NF Audio NA1
Now this is an unconventional review. I stepped right in and started discussing the NA1’s weakness first. Because apart from that, I am thoroughly impressed. The speed of the single dynamic driver is simply delicious. The tightness of the bass can make any drummer drool and the body feels just right with most recordings. The midrange is accurate and once one gets past the slight hollowness, voices sound realistic too. The treble is snappy and fast in decay. It actually all comes together when you have a perfect seal and no surrounding that would drown out the lows. Under these conditions, the NA1 is formidable. But when I step outside, I personally either need better isolation or less treble emphasis.
All in all, the Hifiman Ananda-BT excel at where it matters most: sound quality. However, I feel like the overall product design needs more attention. Some decisions, like omitting a passive mode or adding a mediocre bulky travelling case, make the headphones a hard recommendation for the asking price. I am sure people would be willing to pay 100 € more if that would help to create a more complete package. More so, the bulky design does not really help with mobility at all. In conclusion, I think the Ananda headphones have top-tier sonics but the Bluetooth version is pretty much a very niche product. I recommend to check out the original Ananda instead.
I wouldn’t grant the AZLA Horizon a feature as FOTM if I wouldn’t really like these IEMs. I bought them out of sheer interest and I wasn’t disappointed. These are really easy to get into thanks to their good timbre and great soundstage. Pairing them with a good amp can smooth out the treble that otherwise might be shrill at times.
The Horizon prove their worth by a high quality cable, genius ear tips and an advanced dynamic driver that allows for high resolution. In conclusion, I can absolutely recommend them!
64 Audio U18t
The U18 are an incredibly powerful monitoring tool that effortlessly shake out an insane amount of details. They’re tuned to not have their own character and are thus not too exciting for the most part. 64 Audio mainly lets the music talk for itself. Nevertheless, playing through the U18, attention is often drawn to the treble as it impresses with its particularly high resolution.
Do note that if you really want to unleash the almost infinite potential of these earphones, you also have to make sure that your audio chain is up for the task and, above all, that the audio material used is suitable for hi-fi use. If the conditions are met, the U18t blasts the music completely apart in its every atom, allows deepest immersion and often even insights into the production. 64 Audio has created an absolute technical miracle that won’t leave us aghast.
Autumn is arguably the most romantic season. The shift in colors, the rainy days, coming home with cold feet and slowly warming back up. Most noticeable is the change of pace in which the world seems to turn. It’s the best time to get lost in music.
Lypertek has succeeded in creating a completely impressive overall package, which is just as impressive as the Oriveti Hi-Fi earphones according to their price range. The sound is sensational, the operation super simple and the comfort better than with any TWS I have yet had in my ears. The TEVI surpass many more expensive earphones in sound and function. Lypertek heralds a new era in which even True Wireless is no longer compromised.
The Chord Mojo and Poly have a very characteristic design, yet they also do not draw the attention too much. Next to a set of Wedgwood cups, the DAC might go unnoticed.
The Mojo & Poly combo are a trusty travel companion for the true audiophile. There are multiple ways to access the inserted microSD card.
The Oriveti OH500 are a great package for the aspiring audiophile. (Depending on the budget, the OH300 punch that value even higher, though the small refinements to the OH500 are very appreciated by the careful listener and worth the price difference.) The OH500 are comfortable, beautiful, easy to use and – most importantly – great sounding. They create an enjoyable warmth with a relaxed presentation that doesn’t omit any details and also has an amazing soundstage. I have spent a great amount of time with the OH500 and I am sure I will continue to do so.
SoundMAGIC Vento V3
The SoundMAGIC Vento P55 V3 has amazing value. I should not have any interest in “cheap” headphones anymore, have my demands continuously risen in the past years. But upon first auditioning the demo of the V3, I already knew I’d have to take one home and take a closer listen. I do not regret my purchase at all. It has become my preferred choice when I don’t feel like using IEMs or setting up a complex audio chain. I highly recommend these headphones!
Mini Desktop Setup
The Mojo is a very capable DAC and head-amp. It can really help to clean up your desk space.
When the headphone design matches the color lights.
The Campfire Solaris is a real star in the Head-Fi galaxy! Not only is it sensationally crafted and looks great, but it’s also musically balanced. It provides a very addicting signature and manages to assert itself as one of the best high-end listening experiences thanks to its very high resolution.
It’s the rainy days when music can be the most emotional. Water drops also make for a nice bokeh.
Nothing but Gold
The Mojo remains as one of the best portable DACs yet and it continues to win one gold award after another. The Mojo deserves a matching pair of IEMs to go with it.
My verdict after 4 weeks is very positive. The SoundMAGIC E11BT offer reliable features that ensure carefree use in everyday life. The Bluetooth connection is stable and transmits the sound cleanly without audible artifacts. The sound offers a pleasant warmth with potent low bass, homogeneous mid-range and a soft and transparent treble. Especially the headset functions are a welcome enrichment thanks to the high-quality microphone.
For the price called, what is offered is more than impressive. Although some savings have been made in regards to the accessories, the build quality is convincing all the way. The sound isn’t revolutionary, but SoundMAGIC pushes the price/performance ratio even further down than ever before. Here, the manufacturer really shows its muscles and offers skillful tuning, exemplary channel balance, low distortion and wide frequency range. You won’t find “more sound” for the same price!
Buy it. I would like to keep the conclusion this brief. Of course, the Shanling M0 is not perfect and perhaps it’s not the audiophile high-end nirvana in terms of data specs, but realistically speaking, you don’t need much more unless you like to fire particularly hungry headphones. For the moment, I’m hard to press to recommend any cheaper device on the road.
The workmanship is impeccable, the operation functional, the touch display sufficient and the form factor absolutely ingenious! Meanwhile, whenever I leave the house, I have to check for a fourth item in my jacket and trouser pockets: smartphone, keys, wallet and the M0.
Thanks to bluetooth connectivity, it no longer hurts to say goodbye to the smartphone’s headphone jack and compatible bluetooth headphones have also been considered. The “real” audiophile is also served a delicious dish: DSD and HD files are played back without a hitch and the finest gold ears can select an appropriate filter to get the maximum out of the information. However, low distortion and high signal-to-noise ratio are particularly important and Shanling succeeds.
We are talking about 99 € and the application possibilities are extremely varied. There is absolutely no reason not to recommend buying the M0. If you are looking for an inexpensive DAP, or have higher demands and still want to save money, you can easily get it from here.
Black & White
My last apartment had but few colors. Most of my furniture was either black or white. It matched well with my audio gear and especially the black Hugo 2.
MoonDrop Kanas Pro
In short, I like the MoonDrop Kanas Pro Edition a lot! For my preferences, the Kanas beats all known IEM with dynamic driver. The price is an understatement.
One can get used to the slight (sub-) bass boost very quickly, and the relaxed dip in the upper midrange and lower treble is fortunately tuned for many songs. For monitoring I would still prefer one of the many alternatives with balanced armature drivers, but as a daily companion for pure music consumption across all genres, it even exceeds my fairly high demands. For tracks with vocals and sub- bass the KPE is now my first choice. When faced with the challenges of complex Jazz, however, I fall back to other IEM.
In regards to product design I am a big fan of the Bauhaus style: “form follows function.” That’s why I’m less convinced by the metal bling bling design. I would prefer a (more ergonomic) housing à la StageDiver and also the cable doesn’t fully suit my taste either. But these are at most nagging things in an otherwise functioning relationship. Overall, I’ve got a lot of praise!
This is what I do. Read expert publications on China while listening to audiophile music and enjoying either a hot coffee or a cold drink. This photo is a personal time stamp from the summer of 2018.
beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro
The beyerdynamic DT 240 Pro are a good set of portable cans in the budget-tier category below 100 $. I think the monitoring purpose advertised by BYR is a bit too enthusiastic, but they do sound enjoyable especially with Pop and Rock music. They are not ground-breaking in any way. You will find pairs that are more comfortable, more fashionable, more neutral, more expansive and more detailed, but not all of it at once for the same price. With the DT 240 Pro, the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
The bokeh up front is from an empty wine glass. A very simple trick to fill up some empty space if you use an open lens. In hindsight, I should have pulled it closer…
What does the Fox say?
It would probably say that a day listening to music and reading photography magazines is a day well spent.
The AM850 enter an extremely crowded market with an abundance of choices among sub-100$ priced IEMs. This is quite a challenge and for that Astrotec did well. The AM850 feature good build quality and an attractive design. The sound has an authoritative low-end with nicely tuned mids and highs. Ultimately, it is not enough to stand out as the single best choice, but nonetheless, they are a good addition to a pool of similarly priced IEMs.
The Hugo 2 is getting around quite a lot. This shot was taken on a short trip. The marbled table provided a good contrast to the smooth surface of the beautiful metal build of the Chord.
InEar StageDiver 5
The InEar StageDiver 5 are technically easily the best of the series. In fact, I think the SD-5’s strengths even outperform the company’s reference flagship ProPhile 8 if linearity is not top priority. The tonality is extremely engaging and balanced at the same time and I can see some less experienced users thinking they are neutral. I have become a big fan of the midrange and I am surprised how easily my mind adapts to the signature.
But not only the sonic performance impresses. The StageDiver are still the most comfortable universal IEM series for my (German male) ears. The design allows a tight and deep fit and I don’t know anything that comes closer to an actual CIEM. For the first time, a small version is already available with the product launch.
Those striving for high-end audio can achieve further improvement by upgrading the cable and they also have the option of choosing real wood designs and an optional leather case to match the performance. Do not let the driver count fool you, this is a TOTL monitor!
At Headflux we think pragmatically: good sound is good sound, whether or not it was achieved with the help of DSP. In our opinion, the frequency response in particular is very important for subjective sound perception. This is one of the reasons why we have been intensively involved with the linearization of headphones behind the scenes for a long time. For this purpose we have already tested several target curves internally – the review of the biggest player Sonarworks should not be missing.
Altogether, we can easily recommend Sonarworks True-Fi as a cost-effective solution to achieve a significant improvement in the audio chain in terms of high-fidelity in most cases. The project is very ambitious, but currently there are not enough headphones on the list of supported devices. We also see potential for improvement in regards to IEM equalization. For the full experience, we also suggest to take a look at Sonarworks Reference, which allows manipulation of the default correction that thus can be better adapted to subjective perception. Anyone can test the software for free for 10 days before buying. We highly suggest to try it – at least if your headphones are supported.
Munich High End 2018
From May 10th to 13th 2018 the High End show took place in Munich. It is organized by the High End Society with its headquarters in Wuppertal. The High End has been an annual event since 1982, making it one of the largest international audio shows. Once again this year the size was immense and four halls, each with two floors, were filled to the smallest corner with booths. The visitors were numerous, but the fair was not so crowded that one would not have found access to interesting products. For the first time, CanJam Europe also took place in Munich. The entrance ticket was also valid here. Although CanJam was comparatively small, one day was far from enough to cover all the latest the headphone news. Therefore, some selected few impressions must suffice. Click on the link below to read the full article.
In the Woods
The great thing about portable audio is you can listen to it anywhere. In the woods, some might rather listen to birds sing or the bickering of a creek, but at least you have the option.