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!
Firstly, I’m not dead. Now with that out of the way:
What do you get when you combine the audiophile heart of the iPhone with a juiced-up ad-hoc power supply? Or, perhaps I should ask it this way: what made VentureCraft, maker of car-mounted cameras and creative telegrams, shoot for the moon and create an audiophile iPhone battery jacket? My guess is a pioneer spirit. VentureCraft are the first company to build such a combination. As off-beat as the GoDAP battery jacket and headphone amp combo unit may sound for a company like VentureCraft, it is certainly worth the raised eyebrows and facepalms. It’s just so ingenious and geekily disturbing that it’s worth a perfectly long review!
Feel free to discuss VentureCraft’s GoDAP in our forums.
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.
If you aren’t ready to take the wild walk on the DIY side, but still want to really get down and dirty with tweakable headphone amps, there are a very few options available to you. One of them is to experiment McGuyver style with cotton, fish, cookies, and an oiled grouse to achieve a truly experimental sound. But if lock picking DIY isn’t your thing, there are only a few choices on the market. Some such as Graham Slee, Firestone, iBasso, etc., offer headphone amps with user-replaceable op-amps and slightly modifiable circuits, but no one outdoes MST, a one-man operation out of Akihabara Japan. MST’ FiQuest project is as ground-up tweakable a design as is possible in a pre-fabbed design. In a way, it is the audio evangelist among portable amps.
Feel free to discuss the FiQuest in our forums.
Like the excellent (and tiny) Travagan’s Red headphone amp/pre-amp, TrendsAudio’s Combo One HI-Fi system is a do-it-all workhorse for both headphones and sensitive speakers and includes 3 units: TA-10.2P Class T power amp, PA-10 tube headphone amp, and PW-10 power supply unit. The Combo One Hi-Fi also comes in an iPod-friendly version complete with high quality line out docking cable.
The PA-10 headphone amp can roll tubes for minute sound enchancement. You’ve met up with op-amp rolling in our headphone amp reviews before: now it is taken back a few warm years into the tepid and heady days of tube audio. TouchMyApps will be looking at a number of tube-powered headphone amps including the Woo Audio 3 and the affordable USB DAC/amp: Head Direct EF2A.
Pic and more after the gap:
When you’ve decided to clear your desktop, shed the headphones/turn off the speakers, and part the waves of a blistering commute to work, you insert inner earphones into your bus/train ride to work. But after a drudgered day of officing, places like your desktop, or your bed look and sound better for kicking back to relaxing music. If you cannot cajole your smarter half into saving up for a nice speaker setup, good headphone systems can be had for relative chump change. Canadian audio company, Einar Sound, offer both balanced and single-ended headphone bliss with their VC-01i, an amp which attacks sound quality and relative budget in one fell swoop. Feel free to discuss this review of Einar Sound’s VC-01i in our forums.
Big news in the world of headphones: @BJ, organiser of the Tokyo OFF headphone amp exhibition where dozens of local manufacturers and audiophiles met, will be meeting with Apple next week to showcase the merits of portable headphone amplifiers on portable media players such as the iPod. The meeting is scheduled for February 8, and if successful in wrangling the right ear, could mean very prolific exposure for the world of high-end portable audio. Discuss Apple and BJ in our forums.
As HiFi headphone listening evolves, so does its component base. Chic design has influenced many market heavyweights – even boutique audio companies have opted to create sexy. But whereas amps like the ALO Rx is a masterpiece of steam and industry, the Graham Slee Voyager is plastic and comparatively bulky. Thankfully, looks are deceiving. This amp really takes off, surpassing all of my expectations.
Update: Feel free to discuss about the Graham Slee Voyager in our forums
Firestone have hammered the last studs into their newest audio block just in time for Christmas. The Fubar IV headphone amp/DAC continues the tradition of excellent price/performance for which Firestone are famous and even enjoys a price reduction from last year’s model. This amp sports USB input which makes enjoying high quality music from your computer a breeze and in the same breath, hooks up to SPDIF and digital coaxial input for direct lossless listening from HiFi sources. Finally, it has also wormed its way into my heart with its excellent pre-amp and even-Stephen sound.