The HiFiMAN MegaMini – now in plastic, with a far better $99 price

Pros:  Tiny form factor, excellent build quality, nice looking, good even keeled sound, easy UI and intuitive control scheme, excellent value at $99 Cons: no external DAC, no gapless (on the way?), limited playlist capability, somewhat thin sound, dismal battery life (especially with HiRes) List Price: $99 Product website: http://store.hifiman.com/index.php/hifiman-megamini-high-res-music-player-531.html Rating disclaimer: ratings for audio... Continue Reading →

iFi Nano iDSD Black Label: great genes in this DAC family, wallet happy price

Pros:  Excellent transparent sound, small size, outstanding price, driving power for HD600, iEMatch built in, iPurifier built in, excellent 3.5mm line-out, two good filters, huge format compatibility Cons: Silk-screen writing is damn near impossible to read, doesn’t come with short OTG cable (one would be better than none), doesn’t come with USB3.0 adaptor so not... Continue Reading →

64 Audio U8 – bass over APEX

Introduction I have always been fascinated by bass in music. That’s probably why I always feel a little bit of a fraud when someone calls me an “audiophile”, as my tastes quite often encompass a little more lower end substance than the current fashion for a more lean and mean sound. I can appreciate detail... Continue Reading →

Campfire Audio Andromeda – another stellar constellation from the stargazers at CA

Pros:  Great value, classy metal build and accessory package, superbly balanced tuning, clarity, large and airy soundstage, neutral yet musical Cons: Sharp edges on the shell casing can cause discomfort for some, not for bassheads Introduction Anyone with more than a passing interest in high-end in ear audio gear costing more than $100 will most... Continue Reading →

64 Audio U8 – unboxing and initial impressions

Introduction I have always been fascinated by bass in music. That’s probably why I always feel a little bit of a fraud when someone calls me an “audiophile”, as my tastes quite often encompass a little more lower end substance than the current fashion for a more lean and mean sound. I can appreciate detail... Continue Reading →

IMR Acoustics R1 – unusual ceramic/beryllium hybrid with bags of tone

Pros:  Smooth and organic sound signature, good all metal build, serious bass prowess, nice texture and weight to the sound, smooth and clear treble, very coherent and musical tuning, multiple tuning options with filters, capability to open up the soundstage with the open/closed port mechanism Cons: Not massive amounts of micro-detail, could potentially be a... Continue Reading →

CMOYBB DIY kit by JDS Labs

  Acknowledgement JDS Labs provided me with this kit to build and review.  Big thanks to John for helping to support the DIY ecosystem and make the review possible! Introduction The CMoy amplifier, first published in 2001 by its namesake Chu Moy, is a mainstay of DIY headphone amplification. This humble amp has sailed a thousand... Continue Reading →

Empire Ears Zeus-XR – the pinnacle of the pantheon

Pros:  Sublime detail retrieval, very coherent tuning, switchable crossover modes, mid range clarity and expression, non fatiguing but truly transparent sound, superb build quality Cons: A little on the expensive side, prone to hiss with most sources, not a drastic difference between the two modes on some DAPs, not much else List Price: $2399 (empireears.com) Acknowledgment... Continue Reading →

Empire Ears Athena – unboxing and initial impressions

Introduction At the recent Canjam London expo, I had the privilege of spending some time with @Jack Vang and the team at Empire Ears, working my way through their current and unreleased IEM range. As an owner of the Zeus-XR, I was interested to find out what the rest of their lineup offered in terms... Continue Reading →

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