SMSL M300 MKII REVIEW

August 10, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The M300mkII has the AKM4497EQ’s characteristics. It sounds quite balanced across the spectrum. It has this effortless character, where everything happens to fall in its place. Coherency is the real key behind this tuning. Well done. While nailing this, the M300mkII also manages to maintain good control. Sub and bass regions are very tight and punchy. The midrange is very sweet. It has a semi-bold note weight and there’s definitely not lacking any body there. Upper mids are vivid with a pinch of sparkle. The high region however, is gentle. Brilliant clarity and spaciousness helps the dispersion of the high treble very well in the stage. I said gentle but think of it as Astell&Kern kind of gentle, definitely not rolled off kind. PRaT-wise it is also very competent. It can handle fast tracks very well when combined with an equally capable amp. As for the sound stage, you get a wide but not very deep stage. The distinction between the instruments is very clear. There is enough space between them so you can track them with ease. To sum it all up, I really like how the M300mkII is tuned.”

YULONG DA-ART Aquila II $700 Review

July 26, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The synchronous mode is a little closer to the DA10 tuning with a softer overtone and a bit more bass warmth. Also, the upper mids and treble are a little more liquid soundings and not as aggressive.

That is not to say the async mode is brighter but you will find the mids and treble to have a bit more focus and the instrumental timbre a bit cleaner. It also sounds perceptibly the more articulate for percussion which might suit smoother sounding headphones like the Heddphone.”

Astell&Kern Billie Jean Review

July 16, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“A final very useful attribute is the sensitivity. Headphone sockets on mobile phones are a dying breed, but if you do still have one the Billie Jean will go impressively loud from just a small amount of power. Connecting it to Audiolab’s M-DAC Nano (My Oh My 449) demonstrates the same ebullient presentation, but the portable DAC doesn’t help it regain those losses in fine detail. The Billie Jean might not be a true warts-and-all music monitor, but this comfortable and well-made in-ear is a great deal of fun and well worth seeking out at the price”

TOPPING A90 REVIEW

July 10, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The A90 is a fairly simple analogue instrument and requires very little learning to live with – it’s fairly straightforward and intuitive to use. I did scratch my head once or twice wondering why no sound was coming out when I forgot to select the correct ‘RCA’ or ‘XLR’ line-level input, but that’s about it. It’s more of a headphone amplifier with preamp functionality than vice versa – if it were a more comprehensive preamp than perhaps a remote might have been included with perhaps one more input, but hey – you can’t have everything for $499. The volume pot, aside from my earlier comments, has an easily visible white level indicator which is helpful and also important considering that the A90 can put out a scary amount of power into a pair of headphones, or IEMs for that matter. ”

FOCAL ARCHE REVIEW

July 7, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Without a doubt, the most interesting feature of the Arche is its ability to switch between individual preset modes for each of Focal’s range of audiophile headphones. Using the volume dial, the user is able to choose the setting for their headphone of choice, and a unique EQ profile is applied. Using the Stellia, the effect is extremely noticeable – there’s a distinct smoothing of the Stellia’s top-end, and its signature aggression is mildly reigned-in. I’m looking forward to testing-out the Arche with a range of non-Focal headphones to understand whether it’s a worthwhile contender as a do-all, all-in-one unit – it’s features and form-factor are all looking positive so far. The Focal Clear will also be joining the Arche in-house in the next week or so (review on that one also inbound!), so the Clear/Arche pairing will also get a thorough testing. Stay tuned!

xDuoo TA-30 Tube Headphone amp and DAC

July 2, 2020 § Leave a comment

Wells Headtrip II Level II Review

June 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“Another interesting feat was that there was so much detail presented so cleanly and distortion-free that I found myself tending to listen a little louder than usual. This can be both a good and a bad thing, but it’s quite an impressive feat. It also meant that even at my more typical low listening levels, I was treated to tons of dynamics and auditory information that normally might be lost. I listen very quietly typically and it’s a rare trick for any system to be able to stay engaging at these levels, yet be free of absence or harshness when cranked a little higher.

All this is to say that the Headtrip Ref II sounds phenomenal when paired with the right headphones: namely headphones nearly as expensive as itself. When paired with sensitive or efficient headphones, my results as I’ve mentioned were workable, but not particularly useful. In a sense, rather than being a headamp which can drive anything – though technically it can – I think of it as a product designed with cost as no object, and with the singular purpose of sounding exceptional with the most difficult to drive planar magnetic headphones, and perhaps AKG K1000’s if you’re lucky enough to have a pair. In this purpose, the Headtrip is amongst the best I’ve heard, it stacks right up against other monstrously powerful headamps but also brings a level of refinement and sweetness that take it beyond mere technicalities.”

BURSON CONDUCTOR 3XP REVIEW

June 23, 2020 § Leave a comment

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“The Conductor series use the SABRE32/ESS9038Q2M DAC and XMOS USB receiver chips. Its Customised USB driver by Thesycon Germany ensures low latency bit-perfect audio playback. The result is incredible processing power, accurately playing back DSD512 and 38bit/786khz audio. It also features a Qualcomm/CSR8675 Bluetooth 5.0 receiver. Playing back at 24bit/96khz with aptX HD audio codec.

So in short, the 3XP is a trimmed down version of the 3XR unit, with less power, a different power supply and no analogue inputs. Just like the other Conductor models, the 3XP comes with Burson’s special Cool Case technology. Burson likes to turn Class-A amplifiers from monsters with heat-fins into elegant, desktop-friendly machines. The case is made from high-density aluminium and electroplated to space-grey and the Cool Case basically is a unified heat-sink keeping the Class-A Conductor cool and optimized. That means the unit will feel warm, but it’s all normal. ”

xDuoo TA-30 Tube Headphone amp and DAC

June 17, 2020 § Leave a comment

Chord Hugo 2 Long Term Review

May 29, 2020 § Leave a comment

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