Back when Cube, was rolling with Lorenzo in a Benzo, Sleek was polishing their chrome-trimmed SA6. Under da hood was a single ultra-wide band driver that laughed in the faces of the tubby competition. But times is changing. Sleek has doubled the SA6’s ultra-wide band armature count and dropped most of the chrome. Sleek’s hard core: the customisable VQ system, the coaxial detachable cable still roll with their shit off safety.
While the bulk of shiggy’s headphone and earphone reviews have moved to ohm-image, expect a few good reviews to come to TMA. Shiggy’s most recent review is of Earsonic’s SM64. Earsonics are a favourite here at TMA and the SM64 seems to be the hit of the SM line. Why? Shiggy has this to say:
The SM64 delivers not only crisp mids and highs, it serves up boiling, authoritative punches that roll through most of audible spectrum. Lower mids are fast up and down. They never tangle with bass. Kudos to kick drums, bass guitar, electronic kicks, and pretty much anything with a beat from there on down. Thruma thwaaaarck! goes lower bass. Thwacka thwacka! go upper mids. Speed is king.
Timeliness – while stereotypically not very French an asset – has a pigeonhole with an SM64-shaped aperture.
Timely and taut though it is, the SM64 stops far before it ever reaches the shrill, metallic highs that has ER4 lovers all agog. Some may take issue here. Metal-tipped responses can be hugely fun. But Earsonics are a musician-oriented company; and in Earsonics 2,0, equitability takes precedence over wow.
Fans of crispy crisp crisp will probably look elsewhere for their bacon. Similarly, fans of warm fuzzies may also have to turn elsewhere. With few outliers, the SM64 sounds rather flat – and certainly crisp – at the ear.
It’s off to the races again. This time, ALO have suited up their youngest and most exciting audiophile offspring, The International. This amp features at 24/96kHz USB DAC, discrete analogue/digital sections, a powerful battery, extremely low noise floor, and the must-have feature of the decade: balanced input and output. With all that under the bonnet, you can be sure this youngster will turn heads as it swishes by.
I have a hunch that Mr. Yamagishi, the former Sony headphone and speaker designer behind Ocharaku was drinking tea before he ever sipped into the idea of the Tornado Equaliser. That singular technology has since revolutionised the upgrade earphone market among price-conscious portable audiophiles in Japan. And with the introduction of Flat-4 SUI – and TE’s successor, TEE – in 2011, the technology has found itself in a new, better pot. Twin Equalised Elements (TEE) is the new leaf that Mr. Yamagishi turned over to create SUI and now KAEDE. If you’re interested in a few different views of KAEDE, check out Ω image’s KAEDE post.
Triad Audio’s L3 is one of the biggest battery-powered carry-around headphone amps that TMA has gone over. The other, MST’s FiQuest, is a champion of customisation and performance. While not nearly as customisable as the FiQuest, the L3 commutes from HiFi component to road warrior with less hassle. It is also one of the handsomest large amps this audio fool has seen.
Tralucent Audio came out of nowhere. Their unique 1Plus2 earphone began stirring up Headfi a few months ago; other audio forums have followed suit. Startlingly less uproarious is their excellent T1 amplifier, a 250$ piece of aluminium, solder, and bolts, that thumbs its nose at many a +400$ amp. It’s a pretty little thing, sporting a black coat, thick walls, good ergonomics, and an audio drive
train that is as strong as it is resilient.
Truly audiophiling an iPod touch is no mean feat. It takes no less than a Cypher Labs AlgoRhthym Solo DAC, and a Vorzüge or ALO Rx class headphone amp. Throw in some shielded interconnects and your’re done. But at what cost? The once slim touch is now a knobby and unholy hamburger of aluminium and winking LEDs. Personally, I’m tired of ordering sides with the main meal. The iBasso DX100 is a single-box solution that will outperform most if not all audio stacks without sacrificing much of what makes the iPod touch worthwhile.
And how pray tell were iBasso, an amplifier maker, able to retain most of what makes the iPod touch worthwhile? Android.
Yesterday, I was asked by Musica Acoustics to shoot a new earphone, the FitEar ToGo! 111. The 111 is the ToGo! 334’s younger sibling. It was released sometime in the summer in Japan and has had very few legit sales channels abroad. This version is spread with a Musica Acoustics label. Evidently, Jaben have their own label. You can pick it up from Musica for 645$. From what I understand, it is the same as the regular ToGo! 111. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Heir Audio’s youngest children have been thrust into the thick of a do-or-die competition. Custom earphone manufacturers are pounding with exceeding energy toward the lucrative – and showy – universal earphone market. I see no end in sight – and to be honest, that is a good thing. Technology handed down from top-flight customs is good stuff. Heir Audio’s 3.Ai and 4.Ai carry the goods inherited from their more expensive, custom siblings.