June 13, 2022 § Leave a comment

The M7 aims to keep those qualities in a smaller chassis. And I honestly think Shanling managed just that. The new M7 is a wonderful compact player that ticks lots of boxes for an audiophile in terms of balance, separation, power, background and imaging.

The M7 is a balanced and brighter sounding DAP that takes a different route than the M8 and 9. The M8 is a very warm sounding device, whilst the M9 took it to a more balanced path with more space and air with fantastic refinement. The M7 is the least warm of the three, and that makes it sound a bit more analytical than the M9 in terms of presentation. It’s like the difference between the SP2000 and the SE180 (SEM3).

However, in terms of technical performance, it’s not too far away from the M9 with its resolution and transparency. It doesn’t have as much spaciousness and micro-detail as the M9, but the overall difference between the two is not night and day.

FiiO M17 DAP Music Player Review

June 5, 2022 § Leave a comment

iFi Audio xDSD Gryphon Review

April 4, 2022 § Leave a comment

iFi does not disappoint at the sound department as you probably know, and this version of course looked very promising for sound when it was announced. iFi takes the component and circuit design side of things seriously, to give the audiophiles the best sound quality they could offer.

The xDSD was a very clean sounding device overall. It was quite neutral without colouration. The xDSD Gryphon is just a bit different in that regard. It sounds warm and musical with a full-bodied approach. It’s well balanced, resolving and crystal clear with great background blackness. The technicalities are very good and it’s very coherent, consistent and natural, especially in the mids.

The sound is articulated, with a slightly warm and musical presentation. The layering and resolution, together with separation are the highlights of the Gryphon. To me, it’s a very high performing mobile device overall.


April 1, 2022 § Leave a comment

One issue the SP2000T seemed to solve, which was a worry, is microphonic distortion. I mentioned this earlier in my review. If you are familiar with tube gear, just touching a tube will generate a vibration that you will hear as an unpleasant audio signal. I wondered if that would be a problem in a tightly packed device. Turns out, it isn’t. Astell&Kern have come up with a floating magnetic structure for the tube mount, and in my tests, sound emerges from a silent background, even when I tap the case.

Listening in a pure solid-state mode, I found the results hyper-realistic. Again, with rock or some new age, this was not a disadvantage. For example, in the track ‘Disc Wars’ from the Tron: Legacy album, I preferred the solid-state amp sound.

Cayin N8ii Portable Player Review

March 19, 2022 § Leave a comment

Astell&Kern A&ultima SP2000T – Vacuum Tube

March 18, 2022 § Leave a comment


March 13, 2022 § Leave a comment

And, like the previous M11 Plus, you get… typical FiiO sound with gorgeous lows, vibrant voices, and clear highs. That said, the more I got accustomed to this new player, the more I heard how hard-hitting those same highs could get on my usual techno tracklist. It’s not painful or ear-piercing, but it can get damn close, notably if you choose sensible IEMs as I did. 

Head to head against the Shanling M6 Pro 21, those are two very different animals, even if both share an ESS core. The lows are gorgeous, with just the right amount of “oomph”. Even more with the Audeze which, thanks to the super-wide membrane, exerts an almost deafening sound pressure. It goes deep, and the dynamic range seems absolutely insane compared to the total sum of elements you hold in your hand. In that regard, I think that FiiO did the right choice keeping the THX-AA chips as they give, in my opinion, the best bass from any player in this price reach.


March 11, 2022 § Leave a comment

While this DAP supports Bluetooth, I was very happy to see it work as a Roon endpoint over Wi-Fi. I think the audio quality is better than Bluetooth and I love having all my music available on this DAP anywhere in the house.

For many audiophiles, the SP2000T is going to be priced out of their budget. Still, it’s rare to review something that is so feature-complete and not disappointing in some way. Astell&Kern have put a lot of thought into this product. In many ways, I think it is a better and more portable solution to home music listening than being tied to a high-quality headphone amp. For travel, it can’t be topped.


February 26, 2022 § Leave a comment

Now the other aspects are done with, we can focus on the sound output. The Shanling M8 is still a wonderful player and I still recommend it if you can find it at a bargain. However, the M9 takes the M8’s sound and refines it to be incredibly balanced and wide. To be honest, I was expecting this model to be an update in terms of software, design and hardware (CPU and RAM), and I expected to hear a similar sound. I was wrong.

The M9’s sound is like a perfected M8. The mids are cleaner, the stage is wider, layering is better, bass performance has been improved and the player doesn’t sound as warm as the M8. It has better texture and fidelity, with better definition and transparency in mids and treble. This I think is one of the best DAPs you can find in the market right now.

PORTABLE AUDIO for BEGINNERS w/ Spotify, Plexamp, Tidal & Qobuz

February 21, 2022 § Leave a comment

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