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Aune B1

Rating:
4.34211/5,
Tags:
  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. 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
  3. 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

     

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    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.

     

     

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    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.
  4. 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
  5. avitron142
    King in its Price Range, Phenomenal in its Features
    Written by avitron142
    Published May 26, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Class A Portable, Excellent Sound, Elegant Design, Battery, Size, Power.
    Cons - Weight, Instrument separation.
     

     

    PreIntroduction:

     

    I am in no way affiliated or work for Aune. For this review, the Aune B1 has been provided to me as a review sample by Aune, as one of the 10 review samples sent out to head-fi’ers.

     

    Keep in mind that all the pictures, while looking small on the page, were taken by a quite decent camera. I just didn't want to clutter up the page with large pictures. Feel free to click on them and open the image in a new tab to see them in full resolution throughout the review!
     

     

    Introduction:

     

    There haven’t, erhm, been too many Class A portable amplifiers on the market, so introducing this as part of a group is quite difficult. The Lear FSM-2 V2 may be one of the only other ones I’ve heard of, and even then only fleetingly, and at more than double the price point of the B1. In terms of power, though, there has been a few budget amps that pack a punch, including but not limited to the Fiio E12 we all love at its price point.

     

    So, the point? That Aune’s B1 is quite interesting before we even start, by doing something almost nobody else had the guts to do – a fully portable class A amp, for all those that don’t want to be glued to a wall outlet (anybody? Any takers? Well, me for sure). Yeah, you could go for the E12, but what if you’re past budget-fi, and want to do justice for your more power-hungry headphones, and your X5/dx90/A&K player to boot? I was recently put in that situation, where I was blessed enough to be able to get both the AKG K7XX and the Shozy Alien. So then all I needed was an amp.

     

    How hard could it be already?

     

    Hard enough. I went through 5 or so amplifiers, the E12 the only one powerful enough in my opinion to drive the K7XX to a fuller sound (none had problems with volumes, but then again, volume isn’t everything, right? Quality is the beast we’re discussing here), and couldn’t help but wonder if it was limiting the wonderful sound my other two pieces of equipment were capable of producing. So I jumped at the chance to get a B1, hoping that class A was what I was looking for, while also hoping power wasn’t the only good thing the B1 was good at.

     

    It’s good alright. Very, very good. But more of that in the review. Let’s begin!

     

    Packaging:

     

    I’m not a fan of this section in general, but while I’m at it, I am a fan of the B1’s packaging. Nice an’ simple, just the way I like it. Comes with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, as well as an usb charging cable – standard, not a feared proprietary cable like Cowon’s.

     

    DSCN4694.jpg DSCN4704.jpg DSCN4711.jpg

     
    Build Quality & Design:

     

    image10.jpg Tank certified, in my opinion. Much better built than the Schiit Magni 2 Uber I’ve owned, though that wasn't too shabby either. Made almost fully out of metal, and, although I have no idea how I know this, it feels like the metal is thick as well. No hollow-ish sound I’ve had when the components didn’t exactly fit the case they were assigned to; the B1’s case feels like it was made in Germany, ja? I would be afraid of dropping it though due to the fancy see-through glass, although through my rigorous tapping tests I’ve decided it’s pretty sturdy as well. Don’t drop this though – well, make that don’t drop any of your audio equipment, unless it’s created by Apple.

     

    Speaking of the see-through screen, it gives this amp a look of authority. Man, I’m usually scared of anything see-through – it reminds me of the components inside and how they could break. But with the B1, I don’t have this problem. It’s really weird, I was expecting to treat this like a vase, but instead I’m treating it like a Swedish Volvo, carrying its own weight and build quality plenty. I’ve never seen a sturdier built amp around, even with the partial see-through screen, and that’s saying something. The symmetrical led lights the amp gives when powered on is classy to the max. My initial impression when I took this out of the box was that I could probably convince my roommates it had a built-in wine flask.

     

    The leather backing on the other side only confirmed my wine-flask theory. Soft and comfortable, this is another point for the B1’s classiness.

     

    The volume knob is the only thing that people may take up for debate. It is made out of hard plastic, not metal. Now before people start arguing that the E12 has a metal knob and thus better, I just want everyone to know that the plastic Aune used here is just fine in this case. The knob moves smoothly, and it doesn’t appear to shake or wobble no matter how hard I try. So will it stay working for 3+ years? I couldn’t tell you, but it seems well-built enough to stand the test of time, in my opinion. Although a diamond knob would have completed the classy setup, there’s only so much you can expect for $200, you know?

     

    My, they really had a wonderful designer when they made the B1; it looks like it just came out of fine dining, with no way to argue otherwise if I had even wanted to. It simply just looks really, really good all around. Sturdy and elegant, more well-designed than any other piece of equipment I ever handled. Well done, Aune, seriously. I just wish the volume knob could have been outta diamond/platinum, ‘cause that’s really the only thing that anyone could ever nitpick about.

     

    Basically, Aune did well in this department. Not only is it built like a tank, they managed to add the see-through-glass/led-lights/leatherback for a classy, well designed look.

     

    DSCN4721.jpg DSCN4723.jpg image3.jpg

     
    Buttons/Switches:

     

    I’ve already discussed the knob, so moving on one side there’s the power switch, current switch, and gain switch. On the other side there’s the power indicator 

    image5.jpg
    button. All of the first 3 seems well done, and doesn’t look like they would be switched on/off accidentally, which is what I was hoping for, especially given the fact that so many got it wrong in that regard. At the same time, though, they’re also not hard to use if you try, albeit a bit on the safer/heftier side in that regard. I’ve been furious for a while that the E12’s side buttons (gain, crossfeed, etc.) are meant to be used with a toothpick, and even when 3 inches from my nose is incredibly hard to use. Fun fact: I actually thought when I got the E12 that the buttons fell off and I was seeing the mechanics behind it. Like, yeah. So all I’m saying is I’m happy the B1’s buttons are very useable.

     

    The power indicator button works fine, and I’m glad Aune incorporated it, as it’s a brilliant way to check and see how much battery is left.

     

    As for the switches themselves, the power switch is self-explanatory, so I’ll continue with the other two. The gain switch provides a 10db or so volume boost, which works well for the K7XX, but isn’t a shocking jump, when using full-sized headphones. With IEM’s, such as the SA7, it’s a bit of a jump if you hit it by accident, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The current switch goes between 20MA and 40MA, although even with power-hungry headphones like the K7XX I could barely hear a difference; I think the 40MA current provides slightly more authority to the sound, although the difference is so small I’d be more than happy if I had to live with only the 20MA. The reason why I’m saying this is because the battery gets halved (more on that later) when under the higher current, and many of you are probably wondering if it does well on the “low” current as well, for more portable uses. But fear not; both sound amazing, and the 20MA doesn’t sound thin in the slightest. If I understood correctly though, both of them are class A currents, so there’s no real “low current” here, only high and higher.

     

    It is important to note that Aune strictly advises against switching the current when powered on, so many might nitpick with that. But to me, if it’s not prone to accidents, and you have the foresight to keep Aune’s warning in mind, there’s nothing to talk about.

     

    Battery:

     

    Let’s take a step back and consider what current this lion is giving us. Fully class A. Now taking that, let’s consider its battery life; 10 hours for the 20MA current and 5 for the 40MA. At first glance, this would make people recoil. But after you consider the wattage we’re getting here, it suddenly turns into a gem. 13 hours on the Oppo HA-2? No problem, we’ll get you a Schiit Asgard current in a portable package straight away.

     

    Seriously, though, if you know what we’re dealing with here, 10 hours should raise eyebrows. And especially since you probably won’t even need to use the high-current when you go outside (unless you’re using 300 ohm IEM’s,) you'll only have to worry about the ten hour battery, not the 5 hour one. I’m usually not a fan of current switches, as they’re usually an indicator that the low current is not enough, but with this I’m keeping it in low current and taking the 10 hours with me. Low current still powers my headphones like a boss. For a Class A, truly a remarkable feat.

     

    *Now, I wish Aune told us whether the 10 hours is in low gain or in high gain, but I should be able to find out soon enough. Get back to you guys later on that.

     

    Heat:

     

    Since this is a Class A, can you fry eggs on it, as with many other infamous Class A amps? (I’m talking to you, Schiit Asgard 2!)

    No, and a big relief at that. I’m happy to say that when using it all of today, the Aune B1 only gets slightly warm, never hot to the touch. A potential issue that many were worried about, Aune seems to have found a good lid for heat control on this one.

     

    Size, Weight & Portability:

     

    Size is small enough and at a good size, being exactly the same size (L x W) as the E12, while being just a tad thicker. Weight, though, is quite hefty. Obviously it’s liftable, but it may not be what you have in mind for your ultra-light setup. This is probably due to the components inside, so it’s all for good cause. Just thought I’d make a mention that this is not a featherweight amp by any means, and as a class A amp I wasn’t expecting it too. It should be great in backpacks and in inner coat pockets, but not in jacket/pants pockets, and definitely not while jogging. However, if you could get past the weight, portability is fine. Pictures:

     

    image7.jpg image8.jpg DSCN4736.jpg DSCN4739.jpg

    Note: On the left is the Fiio E12, on the right is the Aune B1.
     

    Amplification & Volume:

     

    Volume is quite plenty, especially if you keep it in high gain. As far as amplification goes, my main IEM gains massively from high gain, while with the K7XX it’s not that much of a difference. If I had to point it out, high gain gives more of an edge to things, which in turn makes it feel more refined. With my KRK KNS-8400 and the Bang & Olufsen H6, though, low gain is also quite fine, although high gain still has a *slight* edge. So it seems that the SA7 at 50 ohms is the only one who doesn’t like low gain. It does beautifully on high gain, though, so there’s nothing to worry about here. As I have said, volume is not a concern with the B1, and the B1 works fantastically with everything I’ve thrown at it.

     

    As I'll mention later on, the B1 is way ahead of the Fiio E12, especially when it comes to detail retrieval, clarity, and overall balance, all of which I will discuss in the sound section. As for the Schiit Magni 2 Uber (from memory; I haven't had the Magni in a good month or two), the Magni 2 has absolutely no viable edge to my ears when it comes to power because let's remember yet again that the B1 is a Class A amp. So besides for the fact that the B1 is powerful and portable, the B1 sounds yet better to my ears; Detail and musicality probably being its winning factors, but really the B1 -portable or not- is a step ahead of budget-tier amplifiers to me. The overall sound of the B1 is more than I could ever ask out of the Magni 2 Uber, possibly excluding the soundstage, which may or may not have been better on the Magni 2 (I can't really remember all that well now). In all other respects, though, I'd pick the B1 any day.

     

    When comparing the B1 to the Heir Audio Rendition 1 amp ($330) - by memory, it seems that the Heir wins by a small margin when paired with IEM's, as that's the only thing it's geared to do. However, the B1 is not lagging far behind, and definitely takes the cake when it comes to over-the-head headphones, whether they be closed back like the KRK's or open-back like the K7XX. It's not really a fair comparison to begin with, as there's no reason to buy a Class A amp just for IEM's. The B1 has a lot more going for it than the Rendition 1, unless your entire collection is built entirely of IEM's, like @ClieOS .

     

    Hiss:

     

    The B1 has a very black background, and there's not much hiss at all unless I strain my ears to hear it on the highest volumes with my IEM, and even then I’m not sure if I’m imagining things. So no worries for your IEM’s here.

     

    Sound:

     

    Here’s the good part of the review, it’s as good sounding as it is classy. Much of the E12, and it should be, at its price point. Much more controlled in the lower end, detailed in the highs, and overall balanced. Here’s the breakdown:

     

    Lows/Bass: Exactly where I want them, quantity and quality, like an iron arm. Doesn’t overpower my K7XX’s like some other amps do, and keeps everything quite even. I wouldn’t call this lacking in bass though, as when the song requires it to pack a punch, it does very well. Details on the low end are done very nicely, no uncontrolled bass lows on the K7XX’s anymore, which is more than I could ask for. The bass is very fast, which is the first time I’ve ever been able to pick that up on a piece of equipment, so I may be off or hearing something else there. I’d like to emphasize here that although I’m usually not quite impressed with the lows, the bass here really give definition and balance to the music.

     

    Mids/Vocals: Vocals have no complaints from my end, especially when so many have failed me there. Guitars and other instruments are at its prime here, though. I’m savoring everything from the good ol’ Sultans of Swing up to my OCRemix albums that came out last year. Chrono Cross’s OST, when I played that game at 5 years old, doesn’t fail me here either, which makes me smile. Overall, mids are a beast, and instrumentals are glory with this one.

     

    Highs/Drums: I was expecting some kind of roll-off here, as what can be perfect? But, contrary to my expectations, highs are as crisp and detailed as they come, without being bright to my opinion. Not emphasized, but with a strong presence, as they should be. I should remind everyone again that the B1 is very balanced, so it should go without saying that the highs don’t overpower anything, or even feel bright. I just came from a treble roll-off amp and my ears don’t feel fatigued at all, even after 3 hours, if that helps. The highs sure are precise, though.

     

    Coloration: None. Sound is very natural, and is as good as your source DAC/DAP, so however that’s supposed to sound you’ll get it.

     

    Tonality: A warmer sound, though at no time muddy; the B1 stays extremely detailed for its price even with its warmth. It creates a very inviting and comfortable sound that you just want to sink into, though sacrificing a big soundstage.

     

    Soundstage: Well-defined, although I do have to say it’s a tad on the smaller side, due to the B1’s warmth; but within the presentation it gives, it remains very 3D-like. I’m left satisfied, and frankly I’m fine with the way it is. Coupled with a big soundstage from the K7XX, it stays comfortably large, albeit not huge. With the KRK KNS-8400, it has no indication of being small though. So whether you want to use this with open-back headphones or closed-back ones, they’ll both sound wide enough for leg room.

     

    Imaging: Well done; whatever the soundstage may lack, the imaging more than makes up for it. The components of the song are all around you, not only front and center, and I can tell where everything’s placed.

     

    Separation: The separation would be the only non-strong point of the B1, if I had to pick one. The B1 is more of a musical amp than an analytical one. As such, components tend to blend together musically than staying completely separate where you can pick them out. However, due to the nature of the B1, this helps the amp stay musical and the music flow. This isn’t an analytical amp though, as I’ll mention soon.

     

    Frequency shape: Flat, but doesn’t have a flat-ish sound. Every part of the spectrum is lively. Does that make sense?

     

    Detail: Very detailed in highs, mids, and lows, I’m proud to say. I’m quite pleased with the amount of detail it presents overall. Detail is definitely one of the B1’s strongest points.

     

    Accuracy: It’s hard not to love the accuracy the B1 provides, especially given its detail. Sound is fast and on point to my ears, and being both very accurate and detailed just makes the B1 a deadly competitor and a king in this department.

     

    Balance: Also great; I wouldn’t have imagined that the sound sig could be the way it is without having something boosted in some way. But I have to say, the balance of this amp is near perfection, especially compared to the amps I’ve tried before. Definitely makes my K7XX and KNS-8400 sing.

     

    Coherency & Flow: A very musical amp, this is the type that makes you want to sit back on your couch and sink in. It doesn’t sound unnatural though, and doesn’t blend in together too much. It flows just right to me.

     

    Reveal Factor: The B1 is quite revealing, something that’s going to be coupled with any very detailed amp, I’m afraid. To illustrate, I was a bit shaken when I was hearing recording mistakes in my songs I had no idea existed, even with any of my other amps. However, feed it quality stuff, and it’s very rewarding.

     

    Immersion Factor: I have to mention that this isn’t a very analytical amp in the sense that it sucks you in, so don’t expect to be paying attention to every little detail, because in the end, you’re going to space out and have to rewind. That’s why reviewing this is so darn hard; I have to listen to each song 3 times until I can finally pay attention to how good it is. That’s the immersion factor to you.

     

    Sound Summary: It sings. That’s the best 2 words I can use to describe it. You won’t be analyzing your music anytime soon, as the B1 will invite you in and shut the door behind you, until you realize you’re not doing much analyzing and rewind back 3 songs later. Very musical, detailed, and 3d-like presentation, all the while keeping a steady coherency and flow that won’t leave you disappointed. The most important part of this review -the sound- the Aune B1 excels at, especially given that it’s a portable amp.

     

    Value & Conclusion:

     

    The B1 is a serious threat to other amps, even just given it’s features, which, let me remind you once more, is fully Class A in a portable package. Yet Aune didn’t stop there; the B1 excels at sound given its price range and looks wonderfully classy to boot. Quality heating control, and battery life is very decent given its specs. Size is in a great form factor, although the B1 is on the heavy side. Almost all definite positives, while having very little that there’s not to like.

     

    I would recommend this completely to those who don’t want to be glued to wall outlets while powering heavy voltage-needy headphones at home, and also want an extremely potent portable amp for their daily travel with portable/closed-back headphones. For those looking for a sole IEM amp, I’m not sure why you would look at a Class A amp to begin with, but hey, it does well with those too.

     

    All in all, the Aune B1 really packs a punch given everything it has going for it. If I had $200 to spend on a portable amp that could double for desktop headphones, I’d most certainly buy the B1 in a heartbeat. I couldn’t find anything wrong with it if I tried.

     

    -Avishai

     

    P.S. – the B1 sample I just reviewed is going on tour in a week or two; the application thread is open here http://www.head-fi.org/t/768275/aune-b1-usa-tour-application-thread for those that live in the U.S.A and want to give the B1 a try. Good luck!

     

    Video review:

     

    [​IMG]

     

    A few other Pictures (that didn't make it to the review):

     

    DSCN4696.jpg DSCN4701.jpg DSCN4708.jpg DSCN4721.jpg image1.jpg image2.jpg

    1. View previous replies...
    2. avitron142
      @miceblue Haha, I wasn't aware of that :D . Detailed measurements are not my thing, so I'm going to have to go with you on that. It'll be interesting to see how the B1 stacks up with 300/600 ohm headphones though, I'm sure some people in the upcoming tour has some HD600's or DT990's.
      avitron142, May 30, 2015
    3. miceblue
      Oh it should be juuuuust fine with those headphones. I just got my AKG K240 Monitor measured by Innerfidelity (a whopping 688 ohm impedance and requires 0.447 Vrms to reach 90 dB SPL), and the B1 can get it to 111 dB SPL. I'm using it with the B1 right now and it does a better job than with the OPPO HA-2 since the HA-2 is much more limited in voltage output. That's thumbs up for the B1 when using high-impedance headphones!
      miceblue, May 31, 2015
    4. Hi-Fi'er
      I agree with this review. The B1 is a hard act to follow. It rivals my Cypherlabs that costs way way more. I would say it's 90% there what a portable amp should be.
      Hi-Fi'er, May 6, 2016
  6. 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
  7. Buhagim
    Who says retro style impacts sound quality? Think again, Aune have bags of both with this stunning little performer
    Written by Buhagim
    Published Jun 8, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Transparent - deathly silent, built for being thrown around. Class A amp with a 10 hr. battery. Enhances smartphone audio experience
    Cons - Limited accessories. USB can't charge smartphone - only charges the B1. Volume knob needs a mark to show degree of rotation. No case or rubber bands.
    Introduction:
    I'll admit upfront that if you're expecting to read an in depth, technical review - you'll likely be disappointed. Other reviewers on this site have covered this little gadget in much more depth – in fact I'd argue they were writing a thesis on it. For those that like that sort of thing – all’s well and good - you may stop reading here.
     
    For those of you still with me I'd like to take a different perspective. A short and to the point overview with a focus on what the Aune B1 was designed for - quality portable sound. 
     
    What's in the box?
     
    The professional black packaging foretells I was in for a treat and I wasn't disappointed. Lifting the lid reveals a minimalist but adequate set of:
     
    1. A business card from Aune (complete with a lovely protective tissue paper)
    2. Mini stereo 3.5 to 3.5mm connector cable (not sure of quality - looked adequate)
    3. User manual/ leaflet 
    4. USB to micro USB charging cable
    5. The B1 amp (black “pleather” on brushed black aluminium in my case - red on silver also available)

    D71_2585-001.jpg D71_2587package.jpg
     
    First Impressions – look and feel
    First impressions of the B1 remind me of looking at a sturdy hip flask. It has that sort of grab and hold it in your hands shape. Very retro – very chic. Instead of a screw off lid we have a plastic (albeit dense and high quality) volume knob. The comparison goes a stage further too – with recessed “hips” all the way around adding to the flask shape and providing a utilitarian function too. It protects the slide switches from accidental changes perfectly 
     
    This thing is built to withstand a truck driving over it! It is absolutely solid – the sort of solidity and heft you’d you imagine a gold bar might have. No give, no twist – it just exists and the mass helps to dissipate heat? 
     
    The first side has two textured "pleather" insets which give the B1 an air of quality and again plays to the retro styling beautifully. Then comes the wonderful surprise. You turn it over and there in all their glory are two small windows giving you a glimpse of this “badboy’s” internals. Immaculately soldered and perfectly symmetrical surface mounted components mirror (I’m guessing here) left and right channels and their associated power /control circuits. 
    D71_2607-002hipflaskshape.jpg
    I’ve taken a magnified picture (below) to show the quality of the workmanship. Truly a delight to behold and again an indicator of things to come.
     
    I flicked the power switch, hoping there was some juice in the 4,000mAh battery and was rewarded with two satisfying relay clicks. The B1 was alive and two green LEDs were now illuminating the windows. Very hypnotic – and I haven’t even listened to it yet. I love the see through panels.
    In the hand the B1 is weighty – but not heavy. At 200g its not something you slip into a pyjama pocket and forget about in a hurry! However, it’s carriable in a ruck suck/bag or large overcoat pocket alongside your chosen portable source.
     
    Pros: Solid, Robust, lovely retro styling, windows and pleather
    Cons: No bands to hold your gadgets together, connector could have right angled ends to reduce cable distance to piggy backed gadgets
     
    [​IMG]
    Gadget orientation and beauty shots:
    This gallery captures the key faces of the B1. Features of note are:
    1. Glass window panels
    2. Pleather insets
    3. Gain ( - is 5dB, + is 15dB) , Amp current (- is 20mA, + is 40mA) and power switch slider switches on one side
    4. Volume, 3.5mm stereo in (from source) and 3.5mm analogue stereo out (to headphone/IEM) on top side
    5. Micro USB charging port on bottom (only charges the B1 can't use it to power/recharge a USB gadget)
    6. Single "dot" LED and button to indicate battery charge level (number flashes indicates state of charge- 5 is max)
     
    D71_2691-001hipflask1.jpg D71_2687-001hipflask2.jpg
    Recessed slide switches for gain, amp power and device power on/off - picture shows windows on one face and the soft pleather inserts on the other.
    D71_2613-002circuitwindow.jpg
    Close up of the circuitry through one window. (Click for larger file)
    D71_2684usb.jpg D71_2650volumeknob.jpg
    Micro USB charging port on base of B1. This does not charge other devices - it's only  for getting the B1 powered up.Top surface has volume knob and 2 x 3.5mm stereo sockets - note: no indicator/mark on the knob to show its position - makes it difficult to know what volume setting you have reached. A simple "dot" on the top or a white line on the gnerled edge would be more than sufficient and an easy fix.
     
    D71_2653-002batteryindicator.jpg D71_2654-001gaincontrols.jpg
    Close up of the slide switches and battery indicator.
     
     
     
    So how did it perform ? What did I think of it?
     
    Bullet point notes on usage:
     
    1. B1 took about 2 hours to charge using high current charger
    2. The battery usage figures seem broadly accurate at 10 hours use for low gain and 5 hrs at high
    3. Recessed sockets didn't prevent use of headphone plus I tried though you might find a l low profile set that could foul.
    4. Yes it got warm - but not hot. The metal case helps to lose heat and I noticed when it was close to my computer's fans it cooled really quickly as they sucked air across its surface.
    5. Could do with bands to hold the B1 to the Smartphone
    6. The lack of a "mark" on the volume control meant playing safe and moving the volume low each time i tested - a bit of a faff - was tempted to mark it with a little correcting fluid!
     
    Bullet point notes on sound:
    1. Outstanding reproduction for such a small device
    1. Volume control is smooth . I tested it with full volume and max source output and no background noise or hissing.  This thing is deathly silent, even when it's ramped up. More importantly it's transparent. I mean sonically it's giving a flat response neither favoring high or low frequencies.  What does this mean ? Well, having tried it with the MDAC,  the samsung S3, the desktop computer and the samsung tablet,  what you hear it's what you put in. It's very clean.
    2. The overall impression I got was that the sound from the B1 had "atmosphere" and "presence" it didn't distort, it simply made it more enjoyable.
    3. I tended to prefer the settings at full gain and full power as they seemed more solid.
    4. The B1 does have an effect on the sound, you get atmosphere. The music becomes fuller,  the bass more controlled.  Where it makes a difference, and that seems to depend on the source,  the music comes alive.  
     
    Sound Stuff
    All source tracks are streamed from TIDAL - high res audio to avoid issues of poor source quality. These were played sequentially via:
    1. TIDAL> My PC (on board sound card using Realtek ALC898 codec) > NAD Viso HP50 - A/B with the B1)
    2. TIDAL > Samsung S3 >NAD Viso HP50 - A/B with the B1
    3. TIDAL > Sonos> Audiolab MDAC > NAD Viso HP50 - A/B with the B1
     
    Track: Once upon a time in the west - Dire Straits remastered - Communique
    I thought I'd found a weakness in the B1 when I could hear hissing on the track.  I double checked,  without the B1 in circuit, only to find it was on the original sound track. So much for transparency! For the record the drum rolls on this track are simply superb and tighter with the B1 in use. The snares, cymbals and vocals are separated. A foot tapping good listen. Again with the B1 in place,  the samsung S3 sounded more controlled and fuller.
     
    Track: Bullet Proof Soul - Sade
    This is a real test of very low infra-sound. You feel it rather than hear it.  Again the B1 held it together,  it reproduced the bass without muddying it. It was nicer to listen to the B1 for extended periods.  Great atmosphere and a real presence to the sound.
     
    Track: Idle Moments - (Rudyard van Gelder 24 bit remastering)- Grant Green
    Just for the sheer pleasure of listening. .I gave up A/B swapping, left the B1 on max gain and max power...and sat back to enjoy a beautifully rounded sound from sax, piano and drums on a solid sound-stage. 15 minutes of chilling!
     
    Track: Young and Foolish - Bill Evans - Everybody Digs Bill Evans
    Surprised how good the sound from the S3 actually was - but then when I added the B1 it tightened up - again the B1 was transparent, felt "fuller" and "more robust" - it was more controlled and offered better separation- I can describe it like "being in the same room as the artist" - a real room atmosphere. Definitely enjoyable.
     
    Track: Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor - "Resurrection"  - Weiner Philharmoniker
    I wanted to see how far I could push the B1 so I played a really mean trick.  Mahler is notoriously difficult to listen to. Tens  of instruments,  percussionists, volumes ranging from quiet to loudest of the loud.  An audio system assault course! And the 1st movement of symphony no. 2 - Resurrection is no exception. I wasn't expecting a lot. What I got was a surprise.  Again the B1 was transparent. The complex arrangements of cymbals,  drums,  trumpets, horns and violins were all in control and faithfully reproduced.  No,  I didn't get a huge sound-stage but then the real thing fills an entire auditorium!
     
    Note: Across all these tracks the MDAC through the B1 didn't add much - perhaps a little more solid but really got too subtle for me to distinguish and by this time i was wanting to enjoy the music. They are both Class A amps and equally good to my ears. So I'd argue the B1 was transparent in this scenario.
     
     
    Conclusions:
    If you're looking to add some extra atmosphere to your music on the go and want to drive a decent pair of headphones the Aune B1 is worth putting onto your shortlist. It's looks alone are worth it, the Class A amp in such a robust package clinches it for me. I've enjoyed using Aune B1 over the past week. It's solid, looks a quality device and really adds something  to the sound experience. I'd recommend giving it a listen and seeing for yourself how transparent and atmospheric it is.
     
     
    The listening set up:
     
    D71_2683-001MDACandSonos.jpg D71_2667-001.jpg
    Sonos played through MDAC and TIDAL played through Samsung S3 , B1 and NAD Viso HP50's.
     
    D71_2657NADandAUNE.jpg
    1. Note: I tried my Shure 215 IEMs as another listening option and found they were easily over powered by the outputs from the B1 - not that it didn't add anything - however the quality compared with the VISO HP50s really wouldn't make it a value for money purchase. This balance would change instantly if the IEMs were in the next league / quality up - however I couldn't test those on this occasion.
     
     
    B1 Specifications (as published by Aune):
     
    1. Impedance: 16Ω - 300Ω
    2. Size: 65 mm × 110 mm × 18 mm
    3. Weight: 230 g
    4. Typical THD+n: <0.0008% @ 1 KHz, 600Ω / -0dB
    5. Signal/noise ratio: >124 dB @ 600Ω
    6. Flatness (Frequency range): 10 Hz – 20 KHz ± 0.15 dB
    7. Crosstalk (Channel separation): > 110 dB @ 1KHz  600Ω
    8. Class A Output power: 25 mW @ 16Ω, 50 mW @ 32Ω, 100 mW @ 300Ω
    9. Battery: 4000 mA/h
    10. Battery Life (vs drain current): 10 hours @ 20 mA, 5 hours @ 40 mA
     
     
    Disclaimer:
    Yes, I won a freebie B1 from Aune for a trial period. No, it hasn't influenced my comments - I am being as transparent and objective as if I'd borrowed it from a pal. For the record, the freebie sample was for a trial "loan" period after which it has to be returned. Hope that covers off all the naysayers [​IMG] 
      aluweer and nick n like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. money4me247
      enjoyed reading your review. great selection of test tracks with Mahler! :) love that song!
      money4me247, Jun 13, 2015
    3. avitron142
      Nice review! Well done!
      avitron142, Jun 13, 2015
    4. Buhagim
      Thanks guys. Appreciate your feedback
      Buhagim, Jun 14, 2015
  8. hakushondaimao
    Class A Portable Amp With Class
    Written by hakushondaimao
    Published Jun 7, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Stunning looks, high quality build and materials, power to burn, natural sound with strong mids.
    Cons - Gets quite warm on high gain, slightly bass-light and rolled-off treble, limited fine volume adjustment with IEMs.
    0Main.jpg
     
    Disclaimer
     
    I received a sample unit of the B1 portable amplifier from Aune Audio as part of a worldwide review tour. I was able to keep the unit for 10 days, during which I used it extensively. I did not have to pay for the unit; only for postage at the end of its tenure with me. The only expectation of tour participants was an unbiased review once we had given the B1 enough time for a fair evaluation. I am not affiliated with Aune in any way.
     
    About Me
     
    To begin, here's a little context. I’m 50 years old, and am pretty sure I have deficiencies in my hearing. In a recent, entirely non-scientific test I discovered I can’t really hear anything over about 15 kHz, with roll-of starting around 12 or 13 kHz, which is actually pretty good for someone of my vintage. I also like to crank things more than the average bear to get the volumes I desire.
     
    I’ve been a music lover for decades, but am still relatively new to the MidFi/HiFi/Head-Fi game; I haven’t listened to a lot of high-end equipment, and am not an expert on the technical aspects of electronics or musical terminology. I have read a lot of reviews and threads on Head-Fi, and spend a lot of time on the site; as such I know what has been helpful to me in reviews and endeavor to provide what I consider useful insight to help others make decisions about items they might want to try or buy, or avoid.
     
    I listen to a variety of music genres, in particular, Classical (mostly mid 1700s to mid/late 1800s), Jazz (late ‘50s to early 70’s), Rock and some Prog-Rock (‘70s), ‘80s New Wave/Electro, and Trip Hop/Acid Jazz (90’s into 00’s). My preferred sound signature would be characterized by a good sub-bass presence, tight mid bass, and relatively linear, detailed mids and highs. I like my music quite lush and rich, but with a good level of detail. I’m not a bass-head, am not a big fan of anything too boomy, and don’t like highs that are too intense or harsh.
     
    Unboxing and First Impressions
     
    As usually happens when I receive a new piece of equipment, I was excited to get the Aune B1. The unit arrived by courier from Hong Kong, so first order of business was to get the protective packaging off. Thankfully, not a big job, and in a couple of minutes I had box and protective material removed.
     
    1Box.jpg
     
    The B1 comes packaged in a solidly constructed, textured black cardboard box. Even before lifting the lid, one has the impression of quality and pride in this product.
     
    2BoxOpen.jpg
     
    3Stuff.jpg
     
    Opening the box reveals two compartments within an intricately cut and folded corrugated cardboard inlay. In the large compartment one finds the B1 amplifier, within a thin, semi-opaque plastic sheath, and in the other, smaller compartment are the Micro USB charging cable and 20cm-long 3.5mm-to-3.5mm interconnect. Under the B1 there is a basic, folded instruction sheet, with Chinese information on one side and English on the other.
     
    4.E12AB1C5JPG.jpg
     
    The B1 unit has a good heft to it. It has similar length and width dimensions to the Cayin C5 and Fiio E12A, but is a bit thicker (E12A = 14mm, C5= 15mm, B1 = 17mm). It is available in Black with black trim, or silver with red trim. I received a black B1.
     
    5FrontRight.jpg
     
    The front of the B1 is gorgeous! Two glass windows reveal a circuit board with various chips and resistors. The effect is both hi-tech and artistic, and gives a highly unique feel. The only thing on the right side of the unit is the battery level indicator; press the button and a small light blinks: 5 times for full battery, 4 for 80%, 3 for 60%, 2 for 20% and 1 for 10%).
     
    6light.jpg
     
    When the power is turned on, a small green light turns on in each window, giving off a tube-like glow. When ambient light is low, the glow from the B1 is quite mesmerizing and moody.
     
    7Back.jpg
     
    The back of the B1 is flat with nothing but the brand name and model number, and two strips of what looks like textured leather. The leather is slightly raised, providing a soft surface for resting the unit, or for mounting a DAP when stacking (the leather helps avoid scratching). The leather doesn’t grip too well though, so a stacked DAP will tend to slip and slide unless using double bands to hold units together.
     
    8Top.jpg
     
    At the top of the unit you find the volume pot, and headphone-out and line-in jacks. The volume pot is metal, with ridges for grip, sits flush (not much to catch on things in a pocket) and feels tight and solid. Turning is not difficult, but it does offer good resistance to inadvertent adjustment while on the go.
     
    9Left.jpg
     
    On the left side you find the power control, Class A current adjuster (20MA or 40MA), and gain switch (low gain is +5dB, high gain is +15dB).
     
    10Bottom.jpg
     
    On the bottom is the Micro USB charging plug-in.
     
    11Front.jpg
     
    12Back.jpg
     
    The silver version of the B1 is quite attractive. The red leather back is quite striking in contrast to the silver aluminium chassis. Both colours of B1 are attractive and have a quality feel about them.
     
    Listening
     
    In my review I did some general listening using the Fiio X3ii as source, using a variety of over-ear headphones (Sennheiser HD650, Audio Technica ATH-R70x, and AKG K7XX). I also performed several comparisons to other portable headphone amps (Fiio X3 2nd generation’s internal amp, Cayin C5 and Fiio E12A), using a variety of IEMs (Noble 6, T-Peos Altone 200, and Havi B3 Pro 1). Some of the equipment I used in my reviews was my own, and some was provided by 3rd parties for review purposes.
     
    General Listening
     
    Listening 1: Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
    ALAC > Fiio X3ii > Aune B1 > Sennheiser HD650 (Low Gain, Volume 6/10)
     
    1. The B1 is rated at 16-300 ohms, and the HD650 is a 300-ohm headphone. As such, one would naturally expect this combination to be at the limit of the B1’s capabilities. At 6/10 and on low gain, volume was right where I like it (I like my Vs) and detail excellent.
    2. In “Come Away With Me,” there is a lovely sound of brushed snare throughout that I find beautifully soothing; this was clear and textured. There is also a lovely, low-key guitar solo half-way through the song; this was atmospheric and high notes sparkled. Norah’s voice was full, with her characteristic airy, textured tone. The B1 dealt with both song and headphone very well. Very enjoyable.
     
    Listening 2: Sade – Bullet Proof Soul (from Love Deluxe)
    ALAC > Fiio X3ii > Aune B1 > Audio Technica ATH-R70x (High Gain, Volume 6/10)
     
    1. The R70x is rated at 470 ohms. Of all the headphones I own, this was always going to be the ultimate test for the B1. Perhaps it was unfair to even attempt this one based on power ratings, but some manufacturers under-rate their amps so I figured I’d give it a try (as an example, the Fiio E12A is designed for IEMs and rated at 16-300 Ohms – same as the B1 – but it drives the R70x exceedingly well).
    2. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know that this is my favourite song for sub-bass, and I just love the combination of Sade’s vocal with those of her back-up singers (depending on equipment, these backing vocals sometimes don’t come through very well). The B1 dealt with all challenges very well. Volume reached more than satisfactory levels at 9/10 on low gain, and 6/10 on high (high gain sounded better; on low gain I felt there was just a touch of distortion). R70x test passed!
    3. My initial listen to this track was done on the low current setting. Curious about the Class A current adjustment (have never played with any Class A equipment before), I did a little reading and learned that with high powered phones or speakers, higher current beefs up bass and extends treble. Decided to give Sade a listen again on the high setting, and found this to be the case with the B1; the effect was subtle, but highs and lows had just a bit more authority.
     
    Listening 3: Duke Ellington & Johnny Hodges – Beale Street Blues (from Back To Back)
    ALAC > Fiio X3ii > Aune B1 > AKG K7XX (High Gain, Volume 5/10)
     
    K7XXX3ii.jpg
     
    1. Even though only rated at 62 ohms, the K7XX is known to have low sensitivity and is notorious for being hard to drive and requiring amplification. This track is a lolloping blues number, with sultry sax, piercing trumpet, lively backing piano, and some fun, low-key guitar and drum riffs. The K7XX is beautifully driven by the B1. All instruments are presented clearly, with great texture, balance and detail. Stereo imaging and soundstage are excellent, with good space and instrumental placement. A very pleasant listen!
    2. After running the B1 on high gain for around an hour through the 3 general listening stages of this analysis, I noticed the B1 getting rather warm. I wouldn’t say it was uncomfortably hot or anything, but it was warm enough that you might notice it in a pocket. Not a bad thing in winter, but perhaps not the greatest in summer.
     
    Comparisons
     
    Comparison 1: Beethoven – Cello Sonata No. 3 (played by Timora Rosler and Klara Würtz)
    320 kbps AAC > X3ii > Aune B1 > Noble 6 (Low Gain, Volume 2.5-3/10)
    320 kbps AAC > X3ii > Noble 6 (Low Gain, Volume 65/120)
     
    1. This is another favourite track for testing, with the interplay of rich tonality and range of the cello with energy and sparkle of the piano. The Noble 6 is a linear, neutral IEM, and I’ve found it doesn’t pair particularly well with overly analytical sources.
    2. With the X3ii+B1 combination, this piece sounded marvellous. Sound was rich, with great body, richness and texture from the cello, and a lively, realistic tone from both left and right hands of the piano. Range on the volume pot was limited at a low volume setting of around 2.5-3/10, with little room for fine-tuning of volume.
    3. With the X3ii un-amped, I had more range to play with and much finer control over volume settings. That said, sound quality at equivalent volume was less satisfying than with the B1 combination. On it’s own, the X3ii produced a less lively, less nuanced, more veiled performance. Cello was smoothed, and the piano was a bit one-dimensional. There were also touches of harshness in the treble that I could see being fatiguing in a more extended listening session.
     
    Comparison 2: Steely Dan – Gaucho (from Gaucho)
    ALAC > X3ii > Aune B1 > T-Peos Altone 200 (Low Gain, Volume 2.5/10)
    ALAC > X3ii > Fiio E12A > T-Peos Altone 200 (Low Gain, Bass Boost off, Volume 4.5/10)
     
    Altone200X3ii.jpg
     
    1. Another favourite test track for atmospherics and micro detail, both vocal and instrumental. The Altone 200 is often described as bright (I don’t find it overly so), and delivers good, strong bass.
    2. These two amps had quite different characters. E12A had great bass quality (sub and mid), along with excellent detail and texture in mids and highs. Texture and detail of snare drum, bass, guitar, and sax were excellent. Sound stage was open and had depth.
    3. B1 was more mid-forward, with more subdued bass and highs. Bass isn’t as much rolled off as recessed, while there was some roll-off in trebles. Texture of main and backing vocals, and body of sax (though a bit smoothed), were more satisfying with the B1. That said, stage seemed a bit more constricted.
    4. While I enjoyed the music from both amps here, I found the E12A more extended in high and low frequencies, and B1 more mid forward. I liked the range in the volume pot for an with the E12A; this was again a bit limited with the B1, which I feel may be better suited to more demanding IEMs and cans.
     
    Comparison 3: Pearl Jam – Jeremy (from Ten)
    ALAC > X3ii > Aune B1 > Havi B3 Pro 1 (Low Gain, Volume 5/10)
    ALAC > X3ii > Cayin C5 > Havi B3 Pro 1 (Low Gain, Bass Boost off, Volume 4/10)
     
    HaviCayin.jpg
     
    1. This is a great track for comparisons, especially of male vocals and energy. The dual-dynamic Havi has an almost cult following. It is known to have a wide open sound stage relative to other budget IEMs, with good texture and extension, especially in treble (some find the bass a bit on the dry side).
    2. The Cayin C5 sounded fantastic, with lovely tonality of bass, “school bell” and drums in the opening of the song. Eddy Vedder’s vocal texture was clear and throaty, dry and rasping. Electric guitars were full of energy, clear, with no muddiness. High-end was a touch harsh and fatiguing. Space and good instrumental definition in performance, staging was open and wide.
    3. With the B1 bass was less prevalent, again with a more mid-forward presence. Gong sounds fuller than with C5. Vedder’s vocal, guitars and drums were clean, warmer, smoother than the C5. High end less harsh, less fatiguing than from C5. Soundstage smaller.
     
    Conclusions
     
    There’s a lot to like about the Aune B1. It drives powerful headphones with authority, and has a lovely mid-forward sound that is easy on the ears and suitable for long, fatigue-free listening sessions. Design is phenomenal, with great looks and a quality build and feel. If I had the power to improve anything about the B1, it would be 1) greater range on the pot for fine volume control, and 2) slightly more extension of bass and treble.
     
    IMG_6308.jpg
     
    In comparisons with other popular portable amplifiers, I’d equate the B1 to the Sennheiser HD650 (contolled bass, mid-forward, clean, easy on the ears) and the Fiio E12A and Cayin C5 to the Audio Technica ATH-R70x (more natural extension of bass and treble). If you’re an HD650 type, you will really like the sound signature of the B1. If you’re more into the R70x, you’ll still enjoy it, especially for longer listening sessions.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. hakushondaimao
      hakushondaimao, Jun 11, 2015
    3. Baycode
      Thanks for this thoughtful review Hakus, now I have an idea what B1 sounds like :)
      Baycode, Jul 5, 2015
    4. hakushondaimao
      @Baycode: Glad to help, and thanks for the comment.
      hakushondaimao, Jul 6, 2015
  9. Loquah
    Aune B1 - a surprisingly versatile headphone amp
    Written by Loquah
    Published May 31, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Spacious, nuanced and textured sound, versatile with a range headphones, elegant design, well priced
    Cons - Too powerful for IEMs, may have output impedance high enough to alter the sound of balanced armature IEMs
    I received the Aune B1 for this review direct from Aune at no cost to me and may be given it for free or will be able to purchase it at a reduced price as part of the terms of the agreement Aune made with the 10 reviewers selected. Either way, the chance to get things for free doesn't influence my reviews - if it's no good, I wouldn't want it anyway and if it's good, I'll gladly say that regardless of the possible gain.
     

    Overview

     
    Based on their products thus far (like the S16, T1, and M1), Aune seem focussed on making affordable products with high performance. Sometimes that works extremely well, like the T1 DAC, and other times it backfires a bit, like the S16 with its slightly sub-par amplifier stage and M1 with its high output impedance and WAV-only design. Both of the misses have shown outstanding potential and the hit (the T1) was a real hit, so where will the B1 be placed in history?
     
    At around $250 (AUD) it's priced in the upper range of affordable portable headphone amps amongst some stiff competition so it's not necessarily trying to undercut the competition in price and that means it has to outperform them somehow to be really appealing. Let's see what it's packing to help with that challenge.
     

    Specifications

     
    1. Up to 10 hours playback
    2. Suitable headphone impedance:  16-300 ohm
    3. Size:  65 x 110 x 18 mm
    4. Weight:  230g
    5. THD:  < 0.0008% @ 1kHz
    6. SNR:  > 124dBA
    7. Frequency response:  +/- 0.15dB between 10 Hz - 20,000 Hz
    8. Crosstalk:  < 110dB @ 1kHz
    9. Power (class A mode): 25mW/16ohm, 500mW/32ohm, 100mW/300ohm
     
    So, on paper the B1 packs plenty of solid specs including low distortion (THD), good channel separation (crosstalk), and decent power. Let's divert our attention from the specs and the sound to the look and feel of the amp and then we'll circle back around to talk about the all important sound quality.
     

    Design & Functionality

    Size & Weight

     
    The B1 is designed with the fairly typical footprint of most portable amps and that's a good thing because it will stack well with the many and varied DAPs on the market. That said, it's a bit bigger and heavier than some of the alternatives. For example, compared to FiiO's E12 family (E12, E12DIY, and E12A), the B1 has the same chassis width and length, but is about 4mm thicker. It also weighs about 70g more which doesn't sound like much, but for some people it can start to add up if you've got a heavier DAP.
     

    Knobs and Switches

     
    AuneB1-0250.jpg The B1 is concisely laid out with all switches up one side, input, output and volume on one end, a micro USB socket for charging at the other end, and a battery level button on the remaining side. The result is elegant simplicity in terms of the B1's appearance.
     
    The battery level button triggers a simple system of LED flashes to show battery level from 1 flash (charging needed) to 5 flashes (battery full). Just like the overall design, this approach is simple and elegant.
     
    There's not much to say about the volume knob other than it is an interesting flanged shape, but is easy to hold and turn. It appears to be plastic, but it doesn't look out of place or tacky on the black B1. I'm not sure how the aluminium design fairs with the volume knob.
     
    The inputs are well spaced and slightly recessed with an attractive inward curve from the surrounding metal housing. I was worried that the slight recess might play havoc with some plugs, but have had no problems with the connectors that are most prone to these problems so I don't think that design choice will have any negative impacts and it looks really nice so I'm glad they did it.
     
    On the action side of the amp are the three most interesting switches. The switches are all made of plastic, but that's a good thing I believe. The pre-production B1 I played with had aluminium switches and they felt rough to touch because of the slightly sharp edges caused by the machining. It's possible that Aune could have made smoother aluminium switches for this final production version of the B1, but I'm quite happy with the black plastic. It looks and feels like good quality plastic and is a much smoother and more comfortable user experience than the pre-production version.
     

    The Mode Switch

     
    The mode switch is labelled "Class A" because it changes the current output of the amplifier by changing to A-class operation. I don't claim to be an electronics expert so I'm not going to attempt to explain A-class operation in detail, but suffice to say that the reasoning behind A-class operation is that you can sacrifice power efficiency (i.e. battery life) to reap benefits in sound quality and that's what this switch is about.
     
    Aune clearly instruct users to always switch the amplifier off prior to changing modes so direct comparison of the differences in sound are hard to complete without 2 amps side-by-side, but my rapid switching (power off, wait for the click of the relays, change mode, power on) between modes resulted in some subtle differences to sound that were mostly headphone dependent. Some cans prefer A Class while others prefer the normal mode from the B1 it seems. As you'll read later, I'm a fan of this switch and you might be too. It's not just a gimmick.
     

    Aesthetics & Finish

     
    AuneB1-0254.jpg The look and feel of the B1 are both top notch. The body of the version sent to me is black anodised aluminium rather than the natural aluminium I previewed a while ago. On one face are two windows showing the B1's heart - it's discrete amplification circuitry. On the other face are two full-length inserts of black leather (or at least faux leather). The leather inserts make a really nice touch on the black model and add to the sense that the B1 is a classy and elegant amplifier.
     
    Back to those two windows on the other side. Other than allowing a glimpse into the B1's heart, the windows also allow the light of two green LEDs to shine through when the amp is powered up. There's also a power indicated LED (also green) above the power switch so I assume that the in-window LEDs are more for aesthetics than function and they're fine. It might have been a nice touch to hide them somewhere so that only their gentle glow could be seen, creating an ethereal light as though the light were emanating from the B1's soul, but there may be reasons why such fanciful frills were avoided. As it stands the lights are fine. Unnecessary perhaps, but fine and, as I think about it, a window with no light would seem so boring. At least the LEDs mean that you feel like something happens inside the visible circuit when you throw the switch.
     

    Sound

     
    The B1 has a sound that I would describe as clean, crisp and musical with an outstanding sense of space, texture and nuance, but it requires much more explanation than that. With the inclusion of a switch that changes its operation from a normal mode to an "A Class" mode, the B1 can change how it sounds depending on the 'phones you're using.
     
    Based on the headphones I've tried, I'd suggest that the output impedance of the B1 might be high enough to be incompatible with low impedance loads and particularly multi-balanced-armature IEMs. Using the B1 with the Noble K10s results in a thick and lush sound that takes the best features of the K10s and pushes them too far. There are also channel imbalance issues because the volume level is way too high with sensitive IEMs. This is a headphone amp, not an earphone amp (with the possible exception of high impedance IEMs and earbuds).
     
    AuneB1-0253.jpg Importantly though, shifting from the K10s to the Audeze LCD 2s completely changed my experience. Gone is the additional warmth caused by the K10 mismatch and in its place is a clarity and transparency that sounds like a different amplifier. This is all with the mode switch in the normal position too so hold tight if you want to know what happens when that interesting switch gets flicked.
     
    Jumping now from the rich and warm LCD 2s to the leaner HD800s I hear exactly what I thought was happening - the B1 isn't producing the full bass presence or impact when running tougher loads. The LCDs and HD800s are tough in different ways - the HD800s present higher resistance and the LCDs present lower sensitivity - both seem to result in the same outcome when the "A Class" switch is off; a slightly lean and bass-shy sound.
     
    Next, I powered-down the B1 to switch from normal operation to A Class operation in order to see if the extra current fixed the problem...
     
    Well there's definitely a change, but it's subtle (as you'd expect given that the basic circuit remains unchanged). To my ears the sound in A Class mode has a greater sense of warmth and body compared to the normal mode sound when driving the HD800s / LCD 2s. One thing I definitely notice is that the normal mode sounds slightly disembodied and ethereal with the HD800s and LCDs whereas the A Class mode seems to bring the sound back into focus and creates a better sense of body. It still sounds a touch lean with the HD800s, but I am a fan of tube amps with the HD800s because they can tend towards the clinical.
     
    So, while the B1 powers the HD800s amply (no pun intended), the pairing that I have rapidly come to love is with the LCD 2s. In fact, the sound from the B1 + LCD 2 combo is comparable to the LCDs paired with my heavily upgraded Bottlehead S.E.X. amp and that is a seriously impressive feat for a portable amp to come close to a much more expensive desktop amp. Based on what I'm hearing from this combination, I would easily believe it if I was told that the B1 was made to drive planars. Perhaps it was... I don't know, but what if you don't have planars? Is the B1 a good amp for dynamic driver headphones? Let's see...
     

    Fischer Audio FA-011 Limited Editions

     
    With the 160 ohm Fischers, the sound is highly enjoyable and just slightly warmer than neutral. There's good bass presence, nice extension at both ends of the sound spectrum and a crisp and articulate sound overall. Flicking between the normal mode and A Class mode brings about the same slight changes I described above, but the drop-off in bass is nowhere near as prominent with the Fischers as with the HD800s.
     
    The Fischers are a headphone that needs amplification to excel and the B1 most definitely has the chops to get the Fischers singing. I'd very comfortably listen to the Fischers with the B1 as an amp of choice.
     

    Thinksound On1

     
    AuneB1-0252.jpg The On1s are a 50 ohm headphone that's designed for portable use so they're more efficient that the others I've tried thus far. The results here are quite interesting...
     
    With the On1s, the A Class mode creates an overly thick and warm sound that's still enjoyable, but tends to close in the normally spacious sound of the On1s. Switching to normal operation brings a lighter touch to the bass and balances the sound perfectly. The bass is still punchy, tight and deep, but it no longer dominates the soundscape and it lets the On1s return to their more spacious ways. In fact, while completing this portion of the review, Stevie Wonder's Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing came up in my auditioning playlist (mostly albums that have been awarded Best Engineering Grammy) and blew my mind with the depth and control of the bass. The B1 had the On1s on a tight leash and was manipulating them like a master conductor.
     
    What I'm starting to see at this point is an amplifier that's somewhat of a chameleon, adapting to different headphones as required to always give you the best possible sound. That's a really nice option to have at the flick of a switch!
     
    So, sound-wise and power-wise, the B1 is neutral and clean, but still energetic and musical and it pairs very well with all range of headphones, but not IEMs. Let's look at how it compares to another star portable amp, the FiiO E12DIY.
     

    Aune B1 vs FiiO E12DIY

     
    It's a little bit tricky to make this comparison because the DIY is designed to have changeable op amps whereas the B1 is a discrete (no op amp) design. I decided to play around a bit to find a buffer / op amp combo in the DIY that sounded similar to the B1 in order to compare them less on sound signature and more on general qualities.
     
    Honestly, once the signatures were matched, I would gladly choose either amp to drive my On1s, but keep in mind that the DIY is a special project that should have been worth significantly more than the B1's ~$250 price. The B1 is standing toe-to-toe with a veritable giant at the pricepoint we're considering and I believe the B1 has a slightly better sense of texture and nuances compared to the DIY which means it'll also outperform other portable amps like the standard E12, Cayin C5, and probably the E12A. I don't have those other amps with me to try, but have extensively compared each one to the DIY and always found the DIY superior.
     
    Both amps have sufficient grunt to also power the LCD 2s, but I once again found myself preferring the B1 thanks to its marvelous sense of realism and coherence - everything is just so well placed and balanced.
     

    Overall Summary

     
    Moving through a range of headphones and trying different modes has really left me loving this little black beast with a glowing green heart. Its sound is, to my ears, neutral and accurate without tipping into becoming cold or analytical and it has a sense of energy and PRaT that's beguiling. The fact that you can change operation modes to adjust its synergy with everything from portable on-ears to desktop-only planars makes it extra versatile and extra appealing. This is clearly the best portable headphone amplifier I've tried so far thanks to its great sound and versatility. It's not the best portable amplifier in general terms because it's really not compatible with IEMs and the E12DIY still owns the 'generalist' mantle for that reason (and the versatility of all those different buffers and op amps), but I flat out love the Aune B1 and will be hard-pressed to see it go when the review period is up.
     
    If you're in the market for a portable amplifier for headphones, and you don't mind something of a reasonable size and weight, you should absolutely do yourself a favour and check out the Aune B1. It looks good and sounds better!
      djvkool and Vartan like this.
    1. capnjack
      Nice review Loquah, been debating between this and a Cayin C5 to drive my M-100s and future purchased cans.
      capnjack, May 31, 2015
    2. miceblue
      I like your photos!
      How do you get the formatting for the photos to be in-line with the text though? It makes the formatting of the post really neat, but I haven't been able to do that with the BBCode editor.
      miceblue, May 31, 2015
    3. capnjack
      Well I've finally bitten the bullet and ordered one of these thanks to you, Avitron, Cleg and Cottonijoe for the reviews! :grinning:
      capnjack, Jun 2, 2015
  10. Cotnijoe
    Aune B1 Amplifier: Gorgeous Inside and Out!
    Written by Cotnijoe
    Published May 27, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Sexy Design and Build, Fantastic Sound
    Cons - Slight Channel Imbalance Issue
    Introduction:
    One of my favorite parts of this hobby that I've grown to love over the past few years is trying new things and just experiencing how different components (or combination of components) have their own unique way of expressing what is essentially the same music. So when Aune Audio began looking for reviewers of their B1 amplifier, I jumped on that train real fast. I’d like to give a big thank you to Aune Audio for providing me a unit to review and, of course, my review is solely my own opinions and I am in no way affiliated with Aune Audio.
     
    Packaging and Accessories:
                The Aune Audio B1 came well packaged in a DHL bag, a brown box, and finally its actual box. The box is sturdy and simple. Inside, you find the amp, manual, a business card, a USB cord for charging, and a short 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable. The overall presentation is simple but very nice, and Aune provides everything you may need to get the B1 up and running. The only thing that I would have liked to see is some sort of storage case, or even just a nice little bag for it.
     
    IMG_0058.jpg IMG_0059.jpg
    IMG_0060.jpg IMG_0062.jpg
    Inside of the packaging. Nice and simple!
     
    Build and Design:
                The Aune B1 is built like a tank, and it’s a damn good looking amp. Its chassis is built from brushed aluminum with only its volume knob being made of plastic. The B1 feels solid and has a nice heft to it. The build quality leave little to be desired and a whole lot to admire. My unit did come with two tiny tiny scratches, on at the bottom of the amp, and one on the volume knob that made me a little sad. Honestly though, build is awesome!
     
                It’s clear that the engineers over at Aune Audio paid a lot of attention to detail when designing the B1. The “highlight” of the B1’s design is obvious its two windows that show the components inside the amplifier. When I first saw a picture of the B1, I thought it was some sort of portable tube amp. I mean c’mon… looking at the tubes is half the fun! Now obviously the B1 isn’t a tube amp, but I still think displaying its internal components was a pretty cool little feature and is definitely a bonus in terms of aesthetics. The LED lights just make things even more awesome to look at.
     
                The buttons around the B1 are also well designed. Most of the functions of the B1 are controlled by sliding switches, where you slide it to turn a feature on or off. To prevent the switches from being easily changed, Aune had the chassis on the sides slightly indented. I don’t think that’ll solve the problem completely, but I personally had absolutely no problems with the amp accidentally shutting off or accidentally blowing my brains out by switching to high gain, so hey… what do I know, maybe it’s doing its job just fine.
     
                The back side of the B1 is well designed with two strips of material that keep the amp from sliding too much on a flat surface and prevent the amp from scratching. Now I won’t pretend to know what material it is, but I would guess that its pleather (I don’t think its real leather?). All I know is it looks very nice and gets its job done.
     
    Size wise, I think the B1 is very reasonable. It’s a little taller than my iBasso DX90 with about the same width. The two as a pair looks very nice!
     
    My only gripe about the B1’s design is that if you decide to make a portable stack by rubberbanding a DAP to it, it’ll block off the gorgeous display of its components unless you use the other side. But then that defeats the purpose of the pleathery material protecting the amp and you risk scratching the amp. Oh well… it seems inevitable.
     
    Again though – Built like a tank and damn good looking.
     
    IMG_0061.jpg
    Sick!              
     
    Features:
                The B1 is quite a special little device. Not only is it a class A portable amp, which is not all that common, it also has an interesting current switch that gives it a bit more flexibility in driving more demanding headphones. In addition to that, the B1 also includes an on/off switch, micro USB charging port, battery indicator, and of course a volume knob, input jack, and headphone out jack.
     
    Being a class A amp, the B1 does get quite warm after using it for some time. It remains very safe to touch though and never gets overly hot by any means – definitely still very safe to keep in your pocket or to use portably.
     
    What’s kinda bizzare is the current switch. In the B1 manual, Aune quotes in RED, “Never flip [the current switch] under B1 is working.” Ignoring the slightly broken English, it doesn’t sound like Aune is messing around. I wonder what would happen if I just … …
     
    Battery Life:
                The B1 is advertised to be able to run for 10 hours with low current and 5 hours with high current. I did run the battery dry on low current and got approximately 9 or 10 hours out of it. I didn’t keep a strict count, but the battery life is certainly around what it’s advertising to be. 10 hours isn’t bad, but it is trumped by other portable amps that can last 20, 40, or more hours (The most I’ve heard of is like 80 hours or something. That’s pretty insane.). However, remembering that most high quality audiophile DAPs currently on the market can barely last 10 hours, it’s not a problem at all. You’ll just have to remember to bring two chargers along when going on a long trip! Plus, remember that it’s a class A amp and, thus, fairly inefficient, I guess 10 hours is actually pretty good.
               
                I didn’t bother running the B1 on high current to see how long it lasts, as I don’t see that as necessary. If I’m running it with high current, I’ll probably be using a fairly demanding headphone, which means it’s not portable and I’ll probably be near some sort of power source where I can freely charge up my B1.
     
    Sound
                       Listening was done with my iBasso DX90 as the source running line out into the B1 and then into my Earwerkz Supra 2, HIFIMAN HE560, and HIFIMAN HE1000 (just for fun and cuz I have it with me as a beta unit… why not). Basically all genres are covered and all audio files ranging from 256kbps and up (with the exception of DSD files) are used for my sound impressions.
     
    FullSizeRender2.jpg IMG_0067.jpg
    iBasso DX90 > Aune B1 > Earwerkz Supra 2 using plusSound Cables.
     
    Noise Floor
    The B1 is quiet. With my Earwerkz Supra 2, one of the most sensitive I know, it does have a tiny bit of hiss, but a VERY manageable and hardly noticeable amount. It is one of the quietest amps I’ve had the pleasure of listening to and I wouldn’t worry about it hissing at all honestly – very nice and very dark background. The DX90’s amp section still trumps it in terms of noise floor, but it’s hardly a difference at this point.
     
    Channel Imbalance
    The B1 does have a bit of channel imbalance issue that could be problematic, as the B1 also happens to be pretty loud. Running DX90 > Aune B1 > Earwerkz Supra 2, I had to set the line out volume of the DX90 to 200/255, which is the lowest I’ve ever had to set it, in order overcome the regions on the volume knob where the B1 has its channel imbalance. So what does that mean? Well first off, those using the most sensitive IEMs may need to do a bit more research or to give the B1 a listen first to make sure that the B1 is a good match with the sensitive IEM. And second off, those that do not have digital control over their line out signal may also need to do more research. It’s really unfortunate to see that this may be the dealbreaking point for those using the most sensitive of IEMs because of the sound that the B1 produces (hint: it’s awesome).
     
    Sound (For Real Now)
                As a whole, I think the B1 is one of the most neutral portable amps that I’ve ever heard, and is certainly the flattest sounding in the sub-300 dollar range that I know of. And that’s a good thing. I really like this neutrality that the B1 has.
     
    B1 compared to Amp section of DX90 (Using Earwerkz Supra 2)
                I love my DX90 and I consider it to be one of the best (if not the best) DAP currently available under 500 dollars. I do have a few gripes about it though, as I feel that it is just a bit warmer and smoother sounding than I would prefer it to be. The B1 addresses that issue for me quite beautifully. When connected to the DX90 via its line out, the improvement over using just the DX90 alone is significant.
     
                The most obvious change and improvement come in the bass department. The B1 removes the midbass bump that I find the DX90 to have, and bring on better bass extension. What you get is a much cleaner, tighter, and faster bass that retains a very fun sound all while making the sound straight out of the DX90 seem muddy and bloated in comparison.
     
                The midrange of the current firmware I’m using on the DX90 (FW 2.2.0) was a little forward and can be just a bit thin and unnatural sounding for me. The B1 also helps the DX90 out here. It pulls the forwardness back just a tiny bit while giving the midrange more fullness by presenting a flatter upper midrange that fixes the DX90’s slightly unnatural tone.
     
               The treble from the B1 extends better than that of the amp from the DX90, giving the sound slightly more air. The B1 also adds a nice crispness to the sound, but never making the sound harsh or bright.
     
                The other major improvement that comes with the B1 is the soundstage and separation. You get a significantly larger soundstage, particularly in width, which really opens the sound up. Separation is also a very big step up compared to listening with just the DX90. The sound from the DX90 alone is claustrophobic and congested in comparison to the very nice and open sound when you add the B1 into the picture.
     
                After spending some time with the DX90 connected to the Aune B1, it’s honestly very hard to go back to listening with just the DX90 as the B1 just tightens and cleans up the sound so fantastically well. This is not to discredit the DX90 of course. It’s a 400 dollar all-in-one box solution with everything stuffed into a very small box. On the other hand, the B1 is 200 dollar standalone amp that’s bigger than the DX90. Hell it better be better than the amp section of the DX90. What is awesome, however, is just how much better it is. The B1 really is a fantastic sounding amp and if you’re willing to sacrifice some portability, it is very well worth the additional 200 dollars and extra bulkiness. This thing simply sounds fantastic.
     
    DX90 > B1 > HE560/HE1000
                This portable combo drives the HIFIMAN headphones quite admirably if I must say, and in the event that I’m traveling and staying at a hotel or something where I can use my full size headphones but obviously couldn’t bring along my full size amplifier, I would be happy to live with this combo for the time being.
     
                Some things that it tends to lack while driving these headphones in comparison to my Asus Essence III:
     
    -The bass extension and punch is good, but it does lack the last bit of bass extension that gives the rumble that planar magnetics are so famous for
     
    -Overall soundstage is a bit smaller but holds its own. The B1 tends to lack a bit of depth, and that really comes out when paired with the HE1000. The HE1000 is a fantastically layered headphone with great out-of-head imaging, and it clearly doesn’t perform its best in terms of soundstage and layering when paired with this combo.
     
    -Not surprisingly, the detail retrieval of this portable set up is not on par with the much more expensive Essence III, but for the price, it does a very respectable job.
     
                So I also tried listening to the HIFIMAN headphones with different current settings, and honestly I don’t hear all that much a difference. The HE560 and HE1000 are not notoriously hard to drive. If anything, they’re some of the easiest orthodynamics on the market. I would guess that perhaps the current switch would make more significant of a difference on headphones that are more difficult to drive. I would swear that the HE1000’s treble is just a teeny tiny bit sharper when the current is set to high, but I would really not bet my money on it. For me, the difference between the two settings was pretty much nonexistent.
     
    Summary on Sound
                What you get from the Aune B1 is an impressively detailed sound that is very well balanced and gives a great sense of space. I wouldn’t be inclined to call this amp warm nor cold. To me, it’s simply pleasantly balanced and uncolored. Despite that, the B1 is in no way boring to me as it has a very tight, crisp, and detailed sound that just begs you to take notice of it. I’m very happy with what the B1 offers and I think it is of fantastic value at its MSRP of 200 dollars.
     
    Final Thoughts:
                Aune Audio was a company that I was aware of, but never paid all that much attention to. I know they made some well-regarded desktop friendly components, and I thought their company logo was pretty slick looking, but that’s about it. My experience with their B1 amplifier really put them on my radar. I obviously hold the B1 in very high regard, and I think it’s a gorgeous piece of gear – inside and out. I would like to thank Aune again for the opportunity to demo this beautiful portable amplifier, and I’ve very excited to see what products they have planned for the future!
                Do I recommend this product? Absolutely yes. The only thing keeping me from giving the B1 a full 5/5 is its channel imbalance issue. If Aune is able to resolve that issue somehow, I think this amp would be an easy recommendation to just about anyone looking for a portable amplifier at this price. But for now, those using a DAC with a powerful line out signal combined with a sensitive IEM may want to think twice about purchasing this amp. For anyone else, go crazy! 
      thelonious58 likes this.
    1. avitron142
      Nice review! Our reviews seem to agree on most parts of the sound department, with the exception of the soundstage and separation. Are you sure you could pick out the instruments from the crowd? Mine seem to blend in musically so it was hard to do so, IMO.
      avitron142, May 27, 2015
    2. Cotnijoe
      It could very much be a pairing issue for you. I have no idea. I did find the soundstage to lack a bit in layering and depth, but besides that the sound is crisp and clear especially with my in ears.
      Cotnijoe, May 27, 2015