The Dacamp L1 is a fully balanced headphone amplifier and DAC with dedicated channel processors....

RHA Dacamp L1

Average User Rating:
3.81818/5,
  • The Dacamp L1 is a fully balanced headphone amplifier and DAC with dedicated channel processors. RHA’s first product in the category, the Dacamp L1 uses an ES9018K2M DAC chip and class AB amplifier for each stereo channel; a configuration which enables the processing of the highest quality digital audio files from mobile and desktop source devices. The Dacamp L1 transmits high-resolution analogue audio signals to a wide range of headphones via balanced or unbalanced outputs.

Recent User Reviews

  1. ngoshawk
    4.0/5,
    "An acceptable option for those looking at a DAC/AMP combo"
    Pros - All in one, acceptable power, multiple adjusting options, portable, excellent build quality
    Cons - Short on power, numbers on three wheels are hard to see, the need for more cables (possibly)
    The nice thing about being last on the tour is that I have the benefit of completely broken in equipment. The new smell and feel is gone. Gone through many miles and air flights, and USPS trucks and many ears filled with various stages and consistencies of earwax. Various stages of responsibilities and obligations set under the guise of "I have to get this done, YESTERDAY!"
     
    That is the beauty of being last. I have no such pretense. I have no such obligation. No such responsibility. Kind of like when I applied for the tour....I was late, I was after the deadline...and well...didn't get onto the tour. But, as luck would have it, another dropped and I caught the RHA bug. As time would have it, I was between reviews, and successfully breaking in some of my own gear. Yiiipppeeee! It was fate. It was almost like RHA knew my Scottish heritage. I gladly accepted the spot, and waited. Other reviews and gear filled my time.
     
    I casually waited for the arrival, and perused the reviews. Having a pair of fine RHA ma750 (non-mic), I knew of RHA's near-legendary build status. Known for a build equivalent on par with a Swiss watch, I really like the sound. A bright vibrant sound reminds me of a stalwart Scot who is friend to all at a party. (I made that up, but go with it, please…)
     
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    I was hoping that the sound of the enclosed gear would rival my happily owned ma750's. Reading the various reviews, all commented on that build as top notch. But when sound was discussed, the views varied wildly. Yes wildly, not widely. Widely denotes a common line in time albeit one with variance. Wildly denotes all over the place, passing that line with the speed of light, in all directions. I loved that, and awaited my take on that ride, grabbing hold late one Saturday, after the snail pace of my wait on the day of delivery (not the fault of the sender). As hours turned into MANY hours, the lateness of postal delivery...by tortoise I have no doubt, finally brought the product(s) to my door.
     
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    Hence, the time begins....A huge thanks to Nik and the RHA team for including me on the tour. I will do my best with various devices in hand to give an honest open review.
     
    I have an affinity for the state of Kansas (otherwise known as “flyover country”). It stems from the hours and days and months I spent riding my mountain bike through that wonderfully peaceful scenery, as distraction from classes at Kansas State University (#EMAW). Far from civilization, we would just ride. Sometimes we met a rancher, but before we could be booted off his land for trespassing; we always mentioned how we had mended a section of fence for him, or cleared some brush from their fence line...something to show we cared about his land as much as he and his family. Over time our group grew to a hearty 5; but the rules did not change. We ALWAYS fixed something. The mutual respect between the rancher and our group of mountain bikers allowed us free entry onto land that few if any would visit, ever. This solitude was not lost on either the rancher or us. Ever.
     
    That affinity to Kansas carries over the musical group, which shares that same name, a group I wholeheartedly recommend you give a good listen. It was this music, which was used for the week (along with many of my standards). I could not think of a better tie between the heartland, and the Scottish country. A country with a proud heritage of many items we cherish. Not the least of which is the best single malts the planet has ever known. Of that there is not debate in my mind. It is with that same fortitude, which I do believe RHA crafts their wares. Having, and still owning the ma750, I understand. If the product cannot stand up to Scottish standards, it is of no use. It is not good. Well...I can unabashedly state that the quality of craftsmanship is excellent. Top notch is a term thrown about, but would not be a shy comparison here. It is that tie between Kansas and Scotland, which gives me the tie and the right to proceed on this solitude of listening. I am within, and I do not mind.
     
    Initial items:
     
    The volume pot on the L1, is quite sensitive, but with careful attention this causes minimal problems. I do like the shape and mix of materials present, on the RHA. A dark grey anodized aluminium provides a tough scratch resistant surface; while the black silicon wrap where all of the buttons and jacks are located provide a softer touch and one would suspect a bit of shock absorption.
     
     
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    All of the controls seem to be logically placed, with adequate access to all. Once an item becomes too small, or of a certain size, then one begins to not only fully understand the designers intentions; but more importantly the canards of design. An ill fitting knob here, lack of access to a switch there…it adds up if the design isn’t thought for all parameters. Happily…so far…this would not be the case. All jacks and switches and knobs are accessible. I would be remise if I did not point out that the numbers present on the three adjusting wheels is very hard to read. Luckily detents emphasize the tactility allowing quick work of adjusting.
     
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    A very nice, configurable dac/amp, the L1 represents an excellent foray into this realm of portable audio. Not as powerful as I would like, but adequate, it will handle a line out quite well. (see more later regarding line out) the L1 pairs well (duh!) with the CL1. Versatile in adjustment, what with the Bass/Treble/Gain and multitude of connections, the RHA tries very hard to fit all into a small portable device. By and large it does succeed.  On par with the iFi iDSD Micro Black Label, price-wise, and most features, but definitely not as powerful. A good comparison would shed light onto both. Throw in the Aune S6, and you have three within $20 of each other…A veritable boxing match all within the same weight class, could be the result.
     
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    Running the L1 on +3 Bass, and neutral treble was my motus operandi for the week. High gain in all settings, gives a decently powerful sound out of the headphone jack. Not overpowering, but adequate. I did find myself wishing for about twice the power, though. Compared to my FiiO A5 (straight amp), the L1 is sorely lacking in power from the headphone jack. Sound capability-wise, though it is on par.
     
    An intimate sound stage accompanies that “power.” This is not an unpleasant sound, mind you; it is just not as open and authoritative as I expected. Running my FiiO x5iii on 80/120, through Tidal and the L1 all the way up and on high gain, yields a decently loud sound, and of good quality (using Line Out from the x5iii). Again, the V-shape of the CL1 compliments the L1. But, I am left wanting MORE….more power, louder volume…It was not until I hit 100/120 (on the x5iii), that the sound became uncomfortably loud. Granted, my old ears do have a hearing loss, but I have not gone that high on the x5iii with anything else.
     
    Pushing the adjustable Line Out (LO) on the x5iii to 120/120 does allow a nice adjustable volume for the L1 with which to play. This makes more sense to me, now; as most LO volumes are run flat out. This then allows the added device in question the ability to adjust for your tastes. Running the FiiO/RHA combo this way certainly provides enough “oomph” for my tastes. At 2/5 on the L1, I am provided a good full, albeit bright, sound, which has become more enjoyable the longer I listen. But a finicky volume adjustment means one must be careful in fine-tuning that, lest you accidentally blow your ears.
     
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    Deeper listening:
     
    It is almost like they were made for each other!
     
    The sound qualities of the L1, as stated before are quite nice, and acceptable. Switching to Dave Holland and his excellent Hands album, my reactions are tamed. Music of much better quality, allows the L1 to do its work. Paired with the CL1, I can now see the benefit of both. There is most definitely that synergy going on…the pair WAS made for each other after all…
     
    More bass off the bat than the comparable Aune S6 (comparable in price and functions), the RHA moves ahead in not only portability but also bass punch. More adjustable features, too. There is something to be said for adjustability in a device such as this. One need only look at the iFi iDSD Micro Black Label to understand, that sometimes the more you put into a critter; the better it will sell (hopefully), with the added bonus (foremost in my mind) of excellent sound capabilities. Having the ability to fine tune a dac/amp would be the equivalent of tuning a sports car. Sometimes stock is not enough. Sometimes you need that extra little kick. What the Aune S6 lacks, the iFi BL and the L1 provide; as does the Chord Mojo (I have no experience with that wonderful device, only knowledge gained from what I have read in reviews).
     
    One of the biggest benefits I found while reviewing the iFi BL was its ability to adjust multiple items. Not only was there gain, but a bass boost, and an IEM fine-tuning option. I was quite impressed, and still am. While the RHA does not have the multitude of adjustments built in, the necessary (to me) adjustments are there. An adjustable bass and treble each from -3 to +9, allows one to add or subtract to their near-hearts content. As adjusting would have it, I pushed the Bass Boost to a +3, and left the Treble Boost at 0. Ironic, in that this is exactly the same adjustment I used to use many moons ago in my old Opel GT with my hard earned cash spent on a fine Alpine car audio system.
     
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    Maybe it was that memory or the placebo effect of being back in that fine old car, but the +3/0 simply sounded right to me. Sounded like old times. That combo sounds most pleasing to me, and I do not mind. Through either the FiiO x5iii or Shanling M5, the EQ setting was good. Enhancing the bass is something I do not mind, but would be just as happy to leave neutral. My go to IEM’s are kept neutral, always; but here the beauty of adjusting your sound takes the forefront. And it should. That is the true benefit of a dac/amp such as this. The ability to personalize ones sound should not be underestimated. Many on various Head-Fi threads espouse this virtue. This ability to tailor to our own needs is paramount to why many continue in the “hobby” after finding their Zen.
     
     
    I must say, as did @Brooko in his thorough review; that the more time I spend with this little device, the more I come to appreciate it. The more I appreciate the simplicity of plug-n-play. The more I welcome how seamlessly the RHA Team makes all of the functions work. The more I value the ability across listening/music platforms…FLAC? No problem. MP3? No problem. AAC? It…just…plays…running Los Lonely Boys (another of my all time favorites) through my x5iii, and the L1; the CL1’s simply shine. With this combination, I can bypass that V-shaped sound. I can forgive the need for POWER! There is no want for more, running these together. A benefit of the Line out on the FiiO, is that the volume is adjustable. A near unheard of feature in mid-fi DAP’s. And well worth it, in my mind. Born on the Bayou simply oozes through this combo; making me feel as if I was in a backwater open air Cajun shack of a bar. Throw a lime in a cold beer, and you are there. A superb combination, not to be diminished when one considers cost.
     
    Combined this “set up” runs north of $1600 USD. Not cheap, and for that outlay of cash, one would hope for this type of synergy. I guess it just goes to show that even devices, which may be less than “worthy,” to some based upon their sonic preferences, can shine as part of the whole. I’m not saying I will run right out and purchase the RHA’s no; but I AM saying that for that kind of outlay, one could do much worse.
     
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    Comparisons:
     
    RHA DACAMP L1 ($549) v FiiO A5 ($129)
     
    Running the A5 through its paces is a pure joy. I replaced my A3 with the A5, in hopes that this would be my last portable amp for a good while (Pipe down, out there! I can hear your snickering…sideways face). It is powerful, has lo/hi gain and a Bass Boost to boot. What more could one ask of a portable amp? Well….this is where teams such as RHA, iFi, Aune and Chord think they may know more than we…and in some case they would be correct. If one is in “need” of a better DAC/AMP, then those four would be worthy additions to your stable. But, if all you desire is a portable amp, because you happen to have an excellent front source, then you can be forgiven the need to have more…and in that regard, I would choose the A5. I have no need for “more,” because I like to think I have pretty good front ends in the FiiO and Shanling. And in that regard, the A5 is an excellent partner.
     
    I would consider the A5 the peer, and in at least one way, better than the L1. It has more power, and when comparing the amp sections alone, a cleaner sound (to me). And yes, I am aware that the A5 is only an amp. But while playing Kiko and the Lavender Moon from Los Lobos, the opening immediately struck me as pure, clean, and without sound in the background. The L1 on the other hand provides a darker sound (to me), one, which must be “tamed” with the EQ settings of bass and treble. The gain settings of lo/med/hi must be used pretty aggressively to account for that lack of power. But, when properly routed through a devices line out, there is actually adequate power for most devices. Through my Shanling M5, there was more than enough. And with the x5iii, there was certainly enough with which to work. Again, this boils down to whether you want pure power, or more “ability” to control the sound with adequate power.
     
    RHA L1 ($549) v iFi iDSD Micro Black Label ($549)
     
    Identical pricing at the time of print, somewhat different aspects. The iFi BL has been available for a while and is considered quite successful for what it does…which is pretty much everything this side of dishes! Powerful, adjustable, an excellent DAC unit, all the while with the ability to tailor in more detail your current crop of IEM/Cans. What more could one ask for with such a unit? Well…it is quite cumbersome to use as a portable. We have taken to calling it “transportable,” due to the size itself. While it is not that much larger than an iPhone X+, it is indeed larger. And while DAP’s continue to shrink in size and gain in ability, that size can prevent you from using the BL on the go. The L1 one on the other hand is quite portable and will stack neatly with most DAP’s.
     
    Sound-wise the RHA is of a darker nature. Warmer but not really a fuller sound, the RHA will aspire to those with a warm side. One, which can and does compliment the CL1, or a more analytical sounding IEM/Can. The iFi on the other hand, just works. Throw a hard to drive can at it, and it scoffs at your attempt. Hard to drive? Psssaaawww. Bring it. More adjustability wins out here. For the same price, you get a DAC/AMP which has more adjusting capabilities, more power and the “tweaking” of sensitive IEM’s in its holster. While some found the 3D Holographic effect hokey, I did enjoy the occasional ability to give a concert hall-like sound to the music played. I do like the sound signature of the BL more, too. More power, and adjustments to boot is hard to beat.
     
    RHA L1 ($549) v Aune S6 ($569)
     
    Not really a fair fight, since one is a dedicated desktop amp, and the other a jack-of-all-trades. In a nutshell, the Aune has multiple platforms for hook up (as does the RHA, just not as versatile), and pretty much the same power. What the Aune lacks is portability. And well…it wasn’t made for that! Two different audiences, two different outcomes for the same price. Purchase a lightning-to-usb and you can run through your iPhone, plus take it with you. The lack of adjustments on the Aune is by design. Meant to be used with the EQ settings of whatever device you have plugged in. And it works. The RHA will give you that adjustability on the fly. A draw here…
     
    Finale:
     
    So…what are we left with? A mid-fi priced DAC/AMP, which tries to compete with the big boys…Stepping up to the table, the RHA Team has taken that line in the sand, and pretty much crossed it on the dare. Not afraid to innovate, not afraid to take their excellent build characteristics and form a platform, which is extremely competitive with the competition is hard to do…By and large, the L1 has succeeded. It is a good DAC/AMP, albeit one, which is a little short on power (to me). I think that the RHA team wanted to build a device, which functions very well, and not worry too much about the power ratings. Why? Well, because their device does work. And work quite well for what it is, a competent DAC/AMP, which can be used on the go, stacked, or the desktop with equally good results.
     
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    A good solid unit, which bring RHA into another realm or category and does so well. A category, which is extremely competitive and crowded with other excellent choices. One, which a company would need to provide a good product, and RHA has succeeded for the most part. A very good DAC unit, with many connective capabilities, hamstrung a bit by its lack of “oomph”. Something that can be overlooked, because the rest of the device works quite well. Have a look; it is worth a try in comparison to the others.
     
    I want to thank the RHA Team for including me on the tour. I do love trying new gear, especially gear, which is out of my “comfort zone” so-to-speak. Gear, which after careful analyzing I would recommend most take a look at if ones taste, might run on the more neutral analytical side. With of course, the ability to tune almost to their hearts content. Good stuff.
     
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  2. glassmonkey
    4.0/5,
    "RHA DACAMP L1: Flexible like a yogi [with the right headphones]"
    Pros - Good tonality, 12 steps of treble and bass adjustment, lovely volume knob, pairs well w/ RHA CL1 and CL750, DSD256, fantastic sound when fed by a DAP
    Cons - Balanced output impedance (4.4Ω), soundstage comparatively somewhat small, amp too weak for hungry cans, USB issues,volume knob w/ sensitive IEMs
    14/02/2017

    14/02/2017

    List price: £399.00 ($499)

    Acknowledgment

    Thanks @RegularIan (formerly known as @RHA Iain) and Niketa of @RHA Team for sponsoring this wonderful tour and giving me the honour of overseeing and organizing the UK leg. Thanks to all the people on the tour before me for putting in such wonderful performances. I was provided the DACAMP L1 as a sample at the end of the tour. This review was originally published here

    Introduction

    I first met Iain, formerly of RHA, at the Cambridge UK HeadFi meet. Iain joined us for a meetup and listening session in the TraveLodge and joined us at a restaurant for beer and vittles, in addition to giving us a listen to the pre-production RHA T20 during the meet. That pre-production RHA T20 was really piercing in certain parts of the treble—I think our feedback from the meet helped make the RHA T20 more approachable. You’re very welcome world. :wink:

    RHA is the acronym for Reid Heath Audio, a Scottish company out of Glasgow that has been producing headphones since roundabout 2012. The headphones are designed in Scotland and manufactured in China, because China kicks butt at manufacturing of all qualities and costs a whole lot less than Western manufacturing. You couldn’t get RHA’s build quality for double the price or more if it were manufactured in Scotland. RHA is known for a tendency towards fun sounding headphones that lean towards bright. They also have ridiculous warranties.

    Since that Cambridge meet, RHA has taken the world by storm. I personally have reviewed the s500i and the ma750, both excellent headphones with stellar build quality. I first heard about the DACAMP L1 when it was still strictly confidential, but didn’t get to try it out till after all the UK tour folks finished their reviewing—that’s six months’ wait. In this review we’ll see if the DACAMP L1, RHA’s first step into the source arena, lives up to the reputation of its headphone predecessors.

    I think it is valuable for readers to know as much about their reviewers as possible, so in the interest of full disclosure check out my about me (in the linkie).

    Useability: Form & Function

    I’ve reviewed a lot of DAC/Amps and DAPs, and I’ve generally found that they sound good, but some do sound better than others.

    The DACAMP L1 comes in a stunning box with individual compartments for every piece, and loads of manuals. This thing is really planned for worldwide dissemination, loads of languages of instructions. I like this, but wonder if this couldn’t have been done as an online thing.

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    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Build quality (physical characteristics)

    The overall aesthetic of the DACAMP is industrial. The DACAMP L1 has a nice looking shape to it, but I think I would have preferred a flat edge instead of the rounded edge. Sometimes the best use of space is to have a DAC on it’s side. With the current design, this isn’t really possible without making the gain and tone controls inaccessible.

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    I like the volume knob. It has a good knurled feel and the labelling is helpful for knowing what kind of volume you are outputting. It turns really smoothly and I like its orientation. Others have complained that they would like the volume to increase by turning away from the top of the device; however, given my primary use on a desktop, the DACAMP L1’s current orientation allows me to post a finger on the top of the player and turn towards it in kind of a pinching motion. It feels really comfortable to me that way and allows really sensitive adjustments.

    The tone controls and much of the outer part of the device are made of a smooth silken plastic. The smooth lines of the DACAMP L1 are interrupted by a vertical seam in the plastic near the headphone outputs showing where two piece of plastic meet. This isn’t the design choice I would make on a device being sold as premium. I’ve seen the choice of plastic on a number of cheap headphones. It feels silky, but my experience with it being used on inexpensive devices makes the DACAMP L1 feel inexpensive. It may just be me. I think Sennheiser used a similar plastic on their latest Bluetooth headphone.

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    I had a lot of problems with the USB micro input. This thing is picky on cables because of the deep inset of the USB micro slot—it’s kind of drilled into the face of the plastic and recessed. I had to frequently re-adjust cables that fit and some cables just didn’t work with the device. My recommendation is to stick with the included cable and take it everywhere with you, at least you can be confident it will work. A half millimetre less depth would have made all the difference. I had three USB cables not work at all. I had the best success with Anker cables, followed by my LH Labs Lightspeed USB Micro, but the latter required having it sit perfectly. The included USB cables worked. However, I found that my phone had decreased battery life when attached to the RHA DACAMP L1. It would be nice if the phone’s battery was left completely alone. If you hook up the phone after powering on the unit, you’ll use a lot of battery power from your phone quickly. Make sure your follow the instructions in the manual and hook up everything before powering the unit on; power drain is still there, but much more reasonable.
     
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    I had no problem connecting the DACAMP with my Android phone or any Windows computer (Windows 7 and 10). On my Note 2 (gawd it’s ancient), I was unable to get Tidal to play through the DACAMP L1, but music on my phone played beautifully. I noticed that the volume was much louder when playing from Android than when playing from my Windows 10 laptop. I don’t know the reason, but it is mildly annoying, as it messes up conclusions on the amplification a bit. How powerful the amplifier is depends on the source for me.


    Audio quality

    I listened to several headphones with the DACAMP, including the new RHA CL1 and CL750. I won’t be analysing those in this review much, as they will be getting their own reviews and will be paired with the DACAMP L1 in those. For this review I used the Noble Kaiser 10 Encore (K10E) with Effect Audio Ares II+ balanced cable and adaptors; as well as the HD600 with WyWires Red balanced cable with adaptor, and the Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered (UERR) in balanced (Ultimate Ears stock balanced cable) with an adaptor.

    The best pairings I had with the DACAMP L1 were with decidedly non-neutral headphones, the Meze 99 Classics (balanced cable, does reduce bass distortion), and the RHA CL1. The Meze 99s are bass heavy with forward mids, and the DACAMP L1 sounds a touch more forward in the mids than my neutral reference (the Aune M1S). It’s a really strong pairing for tracks with strong bass and vocal components. Listening to some 2Pac, God Bless the Dead just thunders and rolls out of the DACAMP L1 and the Meze 99 pairing. Layering of vocals is clearly and beautifully rendered. That’s some serious hip-hop potency. How do you want it?

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    Just like that if you are a fan of hip-hop. What’s more, low gain and a volume setting of 2 drives the crap out of the Meze 99, I had to listen lower on some tracks. It sounded fantastic with hip-hop and dynamite with the chiptune reveries of Anamanaguchi. I highly recommend this highly coloured pairing. It’s a bitch slap to your ears just when you need it.

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    When I listened with the Meze 99 Classics with the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label (link is to the review), I found that I like a bit of treble boost to balance out the bass a little. You can do that on the DACAMP L1 too. There are of course trade-offs between the two. The DACAMP L1 is legitimately portable, but the iDSD Black Label has way more power and is a more flexible device that can drive sensitive IEMs all the way up to big cans without any hiss or distortion.

    The DACAMP L1 is just made for the RHA CL1. These products were obviously tuned together. Some have observed scooped out mids on the CL1, but it didn’t feel that way on the DACAMP L1. They are a touch recessed, but still have good presence. I like the sound of the CL1, period, but I like it best out of the DACAMP L1.

    I gave the DACAMP L1 a run through with the Aune M1S feeding it using the DACAMP only as an amplifier, and the reports of it not sounding as good as an amplifier are widely exaggerated. The amplifier was clear and well defined with the UERR on low gain. The image cast was a little bit improved from the Aune M1S alone or the DACAMP L1 alone. I think the M1S essentially acted as a pre-amp, which gave greater stage and clarity to the presentation. It is quite possible that other folks are hearing their sources' line-outs exposed.

    Positive things I noted on sound:

    1. No hiss with Noble K10E on single ended, which is a surprise given the 2.2Ω output impedance
    2. Excellent clarity and instrument separation
    3. Good range of gain for IEMs, including high impedance IEMs like the CL1 and CL750
    4. Volume control is smooth and distortion free
    5. Tone controls provide meaningful adjustments from subtle to really noticeable.
    6. The bass boost is potent (bassheads will be happy)
    7. The treble adjustment is equally noticeable. For those wanting a sharper treble, you’ll get it with the adjustments.
    8. Turning treble and bass down works, too, but is more subtle than the boosts.
    Things I wasn’t so happy about:

    1. Volume swings are too large with my resident low impedance sensitive IEM, the Noble K10E. It was very hard to volume match—like doing the micro-adjustments necessary to get the precise perfect temperature in a shower (I’m finicky on water temperature).
     
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    1. It doesn’t have enough juice to do an adequate job with the HD600. There is no way that it will adequately drive 600Ω cans. Maybe it can do 600Ω iems, but I highly doubt it. That spec is straight up false. There is no reason to set unknowing people up for disappointment like that.
    2. 4ohm output impedance on the balanced headphone output makes many headphones not an option in balanced mode. I opened up my custom adaptor to see if something was wrong when listening to the Noble K10E out of the balanced jack. Unfortunately, I was clumsy and now have to have the adaptor repaired.
    3. The single ended jack doesn’t sound as good as balanced with headphones with appropriate impedance. I tested this using the CL1 with the balanced Ag4 cable and a custom made 4-pin mini XLR to 3.5mm TRS (single ended) adaptor with volume matching. The stage width and imaging are better on Amber Rubarth – Tundra in balanced.
    4. Mids are a little forward on the amp

    Comparisons

    Comparisons were done using the UERR for reference, volume matched at 72dB. I’ve since discovered that I was lowering too much for the UERR, 76dB is about right; however, because I was comparing sources, not headphones, it didn’t matter for this comparison. I find that the UERR is louder in ear than universals, which I usually match at 78dB. I made comparisons to the Aune M1S, HiFiMan SuperMini and iBasso DX50 in single ended mode. White noise is random, so there isn’t a set dB level, which means that my dB measurements are objectively monitored but subjectively averaged over a period of observation. I also compared the balanced operation of the Aune M1S and HiFiMAN SuperMini to the single ended operation of the DACAMP L1 using a 2.5mm  TRRS to 4-pin min XLR adaptor and a DIY 2.5mm TRRS to 3.5mm TRRS adaptor made by my friendly local wire and amp wizard. I have the UERR official Ultimate Ears balanced cable. I also made comparisons using the Noble K10E with the Effect Audio Ares II+ balanced cable using the same adaptors. Comparisons using the K10E were done with volume matching at 78dB, my standard listening level. The table below gives my settings information. I give this information so that people can replicate my observations, this removes some subjectivity, which is a good thing.

    DAPHeadphone[sup]6[/sup]Gain setting Volume

    DAP number (~dB)
    Single Ended
    RHA DACAMP L1[sup]1[/sup]UERRLow~1.9 (72.4)
    Aune M1S (firmware 1.03)[sup] 1[/sup]UERRMiddle70 (72.0)
    HiFiMAN SuperMini[sup]1[/sup]UERR--21 (72.5)
    RHA DACAMP L1[sup]1[/sup]Noble K10ELow~1.75 (78.1)
    Aune M1S[sup]1[/sup]Noble K10ELow78 (78.2)
    RHA DACAMP L1RHA CL1High~2.2 (78.0)
    Aune M1SRHA CL1High77 (78.1)
    RHA DACAMP L1Meze 99 ClassicsLow~2.2 (78.0)
    Aune M1SRHA CL1Middle78 (78.1)
    Balanced
    RHA DACAMP L1[sup]2[/sup]Noble K10ELow~1.9 (78.1)
    Aune M1SNoble K10ELow69 (78)
    HiFiMAN SuperMini[sup]3[/sup]Noble K10E--16 (77.2)
    RHA DACAMP L1UERRMiddle~1.9 (72.1)
    Aune M1SUERRMiddle58 (71.8)
    HiFiMAN SuperMini[sup]3[/sup]UERR--18 (72.3)
    RHA DACAMP L1RHA CL1High~2.1 (78.0)
    RHA DACAMP L1[sup]4[/sup]Sennheiser HD600High3.1 (78.1)
    HiFiMAN SuperMiniSennheiser HD600--27 (77.7)
    Aune M1S[sup]5[/sup]Sennheiser HD600High74 (78.1)
    UERR Ultimate Ears Reference Remastered, K10E Noble Kaiser 10 Encore

    [sup]1[/sup]With Venture Electronics 2.5mm TRRS to 3.5mm TRS adaptor

    [sup]2[/sup]2.5mm TRRS to 4-pin mini XLR adaptor

    [sup]3[/sup]With Venture Electronics 2.5mm TRRS to 3.5mm TRRS adaptor

    [sup]4[/sup]With 4-pin XLR to mini 4-pin XLR adaptor

    [sup]5[/sup]With XLR to 3.5mm TRRS and 3.5mm TRRS to 2.5mm TRRS adaptors

    [sup]6[/sup]UERR with Ultimate Ears stock 2.5mm TRRS cable, Noble K10E with Effect Audio Ares II+ 2.5mm TRRS, CL1 both with Ag4 and Ag4 plus mini 4-pin XLR to 3.5mm TRS, Meze 99 Classics with stock 3m cable

    I am the adaptor king!

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] 31912230414_988f3e9411_b.jpg
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Whilst testing I observed that the single ended and balanced were likely the same power, as HeadFi’s @Brooko has previously measured, but that my 2.5mm to mini-4pin XLR adaptor likely adds a small amount of impedance, as observed by the volume levels on the UERR out of single ended and balanced. I may want to make a new adaptor or buy RHA’s adaptor when they get around to releasing it. However, I was able to confirm from RHA that the output impedance of the balanced output is 4.4Ω, which is totally inappropriate for most IEMs and caused audible distortion on the Noble K10E. There is simply no need to have such high output impedance as increasing damping factor has universally positive effects on sound by reducing the potential for distortion. Generally, output impedance should be as low as you can possibly make it. 2.2Ω is high, 4.4Ω is inappropriate for most IEMs but may be okay for a good variety of full-size headphones.

    For the comparisons below, the DACAMP L1 was fed with the following signal chain:

    Dell Vostro — LH Labs Lightspeed 2G — iFi Micro iUSB3.0 — LH Labs Lightspeed 1G Micro — RHA DACAMP L1

    Observations about amp power should be taken with a grain of salt, because I did observe that when I used my phone as a source the volume levels were higher. For instance, fed from the above chain the gain was set to high for the RHA CL1, but from my phone the gain for the CL1 was low. I don’t understand why there would be a difference, but this is what I’ve observed.

    Aune M1S

    The M1S destroys the DACAMP L1 and the SuperMini when listening to Fleetwood Mac – Dreams with either the UERR or the K10E. The DACAMP L1 has a smaller stage and lower detail resolution. The M1S strikes me as an excellent neutral reference. I had similar observations listening to the Noble K10E with Pixies – Where Is My Mind. The soundstage is bigger in all dimensions and the sound has greater clarity in single-ended. I couldn’t do a fair balanced connection comparison as the balanced output jack has far too high impedance at 4.4Ω for the K10E. In my experience doing volume matched comparisons between single ended and balanced on the M1S, the balanced connection is clearer, with even bigger soundstage, so I would anticipate a more severe beating but can’t do more than predict due to lack of empirical observation. This isn’t really a contest.

    I also tested the M1S with the CL1, and it does an excellent job of driving it, so it’s capability to drive more demanding IEMs matches the DACAMP L1. The single ended output of the M1S outperforms the DACAMP L1 with the CL1. When I switched to balanced, it was closer, but the M1S was still sonically superior with the stage feeling more natural and the details being more discrete on the M1S. The M1S also sounded slightly better with the HD600 and Dragonforce—this really surprised me. It didn’t have quite enough grunt on bass, but the treble was well articulated and the soundstage was bigger than the DACAMP L1. On paper, the M1S shouldn’t do even acceptable with the HD600, given its power output, in practice, it sounded okay, but not nearly as good as the SuperMini.

    HiFiMAN SuperMini

    The SuperMini drives the HD600 much better than the DACAMP. When playing Dragonforce – The Fire Still Burns, the SuperMini gives a full, clean, dynamic sound with a good size soundstage. The DACAMP L1 sounds closed in and muffled. The soundstage is miniscule—like listening to IEMs. It simply doesn’t have enough power to do a good job with the HD600. The HD800 is easier to drive than the HD600, but I can’t see the DACAMP L1 having enough for the HD800 either—at least not out of my computer. The power I get out of the HD600 predicts a poor showing with the HD800, but I don’t have it on hand (big caveat!). In my experience with switching between amps for the HD600 and HD800, I’ve found that if an amp does really poorly with the HD600 it does poorly with the HD800 and vice versa. The DACAMP L1 does poorly with the HD600. You get sound, but that isn’t saying much. I get sound for the HD600 out of my laptop headphone out.

    With the Noble K10E, the SuperMini hisses, like many DAPs. It also has some electrical buzzing from time to time, which isn’t good. I don’t recommend the K10E with the SuperMini.

    Specifications

    Every manufacturer has some advertising copy and specs that they provide to the public. Sometimes the copy is informative, sometimes it is just adspeak. Here’s a summary of the useful stuff that RHA had to say about the DACAMP L1 on their website:

    1. High-Resolution Audio certified by Japan Audio Society
    2. Fully balanced circuit configuration
    3. 12 step bass and treble control (-3dB to 9dB) for personalized sound
    4. Compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, Linux and Windows (driver required)
     
    Specifications 
    Price£399 ($499)
    DAC chip(s)Dual ESS SABRE[sup]32[/sup] ES9018K2M DAC chips with dual class AB amplifiers
    Output power16Ω 300mW; 300Ω 28mW
    Output impedance2.2Ω on single ended, 4.4Ω on balanced headphone output
    Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise0.0018%
    Dynamic Range111dB
    Input connections3.5mm line in, USB A (for iOS), USB micro-B, mini-Toslink optical
    Output connections3.5mm line out, 3.5mm headphone out, 4-pin Mini XLR (balanced) headphone out
    Headphone impedance recommendation12Ω - 600Ω
    Battery4000mW, ~10hr life
    Format supportPCM 44.1-384kHz (16, 24, 32 bit); DSD64-DSD256 (single to quad DSD)
    Dimensions118 x 73 x 20mm
    Weight233g
    Warranty3 years

    Conclusions

    I highly anticipated the DACAMP L1 and performed pretty darn well, it just got sonically beat by something less expensive. What the DACAMP L1 does as a package is unique in truly portable DACs, providing treble and bass controls that have both cuts and boosts, a wide variety of inputs and outputs, compatibility with all OS’s and specific design features to simplify implementation, and playing DSD256 and PCM384 (Cozoy REI also does this). The DACAMP performed admirably, but the soundstage was rather not terribly impressive and the overall power of something sold as necessary amplification didn’t sell me too much. I really wanted to see it pull HD600 power out, but didn’t expect it to given its modest specifications. The 4.4Ω impedance caused distortions to the sound of the Noble K10E in balanced mode, and that high output impedance rules out using sensitive headphones in balanced mode with an adaptor.

    Overall, the DACAMP L1 is a competitive package that feels like it falls just a little short of other options out there in a similar price range. If given the choice, I’d take the iFi iDSD Black Label over the RHA DACAMP L1 every time, even with the higher cost and large footprint. Right now, I’m perfectly happy with the Aune M1S, which bested it on overall audio quality, but it isn’t nearly as multipurpose as the DACAMP L1.
     
    [​IMG] 
    jinxy245 likes this.
  3. Delance26
    3.5/5,
    "L1 of Largiloquent"
    Pros - Wonderfully packaged, Great build, Nice functions
    Cons - Overly sensitive volume dial, balanced output noise, user-interface learning curve
     I am a 24-year-old science teacher, which means I am poor and like to find headphones that offer an excellent value.  When I first started my “audiophile” (I tend to not like that term, rather all things audio lover) hobby I generally was akin to a more laid back, warm signature.  I do still love that signature in a pair of headphones but have recently developed a taste for treble in the past year or so. 
    I listen to just about every genre of music, especially singer-songwriter, and music scores.  I do, however, listen to many contemporary pop artists and some rock music.  I always make sure to listen to a wide variety when reviewing headphones, but bear in mind everyone has their own unique tastes!
    When looking at headphones there are a few things I value over others.  Those things being: are they well-built, are they comfortable enough that I can wear them for long periods, and can I appreciate the sound they provide (which is extremely subjective).  
    Hello, Head-Fi! I am one of the members who was lucky enough to be selected to review the three newest products from RHA here in North America.  These products are the CL750, CL1 Ceramic, and the Dacamp L1.  Today you will be reading about the CL750.
     
    Disclaimer: The CL750 were provided to me as a part of the North American Review Tour by RHA.  I have been given 10 days to listen to and then write a review where I will pass them along to the next reviewer.  My opinions written in this review are just that, mine.  They do not reflect RHA as a company.  I am receiving no monetary compensation for this review.
    I will apologize upfront: no pictures for the CL1, there was a terrible tragedy in which those photos got deleted, and I have since passed the RHA trio onto the next reviewer.  Luckily for you, dear reader, other reviewers have wonderful photography skills and have already taken amazing photos!
     
    Introduction:
    My first introduction to RHA was about a year ago when they first released their first micro driver IEM, the s500i.  I found them a superb value at their price point, even though they had a pretty strong v-shaped sound and poor isolation.  I was also not too fond of their fit.  The Dacamp L1 is the companies first foray into the amp/dac market.  Continue reading to listen to my impressions!  I will keep this review short as I understand your time is precious and I will simply go over the highlights.  Message me if you want to know more details!
     
    Build:
    The L1, much like all RHA products, is very well built and sports a rugged utilitarian design.  It has a solid aluminum body that gives it a weighty heft in the hand.  The nobs and ports are all satisfyingly articulate and feel well built.  It is clear that great care and attention was given when assembling the L1.  This is the general tendency of RHA.
    The L1 features three dials on the side that offer treble, bass, and gain adjustment.  They are labeled on the side like a book binding.  On one of the upper sides of the L1 you will find various input ports, whereas the side across from it has the outputs.  This is pretty straight forward.  For the inputs there is a nob that can be switched to whichever setting you need, depending on your input.  I found it slightly confusing and certainly needed to consult the manual to determine which was best. 
     
    Sound:
    The sound of this amp/dac is not neutral.  It has a very warm bass through and through.  If you are looking for a clean sounding amp/dac this is not the device for you.  If you have a pair of headphones like the T70p that is fairly neutral, then these will pair wonderfully.  It really brought the lower end forward is abounded amazing with the T70p
    Pairing these with the two new RHA products, the CL1 and CL750, was as you would expect: a good pairing.  It comes as no surprise that the New IEM’s from RHA also pair well with their new amp/dac.  It gave both the CL750 and CL1 a robust low end, but plenty of sparkle to keep the details.  The pairing was a pleasant listen
    The balanced output was well done. It provided an even better sonic experience doe the CL1.  While it did provide a good listening experience it could only be used on the medium gain.  This was because there was a high pitch hum sound when it was on the low gain setting.  This only occurred while in the balanced output and on low gain.  As soon as it was switched to medium the noise vanished and the sonic abilities restored.  Since no other reviewers have noted this I am thinking it could be unique to my review unit.  My assumption would be that it is not present in all cases.
     
    Comparisons:
     
    L1 (549) vs m9XX (499):
    The best comparison I can make for these is the Grace Design m9XX.  This is my current go to desktop set-up which also provides decently small footprint.  The L1 is about the same size as far as total desktop space, although it is a little slimmer in profile.  It also features a battery so in truth it is far more portable than the m9XX.  This gives the L1 an advantage for mobility.  The L1 also has an equalizer which allows you to customize your sound a bit more than the m9XX so that is a benefit as well.
     
    At this point, you are probably thinking I am giving the victory to the L1, but it is not that simple.  Sonically, the m9XX wins easily in my book.  This is simply because it has a much cleaner sound, and a far superior volume nob.  The nob in the L1 super sensitive and I found too difficult to make minor adjustments. 
    So, what is my verdict? Answer: it depends on your needs.  If mobility is your primary focus, then the L1 is your best choice.  If sound and simple usability is your focus, then the m9XX should be your choice.  This, of course, is assuming you are deciding between these two.  Another wonderful contender is the Mojo, but I do not have one so I will leave those comparisons to those that do!
     
    Conclusion:
    Overall the L1 is a great Dac/amp.  I think it is priced a little high, but it does offer plenty of features and has a good sound presentation.  I think it will be a good fit for those who enjoy a warm sound, or want to warm-up some of their headphones.  I think if it was priced at 449 instead of 549 it would be a better value and be more competitive with the Mojo and the m9XX.
    Considering this is RHA’s first attempt into the amp/dac world I am pretty impressed. They have established a wonderful first product and I am eagerly awaiting to see what they do next.  I enjoy seeing companies continue to push the envelope and trying out new things.  This is, after all, how great new products and ideas are born!
    I would like to thank RHA again or selecting me for the tour. It was a wonderful time filled with wonderful music. 
     
    Until the next time, happy listening!

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