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Aune B1 portable headphone amplifier with discrete class A output stage

Aune B1

Rating:
4.34211/5,
Tags:
  • Aune B1 portable headphone amplifier with discrete class A output stage

Recent Reviews

  1. dan.gheorghe
    Best portable amplifier I have heard to date
    Written by dan.gheorghe
    Published Aug 11, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Natural sound, excellent bass, superb midrange, very clean, good details, spacious and natural soundstage
    Cons - positioning of volume knob and gain switches are not very fortunate
    [​IMG]
     
    This amplifier is a jaw breaker from my perspective. Ok, there are some areas where you can find better. It doesn't shine with very, very efficient IEMs, and of course it won't amplify HE6. 
     
    However, if you will be using it with a moderate power requiring headphone, I think that it would be very hard to find a portable amplifier better than this... at any price. 
     
    What I love about it the most is the effortless, natural sound signature it has, followed by an excellent bass, superb midrange,  *very* clean sound, spacious and holographic soundstage.
     
    It also has good details and natural transient response. The sound signature is a little bit on the warm side. 
     
    To get all from this amplifier, you should pair it with a good DAC. Will try it with Chord Mojo soon! 
     
    Small Comparison to FiiO E12A
     
     
    I won’t loose too much time on this comparison. Overall I ended up preferring the Aune B1 and not by a small margin. B1 sounds considerably more natural and organic. The sound is more dynamic and decompressed on B1 (E12A sounding a little flat/dry in comparison) , with better transparency and details.
     
    The bass on B1 kicks ass compared to the one on E12A, the midrange is better textured and more detailed, while the treble is smoother and more detailed in the same time on Aune.
     
     
    Pros
    1. Excellent bass with wonderful extension, control and punch
    2. Rich and detailed midrange
    3. Smooth, detailed and sparkly treble
    4. Excellent vocals
    5. Very natural and clean sound
    6. Very spacious and natural soundstage
    7. Very good transients
    8. Very good imaging and instrument separation
    9. Excellent price for what it offers
    Cons
    1. The volume knob and switches are made of plastic
    2. Position of the volume knob and gain switch are not very fortunate
    3. Gets quite hot if you want to use it in your pockets. If it's winter this is a pro :))
      kissmevn likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. drbluenewmexico
      you nailed it!
      drbluenewmexico, Aug 11, 2016
    3. swannie007
      Nice review, I must concur with your findings. I have numerous portable amps but this is my daily driver, and says it all.
      swannie007, Aug 11, 2016
    4. theMUKe
      Totally agree with your review! This is a great amp!
      theMUKe, Aug 22, 2016
  2. Army-Firedawg
    Small powerhouse that provides tube like sound and musicality but with the ease of use of a solid state.
    Written by Army-Firedawg
    Published Apr 3, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Amazing sound and build quality
    Cons - Aluminum strip on the back can lead to scratches, un-indicating indicating light for the battery
         Firstly I must give a large and heartfelt thank you to both @AuneAudio for approving me a period with this and @nmatheis for organizing things in a way so that my time with this corresponded with the Carolina Canfest 5 audio meet that was being hosted in Charlotte then also I have to give thanks to @Podster for sending it to me within the correct time frame, which lately has become a rarity for most tours. So to all of you I both tip my hat and sincerely thank you. 
     
    I'm a 25 year old firefighter currently for the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. I was formerly a civilian firefighter in Kentucky with the Millard Fire Department before I enlisted and moved to my current location in Charlotte, North Carolina. My current goal is to begin my career again in the civilian fire service, and yes, I am the cliché of wanting to do that since as far as I can remember.
        My interests/hobbies are powerlifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. On that note over the years I've really came to an understanding of what it is I like and look for in audio products.
        What I look for is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
        My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have great extension and detail reveal but I don't like artificial treble in order to achieve that. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics & Stax SR009.
     
     
                    20160325_212024.jpg
     
    20160325_212044.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    The Opening Experience
     
        The opening experience of the B1, I’m not exactly sure if this is how it comes from the factory of if it was only for this tour.. In addition, the only thing included with said package was a small aux cable. So, for this reason I cannot justify giving any sort of unboxing experience impressions on the Aune B1.
     
    20160325_211422.jpg     20160325_211555.jpg      20160325_211616.jpg      
     
     
     
     
    Construction
     
        The build quality on the Aune B1 portable headphone amp. is  absolutely top notch. It’s carries an aluminum body throughout and on the back there’s either a real or faux leather that gives the B1 not just a nice grip when holding it but also a refined look as well. However a quick downside (that’s incredibly small and user dependent) is that on the back where the leatherique material is, is down the middle is an aluminum line. This is a bad thing because most of us who use a portable amp with our mobile device etc… simply rubber band them together. The issue here is with the aluminum you’re almost begging to have both your mobile and the amp. to  get scratches all over them.
        The top of the amp. holds a very responsive volume button and standard 1/16th” jack. The side holds the power button, gain switch, and class A amp. switch (which I’m not going to lie I’m not really sure what this switch did so I just left it on). The front has 2 glass windows to allow you to look into the inner circuitry which is a subtle but very nice touch that I really enjoyed. Another downside before I go onto the sound section, is that the battery life indicator is quite useless. When you press the button, at least on my unit, it never shown anything except green. This was greatly annoying for after a few hours of listening I’d check the indicator and it’d show green and a few minutes later it died; what’s the purpose of an indicator if it doesn’t indicate anything?
     
                                                                                                  20160325_211922.jpg
     
     
    Sound
     
        So how well does the newest mobile amp. offering from Aune stack up? Amazingly well is the clear answer to that, The ease it drove any headphone I put through it was incredible, from my Empire Ears Hermes to my Sennheiser HD650 it powered them incredibly and provided a sense of depth that even some (similar priced) home units can’t provide me.
        The background wasn’t completely black as my ciems still had that ever present hiss but when listening to normal resistance headphones there was no issue at all and the only thing I was presented with was a very impressive sound that provided a subtle but welcomed amount of warmth.
        On the note of warmth, the Aune B1 isn’t a flat amp. Instead it gives the music a subtle yet very nice and soft sense of warmth and musicality to it that really reminded me of a tube amp. (which the glowing led’s on the front even adds to the look of a tube amp. as well). My favorite pairing however was with my Bowers & Wilkins P7 and the Meze Headphones 99 Classic (tour). The B1 complemented the sound of those two headphones so well it made it ridiculously difficult to take them off when I had to do that adult thing called work.
     
                                                                                      20160325_211538.jpg
     
     
    Conclusion
     
        I believe this is my shortest and quickest review (at least off the top of my head) but this is a pretty straightforward amp. The sound is very clean, powerful, controlling and possesses a slight warmth to it that adds well wanted (for me personally) musicality to the sound. The build quality is absolutely top notch and I’ve zero worries about it falling or easily breaking. I’d recommend the Aune B1 to anyone looking for an portable amp. only complement to their mobile device. It’s a great price/quality catch and will suffice even the truest of die hards.

     
    Also check out my unboxing and review videos, they’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out as well. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
     
     
     
      thelonious58 and thejammonster like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. emrelights1973
      Will it be good addition to zx2 euro for driving sony z7? 
      emrelights1973, Apr 6, 2016
    3. Army-Firedawg
      @emrelights1973 Though I've personally not tried either of those two, I don't see any reason why it shouldn't. On high gain it drove my HD650's with ease
      Army-Firedawg, Apr 7, 2016
    4. Hi-Fi'er
      This is a pretty bad ass amp. It's my new best portable amp. It rivals my other top end portables for way more than half the cost.
      Hi-Fi'er, Apr 11, 2016
  3. Hi-Fi'er
    Wonderfully Clean and Powerful AMP
    Written by Hi-Fi'er
    Published Jan 21, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Clean, Fast, Quiet, Dark, Powerful for IEM's,
    Cons - Volume Knob, Battery Percentage Status
    This is a true Class A amp that is in a class of it's own! 
     
    I have put in a good 5 hours of straight listening with the B1 with all types of music just using my Creative Aurvana 3. I used these on purpose on the high gain to see if it would make a difference as they are not the best but not the worst earphones I have. 
     
    I used the high gain, and I have to say the B1 is quick, clean, powerful, and adds no coloration to the source and transfers over the source cleanly at all levels of listening, meaning it's clean and clear at low volume to full volume with 0% distortion. Some have said there is no background hiss. Well there is on high gain but it's extremely tiny and only detectable at more than 80% volume. Very very acceptable. Some have said it has a dark background, I agree 100%.  
     
    What impressed me the most is how it keeps it's clarity at full volume with authority. I love that! I like to listen to some favorite songs louder than others. This is how I determine what a portable amp can or can not do. Other amps I that I have seem to struggle out or distort at higher levels. I even tested some very high end recordings from Techmaster P.E.B and they sound clean, and clear at all levels. The bass is super heavy on from this artist and the B1 controlled the bass again with authority and no distortion. I even tried to throw in some EQ to see if I can cause any distortion and that idea failed miserably. It handled the added 40 and 80hz cleanly and accurately! I am impressed again.  
     
    The B1 makes me feel like I'm listening to my Asgard 2 which says a lot! I love the clarity and level of detail that it can produce. I have yet to really burn it in fully and I am already seeing this as my favorite next to my Cypherlabs and that was just out of my LG Optimus G Pro with ALAC and a line out! I can say this amp has made me end my search for a portable clean powerful amp.  
     
    I am kinda scared what it can do with my other earphones and other sources!
     
    Update: After some more time with the B1, I have to say that it's so very much similar sounding to my Ray Samuels P-51. The B1 having a larger current ability than the P-51 is evident in the oomp of the sound, but all else it matches the P-51 on all other aspects. That is pretty amazing considering the P-51 is/was $375.00!
     
    - Update 3/11/2016: I have to say this amp is equivalent to my Cypherlabs which says a lot as that cost over $500.00 amp alone. I am impressed with this amp the more I use it. It's not just a Class A amp, it's in a class of A! It drives my Havi's well and accurately and anything else I have at it IEM wise. Again for the price you can't go wrong with this amp. It's my new best sounding, smallest amp I have. It's going to be really hard for someone to beat this at this price.
      drbluenewmexico and thelonious58 like this.
    1. drbluenewmexico
      are you listening to the 2015 or 2016 version??
      drbluenewmexico, Jan 22, 2016
    2. Hi-Fi'er
      2016
      Hi-Fi'er, Mar 11, 2016
    3. Shotgunsingh
      What's the difference in 2015 and 2106 model. Any significant drawbacks in either
      Shotgunsingh, Jun 14, 2019
  4. nmatheis
    Aune B1 Quick Review
    Written by nmatheis
    Published Aug 22, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Unique aesthetics. Powerful. Good soundstage and separation.
    Cons - Mid-centric. Plastic volume knob and switches don't inspire confidence. Too powerful for IEM.
    IMG_2352.jpg
     
     
    DISCLAIMER
    I was provided the Aune B1 as part of a mini-tour @money4me247put together after he reviewed the B1.  I am in no way affiliated with Aune, and this is my honest opinion of the B1.  I would like to thank @money4me247 for giving me the chance to test drive the B1, and I hope my thoughts prove useful for fellow Head-Fi members as well as for Aune.

     

    INTRODUCTION
    Ok, so why review the Aune B1?  When I saw it announced, I wondered how the B1 wold to my Fiio gear (E12A, E12 DIY & X5).  I was also intrigued by the discrete circuitry and Class A feature.  
     
     

    ABOUT ME

    I'm a 43 year old father who loves music.  From electronic (Autechre, Boards of Canada) to modern/minimalist composition (John Cage, Philip Glass) to alternative rock (Flaming Lips, Radiohead) to jazz (John Coltrane and Miles Davis) to metal (Behemoth, King Diamond) to classic rock (Eagles, Rush), I listen to a wide variety of genres and artists. 
     
    My portable music journey started with the venerable Sony Cassette Walkman and then progressed to portable CD players, minidisc recorders (still have my Sharp DR7), and finally on to DAPs like the Rio Karma, iRiver IHP-1xx, iPod 5.5, iPhones, and the newer crop of DAPs from Fiio and iBasso. 
     
    I typically listen with IEMs from my ever-growing collection from budget to mid-fi. Less often, I grab a pair of full-size cans.  Recently, I've been listening a lot with various earbuds and IEM I have in for testing.  I do have a lot of other gear, though.  You can always check my profile for a reasonably up to date gear list. 
     
    As with a lot of people my age, I've got some hearing issues.  I've got mild tinnitus and suffer from allergies, which can affect hearing in my right ear.  I'll admit it, I'm not blessed with a pair of golden ears.  That said, I've been listening to portable gear for a long time and feel confident in assessing audio gear - just wanted to be transparent up front. 
     
     
    SPECS
    Please refer to this LINK for official specs.
     
     
    PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
     
    External packaging is a simple black & white.  I hate gaudy packaging and highly approve of the approach Aune took here!
    IMG_2375.jpg
    IMG_2376.jpg
     
     
    Open the box and you see the B1 and accessories.
    IMG_2377.jpg
     
     
    Here's what you get: A micro USB cable, and 3.5mm IC, and the owner's manual.  No bands and no carrying case.  Hmm...
    IMG_2378.jpg
     
     
     
    BUILD & ERGONOMICS
    The B1 comes in either black aluminum with black leather pads or or silver aluminum with red pads.  The tour B1 was the black model.  I'll go over the various features in pictorial fashion below.
     
    The front 3.5mm input and output jacks and the volume knob.  Plugs slip in smoothly without clicking in place, but I had no problems with them coming loose.  The volume knob was disappointing, quite frankly.  It feels like cheap plastic and has no marking to let you know how far you've turned the knob.  I hope Aune rethinks this with future models and replaces it with a nice matching metal knob with an indicator line.  Despite not being up to the overall quality and aesthetics of the B1, the volume knob has very smooth movement and allowed for easy fine-grained volume adjustment.
    IMG_2345.jpg
     
     
    On the back, we see the micro USB receptacle.
    IMG_2346.jpg
     
     
    On the left side, we find the battery indicator LED.  You push the small, flush button, and the number of times the LED flashes indicates the charge level.  I would've preferred three or four LEDs instead of just one that flashes, but it gets the job done.  Maybe next time...
    IMG_2347.jpg
     
    On the right side, we find the Power, Class A, and Gain slider switches.  As with the volume knob, these cheap, wobbly plastic sliders feel out of place on the B1.  Replacing them with metal switches would fit much better with the overall aesthetics, in my opinion.  It would also make them feel more solid as they're operated.  In particular, the Class A switch should be designed as a recessed switch, since it's not supposed to be operated when the B1 is powered on.  Very odd design choice to make this a raised slider switch.
    IMG_2348.jpg
     
     
    On the top, you get two windows showing off the internals.  There are also two green LEDs that light up during operation.  I think a lot of people geek out on seeing the internals.  I know I'm going against the tide, but I personally feel like these windows, and especially the green LEDs, are yet another disjointed design feature that Aune should've left out.  Of course, your mileage may vary.
    IMG_2353.jpg
     
    On the bottom are the two black leather (pleather?) pads.  I quite like the look on the back with the white lettering on the black metal and black leather pads.  Very nice, and functional, too as the pads serve to protect any surface you lay the B1 on.  No need for those little silicone feet with the B1!
    IMG_2351.jpg
     
     
    How big is the B1?  Just about the same footprint as my E12A but about half again thicker.
    IMG_2336.jpg
     
     
    Here's another view with the Shanling H3 thrown in for comparison.
    IMG_2333.jpg
     
     
    SOUND
    I’m the first to admit that describing sound isn’t an easy thing to do, so I’ll try to describe this as clearly and concisely as possible without waxing eloquent about subtle nuances that only the highly-trained ear will hear.  If you’re looking for that, there are other reviews that meet your needs.  I mainly used my HiFiMan HE400 and the relatively new VE Zen earbuds with the B1.  Volume matching with the HE400 was performed with a 1kHz test tone and the Decibel 10th iPhone app.  With all that disclaimer type stuff out of the way, here are my thoughts on the B1: 
     
    VOLUME MATCHING
    HE400 with 1kHz test tone @ 80dB
    X5: HG 65/120
    B1: HG slightly over 9 o’clock
    E12A: HG 10 o’clock

    B1 vs. Fiio Gear (E12A, X5) with HE400

    * B1 has less bass extension and impact.
    * B1 has a more mid-forward, energetic sound.

    * Upper register instruments and vocals can sound a bit aggressive / piercing.
    * B1 has splashier highs and isn't as crisp
    * B1 has a more holographic soundstage with better instrument separation and placement
    * B1 has a richer, more engaging sound that can become fatiguing more quickly

    * NOTE: The Fiio gear has a distinctive "house sound" sound, so I grouped them together for comparative purposes.
     
    B1 with VE Zen
    The B1 drove the VE Zen marvelously on HG, striking a great balance between lushness and technicality.  I did a lot of listening with this pairing and was quite happy with the sound!
     
    B1 with AKG K553 
    * It's ok at lower listening levels, but going over 12 o’clock with my AKG553 gets too loud and far too splashy.  I found the K553 was a much better pairing with my Fiio gear!

    Class A
    * I didn’t notice a difference with either the HE400 or Zen.

     
    Driving Power
    * The B1's volume knob goes from 8 o’clock to just past 6 o’clock.
    * I found Low Gain too powerful for sensitive IEM - barely audible at 9 o’clock, loud at 10 o’clock, and really loud at 11 o’clock.
    * I got great use out of the volume knob on LG with HE400.  On HG, I wouldn’t want to go over 12 o’clock.
    * NOTE: I've ben informed that the B1 has been updated with a lower Low Gain setting to better accommodate IEMs but haven't experienced this myself.
     
    Channel Imbalance
    * There’s a slight bit of channel imbalance at very, very low listening levels - probably won’t be an issue for anyone.
     
     
    BATTERY LIFE
    I found the battery life estimates Aune provides are very good.  It could go about 8-10 hours in A/B mode and 4-5 hours in A mode.
     
     
    SUMMARY
    The Aune B1 is an interesting amp.  It's design is a mixed bag of industrial aesthetics, durable metal, and cheap, wobbly plastic.  The volume knob and slider switches were a real let down.  While I didn't care for the windowed design, I can see where many would find this quite pleasing.  For me, the sound was a bit of a mixed bag, as well.  With the VE Zen, the synergy was just outstanding!  With HE400, it was ok but nothing special.  With K553, it was only ok at low listening levels - higher listening levels made the K553's upper end far too aggressive for my taste.
     
    I'd be happy to see an updated B1 with metal slider switches and metal volume knob with a volume indicator line.  I think it'd be much easier to estimate battery life with multiple LEDs instead of one blinking LED.  And at this price point, there's really no excuse not to provide a case or pouch of some sort to protect the B1 in your bag.  I mean, really!
     
    I wouldn't expect Aune to alter the sound, but I can't see the B1 or other Aune products with this mid-centric sound signature becoming a go-to device for me.
     
    Thanks again to @money4me247 for giving me the opportunity to give the B1 a listen!
      hakushondaimao likes this.
  5. bhazard
    A very good Class A portable amp
    Written by bhazard
    Published Aug 18, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, Build Quality
    Cons - Low battery life, Large.
    Aune B1
     
    If you’ve ever wondered how a Class A, discrete amp would sound with your portable music rig, Aune has given you the chance with the B1.
    While I’m not going to go into the details of Class A nor comparisons to other amp types (Class AB, Class D), Class A is considered the best by many. I’ve found amps in all topologies that are so good that you’d never consider or care what type they are, so I don’t necessarily prefer one type over another. The design and components are what matters most.
     
    Specifications:
    1. Frequency range: 10 Hz – 20 KHz ± 0,15 dB
    2. THD+N: <0,0008% @ 1 KHz, 600Ω
    3. Signal/noise ratio: >124 dB @ 600Ω
    4. Channel separation: > 110 дБ @ 1 КГц, 600Ω
    5. Output power: 25 mW @ 16Ω, 50 mW @ 32Ω, 100 mW @ 300Ω
    6. Headphone impedance: 16Ω — 300Ω
    7. Battery: 4000 mA/h
    8. Life time: 10 hours for 20 mA, 5 hours for 40 mA
    9. Size: 65 mm × 110 mm × 18 mm
    10. Weight: 230 g
     
    Build Quality: 
    1. Quality Aluminum Chassis
    2. Unique window design showcasing internals
    3. Stylish Faux Leather
    4. Confusing switch placement
     
    The B1 is a somewhat hefty amp to carry around, about the size of a smartphone lengthwise, and about 3-4 phones wide in girth. While it may be a bit wieldy to carry around, the actual quality of the device is high. The aluminum chassis and clear window casing showing the internals of the device provides a sleek look with a sturdy feel. The faux leather along the chassis also fits the design quite well without taking away from the overall appeal.
    The switches and volume knobs did take away from the build though. I found the gain switch and volume knob placement to feel unnatural when I went to adjust them. It was nothing too distracting, but I’ve also used many amps that felt much better (Fiio and Cayin come to mind).
    Battery life is not the greatest. The Class A design really eats up the battery, with 5-10 hours being the norm depending on your gain setting.
     
    Sound Quality:
    1. Good but not great power overall.
    2. Slight bass tilt, 40mA mode better
    3. Neutral sound
     
    The B1 has plenty of power for most applications, and it excels at powering high impedance headphones. I ended up finding out that low impedance multi driver earphones do not do well with the B1 however (Havi B3). My smartphone drove the B3 at the same power level (even in high gain), which is not something I want in a $200+ amp. Every other IEM and headphone sounded stellar however. The O2 amplifier comes to mind with the overall neutral aspect of the sound.
    Compared to my Geek Out 1000 V1, I found the GO1000 to be slightly more engaging and more powerful, with a slight edge in soundstage. Treble was enhanced over the B1, but I found the B1 more pleasing.
     
    Conclusion:
    There is a lot to like about the B1. I would very much recommend it as a portable amp for a high impedance headphone. For a portable IEM solution, I find that there are better dac/amp combo options available at similar pricing.
     
    As a fan of Aune and their past products, I applaud their effort in making a unique amp that can satisfy a lot of people.
  6. LostInMyDream
    A bit of suprise...
    Written by LostInMyDream
    Published Aug 11, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Disclaimer:
     
    1. This is an Aune B1 Canadian tour unit. The tour was organized by hakushondaimao, and many thanks for his efforts. I had the B1 for a week and as the last tour member I sent it back to hakushondaimao. This review is not a required precondition of tour participation.
     
    2. I'm in no way associated with Aune.
     
    3. I don't believe in burn-in. I almost always use stock cable or the cheapest one I can find and call it a day. I don't believe I can distinguish lossless formats from 320kbps mp3 in a blind test regardless of any gear used, but always use lossless where possible.
     
    Gears used:
     
    Source: mainly Astell & Kern Jr. Other source components include Schiit Modi 2U, Modi, and Wyrd, kindly loaned by mikoss.
    Amp: ALO Rx (newer one for IEM).
    Amp/Dac: Schiit Fulla, Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2.
    Headphones/Earphones: TH900, HE400S, UERM
     
    Notes:
     
    1. Average usage was 2 hours a day at 20mA mode.
    2. Most listening was done on-the-go with UERM. TH900 and HE400S were used occasionally. My UERM might be an outlier: it's slightly bassy, compared with say Noble 4.
     
    Hardware:
    - Runs very warm on 40mA mode.
    - A bit too big for me. I have small hands.
    - Nice finish. Button layouts are just right. Quite an eye-catcher.
    - Volume pot prone to rubbing.
    - Tons of power. As long as one doesn't throw an HE6 to it, there should be no big issue in terms of volume.
    - The downside of the above one is that even at low gain, low-z-high-efficiency headphones/earphones don't have much volume range. I put the Jr+B1 stack into my bag and the volume pot was accidently touched ----> huge increase/decrease of volume. Quite a bit of hassle.
     
    Sound:
    - Overall, quite thick, not overly so. Unavoidable solid state grain. No glaring. Notes have good body. Plenty of driving power, but not brutal. Not an aggressive sound signature.
    - A minor, but apparent bass boost.  It doesn't add quality to bass, only quantity. In other words, things just get louder, but no significant improvements in definition. Depending on personal tastes, B1 lies on the boarder between neutral to fun. In no way offensive, and occasionally can make things fun. However, people who seek a strict neutral sounding portable amp should avoid B1.
    - Smeared lowest/highest ends, particularly evident with UERM. I strongly suspect this a result of impedance mismatch. The output impedance of B1 may be over 5 ohm. If this was true, it's the biggest downside for me.
    - Ultimately 2D soundstage. Good width but not much depth. 
    - Outstanding instrument separation to the extent that it might be distracting. An excellent trait in my book. My personal favourite trait of B1.
    - Hot switching between 20mA and 40mA modes made no major difference for me. 
    - Higher volume levels may produce distortions and clicks.
     
    Verdict:
    - Maybe not a good match with my low-z-high-efficiency cans and IEMs. If I had something like HD650 in my hand, I would expect a lot of improvements.
    - Slightly bassy for me.
    - Considering most portable transducers are low-z-high-efficiency, B1 may be better considered as an around-home-kind portable amp.
      aluweer likes this.
  7. derGabe
    Der B1 ist ein potenter Kopfhörerverstärker mit geringen Schwächen im Design
    Written by derGabe
    Published Jul 12, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - genug Leistung für die meisten Kopfhörer
    Cons - Kanalschwankungen im untersten Lautstärkebereich, Schwächen im Design
    AUNE B1 / Portable Headphone Amplifier


     
    Vorwort: Portable Kopfhörerverstärker sind in den letzten Jahren zu einem neuen Phänomen im Bereich der HiFi bzw. Kopfhörercommunity geworden. Kaum ein renommiertes Unternehmen hat es sich nehmen lassen, einen eigenen portablen Kopfhörerverstärker auf den Markt zu bringen. Als Beispiele dienen hier Sony mir Ihrer PHA Serie oder zuletzt Oppo mit dem hervorragenden "HA-2", der allerdings gleichzeitig auch ein DAC ist (aber auch einzeln nur als Kopfhörerverstärker per Line-In funktioniert).

    Nun stößt auch die chinesische Audio Firma "AUNE" auf diesen Markt vor. Wir nehmen im nachfolgenden Test den "AUNE B1" etwas genauer unter die Lupe und vergleichen ihn mit seinen aktuellen Konkurrenten. 

    Beim B1 handelt es sich um einen Class A Amplifier. Die meisten werden sich jetzt bereits fragen, ob ich mich hier am falschen Buchstaben bedient habe. Dies kann ich getrost verneinen, denn der B1 agiert tatsächlich als Class A Amplifier und bietet dadurch auf dem Papier eine extrem geringe Verzerrung im Nulldurchgangsbereich und eine erhöhte Linearität im Vergleich zu anderen Verstärker Klassen. Den großen Nachteil von Class A Verstärkern, dass diese im Betrieb sehr warm werden können, habe ich beim B1 nicht feststellen können. Ohne Frage, der B1 erreicht eine gewisse Wärme unter voller Last, allerdings ist diese zu keiner Zeit störend oder sehr auffällig.

    Design:  Der B1 steht in zwei farblich unterschiedlichen Varianten zur Auswahl. Da wäre zum einen die klassische schwarze Variante mit schwarzen Kunstleder Streifen auf der Rückseite und den 2 Sichtfenstern (die Einblick auf die Platine gewähren) auf der Frontseite. Als zweite Variante gibt es ein Design in Silber mit roten Kunstlederstreifen auf der Rückseite. Das CNC-gefräste Chassis besteht bei beiden Varianten aus 100 % Aluminium und hinterlässt einen sehr wertigen Eindruck. Die Entscheidung, dem Nutzer einen Blick in das innere des Kopfhörerverstärkers zu gewährleisten, empfinde ich als elegant und zugleich technisch ansprechend gelöst. Kleine Schwächen zeigen sich allerdings beim Drehknopf für die Lautstärke. Warum hier nur auf Plastik und damit verbunden einer geringeren Wertigkeit gesetzt wurde, kann ich nicht nachvollziehen. Außerdem fehlt mir persönlich eine Markierung auf dem Drehknopf, die anzeigt in welcher Stellung sich besagter Lautstärkeregler befindet.

     ​
    Klang: Für den ersten Test haben wir ein iPhone 5s mit dem Oppo-HA2 (hier nur als DAC) zusammen mit dem Aune B1 betrieben. Als Kopfhörer diente ein Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (80 Ohm Version). Die Musik kam dabei kraftvoll aus dem B1, wurde klar und überaus detailliert wiedergegeben. Im direkten Vergleich zum Kopfhörerausgang des iPhone konnte der B1 mit einer größeren Bühne und besserer Instrumentenseparation punkten. 

    Ohne den Oppo HA-2 als DAC am iPhone sah das Ergebnis dann vergleichbar aus. Da der interne DAC-Chip des iPhones nicht mit den DAC vom Oppo HA-2 mithalten kann, fällt das Ergebnis etwas „flacher“ und weniger lebendig aus. Nichtsdestotrotz klang der B1 am iPhone besser als der direkte Kopfhörerausgang dessen.

    Für den zweiten Test haben wir den B1 dann am IBasso DX90 mittels Line-Out verwendet. Als Kopfhörer wurde ein Beyerdynamic T1 benutzt. Mit dem T1 stößt der DX90 schon etwas an seine Leistungsgrenzen, zumindest wenn es um mein persönliches Lautstärkeempfinden geht. Dazu muss erwähnt sein, dass ich persönlich Musik gerne etwas lauter als die Norm höre. In Kombination mit dem Aune B1 konnte der DX90 dann mit dem T1 überzeugen. Den B1 hatten wir hierbei auf der höheren Gain-Einstellung. Etwas mehr Power hätte ich mir persönlich noch gewünscht, für die meisten Hörer wird die erreichte Lautstärke aber wohl vollkommen ausreichen. Als Konkurrent für den B1 sehe ich hier den Cayin C5, der einfach noch mehr Dampf macht und die Leistungsreserven aus so ziemlich allen Kopfhörern rausholt.

    Zuletzt haben wir den B1 dann noch am iPod Touch 5G verwendet. Als Kopfhörer dienten hierbei die Stagediver SD2 von „InEars“. Da diese In Ear Monitore sehr effizient arbeiten, reichte hier die niedrigste Gain-Stellung am B1 aus. Leider sind uns hierbei in den niedrigsten Lautstärken geringe Kanalschwankungen aufgefallen. Sobald man die Lautstärke etwas anhebt, verschwinden diese allerdings recht schnell. Aber gerade für IEM’s könnte das bei manchen Hörern für gewisse Enttäuschung sorgen. Nichtsdestotrotz konnte der B1 auch in Kombination mit dem Stagediver SD2 punkten. Die Bühne wirkte geringfügig weiter und dreidimensionaler. Veränderungen am Frequenzverlauf konnte ich in keinen der 3 Tests feststellen. 

    Fazit: Aune ist mit dem B1 ein potenter Kopfhörerverstärker gelungen. Die geringen angesprochenen Schwächen im Design kann man verzeihen wenn man einen leistungsstarken Kopfhörerverstärker mit genug Leistung für die meisten Kopfhörer sucht. Sehr leistungshungrige Kopfhörer würde ich allerdings eher mit dem Cayin C5 verwenden, da dieser doch noch das letzte bisschen Potential aus den Kopfhörern kitzelt. Im Vergleich zu den Kopfhörerverstärkern aus dem Hause Fiio braucht sich der B1 allerdings nicht zu verstecken. Hier würde ich den B1 sogar klar favorisieren, da mir die Bühnendarstellung sowie der relativ neutrale Frequenzverlauf besser gefallen. Am Oppo HA-2 kommt er nicht vorbei, allerdings wäre ein Vergleich hier auch nicht fair, da der Oppo HA-2 neben dem sehr guten Kopfhörerverstärker auch noch einen großartigen DAC an Bord hat und somit als Gesamtkonzept für mich als jemand mit iPod Touch 5G oder iPhone 5S deutlich interessanter ist. Für alle anderen Anwendungen ist der B1 von Aune aber ein überaus geeigneter Kopfhörerverstärker.

      thelonious58 likes this.
    1. derGabe
      This is the German Review for the Aune B1. An english Version is coming in the next Days.
      derGabe, Jul 12, 2015
    2. Wildcatsare1
      Thank you, my German is a bit rusty!
      Wildcatsare1, Jul 13, 2015
    3. h1f1add1cted
      Haha ich dachte ich lese nicht richtig, ein deutsches Review auf Head-Fi :) Hättest auch gerne z.B. im Hifi-Forum berichten können, aber dennoch danke. Mich würde das Grundrauschen vom B1 interessieren, gab es da keins mit dem StageDiver 2?
      h1f1add1cted, Aug 5, 2015
  8. jjacq
    Great IEM/Headphone amplifier for the money.
    Written by jjacq
    Published Jul 11, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Clear mids, great bass control
    Cons - A bit too big for portable, volume knob could've been better.
    DSC01232.jpg

     

    Intro: I have spent adequate amounts of time with the B1, mainly after working so it was something I used to relax. I have an AK100ii I compared it with with a JH13. The Cayin C5 is having a few problems right now so I felt that it was not best to test it at this time.
     

    Packaging and Item finish

     

    DSC01218.jpg

     

    DSC01221.jpg

     

    Upon opening the package, you get a charger, 3.5mm interconnect, paperwork and the device itself. The device itself has a solid weight on it but with the surprise of the plastic volume knob. Another issue with the volume knob might be accidentally turning it when it's in your pocket which can be a real issue. It has a good feel when you turn it but I feel like plastic is still not the best choice for it.

     

    It has a similar form factor with the Cayin C5 and it fits pretty well with the AK100ii as shown below.

     

     

    DSC01239-2.jpg

     

    DSC01237-2.jpg

     

    DSC01236.jpg


    The lighting is nice and pleasant but can be a bit annoying if you use it at night The alignment of certain setups also determines if the lighted parts will show or not, in my case it was covered by the AK100ii.

     

     

    Sound Quality

     

    DSC01243.jpg

    AK100ii+Cayin C5+JH13

     

    DSC01242-2.jpg

    The stack with a JDS labs mini interconnect.

     

    The sound reminds me of the AK100ii amplifier with subtle differences. There is no hiss coming out of these headphones and no noises in the volume knob. Bass response did improve a bit with the JH13 giving more emphasis on the bass than it usually does with treble. The AK100ii on the other hand gives slightly more emphasis on the treble which can make the JH13 a bit too piercing in the ears. I've also noticed that instrument separation with the JH13 is slightly less compared to my typical setup. Mids are just as good as the AK100ii to my ears. I did not hear any difference with the Class A mode with my IEM but YMMV.

     

     

     

    DSC01261.jpg

    The Aune B1 on a Pelican 1020 micro case. It is a snug fit.

     

    Conclusion/Thoughts on Value
    I wanted to keep this short and sweet and as objective as I can. Comparing A and B and recording what I perceived. I have pondered upon what audience they were trying to target with this and I think it does very well with IEMs and portable headphones. Since I already own the Cayin C5, I won't be buying this but the build quality and sound quality itself makes me give it a double take. I remember disliking the E12 a while back because it felt too bright and thin and this wasn't like this at all. I think this is one of those things that would pair well with any transport with a sub-par amplifier assuming you are not burdened with its size. What I could think of would be a FiiO X1 or DX50 which I think would go well with this. Value-wise, it's a bit higher than the competition with the FiiO E12, FiiO E11K and the Cayin C5 but you are getting the Class A feature which you do not see in any of these units. Having owned the C5 and E12, I think the B1 can hold its place pretty well. It's rated at slightly less compared to the C5 and E12 @ 500mW@32 ohms compared to the competition at 800mW@32 ohms. The advantage of this is that the volume knob is not too "sensitive" as I use my JH13 with the C5 at 3'o-clock to get to listenable levels. 

      money4me247 likes this.
  9. Peter West
    Class "A" - Class "A" Results
    Written by Peter West
    Published Jun 29, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Class "A"; inexpensive/cheap; robust; BIG sound; simple to use; drives tough to drive headsets with ease
    Cons - Runs warm (class A); short battery life (*fixable); not your first choice for IEM
    Let's ruin the surprise:
     
    I'm buying an Aune B1 the moment the nice folks at Aune Audio show up at my door demanding their demo unit back. I can't stop playing it and there's one huge reason: The Aune B1, against all expectations, makes my Audeze LCD-X headphones sound better...way better...when I'm using my Astell and Kern AK-100 Mark II DAP and it rivals the sound from my much more expensive Fostex HP-A8C DAC/amp streaming Tidal or accessing ITunes.
     
    I'm not kidding. I had just started using the touring B1 and the LCD-Xs by playing a Norah Jones tune that has no sound in the left channel for the first few bars and I mistakenly thought "oh crap" the left channel is dead so something must be broken somewhere. I mean there was nothing in the left channel. There was no noise - no hiss - no nothing. It was like the left channel didn't exist. It wasn't like it was absent. It was like it wasn't there and never had been there and suddenly eight bars or so into the music the left channel emerged out of a intergalactic black hole and burst into glorious sound.
     
    I was stunned.
     
    And, if this wasn't enough now the sound out of both channels was driving my LCD-Xs into new realms of detail and punch. That did it. I went to search for my chargecard!
     
    You don't have to read any farther. If you've got big expensive headphones and a $200 investment isn't a big deal then go to Aune (sold here in Canada by Grant Fidelity) and buy the B1.
     
    BTW here's the standard disclaimer around nobody is paying me for my opinions (although as a former newspaper and magazine editor and writer I'm still available. I write for several of my own blogs on a variety of subjects.) and I would like to thank Aune for supplying the B1 which is on tour.
     
    It might help to know I'm 66 and my wife gives me my allowance for cleaning the house once a month plus there's my pension cheque so I'm self-supporting and picky about what I buy.  I got into this audio thing at the beginning of the year and I now own way more headphones and IEMs than your average big band. I've got DACS upstairs and down and everything is streaming including TIDAL through Apple's Airplay system. I'm a very happy camper although yoga four times a week helps.
     
    For those of you still with me, there are a couple of things you should know now about the B1,
     
    First the B1 tends to overpower my in-ear monitors. I wouldn't have thought such was possible and when I read another reviewer who made a similar statement I thought he was delusional. I mean how can an amp be too powerful? Well it can. The B1 on its lowest power setting still sounds too aggressive in my Shure 535s. The bass hits too hard. Same with the Titan !s and the rest. Any of the higher pitch percussive notes came out way too sharp. It can hurt.
     
    Yes you can turn down the gain but this isn't an amp that you'd want to exclusively drive your in-ear monitors. (Get Cypher Labs Picollo for your IEMs. It too uses discrete parts like the B1 which some claim make for a more elegant sound. I tend to believe them.) On the other hand, if you like a lot of music in your ears this might be your ticket to sonic amazement at least until your hearing fails. The Random Access Memory cut of Get Lucky is pretty intense using in-ears. The Audezes handle the musical assault with easy. This could be an age thing as in me being older and you not so much?
     
    My Momentum on-ears handle the sound output of the B1 pretty well too but again when I switch back to my 535s even turning down the volume doesn't make this a soothing experience. It's aggressive as heck and where Bob Marley and Wailers sound like they're screaming in the IEM, they sound much better in the Audezes or the Momenums.....if you're on the low gain setting. On high gain - Class A setting you can feel the Audezes kicking into high gear and the difference is shocking, even exhilarating.
     
    I've had the Audezes since the beginning of the year and I've read every review I could find about all the high-end headphones out there and while I loved the sound the LCD-X produces there was something missing for me when it came to using them with a DAP. The missing bit was that intangible "wow" factor that I can hear in the Momentum on-ears or the 535s when using the DAP and a small amp. It's subtle for sure but sitting on the couch with the AK-100 Mark II driving my Cypher Labs Picollo amp with the 535s remains one of the best musical experiences I've ever had.
     
    When I swapped out the LCD-X the sound was still perfect but...
     
    Remember that song from the 60s by the Lovin Spoonful called Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind? One of the lines goes: Sometimes you really dig a girl the moment you kiss her and then you get distracted by her older sister!
     
    That was my experience. On their own the LCD-X were very kissable headphones. They did everything just right. But then I plugged in the B1 and boy was I distracted by this older sister who was much more muscular and aggressive. 
     
    So what's happening?
     
    The B1 is a class A amplifier. So what's class A? 
     
    In the Amateur (Ham) Radio world where I come from we use a lot of different kinds of amplifiers. Amplifiers...well amplify. They can boost audio signals or radio frequency signals and for the most part it's all the same thing. They shouldn't take anything away or add anything as they just amplify the signal.
     
    What's different about a Class A amp is they are relatively simple devices. There's often not a lot of parts and a Class A amp is on (that is to say amplifying) all the time. That's one of the reasons Class A amps tend to run warm. There's no cooling off time. This 100 per cent demand on the circuit also means there's a higher demand on the power supply no matter if it's battery powered or runs off 110-volt AC. BTW the kind of warm I'm talking about is warm like a puppy or kitten warm. Not warm like an oven or hair dryer warm. You don't want hot when it comes to your electronics.
     
    There are other kinds of amps. A Class B amp uses what's called a push-pull configuration of tubes or solid state devices so that only one half of the amp is working at any one time while the other half is turned off and thus cooling. The two parts of the amp switch back and forth many times a second making them more efficient than class A amps and are often used in audio circuits. There are other classes of amps out there like Class A/B and for those interested I'd suggest the great Google for answers.
     
    Right now it comes down to do we want efficiency or do want power? 
     
    As far as I'm concerned, especially when driving the LCD-Xs I want power and the B1 delivers.
     
    It's like this: Let's pretend you're a Navy pilot. You're parked on your aircraft carrier and you get the go-ahead to take off. You don't release the brakes and then slowly bring the engine up to speed. You know what will happen. By the time you roll up to the edge of flight deck you won't have gained sufficient speed to actually take off. So that's not how to takeoff from the flight deck of a carrier. The right way is when you get the okay to go, you make certain you're brakes are on tight (might even be a restraining cable...I don't know as I've never been in the Navy) and you increase the power of your engine to military power of 110 per cent. Then with every rivet in the aircraft trying to rip itself out of its socket, the engine screaming, your heart in your mouth, you release the brake and the aircraft leaps into the air.
     
    Hardly what we'd call efficient but it sure is powerful.
     
    And so we have the Aune B1. Turn it on and it's on at 100 per cent. Likely doesn't matter whether you're actually listening to anything or not. The B1 is running full out and thus warming itself in the process. It's going to be a nice unit to place in an inside a jacket pocket on a snowy winter day in Canada. And remember, I'm saying warm here and not hot. Again hot you do not want in your electronics. Warm is okay especially when you know you're running a Class A amp.
     
    So if this isn't enough to make you giddy with joy there's the price. At $199 the B1 isn't inexpensive, it's downright cheap. But cheap isn't a bargain if the sound isn't there. There are a lot of other guys out there who have reviewed the heck out of the B1 and I think I'm safe in saying they all have said they liked the sound of the B1. Some even raved!
     
    A few carped about things I don't find important like whether the volume knob is metal or plastic or how cheap the fake leather inserts seemed to them. I actually thought they looked pretty good but what I think about the cosmetics is irrelevant IMHO. Your mileage may vary.
     
    Coming from the Ham Radio world where some of things I buy come in a bag and you solder them onto a circuit board and connect them to circuits using alligator clips and there's no case or fancy anything I couldn't care less about the aesthetics of the B1. What makes a buying difference for me is whether or not the thing enhances my listening experience and the B1 passes that test with flying colours. Having said that the B1 might have come with a few accessories. As it is you get the B1, a USB cable, a business card, a mini quick guide and a four-inch stereo plug. I mean you don't need anything else but I'm getting spoiled by other manufacturers adding cases, higher-end plugs even key chains. I know I'm being very shallow here.
     
    But when it comes to sound, I spent hours and hours swapping out headphones with the AK-100 Mark II supplying the music to the B1. I also compared the B1 to the Cypher Labs Picollo amp and even the Fiio E-11 which was my first purchase a couple of years ago. (I use the E-11 to listen to Netflicks out of my IPad. Makes a big positive difference to the sound quality of the movies.)
     
    In general here's what I found:
     
    The B1 as I said is super quiet. I couldn't hear any hiss or with any of my IEMs or headphones. I couldn't even hear a noise floor or anything else. It was almost like somebody had added a squelch control. 
     
    Now a couple of reviewers have said they could hear a bit of channel imbalance but I couldn't. Almost everyone who has reviewed the B1 agrees it's loud and many agree it's too loud with IEM but I just read a post that said Aune is going to turn down the gain a bit on the lower gain setting. That would be a very good thing to do.
     
    You see the B1 has two controls that affect the amount of amplification it can deliver. The first is just that: a gain control that switches the output stage from 20MWs of power to 40MWs (which has a big effect on battery life) and a current control whose markings suggest it switches in or out the Class A amplifier. Not sure if this is exactly what is happen as we may have lost something in translation but let's look at it this way. When using the LCD-Xs I turn everything on and my hair bursts into flame and when using the IEM I turn everything off. Clear enough?
     
    Aune has warnings all over the place about not switching the gain controls whenever you're listen to music so as to not damage sensitive IEM or headphones. I did by accident and lived to tell the tale but not recommended.
     
    Back to the sound...the B1, because it's always on, doesn't bog down under big musical demands. Bob Marley and The Wailers Legend album is one of my favourites for testing equipment as the music is very demanding and in your face. The B1 - Audeze combination is now the best musical experience I've ever had when it comes to Bob and the boys. Bass, mids and highs don't compete for the available wattage. There's plenty enough power for all and the sound can be called warmish without being overly coloured. It's a pleasing sound and might even be considered more listenable than the output from the Fostex DAC/amp which is a bit more sophisticated and slightly more sedate and colder.
     
    Some audio engineer out there will understand when I say the B!-Audeze combo makes the music sound snappier. it's almost as if the music is coming out at a faster speed. Now I know that's not possible but the combo is hard-hitting and while realistic it's pitched just a little more aggressively than anything else I own. 
     
    So what this means is when I'm listening to Lucinda Williams I can hear her breathing hotly in my ear with the B1-Audeze combo. With anything else in the house...not so much and I like to hear Lucinda that close to me...I really do :) The Picollo amp sounds more polished and laid back and anybody would be thrilled with the Picollo but just don't do an A - B comparison with somebody singing their lungs out as while the Picollo will entertain, the B1 will astonish. (The Fiio E11 isn't in the same league but is musically very sound and works with the IPad as I said before.)
     
    One of my favourite Canadian groups The Cowboy Junkies (There's a great story here about how sister Margo Timmins had never sung professionally before when her brothers asked her to be the singer in their new band. Her haunting vocals changed the Canadian music scene back in 1986 and continues to thrill audiences today. Listen to the first song on the group's second album The Trinity Session recorded in 1987 at Toronto's old downtown Church of the Holy Trinity. Using one microphone suspended above them, you can hear the rush of the amplifiers as their auto gain settings picked up the ambient noise of the old wooden Toronto church just as Margo (who in the 1990s was named one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People Magazine) begins to sing. Turn it up just a little more for the full effect. Ageless.
     
    Now size can be an issue. The B1 is just a little bigger than the AK-100 Mark II. It's not too big but you won't be carrying the combo around in your pocket. Now normally I walk around with the AK-100 Mark II with the 535's plugged in without an external amp or with the smaller Picollo amp and I'm perfectly happy. But the B1 is for use when I'm using the Audeze's and trust me, I'm not going outside with the LCD-Xs on my head. There's a limit to how geeky even I will be seen in public and you're talking to a guy who occasionally wears a baseball cap with his Amateur Radio callsign embossed on it. 
     
    Since I'm using the B1 almost exclusively at home with the AK-100 Mark II and the Audezes size doesn't matter but...
     
    Then there's battery life issue. Since the B1 is always running at Class A power the battery drains in as little as four hours on maximum gain out and about 10 hours according to Aune at minimum gain settings. Four hours if you're walking around with the B1 connected to a decent DAP isn't a lot of time but there is solution. You can add an external battery!
     
    Since the B1 is charged via the USB connection to a computer (and in fact doesn't include an external power supply) it makes sense that external batteries like the Mophie external batteries made for powering an IPhone or IPod should work just fine and they do. I purposely left the B1 on as I typed this review and the battery died after four or so hours of high-gain power listening. I added an external 8000mah Comwave Power battery and the music keeps playing. 
     
    But the setup weighs one pound six ounces! That's not pocketable but it would be fine in small backpack. Now since I'm using the setup while sitting outside on the deck I don't care but for some it might be an issue. (One of my new external batteries - Xtorm bought while on a trip to Switzerland - includes a solar panel so in theory I could sit out on the deck on a sunny day and never run out of power.)
     
    For me, when it comes down to sound verses weight, sound wins hands down and the B1 has got the sound and the power and the fury to drive big headphones (even those that people say are easy to drive) into higher realms of musical excellence. 
     
    Don't believe me. Listen for yourself. Like Sade is singing right now: This is "No Ordinary Love" and Aune: the cheque is in the mail.
      Grimbles, CPhoenix, droido256 and 2 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. casanova
      Great review with many details and comparison.
      Thank you, sir.
      casanova, Jul 7, 2015
    3. Peter West
      My own (Darth Vader black) Aune B1 arrived today!!! I'll be spending the next few days under my LCD-X headphones. Outstanding sound right out of the box. Class A amp sure drives the planar magnetic headphones into new levels of excellence. Best $199 I've ever spent on audio amplification. Highly recommended.
      Peter West, Jul 7, 2015
    4. capnjack
      Have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with you Peter. I'm using my b1 to drive my k702s and its doing a brilliant job with them also!
      capnjack, Oct 15, 2015
  10. miceblue
    A Solid "Portable" Amplifier for the Price, With a Unique Twist
    Written by miceblue
    Published Jun 14, 2015
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Overall aesthetics, sound quality, silent background, discrete Class A design, Class A switch sonic characteristics, voltage output, price
    Cons - Build quality, volume knob, not stackable, thickness, too much gain, current output, I/O placement, battery life, battery charge time, charge noise
    DSCN9285.jpg



    [rule]
    DISCLAIMER
    I received this B1 unit for a two-week period in order to provide Aune with some feedback on it in the form of a review. Details of the opportunity can be found here in the original thread:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/765999/aune-b1-headphone-amp-worldwide-review-tour-reviewers-wanted

    I want to thank Aune for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this program, and I look forward to seeing how future products will turn out from the feedback provided!



    Note #1:
    I'm experimenting with a different formatting style while writing this review. Long reviews when viewed on the mobile website tend to look like a giant essay and it's hard to pick a section of the review that's relevant to you, so I'm putting the different sections in spoiler tags. If you guys could provide some feedback on it, I would greatly appreciate it and it would help me make better-formatted reviews in the future. Thank you in advance! : )

    Note #2:
    Since Head-Fi takes the average of the detailed ratings on the left, I'll list what I rated the B1:
    • Audio Quality: 4/5
    • Design: 3/5
    • Quality: 3.5/5
    • Value: 4/5
    Overall: 3.625/5, rounded down to 3.5/5 stars



    [rule]
    Video Review


    0:16 - Thank you to Aune Audio
    0:41 - Sound quality A/B test methodology
    1:39 - B1 vs OPPO HA-2
    2:20 - B1 vs FiiO E12
    3:35 - B1 vs JDS Labs C5/C5D
    5:54 - B1 vs JDS Labs Objective 2
    7:53 - Sound quality overview
    8:36 - Price-sound quality value
    8:51 - Gain switch voltage output
    10:02 - Class A switch current output
    11:05 - Class A amplifier design overview
    11:41 - Battery life
    12:23 - Class A switch's sound
    14:05 - Aesthetics overview
    15:03 - Mute relay
    15:27 - Input/output overview
    15:42 - Volume knob
    16:43 - Front panel window and component overview
    18:52 - Size and portability
    20:24 - Stackability
    21:39 - Aluminum chassis overview



    [rule]
    There's not much in here:
    • Aune B1
    • Aune business card
    • B1 user manual
    • USB A-microUSB cable
    • 3.5 mm-3.5 mm straight interconnect

    I made a silent unboxing video on my YouTube channel if anyone is interested in it. It was made for ASMR purposes, so it'll be really weird to watch for 99.99% of the people reading this review.

    Video Table of Contents:
    4:30 - Box overview
    6:32 - Opening the box
    6:49 - Aune business card
    7:01 - B1 user manual (Chinese)
    7:25 - B1 user manual (English)
    7:55 - USB A-microUSB cable
    8:03 - 3.5-3.5 mm interconnect
    8:24 - B1 overview (I wanted the camera to focus on the component window, but it didn't work sadly; it's in the video thumbnail though)
    9:40 - Turning the B1 on
    10:25 - B1 size comparison with Nintendo 3DS



    [rule]
    I won't go into great detail here but I think the power output, size, mass, and battery life specifications are pretty important to know.
    Full details:
    http://en.auneaudio.com/html/en_products1/Portable_series/190_11.html

    Power output and derived voltage and current outputs from Ohm's Law:
    16250.63239.528
    32501.26539.528
    3001005.47718.257


    I received official confirmation from Aune themselves that the B1 outputs 3 Vrms in low-gain mode, 6.5 Vrms in high-gain mode at 1 kHz 0 dBFS signal.

    The maximum input signal into the B1 is 2 Vrms.


    Size:
    • 65 mm (width)
    • 110 mm (height)
    • 18 mm (depth)

    Mass: 230 g

    Battery Life:
    • 10 hours while operating in the 20 mA mode
    • 5 hours while operating in the 40 mA mode



    [rule]
    Classes of amplifiers are determined by how the amplifying transistors are biased (with current). Class A amplifiers always have the amplifying transistors always on and always biased. The amplifying transistors are thus never turned off and are always active whether or not there is a signal to be amplified. Because of this, they are extremely inefficient in terms of power management, and that's why they tend to get warm due to energy being dissipated as heat.

    Two advantages for this kind of amplifier design though is that it's extremely responsive since the amplifying transistors don't need to have a wait period between turning on/off, and it's extremely linear. Class A amplifiers have the ability to amplify a signal linearly with little distortion as long as they are properly biased to operate in the linear region.

    The Class A switch of the B1 alters the static current, or Class A bias. Of course demanding a higher, always-on, current correspondingly affects the current draw from the battery, and thus lowers the battery life. No surprises there. I also don't think it's just coincidence that the highest current output of the B1 is also the number for the high-current mode, 40 mA.



    [rule]
    The overall aesthetics of the B1 are simply stunning in my opinion. An all-metal chassis, viewing window to see the interior PCB and discrete components, and synthetic leather on the back all make it look very impressive.
    DSCN9264.jpg

    DSCN9227.jpg



    The term "discrete components" just denotes basic electronic parts with no special integrated circuit components such as operational amplifiers (op-amps). The Class A amplifying circuit is built entirely out of these individual transistors and no op-amps are used.
    DSCN9208.jpg

    DSCN9216.jpg
    ^ the black rectangular pieces with 3 solder joints are transistors

    Also used in the B1 are round, no-lead, MELF resistors, which is relatively unheard of for an amplifier in this price bracket (to my knowledge).
    More information here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_electrode_leadless_face
    DSCN9306.jpg

    DSCN9294.jpg


    Although the overall aesthetics are really good, the build quality itself is a bit lacking to me. For one, the volume knob, which appears to be silver and suggests that it's made of metal like the chassis, is in fact plastic. The feel of the knob is very lame too. It's hard to grip, there are no volume indicators on it, and it seems to have variable resistance when turning (becoming easier and harder to turn depending on how far it's turned). It's definitely not the kind of quality I expected upon seeing it for the first time and it's underwhelming to adjust.
    DSCN9259.jpg

    DSCN9261.jpg


    The input/output ports of the B1 are poorly placed relative to the volume knob, especially with 90˚-angled jacks. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah......good luck with that!
    DSCN9396.jpg

    DSCN9410.jpg
    ^ portable rig = ruined and unusable


    Just like the volume knob, the switches themselves are plastic and feel a bit cheap on the otherwise really nice chassis.
    DSCN9265.jpg

    DSCN9303.jpg

    DSCN9302.jpg


    The synthetic leather itself is just a sticker, and the edges are roughly cut upon closer inspection.
    DSCN9272.jpg


    Although the chassis is made of a single piece of aluminum, this aluminum also appears to be pretty soft. I don't recommend taking the B1 with you if it has the risk of falling onto a hard surface. I had the B1 on top of a piece of paper on my desk and the paper got moved by accident. *Thonk* The B1 fell on top of a glass table lamp I have nearby and the edges of the metal chassis got pretty banged up. The metal is now sharp at the edge and I am not going to stack anything scratch-sensitive on top, or underneath it. The glass lamp is fine though.
    DSCN9445.jpg

    DSCN9446.jpg

    : (


    Speaking of stacking things on top or below the B1 though, the package contents don't contain any adhesive rubber feet, nor silicone bands. Without those, you really have no viable options for stacking things on top or below the B1, which is unfortunate. The front face/top of the B1 is all aluminum with only the two glass windows. I ain't going to stack any metal or glass objects on top of that. On the back/bottom of the B1, it's basically all aluminum too with the synthetic leather inserts providing basically zero millimeters of padding between the B1 and the adjacent surface. I ain't going to stack any metal or glass objects underneath that either. For most of my time with the B1, I've been stacking the it on top of my OPPO HA-2 since the real-leather cover of that won't get easily damaged, and it provides some height to wrap my fingers around the volume knob to actually grip and turn it. I am most certainly not going to put the B1 in my pocket attached to a DAC/portable media player in fear of getting them scratched to death.
    DSCN9268.jpg



    As for the heat it gives off, it's really nothing worth mentioning, seriously. Yes, it's a Class A amplifier. Yes, it's extremely energy inefficient. No, the 40 mA current mode isn't going to get super hot. My iPhone 4S gets hotter than it when watching a YouTube video, so don't even worry about heat.


    Regarding power, the B1 might not have as much power output compared to other portable headphone amplifiers. However, I don't think power is really an important thing to use for a determination of sound quality unless you actually need 100+ mW for headphones. I used the 688 Ω AKG K240 Monitor, as measured by Innerfidelity for my specific unit, with the B1 on low-gain just fine. Taking into account my listening preferences, low-gain mode makes absolutely perfect sense for how I listen to music. It takes 0.447 Vrms at 688 Ω for my K240 Monitor to reach 90 dB SPL. My average listening volume is somewhere between 70-80 dB SPL as determined by a calibrated audio system from a local meet. I take into account +25 dB peak requirements from music as headroom for an amplifier, which makes the peak requirements 95-105 dB SPL. Indeed, calculating out the power requirements for the K240 Monitor, it would need 2.514 Vrms, 3.654 mA, or 9.184 mW to reach 105 dB SPL, all of which are perfectly within the B1's 3 Vrms output in low-gain mode as well as 20 mA Class A mode. For a low-impedance headphone that's relatively insensitive such as the HIFIMAN HE1000 on the other hand, the B1's limited current output starts to make the power output relevant since its cap is 40 mA.

    The gain switch affects voltage output; the Class A switch affects the current output. I find the low-gain output to have too much gain even still. I can barely use the volume knob for sensitive headphones like the OPPO PM-3, and I would say the volume knob is useless for in-ear earphones. I personally wouldn't recommend the B1 for these cases because it's simply just too loud. The volume knob has the typical channel imbalance at low levels, and then gradually diminishes as the knob is turned further. By the time I get past the channel imbalance region for the MEElectronics M9, even quiet music is too loud for me in a home environment. This is just unacceptable to me and it makes normal, non-quiet, music unlistenable at a comfortable volume level.


    Regarding the battery life, 9 hours for a portable headphone amplifier is on the low-side from what I've seen. If you're planning to use the B1 portable amp as a, well, portable amp, I would have liked to see at least 10 hours. Five hours in the 40 mA mode is even more of a setback, but I personally don't like the sound out of the 40 mA mode and I wouldn't use it anyway (more on this in the "Sound Quality" section below).

    Charging time for the B1 is also pretty slow. From 0-100%, I clocked in roughly 4 hours' worth of time while using a microUSB-USB A cable to my MacBook. That's a long time to charge a portable amplifier and if I want to use it as a portable amplifier, I would have liked to see a 2-3 hour charge time instead.

    While the B1 is charging, the device has an audible noise problem. It's audible with in-ear earphones, as well as full-size headphones like the HIFIMAN HE1000. It sounds like a fluttering/buzzing sound and it's pretty annoying. Trying it with different USB ports reveals that it's dependent on the connection. Through a normal USB-hub, the noise is audible even at low volume levels. Through my MacBook's USB ports, the noise is only audible when the volume knob is turned up. Through the LH Labs Linear Power Supply 4, the noise is pretty minimal. On high-gain, the noise is definitely amplified, no questions asked.


    In terms of its size, I think the B1 is way too thick to be consider portable, hence why I have "Portable" in quotes for my review title. It's nearly as thick as my Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming console and I already consider that to be a huge burden to carry around in my pocket since it's also smartphone-sized in terms of length and width. Carrying around a Nintendo 3DS-sized metal brick on top of a portable media player or other source prevents the B1 from being portable in my honest opinion. To me, it's more transportable than portable.
    DSCN9233.jpg

    DSCN9429.jpg

    DSCN9438.jpg





    So...yeah, the build quality and some of the design elements are things to be desired in my opinion, hence why I gave the Quality and Design ratings 3.5/5 and 3/5 respectively. It's good enough for the job, but I feel that a lot of things could be improved upon for future consideration.



    [rule]
    Overall, the B1 sounds pretty good to me! There are two things main things about the B1's sound that I experienced:
    1. I prefer the sound from the 20 mA mode over that of the 40 mA mode
    2. It compares favourably next to other portable and transportable amps I have at hand

    An overview of how the B1 in general sounds to me:
    • Slightly woolly-sounding bass
    • Slight warmth in the bass/lower-midrange area
    • Slight etch or emphasis in the upper-upper-midrange area (4-6 kHz-ish)
    • Treble roll-off
    • Wider-than-deep soundstage
    • Good, but not great, instrument separation
    • No background hiss

    Again, these impressions are all with the low-gain mode because I find low-gain to offer plenty of voltage for my listening preferences, let alone usage of the volume knob.

    I did a ton of listening sessions between the 20 mA and 40 mA modes. At first, I hardly heard a difference between the two modes. I was thinking maybe the 40 mA mode had a larger soundstage, but I would be pulling strings to say I would be able to pass a blind test with it. Those listening tests were done with just a DAC and the B1. Aune specifically recommends not adjusting the current switch when the B1 is in operation, so I would listen to the B1 in one mode, turn it off, switch the Class A switch, and turn it back on. The time it took to do that process probably skewed the results.

    I later did A/B tests against other amplifiers while using the FiiO HS2 as a switch and I was able to more reliably, and accurately, hear a difference between the two modes. In summary:
    20 mA mode:
    • Slight warmth in the bass/lower-midrange area
    • Wide soundstage, little depth
    • Decent center imaging

    40 mA mode:
    • More warmth, and a slight sub-bass boost
    • Wider soundstage, more depth
    • Lack of center imaging

    It is because of the better center imaging that I prefer the 20 mA mode over the 40 mA one. The 40 mA mode reminds me of the AKG K 701's infamous soundstage and imaging abilities: much wider-than-deep soundstage and a lack of a center image. It just sounds plain weird to me. However, you may prefer that kind of sound, so your mileage may vary.

    Were I to blind test the 20 mA and 40 mA modes now that I have a better understanding of how they sound with an A/B switch, I'm pretty confident I would be able to pass it just because the weird center imaging of the 40 mA mode was so strange-sounding to me.



    Now, against other portable headphone amplifiers I have at hand, the B1 stacks up pretty well against them. All of these tests were volume-matched by ear with pink noise and 1 kHz sine wave signals generated from Audacity. I toggled between the 40 mA and 20 mA modes for these tests too, so the following impressions are more or less an average of what I heard. I still prefer the 20 mA mode though.
    DSCN9383.jpg

    Setup:
    • MacBook Pro + Audirvana Plus 1.5.12 (hog mode, integer mode, no upsampling)
    • LH Labs Linear Power Supply 4 for a clean USB power source
    • Objective DAC + RCA outputs
    • Y-splitter to go into two amplifiers
    • B1 and other amplifier to compare to
    • Outputs of amplifiers to HS2
    • Headphone of choice

    Headphone of choice included any of the following, and I did tests with all of them for each amp comparison:
    • AKG K240 Monitor (high impedance, low sensitivity, voltage-demanding)
    • AKG K701 (medium impedance, low sensitivity, current-demanding)
    • HIFIMAN HE1000 (low-impedance, low sensitivity, current-demanding)
    • OPPO PM-3 (low-impedance, high sensitivity, current-demanding)

    FiiO E12 (~$129 USD) vs B1:
    • E12 sounds grainier
    • E12 sounds much brighter and harsh
    • E12's bass sounds more woolly
    • E12's soundstage seems much more narrow in width
    • E12's instrument separation is much more blurred
    Hands down I would pick the B1 over the E12, no questions asked.

    JDS Labs Objective 2 ($130) vs B1:
    • O2 sounds smoother
    • O2 has better treble extension
    • O2 has better bass control
    • O2 doesn't have upper-upper-midrange emphasis
    • O2's soundstage is more rounded overall
    • O2 has more rounded imaging abilities
    • O2 has better instrument separation
    It's a tough call for me. I do like the B1's wider soundstage since it gives the illusion of a larger room in width, but I think the O2 would technically be a better amp sonically overall.

    JDS Labs C5 ($189) (in my case I used the C5D since it has a lower output impedance from my older C5 unit, but the amplifier is exactly the same other than the bass boost switch which I didn't toggle) vs B1:
    • C5 sounds slightly smoother
    • C5 has better treble extension
    • C5 has better bass control
    • C5 sounds brighter in the typical 2-4 kHz area versus the 4-6 kHz region of the B1
    • C5's soundstage is more limited in width
    • C5's center imaging is much better
    • C5 has better instrument separation
    Again, it's a tough call for me. I might give the B1 a slight upper-hand here because it doesn't have the bright sound of the C5, but at the same time, I do like the C5's instrument separation and center imaging more.

    OPPO HA-2 ($299) (keep in mind that this is a DAC and amp, so you get more for your money there) vs B1:
    • HA-2 has better bass control
    • HA-2 has better treble extension
    • HA-2 has better instrument separation
    This was by far the hardest test for me. On the 20 mA mode, the two sounded basically identical to me. The B1 might have had a little more warmth, but it was really hard to hear reliably. I give the upper-hand to the HA-2 in this case due to the better treble extension on the other hand.


    All in all, this was a pretty interesting testing session. It's been commonly accepted that Class A amplifiers "sound the best" amongst amplifier classes. This may be true, or may not be true. The design of the amplifier is of the most importance to me though, not the class. Obviously I think the O2 overall sounds better than the B1 in a technical sense, and the O2 is a Class D amplifier that uses operational amplifiers. The OPPO HA-2 sounded nearly identical to the B1 and it uses a Class AB architecture.



    [rule]
    Pros:
    • Great sound
    • Unique internal design of discrete components and Class A architecture
    • Class A switch might be worth experimenting with for various headphones
    • Excellent voltage output
    • Fairly competitive price

    Cons:
    • Slightly low battery life
    • Disappointing, but overall okay build quality
    • Some pretty important design flaws that could be remedied

    A thumbs up from me for sound quality by itself at its price point, but a thumbs down for practical use (as a portable device) and overall shortcomings of the design and build quality.



    Thank you again to Aune for letting me have this opportunity to listen to the B1 with my own setup for these past two weeks. It's been a fun learning experience for me and I look forward to seeing what products you release in the future!

    As always, thank you for taking the time to peruse through my review and I hope you got a thing or two out of it.


    DSCN9419.jpg
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Peter West
      Don't know where my last message came from re text editor...sorry about that...

      I'm reviewing the B1 right now and I'll post in a couple of days. We may have to agree to disagree on some points. The B1 really makes my LCD-X come alive especially when compared to my more laid back Picollo amp. Haven't got to testing out my in-ears yet. So far I'm very impressed.
      Peter West, Jun 26, 2015
    3. miceblue
      That's why we have multiple reviews for a product!
      I tried to make my review as objective as possible without directly measuring anything, and I made numerous comparisons between other amps and other headphones of varying impedances and sensitivities with those amps.
      miceblue, Jun 27, 2015
    4. hqssui
      Excellent review . Thanks a lot..
      hqssui, Aug 11, 2016

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