December 2017
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Bluetooth Future-Fi: RHA MA650/750 Wireless IEMs

By | December 11th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , |

First world problems? For portable audio idealists, there are many. Buy a nice pair of IEMs and your smartphone won’t do them justice. Offloading music playback duties to a DAP’s audiophile sensitivities brings better sound – sure – means a second device that (almost always) brings with it a backwards step in UX. Adding a portable amplifier – often a third device – waves the white flag on pocketability.

RHA’s MA650 Wireless feature a pair of the Glasgow company’s custom 380.1 dynamic drivers, each housed in an Apple-grade aluminium earpiece.… Read the full article

Custom Art FIBAE 2 Review

By | December 10th, 2017|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , |

Build & Fit8.8
Value For Money9
Our Score
From 475 EUR

There were a few IEMs that caught my “ear” at CanJam Singapore 2017 at relatively affordable levels.

The first was the Nightingale YK1 from Vietnam that we reviewed in mid-2017. The second memorable choice was the FIBAE 2 from Custom Art.

At the time the idea of FIBAE was just that, an idea. With no time to test I probably didn’t quite appreciate how useful the technology could be.… Read the full article

PS Audio ready Redcloud OS, add Spotify & Qobuz support

By | December 8th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The DirectStream DAC is not like other DACs. Instead of a more common off-the shelf DAC chip, PS Audio load an FPGA chip with software coded by one Ted Smith, he of wizard beard and Hawaiian shirt. And like the computer operating systems we use daily, Smith’s DirectStream code is updated semi-regularly – at zero charge to the end user – to bring him/her better sound quality from the DirectStream DAC.

Each software version is named after one of Colorado’s ‘Fourteener’ peaks.… Read the full article

Massdrop x JBL LSR30X Powered Speakers Review

By | December 8th, 2017|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , |

Our Score

I was always a Speakerphile in my younger days. I recall coming home from school and turning on my Pioneer towers that my grandpa gave me and upsetting the neighbors by blasting the Rocky II vinyl album on repeat…ha.

Today, we will be listening to and rating the (Massdrop provided) JBL LSR-305 (Massdrop 30X) powered speakers. I was very thankful to solicit a pair to listen to and enjoy. Let’s see how these 305’s fair against the competition at the $300-500 tier for powered speakers.… Read the full article

Unique Melody Mason V3 Review

By | December 6th, 2017|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , , |

Build & Fit9.5
Value For Money8.5
Our Score

Unique Melody has been extremely proactive in the last 12-18 months with a re-tuned version of just about every CIEM in their lineup including new editions such as the ME.1 The recently announced Mason V3, priced at $2699, is part of a big dual combo launch which also includes the new 12-driver $2099 Mentor V3.

Just to clarify, both Maestro and Mason are in fact the same, just named for different markets.… Read the full article

Look hear: Klipsch announce Heritage headphone amplifier

By | December 5th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , , , |

Behold: the Klipsch Heritage headphone amplifier. Price = US$499.

Headphone enthusiasts will want to know how well this unit pairs up with a range of transducers, from low impedance IEMs to high impedance over-ears. Inside, dual Class-AB TI TPA6120A2 op-amps load the single-ended 6.4mm socket with 810mW and 940mW into 16 Ohms and 32 Ohms respectively.

Thirstier cans will benefit from a move to the 4-pin XLR balanced socket from which those same TI op-amps push 525mW into 16 Ohms / 1440mW into 32 Ohms.… Read the full article

Dreamin’ Man: Neil Young’s archive goes online

By | December 4th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , , |

When it comes to audio quality, Neil Young’s heart has always been in the right place: championing vinyl when the man in the street was cutting over to CD; talking up hi-res audio in a world of MP3; putting the ‘better audio hardware’ conversation under mainstream noses.

Alas, the Canadian rocker’s actualisation of these ideas (ideologies?) have often come up short: withholding albums from CD release; wallet-melting pricing on vinyl releases; pulling his music from streaming services (only to quietly reinstate it a few months later); and most notably allowing the Pono player to buckle under the weight of the hi-res audio debate, instead of promoting it as an SQ-elevator of all formats, MP3 included.… Read the full article

KIH #52 – Nutube

By | December 4th, 2017|Categories: DAR|Tags: , , |

Had I heard a preamp with a Korg Nutube in it? That was np aka Nelson Pass. I had not. But with Google being everyone’s favourite uncle, I had shortly afterwards at least read up on it. Now I knew that a Korg Nutube, not a keyboard, looks like a larger 17-legged opamp but is actually a device with an anode grid filament that operates like a triode and exhibits actual twin- triode curves. Yet it is built by applying vacuum fluorescent display aka VFD tech from Noritake Itron Corp.… Read the full article

QDC Gemini Review

By | December 3rd, 2017|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , , |

Build & Fit9.3
Value For Money8
Our Score
Starts at $1715

Often have I been asked if I am familiar with the Gemini by qdc. It definitely proves to be very popular in the Asian hifi scene, even though it is priced quite high when compared to its national competition.

The Gemini definitely want to be categorized as high-end instead of bang-for-the-buck.

Starting at $ 1.715 plus around $120 for shipping of the universal, you better prepare around $2000 US dollars for your order of the customized version.… Read the full article

Westone UM1 Revised Edition Review

By | December 1st, 2017|Categories: Headfonics|Tags: , , , , |

Our Score

At $99 US dollars, the UM1 is Westone’s entry-level, universal in-ear monitors. They are suited for professionals and consumers alike. If I counted correctly, this is already the third version.

The first UM1 had a transparent shell and a twirled cable, the second version was red and switched to a round cable. This version is grey and for the first time features a removable cable.

Sadly Westone missed remarking the version somewhere so I will just refer to them as “the new UM1.” To my dismay, I am not familiar with the previous versions of the UM1 so I can only review them for what they are and not highlight any differences.… Read the full article