Saturday, September 25, 2010

[REVIEW & MOD] FiiO L6 LOD for Sansa Fuze

Well, I have had this little LOD for a few weeks now.  I got mine from eBay for about US$20 with worldwide free shipping, which is a pretty good deal.

FL6-1.jpg

Business Side of Sony

Do you think you can't affort the new US$700 Sony MDR-EX1000 but really love the design? Here is something more reasonably priced: The new MDR-EX800ST, at MSRP of US$300 and meant for business user in pro-music setting (i.e. recording studio). The spec is very similar to that of EX1000 (but not identical), and it seems this model doesn't have the liquid crystal diaphragm (from the lack of mentioning in the press release). The design does look a little dull compared to the new shiny EX line, but that is traditional to all Sony business-use headphone. Hey it is cheaper, so no complain there.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A New ECCI

A new flagship from the well received Chinese budget IEM and portable amp maker ECCI. This times it is the PR401. The demo units have been sent all over China to the official dealer, It won't be long till it actually hits the market. On a side note, I will be reviewing the PR100, PR200 and PR300 in the near future.

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.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Missed at IFA: Philips SHE9900

Philips announced at IFA Berlin a new flagship IEM, the SHE9900. It will probably replace the 2 years old SHE9850. While the initial MSRP of €150 is on the high side for a pair of single BA these days, you can always counting that the street price to drop significantly after a year or so. Why bother with Philips you might ask? It is because the old SHE9850 is actually quite a good buy when its price drops way below $100. So hopefully we will see the same trend with SHE9900.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Upcoming: Ortofon e-Q5 and HifiMan RE262

Ortofon announced the e-Q5, which seems to feature the same moving armature technology found on the previously reviewed e-Q7. Instead of a successor, this model will be more like a step-down model (and cheaper as well). However, the sound quality is said to be very close to e-Q7, which of course is a good thing. It also has a strain-relief-free design that makes it looks a lot like an earplug, hopefully the cable won't be a problem in use.

Well, we have seen the picture of RE262's prototype before, but this time I have more detail about it: First, it is 150 ohm and doesn't have a particularly high sensitivity, so a portable amp or a high output portable source is needed to get the full potential out. Second, it has a titanium diaphragm and durability enhanced OFC cable. Third, price is estimated to be around US$200~$250. Last, it will start shipping in a week or two.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

[REVIEW] Panasonic RP-HJE70: Blast from the Past

Recently there is a rise of popularity on the Panasonic current in ear flagship, the RP-HJE900 with Zirconia housing, after the price has been dropped to a considerable low point (from the initial MSRP US$190 to the current US$90). Unfortunately for most places outside of U.S., the price remains pretty high. I must confess that I used to be a big Panasonic fans back when they still one of three brands under Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and dedicated to high end audio gears (that is where the ‘sonic’ part of the brand comes from). But after the 90’s, the companies ,which had lost a lot of ground against Sony, decided to depart from high end audio gears and instead focus on mass market products. With Panasonics slowly becomes a brand for household electronic, it also loses whatever meaning the brand used to carry. In recent years however, the company begins to show a new interest in headphones market as portable audio becomes a dominant consumer market. The RP-HJE70 under current review is Panasonic previous flagship before the HJE900. No Zirconia housing it may be, at least HJE70 is more widely available oversea compared to HJE900 and at a sturdier US$55 price tag over eBay. Let finds out more.

HJE70-01.jpg

HJE70-02.jpg

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shure SE315: Yet Another Facelift

Here is another new 'old' Shure with removable cable, the SE315, an update of SE310. As of now, all the original SE series are discontinued, including SE210, SE310, SE420 and SE530. It does seem like Shure is replacing all mid/top end models with removable cable though it is unclear if this will apply to their lower end offering in the future or not. Well, in any case, you can expect SE315's MSRP to be around US$300 US$250

Saturday, September 11, 2010

[REVIEW] Sennheiser MX580 / MX581 – Fraternal Twins, Equally Fabulous

In today’s market, there are not as many manufacturers focus on making good quality earbuds as it used to be. The Japanese, which produced some of the best earbuds ever back on the 80’s and 90’s, have all given into the in-ear trend (or simply given up) and abandoned the idea of investing time and money to the shrinking earbud market. While the rise of Yuin gives hope to the niche higher end earbuds market, there isn’t a lot of decent choice in the mass producing consumer level. On the West however, the other earbud giant Sennheiser has stood firm and continues to offer worthy products to the market. With their last two generations being all fairly well received, Sennheiser introduces a new line of earbuds to the world at CES this year. Here we have a look at two of their mid end offerings in the new earbud line, the MX580 and MX581.

MX58x-01.jpg

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

[REVIEW] HifiMan RE-ZERO - Time to Celebrate

First, I would like to thank Head-Direct for the sample. About two and a half years ago I reviewed the first two of their RE series, the RE1 and RE2 and mighty impressed by both. Then it was the RE0, which I love and still use as one of my reference IEM for its unbeatable treble extension. Time has certainly changed as the IEM market has became much more crowded. Unlike three years ago where there weren’t many higher end dynamic IEM around, we now have more than a hand full. However, the RE series has endured and RE0 is still one of the most recommended IEM in the forum. Celebrating the success of their RE series over the years, Head-Direct (or now HifiMan) introduces to us a new, 1000 pairs only limited edition of their RE series, the RE-ZERO. Despite the similarity on naming with the original RE0, the new RE-ZERO is neither a remake nor a reversion, but brands new build with some unique features of its own.

RZ-01.jpg

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sleek Audio: News from IFA Berlin

It has been a while since the upcoming and very exciting SA7 being revealed on Popular Science, finally Sleek Audio is ready to show it to the world at the ongoing IFA Berlin (3 - 8 September 2010). However the surprise doesn't end there, Sleek Audio is also showing a reversion of the company's first IEM (SA6) named the SA6R. The new SR6R will share some of the features found on SA7, such as an aluminum body and metal treble port. It is alway great to see a company pushing the limit of design on their products. Hopefully it won't be long till we see them both in the market. If you are in Berlin, do visit Sleek Audio's booth @ IFA and tell us about what you see.


Check out the flash animation on Sleek Audio website: SA6R and SA7.

[UPDATE] Read the SlashGear's preview of the SA6R and SA7 final prototype here.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shiny: Radius and Sony

After the very popular W Pro (a.k.a. TWF11R), Radius decided to keep the heat on and announced the W Pro II. There isn't much spec at this point, but the DDM (dual diaphragm matrix) system is expected to be in the new IEM as well. The releases date is around December and we will know more about by then.

After the EX700 almost 2 years ago, Sony has been quite quiet in the IEM market - Not anymore. Here comes the MDR-EX1000, the new flagship that aim to put all its competitors to shock. Large 16mm driver, liquid crystal polymer diaphragm, magnesium housing, user tunable sound, removable cable and a gorgeous leather box are just for starter. The MSRP in Japan is estimated to be over US$700, most definitely not your budget option by a long shot. It should be released soon so it is time to break the piggy bank, that is if you have that big of a piggy bank in the first place. Do check out some closeup shots in its Japanese photo gallery, but Flash required.

[REVIEW] a-JAYS Two, a-JAYS Three and t-JAYS Two: The Budget Invasion

I think it goes without saying that the sub$100 category of the IEM market now has some of the most intense competition. It is never a bad thing for the consumer since the price / performance ratio of these IEM has been driven to a historical height. The SQ that used to be priced around $150 just a few years ago can be obtained for almost half the price now.  The only loser seems to be the big brands, which still insists on a more rigid pricing policy that makes them vulnerable to the flexible small brands when it comes to bigger bang for the bucks. Though there are still a large portion of headphone buyer who prefer to buy big brand just for the peace of mind, any smart consumer that does his/her research will know there are a lot of good offering in the market beyond the typical big chain stores’ offering. On the fact that you are reading this review is already a good indication that you are trying to avoid those IEM with too-colorful-of-a-packaging and mass marketing. Yes, you won’t eat bright and colorful fungi or animal lying around the forest in survival situation and thus you should avoid the same stuff when shopping for headphone as well.

This year we have seen a chance in JAYS’ direction as they introduced 2 new lines of a more budget / entry level products, the a-JAYS and t-JAYS. Each line consists of three models: One, Two and Three with a total of 6 models in the two lines combined. On just the look, it might seem that the only difference between the three models of the same line is the amount of accessories, which couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, a-JAYS One, Two, and Three don’t sound like each other, nor do the t-JAYS One, Two, or Three.  It seems like it is JAYS’ intention to have the six models forming a ladder of sound quality increment, with a-JAYS One in the bottom and t-JAYS Three on the top (followed by even better JAYS’ IEM  of course), fulfilling different demand from different level of market. I must say this is a very smart marketing and product development on JAYS’ part, though I also think perhaps 4 models (two each) might have been even better. Regardless, we are only going to focus on three models out of the six: a-JAYS Two, a-JAYS Three and t-JAYS Two

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

News: UE's IERM and FA's Genesis

So Ultimate Ears announced another custom this week and it is called the 'In-Ear Reference Monitor'. In the audio world, the word 'reference' is generally overused to emphasize the technical aspect of a particular product. For this IEM however, it is meant to tell people that it is designed for actual on-stage and studio usage (mixing, live recording, etc). Being a 'reference class' gears, one thing UE want to make clear is that this IEM really do measured very flat (though they never did show any frequency graph) and it is a collaboration work between UE and the Capitol Studios.Though I have no doubt about Capitol Studios being good at what they do, I am really not too sure why UE needs someone else to tell them how to make an ruler flat IEM. The only interesting thing to see is that UE adapters a new type of curved connector on the cable and likely will make it more comfortable on wearing. Spec wise, from the information so far it seems the IERM has a two combined treble + mid drivers and a bass driver in a two ways setup. The MSRP is almost $1k and you can expect to pay more after including the earmold and shipping fee.

On another news, Fischer Audio has recently released / announced a few more new IEM. One of them, the Genesis is about to be released very soon (it looks gorgeous, right?). FA has certainly grown a lot more since their first appearance. Things that I do hope they can do better is to improve their manufacturing process and try to speed things up a bit, plus bringing their website more up-to-date with current information could really do them some good.

Disclaimer: All trademarks and logos in the website belong to their respective owners. Beside getting free review samples, I don't work for or get paid by anyone to write anything on this website, or anywhere else in that matter. Also, free review samples are never sold for any financial gain. I do buy gears and review them, but for simplicity you (the reader) should always assume what I review is free sample in nature (and thus comes with all the bias). The website does have Google Ads and Amazon Associates enabled (which I have no direct control over their content) - though I don't write review for a living, nor does the ads generates enough money to cover my breakfast (in fact, not even one breakfast per week). Listening to music and playing with audio gears are purely hobby for me. In short, I am just an audiophiles who happens to have his own blog. Not a journalist who happens to be an audiophile. Oh, and excuse my writing as I am not a native English speaker and can't afford a proofreader. Also, just because I don't write in a negative tone doesn't mean I don't write down the negative aspect of a gear. Please read them carefully. Last but not least, please note that this site uses cookies to track visitors' number and page view.

Important: All postings are my own personal opinion only and should not be treated as absolute truth. I do get things wrong just like everyone else. Always do your own research!

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