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Brainwavz AP001 Portable Headphone Amplifier

Rating:
3.46154/5,
  1. Brooko
    Brainwavz AP001 – Micro Fun, But Feature Short
    Written by Brooko
    Published Nov 7, 2014
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Price, size, signature (for bass lovers), auto on/off, dual headphone out
    Cons - No volume control, bass boost always on, sensitivity of auto on/off, weak amplifier, static “pop” when plugging/unplugging, possible EMF issues
    AP00113.jpg
    INTRODUCTION
    Brainwavz is a well established manufacturer of headphones in the value for money category – offering many different options (especially for IEMs) that suit almost anyone’s sonic preferences. 
    I’ve had regular contact with Audrey from Brainwavz, and when she asked me to consider reviewing an entry point mini amplifier (the AP001), I immediately agreed – intrigued by a possible new direction for them.
     
    I received the courier pack a few days ago – and although I haven’t had a lot of time with the AP001 , its basic functionality doesn’t take a huge amount of time to test, so I thought I’d pass on my thoughts before I start working on my next major review projects.
     
    I have already spent as much time as I could with the AP001 – logging about 18-20 hours so far with a variety of different earphones.
     
    I’ve listed price at USD $29.50 (current MP4Nation price at time of writing) – however this is not what I paid for them (they are a review sample).
     
    DISCLAIMER
     
    I was provided the AP001 as a review sample.  I am in no way affiliated with Brainwavz - and this review is my honest opinion of the Brainwavz AP001.  I would like to thank Audrey for making this opportunity available.
     
    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'.
     
    I'm a 47 year old music lover.  I don't say audiophile – I just love my music.  Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up.  I vary my listening from portable (Fiio X5, X1 and iPhone5) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > coax > NFB-12 > LD MKIV > HP).  I also use a portable set-up at work – either X5 > HP, or PC > Beyer A200p > HP.  My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Beyer T1 and Sennheiser HD600.  Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and up till now it has mainly been with the Fidue A83, A81, Dunu DN-1000 and Altone200. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).
     
    I also formerly owned several portable amps including the Arrow 4G, GoVibe PortaTube, Fiio’s E7, and E11.  I own the Fiio E11K (currently on a mini tour of Australia with my X1) and Beyerdynamic A200p but generally do not use portable amps – especially since buying the Fiio X5.
     
    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock.   I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock.  I am particularly fond of female vocals.  I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced.  I am neither a bass nor treble head (you could argue that I do like clarity though).  I am not treble sensitive (at all).
     
    For the purposes of this review - I used the Brainwavz AP001 with both my iPhone 5S and Fiio X5.  In the limited time I have spent with the AP001, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (I do not believe in 'night and day' burn-in).  I will respect others choice if they believe in physical burn-in, but I am yet to experience it.
     
    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience.  Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.
     

    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
     
    The unit arrived in a compact all plastic outer retail package.  The front is quite plain with just the name and picture of the product.  The rear has a clear window showing the AP001.  Below that is a list of its features and specifications.
     
    AP00101.jpg AP00102.jpg
    AP001 retail package - front
    AP001 retail package - rear

     
    Removing the outer packaging exposes a simple plastic tray housing the AP001 and 2 cables (charging and interconnect).
     
    AP00103.jpg AP00104.jpg
    AP001 inner tray
    Ap001 with charging cable and interconnect

     
    The micro USB charging cable is quite short (about 22 cm plug tip to plug tip), but appears well made.  The interconnect (3.5mm to 3.5mm) is approx 12 cm in length.  The actual cable is very thin but very flexible.
     
    Overall, quite a spartan but practical offering – especially when you consider the price point.
     
    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
     
    The table below lists most of the available specifications.  I have asked Audrey for the impedance measurements for the headphone out, and will post those once she comes back to me.
     
    Playback time
    12+ hours fully charged
    Charging interface
    Micro USB port (cable supplied)
    Input
    Single 3.5mm line in (cable supplied)
    Output
    Dual 3.5 mm headphone out
    Output Impedance
    To be advised
    Frequency Response
    10 Hz – 100 kHz (really ???)
    Suggested Headphone Impedance
    16 – 150 ohms
    Built In Battery
    120 mAh
    Dimensions / Weight
    38 x 38 x 12.87mm / 15.5g
    Warranty
    1 Year

     
    Unfortunately there is no information on output voltage, distortion, SNR or channel separation.
     
    BUILD / DESIGN
     
    The build quality is generally very good.
     
    AP00106.jpg AP00109.jpg
    AP001 clean but unique design
    Source socket 3.5mm

     
    The outer body appears to be a hard plastic and it is pretty solid – and very light weight.  The front plate however seems to be some sort of alloy. Despite the square form factor, the edges are not sharp. 
     
    The casing itself is square with a center notch.  I’m honestly not sure what this design is for – the only thing I can think of is that you can slot the interconnect cable through it so it stays with the unit when not in use – the plug seems to be sized for it anyway.  Edit - apparently it's so you can wind the cable of your IEMs around it to keep it tidy - or at least that's one of the possible uses anyway.
     
    AP00107.jpg AP00108.jpg
    USB charging socket
    Dual headphone outs

     
    The unit has 4 ports or sockets – all clearly labelled.  At the bottom is the 3.5mm socket for the line-in (or source).  On the left hand size is the micro USB socket for charging.  On the top of the AP001 are two 3.5 mm headphone sockets.
     
    All of the sockets are relatively firm, and appear to do their job nicely.
     
    There is no volume control, or EQ control.  What you see is what you get.
     
    BATTERY / INDICATORS
     
    Charging is done via the supplied micro USB cable.  When plugged and powered (charging), the light inside the center glows amber.  When fully charged the light goes out.  Charging takes somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours.
     
    AP00105.jpg AP00112.jpg
    Amber light - charging
    Blue light - amp in use (with Fiio X5 and Fidue A83) 

     
    Battery life is quoted at 12 hours – and I have been using it for 6-8 hours at a stretch with no signs of depletion, so those numbers look solid.
     
    When in use (audio signal engaged), the central light glows blue.  It is possible to have the unit charging and playing at the same time – and both lights are shown.
     
    AUTO ON / OFF
     
    The design of the AP001 is switchless, so when an audio signal is recognised, it switches on. When the audio signal stops, it goes into a timed shut-off mode, and switches itself off after a preset time.  Sounds very good in theory, and most of the time it works well – but there is a caveat which I discovered, and it is one of the most annoying things about this unit.  The auto on/off is not sensitive enough.  When I was using it with my T1’s (high impedance – requiring plenty of volume), the AP001 turned on with no problems, and ran with no problems over the space of several hours (sounded really good too).  But when I ran sensitive earphones (my Fidue A83) with the Fiio X5 as source, I had issues to get the AP001 to turn on (had to either “hot-plug” it to create a static pop loud enough for the device to turn on, or boost the volume enough for the device to recognise the audio).  I’m a relatively quiet listener – so with the Fidues, actually keeping the unit playing was another issue. After the preset shut-off time, and in the midst of my listening, the unit would simply click-off.  This happened with theX5 with my A83 and Altone200.  The Dunu1000 needed just a little more power, so they were OK.  Strangely, it also played better with the iPhone 5S (as far as recognition of audio goes), than it did with the X5.  Anyway – it was pretty annoying.  It was good when working – but caveat emptor for those with sensitive IEMs and low listening habits.
    Edit : the issue with low volume from source has been confirmed by Raz at MP4Nation.  It appears the X5 isn't the ideal source for this particular amp, so I'm amending the review up 1/2 a star, as they'll bring out a list of compatible devices eventually.  So far it has worked well with the iPhone 5S.  The additional 1/2 star simply because I shouldn't be downgrading based on the X5 not being an ideal source.
     
    OTHER ISSUES / NOTES
     
    The other issues that need to be mentioned are"
     
    A loud static pop (mainly on sensitive IEMs) when plugging or unplugging the source plug from/to its socket.  It’s loud enough with less sensitive gear, but with IEMs like the A83, it’s actually almost pain inducing.  Again caveat emptor – you can avoid it as long as you know it’s there.
     
    Also it seems to be prone to some EMF – not all the time – but when it strikes it’s annoying.  It had been clear with the X5, but at work yesterday plugged to my iPhone, and sitting close to a phone and PC, I could clearly hear static from time to time.  Moving it away from the PC helped.  I haven’t had the same issues at home, so I’m wondering if it’s just the basic poorly shielded budget work PC.
     
    And a note of interest – this amp is not actually a Brainwavz design – but rather an OEM generic design. Hopefully it is a direction that Brainwavz expands upon (by introducing their own designs in future), as we know what they are capable with earphones of their own design.
     
    SONIC COMPARISONS / IMPRESSIONS / POWER
     
    AP00111.jpg
     
    OK – that’s my little gripes out of the way – how did it sound?
     
    To me it was relatively clear, and just seemed to add some mid and sub-bass to the base sonics of whatever I used it with.
     
    One of the first things I tested when I got the unit was the actual amplification circuit, and location of the bass boost (using test tones and an SPL meter).  This is not going to be hugely accurate – but should give us an idea.  I didn’t go lower than 100 Hz (was too difficult to measure accurately – my meter is not that sensitive), but what I did find was volume boost as follows:
     
    100 Hz
    + 10 dB
    150 Hz
    + 5 dB
    200 Hz
    + 4 dB
    300 Hz
    + 4 dB
    500 Hz – 10 kHz
    + 3 dB

     
    So it’s clear that the actual amplification supplied by the amp is subtle (specs say 120% increase of audio – but that’s not what I’m measuring – unless you take that measurement in the bass area).  And the bass boost seems to be centered around the 100 Hz area – which is why it’s adding a nice thump to headphones that need it – and not bleeding into the mid-range.
     
    Pairing the AP001 with my Altone200 and Dunu1000 was bordering on too much bass for me.  It added a darkness to both IEMs that simply did not gel with my tastes. The A83 was much better (apart from the sensitivity issues – on/off conundrum), and so was the Alfa Genus from Rockjaw (with the black treble filters fitted).
     
    I also tried a couple of portable headphones. My son’s Momentum On-ear was pretty good – I find it a little thin for my tastes - and the AP001 helped, although it did become slightly boomy, and on a couple of tracks it was distorting slightly.  I also tried the UE6000 and this made an already relatively balanced (but warm) headphone quite bassy and too dark again for my tastes.
     
    The real surprise for me was with my T1.  I know an iPhone can’t power it properly – it gets loud enough, but ends up anaemic in the bass.  Adding the AP001, and the beautiful mids and detail were still present, and this time the AP001 was able to supply what was missing in the bass from being underpowered.  It was probably the only combination I really enjoyed during my time testing the AP001.  It wasn’t just good, it was very good.
     

    CONCLUSION

    So, we’ve come to the end of my few days with this unit – what are my thoughts?
     
    The AP001 may appeal to people on a very restricted budget, who need a modest volume increase to their portable set-up, who want a permanent bass boost, and who might like to share their listening with another person via the dual headphone outs.  Mainly I suspect it will be sold to the curious (it’s cheap enough to take a risk on).
     
    But for the reasons I listed in the review, I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone I know.  In this case I don’t think it’s particularly good value.  No volume control, a weak amplifier, EQ always on, and a sometimes iffy (in my case) auto on/off.  For the same money you can get a Fiio E6 which is a similar size, but has better amplification, volume control and a switchable EQ.  The only thing that I can see as a plus over the E6 would be the dual headphone outs.  And if you can stretch the budget to $60 you can get a real amplifier in the E11K, or a CMOY.
     
    Two and a half stars from me.
     
    AP00110.jpg
      thatBeatsguy likes this.
  2. lin0003
    Brainwavz AP001 Mini Review
    Written by lin0003
    Published Nov 7, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Fun Bass Boost
    Cons - Can't Turn Bass Boost Off, Glitchy
    The Brainwavz AP001 is something that I rather unique in today’s market. Whereas we have plenty of portable amplifiers, I don’t think that I have seen on that is quite as unique as the AP001. To be perfectly honest, a week or so ago I had never even heard of the AP001 until Brainwavz offered to send me one to review. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Audrey from Brainwavz for sending these for me to review.
     
    **Disclaimer** These were given to me in return for an honest review.
     

     
    Unboxing & Accessories
    Let’s start with the price. Right now it is just $30 with free Brainwavz Delta IEMs, which is an absolute steal. Hell, it is worth getting these for just the splitter feature. The box is unspectacular obviously and it comes with a pretty standard micro USB cable and 3.5mm cable that is very thin and flexible. Not bad at all for something this cheap, was very nice to see a 3.5mm cable in there – some very expensive amps don’t even include one.
     

     
    Design & Build Quality
    Once I saw the design I was immediately impressed. I thought about the Fiio E6 straight away, the form factor is indeed very similar. It is thicker though. There is a gap which looks cool at first, but as far as I can see has no other functionality than that, so maybe that space would have been better used to fit a bigger battery or something. The battery is supposed to last 12 hours, which is decent. There are 2 headphone outs, which is quite cool and it boosts the volume by 120%. This is very good for sharing 2 similar headphones which are rather inefficient or if you just listen very loud.
     
    The build was actually really quite good. I was expecting it to be flimsy and similar to the E6, but it was much better and feels like a truly quality product. The cable is nice, but could have been a little thicker.
     

     
    Sound
    Usually I would break this into several sections, but I’m not going to this time. I tested these with a Clip+ and an SPC cable. After trying several IEMs, I think that the RE-400 is the best match.
     
    Boy, this little amp kicks some ass! It is really impressive for $30, being clean and has a bass boost that actually works, which is quite rare for something of this price. The boost is mainly in the mid-bass and I didn’t notice any bass bleed into the mid-range. It is very good with my RE-400s because I always felt like they were just lacking a bit of bass, but now the bass is very solid and hard hitting, but still quite fast. The sub-bass also has a bit of a boost, not much as the mid-bass though. The mid-range is also a little affected, being just a little darker. If you already feel like your IEMs or headphones are too dark, these might not be for you. The treble remained largely unaffected. Soundstage got a little bit of a boost from the Clip+ and imaging was as improved as well. Overall very impressive!
     

     
    Conclusion
    I think that Brainwavz has done exceptionally well here, their AP001 is truly an excellent amplifier for the price and ticks many boxes. It is tiny, has two outputs, looks cool, comes with a 3.5mm cable and has a nice bass boost that I imagine many people will appreciate. Well done Brainwavz, I really think that the AP001 will be a very successful amp that might just be the E6 killer that we have been waiting for. 
     
    Sorry for the short review, I have exams coming up soon, so don;t have a lot of time ATM. If it changes with burn in or if my impressions change I will edit it. I'll also post it in the reviews section when a product page is made. 

  3. twister6
    Good for some selective uses
    Written by twister6
    Published Nov 9, 2014
    3.0/5,
    Pros - compact size, bass boost, unique amp characteristics
    Cons - no volume control, EMI interference, background hiss/hum
    First of all, I would like to Thank Audrey for providing me this headphone amp for test/evaluation.
     
    Along with an opportunity to review Brainwavz new S0 IEM, I also received their new AP001 portable headphone amplifier. I recently had a chance to review a number of different portable amps, such as E11k, E12A, and C5, ranging in price from $70-$170, so obviously a $30 AP001 would not be a fair comparison; not to mention that I also don't have E06 which should be in a similar class. Therefore I decided to look at AP001 performance as is, trying to be unbiased and keeping my expectations realistic for its price. Furthermore, I see that currently it's being offered on Amazon for $26.50, while MP4Nation sweetened their own $29.50 deal by including a choice of either black or silver $20 Delta IEMs. Now, that is an INSANE deal!!! So with all this pricing reference out of the way, let's take a closer look at what we got here.
     
    Arrived in a very simple small plastic box, I still think it has a nice presentation with a front facing picture and a back with an open display to reveal the actual product along with features and specs. Out of the box you are have a tiny 1.5" x 1.5" x 0.5" square device weighting only 15g. The design is quite unique with a plastic sealed bottom/sides and a metal top with a very fine etching which you can't see but can actually feel by sliding your finger across it. It also has a 1/4" hole in the middle and a slit to one of the sides. You can use your imagination about practical use of that slit opening, either attaching to headphone cable or audio cord from a source, but I actually found it useful by attaching it over the edge of my jeans front pocket while my DAP was inside of the pocket. Along with AP001, Brainwavz also included USB to micro-usb charging cable and a short 3.5mm audio cable.
     
    Looking around the unit itself, you find Line input for connection from your audio source, dual Line output to allow simultaneous connection of 2 headphones, and micro-usb charging port. Inside of the middle opening there is a blue LED which comes on during automatic power detection. Yep, this little amp doesn't have any power switch or volume control. Just charge its built-in 120mA battery, which should provide you about 12hrs of usage, and the next time you plug in AP001 to your headphone output, the power will come on automatically. The same way with a power off which turns off automatically after source is disconnected. You do have to be aware there is a minimum power level threshold for automatic turn on, so if you have sensitive headphones and start off with volume at minimum level you might have to crank it up a bit to kick start this amp. Also, be very careful not to connect AP001 to Line Out of your DAP since it doesn't have volume control and the sound will come out blasting at the max level.
     
    Now, lets talk more about application of this portable headphone amplifier. The first thing I noticed was how susceptible it was to EMI interference from wireless and smartphone devices. Being connected to HO of my Note 4 or even being in close proximity of my phone generated noticeable pops and clicks on top of already existing background humming. So, I wouldn't recommend using it with smartphone devices. Also, background noise is not black and low level of background hiss/hum was constantly present. Is this really a deal breaker? If we are talking about $100 portable amp, it is, but this a dirt cheap headphone amp ($10-$15 price point if you factor in free Delta headphones), so this could be actually acceptable. As a matter of fact, my Topping NX1 $40 amp has exactly the same hissing and EMI problem. So you might ask, is there anything positive about AP001 beside cheap price? Definitely!!!
     
    When used with DAP or mp3 player connected to headphone output, this is actually a great little amp/booster with a permanently enabled bass boost enhancement. Though you are subjecting your sound to double amping (built-in and external), it actually does a good job shaping your sound with a new characteristics. To my ears, you get a rather well controlled bass boost to enhance the low end and also to enhance the rest of the spectrum at a lesser quantity. It's not just a volume booster, as claimed by Brainwavz to raise the output by 120% to compensate for an output split, but actually has a true amp performance to change the sound characteristics. The effect of this enhancement will vary, and that what makes it fun to try it out with different sources and headphones to determine which one will yield the best synergy. Though I don't have Clip+ mp3 player anymore, AP001 w/Clip+ sounds to me like a match made in heaven! With regards to headphone pair up, I found it to benefit more a brighter signature, like Altone200, where I noticed it breathed more life into bass and mids tighten up, even sounding a bit smoother. With warm headphones, this effect was less desirable where for example S0 warm signature didn't gel well with AP001.
     
    Overall, this is not the most flexible amp since it doesn't have volume control and the bass boost is permanently enabled, and I also found its EMI interference to be a show stopper in use with a smartphone. BUT, for a small mp3 player or even DAPs like X1 or X5 this could be a little gem to further enhance the sound and to add a new variable in ever evolving equation of sound shaping! For the price, considering free Delta headphones, these are worth just for a splitter functionality alone where now you have the ability to burn-in two pairs of headphones simultaneously or use it for A/B comparison. When you factor all this in, the value of AP001 definitely goes up!
     
    Here are the pictures (click to enlarge).
     
    brainwavz_ap001-01_zps9986e661.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-02_zps5b6df489.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-03_zps9c819cb9.jpg
     
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    brainwavz_ap001-06_zps18bfbdd3.jpg
     
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    brainwavz_ap001-09_zpse7c9224a.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-10_zps56481fab.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-11_zpsa30349ff.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-12_zpsb7b34b9c.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-13_zps9aba3567.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-14_zpsbc886fc8.jpg
     
    brainwavz_ap001-15_zps778daa2c.jpg
  4. suman134
    Good attempt but need serious improvements .
    Written by suman134
    Published Nov 10, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - good for bass lovers , nice and lush mids , really small and lite .
    Cons - HiSSSSSS !! static pop . not powerful enough . cant turn the bass off .

    Intro :-
         So , brainwavz has come up with a new product , but this time its not an earphone but an amplifier , and if you believe some discoveries it’s a re brand of an amp from an unknown brand , I think like wise too , nothing changed , same specs , design , style too , cuz probably it was good already , and I don’t think brainwavz were thinking much about it . it can be that they just wanted a product in this category to start with and its got a few tricks under its sleeves .
     
           IMG_20141031_153333.jpg   
     
               in box contents .
     
    What it’s all about :-
         And its named AP001 , first attempt from brainwavz to have an amplifier in their inventory . And I hope they will make some more , make not re-brand . In box contents are a line in cable 10 cm , micro usb cable , and the amp itself  . nothing else . did I told you how small this thing is ? its like tiny and feather weight too . kind of transparent , and you can see some internals .
     
    Getting started :-
         These are button less , none what soever , the motto is " charge , plug , play " . It takes one and half hour to get fully charged , an orange led indicates its charging and turns off when fully charged , when charged , you just use the line in cable and connect it to the source and BAM !! a blue LED lights up which means its on , no power button needed , you just plug in your phone and that’s it , you are ready to play !! Good thing is , it turns off after a few minutes of inactivity , all by itself . But here , you have the option to plug two phones at the same time , and both have the same power output too , two headphone out means you can A-B earphones easily .  You get nothing else . no volume control , no EQ to apply , which makes it a bit annoying at times given its got its own flavored sound output . We will talk about it next .
     
    IMG_20141031_181821.jpg     IMG_20141103_192355.jpg
     
    Sound quality and glossary :-
         So what you get here is 120 % more volume . some enhanced bass , slightly elevated mids and a bit better sound stage .
       You know its got no buttons to have any kind of control over this amp , and at times its bothering due to its enhanced bass , sadly you cant turn this feature off . if you are using this amp , bass boost is always on , and if you are listening to a bass heavy ear/headphone , its bothering , still its worth it , because of its better mids ( we will talk soon about it ). Its not the bad kind of bass boost you get from fiio E5 , which makes it muddy and unclear , its more like good kind of bass enhancement , more in volume but precise , not bleeding into the mids , decent decay , its just some 6-8 db increment of the bass region . which is a good thing for some users , who want some more bass from their Fairly neutral sounding earphones , And indeed it makes neutral phones like R3 and Doppios sound fun .
     
       Mids are not really bothered . just some elevation and it really helps with V shaped earphones like VSD1 and FX40 and you have wider sound stage , slightly bigger like 10 % or less . and details are intact , nothing else change in the mids .
        Highs are totally ignored , not even touched , they are left as they are from your source . just volume enhancement . which is a good thing .
        And those who want neutral colorless sound , should go for something else , especially when you can’t turn the bass off .
    The bad things :-   
        Not gonna say the usual , no buttons . but one more thing is , there is a hiss with sensitive earphones , like doppios and ue600 , its like a mild humming sound which is clearly audible when music is paused . and amplification is weak , its not powerful enough to handle even the HD380 pro properly , leave out all the rest .
        And there is a static pop when you plug and unplug your headphone , its not what I like , and its really loud . like pop !!
     
    An old competitor :-
         E5 is muddy , unclear , and veiled all over the spectrum . only good thing is the ability to turn the bass off which restricts the bass from getting muddy even makes bass flatter and controlled , still not the best , still decay is not good enough , mids are not as prominent as ap001 , its considerable , and micro details are missing , its like degrading the sound quality by missing layering sonic ability extension and sounds dull still splashy , sound stage too feels clumsy , highs are not affected by both the amps but e5 feels worse , i don’t think e5 is close to ap001 in terms of sound quality , still its an good amp if you want controls like power off\on button , volume button and an option to switch the bass off , i am not gonna recommend E5 and its been discontinued for good .
     
       IMG_20141109_172809.jpg   IMG_20141109_172826.jpg

         Putting E5 and ap001 together means you get the bad SQ from E5 , hiss and pop from ap001 .
                                                          worst of both worlds !!
     
          thats it , enjoy !! Have an awesome Day !!
    1. suman134
      so , not good with grammar !! sorry .
      suman134, Nov 10, 2014
  5. dragon2knight
    Decent, low cost amp for bass lovers
    Written by dragon2knight
    Published Nov 10, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Tiny, light weight, long lasting, simple
    Cons - No on/off controls
    This is my review of the new Brainwavz AP001 headphone amplifier. Audrey(Salsera on here) sent me one for this review, thanks!
     
    For starters, let me say I'm not a really big fan of portable amps. I like my portable rig as simple as possible to reduce bulk and make it easier to travel with. As such, I usually only try out smaller amps like the FiiO E5/6, they don't need to be stacked and are easier to use inline. But even they are a bit too bulky for me, so I rarely used them at all. The AP001, on the other hand, is truly tiny, only 38x38x12.2mm and weighing in at a featherweight 15.5g!! Inline, it's hardly even noticeable, making it a truly usable amp, at least to me.
     
    What's in the box you ask? There's the AP001 of course, a short charging cord, and a patch cable to connect the amp to your portable DAP or phone. It comes packaged well in an all plastic package, and it is presented well. 
     
    IMG_20141110_100649_1.jpg
     
    IMG_20141110_100716_1.jpg
     
     
    As for features, the AP001 has not one but two equally powered headphone out jacks, making this a great amp if you travel regularly with a friend or partner and like to share. It also has a large slit right down the middle of it allowing it to be hooked onto either the top of a pocket or on a flap inside of a bag to help keep it from coming unplugged. A clip would have been a better choice here, but this works ok if not handled too roughly. Battery life is also good here, with between 9 1/2 and 10 hours of use by my testing, very good considering it's size. Do be advised that the AP001 has not one single button or switch, it works by plugging in a headphone to turn it on or off....both a good and a bad thing. 
     
    IMG_20141110_100901_1.jpg
     
    IMG_20141110_101027_1.jpg
     
    IMG_20141110_101143_1.jpg
     
     
    Now on to the sound. This is NOT a neutral amp, it's a bass boosting amp first and foremost. It has little to no effect on mids(it might make some songs a bit warmer, but that's it) and absolutely no effect on highs. What this means, of course, is if your headphones or IEM's are already bass heavy, this might not be the amp for you unless you want even more bass added. There is no way to shut off the bass boost, it's always on. At least it's a good boost, not harsh or grainy, but smooth and punchy, very likable to these ears. If most of your headphones or IEM's tend to be neutral, the AP001 is a great way to give them some bass without destroying they're sound signature. As I love neutral sounding cans and IEM's, this is a good match for me. YMMV, of course, but all told, I like the boost I get from these quite a bit, much more so then the boost I get from my E5's, more or less equal to what I get from my E6's. For the price, the sound from the AP001's is great.
     
    In future, Brainwavz might make available an on/off switch to just allow these to be a volume boosting amp as well as a bass boosting one, but I'm really nitpicking here. I can honestly say that I've been using the AP001 with my FiiO X1 and even more so with my Colorfly C3(it really takes care of boosting it's bass roll off well) ever since getting it in a few weeks ago. As stated above, the AP001 works best with neutral sounding cans and IEM's, and I've been using them with my Brainwavz HM5's quite a lot and really enjoying the extra bass boost it gives them. All of my current IEM's, though, are already bass heavy enough and I found the AP001 not too useful there and even hurting their sound. Again, YMMV, just keep in mind that the AP001 is a bass boosting amp, period, and you'll be fine. 
     
    IMG_20141110_100536_1.jpg
     
    IMG_20141110_100607_1.jpg
     
     
    Summing up, I like the price, sound, and build quality of the new Brainwavz AP001's. They're lightness, small size and battery life make for an effortless traveling experience to me, making me wan't to actually take them along with me every day, something I haven't really felt comfortable with with it's competition. If your new to amping and just wan't to get your feet wet without spending big bucks, this is a great introduction to it. Thank's to Brainwavz(and Audrey once again [​IMG] ), the AP001's are winners for sure!
      H20Fidelity likes this.
  6. thatBeatsguy
    Black Box of Bass
    Written by thatBeatsguy
    Published Nov 12, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Fun bass boost and good amplification in a diminutive package.
    Cons - Suffers from issues and lacks features. You kinda just get what you pay for – which is totally not Brainwavz.

    Disclaimer

    IMG_5015.jpg      First of all, I would like to thank Audrey (@Salsera) and the Brainwavz team for giving me the opportunity to review their very first portable amplifier. I am neither an affiliate of Brainwavz nor any of its staff, nor am I being compensated for writing this review (aside from me being given the review sample). Any and all opinions expressed in the following review are strictly my own unless otherwise specified, and must be taken with a grain of salt.
     
     

    Intro

         One day, I was looking around on the Brainwavz official website and happened upon an announcement of the AP001 in one post. Knowing me and my curiosity, I immediately set out to ask Audrey about it. As it turns out, they were already gearing up for release not too long after that. And yes, it wasn’t long before I got a sample in my hands to review.
     
         I literally have no experience in reviewing amplifiers – although I do know how amps work and whatnot. So yes, since this is my first amp review, I’d like for you to cut me a little bit of slack if this doesn’t meet the standards for reviews as I’ve set in my many other IEM reviews. The following review is also a mini-review, so expect the review to be a lot shorter than my full-size reviews and probably lacking a significant amount of detail. Also be forewarned of totally n00b statements coming from me. If you can take that, read on.
     
     

    <> Aesthetics <>​


     

    Packaging, Accessories

    IMG_5010.jpg

         The AP001 arrives in a very simple transparent plastic box, which showcases the AP001 in a plastic mould through a clear window on the back. Taking out the mould will reveal an included USB to Micro USB charging cable and a 3.5 mm to 3.5mm interconnect cable. The packaging itself is pretty small, which goes to show just how small this little amp really is.
     
     
    IMG_5020.jpg

    Design, Build

    The all-black amplifier is honestly a fancy, but subdued design. Not much I can say about it, although the little cavity in the right side (viewed from the top) seems unnecessary and could have been used for a button or switch. Speaking of buttons, I see none on the entire thing – not even a power switch (since it has an auto power on/off function). No volume control or bass boost switch can be seen, either – which means bass boost on the AP001 is native, and can’t be turned off. The amp also has a couple of LED light indicators – blue if powered on, and red if being charged. Not much more that that – and I don’t think you’d need much more than that.
     
     
     
         Lately, having seen other Head-Fi’ers’ impressions on the AP001, I’ve noticed a lot of them got a few notable issues with the amp, some of them being:
    1. Susceptibility to EMI (Electromagnetic Interference), causing the amp to make some noise when near a phone or a similar device.
    2. A loud ‘pop’ noise when IEMs are unplugged from the amp.
    3. Sudden amp cut-off when the source volume is lower than ¼ of its maximum volume (at the time of writing, only one review has this issue).
    4. High noise floor, especially with more sensitive IEMs.
     
         I have only had the EMI and the ‘pop’ issues, although the popping seems to have disappeared for some reason. As the amp seems to be a rebrand, it could be a good theory as to why the AP001 has numerous QC issues (much unlike most of their releases).
        
     
     

    Battery Life

         Brainwavz rates the AP001’s battery life at about 12 hours. Well, in actual testing, the AP001 lives up to that amount by running for a continuous 12 hours. They still didn’t power down even after that amount of, time, though, but I didn’t think to push any further. To perform as advertised is, to me, an achievement in itself. That, or Brainwavz didn’t make these claims up. Either way, 12 hours is pretty good – lasting longer than even my iPod.
     
     

    <> Sound <>​


     

    Specs, Measurements

     
    Input Ports
    3.5 mm (1/8”) female
    Output Ports
    3.5 mm (1/8”) female x2
    Signal-to-Noise Ratio
    100 dB
    Output Power
    50 mW
    Max. Headphone Impedance
    150 Ω
    Charging Interface
    Micro USB
    Dimensions (L/W/H)
    38 x 38 x 12.7 mm (1.52 x 1.52 x 0.51 in.)
    Weight
    15.5 g
    Accessories
    3.5 mm (1/8”) to 3.5 mm male-to-male interconnect
    Micro USB to USB charging cable

     
         Regarding the native bass boost and the actual amplification volume, I can’t seem to be able to find any released specs from Brainwavz.
     
     

    Equipment

         The sources used in this review are the iPad 3 and my iPod Touch, all running the AP001 through Headphone-Out. The IEMs I used in the review are the Brainwavz S0, S5, and R3 IEMs (yes, I know). As always, all the test tracks in my playlist (most I probably didn’t really use) can be found here for reference.
     
     
     

    Sound Quality, Synergy

    IMG_5034.jpg

    IMG_5031.jpg

         Well, as a total headphone amp n00b, I can definitely say that my IEMs sound a lot louder through the AP001 than when plugged directly into my sources (rremember what I said about n00b statements?). The native bass boost also gives a pretty good kick out of any of my IEMs. I can’t really note any difference in the midrange or treble with these, although I’m impressed at how the bass boost doesn’t affect the rest of the spectrum too much, if at all.
     
         The AP001, with its bass boost, really gives that extra punch and kick out of mid-centric phones, which makes them one of the best pairings with Brainwavz’ own R3. If I might add, the AP001 and R3 pairing is practically a match made in heaven for me, and it’s making me pretty content with the R3 (say, from a solid 8.2 to a straight-up 9/10 on my rating scale). On the other hand, do not pair the AP001 with any IEM with a more bass-heavy sound, like the S0 or the S5 – mind you, I learned that the hard way. With the S0, they sound a lot darker than they should – which is a bad thing, but some might like it. With the super bass-heavy S5, well, let’s just say it gave me a headache for a couple minutes.
     
     

    Value

         Retailing at $30, it’s easy to see you practically just get what you pay for. It’s a really, really simple device which you just plug in your source and headphones and let it rip. The bass boost is a nice feature, but the amp’s incapability to turn off the bass boost renders them useful only with bass-light IEMs. However, at the time of writing MP4Nation does sell the AP001s for free alongside a Brainwavz R3 ($130) under the Free Gift dropdown list, which to me is a pretty good deal, having already experienced how well they go together. And even if you may not like the AP001, the R3s on their own are still a great audiophile choice.
     
     

    Conclusion

    IMG_5047.jpg      The Brainwavz AP001 is a pretty decent first step by Brainwavz into the amp market, with a good slew of features made to keep things as simple as possible. However, they don’t go without some noticeable issues which detract from an otherwise perfectly smooth user experience. To me, though, the little amp is still pretty worth it if you’re on a strict budget – and even more worth it if you have a mid-centric IEM lying around and you’re looking to have a little fun.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Category
    Score
    Comment
    Packaging, Accessories
    6/10
    The AP001 arrives in a very simple plastic package. Accessories are pretty few, but you don’t really need much more than an interconnect cable and a charging cable, do you?
    Design, Build
    5/10
    The little amp looks great – simple and subdued are two words that come to mind. The physical build is good, but the components are plagued by a good number of issues.
    Battery Life
    8/10
    Running at probably over 12 hours, the AP001 performs as advertised and should outlast even your audio player.
    Sound Quality, Synergy
    6.5/10
    The amplification put out by the AP001 didn’t seem to improve soundstage or give them a 3D presentation, but that bass boost is clean and punchy. They work best with mid-centric or bright sound signatures, as they give them a well-needed kick in the low-end.
    Value
    7/10
    For 30 dollars, you kinda get what you pay for. It’s got issues here and there, scant accessories, and a really small package to boot.
    Total
    6.5/10
    Whether it really is a rebrand or not, the Brainwavz AP001 is still a pretty good debut entry into the portable amp market. It’s also pretty worth it if you don’t have that much cash to drop on an amp and want to give them a try.

     
         If I were to make a few suggestions, I would probably suggest to:
    1. Make a self-designed amp (assuming the AP001 is a rebrand, of course)
    2. Switchable bass boost
    3. Its own volume control
    4. Make it bigger and include rubber bands to secure onto a DAP
    5. $130 DAC/Amp?
     
     

    Shout-Outs, Gallery

         Again, I would like to thank Audrey and the Brainwavz team for giving me the opportunity to review their very first amp. Also, thanks to my sister for the pictures -- just so you know, they aren't mine. The rest of the pictures taken during the shoot can be viewed here.
     
         As always, this is thatBeatsguy signing off. Thanks for reading!
    1. yalper
      if you give low score to your review samples like this, you will no more get free review samples from companies :wink: just a friendly trick for you...
      yalper, Nov 13, 2014
    2. thatBeatsguy
      I know you're just joking, but reviewers must always state their own unbiased opinion. I can't hype this or hate on this. The reating befits what it gives you (even for the price). Just leave it at that. XD
      thatBeatsguy, Nov 13, 2014
  7. peter123
    Bass boost in a small package
    Written by peter123
    Published Nov 13, 2014
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Clear sound, small footprint, two outputs
    Cons - Bass boost always on, EMI, no volume control
    First of all I'd like to thank Brainwavz and Audrey for giving me the chance to check out the Brainwavz AP001 headphone amplifier.
     
    The specs:
    Playback: 12+ Hours on full charge 
    Charging interface: Micro USB Port 
    Input: 1 Line in, works with any 3.5mm audio plug from audio source (line in cable included) 
    Output: 2 audio out, works with any 3.5mm audio plug 
    Frequency Response: 10Hz - 100 kHz 
    Suitable Headphone Impedance: 16 ohms - 150 ohms 
    Build-in Rechargeable Battery: 120 mAh 
    Dimension & Weight: 38 x 38 x 12.7mm - 15.5
     
    Introduction:
    The Brainwavz AP001 is the companys first headphone amplifier.
     
    The AP001 is a very small and light device. It has one input, two outputs and no physical buttons. The lack of physical buttons means that it has an automatic on/off and that it lacks volume contol. It's a simple device that works very well in some configurations and not so good in other, more about this later.
     
    The retail package looks good and there's not much more to say about that.
     
    Included in the package is the AP001, one 3,5 mm to 3,5 mm cable and an USB charging cable.
     
    The outer package:
    IMG_1818.jpg
     
    The inner package:
    IMG_1821.jpg
     
    Performance:
    There's three things that's imediatley obvious when putting the AP001 to use:
     
    The first is that it has a boosted low end. The bass boost is well implemented and works really good with headphones and IEM's that could use some extra bottom weight. This unfortunatley also means that it will not pair very well with headphones and IEM's that already has a sufficient bass impact, with these the bass will get overbearing and lead to listening fatigue very fast. As an example I find the AP001 to sound very nice paired with the AKG Q701's while paired with Brainwavz own offering the S0 and S5 the bass was just too much.
     
    The second is that the amp section in the AP001 is not really very powerful but has to rely on the power from the source. This showed easily when I first used the Sansaclip+ alone with my headphones and when I then added the AP001 the volume only got slightly higher.
     
    The third thing is that the sound from the AP001 is actually very clear and pleasant as long as the bass don't get too overpowering with the headphones in use.
     
    AP001 paired with Sansaclip+ and AKG Q701:
    IMG_1826.jpg
     
    As long as the pairing with the headphones in use was good (once again not to bassy) I found the signature on the AP001 combined with the Sansaclip+.to be more enjoyable than when using the Sansaclip+ on its own. This combination offers a really small portable setup,
     
    AP001 combined with Sansaclip+:
    IMG_1825.jpg
     
    Comparison:
    Compared to the FiiO E5 I found the AP001 to be clearer and more pleasant as long as the extra bass it offers is welcome. The E5 has the ability to turn the bass boost off which would have been a welcome feature on the AP001 as well. 
     
     
    AP001 and E5:
    IMG_1827.jpg
     
    Summary:
    For less than $30 the AP001 offers great synergy with some headphones and IEM's but not all. It aslo picked up a lot of interference when I used it paired with my HTC One M7 phone so use with a dedicated DAP would be recommended. As an amplifier its usage is limited by some shortcomings but as an bass boost I find it to be excellent. The double outputs is also a very nice feature.
      H20Fidelity likes this.
  8. H20Fidelity
    The Little Bundle Of Joy
    Written by H20Fidelity
    Published Nov 17, 2014
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Output power, Two people listening, Size, Form Facor, Very "Fun involving sound"
    Cons - Give us a bass boost switch, no carry case.
    It's been a pleasure taking on some of Brainwavz new products for 2014, today we're going to look at one of their new portable amps, a first for Brainwavz to my understanding and a mighty great effort. The amp is called AP001 so let's take a look.

    I'd like to thank Brainwavz for the sample.

    Website: http://www.yourbrainwavz.com/

    Cost: http://www.mp4nation.net/brainwavz-ap001-portable-headphone-amplifier-with-dual-audio-out

     
    The specs:

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



    Packaging:


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





    AP001cover.jpg


    Design / Build.


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

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



    AP001ampfront.jpg



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




    ap001ampback.jpg

     
     
     
     
    Accessories: 

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


    ap001ampacess.jpg




    Functionality:

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

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




    Sound: 

    AP001clip.jpg


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

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

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


    Conclusion:


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

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


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

    ap001s0.jpg

     




    ~H20

     
      thatBeatsguy likes this.
    1. dragon2knight
      HAHAHA, I did the same thing wondering about what that slot is for....I just use it to anchor it in place in a bag or on a pocket, helps the cords from pulling out....I doubt that's it's real use, but at least I found one :wink: Great review as always!
      dragon2knight, Nov 18, 2014
    2. davei1
    3. dragon2knight
      Well...that was almost obvious,lol. Thanks for clearing that up, davi1 :)
      dragon2knight, Nov 19, 2014
  9. earfonia
    It's a cute Active Splitter!
    Written by earfonia
    Published Nov 21, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Unique and innovative product that sounds fun and enjoyable
    Cons - Prone to EMI
    01_P1240582.jpg  

     
    Brainwavz AP001 surely has the cute factor, from its small size and unique contemporary design. But that's for the look. As for features, we might wonder, why Brainwavz designed a headphone amplifier with no volume control, and 'always ON' bass enhancement. Honestly, though AP001 sounds fun and enjoyable, I would rate it 2 stars if I have to review it as a headphone amplifier, due to the missing of volume control and the 'always ON' bass enhancement feature. But from the beginning, I don't see AP001 as a headphone amplifier, but as headphone output 'Active Splitter'. That's where the 3.5 stars came from.
     
    02_P1240530.jpg  
    03_P1240532.jpg  

     
    For those looking for real full featured headphone amplifier, you might look elsewhere, AP001 is not for you.  AP001 is a simple and good sounding headphone output active splitter. No button to press, and practically to be used like a passive splitter. The difference is, AP001 is an active splitter, with build-in battery and 2 separate amplifiers for the 2 headphone outputs, and input signal detector for auto switch ON when there is audio signal detected at the input.
     
    04_P1240594.jpg  
     
    Summary:
    Unique, small, and simple to use headphone output active splitter. Pretty good sounding for the size and price, but quite prone to EMI.  
    Pros:
    Unique & innovative product. It is not very common to see such a small, light, and battery powered active splitter in the market.
    Good battery life.
    Pleasing, fun, and enjoyable sound. Especially for such a small device with small battery, at this price range.  
    Cons:
    Advertised as headphone amplifier, but without basic features of a headphone amplifier (volume control, bypass option for any tone control).
    No option to bypass bass enhancement.
    Slightly high noise floor, audible when using sensitive IEM.
    Prone to EMI.
    No soft start, a bit peaking when it switches ON.
    Sometime not easily switched ON when a song started at low volume.
    Max voltage output (~ 2.7 Vp-p on 33 ohm load) only suitable for easy to drive earphones and headphones.  
    Suggestions for improvement:
    Should be advertised as headphone active splitter, instead of headphone amplifier.
    To use soft start to 'fade in' the music when it switches ON. A small switch to turn it ON, in my opinion is much better and more ear friendly than an automatic switch. The OFF timer is good, but to turn it ON, a dedicated switch with soft start is better.
    Lower noise amplifier.
    Option to turn OFF any tone control.
    Full metal casing to reduce EMI noise.
     
    05_P1240574.jpg  
     
    Let me be clear from the beginning, that 3.5 stars rating I gave to AP001 is mostly for its unique and innovative design as a small, active headphone splitter, that is truly unique in the market. As for sound quality, it sounds surprisingly fun and enjoyable from such a small active device, but unfortunately prone to EMI. The interference noise from other electronic devices and mobile phones occasionally can be very annoying. If Brainwavz will continue AP001 product line, i strongly suggest using metal casing to reduce EMI noise. Otherwise the usage is limited to low EMI emitting devices.
     
    06_P1240578.jpg  
     
     
    Sound quality
    AP001 sounds enjoyable when there is no EMI noise. Sound signature leans toward warm and organic sounding, with some moderate bass enhancement. Clarity is pretty good, but if Brainwavz can improve the clarity further, it would be great. AP001 has fun and enjoyable sound character, but not for those looking for highly detailed and clear sounding type of amplifier.
     
    Bass enhancement is 'Always ON', comparing the peak to peak voltage of 100 Hz and 1kHz output, there is about 5.34 dB boost at around 100 Hz area (average measurement from both output 1 and 2).
     
    Output 1 measurement:
     
    07_100Hz.png  
    08_1000Hz.png The slight volume imbalance shown on the pictures is from the source, my laptop headphone output, not from AP100.

     
    Bass to midrange area is the strong character of AP001. Bass and midrange are good, warm sounding and full bodied. Really good for thin sounding sources or recordings, as AP001 adds some bass enhancement and fuller sounding midrange. Although midrange is not very detailed, but midrange sounds good, warm and organic sounding, really nice on vocal. Bass is quite present, not very fast and punchy, but not boomy either. Bass enhancement is at moderate level, and doesn't ruin the midrange. I would say Brainwavz done it right for the bass boost, it sounds pretty good especially for thin bass recordings or system. Detail and and clarity are good but not AP001 main character, and I do prefer slightly more detail and airiness for classical music. Treble is on the soft side, and sounds pleasing to the ears, specially for modern genres.
     
    09_P1240577.jpg  
     
    Headphone Outputs
    Maximum peak to peak output voltage is around 2.7 volts on 33 ohm load. Higher than my Samsung Galaxy S4 (1.03 volts), but generally not high enough for high impedance headphones. So usage would be around easy to drive low impedance headphones and earphones. Measured average headphone output impedance is 2.58 ohms.
     
    Both outputs have dedicated amplifier. It is shown here, where output 1 Left channel is connected to 33 ohm load, and output 2 Left channel is connected to high impedance 1 Mega ohm load. The output voltage reading from the 2 outputs are different, indicating those outputs are driven by separate amplifiers.
     
    10_BrainwavzAP001Out1-33ohmOut2-HiZ.png  

     
    Main Concerns
    In my opinion, there are 2 things to be improved:
    1. EMI immunity
    2. Peaky start  
    The EMI noise honestly quite annoying on AP001. AP001 is rather too prone to EMI. Too much EMI noise when used with mobile phone or other EMI emitting devices, including laptop computer. So far I prefer to use it with portable players that emits low EMI. AP001 vulnerability to EMI is something that has to be addressed immediately by Brainwavz.
     
    AP001 doesn't have soft start feature, and the switch ON sensitivity is sometime a bit too low for song that starts with low volume. So when we have our IEM plugged into our ears, AP001 sounds peaky to the ears when it automatically switches ON. A bit uncomfortable for me. Usually I let it switched ON first by playing some music, before I plug in the IEM. I suggest to use soft start to 'fade in' the music, and to increase the switch ON sensitivity by lowering the level of input signal to triggers the automatic switch. Or even better, to use 'press to ON' switch on the next model of Brainwavz active splitter.
     
    11_P1240589.jpg Blue LED for 'ON' indicator. When charging, the LED turns orange color.

     
     
     
    After using it for a few days, I would say the AP001 sounds quite enjoyable, especially for modern genres recordings. I've used it for hours and I do like the fun sound signature. Hopefully Brainwavz would improve it on the next model, for a more powerful active splitter that is more immune to EMI.  
    AP001 is all about fun and simplicity. It's a simple device when we need two headphone outputs. It sounds fun and enjoyable (when there is no annoying EMI noise). It shouldn't be considered as a proper headphone amplifier, but as an active splitter to replace regular passive splitter. Although AP001 might not pass audiophile criteria for a highly accurate active splitter, but in fact it is a fun and simple device for everyone to easily get more headphone outputs from their device. AP001 is truly a unique and innovative product from Brainwavz!
     

     
    12_P1240524.jpg  
    13_P1240583.jpg  
     

     
    Specifications:
    Battery-Rechargable: 3.7 V,120 mA
    Playback time: >12 hours (at 50% Volume)
    Charging port: Micro USB
    Earphone outputs: 2 x 3.5mm Jacks
    Line In: 3.5 mm Phone Jack
    Frequency Response: 10Hz - 100 kHz
    SNR: 100 dB (A Weight)
    Headphone Output: 50 mW
    HP Impedance: 16 Ω - 150 Ω
    Current Consumption: 8 mA (Power On)
    Current Consumption: 10uA (Power Off)
    Dimension: 38 mm x 38 mm x 12.7 mm
    Weight: 15.5 g
     
    Equipment used in this review:
    iBasso DX90
    Samsung Galaxy S4
    Audioquest Dragonfly v1.0c
    Brainwavz S5
    Brainwavz S0
    DUNU DN-1000
    Audio Technica ATH-IM70
    Velleman PCSU200 (Digital Oscilloscope)

      Brooko and dragon2knight like this.
  10. BillsonChang007
    Mini Amplifier
    Written by BillsonChang007
    Published Dec 7, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Sound, Size, Weight,
    Cons - Sensitivity, Responsibility, EMI, Hiss
     
    IMG_5437.jpg
     
    It’s almost Christmas and this year is almost coming to an end. Brainwavz introduced their first portable headphone amplifier last month and I would like to thank Audrey for sending a unit in for this review. I was actually hoping for something impressive, yet again, from Brainwavz. The Brainwavz R3, the Brainwavz S0 were all very impressive and so was I hoping the AP001 to be awesome.
    [​IMG]
    Looking at the specification, the AP001 features duo 3.5mm headphone jack so it can be doubled as a headphone splitter. However thought, the missing volume adjuster makes it weird and slightly difference from typical portable headphone amplifiers. It’s direct competitor would be theFiiO E06K. While I have never got my hands on the FiiO E06K, the FiiO E07K features similar amplifier and by memory, the AP001 seems to be a better amplifier than the E07K. Bare in mind thought, it is all done by memory and I have not listen to the E07K for around 2 months now.
     
    Hands on, the AP001 feels light and tiny on hand. The shape is not entirely square as there is a shallow impression and an empty circle in the middle. Some Google-ing tells me that, it is used to tangle headphones/earphones cable. Since the AP001 features no buttons at all, the unit will turn itself on when there’s a signal coming from the input 3.5mm. When charging, a red light is indicated and when full, there will be no lights coming off the Brainwavz. I was only hoping that, perhaps, Brainwavz could use some metal instead of thin plastic for the housing. The top of the AP001 is very fancy but I believe that it is just a metal sticker sticking on top of the plastic. Not that it will worn out or anything but I hope that Brainwavz would change it to all metal housing for durability. Additionally, do not expect the unit respond immediately, throughout the testing, there are sometimes, slight delay.
     
    [​IMG]
    Comes with the AP001 is a male 3.5mm jack to 3.5mm and a USB charging cable. Nothing else missing but a 90 degree 3.5mm would have been helpful for a lower profile.  Since the AP001 is so tiny, there is no need of having a carrying pouch or anything. In fact, its very light in weight.
    I can only hope that, Brainwavz will also work on a fix for all the bugs found in the AP001. It is advertised for portability however, the hiss is fairly noticeable and it is also very sensitive for EMI making it not suitable for smartphones while on the go. However thought, because of its sound signature, I find myself hooking it up to my iFi Micro iDSD or Garage1217 Project Sunrise III on the desk for a more fun experience.
     
    First thing first, when using iDevices built in amplifier and DAC, I have often find that while they don’t sound half bad, they are often lifeless and maybe some boost in dynamic and warmth will be welcomed. The AP001 as a result, a perfect suit for the iDevices. Using the AP001, everything sound more alive and energetic. The AP001’s bass boost is also very welcomed here. Additionally, with the AP001, music sound less “in your face” in fact, ted more surrounded and deeper soundstage. The improvement is pretty drastic and easily noticeable. The AP001 is a great amp [when minimum EMI].
    Brainwavz’s latest IEM, the S0, when paired with the AP001 seems to lose control in the bass resulting in slightly bloated sound and vocals sound drown-ish. Everything sound a ted too thick with the S0 and AP001 pairing. Not a great pairing although soundstage and musical improved, musics sound too bloated to listen to.
     
    While the Brainwavz R3 is a very natural IEM for the price, pairing it with AP001 shows a very positive result. It brings back the lost bass without overpowering, the increased dynamicsoundstage is strongly appreciated. All these improvement are easily noticed and does not have any drawbacks at all. The even better pairing for AP001 is not only with R3, the Bang & Olufsen H6 with AP001 is pure amazing! It’s even a better pairing than E07K. There are times, where I find that, the B&O H6 lacks punches and excitement to the music and with bright recordings, the H6 can feel as if there is something can’t be erased at the treble. The AP001 completely addresses it with the boost in bass [again], it helps the treble being less emphasized with bright recordings. The wider and more exciting musical also brings joys to the B&O H6 accompanied with good, tight, juicy bass punches. No doubt, one of the best pairing for the AP001!
     
    For $30, the AP001 provides enough juice to play up to 12 hours of music with easy-to-drive earphones but pairing with headphones that draws more power, the AP001 find itself struggling to last for 6 hours. I hope that, Brainwavz can work on the amplifier’s battery capacity, responsibility/sensitivity and EMI issue. Perhaps, a thicker housing may help with the EMI issue. The duo headphone out is indeed very welcome. Bass boost could possibly be one of its best market value boost but I do hope to see a built in volume control for the amplifier.