Thursday, December 31, 2015

[REVIEW] Echobox Finder X1

Echobox is a new startup with a strong audiophile’s background, and the Finder X1 is the company’s first IEM that has placed an emphasis on durability as much as it is on sound quality. The company has already finished up a successfully indiegogo campaign that offered the early bird Finder X1 for US$79, though you can still get one at US$149 with a January delivery day before it will be eventually sold at its regular price of US$199.

FX1-01.jpg

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays


A warm greeting to everyone - can't say I am in the best of shape this year but things are looking up. There are a few things I'll start trying next year which hopefully you will like. But for now, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Cheer.

Monday, October 12, 2015

[Impression] Elekit TU-HP02 - The Portable Discrete 'Tube' Amp

Elekit Japan is not your typical audio company. Their core business is in fact not audio, but the design and manufacture of educational electronic kits. Perhaps it is because of this unique background, they are more willing to exploring the different paths to music enjoyment. The new TU-HP02, the company’s second portable amp, best reflects that idea by purposefully introduces distortion that mimics the sound of a tube amp. The idea is however not as outlandish as it sounds since it has been tried by others in the past, though this may be the first portable amp to do so, or at least to my knowledge.

TUHP02-01.jpg

Thursday, September 3, 2015

[Impression] OPPO Digital HA-2 amp+DAC - A Slice of Portable Audio Heaven

You probably already know OPPO as a smartphone brand, but the company called OPPO Digital isn’t exactly the same. It is the American sister company of the Chinese smartphone company, and its main business is Blu-ray player. Recent years however, the company also begins to develop a series of personal audio products including desktop headphone amp and a few planar magnetic headphones, which are very well received by the audiophiles’ community. The HA-2 we are going to look at is the company’s first portable amp + DAC and as the title of this article already suggested – quite an outstanding piece of kit.

HA2-01.jpg

Sunday, August 30, 2015

[REVIEW] Brainwavz S5

Brainwavz needs no introduction. They have been in the IEM market long enough that they have made a name for themselves, especially in the bang-for-bucks section. The S5 has been in the market for a while now, and the price has dropped from the initial US$130 to the current US$100. However, the price tag is still right in the ‘warzone’ as far as IEM goes, where many competitors coming from China are all trying to outdo each other for being the next budget giant killer. So how does S5 fair?


Thursday, July 30, 2015

[Impression] Tube Amp LF-15 Full Discrete Desktop Amp

I have covered Tube Amp’s portable amps in the past (here and here). While the company is called ‘Tube Amp’, they don’t limit themselves to only tube amp, but also discrete amp. The LF-15 however is their first venture into the world of desktop gears with another fully discrete design, priced around US$450.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

[Impression] Aune B1 Full Discrete Class A Portable Amplifier

Originally running a well-known audio DIY forum in China, the company behind the Aune brand has managed to turn itself into a fairly reputable audio brand in recent years, producing mainly PC based desktop Hi-Fi gears. As far as I know, the B1 portable amp that is going to be reviewed here is the company’s first foray into the portable amp market – and not a run-of-the-mill design at that. Not only does it has a fully discrete design, it is also running at Class A configuration. That sound promising on paper, but does it deliver?

B1-01.jpg

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The New One

Plenty of new IEM get introduced every month but most of them really ain't worth mentioning here. But here is 'one' that does rise my interest - FutureSonics has just introduced a new universal IEM called the Spectrum Series G10. For those who don't know the company - the company's founder is the person who is officially recognized as the one who invented in ear monitor. I really love their last universal model, the Atrio M5 with MG7 driver, and hopefully the new G10 won't disappoint either. Price is about US$220.

Monday, May 18, 2015

New IEM, New Wave.

Korean isn't just big in the music world these days, but also seems to make way in the headphone world as well. Wavelet Design, an Korean company that is originally in the audio testing equipment business, has released a new IEM called 'Opus1', utilizing a new type of balanced armature (BA) transducer design called 'dynamic BA'. A typical BA has a sandwich design with the magmatic field being parallel to the voice coil, but the dynamic BA has a magmatic field that is perpendicular to the voice coil, which is closer in design to a dynamic transducer (*hence the name). Being in the audio testing business, Wavelet Design has confident enough that they have released a full set of measurement to showcase their new IEM's performance. Release date is set at the end of this month and the estimated price is around US$140 or so in Korea, but the Japanese price seems to have jumped almost double of that.

ALO Audio, the U.S. company best known for its portable amp, DAC and cable, is coming out an IEM brand of its own, called the 'Campfire Audio'. Three initial models will be launched under the new brand and they are: single 8.5mm dynamic 'Lyra', single BA 'Orion', and quad BA 'Jupiter' (as shown on picture above, from left). Price has not being announced yet, but expected them to be released sometime in June.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

All New Two in One

RHA is releasing a new IEM, the T20, with a brand new type of dynamic transducer, appropriately named the 'DualCoil' driver. Most dynamic driver has one diaphragm driven by one voice coil. Even the Dual-Dynamic-Matrix driver we have first seen on Radius a few years ago still uses two diaphragms with two independent voice coil to form a single drivers assembly. RHA's DualCoil driver however utilizes just one diaphragm, but driven by two voice coil simultaneously, one for upper frequency and one for lower frequency.

Kudos to RHA for being a new innovation to the IEM world.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[Impression] iFi Audio micro iDSD – The Overachiever

At this point of time, iFi Audio shouldn’t need much introduction at all. The British company is the more budget oriented sister brand of the prestige Abbingdon Music Research and have made a name for able to punch above its weight when it comes to price/performance ratio. If anything, the micro iDSD that is going to be reviewed here has set a new bar on what it means to be an overachiever in the world of portable audio gear. Never have we seen so many features being packed into one portable USB DAC + amp while still having such level of performance.



Monday, April 27, 2015

Roundup updated



The Earbuds Roundup ranking has been updated. Go and have a look.

    Tuesday, March 17, 2015

    [REVIEW] VE Asura and Zen

    Prelude: A few weeks ago I was contacted by a mutual 3rd party on Head-fi regarding whether I will like to give some Chinese made high-Z earbuds a review. Immediately I recalled a review article I read awhile back in erji.net that comes with fairly high praise (and subsequently get knocked around a few times, see reason below). We don’t see a lot of high-Z earbuds around so I was fairly certain they should be the same things. I don’t keep high hope for earbuds these days but I am still an earbuds lover in heart, so I agreed to give them a look, and indeed they turn out to be the same model I saw earlier. They are made by a small Chinese company called VE (52VE.cn, with a Chinese name translated to ‘micro wing’). No sooner after I agreed, the news spread out on some Chinese forums, which in turn came back to HF, and I received some ‘friendly suggestion’ that, perhaps it might not be the best of idea to do a review on VE. It would seem that there are a lot of heated discussion (or controversy?) on whether VE is a genuine company or just a quick DIY job for money. Even more so is whether VE actually makes TOTL earbuds as they and their Chinese supporters have claimed. Different from the international market where IEM rules, earbuds still hold a high esteem among Chinese audiophiles and they really don’t mind paying for premium earbuds – mixed that with the fact that there are a lot of shady companies employing shill marketing tactic, it is understandable on why people are always skeptical and will act defensively when confronted with such a bold claim. If there is anything I learned from reading Chinese audiophiles forums over the years, it will be the bad ‘SNR’ that often ruins the days. You can never quite sure whether you are reading genuine impression, shill marketing, over-enthused writing or maybe some other types of hidden agenda. So I decided not to take things written on a those forums too seriously but instead let the products speak for themselves, which I kind of glad that I did. Nevertheless, I think a prelude is needed to shine some light on the unusual circumstances surrounding VE. Regardless of what have been said, it will be a mistake to dismiss VE – that much I am sure.


    It said: "torture one-self, reject mediocrity, all for our sound."

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    [REVIEW] Signature Acoustics Element O-16 Live

    It might be a bit odd to name an IEM the O-16, as in ‘oxygen’. But given their first IEM is the carbon (C-12), I guess the India based Signature Acoustics does meant to create a real ‘Element’ series based on the periodic table. As their second product, the O-16 continues to target the budget IEM market and one can be found for just US$30 or so (*MSRP is double that).

    O16-01.jpg



    Tuesday, February 10, 2015

    Classic Reborn

    JAYS has announced the relaunch of the company's previous flagship, the dual balanced armature based q-JAYS, but with a bit extra. For those who are too young to remember, q-JAYS was born in an era where multi-driver IEM were rather rare and q-JAYS was immediately held as one of the best sounding IEM around. It was supposed to be replaced by the quad-driver x-JAYS though the project was dropped after the 2009 financial crisis. Then q-JAYS was phased out more or less around the same time frame... and for all these years, JAYS has never really made any IEM that is worth to take the flagship title.

    Though the new flagship is stilled called q-JAYS, with dual BA driver and similarly styled design, there are a few noticeable difference upfront. The first will be the user removable cable with what seems like a specially modified screw-in MMCX connector. I am not a fan of MMCX in general but a screwed in and secured MMCX should at least be less fragile. The second is the steel body, as oppose to the original plastic construction. Last but not least is the USD$450 price tag, which is quite a lot to ask these days for a dual driver, given a very good three driver hybrid can probably be had for $150 less. I can only hope q-JAYS will impress us again - even more so, will we see a comeback of x-JAYS as well? I am crossing my fingers now.

    Friday, February 6, 2015

    Natural Stereo Sound


    Hong Kong based custom IEM and portable amp maker LEAR is looking for some kind of crowdfunding help to bring their new IEM to the market. It is simply called the 'NSS earphone', where NSS stands for Natural Stereo Sound, a technique LEAR developed for stereo sound enhancement. Judging from the picture, I'll have guessed it used a second transducer feeding an delayed sound of the opposite channel, which should gives you a crossfeed-circuit-like effect, but all done in the analog domain.

    Check it out here.

    [UPDATE] The crowdfunding price will is US$160 and the final retail price will be US$220+.

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    Unbreakable, sort of.

    Ever break an IEM or two? Maybe more? An indiegogo crowdfunding project started by GOgroove is asking for your support to their new 'extremely durable earbuds backed by a LIFETIME warranty', called the AudiOHM RNFs. Well, maybe it is not exactly unbreakable but should at least be a very tough cookie. For US$30 a pair however, I guess it will worth a try.

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Cutting Edge

    CES2015 is just around the corner and we already seeing some cutting edge tech being introduced to the custom IEM world by a 3D scanning specialist company called United Sciences. Though it is still a tech demo intended for the industry at the moment, I can already see this being adopted by major custom IEM makers in the future. For once, the fitting is not (entirely) depend on the quality of the ear mold or the skill of the technician.

    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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