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 →

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 →

Questyle CMA 600i: who needs a stack of components when CMA600i does it all so well? DSD256, fantastic clarity, plenty of drive. Heck yes, I want it.

Pros: Excellent clarity, dead silent noise floor, drives my HD600 as well as my Heron 5, balanced topology, clean pre-amp output, audibly excellent signal to noise ratio Cons: Soundstage could be wider (still average/above average), tiny indicator on volume control List price: £1199 from SCV Distribution or Audio Sanctuary in London ($1,299 in USA from... Continue Reading →

iFi Micro iCAN SE: Powerful, clear, excellent sound with some sonic flexibility

Pros:  enough power to drive the HE-6/AKG K1000/name it to sufficient volume, very good sound, flexibility for different sound preferences, good value Cons: sounds dull without switches engaged, demanding headphones don’t reach potential in spite of copious power, lesser amps may sound better with lower demanding gear Acknowledgment Thanks iFi for lending me this review... Continue Reading →

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