SOUNDAWARE P1 Headphone Amplifier Review: big power, big performance

Pros:  Powerful (drives Susvara easily), clean neutral sound, transparent, compact, nice construction with no visible screws, attractive smokey glass display top, balanced inputs and outputs alongside single ended inputs and outputs, 2 gain settings Cons: Not very useful as pre-amp due to no remote control, not built for low impedance sensitive IEMs, input selection button... Continue Reading →

Aune S6: warm, thick, impressive low end grunt

Pros:  Full bodied sound, nice information display, balanced inputs and outputs, digital numeric volume display Cons: single-ended sound is foggy, soft treble, only DSD128 (DoP), volume control has no feel to it, could have more bass and treble extension List Price: $569 (Penon Audio, affiliate link) Product Website: http://en.auneaudio.com Rating Disclaimer: ratings are subjective. Audio... Continue Reading →

XIAUDIO (Eleven Audio) Formula S: Power and clarity sublimated

Pros:  Crystal clear, exceptional imaging and depth, resolution and detail (especially bass texture) power for HiFiMAN Susvara, grace for Focal Utopia, excellent outputs, built like a tank Cons: not for low impedance high sensitivity IEMs, price List Price: $3499 Product Website: http://www.theevolutionofsound.com/xiaudio-formula-s/ Introduction Alex Twister introduced me to Michael Xiao, proprietor of Eleven Audio, formerly... 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 →

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 →

Pocket Class A DIY Headphone Amp by XRK971

I crossed paths with XRK971 a few months ago on the diyaudio.com forums as we worked concurrently on Class A single-ended headphone designs. Although we did not collaborate and our parts choices differed, our overall topologies share a strong resemblance. After chatting a bit, we exchanged some parts so that each could hear what the... Continue Reading →

iFi iDSD Black Label: Swiss Army knife utility, top tier sound and flexibility that does everything extremely well, so much value it’s just unfair to the competition

Pros:  enough power to drive an HE-6 while having enough finesse to feed a Kaiser Encore, plays everything natively, flexible inputs and outputs, flexible sound through XBass and 3D that leaves the core of the mids alone Cons: 3D can sound artificial on some tracks, black on black fonts, difficult to see volume knob level... Continue Reading →

iDAC2: an excellent portable performer especially with the iPurifier2

Pros:  Transparent neutral/cold signature, good sound, good value, plenty of outputs, nice soundstage, USB bus powered so no power cable or brick to carry around Cons:  Slight treble emphasis may be off-putting to some, timing imperfect without iPurifier2 List price: $299 Acknowledgment The iDAC2 was provided on loan to me by iFi along with the... Continue Reading →

Airist Audio Heron 5: power and grace in form and function

Pros:  articulate, silky smooth, neutral, black background like the dark side of the moon, power to spare Cons: doesn’t mate well with low impedance phones, no impedance measurements provided for low and high jacks, stepped attenuator volume control lacks sufficient steps and is noisy on step switches List Price: $1000 Acknowledgment Thanks Airist Audio for... Continue Reading →

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