Reviews by H20Fidelity


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent control and performance, bang for buck is present, great for those who demand high power output from a portable device.
Cons: No 3.5mm jack option, brings out a lot of bass with the only IEM I could try.
Its been almost a year since iBasso DX200 released, with that comes additional support, features, firmwares, and add-ons. Today we're looking at the latest amp module for the player 'Amp3'. Its quite an unusual amp for those who aren't up to date with the latest and greatest ways of enjoying portable audio, the amp only supports 2.5mm balanced outputs without the well-known 3.5mm jack everyone is familiar with. DX200 has miles of potential, its been the player that created a true upgrade for me from my previous set-up, if you haven't had the chance to hear one I'd highly suggest taking time to do so, the sound is really excellent.

Amp3 was provided to me as a review sample, I'd like to thank iBasso and especially Paul for reaching out to test one.

Price: $199 USD



Amp3 site pic 3.png

Amp3 site pic 1.png

Amp3 site pic 2.png


Greeted by a similar box the earlier iBasso DX50/90 players came in Amp3 is enclosed inside a padded out insert, its simple without anything over the top. Also inside is some paperwork and a flat head screwdriver for installing the amp. Nothing overly luxurious, it gets the job done.

box 2.jpg

box 1.jpg


Connecting Amp3 is reasonably simple, there are two flat head screws located on either side of iBassos amp modules, by unscrewing them half way they back out from 2 tabs located on the players frame allowing it to slide away completely. There's no need to unscrew these completely or remove them as they only need to be backed away from two tabs slightly. On the player itself and amp modules, there are also some guidance segments which make installation fairly foolproof, the amp will only connect one way and always insert straight due to the way its been designed.



If I was going to nitpick it would be the use of flat head screws, they're quite small, hard to see, especially for older people in low light, what I've found is it can be a hassle to keep the screwdriver in position, it can slip away from the screw when turning and end up scratching the paintwork over time. I would have preferred seeing Allen key type grub screws, they slot straight in, have less chance of coming away and would suit the player more overall with the type of fixtures it uses.

Amp Outputs:

Using Amp3 there aren't any options to use standard 3.5mm headphone/IEM cables, what you use must be configured for 2.5mm balanced output, that includes the optional 2.5mm line out. Those wanting to use their regular headphone cables must take a look at the Amp2 module from earlier in the year. I'm not sure how I feel about this, I understand the amp has been designed with some special architecture and its going to appeal for many die hard portable audiophiles, I just wonder if the absence of 3.5mm outputs entirely on amps is ready for the market, could the amp have sold more if the modules iBasso release all had a 3.5mm option? I guess that's up to them and not me to decide.

Battery Life:

From my testing I was averaging very similar run times as Amp1, around 8-10 hours, I cannot speak for how Amp3 will fair when running 24bit files constantly and full-size depending headphones but I really couldn't detect much difference between the stock Amp1 module with the IEMs I was using. I do know Amp3 throws out a lot of power when called upon so it might just be my IEMs were very easy to drive.

Sound impressions:

IEM used: Tralucent 1Plus2.2

All files: FLAC 16/44

I find the tonality of Amp3 on the slightly smooth/warm side, it has excellent refinement and control right across the board especially throughout the low end, speed and note separation makes many older single ended output players sound underwhelming when I try switching back, its very impressive in this regard coming from a portable system and more reminiscent of a desktop amp. The levels of detail around the mid-range while smooth are superb along with instrument separation and treble extension, you really feel the additional power Amp3 is outputting to good use in technical areas. Other aspects such as vocal sibilance with spitty IEMs was almost reduced to nothing due to the amount of control the amp has.

The amp is also rather organic/natural sounding, it loses some of the typical Sabre instinct many would be familiar with sounding more laid back for easier listening. I won't say the detail or resolution suffers at all, its just a smoother sound trying to lose that processed timbre and tonality many Sabre DACs are tuned for. Areas like soundstage are wide with great layering, when the separation, control, and layering work together you certainly perceive strong images of each instrument playing individually. There have been times I've heard small micro details I hadn't before with songs I've known for years, they just come through more obviously.

At the other end of the string I also find Amp3 brings out a lot of bass with the IEM I'm using, it can sound intrusive at higher volumes and overpowered, mid-bass in particular comes forward while the mid-range drops behind, what I end up hearing is bass taking the leading role and this affected my overall experience with the amp and enjoyment, I wouldn't say my IEMs are extremely bass heavy by default and with stock Amp1 balanced output I don't have this same issue. Because I've not been able to try any other headphones or IEMs I'm stuck wondering if Amp3 has too much power for some low impedance IEMs or its just a synergy issue between my IEMs. Regardless I'm still able to hear the amps strong features and think with the correct headphones I could take full advantage of Amp3.

Comparison to Amp1:

Amp1 in comparison is more vibrant and revealing with that crisp bright(ish) edge the iBasso players are known for, maybe slightly digital sounding and less organic than Amp3 but for those who enjoy an energetic in your face load of detail I still prefer Amp1 personally, its closer to what the iBasso players have always been to me and my preference for the Tralucent 1Plus2.2, even though I hear Amp3 is stronger technically, especially in control the tonality of Amp1 wins for me, If the bass wasn't so forward with the only IEM I had to try here I might be more divided between the two but that's the outcome I experienced and need to be honest. I would, however, like to try Amp3 with some full-size headphones, maybe a nice bright Grado would make me feel differently.


I think Amp3 has miles of potential with the right headphone, after 5-years on the audio scene its simple to hear that, not only has the amp taken things up a level on what portable players can achieve technically wise and performance its shown it doesn't need to be extremely expensive all the time either. I'm always boasting how iBasso are about bang for buck, they're one of the good guys trying to keep audio affordable and that's becoming rare around these parts each day. As I mentioned though I'm stuck between feeling maybe Amp3 has too much output power for some low impedance earphones or the synergy with my Tralucent IEM just wasn't suited and I won't know that answer until I get the chance to try Amp3 with something else. I'm also undecided about amps being released without 3.5mm jack options and whether the market is ready for that, its that very reason I couldn't test more IEMs. The amp was pleasing to use and expresses great potential as all iBasso products have, the bang for buck is present so I'm granting 4.5 stars for this review. I'd like to once again thank iBasso for sending out Amp3 and look forward to eventually trying it with other headphones with balanced cables.


  • amp3 paperwork.jpg
    amp3 paperwork.jpg
    2.8 MB · Views: 0
  • IMG_4107.JPG
    2.9 MB · Views: 0


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Amazing sound performance, resolution, detail, dynamics, features, large screen, fast interface, build quality, purchase presentation
Cons: Single micro sd card slot, minor features missing on initial release firmware, slightly heavy/large device for portability
iBasso Audio are no strangers to personal audio, they've been active on the scene for 10-years now. What I admire about the Chinese company is their attention on great hardware, price to performance and genuine appreciation of music quality for themselves and consumers. They definitely aren't unfamiliar with the portable DAP market either with releases such as DX100, DX50, DX90, DX80, along with several portable amplifiers, dac/amps and most recently branching out into IEMs. DX100 was their first endeavour into flagship players back in 2012, it wasn't without some persistent firmware concerns though well received in the sound quality department. Still today, members speak highly of DX100's performance alongside present players of 2017. Every player they have released has been extremely successful with large populated threads on Head-fi.
Today we're going to asses their newest flagship player, DX200, released on iBasso's 10th year anniversary. Decked out with top of the line dual Sabre ES9028 PRO DAC chips, 2GB RAM, 8-Core CPU, Wifi connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, optical and coax digital out.. large 4.2” touch-screen interface running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, interchangeable amp modules, micro sd expansion, DAC functionality, OTG storage and much more. Like mentioned, iBasso are dedicated in providing powerful hardware and specifications, squeezing in everything they can for a competitive price.
I was provided the DX200 unit as a review sample directly from iBasso, I will be giving an opinion based on my personal experience only without any persuasion bias. Thank you to iBasso for considering me as one of the worldwide reviewers for DX200's release.
About me:
My opinion for this review will come from over 5-years experience with over 67 digital audio players, all of which can be 'found here' listed on my site profile under source inventory. I don't use highly technical terms or graphs so the review is easy to understand for all readers. Since my time owning and testing digital players I've come to learn much of how a player sounds to any listener will be determined on synergy and the performance ceiling of the IEM or headphone they're using. For the majority of sound impressions in this review I will be using TOTL hybrid in-ear monitors by a company called Tralucent Audio, my preferred brand by choice.
iBasso DX200:
Price:  $869
DX200 User Manual:
Main Features:
  1. Dual SABRE ES9028PRO DAC Chips
  2. Bit for Bit Playback Support up to 32bit/384 kHz
  3. Support of Native DSD up to 512x
  4. XMOS USB Receiver with Thesycon USB Audio Driver
  5. Easy to use USB DAC
  6. Dual Accusilicon Ultra Low Phase Noise Femtosecond Oscillators
  7. 4.2" IPS Screen (768*1280) with Capacitive Touch Panel, Bonded by OCA
  8. Mini Optical Output and Mini Coaxial Output
  9. 8-core CPU. - 2GB LPDDR3
  10. 64G of Internal Memory
  11. 5G WiFi and Bluetooth4.0.
  12. Patented User Exchangeable AMP Card
  13. Three Physical Buttons (Previous, Play/Pauses, Next)
  14. 150-Steps Digital Volume Control
  15. 4400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer battery (Play time vary with AMP card)
  1. 2.5mm Balanced Output: Output voltage 6Vrms
  2. Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB Signal to Noise
  3. Ratio:125dB Crosstalk: -122dB THD+N: < 0.0002%, -114dB (64Ω@3Vrms) 3.5mm HP
  4. Output: Output voltage 3Vrms Frequency
  5. Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB Signal to Noise
  6. Ratio:122dB Crosstalk: -118dB THD+N: < 0.00032%,-110dB (32Ω@1.8Vrms)
  7. Lineout: Output voltage 3Vrms Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz -0.16dB
  8. Signal to Noise Ratio:122dB THD+N: < 0.00025%,-112dB Screen Size: 4.2inch 768*1280
  9. Battery Capacity: 4400mAh
  10. Case Dimension: 5.1L x 2.7W x 0.77H (inch) 128.5L x 69W x 19.5H (mm)
  11. Weight: 240g or 8.5oz  
Audio Formats Supported:
  1. APE
  2. FLAC
  3. WAV
  4. WMA
  5. AAC
  6. ALAC
  7. AIFF
  8. OGG
  9. MP3
  10. DFF
  11. DSF
  12. DXD
  13. Support for M3U Playlists
The packaging has been extremely well prepared and presented for consumers. Apart from wanting to install a small window and door so I can live inside due to its outer exterior the boxing is nothing short of upper-class. It appears the days of Apple, Samsung and even the likes of Astell & Kern won't raise eyelids in comparison to iBasso's DX200 packaging box, I won't enquire how much it cost to produce because the attention to detail is above most I've encountered before, at least my personal journey in portable audio (and including numerous mainstream products). Flagship packaging indeed.
The outer layer has an almost felt like texture, the darkish grey with shades of white colour scheme and etched diagrams on the outside are simplex yet effective, even the inner insert concealing the player is cater designed with graphics walking you around the players outputs and functional buttons. The way you open the box by splitting it into two pieces unique. iBasso took one up on the trend setting beats by Dre boxes we knew years ago with their own specific approach. I will display some photos of the boxing, how the player arrives and that attention to detail. If you're a real packaging freak, who likes to meditate over unboxing's momentarily and cherish that moment, iBasso have not let you down in any shape or form.
Once you remove DX200 from the top layer there's a second compartment located underneath containing your accessories inside individually labelled boxes. Included is a leather carry case (iBasso branded), a very cool sheathed USB C cable, some extra cables including coax out, a burn in adapter and some paperwork such as your individual serial number and starter guide. The leather case isn't really for me, I appreciate a decent amount of effort went into it and the case may sit better on DX200 after that leather breaks in but its not something I will use personally. For me, the case takes away some of the design appeal DX200 offers, there's something about looking at its build, volume wheel and external buttons which gives a stronger essence of audio for me. In saying this, if I was taking the unit outside regularly without a doubt the included case would offer a large amount of protection for all sides and rear of the unit. If you use the case keep in mind its quite a tight fit at first, you may even feel the player becomes stuck inside. If this occurs take your time in removing it, don't press on the screen too generously or you risk damage. I hear very soon there will be alternative cases available, most likely from the company Dignis, their cases are extremely premium, neat fitting, usually with colour choices but also premium price depending on your location and where you order. Personally, I would like to see iBasso offer a silicon case in the future or by a third party. if I was to niggle I'd prefer one had been included as an extra protective option.
The USB C cable appears custom made, its thick yet flexible, sheathed with a soft nylon like material, very generous considering the cables provided with mainstream and general audio purchases, another well thought gesture of a flagship purchase. The USB C connection itself is quite new to the market, we're slowly seeing it more but the gist of things is the player side connection can be inserted either way and still be functional, there's also some advantages with data transfer speeds and the cable is included for using DX200 as an external DAC when connected to your laptop/PC. I really am impressed with the cable aesthetics, it sure looks great.
An alternative option provided for burning in DX200 (running in the player which iBasso recommend 200-hours) is using the accessory burn in adapter cable. With this cable you plug the connection side into DX200' headphone output, start some music on repeat allowing it to play for several hours at a moderate to high volume. The opinion on burning in devices is quite divided in audio, some people believe it helps, others decline the thought entirely. Myself, I remain neutral seated somewhere in between, I'm always open to the possibility but unless asked by the manufacturer don't become too concerned about it. None the less, if you wish to break your DX200 in this option is there saving you from using one of your expensive headphones or IEMs. The adapter also allows the process to be done completely silently.
Design / Build Quality:
DX200's casing is CNC engraved using high-grade aircraft aluminum, this keeps the unit light as possible while remaining robust, the unit weighs in at 240grams total. DX200 resembles something of a thick(ish) smartphone with dimensions 128mm x 69mm x 19mm. There are physical play/pause/ forward/rewind buttons and a nicely designed volume wheel located along the right-hand side with nicely allocated clicks, on the opposite the micro sd card slot is capable of cards up to 256gb in capacity. On top of the unit you'll find your power button, coax/optical 3.5mm ouput jack (combined) and USB C port for charging, DAC connection, data transfer and OTG storage. At the bottom the removable amp labeled 'AMP1' is bolted on securely with two easily accessible flat head screws. When observing the design there is one small issue comes to mind, at first glance two screws holding the side plate cover in place give the appearance of extra buttons, I would recommend in the future changing the colour of these screws to a matching tone so they blend in with the side-plate more consistently and prevent confusion.
On the rear of unit is a hard molded plastic backplate sporting the iBasso logo which provides the player a sense of identity. Overall, the build quality and design represents a quality finish and DX200 is considerably easy to hold one handed, the side buttons lending extra attention to its functionality. I still feel DX200 stands against competition when considering Astell & Kern's designs and build quality if considering flagship units, DX200 unit may appear slightly behind its time since we first heard about it however, what iBasso accomplished is excellent craftsmanship regardless with no real flaws I can uncover.
On the display side DX200 uses a high quality 4.2” IPS screen, resolution coming in at 768*1280 which is quite respectable in the scheme of things. Album art images are full of colour and pop, the UI with its red theme nothing short of excellent, the quality is surprisingly good for a portable audio player, above my expectations and generally quite a large screen when looking at other players on the market right now. Touch response shows no issues and the unit comes pre-installed with a factory screen protector. The large screen makes browsing albums and music a breeze, the speed of the interface makes it entirely pleasing to use, I encounter very little mentionable issues.
User Interface / Android 6.0 / Pure Music Mode:
Out of the box DX200 comes running a stripped down version of Android Marshmallow 6.0. Installed by default are a few simple applications such as web browser, file explorer, calculator, clock, video player, downloads manager and photo gallery. Unfortunately at this stage Google Play Store isn't available but many applications such as third party music players can be installed by downloading apk files directly from the Internet. The main application most will use is the iBasso music player app, an application built and designed by iBasso themselves for playing your music files on the device. The interface of this player is extremely colourful, modern and fast for navigation. Inside the app all your usual settings and features are present such as playlists, repeat modes, artist, album, genre, folder browsing, high/low gain including several DAC filter options and more, very similar to what you find in today’s audiophile players (especially iBasso's previous interfaces and optional settings)
Navigating the app is mostly executed with swiping motions across ways letting you zip between screens, the scrolling speed is fast, fluent, button presses are almost instant in response. Overall, the iBasso app player has been well implemented with little bugs or problems I can discover. The only thing missing (at the time of this review) is an on-screen volume adjustment icon activated by the rotation wheel. At this stage when within the application all volume adjustments must be done by spinning the physical wheel rather than anything on-screen, if you exit the app while music is playing back to the Android home screen there is a volume slide-bar on-screen within the Android interface. I have no doubt this feature will also be added within the iBasso app's updates really soon. There is also a 10-brand adjustable EQ within the Android app along with presets, while I won't be using this apparently there are future plans for an improved parametric equaliser to be added.
DX200 also has a second alternative firmware called “'Pure Music Mode'. After holding down the power button in Android mode DX200 will display an extra option along with regular shut down, restart icons found on Android firmwares. The third option will boot the player into a secondary firmware stripping DX200 down to a pure music playing only. The user interface is common and (almost identical) in appearance with iBasso DX80's interface. At this stage on early firmware there is slight lag or small delay present when swiping between screens here but this will be addressed as future firmware upgrades become available. DX200 will also remain in this firmware each power up until you decide to boot back into Android. Whether both playing modes of DX200 sound the same is debatable, we have users who hear no difference between them, and others who call it night and day, (the best person to judge this will be yourself).
Overall, even on early firmware DX200 is practically free from any critical or crippling bugs, there are some minor features missing or need adding eventually. As owners receive units some forgivable issues have been reported only. Considering DX200 was held back intentionally making sure there wasn't stability problems the player does basically everything asked of it out of the box from my testing and how I use it. Doesn't crash, freeze, become unresponsive, it scans my cards quickly without problem, no glaring faults making me overly frustrated. I give huge credit to iBasso for holding back the release date making sure the unit was stable, it means a lot to consumers and far less headaches for them long term. From reading the forums iBasso had around (20) DX200 units set-up doing multiple tasks at their location to help straighten out the initial release firmware.
Android Mode
2017_02_09_14.19.02.png          2017_02_09_14.46.41.png
2017_02_09_14.42.35.png          2017_02_09_14.42.48.png
2017_02_09_14.44.45.png          2017_02_09_14.44.54.png
2017_02_09_14.45.14.png          2017_02_09_14.46.04.png
2017_02_09_14.46.16.png          2017_02_09_14.45.52.png
Pure Mode:
Amp Modules:
DX200 will come attached with a stock amp module called AMP1, it supports all popular outputs by default including 3.5mm single ended output (most common headphone connection), 2.5mm balanced output and your normally found 3.5mm line out jack for feeding DX200 into portable or desktop amplifiers. iBasso have confirmed the output impedance for the headphones outputs is below < 0.3ohm. In the future other interchangeable amp modules will be released, while iBasso haven't specifically said what their functionality will be I imagine they have some clever ideas up their sleeves. Some that come to mind are modules that concentrate on high output power, possibly a premium module to take the sound up another notch, they mention on their website something about 'synergy matching', there's every chance they could design alternative modules that sound a little warmer, thicker, cooler, brighter etc, perhaps one for longer battery life. Regardless of anything said, the modules themselves have great advantage, as time goes by you can customize DX200 into virtually an entirely different sounding player, there is lots of potential and possibilities which expand the duration of DX200's life cycle on the market. When considering hiss and background noise I cannot detect any from my IEM inventory which were all low quite sensitive impedance, I don't have anything here hiss prone such as Shure's SE846 to try though every IEM I try (mostly Tralucent branded) don't display anything I can detect with or without music playing using the default AMP1 module.
Additional Outputs / Connection Options:
Additional outputs include optical out, coax out, line out, Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0. DX200 was specially designed with its metal casing to be excellent at keeping unwanted interference noise out. Many players on the market have displayed some types of RFI interference when streaming music with their Wifi active. From my testing with Wifi active doing tasks I cannot hear any interference with my low impedance IEMs. Reports are also coming in solid DX200 is silent when doing this and its advertised on the iBasso website as a highlighted area they worked on during the design phase. From my research all people using single ended 3.5mm output report no noise, there was one case I read a member reported a small (negligible) amount from the 2.5mm balanced out. DX200 has the ability to connect wireless headphones via its up to date Bluetooth option, portable dac/amps can take advantage of the coax out and optical out which shares a 2in1 3.5mm output jack located on top of the player. The only option I've not tried or looked into is whether DX200 has the ability to perform a USB audio out signal, at this stage without Google Play Store on the unit some of the paid apps used to create a connection cannot be installed. I would suggest anyone to checkout the Hiby Music app which is free to use and able to achieve this task with Android smartphones. DX200 can also be used as a USB DAC to your laptop or PC, it seems a feature popping up on all players in the market these days even cheaper offerings so its obvious to see the implementation here.
Battery Life:
DX200 uses an internal 4400mAh battery, the run times are coming in between 7-8 hours depending on the file format used which is around 2-days of casual listening for myself. If you're simply playing lower resolution files (which are also smaller file size ) like MP3 or 16/44 FLAC the player has far less processing work which keeps power consumption down. When utilising DX200's hi-res playback with 24bit or DSD the player needs to work harder, reports are coming in around 5-6 hours with these kinds of formats. The battery itself charges via the provided USB C cable taking around 3-4 hours depending what percentage you let it drop. Myself allow players batteries to drop around 40% before topping them back to 100%, people have different methods they follow and that's fine. An interesting aspect about DX200's battery is while the internal battery isn't user replaceable like Samsung smartphones or the earlier DX50/90 players iBasso thought ahead when designing DX200 which makes accessing the battery quite easy and convenient in the future. As things stand, DX200's battery will last many years providing its looked after correctly When reading comments iBasso explained they specifically used a high-grade battery inside DX200 and expect it to last a long long time.
Output Power:
DX200 can pack out a large amount of power for full-size headphones even with the stock amp module, while I haven't been able to try anything overly demanding there are several reports being logged in the official DX200 thread .It comes as no surprises, the level of dynamics created and headroom even in low gain using AMP1 module expresses the amount of driving power DX200 should be capable of. Due to not owning anything physically demanding in my inventory its hard for me to give a exact impression on this area though safe to say I've seen reputable (trusted) members mentioning the HD800 being driven by DX200 (somewhat) comfortably, but please take this section from word of mouth and myself following the official thread everyday for quite sometime now. Even check some other reviews if your interest is specifically this area.
Running Temperature:
Something to mention about DX200, when running for hours on end the unit becomes quite warm, it may even feel slightly hot around the sides and backplate. After experiencing this mild heat myself along with several other reports its a completely normal occurrence. I will always recommend turning the unit off when not in use, its an audio player not an Android phone you leave in standby, when the power is on DX200 will probably not deep sleep like a smartphones, its amp section will be on, its internals, and you will be losing battery power. Apart from this when the unit is running (especially with hi-res and at higher volumes) the heat produced is nothing to worry about. Unless of course, there is some obvious fire or smoke pouring out...
Sound Quality:
Firmware Version: V1.3.60
Firmware mode used: Android firmware/mode – iBasso App Music Player.
Files: 16/44 FLAC (all files)
Output: 3.5mm single ended (AMP1 Module)
Headphone/IEM:  (not listed in order of preference)
  1. Tralucent 1Plus2
  2. iBasso IT03
  3. Tralucent 1Plus2.2
  4. Tralucent Ref.1
On the sound front its full steam ahead, DX200 serves up potent doses of resolution and detail, its tonality leans every so slightly cool due to the dual Sabre DAC's and stock AMP1 module but with a particular addition. While DX200's voice leans on the energetic lively side its also quite full/thick sounding in note weight particularly around the mid-range, this thickness and fleshed out detail is also accompanied with an ever so slight essence of warmth layered inside the tonality, not too much it ever sounds veiled but enough to lessen a majority of long-term listener fatigue many experience with several Sabre DAC implementations, it provides a slight amount of smoothness to the detail retrieval and a percentage of musicality. Overall still lots of Sabre attitude voiced within DX200. Areas like dynamics in combination with DX200's high output power come into force when listening at moderate volumes, side instruments and backing vocals create individual walls of abrupt detail letting you hear them in new fashion as they enter in/out. Areas like refinement are strong strong aspects allowing high levels of coherency and separation so there's hardly any loss of understanding samples within a track. With many players some samples become lost or slightly blurry throughout busy or complex passages, DX200 does a fantastic job keeping the music posture tight, you will perceive samples with higher accuracy providing your headphones are capable of revealing them.
The players balance between bass/mids/highs is considerably flat, there's no emphasis in bass regions that shouldn't be in recordings, lows have large amounts of bubbly clarity and texture which provide levels of depth. Extension can reach down extremely low into sub-bass region’s with impact when called upon but only if DX200 detects this in a recording, its the tell tale story of 'if its in the recording' DX200 should display the music accurately as its primary role suggests reproducing reference sound. When listening with Tralucent 1Plus2.2 occasionally I notice there can be a slight lack of speed in the lows or tightness on busy tracks which doesn't seem apparent when switching over to another IEM, it makes me question if the IEM or player is producing the difference. When moving into the highs detail and extension are clear without any harshness, there's a good balance of treble that never treads out of line, you'll especially notice high frequency samples and instruments on the left/right outer channels quite obviously within the layering, its not metallic or unnatural and particularity inoffensive. Very well polished upstairs.
Soundstage is an assorted area for me, reports from several trusted owners are expressing DX200 being extremely airy and wide in staging, many of them suggest this from the 2.5mm balanced output. Unfortunately, using the single ended 3.5mm output I don't hear the stage to these lengths, its not closed in or compressed, I can make it wider with different tip selections on my IEM's though naturally I do hear slightly wider/airier stage from my Tralucent DacAmp by default. Some tracks may sound quite wide with DX200 another lacking though this doesn't appear to be the recordings when switching between the two sources as the Tralucent DAC is always slightly wider. From my experience with iBasso's players (and others) soundstage width can alter after simple firmware updates, I'm hoping this is the case for me down the road. Moving on from soundstage layering on the left/right channels are reasonably strong aspects, hearing side instruments on the outer channels imaging accurately in precise locations, again, when the layering displays itself you achieve high levels of detail accompanying the instruments which forms an extremely detailed almost energized presentation.
Something a player or any source needs to accomplish is accurate timbre reproduction, a well-recorded piano track is a great starting point, others familiar with classical music may use string instruments such as the violin. Its these kind of tracks you really begin to test a digital sources capabilities and when competent enough you occasionally extract feeling or emotion from sound quality alone. I'm not talking about simply enjoying a song because “its a good song”, if your IEM's are capable enough and the quality of music is outstanding enough you begin to draw a new state of feeling, the shear sound quality can make you teary-eyed, or feel overwhelmed from its presence. Does DX200 produce such a timbre, atmosphere and emit this sensation I've heard from a small amount of others? Well, I won't say the timbre is in anyway inaccurate it does a fabulous job, vocal reproduction and detail absolutely provides such sensations, it can really blow you away, but its a little different from what I've become accustom too particularly when a piano key note decays, its quite fast in decay with the default filter option (4) I use by preference. If anything it simply offers a different take on timbre. The note weight is quite solid, DX200 uses this along with dynamics to push out full fleshed detailed instruments. Its accurate, not unnatural or at fault, just taking on different entity to what I've accustom too in the past, not a bad thing when owning multiple sources.
DX200's sound alone is worth more than its asking price, there's no other way to put it, I can confidentially say this from experience with digital audio players over the years. The strong hardware speaks for itself even before considering the additional features. It leaves DAP's like my Astell & Kern AK300 priced similarly far behind, even to laughable extents. Instead, DX200 raises muscle to the likes of Sony's new $3000 Walkman, PAW Gold and flagship level AK380. When a product reaches these players in performance at just fractions of their retail price its not only self-explanatory, there's also little standing in DX200's way currently on the market. The sound is highly detailed, dynamic, super strong in resolution, refinement and technical ability, it makes me underwhelmed with other gear in several sound areas when hearing my favourite tracks played through it. Extremely high (and in my opinion) practically unmatched price to performance where we stand in 2017 now in terms of audio players. Like mentioned in opening paragraphs, iBasso are about bang for buck, sound for pound, DX200 is an absolute testament to that phrase.
Along with the premium packaging, well thought out accessories and incoming amp modules you're getting a lot for your money in terms of satisfaction and versatility. The unit overall can be a little large/heavy to cart around, I would have liked to see a secondary silicon case provided and the single memory card slot is a turn off for some (although I'm confident when people hear DX200 their priorities may shift). The large screen and easy to use swift Android interface makes the unit a breeze to navigate. While the overall design doesn't quite impact as AK luxury the literal $2-3K you save keeps those thoughts at bay. I give big congratulations to iBasso getting DX200 released so stable, its been a pleasure to use, review and listen to, you should be very proud.
I'm giving the review 4.5-stars because the price to performance ratio sound-wise is extremely high. When I think through the entire review pro/con there's really nothing glaring I can personally fault with DX200 besides some minor sound characteristics purely preference related or a non-critical bug/feature that needs adding. When I consider the steadily increasing prices of flagship players from companies like Sony, Astell & Kern, (and others) quickly stretching out of reach for many consumers, then considerate DX200 challenging these in sound quality for under $1000 USD this type of demonstration cannot be ignored and should be praised.
Great review, easy to read and very detailed
Very nice review!  Classy towel!  I particularly like you did not take credit from other people's comments. 
Have you had a encounters with Cayin I5 , Cowon PM2 or new FiiO x5lll. Any comparison thoughts  with DX200?


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Price to performance, transparency, soundstage, separation, sufficient detail, unique shell design for universal
Cons: Small carry case, fit might be tricky for (some) owners, slightly more mid-range vibrancy would fit my (personal) preferences
iBasso have stamped their name on this evolving portable audio scene for some time, up until recently focusing on portable amplifiers, dac/amps and portable players. With units like iBasso DX50, DX90, DX80 and earlier DX100 they always came across to me as a company offering great bang for buck and they're quite openly spoken about it. While their firmwares take time to mature with digital players the sound offered is always above standards. About a year ago some IEMs surfaced carrying the iBasso brand name, one of them being their Oriolus, It was priced on the higher side yet still managed to prove itself a worthy addition to their products on our Head-fi forums.
Now in 2016 we're greeted with a cheaper alternative, iBasso IT03, a hybird design IEM using one single dynamic driver and dual balanced armatures. Hybrid IEMs are quite popular designs they combine the bass ability and extension capable of common dynamic drivers while balanced armatures handle the mid-range and treble, the areas they do best. So many companies have released a hybrid design earphone over the years since AKG K3003 led the way, Fidue, Sony, Audio Fly, Tralucent, T-Peos, Dunu the list goes on. Hybrids are personally my favourite type of IEM, I've heard my fair share and know what to listen for. Some are just OK, others stand out when implemented correctly.
This iBasso IT03 unit was sent to me as a sample in return for an honest opinion. Thanks ahead to iBasso and especially Paul for considering me to assess their latest creation.
iBasso IT03:
iBasso Website:
Price: $259
  1. Model : IT03
  2. Type :Triple driver hybrid
  3. Driver: Dynamic driver (9.2mm) x 1 , Balanced Armature x 2
  4. Freq. Response: 10Hz-30kHz
  5. Sensitivity: 105+/-2dB
  6. Impedance: 8 ohm
  7. Noise Attenuation: -30dB
  8. Rated Power: 5mW
  9. T.H.D: <1% (at 1kHz /1mW)
  10. Plug Size: 3.5mm gold-plated
  11. Cord Length: 1.2m
  12. Weight: 9g without cable
About a year ago iBasso updated their website which I suggest checking out, its really well illustrated with stunning images of their products. A new logo was born for the company which expresses itself on their recent packaging, and players boot screens, I think it looks quite nice indeed. They're always wanting to move forward and it shows on IT03's purchase presentation.
First there is an outer sleeve with a graphic design of IT03, on the back some specifications looking fancy with a blown up design of IT03's internal parts. Under the sleeve IT03's box is made from a slightly heavy cardboard with Braille texture in dark grey almost black, similar to what I experienced with their iBasso DX80 player. From my observations iBasso care about presentation, the box is sturdy, hefty and possibly lending weight to the overall impression of a quality product. Its quite large though for an earphone packaging box. There's a magnetic flap which lifts open to reveal the earphones tucked neatly inside foam inserts with the cable wound underneath in its own little compartment. Once lifting that foam insert section there's another cut out storage space underneath containing your IT03 leather carry case and accessories.
Overall I'm thoroughly pleased with the packaging, it may even be a little overkill for an earphone of this price range but regardless most welcome. Some earphones costing $1000 come packaged with less thought and attention for consumers so its nice to see from a mid-tier category.
Far as accessories go I've seen more and less for the asking price:
  1. x3 Different types of silicon tips (S/M/L)
  2. x1 Leather storage case
  3. Warranty Card
  4. Frequency chart card / wearing instructions
What's included though is quite nice including 3 different sets of silicon tips, a well-gestured leather carry case and some paperwork. Each set of tips are contained in individual holders sporting the iBasso Audio brand name which is a nice touch. Little areas like these are overlooked by the general consumer considering they could have been dropped inside a cheap resealable satchel bag. There's also a warranty card and some charts showing measurements of IT03, on the other side some quick instructions how to wear the IEM over the ear.
I've been told accessories like the leather storage case were on the expensive side to make, it expresses some production went into it. However, its simply too small to hold the earphones in full-time comfortably. Unless you want to play “fold the cable, tuck this there' spin that here'' the excellent looking and genuine leather case is simply 2-3cm too short to fit IT03 in easily. Its frustrating in a way because someone went to the trouble designing it, gathered all materials, embedded the iBasso logo into it but the entire time it appears no one ever tried to store the earphones in before final production or test it. We're taking points off for that one iBasso. So close, yet so far....
The tips on the other hand, are all useful, they come with an assortment of small bore and wide bore which should satisfy a majority of users. Its surprising actually, I usually always prefer some form of aftermarket tip over ones supplied with earphone packages. In the case of IT03 the small bore grey tips provide the most accurate/fitting sound. They fit straight in holding well onto the nozzle.
Build / Design
IT03 housing's themselves are rather unique with a design I've not seen taken on by many. At first glance from certain angles it appears they're acrylic custom molds or (CIEMs), it takes some second staring at pictures to understand they're a universal IEM, the mold has been taken into consideration so it locks neatly and securely into the majority of users ears. The black shells with gloss finish are quite hard to photograph which makes expressing their design awkward. Each shell is neatly finished without any glaring rough spots, seam lines or obvious flaws.
The removable cable supports MMCX connections which aren't my most popular. We have had some members experiencing cutting out each issues from IT03 if you follow the Head-fi thread. The good news is a majority of owners aren't having many problems and usually if an issues are encountered its from the male MMCX plug on the cable which can be switched out for another.
One area that needs mentioning is the nozzles on IT03 don't have a lip for holding/positioning tips on securely, all the supplied tips have worked well though some aftermarket tips may fit loosely or slide further down the nozzle over time. I think considering today's standard with owners users after market tips most of the time a raised area around the lip of the nozzle should be included on the design. Its a small area that wouldn't take much extra work or manufacturing but goes a long way for the end consumer for ease of use over the long term. But again, all stock tips fit tightly and stay on securely
Which brings us to the cable, its quite an ordinary affair being a rather thin black and braided with that same glossy finish. It reminds me a little of Noble's stock cables they provided on some earlier earphones, nothing over the top that gets the job done while always leaving you a choice to upgrade. Its not a terrible cable by any means on close inspection, just not something that stands out and little bit springy, tangly. The male right angle plug however, appears to have been designed by iBasso, it supports the new logo at the base with a decreased section of reach for fitting into most mobile phone cases and shows someone was thinking ahead.
Fit / Isolation:
Far as fit goes I had an easy time, when the earphones are new the ear-guides on the cable will want to pull in different directions which can make the fit seem unwieldy. After initial adjusting of the guide and a few listening sessions they do settle molding to your ears. You will need to position the housing a certain angle to achieve the correct insertion, particularly my left ear needs some extra attention. Once inserted the housings do exactly as intended for me, seating nicely into each ear, the faceplate coming in almost flush with my outer ear. I do feel like with any IEM though some will have problems, there's always a few that can't get a fit. What matters is fitting the majority of users, if that's accomplished the product was successful at the design phase.
When isolation is concerned I'm quite impressed, sitting at my work desk with a noisy fan straight in-front of me the noise reduction is actually quite good even without music playing. Once a gentle songs playing in the background most outside noise is reduced to nearly nothing. Providing you're using the stock tips which provide a fair amount of reach I'd recommend these to people who take busy trains, buses and cope with the noisy environments of city living. Its enjoyable having this amount of isolation even if you want to zone out from the world temporarily.
Sound Quality:
Sources used:
  1. iBasso DX90
  2. Cayin i5
  3. Astell & Kern AK300
Files Used: 16/44 FLAC
In terms of tonality I find IT03 just a smidgen warmer than neutral, particularly around its mid-range, not enough to ever sound veiled or lacking detail like some darker earphones can, just enough which gives it a slightly comfortable voicing without becoming overly bright or intrusive on the ears. When lifting the volume up to higher levels you will be thankful for this type of tonality as it keeps the signature in check without causing the listener short term fatigue while also allowing clarity and detail to push through. If IT03 was my personal earphone I'd prefer the tonality just a touch colder (brighter) to provide an edge or increased amount of vibrancy however, a touch of EQ could achieve this very easily. I think overall the tonality is in the right ball-park to please a majority of consumers without many complaints whilst still able to excel.
Areas like the bass are neutral to my ears, maybe a 'smidgen' forward depending on your seal, volume used, and genre, there's not much emphasis to be found unless the genres summon it. Using my common Michel Jonasz test tracks the bass is well behaved displaying good amounts of extension. While the texture and clarity isn't at highest tier level there's no obvious flaws that display problems or errors, bass notes are heard clearly and promptly entering/exiting as a song continues along, areas like the mid-bass are at low levels staying well away from the mid-range. I think really for an IEM of its price range IT03 performs well in bass production, It could use a little more texture and clarity but clearly gives a good amount of detail making each note tightly and easily heard throughout each track with a nice amount of speed.
For those who enjoy a common TWFK sound of balanced armatures IT03 is a great representation, its on the slightly thinner side yet displays that small amount of warmth to provide some smoothness. Area's like the detail are on great levels and the clarity expresses itself quite well. Areas like vocals can shine nicely, particularly for females reaching into the higher regions and there's an ever so slight push in the upper mid-range which allows the detail to edge out crisp. Areas like refinement are solidly performing however if there's some aspects that must be sacrificed this would be one of them but in no means a negative sense or under performing.
What's impressive about the mid-range is the amount of separation and transparency, the earphone is able to remain coherent at higher volumes with great layering, this forms a solid wall of sound around you at higher listening levels. Many cheaper earphones start to pack up and bog down losing their form but IT03 can keep focal point on the song replicating a high energy sound wall. When we move to the timbre those familiar with TWFK's character instruments like piano and strings have a nice edge and decay to them to them, you can hear the depth of detail fading away in the background between notes.
I would say overall taking the price to performance into consideration IT03 would perhaps sum up the most solid performing mid-range I've heard this year, which says a lot considering some other earphones were triple the price iBasso offer this product for retail. You're able to draw a sense of emotion from the earphone, it pulls you into a song and at some points even tricks me into thinking I'm listening to something several times its asking price.
I find the treble practically spot on for my preferences, it is just a little forward at times which creates a nice gentle massage on the eardrums, crisp, clean and transparent, extension is decent along with the amount of detail. It won't have the absolute clarity of something like a Tralucent hybrid but there's absolutely no complaints. I say it meets a fine standard between a treble that's inoffensive while producing a nice amount of air and sparkle. I find it also layers quite well around the stage and gives the impressions its imaging itself in a accurate manner to the recordings.
Soundstage / Separation:
Separation is a strong suit combined with the amount of transparency, the mid-range is almost see through at times on the left/right channels which creates a good image of each instrument playing, I can easily pick out guitars on the left or cymbals coming from the right without any congestion or becoming too weighted down. The earphone is also quite open sounding and airy due to the large soundstage. For those who like to hear instruments cueing outside their ears a few inches IT03 can accomplish this. When you combine separation, transparency, air, and clarity it creates a truly pleasurable listening experience, a common TFWK tuning with highly competent technical ability.
Overall, my experience with IT03 has been extremely positive, the price is right, the sound is good, the thought gone into the shells and design shows some innovation for a universal IEM. There's really not much to say wrong about IT03. We will need to mention the small carry case which is a shame not being a little larger but considering the amount of alternative cases out there it can be forgiven, the cable is a little thin and springy. Over my time with IT03 I've asked myself what earphone I'd choose if I had to take an alternative over my Tralucent hybrids, the answer was quite clearly IT03. Its not going to have the full technical ability or levels of detail from (some) $1k earphones but it does a damn good job tricking you into thinking it is one. Many times I've been browsing Instagram whilst using IT03 having to think twice which earphone I was actually using, its ability to pull in close to TOTL for ¼ the price makes it an impressive product.
Thanks to iBasso for sending the sample, this one was a pleasure to review.
Thanks SoundHound! +1 For the Kegs.
I'm going to wait till BlackFriday comes, and then make a buy.
What have I been smokin. Let's try that again: Thanks jon parker!
How would you compare the mids and the treble to the ones on ATH-IM02?


Headphoneus Supremus
Let me start by saying this isn't really a full fledged review but a testimonial to the brand Tralucent Audio and especially massive thanks to the owner known on Head-fi as spkrs01 or Gavin. My journey with Tralucent began several years ago in 2012, a member I know well on the forums was ranting about this new hybrid IEM he demoed after helping someone here on Head-fi. At the time you think its just hype, new toy syndrome like many products on the market, another hatched train line. Not long after our conversations a tour began for the earphone in question, impressions came through solid from reputable enthusiasts how capable this new hybrid monitor really was. The praise was strong, a large percentage of people on these tours ordered one almost instantly (take my money! kind of thing). Myself being new(ish) to the forums back then obviously I was dying to try it.
We ended up having a unit sent to Australia, thankfully directly from Gavin himself which we demoed over here in Oz. What I heard from the original Tralucent 1Plus2 monitor was above everything else I'd heard before, not by a little either. This earphone had technical strength like an Ox , it took any IEM I'd personally heard previously making me feel like I'd wasted time and money. The original 1Plus2 become extremely successful, there are many reasons for that. Its transparency, technical skill and ability to extract meaning, feelings and emotions from sheer music (quality) alone.
I think part of it comes down to the timbre and house sound these earphones possess. They express themselves being extremely posh or high-end which is hard to describe until hearing one. If you could imagine a luxurious house with state of the art audiophile sound system Gavin's earphones simulate or replicate what you would perhaps hear in that room as compact portable solution. The levels of detail, clarity and presentation, the timbre has this specific tone or character which screams premium and they're all extremely capable on a technical level.
1Plus2 is still a competitive earphone from many of the IEM's I've heard today, in my eyes its near perfection for my preference building a monstrous reference point for me to compare other IEMs edging their prices into the higher-end category. Not only is 1Plus2 very competent it aligns basically 99.9% with my personal tastes which forms a stronghold against most other earphones I audition or review (tough times for them). After 1Plus2 Gavin released some newer hybrid IEMs including his Ref.1 and Ref.1 Too which use dual dynamic drivers in an isobaric chamber (push/pull design) again the performance showed in flocks. He also has a new Plus5 all balanced armature design and finally around the same time in 2016 released 1Plus2.2, the successor to his original?
Considering we've explained my feelings for the original 1Plus2 monitor its probably pretty hard to upgrade easily, right?  At first when I heard Gavin made a revised 1Plus2 I denied he could improve on what I found perfection, I thought there was no real way he could take it further Well, I was wrong, but to some extent so let's explain.
Design Changes:
After some conversations with Gavin the overall design of 1Plus2.2 remains similar, the dual balanced armatures are housed close to the eardrum inside each nozzle, a single dynamic driver mounted behind the BAs (hence the vented housings creating an acoustic chamber). Tralucent ran some tests on the material used for the nozzle bore, they've gone for a metal bore this time round which you can see the gold colour finish on each housing. Another area tested for improvement was the positioning of the balanced armatures inside each nozzle, to my understanding they're positioned a little further back from the original 1Plus2 design. I will say I do seem to notice this as tips that work well on my original 1Plus2 react differently on the newer model. I'm not sure if its due to the new nozzle being metal now or the balanced armature positioning but I do hear a variation. I have also noticed out of all my Tralucent IEMs the popular JVC Spiral Dot tips seem to be the most responsive on 1Plus2.2, what I'd consider the most balanced and detailed sound from every tip I've tried on the new hybrid.
Tralucent is also quite popular for their excellent sounding cables, including their top of the line Uber cable. Gavin is quite the purist even developing propriety silver/gold wire designed for the internal wiring inside each and every housing of his earphones, its all taken into the equation when tuning. As for the external cables most earlier Tralucent series came with two options you could choose, pure silver wire or silver/gold. These newer models now come with Gavin's latest edition copper cable, he developed a copper cable that will come as a stock option and that is the cable I currently use on my 1Plus2.2, I believe he also does balanced cable terminations if requested. From my testing whatever purity and wire used inside this new copper cable must be extremely clean because they have an uncanny way of sounding like a silver cable while inheriting the note weight of copper. It makes for some excellent sounding vocals and an interesting contrast on the earphones signatures. But enough cable talk, let's do some comparing...
Sound Impression / Comparison with Original 1Plus2:
The newer 1Plus2.2 still sounds like the same DNA pool, you have the Tralucent house sound, the timbre, transparency, detail, its technical skill still remains. But what's been changed is the signature has been tuned slightly smoother, thicker, the treble has been eased ever so slightly (some people found the highs hot(ish) on the original). It actually makes 1Plus2.2 sound more musical and less fatiguing over long listening sessions, the music flows more seamlessly.
Another transformation is the tonality being shifted slightly warmer around the mids, its lost some of that analytical/cold nature the original has. When you think that's not really an upgrade the 1Plus2.2 uses this new layer of thickness around its mid-range to surprisingly reveal more detail, thicker clarity which makes its vocal reproduction absolutely outstanding. What it does with the extra note weight is push out more of what the original 1Plus2 capped out on. Its like having a sports car with an extra gear, 1Plus2 went to 5th, 1Plus2.2 goes to 6th (or maybe even 7th) gear. Another way to look at it is  like someone added a stronger microscope lens on your detail meter or injected anabolic steroids into the earphone. Also because of these tuning adjustments the majority of sibilance with vocals people sometimes mentioned is toned down considerably.
Area's like the bass still have amazing texture and extension providing you're completely sealed up with the correct tips and I do detect it being a little faster when transiting from one note to the next, it seems to bounce a little more elegantly as you hear bass notes enter and exit clearly and quickly. Clarity in the low-end remains very much like Tralucent, soundstage still presents extremely open and airy like all Gavin’s earphones have in the past and the treble remains as detailed.
For anyone who enjoyed 1Plus2 signature but thought it was a little thin at times or cold the newer edition corrects most of those concerns. I won't say its as warm or deep sounding as his Ref.1 though something around the ball park of thicker/warmer, smoother 1Plus2 with more musicality. Despite these changes, the driver configuration and armatures used I still always hear an essence of the original. Like mentioned previously the DNA or bloodline totally remains intact.
The Upgrade:
When we consider the two earphones I need to ask myself if the new 1Plus2.2 is a true upgrade from the original? Has Gavin's new creation stood up to the extremely strong reference point I mentioned in the opening paragraphs. I believe it has yes, its shown the original 1Plus2 could be improved upon, its shown there were some areas that needed loving care. But in saying that its not like the original now sounds bad or is the underdog, we've already established in my eyes the original is very capable and unique.
I consider the newer 1Plus2.2 an add-on or expansion pack to the original, an extension of the 1Plus2 monitor. It does have more detail, at times you think 'yep' it has the first in the bag, and one needs to admit it can push out some remarkable vocals. But what the 2.2 has lost is a little of the analytical nature and that's right were my natural preferences lie, there's always a trade-off. The ballerina technical display 1Plus2 delivers still builds a solid case against this newest competitor. I think others will feel differently because they both deliver an altered representation of music and versatility depending on your favourite genres.
Either way what has been done is a tremendous effort all round without separating itself too far from the main roots of Tralucent Audio's house sound many have grown to love.
Closing Words:
I look at the Tralucent earphones as more an investment, they prevent me needing to make any further purchases or upgrades, they perform at a level I'm entirely satisfied with and never become uninterested in them, I think I've owned the original 1Plus2 over a year now, it never seems to tire me, I can still listen to them and say 'hell yeah' like the first day I heard them. Now the newer 2.2 only adds an expansion of that experience retaining any want to upgrade even further.
I'm quite fussy when spending large amounts of money in this hobby because I've seen people can be so disappointed with some purchases, I dread the thought of spending $1000+ waiting 2-weeks for delivery only to listen 5 minutes and want to neck yourself. But when it comes to Tralucent I am willing to fork over the cash, I know what's offered is a premium sound. I admit it, I'm a fanboy, but why shouldn't I be when these earphones have demonstrated they're some of the best on the market.
In a hobby we're throwing away money trying to reach some endless audio nirvana if an earphone can accomplish that for me its a very good earphone entirely for that reason alone, to postpone purchasing thoughts of this (seemingly) infinite audio addiction is a blessing. 1Plus2, Ref.1, Ref.1 Too, 1Plus2.2, Plus5, they're all simply outstanding IEMs made by an extremely great man, someone who actually gave a damn. Big thanks to Gavin, the guy who wanted to make a difference, It doesn't go unnoticed!
I'd like to leave you all with a live concert recorded in 1993 by Michel Jonasz, one I own on CD to reference test earphones.
Its quite a long video though you'll get a feel within the first 10 minutes and I don't ask you watch it all.

Thanks Uncle. Some bass lovers speak highly of them
Great review, can really relate to what you say about the original version. I'm not too disappointed that all the changes seem to be toning down all the things I like, playing safer for the masses! Anyone who stands close to strident drums and cymbals would not think treble of original needs taming. In fact, if all the areas changed had been turned up to 10.5 I would have been more intrigued. Too many iems produced now with treble rounded off a touch or a bit of warmth added. Long live the great Tralucent sound, but for me, happy with full fat extended treble version. Recently bought Noble Katana, another iem that tells it how it is.
@AndrewH13 Glad you feel the same away about this wonderful (and very unique) brand Gavin has created. I will be demoing Katana soon. :) 


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent Build, packaging presentation, thought gone into upping the overall Fidue name.
Cons: Low isolation, detected coherency issues in the mids and sound laboring at higher volumes.
Looking back on the year 2014 was the first time I heard the brand name Fidue mentioned, there was a lot of noise surrounding their first release 3-way hybrid, Fidue A83, and for good reason. It was ranked extremely highly by myself on a price to performance ratio reaching close to top tier earphones at a fraction of their price. With such forward motion It didn't take long for Fidue to stamp their name onto the vastly evolving portable audio market.
After their A83 Fidue released some middle/lower end models such as A73, they were all well received but fans dearly wanted a new flagship. Everyone was waiting on an A83 successor but Fidue themselves went rather quiet without a word of something new in the pipelines. That was until around 6-months ago while browsing facebook I saw some new images emerge on Fidue's page.
Their new hybrid is a 5-way design using x1 dynamic driver and x4 balanced armatures in each housing, we soon found out it was known as Sirius, or Fidue A91 and the promo images looked stunning. Today we'll be looking at the new flagship giving some thoughts, I will say there are some excellent aspects I perceive from Sirus but others I was left slightly questioning.
Fidue Sirius A91
Pricing from Penon Audio: $899 USD
  1. Model: FIDUE SIRIUS
  2. Color: Dark Grey
  3. Driving Units: 4 Balanced Armature driver & 1 dynamic driver
  4. Frequency Response: 4-45000 Hz
  5. Impedance: 20Ω
  6. Sensitivity: 113Db
  7. Input Power: 30mW
  8. Total Harmonic Distortion: <1%
  9. Plug: Protogenous 2.5mm balance stereo rhodium plating plug
  10. Cable Length: 1.3m 8cores silver plating OFC audiophile cable
  11. Converting Cable: 2.5 to 3.5mm quadruple balance converting plug; 2.5 to 3.5 mm universal stereo converting plug
  12. Applicable products: iphone, Samsung, HTC, Xiaomi, Meizu(all models), Ipad (Tablet&PC). It applies to 99% market electronic products
The new flagship is considered a top-end release in all areas visually. The unit comes in a wonderful black leatherette style box you keep and store Sirius inside (if you wish). The lid pops open held by two soft ribbons revealing the superbly built alloy earpieces and tips laid out before you. A word of mention, when I received this review sample the lid on my box was rather hard to open, almost like an airlock was holding it closed, I did try gently though it needed some force. When I strained the lid open one of the earpieces came flying out onto my bed. It was a little frightening for a first impression though possibly only this particular units storage box.
The original fluoro green outer packaging sleeve we know remains, It wouldn't be Fidue if we didn't have this artwork on each release outer boxing, its their brand stamp or trade mark logo and I do quite like the impression in puts across for a consumer.
Once you have the lid open you'll need to remove the first layer of the box to reach your goodies such as storage tin (a complete work of art in itself) and other accessories. Also flipping the first layer upside down you will find your balanced cable adapters which had me puzzled at first where they were located.
  1. User manual
  2. 3.5mm to 6.3mm cable adapter
  3. Airline Adapter
  4. Storage tin
  5. x2 balanced cable adapters
  6. x4 sets of silicon ear tips (XS/S/M/L)
  7. x1 Comply tips
  8. Warranty card
Once inside the storage tin you find your extra accessories in plastic bags, these include some comply tips, an airline adapter, 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter for home amps and a strange looking metal object which resembles a guitar pick. Turns out this item is a tool for removing the cable from each earpiece and another even smaller piece for cleaning the vents on the earphone housings. There are instructions inside the included manual explaining how this is accomplished and I'll show a photo to explain. I do think the cable removal/cleaning tool is something you'll need to keep an eye on, its small and may vanish into the realms of your apartment or house if not careful. Personally, I have not used the tools however it seems Fidue recommend you should as a safety measure with the MMCX connections.
The large metal tin itself is sensational supporting a twist/off lid, the inside padded out with what appears a soft velvet material so the metal earpieces never rub or knock anywhere. Its also weighs quite a lot giving a feeling of quality when in the hand . On the lid you can see the Fidue logo engraved deeply displaying itself with a chrome like finished indentation . The tin again like the entire package gives a strong impression of high quality, I doubt however it could be placed in a pants pocket as its an oversize design which suits me fine for home storage, easy to use.
Build Quality:
Fidue truly have gone for something different than their previous earphones, they've really upped the anti on build quality for their new flagship. Gone are the plastic housings we've seen on past models, Sirius has full metal construction housing with excellent attention to detail. Probably the only thing which remains similar are the vent or fin detailing on each face-plate.
The entire earphone looks extremely mature or grown up over anything we've seen from this company before. When in person you really think you're looking at something built by Sony or the likes of a true craftsmanship. Sony H3 was probably some of the nicest build I'd seen, that was until I laid eyes on Sirius in person.
Photos simply don't do the build full justice, its more an art form than an earphone housing, with the precision of today's machining tools each earpiece is a true mirror image of the other. I also appreciate Fidue going for a more laid back colour scheme with Sirius, no more red/blue bright housings or loud colours stating their name. Fidue have upped the game substantially.
Each earpiece still retains a similar shape to their previous models however the size seems to be kept quite small considering the amount of drivers inside. The metallic grey coating over the earpieces works very well in combination with the cable locking mechanism and coloured collars. They support popular MMCX connections with a locking collar system implemented, its good seeing this new approach taken on-board and hopefully solves any connection issues.
Another thing to mention is the nozzles on Sirius have no raised lip or section to hold your tips on securely. Because of this you may find tips coming off inside your ear canal after removal occasionally. I really do wish this area had been treated differently, but it is what it is.
Cable Quality:
The excellence in craftsmanship doesn't halt at the cable. After some research I've found its an 8 braid silver plated cable terminated with 2.5mm balanced jack (the same configuration as Astell & Kern use for their balanced output). The cable is also sheathed with a material that makes it extremely stylish usually found from custom cable makers. Included with the accessories are x2 adapters we talked about earlier, these attach to the default 2.5mm balanced connection converting your Sirius for single end 3.5mm or balanced 3.5mm input jacks.
While I see the functionality having 2.5mm balanced jack as default I really don't know if the market is prepared for this as an everyday use. We're still much in the 3.5mm single end jack lifestyle and I do wonder if simply another balanced cable should have provided instead of these add-on accessories. The downside to needing the adapters with your iPod or older MP3 players is they must remain attached full-time, they add weight to the already sturdy cable and it seems odd overall from a consumer perspective to take this direction. I do see where Fidue we're heading although not sure if I agree with it totally. As for the cable quality its wonderfully built, when attached to the earpieces only adds to the pure attraction of Sirius, there's no two ways about it.
Areas like the MMCX male plug connection are well designed. The locking mechanism collar allows each plug to stay on tight and the housing can swivel (or be adjusted) before screwing them down tightly, afterward the housing will hold that position/angle you select.
Fit / Isolation:
Fit wise I had an easy time, the housings seat neatly inside the cavity outside my ear as the lower-end of the housing slips in behind almost locking the housing in-place. I'm able to jump up/down with them worn or even jog slowly. I will stress though this is just with my ears, some who experienced rough fit a with the earlier A83 model may also run into problems. Areas like the nozzle still have limited reach and you must really align the housing in the correct position to get a tight sealed fit depending on your tips used.
I was able to use the stock included large tips without much problem, considering the housing lock into my outer ear so well. Others on the forums have needed to try tip alternatives, many of them saying JVC Spiral Dot worked well. Others have wished there were more tips included.
Because the nozzle still provides limited reach you're going to have a downside in isolation, its an area Sirius cannot keep out lots of noise. I was able to hear traffic and ambient sounds quite easily depending on my situation and how loud my music was playing. I couldn't really recommend Sirius for someone who spends their day in busy cites or around hectic train platforms.
Sound Quality:
Sources used:
  1. Astell & Kern AK300
  2. iBasso DX90
  3. Shanling M3
  4. Tralucent Dac Amp One
Files used:
  1. All files 16/44 FLAC
To my ears the tonality of Sirius is slightly on the warmer side of neutral, particularly around the mid-range where it can come across as smooth or as another word sounding matured. The downside is those who admired direct vibrancy and energy from Fidue A83 may find themselves wondering exactly what Fidue tried to do. For myself I understand the smoother signature is to display a more evolved sound though those who seek drop of a hat clarity may be left wondering.
Areas like the upper mid-range still have some push at higher volumes but again its all put across with a slightly warm tilt to the mids and it can be confusing if you dislike any kind of veil or lack of vibrancy, I've found myself tempted to add some EQ to bring Sirius at a level I like.
The bass is slightly forward from neutral but only fractionally and it comes across to me having a slightly elevated mid-bass hump depending on the tips used, its not the kind of mid-bass that's overly intrusive or annoying but enough to hear its presence along with the accompanied sub-bass, it seems to show more presence at higher volume regions.
Areas like speed are decent and texture but its not the kind of bass detail or clarity I have heard from some cheaper IEMs in the past. T-Peos H-300 being a good example. I do hear decent extension but when compared to something like Tralucent Ref.1 the reach into lower territory from Sirius suffers in creating the deepest sub-bass notes and remaining tight. My overall thoughts on the bass are not negative nor anything extraordinary amazing either.
The meat of Sirius is its mid-range, where the life and soul of this earphone lies. Like mentioned the tonality comes across slightly thick, and warm which presents the mid-range with some maturity or a smoother perception. While the detail is quite decent it expresses itself more in the thickness of each note over throwing it directly at you with edge clarity, it uses weight to express detail. For me, when using higher volumes I find this note weight gets in the way of separation and imaging, it can make Sirius confused, unclean or overcrowded at times which I don't feel is a pleasing experience.
At lower volumes when the drivers aren't working hard Sirius maintains its true sound and its quite enjoyable particularly when idling late at night whilst laying in bed. Its just for me when an earphone begins costing roughly $1000 its ability to remain coherent without congestion or sound like its laboring is extremely important. Tralucent 1Plus2 being an excellent representative. At the end of the day its all relative to your standard or reference level so opinions will vary between each person depending on their preference and experience with other quality earphones.
Areas like timbre are quite good with piano and guitar if you're interested in a slightly unreal sound, if you close your eyes and imagine or visualize a live concert inside a hall Sirius can place that across depending on the genre or music you listen to. I need to stress though those looking for a direct A83 upgrade in the mid-range need to consider the changes made to this signature.
To these ears treble is slightly on the smoother side as well, Its not highly active or aggressive, It displays itself well throughout most tracks and has never become too forward or itching my nerves on sibilant or harsh. It sometimes takes a back-seat when the volume is loud as the mid-range comes forward and its thickness takes a front-seat, but again its not done in 100% clean manner.
Extension seems to suffer and the highs can sound a little rolled, if you're looking for a lot of shimmer, a treble head or needing your ears massaged by highs Sirius will not do that. Its more what I'd consider consumer friendly treble, a safe approach to not offend anyone.
The first day I tried Sirius was with a track I'd not listened to for sometime, Agnes Obel, - ”Aventine”, its the first album on my sd cards. It had me convinced Sirius used some form of magic as the depth on the left/ right channels had an uncanny level almost like a binaural recording. While Sirus does contribute to this later that day I tested with a few other earphones and it was indeed the mastering of that track, not Sirius all alone. So I can say the soundstage does have quite good width and depth on the each side channel, it can almost come across holographic but you must have the correct tips and recordings for it to express this character.
One area that suffers is again the lack of air around the presentation when lifting the volume, again the mids sound sluggish, thick and it can compress the soundstage. With another higher-tier earphone the soundstage should be able to 'explode' outwards with tracks when there's a climax, the amount of dynamics should hit clean and then leave as quickly. Sirius cannot do this and loses marks.
Separation / imaging:
Imaging as mentioned can hold great refinement at lower volumes, its able to place instruments around the stage on each channel and the stereo imaging is decent, but again if there's any congestion it loses balance and becomes loose, the thickness takes control. When an earphone is excelling at higher volumes the imaging and separation should hold tight posture, it should surround you and create a large wall of sound that can immerse you.
I am actually quite surprised Sirus cannot hold a higher level of separation, I understand its signature is on the thicker side but it really loses some marks from me, it simply doesn't become a stand out area I think 'wow, that's good'. Instead an area I need to listen for, it doesn't find me, I need to find it then become slightly underwhelmed what I hear.
I'm giving Sirus a total of 4 stars, most of them allocated towards the build quality, packaging and overall presentation of your purchase. Fidue have pushed the bar in terms of expressing quality from their latest product, the housings, cable, and appearance are all absolutely first class. It really is a beautiful looking earphone one people will ask you about in the street, pieces like the storage tin make it a complete package, a very exceptional one. I do think they should have provided a separate balanced cable over the adapters but its their choice.
When it comes to sound I cannot agree Sirius pushes any boundaries or excelling what could be done with its amount of drivers. These coherency issues I detect at moderately higher volumes and that laboring causing Sirius to lose separation tell me there's something going on with the tuning that wasn't finalized or could have been implemented more accurately. Now, one can argue Sirius isn't my signature and I'd agree its not though my reference point being the Tralucent brand Sirius is a way off even the aging 1Plus2 hybrid design which uses less drivers. For an earphone to excel it must be strong technically, then you begin to draw a sixth sense from music, you begin to extract emotion, goose bumps, all those fun things. Sirius barely has the technical aspect nailed consistently. 
I do hear its ability at lower volumes, its a decent sounding IEM, but decent for $899 is not enough. For almost $1000 I want amazing, I'm paying you so provide that sound. Receiving Sirius as a review sample I need to ask myself how my conscious had felt if I paid the full amount, would I be pleased with its sound performance? My answer is no, I would not be completely satisfied for the money and need to be honest. At the end of the day its not my cup of tea though others will always feel different and I hope they enjoy their purchase, genuinely.
Thanks to Michael from Fidue for sending the sample.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Design, features, settings, sound, appearence, build, value, file support,
Cons: Could be a smidgen more revealing around the mid-range, (though at its price you simply can't complain)
Cayin have always intrigued me, their approach to portable audio isn't about sound quality alone, far from. Their designs are some of the most unique and peculiar on the market. Not only have their designs separated themselves from competition, they detach themselves from MP3 players as we've come to understand them. Last year when we toured Cayin N6 the casing was described by my friends with some entertaining titles.
I will say Cayin N6 wasn't my preferred design for a flagship player, it was quite heavy, a little 'clicky clacky' on the push button controls and cumbersome on the go. All that changed when I laid eyes on their mid-tier model Cayin N5, only impressing me further once I held N5 in the palm of my hand. On top of the design Cayin managed to pack this little player to the brim with features. Everything from USB 3.0 port, dual micro sd card slots, coax out, line out, huge file support, respectable resolution screen. The pocket-sized player even supports 2.5mm balanced headphone out if you wish to use it. All for a respectable price of around $345 USD.
Phones Out (Bal):

  1. Power rating: 300mW+300mW(@32Ω)
  2. Frequency Response: 20-20kHz(±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz)
  3. 5-50kHz(±1dB,Fs=192kHz)
  4. THD+N: 0.006% (1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
  5. Dynamic Range: 108dB(20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
  6. SNR: 108dB(20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)


Phones Out (Single End):

  1. Power rating: 200mW+200mW(@32Ω)
  2. Frequency Response: 20-20kHz(±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz)
  3. 5-50kHz(±1dB,Fs=192kHz)
  4. THD+N: 0.006% (1kHz时,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
  5. Dynamic Range: 108dB (20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
  6. SNR: 108dB (20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
  7. Output Impedance; 0.26Ω


Line Out:

  1. Output Level: 2.0V (@10kΩ)
  2. Frequency Response: 20-20kHz (±0.2dB,Fs=192kHz)
  3. 5-50kHz (±1dB,Fs=192kHz)
  4. THD+N: 0.005% (1kHz,Fs=44.1kHz;20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
  5. Dynamic Range: 108dB(20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)
  6. SNR: 108dB(20Hz-20kHz,A-Weighted)



  1. 4200mAh 3.7V Lithium polymer, can play 9 HRS
  2. Charging: 3 HRS (with 2A Charger, not provided)
  3. Charging Current: <=1500mA when charge with 2A Charger,<=500mA when charge with computer USB port
  4. Recommended Headphone impedance Range: 16-300Ω(recommended)
  5. Dimension: 11.1 x 6.4 x 1.64(cm)
  6. Net Weight: 195g


Music Format (Local Storage):

  1. DSF: Native hardware decode DSD64 and DSD128
  2. DFF: Native hardware decode DSD64 and DSD128
  3. SACD-ISO: Native hardware decode DSD64 and DSD128
  4. APE: Up to 192kHz/24Bit(Support Fast and Normal compression only)
  5. FLAC: Up to 192kHz/24Bit
  6. WAV: Up to 192kHz/24Bit
  7. AIFF: Up to 192kHz/24Bit
  8. ALAC: Support
  9. WMA: Support
  10. AAC: Support
  11. Mp3: Support


USB Audio(DAC):

  1. USB Mode: A synchronized USB Audio 2.0 Class
  2. DSD: Support DoP (DSD64)
  3. PCM: Up to 192kHz/24Bit
  4. Windows: Support (Driver required)
  5. MAC OSx: Support
  6. iOS: Not support
  7. Android: Not support



  1. Cayin N5 Music Player
  2. USB cable
  3. 3.5mm audio cable
  4. Silicone case
(add specs from penon audio here)
Price / Availability:
Penon Audio, Amazon and selected retailers.
On arrival the boxing is quite plan Jane from first look. I have a black relativity thick cardboard box with a nice texture, the words 'Cayin' can be seen in the upper left corner. On the back of the box however, is an assortment of information including the AKM AK4490 DAC used, PGA2311 volume chip, there are some other highlighted features such as the 2.5mm balanced headphone out, USB 3.0 and ability to support two micro sd cards. Total weight of the package comes in at 195grams.
Once removing the lid (which wasn't exactly effortless) the first thing you'll see is the player itself recessed into an insert. A piece of ribbon laying behind the player lets you pull upwards to release N5 from its holding facility. I'll say so far the presentation is quite attractive, sometimes these subtle formulas talk class in themselves. Once you lift the player out you'll find another cardboard insert below with your accessories and extra goodies.
Included is:
  1. x1 Silicon Case
  2. x1 User manual
  3. x1 USB 3.0 data/charge cable (flat)
  4. x1 Quick start card
  5. x1 3.5mm coax to female RCA cable
  6. Quality control pass sticker
When I look at the accessories there's something about them, something shows a higher quality than I usually experience. The silicon case appears high-grade material, the USB 3.0 cable thick flat and durable, even the user manual has been laminated in glossy finish. Its things like this add up to the quality Cayin shoot for even at mid-tier level. The manual is well laid out in English explaining most of the players functions. Cayin went the distance in presenting the package displaying they actually 'care' which is a welcomed aspect compared to some others in the portable audio market.
Design / Build:
At this section its 10/10 stars, if one thing appeals to me more besides N5's features its the design. Like mentioned in the introduction it appears Cayin have some of the most daring physical designers working for them. From the all metal casing, vents engraved along the side, the large respectable resolution screen, everything about the design makes N5 appear almost like an artifact you discovered deep inside an ancient pyramid. Its a real head turner, a conversation piece that may even leave people curious what the unit actually is when first showing them.
The back of the unit has a carbon fibre plate, the words Cayin in gold running writing on top. Its not far from the appealing look of an Astell & Kern player but much, much cheaper. Its not only the looks, when you hold the unit in your hand it has a little weight which adds to its quality. Kind of like holding an expensive watch or rare treasure and I love it.
Areas like the buttons are chrome finish, the scroll wheel embedded with finger grip notches firm to click, its just leaks quality everywhere and I can't express anymore how I admire the design of N5.
Let's have a quick walk around the player:
User Interface:
From an off state the player takes roughly 10 seconds booting to the main menu. The first you'll see is a musical backdrop and some round icons spreading across some strings. At the top of the screen there's an icon bar showing the volume level, gain mode, your main menu selection, EQ status and battery percentage. So nice to see more players integrating the battery level in percentage readouts, not only very accurate, looks great as well in the corner of your screen.
The main menu options are:
  1. Music category (genre, artist, album etc)
  2. Music library (folder browsing / select each card slot)
  3. Now playing screen
  4. Music settings
  5. System settings
Music Settings:
In this section you're able to adjust settings like gain mode, play mode, switching between line out or headphone out, gapless, EQ. Unlike several other players I've reviewed Cayin really deck out the music settings with several features, some you may use daily, others adjust once and be done with it. None the less its these adjustments that make a player very flexible to a number of users.
The available music settings are:
  1. Gain setting (Ldb / Hdb)
  2. Digital filter (several options)
  3. DSD gain compensate
  4. SPDIF out (DSD64) (D2P / DoP)
  5. Equalizer (custom presets / 10 band adjustable sliders)
  6. Play mode (normal / repeat, repeat 1, shuffle)
  7. Output selection (phone / line out)
  8. Breakpoint resume (off / on)
  9. Gapless (off / on)
  10. Max volume (set limit)
  11. Start up volume (memory / custom)
  12. Set up Start up volume (set limit)
  13. Balance (L/R – 10 steps each way)
  14. Album art (of / on)
  15. Lyric (off / on)
System settings:
In this section you'll find features like language selection, theme selection, folder operation, switching between USB and DAC mode. Once again Cayin not letting anything leak through the cracks people might need. Sometimes I find it amazing how all these single features can be implemented into a player then function seamlessly without any confrontation between each other.
System settings available are:
  1. Language (several options)
  2. Theme selection (different colours)
  3. USB mode (DAC / USB)
  4. Backlight time (30 seconds / 40 minutes)
  5. Screen brightness (6 settings low/high)
  6. Folder operation (off /on)
  7. Enable hibernation (off / on)
  8. Idle shutdown (off / on)
  9. Idle shutdown time (5minutes / 120 minutes)
  10. Scheduled power off (off / on)
  11. Format TF card
Now Playing screen:
At the heart of the unit is the now playing screen where you'll see your album art displayed with a great resolution screen for its class taking up most of the real estate. The track title, time duration, volume level, play mode, gain mode everything you need to enjoy the unit without glancing to far away. When you combine the design we spoke about coming from an ancient time then throw the modernization of a great colour screen with current album art you form something really special. Old meets new, design meets technology, all give the player a certain character.
Getting around the unit consists of using the scroll wheel and buttons along the side of the player. Basically, the scroll wheel can be used for moving up and down the menu options or you can simply use the buttons on the front of the unit also. The scroll wheel has a center button which makes your selections. I find moving around the unit requires two hands for most parts especially when navigating through the menus and your music folders but its actually quite enjoyable. The scroll wheel clicks firmly with each small rotation, the buttons have solid amount of resistance, it works quite well, a continuation of the design aspect.
There are other settings that change their mode when the screen is asleep, for example, long pressing the volume buttons will change tracks, single presses will change the volume in small increments so it doesn't get caught going up too loud in your pocket. Lots of little safety measures taken to expand the functionality and make the user experience a firm selling point.
Battery Life / Output Power:
N5 is spec'd out to reach a respectable 9 hours, using 16/44 FLAC I had no problems reaching those amounts, even more depending how heavily you use the unit, your file format and the amount of screen on time you use. I think anything under 8 hours is looking a little brim in today's age though N5 manages a neat little readout display in percentage and never feels like you're a slave to the power point. For myself I probably charge the unit once every 2-3 days.
The output power is rated at 200mW+200m @ 32ohms which is more than you'll need with any of the low impedance IEMs on the market. I'd say N5 will do well with most full-size headphones as well. During my time using IEMs I've never flicked the unit into high-gain and never ventured past 50 percent volume. Its a real little powerhouse made for the masses and should do well with just about anything (within reason) you throw at it.
Sound Quality:
In-ear monitors used:
  1. Tralucent 1Plus2
  2. Tralucent Ref.1
  3. Shozy Zero
  4. Aurisonics ASG-2
  5. Echobox Finder X1
Files used:
  1. 16/44 FLAC (all files)
N5's overall tonality is on the 'slightly' warm side of neutral, it can sound a little smooth around the mid-range and treble regions. While the treble is never absent I do hear a little lacking extension or a laid back presence. Areas like the low-end have solid punch with great extension, the bass always ready for action if your genre/albums are in request. One area that stands out on the lows is the texture and detail being quite nice, there's enough clarity to make your earphones sound full and warm if their signature is tuned that way. When you reach the mid-range the timbre has a certain house sound I've heard from Cayin's N6 player, its quite unique and classy giving the player its own personality.  Quite an addictive house sound you don't want to shift away from.
Areas like refinement, separation are good even being a little ahead of iBasso DX80. When it comes to resolution and mid-range detail there are sufficient amounts for the price range but its the only area I feel N5 may hold back over the iBasso, DX80 is just is a little more revealing. Its easy for me to say I would take Cayin N5 over FiiO X3II if offered the choice as the detail is surpassing that level and N5 isn't as warm as the FiiO units I've owned/heard which I don't particularly enjoy.
Soundstage is decent although not extremely wide, layering is sufficient on the left/right channels. While these areas are more then present the sections may be compromised being a mid-tier player. Overall you're not missing terribly much from the next level up in players but a little more stage width would have been welcomed for my Tralucent IEMs which push the limits of width for an in-ear monitor. While the Tralucent IEMs may not have reached their performance ceiling I had particularly good results pairing N5 with the dynamic driver based Shozy Zero earphones. The two provided an excellent amount of detail and dynamics which became my favorite earphone for N5.
Summing up, N5 is more than capable for the price and especially for an everyday all rounder who wants to lessen listening fatigue. The way the mid-range and treble presents themselves with that slight smoothness and relaxation allows many hours of listening without becoming tired. Players like iBasso DX90 are very revealing highly strung units but there is always the price of your ears needing a rest after an hour or two. I believe Cayin tuned N5 for the long haul, the all day listeners and this shows with their end result.
From the design, features, settings, Cayin completely nailed it. Not only have they produced one of the more unique looking players on the market at a respectable price point, they've hammered the functionality and usability down to a tea showing a functional practically bug free player can be accomplished if the market and companies put dedication to it. While other companies were moving into touch screens Cayin produced what I call a 'true audiophile' DAP. It looks good, sounds good and shows testament to the roots of  audiophile character.
When we talk about the sound N5 plucks many of the right strings, while it isn't the most detailed unit I've heard in this category N5 successfully accomplishes what it was designed too, that long listening experience. While I do prefer a slightly more revealing sound I am not taking any points off because technically N5 is quite strong, the timbre, house sound all equate to something quite special and will appeal to several portable audio hobbyist. For me, just having the unit in my house, on my desk when not in use is almost like gazing over at a sentimental piece, one I suspect with age won't appear any older.
I'd like to thank Cayin for sending the sample and its been a really fun, enjoyable experience reviewing Cayin N5. Its a pleasure to use on a daily basis, I can easily, easily recommend N5 to anyone out there looking for a great player among this populated portable audio market.
Sonic Defender
Sonic Defender
Sounds like a great player, but I still think touch screen is the way to go and I suspect Cayin will end up embracing this reality. I like that the N5 has enough power for most user needs. Thanks for the review.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Adjustable sound signatures, great packaging,
Cons: Caused some fit issues, cable lacks appeal, filters easy to lose
FLC Technology were a company I'd never heard of until they surfaced on Head-fi late last year. They’re a Chinese based company with some very interesting ideas in regards to customizing your portable audio experience. Hybrid in-ear monitors have always been popular among the Head-fi crowd, with the use of a dynamic driver and balanced armature used in unity you can produce some excellent performance, it seems everyone including Sony are giving it a go. Where FLC Technology push the game further is adding a complete filter adjustable hybrid so you can cater the sound to 36 different approaches! 
  1. Sensitivity 107 dB/mW  @ 1000Hz
  2. Frequency Response 20Hz - 20Hz
  3. Drivers x1 8.6mm Dynamic + x2 Balanced Armature
  4. Impedance 11ohm
  5. Cable length 1.2m (detachable UE two pin configuration)
  1. $349 USD (found at and other selected vendors)
Much thought went into the packaging the entire presentation arrives in a heavily built cardboard box with inserts that flick outwards and a design speech in itself, its not the kind of thing you would throw away after removing the earphones. Its built to last as a storage container for your accessories, filters and looks great in person. It is quite heavy though so one must take this into consideration.
When I first laid eyes on FLC8 I would have believed the housings are actually metal or some form of durable aluminum, after some investigating it appears the housings are made of plastic, but like I said you'd never know unless you were told. This goes for the appearance and the feel of the housing. You can get them in two different colours (blue or red) and personally I think both look great with a little bias towards the red in colour.
The cables are detectable as are the front filters which all appear to have decent threading and connections. There is however a short guide to take care when removing the cables as they're not 100% fool proof and can be damaged if care is not taken. I'll also add one should only remove the cables when absolutely required. While they're indeed detachable they're not 'indestructible'.
I will say the cable is a little under the weather, it looks nice in photos but is a little stiff and doesn't feel all that premium to the touch, it has that wirey feeling that retains spring and may seem a little springy for those on the go in the outside world. The beauty of FLC8 is however it can use any third party UE two pin cable for those who want to upgrade, sound, aesthetics alike.
Fit / Isolation:
Unfortunately for me getting a fit with FLC8 was a little underwhelming, particularly the left side liked to pop out of my ear often, I was able to keep them secure by lifting my ear before inserting the tip however over time it would wiggle its way out and I found myself pushing the left earpiece back in. It was ok sitting down or lying in bed but on the go they gave me some issues no matter which way I adjusted the ear guide or tips used. I think maybe because the housing is unable to pivot.
I will say the majority of owners (and there are many) have not had the same issues so it appears the fit issue would be isolated to a selected few who just don't fit the mold correctly. I had read one other thread on Head-fi where a member had the same issue. Isolation was also affected because of the fit issue but I'll say once sealed isolation was more than satisfactory but not an entirely strong point for my experience, especially outdoors.
Included in the package is:
  1. x12 Silicon tips ( Small / Medium / Large)
  1. x1 Round metal case (very strong / durable)
  2. x9 Low frequency tuning plugs
  3. x9 Ultra Low frequency tuning plugs
  4. x8 Tuning nozzles
  5. x1 Pair of tweezers (for using installing the filters)
  6. x1 Filter storage case
  7. Airline adapter
  8. 6.3 to 3.5mm Jack Adapter
  9. Tuning guide
  10. Ear wax cleaning tool
Filter System:
The most inspiring part of FLC8 is the tunable filter system allowing up to 36 different sound signatures. By changing the nozzle and two small filters located on the housing you're able to alter the sound signature closer to something you prefer. You can adjust the ultra low frequency, low frequency and mid-range which is a separate filter that attaches to the housing nozzle.
I will show some illustrated pictures from the supplied tuning guide:
Because there are so many customization's available one would be mad to go through each one and write about them (absolutely mad I tell you). So what I have done is adjust FLC8 to what I feel is inline with my preferences which are bright/analytical. By doing this I'm able to mold FLC8 into something close as possible to my desired sound signature and write a sound description.
The configuration I went for is:
  1. Red: Ultra Low Frequency
  2. Grey: Low Frequency
  3. Green: Mid-range Frequency
Files used:
  1. FLAC 16/44 (all files)
Sources used:

  1. iBasso DX80
  2. Cayin N5
  3. iBasso DX90
With the red filters installed one of the best tracks to test sub-bass is Michel Jonasz – Le Temps Passe. Extension is good, the texture is great and there's a nice presence of clarity in the low-end. I won't say its the the most extended I've heard but most certainly a nice low -end. It has the correct speed and punch but still to my ears doesn't push out the most quantity. But even then its more than present and shows enough quality bass for its price range to impress the masses.
With the green filters attached to the nozzles I was able to make FLC8 sound quite vibrant and on the brighter side, it makes a good experience for those who like a nice amount of clarity and detail in their presentation. I would even lean to say if your seal isn't correctly done you may even find them a little too lean. Detail levels are well present however I do wonder if something like Fidue A83 can push out a little more for the price between them.
Refinement is nice, there's a nice tonality which again shimmers through the mid-range giving a quality timbre, areas like the upper mid-range have a nice push at times with vocals. All in all the quality of FLC8 is quite nice and I understand why people rave about them. There's hardly any siblance to be found and the earphone presents itself well.
For testing treble and an IEMs ability to remain stable its always good to throw some modern recorded EDM tracks or electronic music, its these tracks that will test an the IEMs extension, refinement and strength at not showing any peaks or sibilance in the highs. FLC8 pulled this off nicely, even with the brighter green mid-range filters installed. It doesn't have the end to all in extension but does a clean job and showing itself.
If I had to fault the treble it could sound a little metallic or one noted at times, Kind of ticking away in the background and allowing the mid-range to come through over the top. But again, I must stress this is just with my filter set up!
Strong point, not the end to all but for the price a skilled area of this earphone, you get a good sense of instruments separating and even ticking in time together with the correct tracks. I would even say the amount of separation is slightly stronger then my main reference IEM in this price range, Fidue A83. I was impressed with this area.
There is decent width but not a completely strong point, you won't feel anyway closed into the presentation and from my experience the sources used will completely alter this. I don't however perceive much depth from FLC8 it does sound a little flat in the center channel but most certainly not something that's going to draw your attention or distract you.
Remembering I've only gone through one option of filters I really can't fault the sound I heard, it was on the brighter sound for those who like lean tonality and It does perform well. The accessories and build are nice, the entire idea of bringing such a customized earphone to the market in itself a great thought. The only real problems I can mention are the fit issues I experienced and the possibility of losing the filters, they're so small and fiddly to set up. I think while adjusting is fun many will find the correct set up for their personal preference and stick with it.
I see lots of potential in the concept and its obvious appealing to the masses as the Head-fi thread for this earphone is well populated and healthy. Many members are completely happy with the performance and then some more. For me FLC8 won't become my every day earphone because I have those fit issues and personally I still lean a little towards Fidue A83 in this price range. At the end of the day, FLC Technology produced something different, unique, a one off of their own, and that's the beauty of FLC8.
I'd like to thank FLC Technolgy and @DJScope for arranging the tour!
H2O how is the imaging of the flc compared to a83?
@Skullophile I'd say they're very close as I didn't notice one pull away heavily in imaging. @Signal2Noise This was a tour unit, I've placed it in the only FLC8 review section on Head-fi, sorry for any mic up. Hope you enjoy yours soon! @woye263s personally I still prefer Fidue A83 over FLC8 and I'm yet to find another in the mid-tier IEMs that performs quite as well. DN-2000J or the newer model might also be worth considering
Thanks, which one would you buy? DUNU 2002 or FLC8s?


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Great build, use of materials and technology, superb shell design for fitting,
Cons: Too warm for me in the mid-range, detected some coherency issues, perhaps a little expensive?
A few weeks ago on Head-fi forums I was approached to home audition the new Campfire Audio line up as they circulate around Australia. I'd like to first thank d macr0 and Campfire Audio for the opportunity to hear these new (very interesting) in-ear monitors.
Campfire Audio began building hand made cables and amplifiers known as ALO Audio, they have now extended stretching out into the ever growing world of IEMs. The in-ear montior we'll be looking at today is a quad driver configuration, similar driver count to that found inside Westone 4 and newer Westone 40.
Campfire Jupiter
Price: $899 USD
On arrival Jupiter came inside quite a loud colorful looking box. For some reason the colour scheme reminds me of the computer game Bioshock. Its not overly heavy or double folded which makes the entire unboxing light weight and easy. Very simplistic box, with a fancy paint job that gels well with the line up.
Inside you will find a rather well-made leather carry case padded out with sheep wool on the inside, its a real eye catcher my family members thought was quite awesome. The case has a zipper which closes perfectly and there's adequate room inside to store the IEMs and a few tips. Its a nice case.
There's an assortment of tips, mainly foam are included as I've been told Campfire believe their IEMs sound best with foam tips, Campfire have gone the distance including some genuine Comply tips as well. Can't say I used any myself as I defaulted straight to silicon. They do include some silicon tips however if you wish to use them. There's also a quick start guide / warranty pamphlet which shows you the specs of Jupiter, a “Fit “Guide” written out and some care instructions.
Other things you will notice inside the accessories are a spare cable which is marvelous to see and what appears to be a shirt pin displaying the Campfire logo! (fancy stuff)
Design / Build:
Moving onto the housings they're CNC aluminum which is attractive to the eye. Each curve and angle is extremely precise due to the milling machine used, you will honestly not find any error between the mirror image housings. Areas like the nozzle have been polished as you peer at the two drilled sound ports heading deep inside each housing. The housings will swivel with their MMCX connected cable to provide greater angle of insertion/wearing. The cables are also detachable which is a big plus for long term durablity.
Each housing weighs around 7 grams with the cable attached so they're keeping the weight down which increases comfort. They also appear very strong due to the material used, you could drop them without too much concern with maybe just some slight marking to the surface. A set of flashy gold screws hold the faceplate on which adds a nice touch in combination with the MMCX connections.
The cables are actually ALO tinsel cables so they're already of great quality and performance. I must say the cables are quite flexible and limited microphonics could be found. The clear transparent 3.5mm jack was one of the impressive features for me, really caught my eye when first inspecting Campfires cables. The MMCX plugs are also clear in colour and very well match the earpieces of Jupiter. A neat metal Y-Spilt can be found with a neat cable cinch for adjustments.
Fit / Isolation:
Fitting Jupiter for me was a breeze, the housing appeared to be almost molded for my ears which is excellent to see. I simply selected my favorite silicon tip, plopped them in and they instantly sealed to my ear with great comfort, very little to complain about here and I praise the housing design which may not look so user-friendly on first glance.
Sound Quality:
Sources Used:
  1. Cayin N6
  2. iBasso DX80
  3. iBasso DX90
  1. 16/44 FLAC
Overall tonality:
Jupiter can come across as quite a smooth sounding IEM around the mid-range, there's a certain presence of warmth around it which makes the overall presentation non-fautiging however for those who prefer vibrancy, crystal clear clarity and an upper mid-range push you won't find that here. In some ways the tonality reminds me of a slightly more lively Westone 4, but you'll always have what I call a 'safety veil' which makes the entire sound slightly smoothed over and a little blunt. The mid-rangte is also quite thick and can come across a little creamy.
For a reference point I do prefer a brighter sound from the get go.
Starting off with a wonderful track Phaeleh – Afterglow, as the bass comes in its quite strong and greatly textured, it can sure reach down deep, but what's special is the texture surrounding it, really gives a great amount of well rounded clarity you can can 'feel' from the low-end. Moving onto some faster paced pop the music the bass can lack a little in speed and sound a little loose but for most parts is well rounded low-end which can reach low, and with the right recording express that pleasing texture.
Its areas like the mid-range Jupiter and I start to leave each other. While I can hear a nice amount of detail and sufficent clarity from the mids I just can't shake the safety veil we mentioned in the tonality section previously. I am used to an IEM that can scream out crystal clear clarity (for example the Tralucent hybrids), but due to the warmth around Jupiter's mid-range it can sound subdued or held back much of the time. If I let myself adjust we can reach closer where I want to be but never quite touch it.
This isn't a fault of the IEM more so the way my personal preferences deal with this situation. My ears are used to the brightish and ultra revealing detail/clarity of a high strung balanced armature, when I don't hear it in Jupiter we disagree with each other. What one wants, compared to what the other gives does not align.
Another small issue I found was running some faster-paced pop songs. Using my Aurisonics ASG-2 as the A/B specimen (quite a warm toned IEM itself) I was detecting some coherency issues at louder volume where Jupiter would become confused or lose its fluentness. The Aurisonics hybrid on the other hand did not express this same behavior, It held great posture creating a large wall of thick easy to comprehend music. So this is one area I was a little underwhelmed at Jupiter's performance for the price.
Treble and I get along wonderfully well, its clean reasnably extended and refined, it does a good job of showing its face infront of the mid-range and being a little brighter overall . It adds a nice amount of air to the presentation but still not quite enough for me to be lost in the music and show the detail it could be capable of.
Separation / Soundstage:
Soundstage width is good, though I have wider from a lesser priced IEM in the past, it does a decent job of making the presentation expand without feeling closed in. I do wish for more air in the presentation as along with the thick warm mids Jupiter can sound a little foggy at times, a little cumbersome on the brain. Separation was more than adequate and does its job nicely.
What we have is a wonderfully built IEM, one that takes advantage of materials and technology to create something beautifully eye-catching, durable and a real 'head turner', all of this I totally admire from Jupiter. At the other end of the scale while the sound isn't bad I don't personally feel Jupiter's signature is anywhere near my desired preferences, because of this we don't see eye to eye. When I consider the price of Jupiter and areas like the coherency issues I do slightly question the high price tag of this earphone compared to some competition in its field.
I can however, appreciate what Campfire have produced on their first attempt and congratulate them for trying to put a new name out there in this rapidly increasing IEM world. Personally, I'd like to hear something more analytical from them, release the clarity these balanced armatures are capable of in the mid-range rather than the overly safe tuning I found today. Of course, at the end of the day preferences always vary, just because Jupiter doesn't sit with me doesn't mean others won't enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, its a nice sounding IEM, not 'amazing'.
I'd like to thank Campfire Audio and d marc0 one again for the Australian tour.
Was wondering if you feel like that this may a good upgrade and or IEM for someone that needs to replace the Earsonics SM64, which has very good low end resolution, extension and weight for a BA, it is also has lovely mid but tends to be smoother and not as bright for upper midrange and treble. I found these for a good price as B-stock item and figured they be the a good upgrade replacement.
@WhiskeyJacks I really cannot say with certainty sorry, its been too long since I heard Jupiter. I could attempt to give a recommendation but it simply won't be a clear memory of them. If the price is good enough they're worth trying. I would also check the main thread we had for them, see whatelse you can find there logged. 


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Very clear, detailed sound, excellent 'unique' design, use of great materials at affordable pricing.
Cons: You will need to enjoy brighter sound signatures, lacking some final amounts of mid-range refinement.
Head-fi is a relatively active website, opening my web browser there's always new things to discover, fresh products, new companies. It seems the pace things move on a weekly basis makes it difficult to keep up. I was reading my private messages early one morning over a coffee when I discovered an invitation from a new company based in Bellevue, USA. Gilly, one of Head-fi's active members now transformed Echobox Audio inquiring whether I'd be interested in sampling their very first earphone fresh on the portable audio scene, Finder X1 - Titanium earphones.
Echobox formed in 2013, there was about a year prior before engineers and their CEO began working on production concepts. Asking a few questions about Echobox and their long-term goal Gilly responded “Echobox wish to bring awesome, robust, high-quality products made with only premium materials and construction at realistic prices” They're also quite passionate about partnering up with charitable organizations to help spread the bond between creating, learning and enjoying music around the world.
There are many study's which show children who enjoy music early in life become more involved with retaining learning skills and accomplishments. Part of Echobox long-term goal is to create awareness of this and give underprivileged families a chance to rise up! Using music as a 'tool' if you will for learning and retaining skills! (very nice indeed)
The earphone we'll be reviewing today is Finder X1. The retail price is going to come in at $199 USD once the product goes retail. At the moment for some lucky backers you can back the Finder X1 right now on IndieGoGo for just $79 if you're one of the next 200 backers!
IndieGoGo link:
Head-fi Echobox thread:
  1. Housing: Titanium
  2. Transducer:  Polyether Ether Ketone,  (high tensile strength polymer)
  3. Wear Style: In-Ear (no sound pressure)
  4. Frequency Range: 15Hz - 32K Hz
  5. Sensitivity (SPL): 96dB/mW
  6. Impedance 22ohm
  7. THD: < 1%
  8. Cord Length: 1.2 meters (Silver Plated)
  9. Plug: 3.5mm Stereo
The earphones arrived in quite a classy style of packaging, the front panel of the box shows the Finder X1 in hologram form with a dark Galaxy backdrop and planet set behind them. Box dimensions are 18cmL X 13cmW X6cmH. On the side of the box there's specifications, the Echobox logo and a list of package contents. On the rear of the box is a some eye candy exhibiting Finder X1 as being feather light using bio metal which is non-toxic, hazard free. Seems the guys have done their homework.
They also state Finder x1 is extremely strong, durable and anti-corrosive. I have actually seen a video of Finder X1 titanium housings run over by a 'truck' wheel to test their strength. While you can find that video on YouTube they completely survived the ordeal!
Once you remove the outer sleeve you're greeted by what's similar to a shoe box lid you lift away from the main contents box. Inside neatly presented are the Finder X1 earphones, your filters (for changing the sound) and your selection of tips.
Build / Design:
As mentioned the Finder X1 housings are made from titanuim and dynamic driver are made from polyether ether ketone, a high tensile strength polymer. Using this material makes the housing super light, super comfortable and it also gives the earphones a specific sound (more on that later), the polished housings are rather miniature in person as well. Areas like the braided cable are extremely soft, flexible with very little microphonics and hardly any memory. The cable is quite impressive, not only to the eye but the materials used are silver plated copper, not all earphones ship with this upgraded wire so its great to see on a stock earphone.
The actual design is quite 'artsy' in that the housings resemble two chess pieces, I will give multiple points for being eye-catching and expressing uniqueness as I've not seen anything quite like the X1 housing shape used before in an IEM. Areas like the Y-Split have been streamlined to keep the weight down, the left / right markings are color coded for each housing at the cable entry, there is a cable cinch present to prevent the cable swinging whilst walking. The gold-plated 3.5mm jack is also considerably small, on this end the strain reliefs are sturdy and to a degree flexible.
Once you remove the earphones, filters and tips from the upper sleeve insert there's another compartment underneath which contains a pill shape carry case. I will say I had some trouble removing the filters from the packaging, they were buried quite deep inside the inserts and I needed to use a sharp object to prior them away from the cardboard.
Included in the accessories are:
  1. x1 pair of dual flange silicon tips
  2. x1 pair triple flange silicon tips
  3. x3 pairs of Echobox single-flange tips (S/M/L)
  4. x3 Sets of tuning filters
  5. x1 Echobox branded zipper carry case
  6. Warranty Card
  7. Product Manual
If we look closely at the tips they have been specifically manufactured for Echobox, the brand name can clearly be seen imprinted on the side of each tip. This is great thing in my book because really they could have ordered any random tips in bulk though creating your own style and original tip for your earphones show Echobox care about sound, presentation and being individual. The tips are quite soft, flexible and most certainly add to the high comfort levels of Finder X1.
Fit / Isolation:
One thing apart from sound is Finder X1 have especially high comfort levels. When Echobox declared X1 were light as a feather they seriously weren't joking. Once wearing the housing along with that near memory-less cable you can hardly feel you're wearing anything (really). The way the housing sit in your ear is near one of the best fitting earphones I've tried. The only thing you may encounter is the housing touching your ear may be cool for the first few minutes due to the titanium.
Once you obtain a seal isolation is above average however testing the levels I'm still able to have a conversation with someone when needed. I think the isolation is passable perhaps expect on a busy subway or heavy traffic areas. None the less the levels achieved are enough to take down a fair amount of noise and most ambient noise around you even before any music is playing.
Filter System:
Included in the packaging are three sets of tuning filters. These are simply applied using a screw in thread to the nozzles of each ear pieces. Each filter will change the sound allowing three (3) different variations to choose from. The threaded ends on each housing are a little delicate, I would advise to take care when changing between filters. I also had one lock itself on which needed a slight amount of pressure to release it anti-clockwise.
To my understanding the filters are to provide three separate sounds:
  1. Bass (Black)
  2. Reference (White)
  3. Treble (Red)
We will speak more about these in the upcoming sound section.
Sound Quality:
Sources used:
  1. IBasso DX50
  2. Pono Player
  3. iBasso DX90
  4. Hum Pervasion
  5. Colorfly C3
File Format Used:
  1. 16/44 FLAC
Because this earphone relies on a tuning filter system we can't really give any one single tonality or signature to Finder X1. The beauty of having variety is the sound section will be split into three (3) main sections each allocated by the intended filters. At the end I will provide my personal favorite.
Black Filters: (Bass)
The bass is strong, the quantity, texture and impact feels solid, the mids appear slightly thicker than the original reference filters X1 came pre-installed with but the presentation still leans on the 'brighter' side of our tonality spectrum. Slight sibilance which could be found using the reference filter has taken a back seat and that low end manages to keep away from the mid-range still.
The levels of detail retrieval remain similar although the entire presentation sounds more 'solid', slightly thicker. The overall tone and timbre is still on the brighter side which makes X1 sound extremely clear and high in detail for its priceTreble is slightly calmer showing lesser emphasis than the stock (white) reference filter and the soundstage shows a clean amount of width. If I had to choose one filter (so far) I think this one is my favorite, but there's still two more we need to try!
White Filters: (Reference)
With the white filters installed the sound is neutral to fractionally bright, there's a strong presence in the upper mid-range which allows female vocals to emit strong detail, there's also an admirable level of micro detail coming through with some Kryptic Minds tracks, if not lacking some slight refinement overall. One feature which stands out is the timbre and tone of the polyether ether ketone driver in play with the titanium housing, this compliments a nice atmosphere to the overall sound making the entire presentation quite transparent.
The low end is extremely well textured showing a firm amount of impact, but less quantity than the black filters we tried previously. What's impressive is the way the bass manages to stay away from the mid-range at all times (very well done). I can a detect a little vocal sibilance with a few tracks however nothing too damaging. Moving onto the high end there's a light emphasis into the lower treble which can jump out or come across edgy during some passages and recordings depending on the genre. Areas like separation are still a positive aspect and the earphone is technically competent with all filters.
Red Filters: (Treble)
Using the red filters X1 becomes quite lean and top heavy, the treble shows a little too much emphasis for my preferences. I think anyone who admires a lot of treble should enjoy this lean type of sound. Other things noticeable are the mids sound quite a bit thinner than the previous two filters.
For me, personally, I can't say I would use this filter much, my preferences already lean for bright / analytical but due to the treble emphasis these take it bit too far. Surely, others may think differently? The soundstage still remains wide and the separation fairly skilled. Just the overall tonality and note weight using these filters is a little thin, a little over the top for me.
My Conclusion on the Filters:
My favorite are the black filters, I feel they add a nice amount of weight to the brighter sounding polyether ether ketone drivers tuning, the bass helps allow some body to the lower / center mid-range, and the treble is set back calmest of the three filters supplied.
If I wanted to go for a really reference type sound I may use the white filters with some acoustic genres or female vocals, though in a whole I'd (personally) be quite happy leaving the black filters on full-time. Overall the housing and driver does provide a certain tone and timbre with all 3 selected filters, the variations may not be completely huge but enough you'll want to pick one over the other.
I think there will be filter for everyone, in saying that you may want to be sure you like a brighter cleaner sounding IEM. For those who want warmth, darker mid-ranges I don't think you will find that from any of the filters. For those who admire clarity, clear and great detail retrieval you'll surely be impressed.
Final Conclusion:
I've found Finder X1 to be an extremely competent product, the packaging, the unique design, filter system even down to those custom ear-tips we mentioned show Echobox are taking things seriously. And for a first IEM on the market its going to show a few others (even pros) what someone new on the block can do and that great sound doesn't need to be expensive. If I had to knit pick Finder X1 as a product it would be the levels of refinement and treble need a little tighter posture. While the mid-range remains insanely clear and detailed some of the polyether ether ketone drivers lean tuning creeps out into the top end. While it doesn't bother me in a whole (especially with the black filters) it may be bothersome for some others.
If you can grab Finder X1 for the $79 IndieGoGo price you'll be getting an earphone with fabulous build, design, extremely comfortable and competent sound quality. For that kind money you'd be hard-pressed to find something better out there currently. Whether Finder X1 grabs traction among audio enthusiasts I simply cannot say. The audio world is a strange beast, its the consumers who always decide and although Echobox is new on the scene its going to come down to exactly what the 'people' say once this product reaches the majority's hands. Personally, I really enjoy them!
I've very much enjoyed the Finder X1 sample and wish Gilly (and the entire Echobox team) a lot of luck with their campaign, I hope to see them expand and show us what else they can do in the audio world!
Great review! I hope I get one :)
The cables look really sweet!
I'm a firm believer in the quality of cables having a major bearing on the sound....these look really nice, they have a good materiels composition, so I have high hopes that the pair I've ordered will be quite nice for an entry level price! Thanks for the review and the introduction of a product that should be a real pleasure to try!
I was wondering how do these compare to RockJaw's Alfa Genus filter system IEM?


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent sound, features, build, design, price to performance ratio
Cons: Firmware is still being improved / stabilized (at time of writing this review)
Often you will find Paul - iBasso participating on Head-fi forums, whether it be answering questions giving advice or reading threads the iBasso representative shows a solid attendance among the community. While this role certainly isn't for the faint-hearted Paul still manages to crack a joke now and then. Rewinding the clock back to 2013 we were greeted by iBasso's DX50 then not long after DX90, both players were well received despite some hiccups on earliest firmware. In July - 2015 iBasso announced DX50 and DX90 were being discontinued, although anyone who's been around a while knew these two successful audio players would need to be replaced.
With Head-fi being the heart of all things portable audio it wasn't long before some fresh pictures emerged of a new iBasso player. The unit supported a brand new design, larger 3.2” 480*800 IPS touch screen, dual micro SD card slots, dual Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chips. Going off only a few photos expectation and interest was immediately gathered among audio enthusiasts.
Its a fierce time for releasing audiophile players in portable audio, with the likes of Sony, Astell & Kern, FiiO, XDuoo, Cowon, Onkyo, Cayin, Caylx, Shanling, (plus many more) manufacturer's saturating the market currently, everyone wants their piece of the pie. With iBasso being in the game fairly early on I'm confident they have a solid fan-base which draw customers and fans alike back to their products.
iBasso website:
Pricing: $359 USD (Purchasable on amazon, directly from iBasso website and selected dealers)
Specs: (Click to enlarge)
Features: (Click to enlarge)
Packaging / Presentation:
DX80's packaging has been completely redesigned from their previous line up. The box is a little bigger 16cmL x 10cmW x 9cmH, iBasso's logo has taken on transformation which now resembles a triangle split into three portions (as shown below). There is an outer cardboard sleeve which has a nice texture and grain to the finish along with the word DX80 in sharp embedded text. On the side a sticker with your serial number is displayed, also specifications in many languages on the rear.
Once you remove the outer sleeve the box opens in a split fashion similar to revealing a treasure chest, care has been placed into the packaging with the lid having foam protection as padding, once again the DX80 logo embedded into an insert you release the player from. Overall, the packaging reminds me a little of origami, the folds, creases and cardboard texture has a certain feeling or character to it. The colors also blend subtly without being overly glaring or obvious.
Design / Build:
Moving away from the original design of DX50 / DX90 the new iBasso takes on a more rectangle appearance, much of this is because of the larger (longer) 3.2” screen. With casing dimensions of 12cmL X 6cmW X 1.5cmH the unit is easier to hold one handed, the extra screen real-estate simpler to navigate. The front / back casing along with the front buttons are aluminum, the small side pieces thermal plastic, on top / bottom DX80's face-plates are again aluminum. You can feel the unit is 'cold' to the touch in most areas weighing in at 178grams.
Each corner of the casing has been rounded off to compliment the design, the unit somewhat resembles a capsule, pill or curved coffin. Along the right hand side areas like the volume buttons have been redesigned, they're larger easier to press now sitting flush with the casing. The power button in that same style along the left hand side.
Three physical buttons on the front remain in resemblance of an iBasso trademark. At the top are your dual micro SD card slots protected by a press in grommet cover, the cover is attached by a piece of rubber which prevents it becoming lost or entirely away from the player. Next to the card slots is your coax out / optical out, the single 3.5mm entry supports both features in one. Finally, your micro USB port for charging, data transfer, OTG, and using DX80 as a DAC.
On the bottom we see a familiar layout, both 3.5mm headphone out (left) and line out jack (right). These new variety jacks were used on iBasso's DX90 series they're far more durable than the earlier jacks used on DX50 known to wear out over time. The new jacks provide a firm 'click' remaining tight after several months use. I can confirm this having used them on my DX90 for a long time.
Included in the packaging is:
  1. iBasso Quick Start Guide
  2. Warranty Card with individual serial number and date stamp (including warranty terms)
  3. x2 Screen Protectors. (one has been applied before the review)
  4. x1 Silicon Case
  5. X1 Micro USB Cable (for charging / data transfer / DAC use) (80cm)
  6. x1 Burn in Cable adapter (12cm)
  7. x1 Male Coax (RCA) to 3.5mm Mono short cable (17cm)
A few things come to mind with the included accessories, one being the burn in adapter. iBasso recommend a burn in / break in period of 50-100 hours for their DX80 player. This is simply accomplished by connecting the burn in adapter to the headphone out of DX80, setting the player on repeat with a moderate volume level. Whether you believe or not its an accessory provided for those who wish to use it. The adapter was previously included with both DX50 and DX90.
I must also add when the package arrives you're supplied two (2) screen protectors, but I do wish if iBasso had time they could apply one at the factory. With the likes of FiiO sending their players with screen protectors pre-installed it would be pleasant to see the gesture repeated here as well.
Firmware Stability:
Its been known the earlier iBasso players were a little buggy on official release, many people had problems which caused some upset, it was extremely important iBasso upped their game on their next audio players release and being mentioned on forums. What I will do is share my personal experience when I received DX80 on its first beta firmware: v1.0.0.
My Initial Experience:
The player arrived to me running firmware v1.0.0, I inserted my 32GB card (FAT 32 format), it scanned without an issue, within 5 minutes I was happily listening to music. The only thing I found personally was the player defaulted to high gain each start up which meant I needed to change it manually to low gain as I use a variety of low impedance IEMs. I was also aware receiving a pre-release firmware one card slot was only to be used at that time.
The Outlook on Firmware v.1.0.0:
As more people started receiving their DX80 units other bugs where discovered on firmware v1.0.0, some being their larger 128gb cards failing to scan, others finding some issues like the wrong song name displaying in shuffle mode. Overall, while the issues were present we were completely aware there was a new firmware coming within the week.
The Outlook 'at present' on Firmware 1.1.2:
Taking on-board what we mentioned iBasso were quick to react with that new firmware, the newer v1.1.2 which (at present of writing this) DX80 units are shipping with solved the issues with cards scanning and implementation of both card slots. v1.1.2 built-up DX80 to a degree the units are stabilized without any glaring or 'crippling' problems. While there's some teething problems still (at present) DX80 is more than usable right now in my experience. From here the firmware will only improve further as smaller concerns become ironed out and new features added.
(I'm going to return after each firmware to complete a small 'update' which will keep the review fresh. At least for the next 1 - 2 firmware versions as reference)
User Interface (UI):
DX80 interface consists of three (3) main screens.
Your “My Music” selection screen:
  1. Now Playing
  2. All Music
  3. Directory
  4. Artist
  5. Album
  6. Playlist
  7. Genre
Your “Now Playing” Screen:
Shown is your album art, volume selection (0-150) an accurate battery read out in percentage, track duration, total track time, track name, album name, file format being played, which play order you have selected and an on-screen pause / forward / back button if you wish to use them.
Your “Settings” Screen:
  1. Equalizer (presets and custom 10 band adjustable sliders)
  2. L/R Balance (10 steps each direction)
  3. Gapless (on / off)
  4. Gain (low / high)
  5. Music Info (information including track name, sample rate, bit rate, genre etc)
  6. USB Settings (reader, DAC, charge only)
  7. Play Mode (order, loop, shuffle, repeat)
  8. Digital Filter (slow roll-off / fast roll-off)
  9. Advanced (languages, display, power management, re-scan library, system info, factory reset)
Music Information screen example:
Equalizer screen example:
Navigating the capacitive touch screen has been simplified, you gently swipe the three main screens left / right to make your screen selection, the transition between screens is smooth for most parts doing what's requested. Areas like the back button are still present and must be 'tapped' when backing out of your track list and albums from the directory menus (owners of earlier DX50 and DX90 units will be familiar). The back button still remains located in the upper left corner however has been increased in size.
There are obvious improvements like larger album art in higher resolution which can be 'tapped' to show the track number and track total. Tapping the album art also allows you to select tracks for creating playlists then adding them to your selected playlist folder.
From my few weeks with the player getting around is easier than previous models, the fresh interface is smooth and fluent. I think with some fine tuning it will be even smoother however, the interface as a complete essence is rather functional right now even for those who wish to move at moderate hast.
There's also some nifty features allowing you to slide down a task bar from the top of the now playing screen. This menu allows quick selection of settings like gapless, micro USB selection, DAC filter, gain settings and play order. I'm sure over time this feature will only become more advanced as it allows a world of possibilities to be added in new firmware updates as the player matures.
Battery Life:
Supporting 3600mAh battery and using a 10V voltage swing headphone amp DX80 is able to output up to 260mW. The suggested run times are coming in around 12 hours per charge. For those who own(ed) DX90 they understand DX90 is quite power hungry, you will get a lot longer run times from the newer DX80. While a little more would be welcome I understand the limitations in battery technology and personally feel 12 hours is acceptable. The accurate battery percentage read out on-screen is an excellent addition. However one downside is DX80 seems to take a little longer to charge than iBasso's previous units. Using 2A wall charger taking me around 2 hours.
Sound Quality:
Gear Used:
  1. Tralucent 1Plus2
  2. Aurisonics ASG-2
  3. Etymotic ER4S
  4. Fidue A83
  5. Grado 325e
File format:
  1. 16/44 FLAC
Headphone Out:
For those familiar with the iBasso house sound we find similar aspects in DX80. The unit can sound 'fractionally' bright with high levels of resolution, also very 'clean' and vibrant at the same time. The clarity combined with this resolution gives high levels of detail retrieval in a sense of effortlessness or being unhindered. The unit can sound borderline musical to get your foot tapping yet still remain in that 'critical' listening zone. At higher volumes DX80 really knows how to lay on a show and throw out solid dynamics.
If I had to knit pick the presentation at times I find the sound a little overly vibrant depending on the IEM or headphone used. Fidue A83 with its already forward / vibrant mid-range can sound a little fatiguing after many hours because we've basically combined two forces of the same nature (vibrant). You pick up a solid sense of this resolution when listening to vocal tracks, you can hear the detail, refinement and clarity in a lead singers voice stand out. Very welcome, with the correct earphone.
Area's like the bass sound more extended and tighter than iBasso's previous models, while the impact also seems slightly increased. Instrument separation is more than competent with great coherency for this price range. Soundstage shows neat width and depth however I have heard slightly wider from some players in the past. Layering around the stage DX80 shows a strong presence, instruments don't sound jumbled and their imaging is well positioned around the stage.
Its no surprise DX80's sound quality was always going to impress, its price to performance ratio stands true to iBasso's performance as their previous players have shown already. For those who want an enthusiastic sound and lots of it combined with high detail levels you really need look no further than iBasso DX80.
Hiss Levels:
Using my low impedance IEMs ranging from 11ohm to 32ohm I don't detect any audible hiss from DX80's headphone out. I've listened for this and (personally) cannot hear any. Others have reported a small amount on the forums though nothing overly damaging or of major concern.
I've been able to drive all my IEMs in low-gain from DX80's headphone out. Hovering around 100 / 150 on the volume level I hardly need venture any further unless wanting a 'thrill'. The only IEM in my collection which needed high-gain was 100ohm Etymotic ER4S, while they sounded completely fine I could have used a little more power if I wanted them at levels I've heard from dedicated portable amps in the past (namely JDS Labs C421). Unfortunately, I don't have anything in my collection which can truly test DX80's internal amp section. For example, DT880 – 250ohm or HD600 – 300ohm.
I went into the DAC section of this review without reading any comments. I've approached this just as a fresh user would on receiving their DX80. I turned DX80 on, went into settings, changed the USB mode to 'DAC' then plugged DX80 into my Windows 7 - 64bit laptop. On connection Windows started searching for a driver then promptly 'failed'. It was at this moment I seek guidance from Head-fi members...
After posting in the DX80 thread I was informed at present we're still waiting on an official driver to use DX80 in DAC mode with Windows but I think its important I shared my real life experience as a fresh user. I have no doubt iBasso will get this working although for now as this review was written that's where things stand. I've also read others have already had success using an alternative driver however myself will wait for the official version.
Optical Out
Getting the optical out working was simply a 'plug n play' experience. I connected my 3.5mm to 3.5 optical cable (picked up for a few dollars on eBay) from DX80 to my Tralucent DacAmp One. It immediately started playing music, no fuss, no hassle. The bonus of having optical out is a big deal for many situations giving the ability to feed portable dac/amps and even desktop DACs. Considering this feature wasn't present on either DX50 or DX90 its an excellent addition from iBasso.
Line Out:
The line out on DX80 is now a 'fixed' line out. What this means is you can no longer adjust the line out level using the volume buttons like previously on DX50 and DX90.. I'm not sure what their intention for changing it was though the only downside I see is not being able to use the DX80 line out as a pre-amp any longer and correcting a portable amp which may have channel imbalance at lower volume pot levels. Also, on firmware v1.1.2 while the line out is functional people have reported a glitch (or bug) where the music may drop out briefly at random for a spilt second. I have experienced this myself, maybe 1-2 times over a few songs. iBasso are aware of the bug and working on correcting the issue as I'm typing this.
Coax Out:
Using the provided cable I connected DX80 coax out to my Audio GD deskstop dac/amp. Again this was simply a plug n play affair, working no problems on the first try. You don't need to change any settings on the DX80 interface. I did pick up some slight interference when changing tracks occasionally like a brief buzzing noise however the coax out seems quite functional.
Quick comparison to iBasso DX90:
One question surfacing constantly is how DX80 compares to the older DX90. One would have you believe the numbering system iBasso went for leaves this to the imagination. To sum up in a few words I won't say either is better than the other but 'different' is an appropriate term to use.
DX90 still holds extremely high levels of detail but in doing so can sound a little digital or processed. On the other hand , DX80 loses this digital presence and takes on what I hear as more effortless or less processed nature. At the same time its actual levels of resolution come across as higher in the presentation and easier to hear or less forceful.
I feel what iBasso aimed for is a pretty steady shoot down the line, where you can't really call one 'better' but each show enough variation to make them unique within their own implementation. For me, owning both DX80 and DX90 they show enough difference that if the 'iBasso house sound' sits well you will simply need to own both players. There are a few things that stand out like DX80 bass being tighter and slightly more impact-full though I can't say one simply out performs the other.
Conclusion on Sound Outputs and Features:
What we have here as of 22/11/15 on firmware v1.1.2 is a unit which is obviously still progressing in firmware, while most features are functional and non crippling to users we see there are a few bugs and glitches need ironing out. I'm overly confident iBasso will have most of this sorted in the next firmware or two and will be updating the review accordingly.
However, don't let any of the above-mentioned sour your taste, words on screen make things appear more dramatic than what they actually are. DX80 right now on v1.1.2 is more than functional and enjoyable, reported by many owners other than myself, especially as a stand alone music player.
Overall Conclusion:
What iBasso have is a highly capable unit on the market, one which excels at sound quality and packs out the features. If there's one thing I'm confident in its that iBasso hang around and release firmware updates frequently, they're persistent to get the job done and make their products stable. You may have seen me mention in the review a few times “I'm confident iBasso will correct this” and that's because I've been there, been there on the DX50 release and owned DX90. Considering the sound quality DX80 puts out compared to some alternatives on the market currently I'm happy to show a little patience because several other brands offer house sounds where I don't want to be.
When you consider the build, design, packaging, touch screen, updated user interface and DX80's price point everything is heading in the correct direction to be a killer music player, and I'm extremely happy to be on that journey experiencing things as it happens. If you're happy to deal with a few early teething problems and want sound quality which truly excels at its price point I can highly recommend DX80 right now. If you're the type who wishes to wait a while I totally understand.
I'd like to thank iBasso and Paul for sending the sample and look forward to watching DX80 mature into the stunning unit its soon to be!
I currently have a DX90, and while I love the sound, I 'Loathe' the user interface. Would this be a good replacement/upgrade?
@Dave965 I consider DX80's new swiping interface an upgrade over previous iBassi players. Why don't you pop into the DX80 thread and ask some other members. Form yourself a greater picture or take a look on utube at some DX80 reviews to see it in action.. :)
Hi H20Fidelity, i'm thinking to find a way to buy this player (perhaps selling some of my gear) and was wondering if the sound signature is more warm and midcentric than the Dx90 that I own and love? Did it have more amping power too even if the DX90 is quite good at this? Thanks to help me on this, iDX80 is such a beautiful looking player!


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Excellent sound for the money, soundstage width, tonality, detail (great for detail lovers)
Cons: Lack of accessories, cable needs improvement
I remember a time around a year ago I reviewed Fidue’s A83 hybrid IEM, it remains still today a great earphone I use literally every day, its earned a large amount of respect on Head-Fi and especially from me personally. Fast forward to today we’re here again with Fidue’s A73 - 2 way hybrid. A little different in driver count  being x1 dynamic driver for the bass combined with x1 balanced armature controlling the mids and treble. The price cheaper, but again I find nearly that same price to performance ratio found on A83.
Fidue are a Chinese company who came from no-where about a year ago, they simply arrived on the scene with a few earphones (one of them being the A83) and caused a right storm for several. I have read numerous reviews who rate Fidue products as some of the best value for money out there, just like that, basically from no-where. Especially when dealing with Chinese IEM makers who have no choice but to make their products excel among the vast competition you're often in for a treat and that certainly applies here.
Price: $149 USD from Penon Audio (and other selected retailers)
Purchase Link:

Frequency response
13 - 27,000 Hz
20 Ohm
107 dB
Gold Plated 3.5 mm (1/8”) Straight
Cable Length
1.3 m
Speaker diameter
10mm Dynamic Driver Woofer & BA Tweeter
Maximum Input Current
20 mW
Sensitivity of Mic
-42 (±3) dB
S/N Ratio of Mic
55 dB
A73 arrives enclosed inside a laminated cardboard box, the usual suspect of earphone packaging. The colors are what we’ve come to know from Fidue being a jet black and fluoro green color scheme. Written on the packaging is a little information how Fidue have had 20 years of development experience, the name “Benny Tan” is also mentioned a lot as being the Chief engineer of their products.
I quite like the black/green packaging it has a nice curve to the eye standing out from the crowd,  also there are some specifications in many languages written on the rear of the boxing. When opening the box you’re greeted by a black velvet type material, the earphones semi-embedded inside which you must pull away from the top layered insert. 
Inside the carry case Included with your new earphones are a selection of tips, a cable clip, a set of ear guides and capsule shaped (hard) carry case. The case is great for sticking in your pocket or throwing into your bag. I highly doubt any damage will be done to your A73 earphones either using it.. Not the most of accessories included however the Fidue branded case is a nice touch.
What you get:
  1. 3 pairs of single flange silicon tips (S/M/L)
  2. 1 pair of dual flange silicon tips
  3. 1  Fidue branded Carry Case
  4. 1 set of ear guides (2 pieces)
  5. Cable Clip
Build / Design:
The housing on A73 are entirely plastic design worn (over the ear), they also have an interesting color scheme which may or may not sit well with an individual. From my experience with Fidue A83 they're a company who go for eye-catching color schemes, a little 'bling' if you will, I guess it makes their products unique and stand out from the crowd. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the gold faceplates on A83 I don’t mind the silver faceplates on their A73. The other half of the shells is a wine red or 'deep red color', there is a left and right marking in white on each ear piece and if you look very closely a small port (airway) for the dynamic driver  Area's like the faceplates have some waved pattern on them to give some texture and depth, they remind me of something I can't put my finger on, maybe the curves in sea-shell found along the beach.
The cable is not the best I’ve seen, its rather rubbery, plasticky and holds some memory, a sign of cost cutting, but it does the job and remains behaved well enough. I guess in some respect it gives you incentive of upgrading to their A83 model which has a beautiful braided silver plated cable stock. There's an inline one-button remote control (mic) included and the strain reliefs all seem quite sturdy from the jack to the housing entrance. The 3.5mm jack is a 4 pole connection, but don't worry, it works with any MP3 player I've tried.
Fit / Isolation / Comfort:
Speaking about the fit I have a wonderful time with A73 personally, the shells fitted (with stock tips) quite flush to my outer ear and seal well, they’re also quite comfortable for me, I hardly need to adjust them once inserted and A73 stays in place. One of the problems with Fidue A83 was the nozzle length, it was quite short and limiting the insertion depth for many people so this has been corrected on the cheaper model (and) after A83, good to see. The insertion isn't the deepest, they kind of sit on the inner surface of your ear canal however mange to block out a decent amount of noise. I wouldn’t give flying stars for how much outdoor havic they can isolate but its more than suitable for my standards.
Sound Quality:
Sources used:
  1. Hum Pervasion
  2. iBasso DX50
  3. FiiO X3II
  4. Pono Player
Files: FLAC 16/44
A73 leans on the ‘slightly’ warm side, warm with a touch of smoothness, it however, has no problem pushing quite a thick amount detail over the top. I think Fidue have gone for the right tonality because its semi-mainstream meets audiophile, in that its not overly vibrant or fatiguing yet still quite active around the mid-range and treble regions to express revealing detail.
The bass is forward, quite a bit in mid-bass which pushes out a fair quanitiy of impact catering well to EDM genres, it doesn’t however seem to hinder the presentation too much when listening to acoustic tracks but occasionally  may show its face a little. If you’re looking for a balanced IEM Fidue A73 isn’t what you’re after, you must remember the term ‘mainstream meets audiophile’ in that the signature is quite fun and happy around the low end.
From the bass up to the mids we then take that transition to ‘audiophile’. That hint of warm tonality is present yet the mids remain quite clean and capable in separation, far more than other IEMs in its price range should be. There’s a specific quantity of detail which especially pushes out with vocals and most instruments. Quite a lot more detail found on any other $150 IEMs I’ve tried in the past. It’s the slightly forward mid-range, that great amount of ‘audiophile presence’ and revealing detail which wins the hearts of many A73 owners.
The highs are again back to a semi-mainstream approach, a little smooth and rolled yet tuned in way they’re never absent. You can just tell the people behind tuning A73 (Benny Tan the engineer of A73) has some experience. Its not the most extended treble but never harsh, never sibilant and always showing ‘just enough' to match from the upper mid-range onwards. A nice balance.
A73’s soundstage makes me disappointed with my A83, because I paid a lot more for Fidue A83 yet the cheaper model has wider staging. The width left / right is expansive giving instruments room to breath and image within, a real 'stand out' point of the presentation. Overall when you combine this staging with the detail, the punchy bass you have a really nice presentation stacking up to more expensive earphones.
What Fidue have accomplished for the $150 bracket is admirable, I like to relate once again that term, ‘mainstream meets audiophile, in that Fidue have gone for a unique signature which will cater to both the everyday consumer and any serious listener’s. Its not every day you come across such value in sound quality for your money either, yet Fidue just like their A83 last year did it again. If I wanted A73 improved I’d obviously like to see a detachable cable version but with improved cable material stock, some more tips to jazz up the accessories and they’re pretty much done.
I’m very interested in the companies future products because time has proven (and short time at that) Fidue make earphones with sound signatures where many people to be. I say keep bringing the good products we’ll keep listening and giving them the attention they deserve.
I’d like to thank Fidue for the sample.

Great job m'man, glad you're hearing what I am with the A73. Cheers, great review!
Great review....A73 vs LZ A2.....Go !


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound, timbre, very 'classy' presentation, build, crazy admirable design, output power.
Cons: UI is becoming dated, slightly slow to navigate, battery life.
Around 6 months ago on Head-fi forums I was greeted by a Cayin representative after enquiring about touring their recently popular Cayin N6 audiophile player. The guys from Cayin are some of the friendliest, helpful people active on Head-fi forums I’ve come across and agreed to send the Cayin for our Australian tour.
Cayin N6 features dual PCM1792A DAC chips, compatible with both PSM and DSD operation. It uses a Texas Instrument PGA231 volume chip to cater for all situations. When I first saw Cayin N6 on Head-fi I think many people took a step back at its unique yet a little ‘freaky’ looking design.
Pricing: $600 USD (roughly)
Available on and selected retailers.
Headphone Out
Maximum Output Power​
220mW +220 mW @ 32 Ω Load
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)​
≤ 0.005%
Dynamic Range​
Signal-to-Noise Ration (SNR)​
Output Impedance​
0.26 Ω
Line Out
Maximum Output Power​
1.7V @ 10 kΩ Load
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)​
Dynamic Range​
Signal-to-Noise Ration (SNR)​
Rated Power Output​
0.5V @ 75 Ω Load (1V No Load)
Output Impedance 
Other Specs
Maximum Sampling Rate​
Format Support​
MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV (24Bit 192kHz), FLAC (24Bit 192kHz),
CUE (Need to combine WAV, FLAC and APE whole track files)
5600mAh 3.7V Li-Po
The product arrives in a nicely dressed 'flip top' box, with a professional presentation, that feeling you really get satisfaction, opening something of great value and prestige. Excellent presentation of delivery and appearence for your money.
You’re given some nice accessories, one of which is a key chain and a nice looking card reader, a touch of 'class'
The accessories included are:
  1. Micro USB Charge / Data Cable
  2. Coax adapter
  3. USB Stick (with drivers)
  4. Screen protector
  5. Manual and paperwork (including warranty card)
  6. Metal keychain
  7. Silicon Protection Case
The Cayin N6 is a bizarre looking player, I’ve read people describe it as a portable DVD player, a porthole to ‘outer space’ and several other strange terms. It has a solid weighty build that contains a carbon fiber back plate and aircraft grade aluminum casing which makes it quite a hefty unit, apparently the material is used to absorb some of the heat produced when Cayin’s in operation. (which can become warm)
The button layout is not common on any other audiophile players I’m aware of, you have your selection buttons on the front, a jog wheel on the side which you can use to scroll and select volume under certain circumstances, the jog wheel also presses ‘in’ so you can make a selection or entry.
On top of you the unit you have your headphone out, line out, coax out and power button, everything in place more in line with your everyday player. On the bottom there is a micro sd card slot (up to 128gb) and your micro USB port for charging and data transfer, finally on the right hand (top) side your volume up/down buttons. The screen with its round window also plays some tricks as the actual viewing screen inside is ‘square’ not round as the casing had you believe.
User Interface (UI):
The interface on Cayin N6 seems familiar, there are many options in the setting menu I’ve seen on FiiO players, especially some of the system settings and music settings. Due to button operation and ‘one click’ sequence its not the fasted player to move around and there can be a short delay when trying to move with hast. Overall the user experience is more than suitable and far above many a player I’ve used in the past. There’s something about using N6  with its appearance and entity you forgive the quirks around navigating and come to love the player in its full form.(most of the time)
When you switch the player on you’re greeted by a circular home screen which has quite a few options to choose from, the layout is unique compared to many players because you rotate a small record around and around to make your selection.
These selections are:
  1. Playing now
  2. Music Library
  3. Music Category
  4. System settings
  5. Music settings
Battery Life:
With such a strong amp section inside Cayin something has to give and that’s the run times which are apparently around 7-8 hours, even though N6 uses a 5600mAh battery it needs to supply much of the juice to run its internals, this also lends towards the 225grams weight of the unit. I haven’t completed full battery tests but the unit will get you through most of the day and the battery level shows an accurate ‘percentage on screen’ kind of like you see on Android smartphones so you will know exactly what you’re looking at.
DAC Capabilities:
While I haven’t tried the DAC feature myself Cayin can connect to your laptop or PC and be used as an outboard soundcard, this seems to be a great selling feature on many players these days.  You change a setting in the menu and select your USB mode, either to ‘DAC’ or ‘USB’. Personally, I don’t listen at the computer, while the feature is welcome I really don’t require such things. For me, an audiophile  player is for portability, listening to music ‘on the go’.
Folder browsing / selecting music.
You can select your files two ways using N6, you can use the old school method (which I use) selecting single folders from the directory, or you can scan your card working on tag format, (artist, album, genre, songs, recently played songs,). For me, I really don’t use these features for tag browsing, but again it’s a big selling point for many players in 2015 and onwards so definitely welcome.
Sound Quality:
Headphones / IEMs used:
  1. Fidue A83
  2. Tralucent 1Plus2
  3. Etymotic ER4S
  4. Grado 325e
Files used:
  1. 16/44 FLAC
Time to put those dual PCM PCM1792A DAC chips to work. The sound of Cayin is well refined and quite detailed, its especially capable in resolution and creating a great level of dynamics. Areas like the black space behind the music are apparent and easily ‘felt’ as they’re heard. Many players will have some hissing with low impedance IEMs, though the Cayin is dead silent for me. Technically the player is overly confident in separation and layering around the soundstage. Its little things like these technical aspects which create the greatness you’ll find in N6’s sound performance.
The bass is tight (quite tight) and well textured, it especially makes my iBasso DX90’s bass sound loose and lacking control, I’ll say much of this comes down to the strong amp section inside Cayin N6, its especially holding that tight refinement and bass control.  Moving onto the mid-range the tonality is just a little bright (just a little) which creates a great sense of clarity yet the note weight is neither thick nore thin. Very good balance inside the mid-range weight in correspondence with bass / treble.
One of the main areas to mention about the Cayin is its classy timbre and presentation, the entire sound while uncoloured makes instruments sound very ‘professional’ or grown up, a mature mans portable bliss. Its this area which wins me over with the N6, playing some live Michel Jonasz tracks the entire atmosphere in combination with the timbre makes it sound extremely ‘classy’. I don’t hear this sound from all players, but a few products come to mind like Tralucent’s DacAmp One.
One area I don’t hear quite like others is the soundstage width, its reported by many to be very wide and expansive, while I hear a decent width stage its not the most expansive I’ve heard. Using an IEM like my hyrbid Tralucent 1Plus2 its staging is usually extremely wide with many of my players, yet with the Cayin I don’t hear the width its capable of. Its in no way a deal breaker, just something which doesn’t line up for me among all the impressions and reviews.
I feel what Cayin have produced is a highly capable player in terms of sound quality (highly capable), they have one of the craziest designers I’ve ever come across and admire them for it. However, there are a few things which hold Cayin N6 back from being the portable player it could be. The weight is considerably heavy for true portability or being pocket-friendly and the user interface is becoming a little dated for 2015. There are many touch screen audiophile players on the market now surfacing almost weekly, with the likes of stiff competition I really hope Cayin can delve into the touch screen interface with their future products or they may get left behind. Maybe they like this approach which I totally understand though people are all about ease of use these days and its something like this which could be the deciding factor between choosing player A or B. With that said ,the Cayin N6 is a highly capable sounding unit well worth its cost in parts, materails and internals used, also sound quality. The individual will need to decide if its for them and their application.
I’d like to thank Cayin for allowing the Australian tour to go ahead.
They’re some of the nicest people I’ve come across on Head-fi and enjoy seeing them remain active here.

Great review man! Well done!
  • Like
Reactions: hqssui


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Sound, features, price to performance, soundstage, spaciousness, stable firmware.
Cons: Button layout takes some adjusting.
XDuoo are a company known for a variety of portable audio products. I've seen portable dac/amps, stand alone desktop amps and quite a wide range of audio products from them floating around the internet. The Chinese based company seem to thrive on offering value for money. It was only about 8 months ago we saw their previous MP3 player launch called XDuoo X2, the matchbox size player won many hearts and popularity on Head-fi forums. Fast forward to today we're greeted by their newer (bigger brother) XDuoo X3 audiophile player.
The newer XDuoo X3 takes everything the previous model had then ups the ante, from using a well known Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC Chip, packing dual micro sd cards slots for a total 256gb storage, 24 bit support and competent user interface, XDuoo push the boundaries what's on offer between the $100 - $150 price range in portable audio players. I've seen quite a few budget players release in my time here though none quite as fitted out as XDuoo's X3 for the asking price.
Power: 1500MAH 3.7V lithium polymer battery.
Processor: the king is smart chip JZ4760B
Operating System: LINUX
DAC chip: Cirrus Logic CS4398
Amplifier chip: one per channel rail-to-rail high-efficiency amplifier chip

Card support: maximum support two 128G TF / Micro SD Cards

Output power: 250mW (32Ω load)
Line out Output level: 1.5Vrms

Support music format:

APE: 24bit / 192khz
FLAC: 24bit / 192khz
WAV: 24bit / 192khz
APPLE Lossless: 24bit / 192khz

Frequency response: 20Hz ~ 20KHz (± 0.5dB)
Gain: + 6dB
Distortion: 0.001% (1KHz)
SNR: 110dB
Adapter Headphone Impedance: 8Ω ~ 300Ω

Battery Life time:> 10H
Charging time: <2H
Volume: 105.5 * 45 * 14mm
Weight: 100g
Color: Black, Silver, Gold

Packaging / Presentation:
The more I look at XDuoo X3's packaging and contents I keep asking myself how, how they managed to release the player so cheap. It arrives in a laminated cardboard box with the outer sleeve well-labeled containing information about the specifications including all the file format support information and description on what XDuoo were aiming to achieve with their product. Once you remove the outer sleeve you're greeted by another black box which contains the player and underneath your accessories. You can see the presentation has been thought out and they haven't gone cheap on any of the retail appearance or presentation.
The description rear of the box from XDuoo:
Once inside the black cardboard box there's another smaller box which contains the accessories under the player.
These include:
  1. Warranty Card
  2. Screen protector
  3. USB Data / Charge cable
  4. User Manual 
It should be noted when your XDuoo X3 arrives it has a safety screen protector already applied. This isn't a real screen protector simply something applied during manufacturing process to protect the 1.3-inch display getting scratched. Sometimes people become confused because their player looks like it arrived with the screen scratched however you simply need to peel this off before applying the provided (and real) screen protector.
The entire casing of XDuoo X3 is made from metal back to front, the only plastic pieces found on the unit are the buttons and  screen cover. The entire player weighs just 100 grams with a length of around 10cm and 1cm thick. It's quite light, easy to handle with one hand and the entire casing could handle a drop or two, there's something about holding XDuoo X3 which makes you feel like its a solid product, one which isn't going to fall apart in a hurry. People often describe XDuoo X3 as the 'TV remote control' look alike, and I agree.
When moving around the player you have the dual micro sd card slots running down the right-hand side, above those your volume buttons, on the opposite side you have a lock switch which is very handy for using the player on the go or in your pocket. Many new players today have a button press sequence for locking their players however I really like the solid button on the outer casing which easily locks XDuoo X3  with a quick 'flick'.
Moving onto the bottom of the player you have your headphone out and line out jacks beside each other, if I recall correctly these are a new style of jack used on Chinese players and the same jack I found on my iBasso DX90 and iBasso DX80. They're quite strong, provide a firm 'click' when inserting your headphones and apparently are durable for a very long time. XDuoo also used the same jacks on their previous X2 model. Overall they're long-lasting and good for the extensive haul. On top of the player there's your micro USB port for charging and data transfer. its quite simple, XDuoo X3 connects to your laptop or PC and the two sd cards show up as removable storage.
Now for that crazy looking button layout. On first glance you really have to say to yourself "what were XDuoo thinking" with the circle and triangle button scheme, then you ask yourself why on earth they've placed the buttons in the positions they have. I can tell you from using the player almost a month the button layout just works, especially works one handed. Before long you're navigating the player without looking and the layout almost works as 'braille', you simply understand where your fingers are and what you're doing by touch. Its also excellent for sliding easily in/out your pocket, the remote control look alike design just works.
The buttons are:
  1. Power
  2. ESC (back button)
  3. Menu
  4. Prev
  5. Next
  6. Play/Pause
Looking closely at the triangle buttons they've even had the edges smoothed off so they won't chip or stab your fingers.
User Interface and settings:
When switching XDuoo X3 on you're greeted by the home screen menu which looks like this below, you navigate sideways and select your entry.
You have 6 entries to select from:
  1. Now Playing
  2. All Songs
  3. Cue
  4. Folder
  5. Favourite
  6. Setting 
Then you have the now playing screen. This shows a readout of your track number, total tracks, bit rate, time duration, the track name, volume level, battery bar and everything you need to experience. Again, for a $110 player its really been kitted out in 'audiophile' style.
There are a ton of settings to adjust:
  1. Language
  2. Update Media Lib
  3. Auto Update Media Lib
  4. Screen Brightness
  5. Screen timeout duration
  6. Auto Power off
  7. Sleep timer
  8. Reset all settings
  9. System Information
  10. Upgrade (for firmware updates)
Music settings:
  1. Play Mode (Order, Repeat All, Repeat One, Random)
  2. DAC Filter (Slow roll-off, Fast roll-off)
  3. Gain (High, Low)
  4. Add to favourites
  5. Song information
Overall the user interface is kitted out with everything you require, its not often a player comes in at $110 with this many in player settings, the only other company I'm aware of is FiiO with their X1 model. End of the day I have everything I need to use XDuoo X3 smoothly, from the button layout, the settings, the competent now playing screen, XDuoo tick all the boxes. The main thing about XDuoo X3's user interface is it just works, not only does it function correctly its basically completely stable on its first firmware, a great achievement to have the player running so smoothly.
Sound Quality:
IEM / Headphone used: Fidue A83, Grado 325e
Files: 16/44 FLAC
If I was to describe XDuoo X3's sound in a few words I would say, spacious, airy, and technically sound. The unit to my ears is basically neutral, the mid-range has a nice amount of clarity which makes the player sound 'very clear' and unveiled, it reminds me a little of my old Studio V in that detail comes out effortlessly or without any strain on the volume. The bass response is full yet a little rounded which can sound 'slightly'  soft at times though overall I don't hear any roll-off and the low end is rather tight. When you move up the treble its well extended staying present in a track. Some have described it as sounding a little artificial, I personally don't hear this myself.
Areas like soundstage are quite wide, more so than my iBasso DX90, this is one of XDuoo X3's real attractions, its ability to sound spacious giving instruments room to image and place themselves around the stage. Instrument separation is also component however I have heard stronger. Overall the player really has its own specific sound, one you can't describe exactly without hearing it. It doesn't sound like an iBasso player, nore a FiiO player, nore Apple iPod, it sounds unique to XDuoo.
I've had no problems driving some 70ohm headphones and my Grado 325e, I do however recommend using XDuoo X3 in high gain full-time, if there's one thing I need to mention its that low gain mode can sound a little soft or under-powered, this is great for very sensitive earphones though even with my 11ohm Fidue A83 I feel high gain simply sounds more dynamic, fuller, and the detail really comes out. Usually, I wouldn't suggest using high gain unless you truly need more power, but with XDuoo X3 I simply think it sounds like the player it should be in high gain mode.
Amping / line out:
I've tried connecting my Tralucent DacAmp One to XDuoo X3's line-out, I can confidently say I was impressed at the performance, I won't say XDuoo needs an amp for most applications, however, you can certainly flavour the sound by adding one into the mix, the difference was noticeable to a degree I may use one sometimes at home if I want to spice things up. One thing about the line out is once you connect XDuoo X3 to a competent amp like the Tralucent above you basically have a storage powerhouse rig with anything from 256gb total storage. This alone is hard to come by for $110. Using the player purely as a 'semi transport' to feed amps with those dual card slots is really admirable to me.
There's not much to pick out on XDuoo X3, it offers an excellent amount of features, great sound, the firmware is basically stable from launch. Its simply a well thought out, planned and executed budget audiophile player. A few years ago we were dealing with players like Colorfly C3 for $100, while they sounded great they were often abandoned on early firmware far, far from stable. One thing you need to admire with XDuoo is their dedication to completing the job, even if they intend on adding more features later to the firmware, what they've succeeded with already speaks for itself. I'd easily recommend XDuoo X3 to anyone looking for sound on a budget and even beyond, whether they simply want to use the player from line out taking advantage of the dual micro sd card slots or using it as their everyday pocket MP3 player. I would go as far to say XDuoo X3 could be my favourite entry level audiophile player of 2015.
I'd like to thank XDuoo for sending the sample and congratulate them on a wonderful job!
Please do you know if it plays digital bits out of the micro-USB socket?
@DynamikeB, I have both (Xduoo X3 and iPod Video 5.5 with 128GB SSD) and yes, the X3 sounds significantly better plus has twice the storage of my iPod (it even supports 2x200GB Sandisk microSDXC for a total of 400GB). If your iPod is Rockboxed, then it will have similar capabilities as a Rockboxed Xduoo X3. But the sound and power output of the X3 is superior (although the color screen and click-wheel interface on the iPod trumps the X3).
@GreenBow, no the Xduoo is a DAP not a DAC. The micro-USB is only used for charging and USB file transfers, although the USB file transfer is very slow and it is much preferred to manage the music files via using the microSD card with a USB card reader.
FYI, the buttons on the X3 are all made of alumium, not plastic like you mentioned in your review. The only plastic on this whole thing is the screen cover.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Balanced, coherent, very little flaws to discover on a sound perspective
Cons: All black housing look boring, short ear guides, maybe a little lacking bass extension for EDM genres
Before I start this review I need to mention some misfortune which happened to me.
I was part of the Australian Noble Savant tour (big thanks to Noble and @d marc0 ) however at the time was suffering an injury with my left ear drum. Despite trying to heal in time for the tour I barely heard Noble Savant before my ear flamed up with an infection. I did however, get a few hours in with the unit before I had to stop.
Noble Audio are well known for their custom in-ear monitors with remarkable designs, possibly some of the best CIEM makers on design out there in 2015, they're also Sponsors of Head-fi and very active on the Head-fi forums which does wonders for them from a sales perspective and customer support angle. In my past I have heard quite a few Noble universals including Noble 4, Noble 6, Noble PR and now the Noble Savant. 
Noble Audio - Savant.
Pricing - $599 USD
Noble Audio Website:
Savant Specs: 
> Impedance < 30
  1. > Detachable cable w/ industry standard two pin configuration
  2. > Signature Noble universal form factor
  3. > Rose gold plated pentalobe screws
  4. > Wizard-signature on right shell

A little story behind Noble Savant:
On first release the driver count of Savant was unknown, its all been a little side party recently since discovering the driver count is indeed a dual balanced armature design, there's been panties on fire, some name calling and I'm not here to delve into why, where, who, how or what the driver count is expected to be. I'll be giving pure impressions of the sound from the 3-4 hours I spent with Noble - Savant.
On first arrival many Noble Audio products arrive in quite a simple cardboard box, this is mainly for protection purposes and I believe transit methods, nothing unnormal from any other product I've purchased online. The real market packaging is actually underneath this which looks much nicer I must say. Its nothing abnormal from most online purchases.
The real market packaging which looks much nicer, a scent of ocean blue with some Noble text and logo.
Moving on further we unleash the all black carry case and accessories, there's an assortment of tips, amp bands, and a few other nooks and crannies.
Two Noble Stickers (I hear these work great on the rear bumper of your car)
Two Noble Amp straps
Noble ownership card
Cleaning brush
X3 foam tips (S/M/L)
X3 dual flange tips (S/M/L)
X3 silicone tips (S/M/L)
X3 silicone tips (S/M/L) (different type)
Then we have the Savant themselves. I'm not sure what I think of Nobles all black shell design, case and stealth bomber approach, its used on every one of their stock universals. While I see the appeal of keeping it uniform and simple I find the all black look a little monotonous overall, it doesn't jump out at me and say "I spent $600 on these", sorry I've never felt the passion from an observation. There's no real way I can identify a Noble 4 from a Noble 6 to a Savant etc besides the colour screws?. Gosh help me if I bought two Noble IEMs and forgot which was which one day, that could cause a right dilemma indeed. 
You can see the Noble Audio symbol etched into each shell face, and the gold screws do give it some 'bling', (maybe 3% bling). One thing I will give big credit for is the actual shell design which fits me perfectly without any effort. Regardless what we've spoken about with  appearance the shells seem to fit almost anybody, I hear very little complaints in this area and that's a great thing.
Moving onto the cable design its a braided approach with silver plated copper wire. While I have seen tighter braids I do like the texture and feel of the Noble Savant cable, its kind of rubbery plastic but has a nice sense to the touch and that sits well. It also shines in the sun light and has a nice gloss finish to it. When we talk about the ear hoops I feel a little longer on the heat shrink and retaining wire would be a nice touch, just for those who have large ears as it seems quite short to me. The 3.5mm jack is small enough to fit inside most phone cases, I had no problems and it stays out of my way.
Moving onto the sound:

(please note this is where the review may weave a little and seem brief, as we've mentioned I didn't get more than 4 hours with Noble Savant due to my ear injury. Please this keep in mind when reading. I will say of all the Noble line up I've heard Savant have been my favorite)
Sources used:
iBasso DX50
Hum Pervasion
All files were 16.44 FLAC files.

"I have the Noble Savant Australian tour unit here with me for about 4 hours.
Using DX50 with FLAC 16/44 files (will try other sources eventually)
I find Savant sounds quite good, comfortable / balanced across the lows/mids/highs, with a little sub-bass extension absence however, improved bass quantity than I remember N4 which had a little too much early sub-bass roll-off for me. Savant's tuning is considerably closer to what I'd pass as reference type signature with just a hint of warmth around the mid-range making them non-fatiguing - suitable for long listening, the mid-range positioning is also quite balanced, maybe slightly forward. The detail and clarity levels are satisfactory however I still consider hearing IEM out there slightly cheaper that may reveal a little more with less energy, however, this may come at a cost of a more aggressive presentation and early fatigue. 
Trebles well aligned with the lows/mids, sounds safe and in no way offensive imo. I can recognize straight away the tuning of Savant is stable and 'audiophile' correct, there's not much its doing wrong. Little to no vocal sibilance, safe highs, that ever so hinted amount of mid-range warmth makes them suitable for long listening. Separation is accurate, soundstage adequate. its just a safely tuning IEM without much to criticize besides those looking for some extra bass extension. From my experience, the low-end is quite normal for something putting across this balanced presentation, or at least not out of an average from what I've heard.
I'm also recovering from some left ear issues, I need to take it easy atm, these impressions should be regarded from low listening levels, opening up on volume levels won't be possible at the moment. Put it this way, in the reality of natural selection usually when I home audition IEMs I take a listen, get a grasp then enough of the time I feel "meh",  then the IEM sits in their box or I only listen to get the impressions out and review up. In the case of the Noble Savant I keep being drawn back wanting to listen more. That alone is an excellent first reaction"

So what is my conclusion after spending 4 hours with Noble Savant? I think its quite capable indeed, it has balance, a nice vibe to the sound which draws you into the music, it can express a decent amount of emotion if the track responds well and its rather capable all round without any glaring flaws or faults. If an IEM can exhibit little imperfection you're left with only good aspects of a sound signature, this is what an IEM should be. Whether the price of $599 is achieving that level of sound isn't for me to say.
The only thing I'd like Noble to do is try and jazz up the stock universals a little, give them some character because at the moment I find the line-up rather flat looking a little bland or boring. I think with some thought from some of the best 'CIEM' designers on the market they should be able to dress up their universal a little further. Maybe they don't want to because this intrigues people to pay more for their Wizard designs and fancy CIEMs though we all don't aspire to spend quite that much.
Big thanks to Noble Audio and member d marc0 for including me on the tour. 
  • Like
Reactions: d marc0 and DJScope
d marc0
d marc0
Such a shame you were restricted in your time with the Savant. I'm confident that you'd have enjoyed them more if only... Thanks for joining the tour uncle h20!
Another great review from Uncle H20! =D 
Well done broski!


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Features, settings, build, value, price,
Cons: Touchy scroll wheel for some. Slight lack of detail retrieval
First of all, I'd like to thank FiiO for sending me this sample to review as part of the Australian / NZ tour.
FiiO is an ever expanding Chinese company no stranger to the portable audio world - with the likes of their early amps such as FiiO E5, E11 and other early products. Over passing months they've completely expanded busting out into the portable audio player market and doing so at great speed. Their ever increasing performance ratio doesn't seem to stop and that's exactly what you'll find today in FiiO X3II. The new player from FiiO brings a pocket size unit packed at the absolute seams with features, some of which usually only found in more expensive players from other companies.
From USB OTG storage, DSD Playback, 24BIT support, true line out, USB DAC Mode, huge audio format support, X3II answers almost everyone's expectations.
Let's take a look at the players specs and features.
Model/NumberX3(X3 2nd gen)
Dimensions96.7 mm×57.7 mm×16.1 mm
Weight135 g
Display Screen2.0" TFT screen, 320x240 pixels
Line OutStandard 3.5mm Port (Shared line out / S/PDIF coaxial out)
Digital Out (Coaxial)Standard 3.5mm Port (Shared line out / S/PDIF coaxial out)
Usb DacSupporting up to 24bit / 192kHz and DSD (driver installation required)
Headphone PortStandard 3.5mm Headphone Port
Drive Ability16~150 O
Volume Control120 steps digital potentiometer
Equalizer10-band equalizer (±6dB)
Balance5 dB
Thd+N<0.001% (1 kHz)
Frequency Response20 Hz~20 kHz
Crosstalk>102 dB (10 KO/1 kHz)
Snr≥114 dB (A-weight)
Dynamic Range≥101 dB
Line Output Level1.45 Vrms (10 KO/1 kHz)
Output Power 1>224 mW (16 O/THD+N<1%)
Output Power 2>200 mW (32 O/THD+N<1%)
Output Power 3>24 mW (300 O/THD+N<1%)
Frequency Response20 Hz~20 kHz
Snr≥113 dB (A-weighted)
Output Impedance<0.2 O(32Ω)
Crosstalk>74 dB (1 kHz)
Thd+N<0.001% (1 kHz)
Max Output Voltage>7.2 Vp-p
Max Output Current>75 mA (For reference)
PowerDC5V 2A recommended
Charge DisplayRed light indicates , green light turns on after fully charged
Battery DisplayYes (Accurate battery % readings))
Battery Capacity2600 mAh
Battery Life>11 h (32Ω; normal volume with display off )
Charging Time<3 h (DC5V 2A)
Lossless:DSD: DSD64, DSD128 (.iso&.dsf & .dff);
APE(Fast): 192 kHz/24 bit;
APE(Normal): 96 kHz/24 bit;
APE (High): 96 kHz/24 bit;
FLAC: 192 kHz/24 bit;
WAV: 192 kHz/24 bit;
WMA Lossless: 96 kHz/24 bit;
Apple Lossless: 192 kHz/24 bit;
Lossy Compression:MP2、MP3、AAC、ALAC、WMA、OGG…
Like I said, packed to the brim with usable features - for the going price of around $240 AUD that's one big shoe filled for anyone seeking value for money. While I'll only ever use 16/44 FLAC files with X3II I know its a good thing for consumers and sale side of things, especially with the increasing popularity of hi-res 24bit files. The more features you add, the further you reach out to the consumer, it seems FiiO are well aware of that. But its more than this. FiiO take pride in supplying content for money, they enjoy satisfaction making (you) the buyer comfortable with your purchase.
It doesn't stop there though, let's take a look at the accessories included!
x3 Decal Stickers
USB Charge / Data Cable.
Digital Out Cable
Silicon Case / Cover
x2 Spare Screen Protectors (one also installed on arrival)
A quick look around the player.
On the left-hand side you have your power button, volume up, volume down.
On the lower right your micro sd card slot.
At the bottom your micro USB charge / data port - just above that (quite small) the round power indication light.
The light while lluuminate blue when power is on and red whilst charging.
Moving up to the very top your headphone out and beside that your line out / coax out. 
(there is a setting to flick between line out /coax out in the X3II settings)
Build Quality.
As shown in the pictures above X3II is no slouch when it comes to build, the metal casing feels quite solid, in person giving the resemblance of something more expensive.The sides are smooth, seamless and even the backplate has a clear finish which gives the appearance of glass. I give strong points to the build quality on a unit at this price. It really feels nice in the hand, you feel like holding something worth what you paid. Not always found in the Chinese market.
User settings.
One thing I've been overly impressed with on both FiiO X1 and X3II is the amount of settings offered even making iBasso players look average. Inside X3II's user-interface is an overabundance of settings, some even making an iPod look plain. From themes to adjustable max volume restriction X3II seems to have every base covered.
System Settings
Update Media Library (switch between manual / auto)
Key-Lock Settings (several options)
Screen timeout
Idle Power Off (on / off)
Idle Power Off time
Sleep (on / off)
Sleep Timer (duration)
Multifunctional outputs (switches between line out and coax)
USB mode (switch between DAC or Storage)
Themes (several to choose from)
Support in-line volume control (on / off)
File name display (Title, Filename)
About X3 (shows firmware version, storage space)
Play Settings
Resume mode (on / off)
Gapless playback (on / off)
Max Volume (set limit)
Default Volume (set to remember your last position on start-up)
Fixed Volume Setting
Gain (low / high)
Equalizer (several presets and custom EQ)
Balance (left / right)
Play Through Folders
Phew, as I said, I don't know how FiiO thought of them all let alone implement them to work seamlessly. There's enough features there to play your own arcade game if put to good use. While I won't ever use them all its about flexibility of having them. Each person is different as is their wants and needs.
User interface.
Because I browse by folder only X3II makes life very easy. I simply click on "browse folders" enter into my micro sd card and away I go. All my music is there showing the folder title. There are options for those who use Artist, Album, Genre, Favourites, Playlists, but none of this ever gets used by myself. I look at X3II like any other player, I select an album from the folder directory and usually let it play through.
Which brings us to the scroll wheel. Many people seem mildly underwhelmed with FiiO scroll wheel implementation. They say it doesn't function accurately or misses their selection. While I can agree to some extent its not perfect, I have used far worse in my time, and for most parts X3II gets me where I need to without much hassle. And if scrolling ever becomes tedious or you feel hindered the bottom left / right (change track buttons) also work for scrolling whenever in a menu screen. One thing I would like to see in the future is FiiO adapt into the touch screen interfaces, as I must admit its one area I feel iBasso offers ease of use in comparison.
Sound Quality
Gear used: Fidue A83, Grado SR325e, Aurisonics ASG-2, Etymotic ER4S.
Files: 16/44 FLAC
The sound, a place where we start to wander off the strong road we'd been heading down. To get things out of the way I do feel X3II is a very competent player, its strong technically, areas like instrument separation and overall coherency are quite sophisticated for the money. Its especially skilled at keeping everything in sync without losing much cohesiveness. Each instrument separates well defined as does each bass note, the treble maybe a little rolled off or absence (a safe road?). I have a lot to say about how technically sophisticated this player is for $240 AUD, every time I listen for these aspects I've felt completely impressed, even next to iBasso DX50 which does not hold the same posture, especially in separation.
Another area is the refinement and overall resolution offered by X3II is quite strong, you always notice great presence and stance of the music along with a strong sense of musicality, the type that gets your foot tapping without noticing and great for casual listening. But where we start to leave one another is, I find X3II to lack a little overall vibrance around the mid-range and its ability to reveal detail isn't what I find in an iBaso DX50. Don't get me wrong here, the sound of X3II is very good, especially where I mentioned, but I always sense a little too much warmth from the presentation or soft veil which restricts those final levels of clarity or bite in the presentation.
Whilst this can have a huge upside of lessening listening fatigue for long sessions it always leaves me a little underwhelmed, at least compared to my DX50 unit. Then I think what the hell and listen to how strong X3II is technically and those feeling go away. It isn't a complete deal breaker what I hear in X3 detail retrieval, but a little more next time would be welcome please, or at least a lift in the tonality. Soundstage is adequate in width, though nothing overly excessive. I never feel closed in however and your headphone plays a major role.
Line out
When using the line out I'm able to bypass X3II's internal amp section and it does sound that little bit cleaner. I hear on the forums many people are having great results using X3II with their external amps, so if adding an amp for more power, flavouring  the sound is your thing you'll be mighty impressed overall. Personally, I think X3II headphone out will suit brighter sounding headphones, take Grado for example, this will show great results. The beauty of having line out is you can increase power output and add some flavour!
I think what X3II has, offers, shows the audio world is marvelous, it packs so many features, settings, everything you would want from a player in 2015, the most features I've seen from any player since my time in audio at under the $300 mark. The build quality and overall package is just great and you will get above what you pay for. And I think for the majority out there X3II will serve up a competitive sound level that can show any mainstream player a thing or two. Its just for those of us who are seeking a little more bite or vibrance, maybe even cooler/brighter preferences may be a little under the rain with the sound X3II puts out. I personally am one of those people.
Will this stop me enjoying X3II? Hell no, because I can hear the potential X3II has technically, I can admire the way it makes my foot tap without trying. X3II will be used as my main on the go player where critical listening isn't of great importance. and if I ever want to get critical I can bypass the warmish amp section using line out.
Thanks again FiiO for showing the audio world what you can do!
When you do, please make detailed comparisson with xduoo x2.
Definitely will!
Aero Dynamik
Aero Dynamik
Thanks for a very well written and interesting review!
I'd be extremely interested to know which one you'd prefer with the DN-2000J; the DX50 or the X3ii?


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Comfort, Detail, Soundstage, huge price to performance ratio, package, organic presentation,
Cons: Due to design isolation is only average, highs can sound a little metallic if pushing volume to extremes.
It was about a year ago give or take a few months I was introduced to my first Dunu product, DN-1000 hybrid and boy was I impressed at the performance it offered for $200 USD. As anyone on Head-fi would know the Chinese company Dunu aren't strangers to the portable audio scene and recently they've developed something new for us to check out, actually, one of many new products. So today lets take a look at their "half in-ear" designed and christened Titan 1.

I must thank Dunu for the sample!

Price: $115 from Penon Audio:  

(Can also be found on eBay from other sellers)

Dunu website:
The earphones use a 13mm titanium coated diaphragm which apparently helps retain an energetic natural sound, it's a little different to your regular IEM design as the insertion is only 'half insertion' so to speak. Rather than a common in-ear monitor this Dunu product is designed to be worn half way between an ear-bud and full monitor (worn down). What this means is you're still inserting a tip into your ear but not quite as deep as your commonly found IEM, (Dunu DN-1000) for example.
Single dynamic driver inner ear monitor
13mm dynamic titanium “nano class” driver
Frequency Range
10 Hz – 30 Khz
16 ohm
90 dB (+/-2 dB)
3.5mm gold plated
1.2m, fixed
IEM Shell
Polished metal
Virtual unboxing:

The carton your new toy arrvies in is well thought out giving a real feeling of gratification as you get through the wrapping. Its very much comparable to Beats by Dre experience with the heavy cardboard box and door / flaps that open outwards. I actually like the layout, especially some of the included information presented. It shows Dunu care about the presentation of their products and for the price of just $115 roughly this stands out being one of the best packaging experiences I've seen.
Design / Build / comfort / Isolation:
The housings themselves are quite sturdy made from polished metal, they look the piece too with their almost mirror finish, its the kind of end result in person that shimmers or sparkles when the right light angle hits it, this might be a plus or a minus for you but rest assured in person they certainly look the part. Each housing weights approx 4.4 grams (with no tip)  so Dunu managed to keep the weight down whilst containing these huge 13mm drivers.
That's one thing about this design, because of the concept you're able to fit a large dynamic driver into the housing which is a good thing for increasing head-stage and sound properties. You can see where Dunu were going with the concept all along. Whether it be to fit the large drivers or comfort which we'll talk about later, the entire design simply works.

Rubber strain reliefs, as you'll see below are quite long and sturdy, the cable has been sheathed, everything's been thought out well to cover any missing pieces. Even the jack with its chrome plated appearance will stand the test of time. So much so, I found it quite hard to fault any of the build on this product.

Let's not forget that sheathed cable below the Y-spilt once again which really makes the cable feel durable, you won't be stretching or breaking it in a hurry with this statement - it just feels very strong, robust and firm below the Y-Spilter.
Moving onto comfort, due to the design they're incredibly pleasing to wear. One can lay on their side in bed if they wish, the housings once sealed naturally become invisible to feel, this is a great thing in conjunction with the soundstage we're going to speak about later as there's nothing better than not feeling an IEM in your ear whilst music is all around you. Higher the comfort better the experience you're going to have focusing on music and this is one very strong area of Dunu Titan.

Isolation, one would think due to the half in-ear design and venting that isolation is terrible well, not the case. Whilst you're able to have a conversation and possibly hear cars passing you in the street the level of isolation is more than acceptable. Of course, you shouldn't expect the world to be blocked out but one might just be surprised, I know I was.
Included in Titan 1 package is quite an assortment of tips and a nice carry case, not much as we've seen with the Dunu DN-1000 packaging last year but that to some extent was a little overkill for anyone. For those unaware DN-1000 package came with so many tips and little assortments it was kind of overwhelming but very welcome from Dunu in the long run and user experience. This time round they've supplied 3 different types of tips, one really nice hard clip shut carry case, a shirt clip and 3.5 - 6.3 adapter. So toned it down fractionally.

Let's take a look at the tips first, adapter and shirt clip.
As you can see there's a set of Sony hybrid clones in S/M/L (this is what I use by default on Titan 1)
 There's also another strange looking set with a flush front and some red core tips (which are different from Heir tips btw)

Last but not least the excellent hard plastic carry case which simply screams a much welcomed feature, its perfect size for storing your product, also able to keep in your pocket. So many companies have their own little bizarre concept on carry cases, most of which look great but don't really serve their purpose correctly. I can see this time round not only does the case look the part, remain strong and sturdy its also small enough to simply slide in a shirt pocket with room to spare.
Sound Quality:
Most of my listening was done during this review lead up with Cowon J3 running 16/44 FLAC files. I have other DAPs here that worked quite well such as FiiO X1, iPod Touch 4G, Cowon iAudio 9, Sansa Clip Zip, Colorfly C3, practically any source will drive Titan with its 16ohm impedance however for me the main pairing was Cowon J3.

In a nutshell:

in the nut of a shell Titan's sound leans towards being slightly bright and semi-analytical, its tuning isn't terribly far from neutral but does lean toward having a slight emphasis in the upper regions which makes it sound quite clean, clear and high in detail, clarity. The bass is a fraction forward but nothing to really mention in regards to taking any control over the presentation. Whilst the treble is quite shimmery and a little strident at times this is really only if you lift the volumes to extremely high levels or listen to poorly mastered tracks in the high end. Timbre is also quite natural and the entire presentation leans towards quite an organic one due to the dynamic diaphragm with impressive soundstage.
Let's find out more though.


Like I said above the bass on Titan isn't really forward but does a good job showing presence if the track requires, its one of those cases you've probably heard before where a low end tends to behave itself only coming out to play when called upon. Texture and clarity are good and does a fine job staying away from the mid-range. I've come to hear the bass leaning into sub-bass territory regions than mid-bass so there's no bloating or clouding into the lower-mids, just very clean right through and quite accurate for the price range.  Would it be for a bass-head? Hmm, probably not though not a bass light earphone by any means.

At the heart is where the real magic occurs, the mids are very detailed for this price, whether it be the tilt in tonality helping Titan be revealing I can say confidently this product exhibits more detail than my Vsonic GR07 MK2, (which I do enjoy), the timbre is natural has good presence but sounds a little thinner than usual, like we said above the tonality makes Titan sound quite analytical to an extent and the note weight is a contrast of this. I especially think the mids are well suited to female vocals, acoustic, but not limited to EDM, or ambient music, it can also pull off Jazz very easily. So really the genre question can be tailored for anything with this earphone.

I must double express the detail levels especially in the upper mid-range are very high on this earphone for its price, you won't find many others that can perform at this level in detail retrieval so smoothly. Its certainly a stand out feature and one that shouldn't be ignored for anyone looking at getting the best bang for your buck!
Up in the top end its well behaved with decent extension though nothing over the top  its not rolled off in anyway and certainly showing detail at all times. if anything sometimes it can sound a little metallic if pushed too hard, which gives the earphone a shimmery, tinny sound but this is quite an extreme from my testing, for most parts the high end of Titan stays in check and quite comfortable, so you shouldn't have any problems at all if highs tend to bother you. 
Soundstage / spaciousness:

If one word comes to mind its the word 'spaciousness'. I'm not certain how Dunu did it, whether be the venting, large drivers or design aspect but the soundstage on Titan is definitely a strong point also the head-stage is quite large (the actual size of each instrument or vocal) the image itself. I have no problem hearing samples cueing up outside either side of my ears and the amount of air due to the drivers tuning is quite high. Center channel depth is also very good hearing samples layer themselves way back through the stage. The staging is one strong point of Dunu Titan beside that high amount of detail we mentioned. Very very capable indeed and gives the listener an appealing, entertaining experience.

Its an absolute pleasure laying down in the dark listening to some of my favorite albums with Titan, listening to instruments cue around me. Its worth the $100 odd just for this alone despite everything else we've talked positive about this product. If you're fan of soundstage you really need to check this out, something goes hand in hand with the comfort, air and staging which just screams a great bedtime listener. 

Separation / imaging:

More strong points, whilst the separation isn't strongest of all earphones I've heard I don't believe it needs to be, it does a good job, never smears or become congested. When you add the imaging on top along with this separation its about what you've expect for the price-range,  doesn't excel or fall behind. just doing its job whilst keeping everything in check. The imaging however does quite well as it has lots of room to space instruments out due to the large stage, placing each sample inside is quite easy. Let's not forget that large head-stage again which gives each sample quite a big image inside your head overall.

I have no problem recommending this product for anyone, whether they're into high-end or mid-stream the beauty is Titan 1 manages to pull it all off for $100 and you really need not worry about the lower price once you've heard it. To me it meets that fine line where it does enough 'and some more' also one of those products that makes me think 'do I I really need anymore'. Not all products I review do this but occasionally one comes along where I think 'this is all you really need", Titan does that job perfect. Throughout the review I was trying to find faults and things to dismiss but the only thing I  found was treble and its sometimes metallic sheen if pushing Titan into extreme volume levels.

In short, its a product I highly highly recommend if not for the soundstage and detail then for the high comfort levels and build it offers. A few years ago $100 (roughly) wouldn't get you anywhere near this performance let alone an entire package of such quality. So by all means go ahead and buy one, you can thank me later!

Great review and an interesting IEM - did you try them with amplification? Just wondering if more power (Scotty!) would take them to another level....
@Ivabign I've tried some brief amping using DX50 / JDS C421 and Tralucent DacAmp One. I cannot say they go to another level, if anything I preferred the sound direct from the source alone. It seemed to sound a little restriced with the amp but still nice overall. DN-1000 on the other hand amps really well with everything I tried. So, its not going to hurt them but there wasn't any dramtic improvment for me.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Output power, Two people listening, Size, Form Facor, Very "Fun involving sound"
Cons: Give us a bass boost switch, no carry case.
It's been a pleasure taking on some of Brainwavz new products for 2014, today we're going to look at one of their new portable amps, a first for Brainwavz to my understanding and a mighty great effort. The amp is called AP001 so let's take a look.

I'd like to thank Brainwavz for the sample.



The specs:

Playback: 12+ Hours on full charge 
Charging interface: Micro USB Port 
Input: 1 Line in, works with any 3.5mm audio plug from audio source (line in cable included) 
Output: 2 audio out, works with any 3.5mm audio plug 
Frequency Response: 10Hz - 100 kHz 
Suitable Headphone Impedance: 16 ohms - 150 ohms 
Build-in Rechargeable Battery: 120 mAh 
Dimension & Weight: 38 x 38 x 12.7mm - 15.5


Your brand new AP001 amp will come in a neat little plastic box, nothing overly spectacular though plenty of juicy information and specs around the box to give you an idea of the amps specs, run times, and everything you need to know to get started. Inside the box is simply the amp and your accessories.  Overall it's a neat little set up that gets the job done. I will say though while the operation of AP001 is quite obvious a little fail safe card with what to do would be welcome.


Design / Build.

Looking at AP001 the first thing that comes to mind is a FiiO E6 clone, well one could say they're very similar in size, almost exact expect AP001 instead has brushed aluminum faceplate and the rear of the amp plastic.  The faceplate can tend to pick up dust and grit, due to it's circular shape and a little hard to clean. I often wonder why on earth there is a big gap up the middle of AP001, I gather for design purposes. The gap does have a minor purpose allowing the blue power led to shine through which looks pretty cool at night time.

On the amp you have simply one input to feed from your source two outputs and a USB charge input .AP001 has been designed to allow two people the same listening experience so you can share your music where ever you go! The until seems strong enough and rather light weight a mere 14 grams, you hardly even feel the amp connected to the end of your MP3 player and most certainly not if attached to the back.


There's that gap I was talking about and hole in the middle. For the life of me I cannot work out why those sections are cut out apart from giving the amp some design aspects. even though I've sat there like a monkey placing jacks in it scratching my head trying to piece this jig saw puzzle together, the hours of amusement it provided led to no conclusion.



Provided in the package is a USB charge cable and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable for connecting your source. That's it you say? Yup, but you tell me what else you really need? I guess a little carry case with the Brainwavz logo would have been nice for storing the amp when not in use though we cannot have everything, considering the amp will be in use most of the time or attached to your MP3 player I don't think you'll be storing AP001 much anyway. 



Using the amp is quite simple, you attach one side of the 3.5mm cable to your MP3 player and the other to AP001's input, the amp will switch on when a signal is detected and all volume levels are controlled from your source, the amp also automatically switches off a few minutes after not detecting a signal. You'll get about 12 hours a charge from AP001, I haven't been able to test the run times with two people though it seems like the amp will get you well and truly through a day of use. 

Charging time is about 2.5 hours roughly, so there's no need to worry about the amp going flat on you in a hurry.



So how does it sound? Well, if you're a fan of a bass boost and enhanced mid-range AP001 might just be for you, The amp has a subtle bass boost locked on full time so depending on the earphones signature you're going to have different results. Say for example pairing Brainwavz mighty capable S0 pictured above the amp will turn them into something more fun and involving especially in the lower regions, at the same time however the amp also gives the mid-range a nice boost in detail and clarity and imaging picks up. Quite impressed with the extra imaging.

What you'll find is a Sansa Clip alone can sound rather flat, dull or lacking, when plugging in AP001 to the mix the presentation comes alive with quite a "fun" sense of sound. I for one think AP001 sounds fantastic with Sansa Clip units labeled by myself and others around the forum as "take your Sansa Clip the to the next level' because that's exactly what AP001 does. 

Output power is plenty for driving many full-size headphones if that's your requirement, I've had no problem driving Shure SRH440, SRH840, SRH940 to more than suitable levels. This is something a Sansa Clip otherwise wouldn't do alone correctly. I will say though your headphones signature is going to depend a little on the pairing as you cannot turn off AP001's bass boost it's locked on full time. In saying that though with the right pairing this little box of fun is exactly that a real fun / involving experience.


I think like many I would like to see a bass-boost switch present on the next version as what the boost does is put a cap or limit on which headphones you might want to use with AP001. With ability to turn the switch off one can use a larger variety of headphones, but it's really preference related. For those out there (and they are out there) who want to achieve the most bass possible AP001 might be exactly what they're looking for, putting the amp with a bass canon will bring you intense sub-bass.

I would also like to see a little carry case included, I think something to put the amp into for storage would make the package feel more complete. All in all though for the asking price AP001 is a great little amp, one I can see people taking over FiiO E06 which lets face it is becoming a little outdated now.

I'd like to thank Brainwavz for the sample once again.




  • Like
Reactions: thatBeatsguy
HAHAHA, I did the same thing wondering about what that slot is for....I just use it to anchor it in place in a bag or on a pocket, helps the cords from pulling out....I doubt that's it's real use, but at least I found one :wink: Great review as always!
Well...that was almost obvious,lol. Thanks for clearing that up, davi1 :)


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Detail, Vocals, Bass Quality, Mid-Range, Excellent Price to Performance Ratio
Cons: No cable cinch, Extra tips required for newer users. (little things)

Let me start off by saying this review is a little different from others I write, mainly because this IEM has set a new level for me to call a reference towards future testing and comparisons. Floating around the forums I had seen the name Fidue mentioned a few times but completely overlooked it due to the abundance of new IEM hitting the market each month. However, thanks to a good friend of mine was offered the opportunity to sample Fidue's A83 hybrid. What was about to happen came from completely no-where. So let's take a look at what came to be the best Hybrid I've heard in 2014.

Fidue A83:



At the time of writing this Fidue A83 is currently $319 USD on

Can also be purchased from other sites like Penon Audio or eBay (prices vary)

Hybrid Inner Ear Monitor
10mm Dynamic + dual Balanced Armature
Frequency Range
9 – 31 Khz
11 ohm
104 dB
Max Input Power
30 mW
3.5mm gold plated
1.3m silver plated OFC copper, removable (MMXC connector)
IEM Shell
Molded hard plastic with alloy faceplate
Total Weight
23g (A83 including cable)

Design / Build:

Coming from hybrids of this design before it's quite easy to tell A83 is designed to be worn over the ear as you can see the memory wire coming off each housing, the wire is quite flexible but takes some fiddling to get the fit correct first time on open box. I recommend folding the wire out flat inserting the IEM in your ear then lastly curving the memory wire around your ear to fit. The shells although made of plastic are quite sturdy in a deep color coded red and blue. I will say I am not the hugest fan of the faceplate color but we can't have everything our way.

Why not make the shells from metal you say at this price? Well, the reason being trying to keep the weight down to a minimum, that's very important for comfort levels so the plastic housings do have their place in this while keeping the design light and robust. Fit is not a problem but it's very important you find the right tips with this IEM.

Moving down further you can see each cable is detachable which is a big plus for higher priced IEM. Using a common MMCX connector any aftermarket Shure cable will fit just fine, the connectors on A83 are made so they do not swivel like the common Shure series. However, who's to say you want to change the cable at all when it already comes silver plated copper (that's a big plus). Not to mention the stock braided cable is quite durable in itself. One thing that is disappointing is Fidue have not put a cable cinch on their stock cable, that's a bit of a bummer for my standards. 


Moving onto the Y-Spilt below you can see Fidue continue their style with a very well thought out design, we aren't talking plastic anymore because we've covered that where it needs to be light. The Y-Spilt has a little weight which helps pull the cable down and straighten it out. This is good thing because any weight then cancels back up at your ears where the memory wire sits over, but it also keeps the cable from swinging too much so there's no tugging or pulling on your ears. You can also see quite thick strain reliefs here to make the cable last.  I would have however liked to see a shirt clip included and of course the missing cable cinch we mentioned earlier. Microphonics are present but due to being an over the ear design much of the noise is canceled out there.

Now for the 3.5 straight jack made to fit any MP3 player, as you see the same metal design to make it robust. I'm especially a fan of the rubber strain relief on this jack, its quite flexible, with the flick of the finger it feels quite cool to do, soft and springy are words that come to mind, it will take some pressure when in a pocket connected to a phone or MP3 player. I do however wonder why a right angle jack wasn't used, I wonder if its because it simply wouldn't sit well with the cable design overall.





I'm not sure what to think here, while a sufficient amount of accessories are included I would have liked to see a little more in the way of tip variety. Fidue have covered the 1/8 adapter and an airline adapter but due to A83's over the ear design I'm reading comments about members having some fit problems, at least with the provided tips. Maybe a slightly wider selection could have been welcome to help people get started, but by no means is the accessory package overly lacking, maybe just some different styles for future buyers. For someone like myself who has accumulated many tips over my time on Head-fi that's not a problem but a few more would be good to see in future A83 batches for not so established buyers.

This is what you get: 

Airline adapter
3.5 to 6.3 adapter
x1 medium foam tips
x3 single flange silicon tips (S/M/L)

x2 Double flange tips
Warranty Card
Carry / Storage Case


One thing absolutely great about this package is the included lock tight case included, not only that there's an insert that comes inside for the earphones to wrap around. I am not sure I would use this every single time I put away  A83 as it tends to put the memory wire back to Its stock shape, though for long term storage and showing your friends this really is a nice touch. I completely adore the design and appeal in this little storage case. The actual plastic lock tight case is basically crush proof, I highly recommend using it when transporting your expensive purchase anywhere, these cases are built like tanks and could almost be run over by a car (almost)




During my time with A83, I have used several sources at different times. It has come to my conclusion the winner from the batch below is actually the little Colorfly C3, I feel it gives me the best synergy with A83 and especially vocal reproduction you're going to hear me praise very highly below.

All files were 16/44 FLAC.

Sources below:

DX50 / JDS C421
iPod Video / iBasso D-Zero
Hisound Studio V
FiiO X1
Colourfly C3


Overall tonality:

Tonality on A83 can be known as the common TWFK sound balanced armatures provide, being the most common they tend to lean towards being analytical in nature of their tuning, so A83 does share a  dash of brightness, similar to a DBA-02, where it differs from other hybirds using the same drivers like Altone200 or H-300 is there's still a slight hint of warmth to the BA section which makes it smooth, but it mostly comes through as being a thicker sound around the mid-range. Where an IEM like Altone200 can be overly vivid and edging the boundaries of coldness  A83 tends to keep it toned down a little, not too much that it sounds warm or veiled but a fine line between analytical and musical. I think the tonality of A83 is spot on for my preferences, the earphone is very clear and involving. One thing that made me think before ordering my A83 was if I really needed another hybrid that shares similar aspects to a few others I own, but if you read on further you'll find out why this IEM separates itself from the crowd.


Wonderful texture, detail and clarity here. While the low end is rather balanced with mid / highs it has a great amount of detail that really separates each bass note, there's solid impact and dynamics spreading across that stage which draw you into the music hitting when required, the kind of impact reminiscent of a Tralucent 1Plus2 unit. Due to the hybrid design bass bleed is kept to a minimum at all times, I must stress again though how capable this bass is in a song when needed and staying out of the way when unrequited. While I find the bass to be a little mid-bass focused and extension isn't at the fullest in sub-bass regions the low end of A83 does exactly what's required to fit in around the IEM's signature. I don't think I'd want the low end any other way for this style of tuning. Speed is top notch as is each bass note well laid out across the stage.


Vocals, emotion, intimate detail are words I'd use to describe A83's mid-range, of all the IEM I heard this year including some very expensive at $1k none could reproduce a mid-range the same way A83 can. While I personally hear the mids slightly forward vocal reproduction is the kind that brings entirely knew emotional connection from your music. Listening to my favorite artist Maria Mena the amount of detail extension in her voice has several times sent goose bumps through my body, not only that, brought me closer than many other IEM have before to her songs. Not many IEM have been able to achieve this from the many I demoed this year or previously, but A83 can.

While the mid-range is slightly thicker sounding than that on Altone200 or H-300 it's especially involving with a specific tone that edges out on the best mid-range I've heard to date. It was this mid-range that set A83 as my new reference hybrid for future comparisons outclassing my $650 Rhapsodio RDB Mini by about 15%, (so keep that mind). The emotional connection it brings is far above its price point like I said for the $300 price you're getting in my opinion something far superior to some $500+ hybrids in detail levels.

That in itself right there is exactly what made me purchase an A83 within 2-3 days.


So I think we got the point across in the mid-range, moving onto the treble it's a little laid back compared to some other TWFK designs I've heard a little calmer than that found on DBA-2 or Altone200, though it does a good job of being in the mix without causing fatigue. Opinions on the treble are going to vary in each review for a few reasons, One of them being source material, the volume you listen and of course the music genre you listen too. I have tracks I test which I know are treble happy A83 lets me crank up the volume without that high end stepping out of line so that for me is perfect, to be honest I am usually so drawn in by the mid-range and intimacy there I'm often losing focus on the high end.

Extension is good but not the best I've heard, an IEM like my RDB Mini Rhapsodio hybrid does give A83 a good run for it's money in that area. So I guess in short Fidue hit a real sweet spot and a sensible one that's not going to overcook the presentation at high volumes, something I can really appreciate when wanting to lift the volume and extract those extremely capable mid-range vocals at higher listening levels.


Seperation / imaging:

Highly capable here however not the best I've heard, while every instrument is well separated between the lows and mids, there is a slightly congested feel to A83's mid-range at times, if you listen to an another hybrid like Altone200 the mid-range separation is just a fraction cleaner but it mostly comes from some extra tilt in cool tonality and transparency. Because A83 sounds slightly thicker it isn't quite as see through as some other hybrids I've heard, but for the price range you wont hear any complaints from me

Every instrument is well placed and can be distinguished easily around the stage and you do get a ticking metronome like effect hearing the music pushing through a track while each instrument counter plays the other however, for those who want absolute 100% separation it's not quite there. But again pushing that aside until you hear A83 it's not terribly easy to express what the signature and presentation tries to accomplish so in some ways this particular technical area is just about perfect for the IEMs sound overall.

Anymore in this area may disconnect the story A83 tries to tell in each song.

Great sense of width here providing the source will allow however not the greatest depth or height, because the mid-range to my ears sounds slightly forward you don't get a real grasp in depth to the center channel, though for those who like a wide stage A83 will certainly come to the party cueing samples outside your ears. The low end also has this ability to spread across the stage, contributing to the impact you heard me mention in the bass section. So While A83 doesn't quite reach the level of a 1plus2 unit it far passes that soundstage on Altone200 for example or many other IEM I've heard priced more expensive. In a nut shell not lacking in anyway but not the widest I've heard.

Height is also kept at sensible levels, the actual head-stage is on a regular level rather than terrible expansive, but again  this really comes down to what Fidue wanted from A83, we can't talk all day about changing things because our preferences might not fit, It's like telling someone they designed a car seat wrong. In the end you want to absorb what A83 was intended to do rather than point out what ones personal opinion might be.


Like I said many times the intimacy, vocals and highly detailed mid-range are what A83 is about, its entire presentation extracts a new level of emotion from my female vocal tracks. The package is quite well thought out, I would like to see some more tips provided so users can get started quicker, but for the price this IEM punches well above some other more expensive IEM I had on audition this year, I really don't want to mention names of those IEM because I don't find that fair. But what A83 has shown me is you really don't need to spend $500+ to get the best sound out there, of course preference plays a big part, but when I sample 2-3 IEM (some priced at $1K) and A83 surpasses them not only in detail but technical ability that's enough right there for me to make a purchase. A83 set a new reference level for me, not only on a price to performance ratio, but also a sound quality level that now needs to be beaten.

Big appreciation to Fidue and their A83 hybrid, it's been a total pleasure to review this product, not only for them but myself in what became my new reference IEM. I'm going to leave you one track that A83 connects me very close too emotionally. Maybe if you decide to make the purchase you can source it in FLAC and experience the same feeling!


I enjoyed the review...and the song! keep it up..thanks!!
Great review bro!
Aero Dynamik
Aero Dynamik
Great review! Thanks! After having read this I'm itching all over to hear the A83!


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Clarity, Quite balanced, Clean, Clear mid-range. Value
Cons: Thick cable, not the biggest fan of Its appearance.
Recently I was contacted my Brainwavz to sample one of their brand new products. This review however will be a little different from others and quite a bit shorter as we're only doing some basic design impressions and mostly what counts, the sound to give you guys out there a grasp on S0's signature. To my understanding Brainwavz S0 is a budget orientated in ear headphone that's going to be priced around $50 USD.

Firstly I'd like to once again thank Brainwavz for the S0 sample! 

Brainwavz Website:




The S0 takes on quite an intriguing  appearance, especially for those familiar with the S5 and B2 products produced by Brainwavz, I read one member say it looks like both of those IEM had a baby and can very much agree with that statement. The housing in person is quite small, elegant and light weight which is good for fit and comfort levels. It's also designed to be worn down which is most welcome here, although Brainwavz S5 could be worn down too I was never a fan of its over the ear design. The housing this time round are also made of light weight metal as you can see the sturdy strain reliefs keeping everything in place firmly.


Moving onto the cable we continue to see a flat design which helps eliminate any tangles when storing or unwrapping the earphone, but again similar to the more expensive S5 the cable holds some spring and can be a little cumbersome. While I can see the appeal in a flat cable design this one comes across to me as a little too thick still for my liking. However, when you talk about durability and an earphone that needs to last this all comes into play as being the right choice after all. I don't have many problems with the cable personally, there is a little bit of microphonics which I can see some people kicking up a fuss, though we must remember the price range here.


The Y-Spilt. Not quite as wide as the one seen previously on S5, this one is more streamline line which will help cut down the weight and any pendulum swinging motion the cable may want to take on. You can see while trimmed down it's still rather rugged over all. It has that strength and robust appeal to it and I really don't see this falling apart anytime soon, that's for sure.


The 3.5mm jack, made to fit virtually any MP3 player on the market. I do wonder why Brainwavz opted for a straight jack, in day and age of everyone using right angle jacks it might not be the right choice. I have however had no problems fitting the cable into most phone cases. In saying that though I do worry about thickness or bulk on the end which makes it quite a fat, stubby little piece of work. Again from a durability perspective the jack is made to last and feels quite nice in the hand, sturdy, much like the Y-Spilt. I had read a comment from someone saying maybe a change in color to red would have fitted in well so it matched the strain reliefs on the housing. I have to agree there.



During my time with Brainwavz S0 I stuck to three main sources.

iPod Touch 4G (AAC 256)
Sansa Clip+ (Rockbox - FLAC)
iPod Classic (Rockbox - FLAC)

Overall tonality: 

For an earphone in this price range if there's one thing I'm impressed by it's how clear and high in clarity S0 sounds, while I can hear just a hint of warmth in the presentation which makes them quite smooth, the mid-range is very clear, there's no veil usually found on cheaper products this was one thing that jumped straight out at me.

While S0 doesn't quite make the neutral mark it does a fine job of staying quite clean in the mid-range but you'll often get a slight push in the upper regions (mostly mid-range related) I was very surprised. There is however just a hint of warmth there that mostly comes from the bass  but overall I'm very pleased with how much clarity pushes out of this product, especially at their price point. There were times I was thinking hmm, just a dash of brightness here too  but again, from the upper mid-range..


The low end is rather balanced with the mids, I do hear a slight amount of forwardness with certain genres, take for example electronic music the bass can come out to play, but well toned down compared to it's older brother S5. Mid-bass is kept at a subtle presence while the low end focuses deeper into sub-bass regions. Texture is decent as is the low ends ability to keep bleed out of the mix. I think compared to the more expensive S5 - S0's bass is quite welcome, as you can see some people actually prefer the signature of S0 instead. I would say that's mainly because the bass does stay fairly true and balanced most of the time. It isn't however the tightest bass, though nore is it the most expensive IEM.


Here at the heart of S0 I'm really impressed, especially at that clarity I keep mentioning, while it does come slightly from an upper mid push the detail is far above that of a $50 product, this is where you'll be won over quite quickly (I know I was). Throwing well recorded albums at S0 truly shows you what the earphone is capable of. Female vocals are probably better suited due to the slight upper-mid emphasis though it's quite well done for males vocals too.

Like I said in the tonality section there's still a hint of warmth to the earphone which makes the mids smooth, and easy to listen too. It's quite welcome over something more aggressive or grainy which in turn causes early fatigue. All in all it's quite a well tuned mid-range, Brainwavz hit a real sweet spot between clarity, smoothness, and detail. Timbre is quite natural if not just a little metallic sounding, the S5 also had this trait which can be looked at in two ways: it's unique and nice to absorb, or on the flip side can sound a little artificial compared to more organic sounding IEM like Vsonic VSD3S or Havi B3.


Again, depending on the track treble sounds quite in line with the mids and bass, it can come a little forward with some of my treble enhanced tracks but nothing extreme, I think another safe bet here which keeps enough highs going at all times. Extension however isn't terribly impressive but the highs keep a good amount of detail and stay separated from the mid-range giving them some individuality. They seem to take on their on character or personality while playing in-line with the mid-range. While listening to S0's highs I sometimes question if the IEM should have been a little more expensive. I've had those thoughts a few times, especially with the right tracks.


I'll tell you what, for an IEM in this price when using an iPod video I was quite impressed at the soundstage width of this IEM, at first I was a little shocked. The stage using the iPod Video is rather wide, much wider than I remember S5, depth on the center channel was also note worthy. I'm not sure exactly why this is because using other sources I didn't get exactly the same results, but my conclusion is the soundstage on S0 for it's asking price is extremely capable. You get a good grasp of instruments imaging on the outer sections of your ears and the focus on center channel really causes a nice amount of separation. 


It seems S0 has been made with technical aspects in mind because again I hear a decent amount of separation and coherency in the mid-range, while the bass can tend to mix in a little with the mid-range the treble and it's detail remains well separated most of the time. I think throwing some super fast EDM tracks at S0 might test it's ability to the limits but overall for a decent paced track the instrument separation is quite capable.



Remembering we're not talking about the accessories or packaging today, what we were here for is the sound and design. I can tell you that S0 can punch up quite high for it's price, with the strong technical ability and capable mid-range S0 puts up a fight towards other highly ranked IEM like VSD3S, Havi B3 PRO 1, Ostry KC06. While we're keeping in mind the price what Brainwavz have done is strike a good balanced between smoothness and clarity which for the price one couldn't ask for me. I will say I am not a personal fan of the design, I think something a little more flashy could be thought up, and the cable with it's flatness and weight may cause problems for some people

In the end though I'm very happy with the performance of this product, it meets its criteria and price bracket with a little extra push of attributes. 

Id' like to once again thank Brianwavz for the sample!
great read!
Who's that man behind the H20 mask???   After reading your review I decided not to get the overrated 1P2 but the Brainwave!!! (might even stop using my AS2!!) 


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Natural timbre, Detail, 3 Adjustable tuning filters, Cable, Packaging
Cons: L/R Markings far too small, no cable cinch, Treble filters too bright.

Firstly, I'd like to thank Rock Jaw for the Alfa Genus sample.

Only a few weeks ago I hadn't heard of the company Rock Jaw, however through a friend was offered to sample one of their new products. Being more than interested in the filter adjustment tuning feature and neodymium drivers I happily took on a review sample. Let me say it's been more than interesting and delightful, especially tinkering around with the 3 different tuning filters. It's almost like having 3 earphones in one, if the intended sound of Alfa Genus sits well with you that's a very welcome feature.  



8mm dynamic
Silver – enhanced bass, Black - enhanced treble, Champagne - balanced or ‘audiophile’ – detachable screw in
16 ohm ± 15%
20Hz – 20KHz
108dB ± 3dB
Cable Length
3.5mm gold plated


As you can see below it appears Rock jaw care about their packaging just as much as their product, the heavily fabricated cardboard box Alfa Genus comes in certainly gives you a feeling of satisfaction on opening your new earphones, it's very firm, solid and even contains a compartment for keeping your accessories in (this I think is a wonderful feature) It's not the kind of carton you will just throw away after wards. Well, I know I'm certainly going to keep it around for keeping my filters and tips safe.


Design / Build:

Alfa Genus is constructed of a hybrid design, this means two different materials for the earphones housing, those being aluminum and ebony (wood / metal). I think the approach was to make the housing robust as possible while trying to inherit some of that "woody" sound often found in some wooden IEM designs. I can safely say Rock Jaw have accomplished that task. It does give the earphones a great appearance all over and a certain natural timbre to their sound signature.

You can even see some careful thought has been placed into the strain relief design. Below the metal support coming off the IEM there's lengthy plastic strain reliefs which can flex easily no matter which way the earphone may get pulled. Longer the better here (within reason) as it gives leeway for any strain or tugging the housings may go through over their long life span. It seems Rock Jaw has indeed done their home work.

If there's one thing that lets me down here Its the L/R markings on the silver poles, they're far too small, I don't know about people wearing microscope glasses but this problem surfaces with many IEM I see, I understand there's not much room to stamp a marking but often I use IEM in the dark, how am I supposed to know which is left or right? It's not only that, even in the day you must bring the housing very close up to your eyes, twist them on an angle just to make out the lettering

Often some companies will place a small braille dot on one side which you can feel with your thumb, this basically takes away all need to look for the markings and easily felt in the dark. I know of other companies like T-Peos who have opted for red / blue strain reliefs which worked wonderfully though it must also sit in with the design. So not overly impressed with the small markings. Hopefully, something can be done with future Rock Jaw products.


Moving to the jack / plug we have a right angle connection but it's more than that, you can see some thought went into this design as I've had no problems connecting the plug to all phones I've tried with cases, the reach given on the end and actual design is cleverly thought out, more than one would think just by looking at it. So many earphones I see these days have overly cumbersome jacks too thick or too fat to fit insides phones wearing protective cases, a simply over looked design flaw. You shouldn't have any of those problems here.


The cable design, although I hear it receives mixed results I quite like the cable, it gives the earphones some confidence they're going to last a long time. While it can hold some memory and a little spring it's pretty well behaved for me. I presume in combination with those strain reliefs we were  looking at earlier the cable should stand the test of time. It feels strong sturdy and robust. There is off course a little microphonics  but most of that is handled well back up at the earpieces due to those rubber strain reliefs canceling it out.


Lastly the Y-Spilt, nothing overly built here though more than strong enough to get the job done. It's actually a good thing the Y-Spilt is made in a sensible fashion as some can tend to weigh down the earpieces also having a tendency to swing side to side while walking which also contributes to microphonics.

Keeping it small, simple and effective is the key. Another point to Rock Jaw!



Included in the packaging is:

.4 sets of ear tips (S/M/L and an extra pair of M)
.1 set of Bass filters  (Silver)
.1 set of Treble filters (Black)
.1 set of Balanced filters (Champagne)
.1 Draw String Carry / storage case


As you can see below there's one thing I am not fond of here. It's the velour material storage case, even keeping the case safe inside another storage box soon as it sees the light of day little hairs from all sorts of places begin breading on it. It can be cleaned quickly using the back of some masking tape (sticky side up) and patting it over but it's just an ongoing problem with this material I've seen too many times to count. Not really a fault of Rock Jaws though something to think about.

It kind of takes away the "hey look at my new earphones" when you whip out a case in front of your friend covered in foreign hairs!



During my time with Alfa Genus, I used an assortment of sources some shown below.

All file formats were 16/44 FLAC.


Overall Timbre:

Because this review is a little different from others mainly due to the tuning filters I'm going to give my thoughts on the overall timbre and naturalness of Alfa Genus. In a whole the timbre combined with the ebony housings we looked at earlier gives the sound a rather organic timbre and presentation especially in conjunction with the dynamic driver. When you add all those together this earphone does sound quite natural, organic, and smooth around the mid-range. Acoustic guitars and drums sound quite real and convincing.

Overall Detail:

For it's excellent price point the Alfa Genus has a good dose of detail, it's especially notable in the mid-range, you'll hear good extension right through the bass / mids / highs, I especially like them with ambient or country music, again due to the natural timbre and amount of detail present,  vocals are also rather impressive. Let me say the Alfa is certainly no slouch when it comes to detail extension and throwing it out at you. Very high considering its price to performance ratio punching well above the price point. 


Bass Filters (Silver)

Using the bass filters seems to be quite divided in opinions, I think many of the reviewers found it too much at times. Myself am in a different party. I find the bass very welcome in quantity and quality. I think due to my normal preference of analytical its a welcome change, especially with ambient tracks that require some atmosphere and impact during sections of some tracks. Texture and detail is also impressive in the low end. While it can be a little boomy at times I really don't see the issue here. 

The downside to the bass filters is however it causes some bleed into the lower mids which can cloud them up a little taking away some of their glory, it hinders the driver slightly from full potential. But never fear Rock Jaw have the perfect solution for that! I mean sure, the bass is definitely forward though I was expecting much more reading the previous reviews. I quite enjoy the nice thump with EDM music and industrial tracks, really gets the song moving. Treble seems quite relaxed here also, nothing offensive.

I imagine it wasn't terribly easy to tune the filters for everyone liking as bass quantity is a tricky subject, you will never please everyone.

Balanced Filters (Champagne) 

Arrh, if there was too much bass before you can certainly see Rock Jaw provided a new entry to please everyone, now the bass is much more balanced with mids and highs, the cloud that came over the mid-range has been lifted and I hear them being able to shine.  Separation seems to have improved as has imaging, which I think was always there though clouded over by the emphasized bass filters. It's a real welcome change, I can see people switching out filters for different genres, not because it absolutely needs them but more so just to tweak for a country genre or folk that otherwise doesn't require as much bass.

In a nut shell the champagne filters do indeed bring the bass / mids / highs well balanced with each other, just the right amount in all areas. like a happy medium of the other two filters. There might be just a little too much mid-bass still at times though we're treading a fine line here between too much and not enough. The overall outcome adding an additional filter certainly fills any void which may have been present previously. 

Treble Filters (Black)

My least favorite unfortunately, while they do make the bass very mellow they also change Alfa Genus into something quite bright and a little fatiguing, treble really comes out to play and they sound much tilted towards overly analytical, which is fine to a degree though the treble filters are a little too overwhelming for me. While the mids remain very clear and tilted slightly bright in tonality upstairs the treble just comes a little too splashy and strident, ok for a few tracks though becomes tiring after an hour or two. While I can see the appeal especially for treble heads it's not my preferred filter, though some may find it right up their alley.

Of course, it sounds the cleanest of all filters and very crisp but it's just a little too bright for long term listening.

Filter Conclusion:

So which filter do I like best? Well, if I was to toss up between the bass and balanced filters I would probably take the balanced for most of my genres, while I really enjoy the ambiance and atmosphere the bass filters contribute to some genres it isn't the most versatile, that's exactly where the balanced filters come in. I think the addition of this filter was exactly what Alfa Genus needed, it separates  itself from the other two showing full potential of this earphone. Of course, I will still use the bass filters from time to time and they will do every genre without too much trouble, though the beauty of this entire design is accommodating the sound for your music.


Final conclusion.

Putting together the entire concept, packaging and filter tuning system with this product I can certainly see the appeal at its price point. They've taken on something not seen so widely these days offering something, interesting, attractive and rather unique for today's standards. It gives the user much freedom to alter the sound of Alfa Genus to their liking, and seeing the add on of the new balanced filters is exactly what this product needed, it kind of felt incomplete until the third filter was introduced.

The build and packaging is great, a feeling of purchasing something new is really there with this Rock Jaw product. I would like to see a new storage case, something a little more flashy and those L/R markings really need some attention, no cable cinch is also a negative point I didn't want to delve into too much. Pushing that aside the sound of Alfa Genus is certainly punching above its weight, I would like to see more of this from other companies.

Thanks to Rock Jaw for the sample!

Hey mate, thanks! They're great value for money! 
Top class mate
Out of curiousity, did you burn in all the different incarnations? I've found that burn-in can help with over-bright highs and tightens bass up a bit.