There’s nothing wrong with cheap. I eat cheap. I wear cheap. I make cheap jokes. And for the longest time, Jaben shipped mainly cheap amps to my cohort: the masses, God bless ‘em. But Jaben have gotten off that kick. They’ll ring the charity bells in another season. Today is the day of the Porta Tube+ valve headphone amp/DAC for your iPad/Mac, a delightful machine for bourgeois ears, and sound fit for a king.
The name of that kingdom? GoVibe.
Last week I half-arsedly introduced two accessories made specifically for the iDevice audiophile, the Venturecraft Go-DAP Unit 4.0 and the Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Solo. Both are able and willing to replace larger, more expensive and decidedly untransportable HiFi gear, but only one is worthy of doing so.
After having created perfection in the Rx, ALO are free to experiment. Their first experiment, The Continental, is quite a hit, especially as it packs valves under the bonnet for a truly classical sort of listen. But as ALO explain, the use of limited valves means that the Continental has a shorter time on this planet. Enter The National, an amp that they reckon is the answer to the Continental. I can tell you right now: The National is a single box that can fill the void of both portable and living room headphone amp.
Today, I’d like to briefly introduce two remarkable iDevice accessories: the Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm SOLO and the Venturecraft GoDap Unit 4.0, both portable units that output SPDIF digital signals to high-end audio equipment. iPhone zeitgeist, marked as it was by cute bunny-eared cases, vibrators, and farting apps, has obviously evolved.
Indeed. Digizoid dub this diminutive piece of plastic a ‘personal subwoofer’. I’d dub it a personal wolf pack – that is, if wolfs were known for barking. They probably growl, so maybe the metaphor stands. Which is more than I could do the first time I heard the zO2, which floored me.
I’ve been mopping up ever since.
Care to discuss this in our forums? Go ahead!
GoVibe products have come a long way, thank God. Remember the Hippo Box+? Rife with mis-labelled parts, a broken website, and costing a pretty penny for what, essentially, was just a battery box, it was embarrassing. It sounded good, though, and therefore got away with a TAP. Today, GoVibe, together with its cheaper Hippo branch, is generally a badge of quality. The VestAmp+ is a high-performance headphone amp with a 24bit DAC thrown in for good measure.
I’ve been following #Japan on Twitter since the horrible earthquake and corollary tsunami last week. Among the myriad voices, the Japanese audiophile community has been rallying support. MST Audio, maker of the fabulous FiQuest headphone amp, will be donating 32% of the proceeds from their new, limited edition Red Tide interconnect cable, to the Japan Red Cross. Red Tide uses 15cm long CV4.2 cabling from AudioQuest and will hook up your iPhone/DAC to a headphone/car/home amp. Red tide will cost 95$ of which, 30$ will be donated to the Red Cross. Cables should be ready to ship out one in April. Since many of Japan’s supplies are constrained after the devastation, only 50 of MST’s Red Tide will be made. Shipping information is as follows:
ASIA:$12; Oceania and Northern America:$15; Europe:$18; Southern America and Africa: $20
Via first class international
ASIA, Guam & Saipan:$4.5; Oceania, North America & Europe:$5.5; South America and Africa: $6.5
Purchasing will be handled through MST’s sales account: [email protected]
MST Audio are located in Tokyo and have seen first hand the devastation wrecked by the earthquakes and tsunami. They’re a nice bunch of lads who have their ears on one thing: audio perfection, and their hearts in the right place. Thank you MST!
NOTE: Watch this post for information on where to sign up for Red Tide.
Just slightly bigger than iBasso’s fabulous T3, hippo audio’s second self-branded portable headphone amp is a diminutive, but well-punctuated statement product. iBasso’s effects-be-damned neutral sound is damned in return as the box+ sways the portable audiophile with ‘rich’ sound, the sort made possible only through a Butterworth low pass filter: the sort of sound that has made Head-Direct’s Hifiman series famous.
Firestone Audio have been making steady strides in desktop audio. To complement this year’s long, hot summer, they pushed out two hot amps: the Rubby power amp and the Libby headphone amplifier. Why they are such big news here at TMA is that both mains-powered amps also feature great USB/Optical/Coax and analogue audio inputs. If you can put two and two together, you’ve probably figured out that this means hi-res audio from the iPad through the Camera Connection Kit (CCK). Recently, I`ve forgone the whole computer thing in favour of just this combination. Still, both amps work great with computers, with external DAC`s, and with other Hifi gear. Nevertheless, TMA will keep the iPad slant in this review, but show just what can be done with these two desktop amps.
If there ever was an argument for valves in audio, it no more evident than at home. A large, heavy, and hot valve power amp is an item of luxury. But if you ain’t got the home, or you just prefer to augment your collection with a good headphone set up, your source (surprisingly, even an iPod) and a good valve headphone amp are a match made in heaven. Why? Valves aren’t about performance – they are about sound. Woo Audio has been churning out quality amp after quality amp, each with one thing in common: milky smooth valves and a lot of power. Their WA3 is a great valve amp at a very good price point which puts the fuzzy wuzzies into your best records.
Continue on to the Woo Audio WA3 headphone amp review.