Wednesday, September 22, 2010

[Short Impression] Hippo Box and GoVibe Single

Here are two additions to the ultra-portable amp’s world, the Hippo Box and GoVibe Single.


In picture (left to right, each row) Travagan's Colors, Hippo Box; GoVibe Derringer, FiiO E3, E5; GoVibe Single, Linearossa W1.

Hippo Box has aluminum housing and about match box size. On the front, there are the input and output jacks, and a blue LED power indicator. There is no power switch; instead the amp turns on automatically once you insert your headphone plug. On the back, there are one gain switch, one bass switch and a mini-USB port (with red LED indicator) for charging only. Power is supplied by an internal Li-ion battery. I didn’t do a battery test but it appears the battery can last well over 10 hours in one charge.

GoVibe Single is basically all plastic. It uses one AAA battery as power source and has an on/off switch and a volume pot on the side. Size wise, it is just a little bigger than a FiiO E3.







Since it lacks a volume pot, connecting the Hippo Box to a line-out is out of question. But overall performance is decent when used as more or less a booster for headphone-out on DAP. On high gain and bass boost on, it adds a little more punch to HifiMan RE0 from a Sansa Fuze. The nice thing about Hippo Box is it doesn’t take away the treble as compared to the bass boost on FiiO E3 and E5. It even compared well to iBasso T4 (with bass boost on) for being a little more transparent. 

GoVibe Single on the other hand is more comparable to the previously reviewed Linearossa W1. Both are powered by just one single AAA battery and the overall performance is similar. They all sound decent from a relatively clean and powerful source (i.e. line-out) but don’t expect to get more volume out of it. From an amplifier standpoint, it is certainly a mystery on why they don’t want to have a higher gain, even just 3dB (1x) is better than nothing.


Next to Sansa Fuze and Nano 4th Gen.

In sum, Hippo Box turns out to be better than I thought for something that doesn’t have a volume pot. It does sound fairly good, but just a little pricier ($109) compared to alternative options in the sub $100 category (FiiO E7, cMoyBB). GoVibe Single’s price ($129) is simply on the high side compare to the similar Linearossa W1 ($89). I would have opted for the cheaper iBasso T3 ($119) instead.

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