set of firsts for me. It's my first review of a set...
  9. iFi Audio xDSD

    4.50 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion Musicality and detail abound in this remarkably flexible DAC/Amp from iFi. With Bluetooth (full fat aptX, not weedy standard bluetooth), optical and USB inputs available, most people's requirements are catered for in a single unit. Couple this with xbass+, 3d+, MQA (at least in theory, see below [updated 26/10/18]), portability and iFi's proprietary s-balanced output technology, this little jack of all trades proves itself the master of most. The few niggles I set out below, and the fact this is a £400 piece of kit, do just...
  10. Aune B1S

    4.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion The Aune B1s ("B1s") is a head turning pocket amplifier very well suited to more sensitive headphones, including IEMs that benefit from a little more oomph and a low noise floor. Although it makes a lovely, warm sound it is hard to recommend without question because it suffers from mobile phone interference, and does not drive that loud. An IEM only amplifier is a niche offering! Introductions and General Bumf Test Kit: I have tested the B1s with Shure SE215, SE425, Sennheiser HD600, Ultimate Ears UE900s, Campfire Audio...
  11. iFi Audio iEMatch Headphone Travel Accessory

    4.50 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion The iFi Audio iEMatch (the "iEMatch") is a handy little device which helps to eliminate hiss and hum for sensitive earphones (and is particularly focussed on IEMs, hence the name). It does the job well, at a reasonable price, and has the added benefit (in 3.5mm form) of being suitable for both SE and balanced cabling. If you are plagued by hiss and buzz from your sensitive IEMs, or want to use IEMs with kit which is normally a bit too noisy (like a valve amp) an iEMatch may well be worth a look at, especially given its...
  12. Pioneer XDP-30r

    5.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion The Pioneer XDP-30r ("XDP-30r") is an entry level, MQA capable DAP with capacious storage options, a simple and effective user interface, flexible output options (including 2.5mm trrs balanced) and most importantly great (if a little laid back) sound quality. It absolutely nails everything you want a DAP to be, and even manages to look great while doing it! With no meaningful faults, I absolutely recommend this player. Introductions and General Bumf Test Kit: I have tested the XDP-30r with Shure SE215, SE425, Sennheiser...
  13. Hidizs AP200

    2.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion An unbelievably versatile piece of kit that promises far more than it can competently and consistently deliver. The numerous fundamental glitches and so-so sound quality make it impossible to recommend at its price point. If Hidizs can get the firmware right, this moves from unusable to average, but for now I have to warn people to stay clear as I feel my money has been wasted. Introductions and General Bumf I was a subscriber to the IndieGoGo campaign for the Hidizs AP200, and paid my US$269 for a Hidizs AP200 ("AP200")...
  14. iFi audio nano iDSD Black Label

    5.00 star(s)
    Quick Read Conclusion A superb sounding compact DAC/Amp that really packs a punch. Less suitable for pockets than some DAC/Amps, it is still a portable winner for me. Sound quality is fantastic, slightly warmer than purely neutral, with one of the best soundstages I have (in my admittedly limited experience) heard. Most of all, at £200 it is epic value for money, making it very easy to recommend. In fact, I recommend it so highly, I put my own money where my big mouth is and bought one. Introductions and General Bumf I was originally part of...
  15. TOPPING NX2 Ultra Slim Portable Audio Amplifier Headphone Earphone Amplifier, with USB DAC

    3.00 star(s)
    This is my first review, but I have such a conflicted relationship with this device, I wanted to put it down in words! As this review focusses on use as an amp, I'm not going to use the typical "highs miss lower structure. If you read this you'll see why. Firstly, this unit was give free to me by hifiheadphones.co.uk in the UK, who had a bit of a service failure with an order of mine, and so (following a joking request from me to customer service) delivered this as a "present" (along with the HD600s I had ordered) . I am in no way affiliated with...
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