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This makes sense, DX200 could have been a better pairing but I sold it.
My N10 impression will be released tonight. Review to be released later on depending on what I hear from N10.
I've used Witch Girl 12 with my 3-year-old Toxic Cables Virus in the last 4 weeks and the result is very positive.
Though the soundstage width has been a bit narrower and less sparkly treble than the stock cable but the mid has been brought more forward, larger, and more robust. The upper bass gets faster and punchier.
Especially, after listening through the WG12+Virus for extended periods of time, I don't get any ear fatigue.
Last week I went to a shop in Bangkok to try some aftermarket cables pairing with the WG12. I tried Labkable Pandora, Effect Audio Lionheart (with PSquared plug), and Dita Truth Cable with Awesome Plug.
I love heavy metal so during the listening session I used just one song for the comparison, Trivium - Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis. The DAP I used was AK240SS (SE only). I swapped the cables just with the demo unit (with Spinfit tips), my WG12 stuck with the Virus and the black tips, so the results from the two WG12 may not be consistent.
The Pandora was the best (for me), it has amazing dynamics with richer mid and upper bass. The drums hit harder and the lead vocalist seemed to be more muscle. The treble was crisp and clean with a lot more energy than the Virus.
With the Lionheart, WG12's soundstage got narrower both the width and the depth and less transparency. The treble was on the same level as the Virus but very powerful. The overall sound was neutral and natural with good details, impressive.
I think WG12 with the Truth was not a good pairing. This combination sounded dull with narrow soundstage width while maintaining good depth. But I really love the Awesome Plug, it's really awesome.
If money was no object for me, I'd be a no-brainer to go for the Pandora. Ideally, the Pandora with the Awesome Plug but that'd be impossible.
The Lionheart was a very good cable and very light. For the Truth, IMHO I think it should be paired with some other bright earphones e.g., Noble Kaiser Encore and CA Andromeda.
I'm just a noob so these impressions are just my two cents.
I'd like to thank you Munkonggadget for letting me using these cables for hours.
Great impression share
Below will be just a brief impression of the N10. For now I have had around 30 hour of head time and the unit has aged for 80 hours. I feel the unit will most likely improve in time due to the capacitors used and the full review will come in later unknown time (once I feel the sound hasn’t altered).
I have divided my impression into three sections and a conclusion.
Section 1) Amp
The amplifier section of this product for me is its strong point. I tested this by pairing it with products like LPG, chord HUGO, calyx M and in all testing I found an improvement in sound. The pairing that stand out the most was Lotoo Paw Gold( LPG).
As stand alone LPG is quiet a powerful product however with certain IEM I found the sound a little aggressive. Paired with N10 the background noise became quieter, dynamic improved and soundstage just expanded.
What I really like about N10 is its ability to accept single ended input and output in balance. It is a good feature to have for those who already invested in high quality 2.5mm TRRS cable but still like to use their favourite single ended sources.
Section 2) Internal DAC of N10
N10 also has the ability to be used as a stand-alone product. Its internal DAC can bypass its amp section which shutdown automatically once it detect lineout 3.5mm jack is used. I find N10 internal DAC rather warm and slightly skewed towards a rolled off treble.
The internal DAC sounds like your typical AKM, or better say if you like AKM DAC chips you should like this no problem.
To test the DAC lineout I used a variety of single ended amp ranging from 200 to 1200 USD. Across all pairing the warm tonality emerged. My KSE1500 is on loan and once I have it I will provide a summary of how that paired with KSE1500. KSE1500 is a great way to test any DAC due to its transparent and revealing nature.
Section 3) N10 as all in one unit
In short N10 as all in one unit provides a neutral to warm sound. In terms of background noise it is will provide hiss to sensitive IEM like CK100pro and Ultrasone IQ but it is no way as bad as AK70. To me it is less noisy than Chord Mojo if that is any help.
In terms of finding a DAP that comes close to N10 it reminds me of Venturecraft Valoq with Muses 02 opamp. I regard Valoq highly for what it is and like Valoq Aroma N10 has its own particular quirkiness. For instance USB input will effect the sound. Going from Walkman NWZ-A15 to WM1A to dpx1 the improvement in sound was noticeable. Also if you hope to connect it with your entire favourite daps and be able to play all your files at this stage I have to say it isn’t universal. Native DSD isn’t possible with N10 however DoP is but not on all devices will allow DoP. With DP-X1 it works rather flawlessly however I was not able to DSD output from any of my Walkman.
Compared to Mojo the cymbal crush sound less natural on N10 where as with Mojo it is more natural and more vibrant. However when I feed the lineout of Mojo to N10 the cymbal detail remains and the soundstage just improves substantially and the biggest improvement is the background noise that is quiet distracting when only using Mojo as a stand-alone. Maybe the sub-bass mid-bass on single ended becomes slightly exaggerated when using N10 as an amplifier feed by Mojo but from balance out of N10 that is nowhere to be heard.
In terms of comparing N10 single ended and balance out regardless on whether it is used as stand alone unit or as an amplifier the bass becomes more firm and not as wet compared to single ended. If you were to use N10 do yourself a favour and buy a 2.5mm balance cable else your aren’t getting the best of what you have paid for.
What really attracts me towards N10 is how quiet it is in terms of background noise. It is outperforms Mojo and HUGO in terms of background noise.
So what I think of N10, well I feel N10 is a well thought out product and a brilliant first attempt as DAC/AMP combo that companies much larger than Aroma Audio fail to even come close (looking at you sony with your PHA-1A, denon with your DA-10 and I could go on).
It is a product that is well thought out and based on what it engineers promise it offers what it is promised but just like all product of it is size it is a product of compromise. It promises to reduce noise by having a product that only has the section that it uses have turned on and it delivers on that promise however to me it is a product that designed based on perhaps prioritise certain designs over other. I feel Aroma ensure this product offers an excellent amplifier section and DAC is perhaps as fully optimize as it can be for the available space left on the PCB board. I justify this judgement by noticing how sound can improve when I use N10 as an amplifier alone. And alternatively how N10 can sound better paired with something like LPG compared to its own internal DAC.
Another compromise is perhaps not having space to provide a gain switch option for users. I like to be able to change the gain; it gives me more control over the sound. But N10 is a portable device and I don’t see my self taking my HD800s out and about anytime soon.
Built wise Aroma has done a good job with the housing however there are certain things that can be improved on. The volume wheel rotates easily when you don’t want it and at times it is hard to rotate (when you have wet fingers). The numbers on the volume wheel is already fading away, the front jacks aren’t aligned perfectly and while such things aren’t something that will affect the sound I expect better for a product of such price and sound.
If Aroma audio can release a future product based on just the amplifier section of n10, using a 4.4mm balanced out as well as 2.5mm out I think it should be a popular amp. The amplifier section alone justifies the purchase of N10.
Very nice. Thanks for sharing your impression. I've heard the Valoq as well, and when you said the N10 is comparable to it, that's pretty impressive The Valoq has an excellent sound quality, I like how instruments are each well-separated and sound so natural. The background noise is non-existent, output signal is clean and of high resolution. The only thing I dislike is its GUI, and build/design.
I wonder if Aroma will someday release a player. It would be great if they do, knowing the quality they have with their amp. Even without a GUI, like Tera or Nuansa P1 player, I think it would be a great addition to the player market.
I am glad you have found it useful. I really do like valoq however I can't use it with all of my gears simply because I there are a lot of background noise and grounding issues that becomes more obvious once you use it. I also do agree with you regarding the UI but if you know what you want, that is you browse based on album name not album arm, it is quick to get to it.
I wish your team many success and I can't wait to see what else you guys are working on.
Just want you guys know that, the whole Witch Girl Series got awarded by VGP committee today.
I am using Wagnus Sieve Sheep with the WG12 right now. The combination sounds great. The Sieve Sheep doesnt bright up the sound much even though it's clear the the clarity is increased, the bass hit even harder, but the bass body remains the same. At least Sieve sheep pairs better with the WG12 than effect Leonidas (too much mid bass) and AK Crystal cable (not much improvement over the stock and less bass impact than the Sieve sheep).
I wish I have a chance to try the Wagnus (Thunderer Wand) Shanti with the WG12 in the future, the cable should be an amazing match.
Tomorrow I will start my critical listening period of Aroma Audio N10. I like to normally not to listen to a product for a while to let my brain forget the sound. I have to say all things considered N10 is a very good all in one product, a product that arguably company much bigger than them can't get it quiet right.
I do wish I had the N10 when I had the loaner unit of Aroma Witch Girls, it would be good if those who do own the Aroma Witch Girl to try to pair the N10 and comment on the synergy if times allows them.
Hey guys, 2017 Japan Akihabara Portable Audio Festival is coming this weekend, AROMA will bring new products to it
New IEM series:
Twins(7BA, one switch, two different sound)
PS100 (Portable Power Supply for AROMA A10)
Welcome to stop by our booth