The HiFiMAN HE1000 v2 – a triumph of engineering and sonic performance

Pros: Beautiful sound, good stage, nice timbre, bass improved over v1, unique styling, super comfortable, price to performance, prefer it to the Focal Utopia Cons: included cables don’t look premium, mediocre cable sound quality, could use a practical carrying case, not the Susvara List Price: $2999 Product website: http://store.hifiman.com/index.php/he-1000.html Introduction I’ve been a big fan... Continue Reading →

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 →

Focal Utopia: a detail and instrument separation monster with some limitations

Pros:  detailed, revealing, outstanding depth and instrument separation, punchy engaging listen, speedy like a coked up F1 driver Cons: compact soundstage for a flagship (small width/height), poor accessories, long-term comfort, listening fatigue, $$$$, sensitive to accessory cables (you’ll probably buy at least one) List Price: £3499 (UK, Audio Sanctuary), $4000 globally Product Website: https://www.focal.com/uk/headphones/home/utopia Rating... Continue Reading →

Advanced Alpha: unboxing and initial impressions

I initially met the folks at Advanced at CanJam London 2017. I actually had mixed them up in my head as Advanced Acousticwerkes (AAW), and had them in my schedule for the 2nd day as a must visit. I was confused, but at least I was half right. Advanced surprised me as much as any... 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 →

The HiFiMAN Susvara – a breathtakingly beautiful and breathtakingly expensive headphone

Pros:  Detailed like an electron microscope, mostly flat frequency response, excellent sound stage height/depth/width, layering and instrument separation, incisive speed without excess, impeccable attack and decay, like being there (miniaturised) Cons: $6000, $6000, difficult to drive well (I still don’t know if I did) List Price: $6000 Product website: http://store.hifiman.com/index.php/susvara.html Introduction I’ve been a big... Continue Reading →

The Indulgence Show 2017 (part 1): mythos and metallurgy, controversy and consideration. What’s in a wire?

The Indulgence Show is a veritable feast of aural delights, so leave it to me to spend a substantial part of my time talking to people about wires, probably the most controversial topic in HeadFi. Amidst £100,000 speaker setups and £50,000 headphone setups, I decided to spend my time talking to people about the how,... Continue Reading →

RHA CL750: excellent value, assuming you have a decent amp on your portable gear

Pros:  Stellar build quality, excellent price, comfortable, fantastic quality cable, excellent clarity, good bass control, balanced signature Cons: Hard to drive, average soundstage List Price: £99 ($129) Acknowledgment The RHA CL750 was provided to me in exchange for running the UK leg of the RHA world-wide tour for the release of the DACAMP L1, CL1,... Continue Reading →

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