December 4, 2021 § Leave a comment

Some general comments first. The Wells Audio Dragon sounded excellent with the out-of-the-box settings. Most of my auditioning was on the Focal MG headphones, which are very revealing, and let me tell you, they reveal just about everything right or wrong with a recording.

I found the Schitt Valhalla 2 and the Dragon very close in sound. What the Valhalla lacked was any ability to tune the audio output by the flip of a switch and bring another tube into the circuit. Still, both amps sounded a bit mellower, especially in the mid-range on all recordings. This warm midrange is especially notable with vocalists and acoustics instruments. I found both amps to be accurate in the high frequencies, and there was ample bass.

Listening to the solid-state headphone amps (the output of the FiiO M15, and the output of my MacBook Pro outputting my Roon library through the Questyle M12 was also satisfying. The solid-state amps sounded like the tube amps but lacked the slightest bit of midrange warmth. In my listening tests, vocals always sounded better on the tubed-amps, and I could detect a slight bit more of the sound of the room (reverberation) in recordings done in a large venue.


November 25, 2021 § Leave a comment

Flipping around to the back, there’s a pair of matching single-ended and balanced XLR inputs and outputs, while the panel on the left-hand side can be configured to suit the input requirement of the owner. Because I was able to review the Schiit Asgard 3 with their Multibit DAC input, and because I also have a review unit of Schiit’s own Bifrost 2 DAC in the house, I chose to tick the ‘phono card’ option on this review sample of the Jotunheim 2, which adds 42dB of gain to moving magnet cartridges, and features passive RIAA equalisation. Now I am more than a little bit “into” vinyl listening, but I was also curious to see how Schiit’s phono module performed, and how a phono-equipped Jotunheim 2 might pair with the Bifrost 2 to create a Voltron-like uber digital/analogue control hub for one’s desktop, or even two-channel hifi setup. 

Headamp GS-X Mini Headphone Amplifier Review

November 25, 2021 § Leave a comment

DANATONE Headphone Amplifier Review

November 13, 2021 § Leave a comment

The Head-Space is not for everybody as it is made to order in small quantities, it is designed for the listener who is looking for the best. Dana can custom design one for you specifically for your needs and give you a one-of-a-kind experience. If you are looking for the best in amplification for headphones and speaker amps the Head-Space will not disappoint.

Congratulations to Dana for creating one of the world’s best designs.  After five years of research and countless hours, Dana has completed his Head-Space amplifier and it’s a rock star. An awesome amplifier that always delivers exceptional musicality. Highly recommended.


October 2, 2021 § Leave a comment

This is the biggest difference compared to the TA-10 and TA-20, the xDuoo TA-26 solely relies on tube amplification. It’s not a hybrid system, where the tube is paired with transistors, the xDuoo TA-26 goes all the way. One 6N8P for pre-amplification for ‘exquisite and sweet voice” plus one 6N5P tube for the buffer to provide a “soft and charming” render.

To feed the amp, xDuoo uses a metal polyester film capacitor, ELNA SILMIC(II) ones, all tested to match the capacitance of duct output. The brand advertises “transparent and sweet sound”, coupled with “smooth and warm sound” thanks to the main filter capacitance, provided by NICHICON this time.


September 24, 2021 § Leave a comment

 is small and light. For the form and factor, this may be the most powerful amplifier in sub 200, maybe 300 USD bracket. The amp can dish out 1w into a 32Ω load. This means that the amp is quite powerful and it can feed 90% of the headphones on the market. It also has two gain options, 1x and 4.5x. It also has preamp outputs. You can seamlessly plug your active speakers into the Atom+ and control their volume.

It is also as silent as it gets and has a very low output impedance of just 0.7 ohms. It matches with my multi-driver IEMs without any issues. The noise floor is ridiculously low and I can’t hear any hiss, even with highly sensitive IEMs in my possession. The custom-made potentiometer with hand-matched gangs offers a much better channel balance compared to the previous Atom Amp generation. The Atom line is focused on sheer performance and performance only. JDS aimed for a no-BS amplifier that is easy to operate, hella powerful, and compact. Under hundred dollars, it was crazy at the end of 2018, it is still crazy in 2021. 

SPL Phonitor xe DAC/Headphone Amp Review

September 14, 2021 § Leave a comment


With more intimate recordings, such the Oyster Duo’s Stolen Pearls [Channel Classics CCS 43121; DXD], the ‘zoom’ effect of this control was more comical than satisfying. More useful here was a little increase of crossfeed, dependent on the ‘phones used, to create a more speaker-like impression of an ‘out of the head’ sonic image.

More likely to be set and then left are the two DIP switches built into the underside of the chassis which are marked 1 and 2. Switch 1 increases the gain of the headphone amp, while switch 2 increases the gain (sensitivity) of the analogue line input. I’d suggest these are best left in their ‘off’ position unless you have a line source with a truly feeble output. Moreover, the Phonitor xe has a prodigious output capability, particularly with high impedance headphones, in no small part due to its proprietary VOLTAiR op-amps that operate at a very high voltage.

With this extra headroom on tap, those DIP switch boosters really won’t be needed. I found the Phonitor xe more than capable of driving cleanly well beyond the pain level even with these switches ‘off’.


September 5, 2021 § Leave a comment

I’m not really a powered speaker kinda bloke – I love the more ‘pure’ experience of a dedicated pair of hifi passive speakers, and having the freedom to be able to mix/match/tinker with upstream source gear and amplification. This brings us back to the clutter conundrum – speaker amps, for the most part, aren’t exactly tiny. I have to stack my monitor on either a vintage NAD 3020e receiver or a custom NCore500 stereo power amp (yes, 400 watts per channel is a little overkill) to play my KEF LS50 speakers in my nearfield setup. This is in addition to having a DAC, a proper headphone amp, and occasionally a CD player (sorry, CD’s are awesome) or a turntable (yes, I’m that guy) also fighting for desktop real estate.


August 23, 2021 § Leave a comment

The EX5 reproduces the treble range skilfully, the treble feels accurate, transients are fast and snappy. Just like the rest of the spectrum, the treble range feels dynamic and agile. Detail-retrieval is excellent here as well. This range boosts the perceived clarity of the signature and the EX5 reaches the top octave without getting harsh. The treble carries good detail and definition while presenting the harmonics brilliantly. The EX5 shows great balance throughout the spectrum. The extension is just as good as it is at the lowest notes. Overall, the EX5 has excellent tonality and it stays true to the mastering. 


August 22, 2021 § Leave a comment

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