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 →

DIY amps: a roadmap for beginners

So you have decided to take the DIY dive and start building your own headphone amplifiers! If you stick with it, you are going to learn a lot about audio and electronics theory and develop several handy skills in the process. Intention is one thing and action is another though, so now that you have the motivation,... Continue Reading →

Blue Microphones Ella – the new first lady of planar magnetic headphones

Pros:  Crisp and detailed sound, good dynamics, excellent sense of musicality for a “neutral” tuning, exceptional spatial cues, good comfort, onboard amp circuitry to make the driveable by just about anything, ON+ mode for a more “analogue” sound Cons: Unusual headphone construction leaves you feeling like an extra from Dr Who, could do with a... Continue Reading →

The real cost of DIY

We DIY for many reasons. Some DIY because what they are looking for does not exist in the commercial products market (this used to be particularly true of the headphone market). Other DIYers start down the road of building their own equipment because they think they will trade blood, sweat, and tears for dollars saved... 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 →

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