Reviews by Shini44


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Does everything Right, True High End DAC.
Cons: price could be cheaper.
i have tested my headphones on other rigs before such as Hugo TT and Cavali Audio Liquid Gold. So i am reviewing DAVE based on the difference i have heard coming from my previous setup.
also keep in mind that few parts like the Hugo TT vs DAVE is totally based on my needs and preference and my point of view, nothing to do with price or hype, just being dead honest which what should reviewing be all about.
so in case you had a different needs or preference and goals toward a setup, keep in mind that we are all different, and might be looking for different needs on the same product.
DAC: Chord DAVE, Headphones: Focal Utopia and V-Moda M100.
Overall sound sig:
DAVE is the definition or Neutral, you get what the recording is suppose to give you. There is no added "fun" or "coloration" and above that there is absolutely no lack in Treble's Extension nor on Bass quantity, the control is superb and world class, and the musicality is second to none.
its everything that a SS amp should be like. its not bright nor warm, its dead neutral with superb musicality that sacrifice nothing in the over all frequencies. that being said its not a boring or flat sound sig, its show you what is your headphone is capable of doing and will push it to the limits.
Sound stage:
Coming from LAu which arguably got the biggest sound stage among headphones amplifiers, DAVE is slightly behind it, which alone is shocking enough for me. yet the pretension put you in the middle of the song, and its honest to the recording big time, unless you are using a headphone that tend to be forward or laid back.
The sound stage didn't feel narrow, tall or sphere like,  it was 3D and focused, injecting the music into you and nothing is over done, it didn't feel faraway as if you are using HD800, no it was as if the sound stage is wrapping around your head and i liked it more than any DAC i have ever used before.
Musicality & Forgiveness:
The Musicality of DAVE got me stunned, i mean i have spent five years looking for one SS DAC/AMP combo that will do no harm to the musicality and excel on Bass/Treble, and i have found no perfect setup Till i got DAVE. its Musical like Class A amp but not as warm, the female vocals and mids make me feel like i am using this on a different setup but no, i am on DAVE.
While being this Musical it never affect the Treble or Bass like typical SS amps with superb Musicality, there is always the "But" yet not with DAVE, i couldn't be happier knowing that i can enjoy the music to its fullest without worrying about Musicality. 
Regarding the forgiveness on poor quality records, it varies from a recording to another. Some of my songs always sounded bad or with problems or "Shhh" in the background which was only not around on a warmer setup that eliminate this issue at the price of some treble or bass, with DAVE i was shocked that this was gone on few tracks and i was able to enjoy these certain tracks, i never thought that i will see this happen or thought its impossible to begin with, DAVE is indeed a different kind of DAC.
that being said you will notice the recording mistakes and errors yet (depend on the track) it will not be as harsh as it will be on other TOTL Neutral DACs. Also i want to mention that the volume range on DAVE is superb! i go from -40 to -20 dB without feeling like its harsh on my ears. in fact i brought my brother and he kept saying its ok increase the volume even that it was his first listen on DAVE, i really liked how DAVE is easy on the ears.
The bass is fully controlled, never bleed into the frequency even a bit, its punchy like Thunder  and never harsh on the ears even on a higher volume than usual. that being said there is no boos or added coloration, its dead honest to the recording. the bass had superb details as well and the bass note is as clear as the day.
preference wise i like punchier than this, yet keep in mind i am a person who enjoy added coloration and fun. that being said the Bass on DAVE never let me lusting for more, it was superb and spot on.
The mids of DAVE what truly separates it from any SS DAC on the market, and the hardest part to achieve while having a fully extended treble and thunder like bass abilities. its super musical as if you are on a Class A amp, yet its not overly warm or sound like less of a SS Neutral amp.
while being this musical it was also giving me the feeling that i am still listing to a SS Neutral amp mids which was so weird for me, its actually shows that DAVE is still honest to the recording and shows you how it is 100% yet still manage to show you musicality to its fullest. this is not 10/10 here this is TOTL Reference quality and high end.
again coming from many setups for the last five years, never ever i was able to see such mids quality on a DAC that have such bass and treble in the same time, this is what i been searching for all of these years, and DAVE was the answer.  
The Treble is extended to its fullest, never i heard the Treble extends as much. it was smooth, very smooth, yet so sparkly and extended and same as the bass its honest to the recording. as a Treble head i didn't feel like i would want more, it was a spot on even for me. even that DAVE is super musical it didn't lose any Treble detail here or there.
Focal Utopia:
Utopia on DAVE was superb! i know why a lot are going for this combo. its Neutral and balanced to the max!! Utopia tend to do what DAVE do, which is achieving balance and musicality while trying to stay dead Neutral and without sacrificing any frequency. almost every other user who own this combo agrees that together they create what a i would call the world best pair.
The bass wasn't as punchy as it was on LAu, because as i said DAVE doesn't add and stay honest to the recording. which isn't bad ofc unless you are after coloration or added fun element. that being said the bass was always fun and thanks to being honest to the recording i was able to get more balanced sound sig from Utopia.
the mids on the other hand was so lush and musical that i felt like i wont lust after coloration on a tube amp or Class A amps which is usually the case when i have a dead Neutral setup, yet not this time. Treble wise its the same as the Bass case, and it showed me the true treble of Utopia which is extended and smooth without losing a tiny bit of extension ofc.
V-Moda 100:
i never reviewed a portable headphone on a TOTL rig, because they don't scale and feel the same on a DAP or any TOTL amp or slightly different. on DAVE it was not the same case,
i really was shocked that V-Moda's mids sounded musical to a big extent, and the Treble was extended and sparkly to its fullest, even that every previous combo i had for the past 3 years didn't do it this way!!
while the vocals had some issues since this is the weakest point of this headphone, it sounded the best that this headphone can do. i am surprised about the scaling, including the sound stage itself.
Vs Hugo TT:
i had Hugo portable, and Hugo TT, coming from the TT i was worried that i will lose Bass/Treble epincness since i enjoy the brighter side of the Hugo line since its the brightest compare to any Chord product, that being said not bright ofc, i am saying its the brightest among its brothers.
DAVE is far more musical, it didn't leave me wanting more musicality, specially with the female vocals, as was the case with Hugo TT which is why i was pairing it with LAu. the being said Hugo TT sound superb with LCD series because of the synergy yet when paired with a bright can then its another story. with DAVE i can plug any headphone without worrying about it.
DAVE sound different yes, yet its not lacking anything nor make me feel like adding external amp, maybe a cable change or to will help adjusting some warm cans to fin my preference and thats about it. 
sound sig wise DAVE got bigger sound stage, and the Treble got higher quality, and the Bass is quantity and quality is on another level, i can say its a whole upgrade yet you get something that is more musical and less brighter than TT. yet again i don't miss the TT a big and all my fears coming from TT were gone.
Price wise you could go for TT and another amp that will suit your preference yet i had WA5 + Hugo TT before and still the Hugo TT's mids as a DAC can't be even as half good as what can DAVE do, you could pair DAVE for fun yes and i think the result will be epic in case you are someone like me who like to enjoy external amp flavor from time to time. 
long story short DAVE can beat Hugo TT alone and also can do the DAC Job better thanks to its superb musicality.
Note: a lot of people are fine with Hugo TT alone with even TH900, again its all about what you want in a setup, and not what it can do right or wrong. its all about preference and needs.
DAVE is a True end game DAC, if you are after a dead Neutral setup which reflects the recording as it is, while not changing the musicality in the favor or Treble/Bass, then DAVE is the way to go, keeping in mind that you will also enjoy a super quality and quantity on both Treble and Bass. its a new Reference int he Solid State game.
i was always looking for a SS setup that will make me enjoy the bass and treble to its fullest yet somehow if possible give me all the musicality, it though it was impossible but DAVE proved me wrong.
While being really expensive i could  say this is the price of getting everything in one pack, while nothing sound that it need an upgrade or external help, indeed its everything or nothing with DAVE.
I think that Dave/Utopia combo is one of the very best setup on the planet... May be simply different, but I prefer Headtrip/Abyss ...
wow just googled it, and my wish list be increased by another beast xD thanks for the info. how are the mids on this combo? i think the Bass/Treble is super ofc , Abyess FTW.
Your review is as accurate as Dave, i have the same experience as well with Dave/Utopia and it's comparison with TT2


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Fast, dynamic, musical and very balanced.
Cons: pricey yet worth it, stock cable is too long.

Thanks to   for ordering this headphone, because its hard to get if you are not in USA (around the time i ordered it)
fast and world class service as usual. 
i am not the best reviewer out there, yet i try my best to describe what i hear and i try to be honest and clear.
i bough the Utopia with the intention of getting the best Dynamics and bass/treble quantity/quality while being greedy for musical mids that on par with LCD or HE1000.
i passed on other cans like HE1000 and LCD-4 because it wasn't as dynamic and fun as HE-6 or TH900 although they held a way better musical mids which i hoped i would see a similar headphone to HE-6 would do in the future.
then i heard about Focal Utopia and decided to give it a shot hoping to get something that will be closer to my dream sound signature. 
AMP: Cavali Audio Liquid Gold
DAC: Chord Hugo TT.
Headphones: TH900 ,HE-6 and Focal Utopia
Cables: Toxic Cable SW22 on TH900, Toxic Cable BW on HE-6, Stock cable on Utopia.

This yet to be the best headphone package i have ever touched, its so well made, feels heavy and nice like a luxury package indeed.
i didn't expect to see that level on a headphone package but i guess Focal take the smallest details so seriously.
Materials & Fit:

The materials like the yoke carbon make these look so good, the leather doesn't make my ears sweat and its super comfortable.
while these seems to be heavy at the start, it took me like no time to forget that Utopia was on my head to begin with, thanks to its superb ergonomics.
People at focal sure nailed this part, i used to have an LCD-2 Fazor and i can tell you that i would go with Utopia anytime for even longer sessions. 
i would like to mention that the headband leather was also super and super comfortable, more than any headphone i have ever owned. 
Utopia is very easy to drive, even on Hugo TT alone, which is a very good thing for a TOTL headphone when compared with other cans like LCD-4 or HE1000.
and it didn't sound bad or way behind what it can do on a TOTL amp like my LAu. i didn't have to increase the volume and it was able to deliver a superb sound on low volumes. 
such scalability encouraged me to go with cheaper and different options in the future like Woo Audio WA8 knowing that Utopia won't disappoint me. 
Micro Details & overall Details retrieval:
i never wrote about Details or Micro Details in a review before because i wasn't shocked as much i was with Focal Utopia.
i was able to hear so many new things that even my HD800 didn't pick, and the best part it was thicker, denser and easier to spot in the song, so visible and enjoyable
like a Tiny Treble sparkle in the recording or how the artist breath before the song stats, it was jaw dropping that i decided to write a section about it.
Overall sound sig:
Utopia is fast, dynamic, balanced and musical in the same time, nothing is boosted and it so faithful to the recording.
the bass is punchy, the treble is extended and sparkly and never on the harsh side. both bass/treble will never let you feel fatigued after a long session.
the mids are so perfect even though Utopia is this dynamic which is hard to achieve without trying to make the overall sound sig on the warm side of neutral sometimes. 
the sound stage is smaller than HD800 and slightly more in your face, which is something that won't suit the people who love the laid back sound sig (depending on your setup)
over all its a superb dynamic sound sig mixed with the best mids possible, tying to achieve perfectness. 
The bass of the utopia is fast and punchy. i can hear the bass notes in a spindled way thanks to the superb bass texture, and its so layered too making the bass sound like i never heard it before.
it hit like a smashing Hulk when called for it, and never goes beyond what the recording tend to sound like, its so fun and never bleed into the mids even with sounding so punchy.
the bass manage to give you the most of what you seek without sacrificing anything else, like the mids or overall balance, which is hard to find on a headphone that does the bass in a punchy and dynamics way like this. 
again the bass never got me tired after a long session, which tend to happen with certain cans on certain setups after a long session. 
Perfect, is what i would be describing Utopia's mids if i was ever asked about it. its not laid back nor forward and faithful to the recording. depending on your setup the mids will try to sound as musical your setup can do.
never i enjoyed the upper mids on a headphone like i did with the Utopia. its so rich, full and dense. with a super musicality to die for. coming from dynamic headphones like HE-6 and TH900 or even my former cans HD800 and LCD-2 which do the mids good , Utopia still have the best and most enjoyable mids of them all.
they are so good and the most frequency that shined on this headphone, its easily 10/10 and a reference level mids IMO. 
as a Treble head i had my HE-6 on open grill mod and i never complained about TH900's Treble. yet i can tell you tha Utopia's Treble made me hear what i never though i will hear Treble wise.
it was extended like no tomorrow and so sparkly yet never felt harsh at all. it was more energetic than any other can i ever hard and the Treble quantity is the highest quality and quantity wise.
even on one of the songs i had, i heard a tiny treble sparkle for few seconds that sounded nice yet so vivid and over shadowed by the bass  when i was using both TH900 and HE-6
yet on Utopia this tiny sparkle was more vivid, sparkly and screamed i am here, it was enjoyable and more clear with more energy that what the other headphones delivered. 
surprisingly enough its smoother and never had any sort of harshness in comparison. and i think this depend on the setup ofc, 
Utopia is so neutral IMO, and i am still shocked by how can it show you the sound sig of your setup. changing the amp or dac will be spotted with Utopia.
Even that i was able to point out the LAu's sound sig with my HE-6 and TH900, Utopia managed to show me the maximum potential and made it even easier to spot the characteristics of my setup.
like how the mids sounded sweeter on the LAu + Utopia. at first i though that this was how Utopia's mids are. then i tried it on Hugo TT alone and the hint of tube like mids wasn't there, since these coloration belonged to LAu.
i am saying Utopia's mids are not musical but i am saying that Utopia is really able to deliver what is your amp or setup  trying to do. since both TH900 and HE-6 wasn't able to deliver LAu's mids the way Utopia did.
so when i was on the TT i was able to tell how the mids sounded on TT compared to LAu + TT or how much of Bass / Treble quantity i gained or even coloration.
its just as Utopia went Sherlock Holmes on my setup and wrote me a splendid report on the case.
Separation Ability:
one of the best part of Utopia is the separation, no frequency bleeds into the other one.  
and you can spot the place of each bass/treble note and the mids/vocals are in the right place without being overlapped by anything else. 
and all of this is maintained even with the power of the bass, treble energy and fast dynamics.
i also wanted to point out that the clarity is second to non compared to any previous headphone i tested or owned. it made my other headphones sound muddy in comparison and made the listening experience more enjoyable.
Fostex TH900:
EDM wise TH900 is always in any setup to fulfill the EDM needs. yet with utopia in the house i can feel like TH900 isn't needed anymore. not that EDM sound better but Utopia still manage to make me enjoy EDM and J-pop yet this time with superb mids and vocals.
the Bass is punchier on the TH900 and boosted yes, which sound fun and when listening to EDM without vocals the TH900 is a clear winner. but anything else in comparison is what Utopia will nail down without trying so hard.
Hifiman HE-6:
HE-6 when fully driven, is my favorite former headphone that even LCD-4 and HE1000 wasn't enough for my taste to shake the HE-6 even a little. i was waiting for the TOTL headphone that will make me upgrade from HE-6. i was dead worried that Utopia's bass quantity and quality will even come close to what HE-6 can do. i even bought it thinking that i will sacrifice some bass epicness for the price of Utopia's legendary mids since its the only TOTL option for my sound sig preference to upgrade too. 
but i was dead wrong here, Utopia was able to convince me in less than a week of testing that it got the upper hand here, from Bass to Treble + the superb mids. HE-6's mids on open grill mod tend to sound slightly thin that what i like it to be. not TH900 thin but for a headphone that i considered my favorite i was still hoping for better yet no option was there to let me replace it,.
so i decided to live with it and get LAu which made me enjoy both TH900 and HE-6. so Focal Utopia was able to top my mids needs with flying colors and also made me call this new bass and treble an upgrade from HE-6. so if you love HE-6 and want an upgrade that is easier to drive then Utopia is the way to go. 
Utopia's bass got better texture and layered even more. its faster and punchier. the Treble is more extended and sparkly too but with more quantity and energy. its smoother as well which is a win win for some people who can't stand HE-6 treble on open grill mod. 
Utopia sound cleaner and got better separation and have a slightly larger sound stage. and the mids between both sound like a huge gab because its so musical and perfect on Utopia. 
Utopia is a headphone that made me decide to use them forever or until a new king appear on the market. in my case i was waiting for something like Utopia to appear because no other option was able to suit my preference to set a sail and call it an upgrade.
if you are looking for a headphone that will sound as as dynamic and fun as possible while staying both balanced and musical, then look no further than getting Utopia.
IMO its hard to find a headphone that will have a superb fun on both Treble/Bass without having mids issues like being slightly dry or lacking musicality when compared with other headphones while still struggling with achieving over all good balance. 
Utopia is the answer for you needs if you have been looking for something similar to me. and you can't go wrong with it. i find them to be the perfect TOTL headphone and they set a new bar for how should the TOTL headphone be like. by lacking nothing and never over doing something, indeed its a perfection, its Utopia. 
and case closed :wink: 
A great review, really enjoyed reading it. Love the comparisons.
Glad that you enjoyed reading it ^^


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Tube like sweet Mids, dynamic and fast like a thunder.
Cons: hard to find because of the limited production.
Cavali Audio Liquid Gold Review: 

i burned in the LAu for 200 hours before i start any serious session. then had few 2-3 hours sessions for my brain to get used to the sound sig before i intend to review it.
this review might see major changes on part 02. for this part i used TH900 alone to see the sound sig changes based on can and be able to spot it.

DAC: Chord Hugo TT.
Headphones: TH900 ,HE-6 Focal Utopia
Cables: Toxic Cable SW22 on TH900 and Toxic Cable BW on HE-6.
Overall sound sig:
The LAu is a SS headphone amplifier which tend to have engaging dynamics yet without boosting anything and staying honest to the recording. The overall sound sig while staying dynamics it retains the Cavali Audio sound sig which tend to have a hint of tube-ish sound without going to the warm side or sacrificing details or dynamics. 

Hugo TT:
i find the Hugo TT to have a very nice synergy with LAu, since both tend to have nice dynamics and control while maintaining superb musicality. they complete each other big time.

TH900 + LAu:
i bought the TH900 like four times, so i keep testing it with many setups, including WA7, WA7tp, WA5, Power Burson and Audio-GD Master 9. every amp had its up and down with TH900, 
there was always this one issue that made the combo less than a perfect. the closest to perfect (depend on preference wise, is the WA5.) 

With Cavali Audio i found that the TH900 to sound the best, its like when they build this amp they had TH900 on their minds or something. TH900's main issue are the mids, and tubes amps while they solve this issue they tend to lower the fun, specially on the Treble and the Bass won't be as controlled. WA5 solve that but you have to spend like 6000-7000$ in TOTL.

Sound stage:
i find the TH900 to have be so open with the LAu, bigger sound stage than what i got from fully upgraded WA5, the difference isn't huge between each but noticeable. it gave me a 3D like
sound sig which i never heard on any previous setup.

The bass with TH900 and LAu is superb! the control is insane and i can pin point the bass notes in the sound, its sound so firm and controlled while staying fast. increasing the volume don't let the bass texture change or lose control.
also while being as punchy (SS amp punchy) its never get that fatigue feeling i get from any other SS amp + TH900 like having Power Burson amp on slightly louder volume for sometime. i am still surprised how can the LAu be so dynamic on fun but with almost zero fatigue and i can tell you its sound as dynamic and punchy as any other good SS amp.

The bass doesn't bleed into the mids, and i can enjoy mid centeric / vocal songs with out worrying about the TH900's Bass to disturb the relaxing sound, and i want to point that this thing is also cable dependent, and i find the cable changes with this setup to be noticeable even further.

so the mids is the point that a lot of TH900 keep changing their setups. i find the LAu to be the best SS amp that i used my TH900 on. the mids are not laid back, nor forward. its fleshed out big time and never sounded as dense or fleshed out on any other setup.
i did consider warmer amps but i was always against losing Treble or Bass. LAu maintain both Fun and the mids have extra sweetness to it, the female vocals sound superb, and the best part i enjoyed the tube like mids and was able to listen to any song and not only fun bass/treble songs.
i enjoyed these mids and didn't find myself in a need for a tube amp, thanks to the sweetness / hint of tube like sound sig AKA cavali sound sig, its not sweeter or as dense as tube amps mids but never lacking which is hard to achive on a dynamic SS amp when paired with TH900.
So many people go with wooden TH900's cups to lower the Treble brightness or make it mellow like. on the LAu this is not needed, you can plug your TH900 and enjoy a world class Treble. its extended, sparkly and with enough quantity to enjoy while never on the harsh side, this beast was able to tame the Bass so i expected the Treble to have a similar case.

LAu offered superb Treble quality as well, the shimmer is there and the Treble never roll off, i was able to enjoy it as much as i did on other SS amps, which was what i missed on many tube amps, so it offer a good Treble for anyone without worrying about switching to tubes.
the Treble with LAu is honest to the recording, i notice that it won't have the sparkling on every song like how it is on a typical SS amp, like the bass the treble was sparkling if the recording tend to have it this way, and when called upon it will be sparkly but without getting harsh or bright.

The LAu is hands the down the best headphone SS amp i used with HE-6, it can drive it without failing, i find that it suit the HE-6 more than WA5 itself, not that WA5 can't drive it, but LAu does it better and the SS amp help to control the HE-6 bass and add the SS punch, which got this magnetic planer crazy epic bass.
the mids on it is fleshed out and so smooth, the added sweetness of the LAu make it even more enjoyable, and the Treble is smoother although i am using open grill mod, so for people who like the fazor mod, worry not about the Treble of the open grill mod because its as fun but ten times smoother.
value wise HE-6 is the way to go, and i find it hard to get a better sound than this unless you are willing to buy Focal Utopia which is as expensive as this amp itself, it wasn't falling behind Utopia big time.
Focal Utopia:

Utopia wasn't hard to drive at all, which is impressive. the LAu + Utopia is a nice combo, the bass is punchier and more controlled than HE-6 and the Treble extended and sparkle even more while staying even smoother, the Utopia is a fast can yet the LAu is able to let Utopia fly into the space with authority.
the mids on Utopia is like the best part of this can yet combined with LAu its feels like i am listening to a tube amp from the sweetness i am getting, nevertheless the bass, treble, dynamics and speed make is still SS amp like, the mids with this combo felt more tube like than HE-6 and TH900, the amp is capable of producing world class mids but Utopia was able to bring the full potential here. 
i would like to add that the micro details and micro dynamics is even more noticeable with this can, i was able to see what can the LAu do on its full potential, i was really shocked on few tracks when i was able to hear the small details but this time it was't vivid or overlapped by the song, it was present big time and more enjoyable.
Audio GD Master 9:
The M9 is hands down my favorite Class A amp, Class A amps tend to be on the warmer side, but what make M9 stand more is its super lush mids and transparency, also its more dynamic than other SS Class A amps. while the mids are on par with Tube amps (i enjoyed it as much as WA7tp) the dynamics wasn't the best.
LAu beats the M9 on Bass punch and control. also on Treble extension yet while it have sweet mids its never like the M9 nor as transparent.

WA5 (300B tubes):

i recently reviewed WA5 , and its hands down my favorite tube amp of all the time. the WA5 is a dynamic tube amp that tend to have different sound sigs depend on the tube sets used.
while WA5 is superb with its relaxing sound sig and over all balance, it cannot control the Bass like the LAu and tend to have less punch, the Treble extend a lot for a tube amp on the WA5 but never as sparkly and extended like the LAu, 
still the WA5 wins in the Mids department and its Treble is not bad at all for a tube amp, and anyone (who isn't a treble head) will find WA5 to be a TOTL amp that they can live with for ever. but again this depend on the preference. 
i forgot to point out that LAu tend to drive HE-6 even better, and with superb control, i tend to like the HE-6 on LAu more than WA5 fully upgraded. so if you are an HE-6 user then LAu is the way to go. it also provide more power than WA5 to your HE-6. HE-6 sounded better because of the bass control and punch which is hard for the WA5 to pass LAu's level on HE-6.
What to Expect from the LAu?
The LAu will provide you with superb SS amp dynamics, punchy controlled bass, with a very nice texture, the rumbling will be there.the Treble will sparkle and be extended to the max.
yet both Bass and Treble will never be harsh. its more dynamic than any Class A amp or neutral amps that tend to be on the warm side.

the best part is the over all hint of tube like sound sig. so imagine having a superb dynamic SS amp yet its slightly dipped into Tube sound sig which result in eliminating any sigh of harshness while maintaining a similar fun to SS amp. and without losing any Treble or Bass fun.
All right, thanks again for your impressions !
Nice and informative review @Shini44 even if, like you pointed it, Cavalli production is stopped for all products. Someone has news about this matter ?
they added few more last week, check it out.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Musical, Dynamic, Tube options for a different sound sigs.
Cons: sadly can't bring to work. will make you spend less time with your wife.
Hello people i guess its the time for me to review the WA5-LE and in this Part i will be covering the Takatsuki 300B Tubes. in Part 02 i will be covering the Elrog 300B (latest/newest version)
Setup: Hugo TT (DAC/Pre Amp) 
Headphones: HE-6 and TH900.
Cables: Toxic Cable Black Widow on HE-6 and Toxic Cable Silver Widow 22 on TH900.
Rectifier Tubes: Mullard GZ34 Metal Base.

Note: English isn't my 1st language so bear with me please ^^
i like to say first that the TA-300B had 320 hours of burning in during the past month and i was testing from time to time and taking notes, which i will be covering in the break in section.

So why Woo Audio?
My story with woo audio started with the TH900 thread, i've been have bought this headphone four times because i was trying it with many setups to make it sound right and perfect. then one day i was told about the woo audio and how good they sound with TH900.
so i started with the WA7 and the WA7tp. the woo audio was indeed magical and made look more into this company. the woo audio sound sig exist in the WA7 but the WA5-LE is the beast that will take everything to the next level, not to mention i can drive the legendary mad black horse, the HE-6.
Build Quality and Heat
The WA5-LE is built like a Tank, and surprisingly enough not hard to transfer around the house, regardless how big it looks like.  i can take it from room to another without worrying about the weight thanks to these handles. also when it comes to tube amps or class A amps a lot of them are a living heater, but this one is another story thanks to the massive heat sinks on it. couldn't ask for more. 
Tube Options
i started with this first because its important to know what you want, higher price doesn't mean better. for example the cheapest best tubes i bought for this amp is the Brimer 5Z4GY, its like 25 GPB only and a lot agree that it sound like 70-80% like the TA-247 itself. 
another good upgrade is the mesh plate option, might be 300$ but its so worth it, i used this one in Samma3a's store which is where i ordered my WA5-LE from. the TA-300B might be expensive for an option but it shows you the full potential of the WA5-LE. 
if you are fine with less dynamics and want a Mellow sound sig then the mesh plate option will do it for you. again its about the preference. so no need to go with the TA-300B unless you want to keep the musicality and get more details and dynamics while the control is still there. 
if you are looking for more SS like sound sig the Elrog 300B will do that as well. (to be covered in Part 02)

Sound Signature
Now the part that matter the most, the sound sig. The WA5-LE is more musical than the WA7tp with even the stock tubes, and with more dynamic and power. the bass is punchier, the mids are fuller and the treble is extended and never on the harsh side.
i really like to point out that the stock tubes are not the best option, i highly suggest upgrading even the cheapest options, the difference will be like a day and night. its a tube amp by the end of the day. the WA5-LE scales a lot with the tubes. you will spot the difference on spot.

Takatasuki 300B

Now moving into more sound details as i making this review to show the potential of the WA5-LE. after i burned in the TA-300B for 320 hours and gave my brain enough time to adjust to the sound, i gave it many sessions.
the special thing about this pair of tubes that its not fully on the warm side which usually lack dynamics, nor on the bright side which lack musicality or fullness. its detailed, musical, able to control the sound. fast/dynamic that you can listen to EDM and Rock on it. i used many tubes in the last four years. some of them are no longer obtainable, but nothing till day does the magic of the Takatsuki which balance everything out. nothing less , nothing more. and enough for all. 
Fostex TH900
as i said i sold this headphone nearly four times, just to fund my researches on the best amp for it. WA5-LE was the answer big time.
a lot of people have to mod their TH900 with wood just to bring the Treble down and to make the mids fleshed out.
on the WA5-LE the TH900 sound so different, so perfect and it solved every problem that anyone complained from without taking away the fun, what a nice treat.
The bass is punchy and fun as usual, yet smooth and will never get you tired at all but its never on the boring side!! so fast, dynamic controlled. on the other amps it will feel like taking the magic from the other frequencies, yet here i can enjoy both mids and treble a lot and the bass in the same time.
its not as punchy as SS amps but again no other tubes or even Audio GD Master 9 challenge the dynamics of the WA5-LE and TH900.  the bass texture and punch is right on spot. a lot of fun, and never bleed intro anything, the way the bass vibrate and more air is so fun, 
one of the biggest complains on the TH900 is the V shape sound sig and mids. on the WA5-LE it so open and fleshed out. while i am enjoying the bass/treble i can hear the mids filling the can. and not only filling it like this, its creamy, lush and so sweet. 
the female vocals couldn't be better. and i listen to J-pop were my collection have 90% female vocals. the mids are not falling back, nor forward due being on a tube amp which usually make the TH900 less fun. i was worried that i will have less fun as a price but i was so wrong.
So many TH900 owners went with the wood mods to shiver down the Treble. the WA5-LE will not shiver down the Treble, its as extended and fun, but its way smoother!! i can listen to the air/treble sparkle!! but never fatiguing  at all even after hour!! how did Woo Audio managed to do this, its totally beyond me. i am able to enjoy the Treble for longer periods and without being worried about the brigthnss nor about having less fun!!
Note: sorry in advance about these poor options, i mainly listen to J-pop Anime/VN OST. 
i will start with this one as it made me so aware of the magic of the WA5-LE and TH900, a good example across all the frequencies.

Ray's a-gain
(Note: youtube/nicovid quality is bad, compared to FLAC or CD on PC) but what to do.
the start of it have nice extended treble, i love the tiny sparkles, doesn't sound so tiny. the bass is fun and never bleed into Ray's magical sound. i can enjoy Ray's voice @ 1:12 big time and the bass/treble is still there but wow the voice and mids layers are so relaxing and nice. make me want to listen to this track for hours.
Kimi no Iru Machi's OP
while this one retain a better quality (again youtube..) i enjoyed the Treble, the micro details and the bass without forgetting about the nice vocal, specially on 3:00. when listening to something similar the Treble tiny sparkles on such a track is too important for me. glad that the WA5-LE does the Treble the best justice. 

for a better song that suit the head-fiers more i tested one of my favorites. Infected Mushroom - Becoming Insane:

i have tried this song with TH900 on Burson power solo, audio gd master 9 and even Ragnarok amp. the Treble usually is bright and the bass get crazy, ofc fun but for many its too much. on this amp i can still have a lot of fun on both Treble/Bass, still fast, punchy and the sparkle is there. its still so dynamic don't get me wrong. the WA5-LE smooths out the Treble, and Control the Bass's punch. 
i kid you not usually this track on the previous + TH900 is insane even for me, hard to listen too, on WA7 alone it was smoother but not as fun. but WA5-LE is like an the priest that Clemens the demon within the Red Demon AKA TH900 and give you the same quality and fun but without trying to fatigue your ears and soul. 
i have tested the HE-6 with speaker amp before, it was JOB 225, not obtainable anymore and hard to find, and a lot know how hard HE-6 to drive. the sound with JOB 225 is yet to be topped, i mean its a speaker amp + HE-6. so i didn't expect the HE-6 to do so super. 
i was wrong, the WA5-LE indeed was up to the challenge, this little silver cowboy was able to tame the mad black horse!! but keep in mind this is a tube amp, the sound vs SS speaker amp is way different. 
while the bass wasn't as punchy it was fun, tamed yet never soft and weak. the Treble Energy isn't the same as SS speaker amp as well. yett the mids are super good. don't get me wrong about the Treble and Bass. this is Tube amp vs SS speaker amp!!  so if you are coming from another headphone amp, then fear not as the WA5-LE will wow you big time.
if you still want HE-6 with SS amp sound sig then go for the Cavali Audio LAu or anything similar. 

Takatsuki 300B changes over time
now if you are willing to get this tube for your WA5-LE. don't judge on it till you put 300 hours into it. it will start changing from 120 hours, then on 200 hours you will get the first hind of Takarsuki's magic. around the 270 hours mark it will keep changing and will settle again on 320 hours. even the bass punch was too different around 280 hours. but after the break in it will be so worth it.
is the WA5-LE worth the price? IMO yes, because its the most dynamic tube amp out there that can retain tube's musicality and SS amp like dynamics. it got enough power for HE-6 too. it can drive small cans and even few IEMs using the low gain option. 

not to mention that the sound sig really changes with the tube rollings. from warm, neutral to even SS amp like (elrog 300B, to be covered in part 02)
i been testing around many expensive amps,  and as a Treble head i was thinking i will not be wowed by WA5-LE since its a tube amp but i ended up with top notch musicality without losing a shred of dynamics that was even smoothed out to give you a longer listening period that never lacks the fun. 
what else to ask for in a tube amp? WA5-LE nailed everything. its the dream tube amp of all the times. 5/5 easily earned <3 
Thanks for the kind word, you are 100% right :D your review helped me to research about this tube before I've bought it ^^ and yes those who complain about what they miss from SS amps will change their mind with the WA5-LE. 
To add a different texture you may want to try the AKG line? I know the W5LE helped get the humble k701s to wake-up with female vocals. The upper AKG flagships may be a homerun with the W5LE and vocals?
Thank you for the review. Need to save some money to get me some TA tubes. :)


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Rumbling Bass, Organic Lush mids, sound positioning and separation.
Cons: Treble/airiness from the stock cable.




i am a CIEM freak who went CIEM over full size headphones, and i use the CIEMs on my desktop, not portable, CIEMs have come a long way that i made them my main setup, this review is to show you the full potential of the Ei.XX with the best Portable Rig, and will be tested with few cables which i find them one of the best.
and oh my English Writing isn't super so bear with me if you saw a mistake here and there :p 

The Equipment:
i am using Hugo Chord as a DAC and for the amp i am using the amp section of the Hugo, since this a review for a portable rig its better to stick with dac/amp setup, not a dac + amp fat rig setup, for the cables i testing with the stock cable, Toxic Cable Scorpion and Toxic Cable Silver Widow 22.

The Craft and Fit:

I had few CIEMs before, UM Miracle , UM Mentor, and Custom Art Anzu v3 (crafted by Lear Ear) and my ear impressions were very very good, i went for the best option in Dubai Mall's Clinic, i was always happy with my CIEMs, used them for hours.
yet when i received my Anzu V2 and Ei.XX from Peter. i was shocked, they look very nice, and fits like a glove, and from the first day too!!, usually you about people complaining on the first few days, even i did with all my previous CIEMs, not that i did complain a lot, but i felt small annoying feeling on the left ear, and this feeling goes away in 2-3 days

but when it comes to Peter's CIEMs, never i felt annoyed nor found them hard or semi annoying to be removed, they fit like a glove, and easy to remove and insert, simply shocking, easily the best CIEM craft i ever encountered since 2012.

Sound impressions:
the bass is rumbling!! i though for a second that it had a Dynamic driver, but no it was a Balanced Armature driver, wow Peter, not sure how he did manage to do this, its also fast, a great mix between the rumbling of a Dynamic driver and a fast Balanced Armature driver, yet fear not! the bass doesn't bleed into the mids, what a great balance, the sub bass is great too! 
i also wanted to note that i didn't find any problem with the Bass Texture, remember i am using Hugo Chord and Toxic Cables here to see what the Ei.xx is capable of, and i can safely say that both slam, speed and texture are ultra epic!! so if you went with a high end rig, fear not, the Ei.xx's bass will keep scaling with your rig
WoW, i am glad i went with this CIEM over the SE846, i used to think that boosted thick mids are the best, when i look for mids, my collection is 99% got female vocals, the mids are really super important for me, i had SE535 and tested my friend's Se846, yet the Ei.xx's mids won me over.
why? its placed right, its still dense and will satisfy your mids/vocal needs, its organic, lush, and creamy to the max, in fact i had WA7tp before, and used it to make the Mentor Mids sound creamy and lushy, since the Hugo Chord alone wasn't able to achieve that with the UM Mentor, yet here comes the Ei.XX, simply wow, its so sweet i feel like melting while listening to its mids.

The placement of the Ei.XX is right, its not forward, nor back, which will make you enjoy the mids while not craving V-Shaped sound sig CIEMs, i find myself to miss my Anzu v2 CIEM when i am using the SE846, feeling like i want more bass/treble presentation, yet using the Ei.xx didn't make feel so, it was the right/perfect balance between fun and sweet organic mids, placed int the right way to make you enjoy a super mixture that will produce nothing but a smile on your face and a tapping feet that want to dance from the fun.

for a "crazy" Treble head like me, the Ei.XX was a unique case, it wasn't sibilance at all!! i got this one track, little badly recorded, and tested the Ei.XX on it, this was my first CIEM to not sound sibilance on this track, and on my Hugo Chord and stock cable, the Treble wasn't really falling back, yet more sparkle and extension would have helped, but again i am a Treble head who listen to J-pop, so the others will find the treble fine. 
Toxic Cable Scorpion:


this is a HQ copper cable, compared to the stock cable it had smoother and less airy Treble, so for me or anyone who don't want less Treble , stay away from any copper cable, yet on the other hand the mids gain slight lush and warmness, and the bass impact went deeper, not bad, yet the price was the Treble Extension here, and it wasn't as fun because of that, at least for me who care about the Treble, if you don't then give a good copper cable a try, its all about preference in the end.

Toxic Cable Silver Widow 22:


the Silver Widow is a OCC Stranded Litz Silver with Gold/Cryo cable, one of my favorite cables, this one brought the Ei.xx potential to crazy, the Treble airiness and extension became enough for me to move my head right and left when listening to pop, while enjoying the creamy organic mids.
thanks to SW22's smoothness the whole music got even smoother, yet still fun and enough for you to enjoy the bass and treble a lot while maintaining the mids quality, the bass might been slightly less on the impact compared to copper, but the details, micro details, bass texture and speed went epic, also the SW22 got stronger bass impact when compared to pure silver cables, which is why i went with it for my ei.xx.

Which Cable should you go for?
don't get me wrong, you don't need to spend more to make the ei.xx sounds better!! it already sound really good!!, but this head-fi were some of us like to improve the sound and they are crazy with this hobby, yet if you want to spend little extra i suggest a silver cable, since it will bring the Treble Extension with slight bass impact decrease, but don't get me wrong the silver is clear and smooth, fast with better bass texture.

Why the Ei.XX over other Similar CIEMs?
now if you want a in your face boosted mids, which is not bad i used to enjoy the SE series for this alone! and you don't mind losing some lush/warm/sweet organic mid, then the SE series is the way to go, but keep in mind the Treble/Bass presentation will be way different than the Typical  U shaped sound sig
yet if you want to maintain the fun of the Bass while wanted Organic Creamy Mids, then there is no other option than the Ei.XX, it will fit the bill 100%. 

Why the Ei.XX over U shaped sound sig CIEMs?
U shaped sound sig CIEMs, sound darn fun!! but the mids are falling back, and not smooth or organic, the Ei.XX bring something new to the table when offering both fun and creamy mids, its one of a kind.
yet if you don't mind the mids to sound on the Neutral side,  and wanted bass/treble fun, then the NT6pro or NT6 and similar CIEMs is what you should go with, remember its all about what sound sig you want, not about the hype, so make sure you pick what you want, not what the most want.
The Ei.xx is a perfect combination between fun, and nice organic lush mids, which is a rare case when it comes to CIEMs, never i though i will see a similar CIEM but again Peter proves that he is a Genius that keep adding more unique products to his company, not to mention the value when we compared it with more expensive CIEMs out there, and thanks to peter's tuning they scale up with high end rigs to make them sound perfect and almost all in one whole package. 
P.S: sorry English isn't my first language, and i am sure i got a lot of Grammar mistakes over there -.-''  
Sonic Defender
Sonic Defender
Your English is very good, and so was the review! Even though I can't stand having anything in my ears I still read all of the review and enjoyed it. Great job and nice rig you have there.
Thanks people ^^ 
Interesting review. Can you directly compare the Ei.XX to my NT6pros? Would they be complementary or too similar? I have yet to hear a CIEM with better overall bass - quantity/reach/rumble/quality - than my NT6pros. The A12s are getting close, but different with their Adel tech. The Adel allows louder without fatigue.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: sound good with after EQing and long burn yet not for that price....
Cons: muffled sound without EQing, punchy bass that isn't tight , over priced.
Got these from my brother who bought Senn-Momentum and he no longer need his first portable headphone so decided to give it a shot.

Gear used: WA7 FireFlies with EH golden pins Tubes as for the DAC and AMP, iFi-iUSB power supply, PC with Winamp+, also M-Stage (opa627)

Comfort: 1/5, they might be on ear, so clampy, no space at all!!! you have spend 2-3 mins trying to adjust them to create some space, and you have to do the same each time you put them on.

Sound: Warm , the sound stage isn't bigger than Senn-Momentum

Bass: the bass was there , punchy and seems to be increased due tuning so it is not like a HQ Bass that you get from Byerdynamic headphones like DT990 or AKG, just seems to be a humped bass, the worst part that this bass will tremble both of the mids and treble and will make you master the EQing for the first time in your life.

Mids: were too laid back due the extra bad tinning of the bass i felt like there was something wrong with the Amp. 

Treble: same case with the mids.

EQing: so i made the bass goes down 2-5 db and kept testing, increased the Treble a little and mids too but 1-2 db less than the Treble.

Bass: now it felt more controlled and not as punchy(you can increase 1 DB to get extra little fun) but at least didn't tremble the mids/treble.

Mids: now i can hear the Vocal and stay happy, it was doing find with the bass and treble, it wasn't laid back at all.

Treble: doesn't extend that much,smooth and rolled off tbh, will like most of the portable headphones, wish it did extend more.

Amping: i only have M-Stage(opa627) and WA7 (EH golden pins Tubes) , on the M-Stage these headphones did perform worse than Senn IE4!!! had to EQ yet the sound still muffled and not clear, on the WA7 the was way better so i assume warm amps will make these muffled even more and not as clear, not sure since i don't have more amps to test, sorry about that.

conclusion: so after comparing these with the IE4 that worth 30-40$ i don't think paying even 60$ for these is wroth it, unless you are a total basshead who don't care about detail/clarity and vocal then give it a shot, didn't feel the same since i had my Solo Beats...

note: gave these 4-6 hours on pink noise still not good for the price.
tell me about it , and its 30$ less than the beats!! and sound even worse!! :<  btw they had FiFa 2014 world cup etc edition for the same model and different color so all get into the hype and buy them!! named XB610 or something, stay away from them! @_@
I have the XB1000 but i'm not sure if these share a familiar sound
it is not about the model bro, for the price not each option share the same qualities, some of them sucks and get sold because of the advertising (beats) and some are aiming to satisfy the audiophiles needs, this is why head-fi is here for you, to tell you which to avoid and what to go for.  

still Sony got so many good headphones and this one quality wise totally got nothing to do with them.


Headphoneus Supremus
Pros: Huge leap when it comes to smoother and cleaner sound
Cons: nothing what so ever!!! price? nah it was worth it 100%
My setup before:

spd_20100602122020_b.jpg   SENNHEISER_HD650_4ff5220c68f56.jpg
My setup used to be Magic Tube D1 and HD650 which is a really good high end set up <3.
The only problem was that the HD650 have open dynamic drivers! This is almost like speakers so this was the deal breaker for me, the sound can be heard outside of my room etc...
pre iUSB setup:

C-Entrance-DACport-LX.jpg 7982450014_ecfb3aca6b_z.jpg
DacPort LX ---> Uha.6S.MKII ---> UM Miracle
There was something missing and i thought that it is the cables, I tried the Toxic Cable's Copper and even went even to buy the 700$ tralucentaudio's latest cable with the OCC silver +1% gold which was approved by many of my head-fiers friends,
I was mad because there is no way that such a setup can sound so harsh and bright!! and not so 1st Tier nor near my old setup!!!! few head-fiers said they didn't encounter what i encountered what so ever!
you don't know how good, clean and smooth is a setup unless you try something else, thats why anyone with same setup as mine don't know how good is Magic Tube D1 + HD650.( will point why later) 

why the iUSB and what made me think about it?
i usually listen to my music on the PC so since my new rig is portable i took it to the collage and used it with my Laptop, i wasn't happy at all , because in the home i was listening to the same
tracks and i was happy with it, so thats how i noticed what can the Dirty Evil Volt can do to our usb powered Dacs!!!! in short moving from dirty PSU to Dirtier laptop made me know the difference!!
how good is the iUSB?
The very first two min!!! it was like a heavy rock just removed from my setup!!! the problem was the PSU after all!!! the Real sound was released from the Jail! and i hear my music the way that it
should sound! 

A LOT of harshness is gone!  so if you are on a PC most of the time and using usb dac/amp then iUSB is really a must for you if you want to enjoy your music the way that i used to enjoy it with my old setup and the current setup to!
PSU differ from another one:
when i record my voice there is huge Bzzzz and Hsss due the dirty MOBO/PSU provided power, thats why there were few who didn't get a huge leap, because their PC already had a clean PSU,

my PSU is Corsair GS800 which is from one of the best aftermarket PSUs, yet it was super dirty and it was causing a bottle neck case to my setup!

What is a bottle neck case?

if you had a 460 GTX card on an old PC with low RAM/CPU and PCI 1.0, will it perform 100%? no it will show you 20% of what can it do, and this was my setup's case till i used the iUSB
Would i recommend the iUSB?
i really do!!! you will notice the difference!!! we all want cleaner and smoother sound right?
no difference with hugo TT and Berkeley's Alpha DAC Reference, don't waste your money guys .
worst review ever.
@agooh  if you did read about the Alpha DAC and Hugo you would understand that they have implemented feature that reduce if not kill the statics issues (super clean USB), which mid and low end dacs don't have, way to go comparing DacPort LX with Hugo's DAC.....

so before you bash my review , maybe "Read"  about the DACs that you are willing to use with it ^^ 

in fact this device will make this sound wrong, i remember people using this with X-Sabre DAC, but they didn't read about the usb port of the X-Sabre, and the result was the same as you here, an ignorant who don't read and complain about something he don't even understand ^^ 

TL,DR: you bought a cleaner, used on a clean surface, and complaining why doesn't it get clean, way to go , wow.....
I didn't see you mention that in your review ( I read and I know it's there but not clear enough ), so if you have hugo or high end dac you didn't need this pruduct .you should recommend better dac .
also why you talk bad about me ,I didn't have anything againt you.