Reviews by machinegod

machinegod

New Head-Fier
The best I've heard as of now!
Pros: Excellent tuning that plays well with all kinds of music.
Treble extension and detail are outstanding while also being smooth.
Has serious amounts of actual resolution.
Easy to drive.
Cons: 2 pin female socket is a bit tight.
Disclaimer: The unit was sent by Tangzu as a part of a review tour, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I will be comparing the Nezha closely to Tangzu's own Zetian Wu Heyday, which is one of my personal favorite earphones to come out recently.

Build & Fit
The Nezha is significantly lighter than Heyday as it's a resin shell as compared to all metal. Size wise the Nezha is bigger as well. The Nezha looks more eye catching due to the red flakes (specially when the light hits them directly) as compared to Heyday which is really understated. When it comes to fit, even though the Nezha is a bit bigger, it sets better and snugger than the Heyday and that translated to better comfort in the long run. But both are comfortable to my ears. One thing to note though: The 2 pin on the Nezha is very tight, I wish it were a bit looser. Time will tell if it loosens up. The luxurious carry case and the cable that came with the Heyday was amazing, at any price range. And the same is the case for Nezha but it is now even more refined. The material on the carry case is now leather (mock leather I presume) and is textured. It is also a bit more streamlined as compared to the Heyday version. I would consider the Nezha case an improvement. But either way, neither can be fit in a pocket. They are transportable cases, meant to be put in bags.
The improvement carries to the cable as well. Both cables are gorgeous looking, but the Nezha plug is significantly smaller and less bulky, even though it retains the modularity.
The Nezha also comes with Tang Sancai Wide Bore & Balanced set of eartips (more in sound quality section).

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Amp Needs
The Nezha is a BA+electret combination and it should be very sensitive, and it is. It is easy to drive. It is significantly easier to drive than Heyday which is a big (for portable uses) planar driver and needs more current. I use them both with my time tested E1DA 9038D and also the Fiio UTWS5 when outside. With Nezha i get loads of headroom, much more than I will ever need. With the Heyday I get loads of headroom on the 9038D but and also sufficient headroom with the UTWS5 unless the recording is quiet and, in that case, I need to max out.
So, in conclusion, no external amp is needed for the Nezha.

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Sound Quality
As a reviewer, lots of earphones have come over the past to me. Some good, some bad, mostly "okay". I had really liked the Heyday, so much so I purchased a retail unit for myself. Up to that point, it remained one of the most resolving earphones I had heard, by a big margin. I really couldn't find much fault with it.
Honestly, I expected Nezha to be at most as good as Heyday for my personal taste. And I was a bit apprehensive about the electret driver, hoping it would be treble murder. Boy was I wrong. The moment I put it on, I was shocked to hear the smoothness in the treble, AND that excellent extension. It sounded open, un-restrained, extremely resolving as well. It out-resolved the Heyday by a big margin. A/B'ing the two, it sounded like the upper treble of Heyday was almost missing in comparison. I was shocked really. It was like going to 4k from 1080p. All of a sudden, the Heyday sounded a bit spicy in the upper midrange, slightly thin and simply put, a bit V shaped.
Nezha's sound is what you get if you take Heyday's sound, flatten it a bit and stretch it on both sides. The treble extension is very smooth and very high, devoid of sharp peaks. Upper treble extension is key to hearing ambiance of the recording and low-level details. And it shows. Then entire midrange is so natural and very resolving. The ear gain region is not overkill at all, which is not the case in most earphones. I have used the Nezha for hours each day- at home, while commuting as well. Just plug them in to the UTWS5 and it's a done deal. The included Tang Sancai tips are also of higher quality than the tips included with Heyday. With wide bore, that sound becomes lighter footed and becomes more analytical, shifting the focus on the treble, pushing the details in front. I preferred the Balanced tips, which simply makes the sound more balanced and makes the midrange sound "bigger" and more "open". The skin-compliant softer silicone is also more comfortable to wear in the long run.
But does it have "BA timbre"? What does it even mean? I have heard multiple BA sets before and yes, there is a "sound" to some of them. But that is only due to bad implementation. I have heard all BA sets like the BGVP DM8 which have minimal "BA timbre" because it was designed properly. Etymotic's BA driver is insane as well. The Nezha is also a BA earphone majorly. I kind of do hear it in the bass region, just slightly. The bass punch and extension are very good, simply put. But the bass presentation of a BA is different to that of a planar or DD. It is not a bad thing; it is just different. It is similar to the materials chosen for speaker drivers. Each material does impart a characteristic sound unless specifically engineered to do otherwise (and yes, it is done more often than not). I do hear the slight "BA timbre" in the bass of Nezha, but that takes away nothing from the resolution, speed and overall punch that it already provides. I would categorize it as neutral (yet very resolving) bass with a slight hint of that "BA timbre". Except the difference in presentation, Nezha's bass is similar to that of Heyday.

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Conclusion
It is the best earphone I have heard it to this day and yes, it is not some hyperbole. I rarely rate something 5 stars on headfi, but this is an easy 5 stars for me. Tangzu knows how to tune stuff, excellent job by them.
D
David Haworth
Excellent review sir. I concur with your conclusions.
machinegod
machinegod
Thanks!

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: good detail retrieval
excellent build quality
Cons: midrange timbre slightly off
Disclaimer: The unit was sent by TangZu for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Build and Fit
It's hard to believe just how robust such affordable earphones have become. how can the brands use such dense metal in the chassis at this price point? i don't know, i also don't care to be honest. excellent build quality at any price point, let alone this. No one should complain regarding the build quality.
The cable however is a bit sticky and rubbery for my liking but i'm not complaining. The carry case seems a bit useless because it's just a bag, offers no kind of protection and its a bit of a fuss to open and close it. the case feels more like form over function to me. but again, you can get a hard case for dirt cheap.

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Amp Needs
The shiminli encounter edition needs no dedicated amp to sound its best. it works just fine from a phone or a usb dongle dac just fine.

Sound Quality
The good thing that stands out on first listen is that this earphone is sufficiently detailed sounding. it is not the "in your face" kind of forced detail but natural resolution. the midrange is quite detailed and it captures all kinds of texture there is to capture. can it compare to a higher end planar earphone? no, but you will not be missing much.
layering of instruments and vocals is also done right, and the sound isn't claustrophobic at all. everything is layered well. i would however say that the midrange is slightly forward, and the vocals are slightly pushed forward, but it is not fatiguing at all. because of this you might miss the small tonal changes that happen in real time but you get a good dose of detail. so you get some, you lose some. bass quantity is sufficient and on the neutral side, but it has good amount of detail in this region. treble is more on the smooth side which is not fatiguing. some cons? although there is very good amount of detail, the timbre is just slightly off in the midrange. but it is something one will get used to very quickly. the soundstage is decent for the price range and is similar to many of the earphones out there in the price range but what is better than most of the usual earphones in this price range is image specificity.

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Conclusion
At its price range, the build quality definitely stands out on top. the sound is also quite detailed for the price and the shimin li encounter edition checks most of the boxes.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Balanced and natural sound.
Neutral profile throughout the frequency band.
Great resolution and clarity.
Vocal clarity is amazing.
Cons: Need some more heft and depth to the stage.
Introduction:-
Galileo is a new dual-driver hybrid IEM designed by Letshuoer in collaboration with Gizaudio. Gizaudio is a famous HiFi audio channel on Youtube hosted by Timmy Vangtan. Galileo is the first collaborative project of Gizaudio. It’s a dual-driver hybrid pair of in-ear monitor with 1 10mm liquid silicone dynamic driver and a Sonion balanced armature driver on each side. I got to try the Galileo as a part of review tour organised in my country by HiFiGo. So I would like to thank them by including their product link in this review(non-affiliated).

The unit goes ahead to the next reviewer after my turn, Let’s begin with the review.

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Design & Build:-
The pair has got beautiful looks with designer face covers. The advertisements for Galileo states that this is an ink-painted design. It looks beautiful and has a good captivating factor. Like the design here. The inside portion of the shells have a blue-coloured semi-transparent cavity. The pair has an elegant look and features a lightweight body with ergonomic shape. It provides me with perfect fit with proper isolation from the outside sounds. I am using stock white color silicone ear tips. The black colored ones increase the bass a bit, I personally like the pair more with the stock white colored ear tips.

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Sound Impressions:-
Galileo has a neutral sound profile. All three frequencies have a balanced response, lower-end, midrange, highs, perform in-line with each other. None of the frequency section feels over-emphasized or over exaggerating. It maintains a good balance, the low-end has got a clean sound that complements the other frequencies well. Midrange captivates you with its exceptionally rich tone and definition for vocals. Treble region extends well and has a clean, refined presentation. Galileo has a natural tone to its sound output, The vocal presentation on the Galileo is exciting. It produces crisp, well-defined, well-textured vocals that have an upfront presentation. Letshuoer and Gizaudio have done a great job with the Galileo, the pair shows accurate placement for different instruments even in busy tracks. Instrument imaging and separation is top-class on the pair. The pair produces micro details evenly and shows good resolution throughout the frequency band as well. I find the bass response to be quite good. It has a bit of boost in the mid-bass region that allows for a little punch in the lower end. It extends well into the sub-bass region, delivering a quality bass response.

As per the brand, they have designed some physical and electronic frequency crossover tech for the Galileo. And it actually works in its favor, it sounds coherent and feels like a single-driver producing high-resolution sound. Resolution on the Galileo is superb. Soundstage has got good width and height. Depth could have been improved that would give a more 3D presentation to its sound.
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Final Words:-
Overall, Galileo sounds quite nice, it has a natural profile to its sound. It delivers good clarity, good resolution, and maintains a smooth presentation. It’s very comfortable to listen to even for extended hours. The only thing I feel could be improved a bit would be some added depth to the stage for a more 3-dimensional experience.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: excellent resolving capabilities.
non fatiguing presentation.
Cons: shells may be big for some.
it is not the airiest sounding earphone out there.
Disclaimer: The unit was sent by the brand as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Build and Fit
The Zetian Wu Heyday is a big earphone. But it is still comfortable in my small-medium ears. It does stick out a bit, and you are always feeling that you are wearing a big earphone, but never is it uncomfortable. But the redeeming factor is that the design is understated and not totally comprehended until one sees it up close. So, it doesn't seek attention at all. The case although very luxurious is very big and cannot be fitted in any pocket. It is for a bag. The cable is also very luxurious with swappable 2.5mm and 4.4mm plugs, but also quite thick. The Heyday seems to do things big and luxurious!
Let's hope the sound is in the same veins.

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Amp Needs
The Zetian Wu Heyday cannot run sufficiently from phone output direct. A dongle dac/amp combo is recommended at the minimum.

Sound Quality
Zetian Wu Heyday has an almost unique advantage that is only found in quite expensive earphones: excellent natural resolution while having a non-aggressive presentation. There is a truckload of resolution to be found here. The microdetails and ambient cues are pouring out of the woodworks, yet the sound never gets harsh, in fact it is on the laid-back side, dare I say a bit smooth. But it will not save a bad recording. Bad recordings do come out as a bit shouty as one would expect from something that is very resolving. When it comes to the bass, there is enough low bass that adds deep weight, but I find a slight lack of midbass attack that would have otherwise enhanced the punch. Maybe I feel that way because the bass here is quite fast and isn't lingering. Top end is on the smooth side, and when it comes air, it is slightly rolled off. I have heard more airy sounding earphones, but they don't come close to resolution. Texture and detail in the midrange are amazing, irrespective of price. I have come to hear background noise and hiss in tracks that I never heard even after years of listening to them. The earphone has real resolution. One can hear the small intricacies in vocals, the inner detail that goes beyond the surface. This is true for everything and not just vocals. Tone of vocals is mostly very nice, although when it comes to female vocals, or a bit shouty vocals, electric guitar screeches, it tends to add a bit of spiciness which leads me to conclude that it is a bit hot in the upper midrange area. Instrument separation is layering is very nice, in fact if one concentrates hard, one can get an idea of what is in front and what is at the back.
Throwing complex and loud passages doesn't throw off the earphone at all and it retains composure throughout. In terms of the sound field, it is sufficiently spacious, and the localization of instruments and vocalists is reasonably good.

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Conclusion
The star attraction of the earphone is its effortless resolution that is presented in a non-fatiguing manner. I have rarely seen such resolution with so little drawbacks. Great product.
Bitsir
Bitsir
Great review! I'm hype. Getting my pair tomorrow hopefully... !
D
DewanPretorius
How does it compare to the Moondrop Kato for a general purpose all day use iem? Thanks! (Mainly just listening to things in the background)

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Close to perfect tuning.
Beautiful looking product that isn't gaudy or overdone.
Easy to drive.
Cons: Shells may develop scratches in the long run.
Disclaimer: The unit was sent directly by the brand as a part of a review tour. But all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Build & Fit
In this day and age of earphones that are getting bigger and bigger by each iteration, some manufacturers seem to have forgotten the fact that earphones are primarily meant to be used outside the home. Yume 2 is a breath of fresh air in this aspect. It is of perfect size for my medium-small ears. It fits compactly inside and no part of it sticks out at all. And this is with a perfect seal with the stock ear tips. The beautiful cable is lightweight and thin as well, drawing attention but not seeking for it. Unknowing eyes know that it is a premium product, and it isn't gaudy to look at. When the shells catch light, it does indeed look beautiful.
However, the carry case is too tall and doesn't fit in the pocket without making an awkward bulge, so it is meant for your bag. I also have concerns for the shell plate and its scratch resistance. While it did not develop any scratches in my term of use, only time can say about it in the long run.

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Amp Needs
Thankfully Yume 2 is one of the very few earphones out there that can truly be driven nicely direct from a smartphone, that too with a weak output. Things only get better with a dongle dac attached to it. So, no external amplifier is needed at all.

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Sound Quality
Having heard and reviewed the Yume and Yume Midnight, the Yume 2 is undoubtedly a step up from both. While I loved the laid back and smooth nature of Yume, Yume Midnight was a bit veiled and not as clean sounding compared to Yume. Yume 2 fixed all issues of the previous iterations with regards to tuning.
There is no veil in the sound, and it is clean, engaging and it seems damn near flawless in terms of balance. Open top end, tight and clean bass. The bass on this is more about speed and cleanliness and not about outright rumble and weight. I personally much prefer this kind of bass. Instruments and vocals have the right amount of bite and texture aided with a lot of details that seem to naturally flow through. It is naturally resolving without shoving details down your throat aggressively.
The presentation is perfectly balanced. Neither is it too laid back, nor too forward. It is energetic and keeps you in pace all the time. Separation of instruments, layering of elements in the sound field is really commendable. Although it is worth pointing out that I have heard more spacious sounding earphones in the past. The sound field is entirely contained in between the earphones and doesn't extend beyond it like heard in many earphones, even some cheaper.
But that shouldn't deter you given the other positives of this earphone. Tone of vocals is pretty spot on for something of this price. It doesn't artificially push vocals forward; vocals don't sound artificially chesty and "lush" or thin and grating.
It is one of the most uncolored sounding earphones that I have come across in recent memory, an earphone that I heard a lot during my review period. I could drone on and on about it, but I shan't. It is a great earphone and I love it and would really consider owning it personally.

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Conclusion
Pretty much close to perfect in terms of tuning. I held the AKG K361 (wired) as a benchmark in terms of tuning in this price category, but Yume 2 is more energetic and snappier, more detailed and slightly cleaner sounding even. A breath of fresh air in the saturated earphone market.
N
Nexin
Do you like these more than bravery?
machinegod
machinegod
sorry for the very late reply. yes i like it more than the bravery.
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N
Nexin
Its alright u answered me on fb

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Supports charging pass-through.
Nice build quality
Cons: Sound quality not that impressive.
Disclaimer : The unit was sent by Hifigo as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase it here.

Build Quality & Usability
The build quality of the dongle is solid, it is all metal and is hefty. But unfortunately the form factor has a connecting cable and is thus bulky and long, and not that suitable for portable use. The big size of the dongle itself doesn't help improve things further. This device is more desktop oriented and definitely not a pocketable solution. The M1 Smart worked flawlessly with Android and Windows in my usage. The unit is very power efficient and draws very less power, and neither does it heat up much. It only heats up noticeably when charging is used. It has an LED indicator which turns blue when earphones (only) are connected and red when earphones and charging both are connected. It supports OMTP and CTIA protocols and in line mics as well.

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Performance
The sound quality of the M1 Smart is mediocre and lacks drive even compared to its smaller sibling M1. It is on the weaker side and only recommended to be used with very efficient earphones. The M1 variant seems to have more juice and control over the sound than M1 Smart at the same volume. It performs slightly better than a regular phone with bad headphone output and at 39 USD it is a decent product. Do note that one mustn't use power hungry planar earphones or hard to drive headphones in general with this as it will not be able to drive it.

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Conclusion
The M1 Smart has mediocre performance and the market for small form factor type c dongles is saturated and some of them have even better laid out design for less protrusion during usage. The M1 Smart is a mediocre performer and only serves its purpose if you need the passthrough charging. It is clearly designed with convenience as first priority and not sound quality.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: small form factor
good build quality and polished look
good sound quality
Cons: fails to stand out in the competition
Disclaimer : The unit was sent by hifigo but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase it here.

Build Quality & Usability
The build quality of the dongle is solid, it is all metal and has nice heft to it. But unfortunately the surface is all glossy so it is a fingerprint magnet, which makes it smudgy looking after some time. The M1 worked flawlessly with Android and Windows in my usage. The unit is very power efficient and draws very less power, and neither does it heat up much. It supports OMTP and CTIA protocols and in line mics as well.

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Performance
The sound quality through this tiny dongle has decent drive and very much suitable for most earphones, save the power hungry ones. It sounds thick in the low end and nicely balanced although a bit smooth on the top end and transients seemed to be a bit smoothed out in general. Presentation is very slightly on the laid back and veiled side, but just a bit and nothing to worry about. It performs substantially better than a regular phone and at 39 USD it is a good addition. Do note that one mustn't use power hungry planar earphones or hard to drive headphones in general with this as it will not be able to drive it. In those situations there is just not enough oomph in the sound and the sound-field kind of collapses and sounds limp. I would recommend sticking to high sensitivity and low impedance earphones/headphones to get the best out of it.

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Conclusion
The M1 has nice performance but the market for small form factor type c dongles is saturated and some of them have even better laid out design for less protrusion during usage. The M1 although a decent performer, fails to stand out from the competition.
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machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Good tonal balance.
Good resolution.
Cons: Awkward and long shell.
Not the most impactful low end.
Disclaimer: The unit was sent by Hifigo as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase the Dioko here.

Build and Fit
The shape of Dioko is a bit awkward, and it doesn't fit my ears perfectly due to the long shape. It is indeed a bit uncomfortable for me, none of the included tips helped me alleviate that. Build quality is pretty solid material wise. The shell is all metal and the front seems to be made of glass. Not sure how durable the glass is so I would be cautious when handling it. Unfortunately, the glass is a bit of a fingerprint magnet and it looks quite smudgy after handling it for a while. It comes with an oversized and overbuilt carry case which is always good to have, but in no way shape or form is it even remotely pocketable. It's more 'bag-able'.

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Power Needs
At 16 ohm, 106dB/V, the dioko being a planar magnetic earphone does need a decent source to start with. I would not recommend plugging it directly into your phone lest you want to be disappointed.

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Sound Quality
From inferior sources, the Dioko is under driven and sounds veiled and weak. It should be audible easily. Shifting gears :smirk: the sound is much more open and capable. This should also be audible easily. The Dioko sounds pretty balanced and inoffensive, nothing seems to be bothersome even on extended listen.
It is pretty detailed but without any harshness in the sound; the top end is naturally a bit warm and laid back and not too airy. The vocals and midrange in general sound quite linear and uncolored, I found no added thickness or richness to the sound, and neither does it sound thin or weak. Down low below the waist the Dioko seems to be packing adequately :smirk: . It has the traditional "planar bass" where it sounds like it wants to give more, but just can't. It does indeed lack the raw physicality and extension of traditional driver types but that is only felt when comparing directly. Else I do not think any sophisticated listener would complain about the nuance in the bass, which is obtained by sacrificing just a bit of quantity.

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Conclusion
Dioko sounds quite balanced overall with little to no niggles in my mind. But it is worth pointing out that there is a sea of earphones out there and most of them are forgettable in the long run, Dioko kind of fails to wow me in any way. But I guess that is fine if one just wants to jam out to their music?

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: spot on tonality and timbre
technical performance without sacrificing basics like tone
easier to drive than P1 Plus
Cons: still needs a portable amplifier to perform to the fullest
Disclaimer : The P1 Max was sent by Hifigo but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase the P1 Max here and here

Build and Fit
The shell shape is a bit awkward to my ears for some reason. I just could not get it to seal in my right ear properly. but oh well, they are quite lightweight. I would have liked to have modular plugs for the cable at this price. Coming to the cable quality, its slender and lightweight as well.

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Amp Needs
I doubt the credibility of the sensitivity ratings that TinHifi puts out for these planar earphones as the planar lineup basically needs the best of desktop headphone amps to sound their full potential. While the P1 Max is easier to drive than the rest in this lineup, a portable amplifier is highly recommended.

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Sound Quality
P1 Max sounds like a toned down and calmer P1 Plus. The overall tonality and presentation is similar to the P1 Plus. For those who haven't heard the P1 Plus, the presentation is totally neutral with very good amounts of extension down bottom and up top. It has massive and almost overwhelming dynamics and bass punch but ONLY when driven off a very capable desktop grade headphone amplifier. No portable amplifier can do justice to the P1 Plus. When driven properly to its full potential, the P1 Plus is a force to be reckoned with. But if it is underpowered, the presentation is lean with mostly no bass. The P1 Max is not exactly easy to drive but it's considerably easier to drive than P1 Plus. This is good news as the user can unlock the P1 Max's dynamics and bass punch with relative ease by plugging into regular sources out there. The P1 Max has slightly laid back treble presentation compared to P1 Plus and the bass extension on P1 Max is also more when plugged into regular sources. Now focusing on the Max specifically, there is loads of detail that is presented but without any fatigue, primarily because the overall sound is quite fast. Timbre and tonality are almost spot on, if not perfect. Although it must be noted that the performance scales with higher quality sources. More dynamics, more bass attack and a thicker presentation. The sound of the Max is also reasonably spacious and it never sounds claustrophobic. Instrument separation is very nice as well.

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Conclusion
The P1 Max is an easier to drive P1 Plus and thus it becomes much easier to unlock its full potential with regular sources as well. Which basically translates to great news.
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ywheng89
ywheng89
Curious when you mentioned that it is easier to drive compared to P1 plus,what sources are you using to drive P1 Max?i have found them to be more than adequate with a Questyle M15
sofastreamer
sofastreamer
i am generally listening in very volume levels. in high gain i need to crank my dx3 pro+ to -58db, as i need to with my opp pm1 planar or for example my z1r overear. so overall it really needs as much juice as do the big ones.
machinegod
machinegod
I was using the Shanling M3X at that time.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: neutral-warm mature tuning that goes well with all kinds of music
effortlessly resolving
very nice timbre and tonality
Cons: that price tag
a bit too chintzy looking for me
Disclaimer : The QDC Anole VX was sent by ConceptKart as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase the Anole VX here.

Build and Fit
This might come off as a surprise but I do not quite dig the design of Anole VX. It is a bit too chintzy for my taste, as it is overly glittery. Not to mention the shells are massive. If you have small ears then fit must be considered as it was a bit painful after long listening sessions. The cable quality is good although nothing special. However the case is lovely, as must be expected of something that costs this much.
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Amp Needs
At 17 ohm, 110dB/mW there is no need for an external amplifier.

Sound Quality
I will be judging the sound quality without taking into context the pricetag. So if you are a value oriented buyer who wants value for money in their purchases, look away. We both know there is absolutely no reason why an earphone or headphone should cost this much. Also, the following analysis has been made with the tuning switches turned off. To sum up in short, Anole VX sounds really uncolored with just a touch of warmth to tame the badly recorded stuff. It has great timbre and tonality throughout, where nothing feels pushed back or forward...it just is. Although it undoubtedly has the "BA sound" where the presentation is kind of smooth. Which is expected as it has 10BA inside. Anole VX is also effortlessly detailed and resolving. This is real resolution and not something that is achieved by bumping up the top end, because the top end in the Anole VX is natural and slightly rolled off. This results in a sound that is just slightly warm and quite mature. You can confidently throw even the crappiest recording at it and it will turn it into something plesant without homogenizing everything.
The only noticeable drawback is that due to its smoother presentation, punchy and busy music might come off as lacking a bit of energy and dynamics. This also includes bassy music where one would come to expect more punch and heft and more texture. But it is what it is. It trades that last ounce of detail in the bass for some excellent rendition of vocals and detail in the midrange. Lots of texture here.

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Conclusion
The Anole VX is an iconic earphone and its sound quality is definitely high end. Really mature sound that doesnt seek too much attention while performing very admirably.
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machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: good build quality
decent performance
Cons: competition is strong in this price range
slight shoutiness in its presentation
Build and Fit
These budget earphones from china seem to have great build quality for what it is and Shimin Li is no exception. All metal beautiful build with the alligator scale design. Cable is a bit rubbery though, although not an issue as it doesnt tangle that easily. Regarding fit I do not think anyone will face any issues.

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Amp Needs
At 18 ohm, 109dB/mW no external amplifier is needed for the Shimin Li.

Sound Quality
The predecessor of Shimin Li, namely the Yuan Li still remains to this day some of the most matured and solid tuned earphones to come out of China, if not the best. I absolutely adored it. It is the earphone I would take with me if I were stranded in an island. It blended musicality and technicality just the right way and the right amount, making everything sound good. Although substantially cheaper, the Shimin Li still has big boots to fill. Shimin Li in comparison although sounding good, struggles a bit to stand out of the competition. Taking the sound on face value, there is nothing wrong with it except maybe a slight shoutiness in its presentation but it is hard to flaw it in any other department. Maybe that's a good thing though. Vocals are slighly pushed back and it results in a slight hollow presentation, both male and female. Female vocals do come off slightly shouty unfortunately. The low end is natural and is never lacking. The top end is never harsh or fatiguing. Compared to the Yuan Li, the Yuan Li is undoubtedly the better earphone but due to tuning differences the Shimin Li is indeed more detailed and faster sounding. It is also more "cleaner" sounding. All in all for 35 USD it is hard to ask for more.

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Conclusion
Shimin Li sounds good for the money. The competition is filled with earphones that are just "good enough" and Shimin Li is so. If you have the budget then Yuan Li is still the way to go in my opinion.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Good Build Quality
Fatigue Free Sound
Excellent carry case
Cons: Top end could use more air and extension.
Disclaimer : The unit was sent by Hifigo as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase the Eternal here and here

Build and Fit
Effort and attention to detail has gone into the build of the Eternal overall. While the earpieces are solid metal the real stand out feature is the all metal chunky carry case. I mean, it is HEAVY! to the point of it being a bit cumbersome in your pockets I would say. But it's reassuring to know that it would probably stop a bullet or something.
The back plate has a nice design to it, for what appears to be glass? There is a design behind it that resembles a fan. Of course this is all cosmetic to my knowledge, although it could have an effect on the resulting sound. The Eternal is quite comfortable to my ears and it fits slightly loose even with the large tips, not the usual tight sealing earphones that we see.

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Amp Needs
At 30ohm, 109dB/mW there is no need for an external amplifier. It runs fine off just about anything.

Sound Quality
On first listen the first thing that becomes quite apparent is that the Eternal is substantially warm. It is more evident on busier tracks where the top end seems to be closed in and lacking airiness. If one is listening to simpler music or vocal-based music, it sounds quite pleasant with an agreeable timbre. The overall presentation is smooth and on the soft side, however it does seem to have a certain thinness in the upper midrange area which is a pretty common issue among earphones. The midrange and especially the vocal quality is nice. It is more forward and takes the center stage, whereas the other smaller details and nuances are pushed back. Instruments are separated nicely but it could have been better if not for the closed in nature of the top end. The bass however is quite natural and isn't boosted or lacking in any way. The bass and midrange coherence really draws attention.

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Conclusion
The Eternal is more for the people who like a warm and rich sound that is fatigue free. Those that predominantly listen to vocal based music will like its presentation. I do wish it had a bit more air and top end extension which would have resulted in a more open sound.
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machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Convenience
Good for background music
Cons: Bulky nature
Pricey for what it is
Disclaimer : The unit was sent by Hifigo as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase it here.

Build and Fit
The build quality is surprisingly good, the units feel dense and solid in hand and overall feels quite premium. When it comes to "fit" well these don't fit by nature so there will be no issue regarding fit.

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Utility
I have tested the mic quality for calls and it is serviceable. Battery life was decent and I got around 5h with regular usage. Unfortunately it doesn't support fast charging of any kind to my knowledge and it takes a couple of hours to charge completely. The biggest utilitarian advantage that this has shall be further expanded in the following section.

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Sound
Now these do not sound as good as the other audiophile grade earphones in the market for sure, but it doesn't have to. It is designed mainly to provide music when doing activities while still being aware of your surroundings, and I find that quite useful. Jogging, cycling, walking on the roads etc. Since these do not seal, there should ideally be no bass present but that is where Ikko has implemented the bone conduction driver. And yes it kind of mitigates the lack of bass that would have otherwise be present (or absent :wink: ). But do not expect anything grand, it is what it is. Essentially the chassis vibrates itself "enhancing" the perception of bass. When it comes to sound, as you might have guessed it, is very spacious and open (due to the nature of where and how it sits). It has this uncanny feeling of blending music with the sounds in the environment, as if they are one entity. The similar feeling one would get from "earbuds". So when it comes to listening to music when walking on the streets, I can be alert as well as enjoy the music. No it doesn't give me the more precise and sophisticated performance an earphone can give me but then again, I am not listening for nuances when I am walking on the street.

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Conclusion
It is a niche product with a specific use case but it will serve to that niche market. Those who want something decent for background music while still being alert of their surroundings, can take a look at this one.
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machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Build Quality
Raw bass impact and extension.
Cons: Not the most refined sound.
Tuning not up to the mark.
Disclaimer: The UM MEXT was provided by ConceptKart as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase the MEXT here.

Build and Fit
At around 85000 INR at the time of writing, mext comes with a resin shell which is not unheard of at this price point. But a little part of me yearned for a more premium material, possibly metal. But I guess that not using metal was a conscious decision to keep the weight down.
The cable is made beautifully but it only comes with a 4.4mm balanced connector and no adaptor for 3.5mm SE and 2.5mm BAL which is a bummer at this price point, given it is now very common for earphones even at 1/4th price of the MEXT. But it is what it is. Coming to the fit, people with small ears do indeed need to be careful as the shell is substantially bulky. It is not uncomfortable for me, but the bulk is always at the corner of my mind.

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Amp Needs
At 16 ohm, 108dB/mW the MEXT is quite sensitive and driven well even off portable sources. No external amplifier is needed.

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Sound Quality
On paper the MEXT seems quite well endowed, with its bone conduction driver, dynamic and balanced armature drivers. But the final test is in the hearing. The tuning is on the unrefined side overall, and it falls short of the asking price. While bone conduction seems to be the new cool thing, it literally shakes the chassis to add the "physicality". But this results in audible distortion and roughness in the bass. While the extension and impact is commendable, the end result is a bass that is audibly distorted and unrefined. The midrange is slightly pushed back and is on the thinner side. It could use a bit of natural warmth in vocals and some juiciness in the midrange in general. The treble has a sizzle to it, indicating some kind of uneven-ness in the tuning. Compressed recordings, or sharp transients in this region come off sizzling and thin, rendering the overall sound a "V shaped" tuning. This south of optimal tuning also negatively impacts overall resolution where I found micro details pushed back and overall texture in the midrange smeared.

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Conclusion
The MEXT's bone conduction program seems to be a mixed bag for me. You trade speed and cleanliness for extension and impact. The tuning could have been better and it is not for those who value timbre and tone. Maybe you can rock your socks off to it.
szore
szore
Hi, did you burn this in? It needs at least 100 hours of high volume bassy music to open it up.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Feature rich, probably last word when it comes to utility.
Cons: Falls short of dedicated dongle DACs when it comes to sound quality.
Disclaimer : The unit was sent by Hifigo as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase it here.

Build Quality
ITX01 being a "10 in 1 docking station" there isn't much expectation from it when it comes to build as usually these are made out of plastic save for the expensive ones. As far as prices go for a feature rich docking station, $99 is competitive and so is the build quality. Unit feels solid to hold but it is (as expected) considerably bulky. It is expected because of the controllers, hub pcbs and the dac section inside. You can only cram so much in a limited space, so it is better to expand real estate lest there are performance compromises or bottlenecks.

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Features & Utility
The 10 in 1 docking station packs the following : 100W PD via type C, USB 3.2 via type C, 3x USB 3.2 via USB A, HDMI 2.0, micro SD slot, full sized SD slot and more importantly for us, 3.5mm single ended & 4.4mm balanced outputs. It is compatible with Android, IOS, Mac OS, Win10, PS5, Switch. I used it with Android, iOS, Windows 10 and PS5 without any issue. During testing with multiple (but not all) interfaces, I was surprised to see that it didn't heat up as much as I was expecting it to. Neither did I face any glitches or disconnections during my testing. For the rest of the review I will be focusing on the sound performance of the ITX01.


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Sound Quality
ITX01 comes with 3 sound presets : hifi, movie and gaming. Right out of the box I was preferring the Hifi output over the other two. Reason being that the sound quality was simply thinner and simply not up to the mark, with weird tonality. This is expected as it is simply just using DSP to alter the tone. I would recommend using Hifi mode all the time. Obviously if you want really good sound performance you will choose a dedicated dongle dac from the plethora of options available today, but the ITX01 performs reasonably well when it came to sound quality, it is for someone who likes to have one device for multiple use cases. The performance out of the balanced port was notably better and smoother than the single ended port, which indicates that the single ended implementation was more of an after-thought for convenience. Coming to the sound, it is reasonably good overall however there was a bit of veil in the treble accompanied by what could be none other than background noise (not noise floor), it does not have what the typical audiophile would call "a black background", which prevents little details from blossoming in. It came off as a bit muted. But you can only expect so much from an all in one device and all things considered, it is reasonably good. One more thing, do not expect too much driving capability from a docking station as really good driving capability requires quality power supply and other components, for which there isn't much space here. I would recommend sticking to regular earphones that aren't absurdly hard to drive.

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Conclusion
If you are after quality sound and quality sound only, there are other dedicated dongle dacs out there that perform better than ITX01 (by Ikko themselves). But if you want a device that really packs all the guns in one jacket, it is quite a unique product that performs decently when it comes to sound.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Great technicalities.
Cons: Tuning not up to the mark.
Bulky shell.
Build & Fit
The build quality is nothing out of the ordinary, the usual plastic shell with a fancy faceplate. The design is beautiful to look at. However, the shell size is massive. People with small ears will indeed have trouble getting it to be comfortable.
I have medium sized ears and even then it feels quite big (because it is). Some adjustment is needed every time the earphone is worn to get it sitting right.

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Amp Needs
This is a planar earphone, and planar earphones really do need proper amplification no matter what the manufacturer says, the same is true for Power. An amplifier is must, period.

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Sound quality
Power scores high when it comes to technicalities. Separation and detail retrieval are really good, it presents a wide soundscape with accurate positioning within the head-stage. However the tuning is really not up to the mark. Starting with the treble, Detail and spatial cues are gushing are well portrayed and easy to decipher given the high resolving power. However it has a tendency to aggravate the "S" and "T"s and is critical of this region. So badly recorded and compressed music shall not be forgiven.
Midrange presence is more to the neutral side, sounding neither warm nor cold. There is a lot of detail and texture in this region which comes out naturally, in an un-forced manner, however the timbre in this region is not the best I have heard, which is more obvious when it comes to female vocals as it appears a bit hollow and distant.
The bass does have its own problems, there is noticeable muddiness in the bass region which makes the bass sound a bit confused and also a bit hollow. Again given the high quality of the driver inside there are oodles of detail and resolution in this region.

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Conclusion
Power will appeal to those looking for an experience rich in technicalities, for those who consider timbre and tonality to be secondary. For such people, Power will be adored due to the quality driver inside which is very capable in terms of technicalities. However if it is a more natural and refined experience you are after, there are better options out there like the Shuoer S12 or 7Hz timeless.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Uncolored and neutral tonality.
Very good timbre.
High resolution that is not forced.
Cons: A possible narrow peak in upper midrange that pops up time to time.
Disclaimer : The unit was provided as a part of a review tour by Hifigo but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase it here.

Build & Fit
The design, structure and hence the fitting of the Urd is very similar to the norn so I will not be going into too much detail about it (you can check my review of Norn on headfi). The shell is on the bigger side and thus results in a tighter fit for smaller ears.
However, the fit is snug and is more or less comfortable in the long run. Seems like the design of each kinera earphone keeps on improving with each iteration. The cable is soft and comes with the interchangeable plugs (which must be mandatory in my books!)

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Amp Needs
At 20ohm, 107dB/mW the Urd does not need a dedicated amplifier. But given the high resolution of this earphone, pairing with a good quality source is of course recommended.

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Sound Quality
Just like the design, it seems like kinera is taking big steps forward with each iteration of their earphones. Urd is no doubt superior to every kinera earphone I have tried to this day (namely Norn, Skuld etc). On first listen the Urd might appear a bit bland or boring but that is bound to change on further listen as the Urd's tonality is very polite and timbre very real. Not only is the timbre and tonality really commendable but so is the resolution. Every nuance and texture changes in each instrument is portrayed effortlessly and confidently, and it fails to falter even in busy tracks! No doubt Urd has some nice resolution. Coming back to the polite tonality, I hear the commonly phrased "BA timbre" where transients are smoothed and rounded. This also affects bass quantity and slam. While the bass is very good in terms of quality (i.e detail, texture, speed), I felt it lacked a bit of oomph. But hey, can't have it all I guess. Midrange is so clear and uncolored that it almost felt like taking me one step closer to the music. Unfortunately, the one drawback of the Urd (although hard to catch) is its upper midrange. There seems to be a very narrow emphasis in some frequency of this region which just pops up in sharp or bad recordings, and it sticks out like a sore thumb. The redeeming factor is that it doens't show up often in most music. This to me feels like biting a raisin on a nicely baked plain cake. The high frequencies draw no attention in any way or form, and is hard to even dissect and analyze given the coherence and uncolored nature of the tuning. The image that the Urd provides has good specificity and sufficient spaciousness. The image isn't too spacious though.

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Conclusion
The urd is undoubtedly the best earphone to come out of Kinera (yet!) and the difference in performance compared to the rest of their lineup is substantial. I would classify the Urd as a really sophisticated and capable earphone. If it didn't have that slight narrow band emphasis somewhere in the upper midrange, the Urd would have been a real game changer.
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machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Great midrange.
Nice cable.
Looks unique.
Cons: Bass and treble extension is somewhat lacking.
Not the strongest in technicalities.
Disclaimer : The unit was sent by Hifigo as a part of a review tour but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can purchase the OH2 from Hifigo here and Amazon here.

Build and Fit
The faceplate looks rather uncommon, being half metal and half see-through plastic. The shell is majorly made out of metal though. Build is good enough for an earphone of 80 USD price tag.
The included cable is surprisingly of good quality although a bit rubbery. It is a lightweight earphone and overall comfort is really good.

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Amp Needs
At 32 ohm, 100dB/mW, no external amplifier is needed.

Sound Quality
OH2's general tonal character is mid-centric. The midrange is emphasized and is also presented forward. Given some time I totally grew into the mids, it is smooth and natural sounding, very pleasurable. There is a hint of midbass bloom which becomes apparent on good recordings, but it is only a small niggle. This midbass bloom also adds thickness to the sound. The midrange is really the strongest aspect of the OH2. Speaking of bass, unfortunately the bass does not extend much below, and it doesn't have much bass in quantity either. This is definitely not for bassheads. The story is same with the treble region- OH2 does not have much extension up top and can sound slightly closed in and lacking air, which it does. I would say that it has been tuned to be safe, playing more or less fine with all kinds of music.
The lack of air in the treble region does indeed do some damage when it comes to the overall resolution and imaging, which is just average. As expected, the soundstage is also pretty much average. It is definitely not as airy and "out of head" like the previous OH10.

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Conclusion
OH2's tuning should be liked by those who want a lush, relaxed and smooth mid-centric sound. Unfortunately it lacks in the bass and treble in comparison for it to play well with a variety of genres.
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L
LikeHolborn
my budget limit is 400$, any higher priced options similiar to this in sound? i really mean similiar. the 262 possibly similiar but "relatively" Old lol. so it doesnt play well with other genres? you mean like not versatile,

machinegod

New Head-Fier
Pros: Affordable price.
Very positive effect on sound, irrespective of earphone.
Modular plug system.
Build Quality very good.
Cons: Modular plug is too tight, needs a lot of force to open.
Build Quality
Amber is a thick cable. It is indeed a bit bulky, which is further reinforced by the fact that the Y splitter and termination plugs are all made out of metal.
I have used the cable since months rigorously and it is built really well, I have faced no issue regarding it failing or breaking or falling apart. It is built solidly. Better yet
it doesn't have an obscene price tag. One notable complaint regarding the use case is that the plug is simply too tight. When it is new, it requires an alarming force to remove and change the plug. With some plugging and re-plugging with use, it does ease out a bit but it is still too tight in my opinion. If too much force is applied, it might just rip out the entire connector shell. I do wish if there was a push button system like the one used in Dunu cables.

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Sound Quality
This is how an upgrade cable should sound like. This cable does not alter the overall tonality of the earphone you connect it to. It just tightens up the bass, adds air to the treble, widens the stereo image and makes everything more taut and elastic. Dynamics are more elastic, as in the music sounds more fluid and less rigid in the joints. It takes the mass of the music and simply unravels it. I know this might sound cliched, but for once I would say that this cable makes everything sound, simply better but without changing the overall timbre and tone of your earphones.
I loved the effect it had on my earphones since Day 1 and I simply cannot go back to their respective stock cables.

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Conclusion
This will now be my go to recommendation for an upgrade cable, unless I come across another one that manages to surpass the capabilities of the Amber in a similar price.

machinegod

New Head-Fier
After 1 year of usage :-
Pros: Built like a tank.
Sound quality is excellent- very transparent, airy, spacious with excellent treble extension.
Huge driving power and capability.
Compatible with dynamics and planars alike.
Cons: LED light is unacceptably bright.
Metal plate has no printed text for controls.
Should come with 2 inputs as standard.
Introduction
Anode Acoustics is a boutique manufacturer of high end audio products in India. Their products are handcrafted from scratch in India with parts from India as well (all but a few of the components which are not manufactured in India anymore).
One of the main goals of the brand is to provide high performance components at honest prices and thus providing a huge bang for the buck. At the time of writing this, they sell direct only, thus keeping the cost as low as possible.
I have bought and owned all of their headphone amplifiers (No.1, No.2, No.3, No.4) and their 12AU7 based stereo preamplifier and I can safely say that when it comes to raw performance their stuff is on a league of their own, punching way above their price class, giving most retail components costing substantially more a run for their money.

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Disclaimer
The Anode Acoustics No.1 Headphone amplifier was bought with my own money for my personal usage. The brand has no influence on what follows below. My analysis is presented after 1 year of thorough usage. You can purchase it here directly from them.

Build Quality
No.1 is built like a museum piece, it is extremely rugged. It is also big and heavy but that is because it needs to be so. The unit weighs about 9kg and prospective buyers need to have sufficient space for this big amp.
As with all things such heavy, there is a reassuring feeling of ruggedness and quality. The enclosure is made from Teak wood, which is sourced in India. The result is absolutely gorgeous. There is something about tubes and wooden enclosure. Like warmth from a fire in a cold day. All in all, it is one of the best built objects I have come across.
Such solid build quality is rarely seen in retail components.

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Features
This is an output transformer coupled tube amplifier and not an OTL. This means that the amp is compatible with dynamics and planars alike, and the impedance matching is done via 40 ohm, 150 ohm, 300 ohm, 600 ohm taps. There are 2 modes : Pentode and Triode. In pentode mode, the tubes are operated in pentode mode and full power of 1W is supplied while in Triode mode, 200mW is supplied. The output transformer is entirely made in house. The output transformer enclosure is cold to the touch even after 2+ hours of continuous usage. If you know anything about output transformers, you will also be surprised to find one this affordable (~1000 USD). But the performance speaks for itself.

The tubes supplied are either PCL82/ECL82 and the buyer can select either one. I opted for the PCL82 tubes that are NOS BEL tubes (made in India) with long plates. The glass is thick and the tubes themselves feel quite premium, which is indicative of its authenticity. It is not one of those cheap Chinese junk vacuum tubes. I am told that the tubes are not pushed hard at all, but used judiciously to greatly prolong the lifespan of the tubes. Even after around 300+ hours of usage, there is barely any visible wear on the tubes.

When using a headphone, the correct impedance or the impedance closest to that of the headphone must be used. But it is to be noted that that one shouldn't pair loads much lower than 40 ohm or higher than 600 ohms. And thus compatibility with headphones is a breeze no matter what. In my one year of rigorous usage, I have paired a variety of headphones including multiple planars that are really hard to drive, bordering on insanely hard to drive and yet the amp handles them like a boss. Although strictly prohibited by the brand, I have used as low as 18 ohm planar earphones like the Tin P1 Plus (which are really hard to drive) and had no issues. On the opposite end of the spectrum I have used the Beyerdynamic T1 Gen 2 whose nominal impedance is 600 ohms but shoots up to 900 ohms as well and as expected, no issues whatsoever. I have paired vintage Yamaha Orthodynamics like the HP1 and its brothers (150 ohm, 92-94dB/mW) and the amplifier drove them very nicely. And mind you, these orthodynamics ideally need obscene amounts of power to shine properly. I have compared the Yamaha HP1 being driven off speaker amp and No.1 and I was shocked at how nicely it was being driven : deep chest thumping bass, slamming hard dynamics and energy.

So one can pair all headphones out there provided it is between 40-600ohms, (maybe not the outliers like Susvara, HE6 etc) and in my experience all of them being driven to perfection . The thing that really bugs me is the LED light, it is unacceptably bright and I have it taped up. Also, it's a bummer that the metal plate has no writing printed on it for the controls. It is not a big deal but it would surely go a long way if the controls for the triode mode, pentode mode and impedance values were printed.
But I am guessing it was a conscious decision to keep the costs down.

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Sound Quality
In my thorough usage, I have used a variety of headphones starting from the HD540 Reference 600 ohm, Beyerdynamic T1 Gen 2 600 ohm, AKG K240 Sextett, the all time classics HD600,HD650 to planars like the Yamaha orthodynamics and planar earphones. The amp has a very subtle yet total coloration in the sound. In pentode mode, the sound is more forward and engaging, details are pushed forward more. In triode mode, the sound is pushed back a little, adding more space to the sound. Midrange takes a step back in Triode mode. This mode is highly recommended for more refined and quieter genres. I used the pentode mode almost exclusively.

The coloration being a slight touch of wetness. It has this uncanny combination of being totally uncolored in tonality and timbre but having an all encompassing subtle wetness in its presentation. Present are the hallmark characteristics of a quality tube amp namely excellent air and treble extension with abundant shimmer and sparkle. This is NOT a warm amp, its treble is beautifully extended.

When using planar headphones I was presented with deep bass that slammed so hard, so clean. Bass extension is phenomenal. So are the dynamics - the Tin P1 Plus which scales substantially provided dynamics that are almost overwhelming. The imaging is spacious and wide, making the "narrow" sounding 600,650 sound wide and "out of the head". All the while keeping the tonality pristine and helping the headphone speak for itself with its own characteristics.

The amp is truly neutral when it comes to tonality. The level of transparency that this amp provides, beggar's belief. Its transparency surpasses all of the solid state amps I have heard to this day. It is a microscope, it makes the listener look into the music to such great levels that it might even be too transparent to some, specially those who are misguided by the wrong notion that tube amps are supposed to be "warm, tubby, mushy"? Said who? There is no such rule.

In some ways this amp made me open my eyes to what a tube amp can sound like. This means that if your headphone is poo-poo or has some glaring faults in tuning, you will surely hear it. That is why dac matching to this amp is of paramount importance. I have paired multiple dacs throughout my usage to get vastly different flavors of sound. Some provide a lush and forgiving tone while some make the chain uber resolving and transparent.
You must find the right companion dac for your headphones. My personal recommendation would be to add a neutral sounding dac to this amp.

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Conclusion
It is truly an amplifier one can happily retire with. Even after 1 year of thorough usage I am still as glad as I was the first time when I heard it and I shall continue to do so. Money well spent.
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