Tag: Headphone Amplifier

Top 3 Components for an Audiophile Headphone Setup

Your Sound Isn’t Good Enough

A fair amount of people are usually content with the standard white earbuds that come with their iPods.  However, there are those who have a higher calling for their ears.   There are those who will not be oppressed by the tyranny of sub-par sound. Ladies and gentleman, I am talking about the audiophile, of course.  I speak from experience when I say it is both a gift and a curse being an audiophile.  My friends will tell me to listen to a sweet song only to be disappointed when my ears start to bleed from utterly disappointing sound. So, if you’re looking to break the audiophile sound barrier and become one of the audio elite, then you better take the advice that i’m about to give you!

There are a few things you’re going to need to complete your audiophile transformation:

  • Good Headphones
  • Headphone Amplifier
  • High Quality Source
Custom One Pro

Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro

Obviously, you’re going to need some good headphones to start.  Based on your preference you might choose to go with ether in-ear headphones or over/on ear headphones.   If you’re looking to go the in-ear route, then I would suggest something like the Westone UM series which is top-notch when it comes to in-ear monitors.  If you want some over-ear headphones, then I would suggest something like the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro.   There are many factors to consider with headphones and many aspects of them are heavily opinion based. Audiophiles will generally steer toward an open-back design as it offers more detailed analytic sound, and a wider soundstage.  Furthermore, they usually prefer a headphone with an even, flat response to give the best representation of the sound without adding unwanted color.  There is a headphone for everyone and my main advice is to listen to as many as possible in order to see what you’re into.

fiio-e17

FiiO E17

Headphone amplifiers are a commonly overlooked aspect of an audiophile set up. If you have some good headphones, then you’re going to need some good power to compliment that.  Not only does a headphones amplifier drastically increase the sound quality of your headphones, but some of them have equalization settings so you can fine tune your sound.  FiiO makes some awesome amplifiers that won’t break the bank.

Having a good audio source is the final piece to the puzzle.  For example,  even if you have awesome headphones and an amplifier, you will not get the full potential if you have crappy audio files.  Most people are going to be listening to MP3 or internet radio from their iPhone or iPod.  However, the key is to find files with low compression such as a FLAC or other lossless-type files.  Even high quality MP3 files will suffice in most cases.

Remember that there is no perfect formula these are just some basic guidelines. To give you guys an example, I’ve been using the Beyerdaynamic Custom One Pros with a FiiO E17 amplifier and it has been by far my favorite set-up.  Some of you not might agree but that’s the beauty of headphones! There is something for everyone!  Remember:  Life is too short to listen to crappy sound!

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Attack of the Clones: Fake FiiO Products Discovered on Amazon

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. While that may have been true in some past age before the strict implementation of copyright and intellectual property laws, in today’s world it is an offense that can quickly land you in federal prison. Aside for the heavy putative measures taken against individuals and groups who engage in such “flattering” activities, the cost of fake products is heavy on consumers and the original companies. Before moving forward, we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we are authorized with FiiO and deliver only original FiiO products. Aside from that, we are also authorized with a multitude of other brands–rest assured, if you bought from Sonic Electronix it is the real deal.

It was officially reported last week that fake FiiO products including the E1E3E5E7,L1 have been sold to unsuspecting consumers on Amazon. Unfortunately, its not a surprise that such a fraud has happened to FiiO in particular. They are wildly popular for their high level of quality and cost-efficiency, making them a glaring target for counterfeiters everywhere.

Most shockingly, the counterfeit FiiO amps and DACs are practically identical to the real ones in appearance and reportedly perform well for a very brief period of time. According to various blogs, the real danger of purchasing the fakes is that they are poorly built and often short-out or even violently explode because of rechargeable-battery malfunctions.

Although the FiiO website is entirely silent on the matter, they have responded to customers and headphone enthusiasts on blogs offering lists of registered and authorized dealers. It is unclear whether FiiO is taking active steps in prosecuting confirmed scammers, but whatever the case, we would like to take this opportunity to remind our customers that we are completely authorized with FiiO and receive all our supplies directly from the manufacturer. You will not find any phony FiiO products  here (or any other phonies, for clarification).

To help our customers stay ahead of the game, here is a complete and official copy of FiiO’s Black List of US Retailers and some images to help you identify fake FiiO E6 amps.

Fake FiiO E6 Will Not Have a Serial Number

The User Manuals are Different from Original E6

Thick Pocket Clip Hook Are Fake E6

Fake FiiO E6 has Battery with Poor Insulation and Messy Soldering

Fake FiiO E6 has Battery with Poor Insulation and Messy Soldering

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5 Year iPhone Anniversary

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the release of the iPhone and the day smartphones changed forever.  Whether you own an iPhone or not, it’s impossible to deny the affect it has had on the world.  Over 250 million units have been sold since it’s inception in 2007.  In honor of this milestone, I have created a list of the top 5 must-have iPhone accessories that are both innovative and not too heavy on the wallet.

Kogeto Dot

Kogeto Dot

Kogeto Dot

Have you ever been taking a video on your iPhone and couldn’t fit everything that you wanted too?  This is a problem of the past with the Kogeto Dot!  This panoramic video add-on conveniently attaches to your iPhone 4/4S giving your video a 360 degree lens shot.  The attached lens is lightweight, durable, and can fit in the palm of your hand.  The Free LOOKER app is available in the app store in order to integrate the panoramic lens.  No longer will your videos be dull and 2D!

i.Fuzen HP-1

i.Fuzen HP-1

i.Fuzen HP-1

For all you music lovers out there, this accessory is especially for you!  The i.Fuzen HP-1 is a headphone amplifier, splitter and an extended, rechargeable battery all in one.  It will double your battery life while allowing you to play your favorite tunes with you and a friend.  With full USB pass through capability, this case will allow you to sync flawlessly with iTunes without the need to remove the iPhone.  The sleek and low-profile design makes this accessory one that you cant pass up.

Viper VSM200

Viper VSM200

Viper VSM200

If you own a Viper alarm/remote start on your vehicle, then it is possible for you to use your iPhone to remote start or lock and unlock your vehicle with the Viper VSM200.  Simply integrate this with your existing Viper alarms system and have the ability to control features from your iPhone such as trunk release, panic, car finder, and so much more.  You even get into the SmartStart Motor Club which is a Free 24/7/365 roadside assistance that is included with all SmartStart Secure service plans.  How can you pass that up?

Scosche freeKEY

Scosche freeKEY

Scosche freeKEY

One of the possible short-comings of the iPhone is the small, touchscreen keyboard.  If you’re the kind of person who needs to get a lot of writing done, then the Scosche freeKEY is exactly what you need.  This flexible, water resistant bluetooth keyboard creates a perfect writing surface for long durations of typing.  It is easy to roll up and tuck away allowing it to be used seamlessly on the go.  It includes a retractable cord for further convenience and the compact design makes it easy to use anywhere.

Kicker IK501

Kicker iK501

Kicker iK501

Last but certainly not least, the Kicker iK501 is the ultimate iPhone/iPod docking system.  It features two 5″ speaker with two separate 3/4″ tweeters.  Not only that but it features a 6″ square subwoofer on the back.  I’ve had the liberty of hearing this system in person and trust me it will not disappoint.  It plays low frequencies like no ones business and mid and high frequencies that are elegantly present. Also, it has RCA stereo outputs and an auxiliary jack making it a very versatile unit.  What more could you ask for?!

The future is certainly bright for the iPhone and pretty soon they’ll have apps that whiten teeth and perform lasik eye surgery.  Until then, these accessories are the next best thing!

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Do I Need a DAC? When and How to Choose a DAC

A common question that arises among music lovers looking to improve the sound quality of their set-up is the question of whether a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC, for short) is necessary and at what point a DAC becomes a useful component of either a speaker system or headphone rig. Before addressing the question of the necessity of a DAC, it is important to understand precisely what DACs are designed to do.

Function

The essential function of a DAC is to convert the digital signals that computers or portable players use to store music into an analog current that can be used by headphone transducers or speakers to create physical sound. As a matter of pure functionality, no player that stores music digitally can interact with analog components without some type of on-board DAC. Of course, to keep the overall price of machines and devices capable of digital music storage down, many manufacturers equip devices such as mp3 players, laptops, and desktops with sub-par DAC systems. These systems generally do only enough to convert binary into a current and do not stress distortion reduction and general sound quality leaving the music without dimension or depth.

Do I Need a DAC? When to Get a DAC?

The statement I am about to make may surprise some and completely offend others: no one ever needs a DAC. A dedicated DAC should be the final step in achieving the finest audio quality for your stereo system or headphone rig. No amount of specialization, flashy specs,

NuForce Signature Gold; No amount of gold or diamonds will save a poor source

or carefully selected DAC components will improve the sound quality of a poor source. Painfully compressed digital audio files such as MP3 and internet radio streams will always leave out the nuances serious listeners crave. Before a DAC should ever come into consideration, it is of greater priority that the audio file is of the best quality available and of the lowest compression.

Even before considering new headphones or speaker components, until the music files have achieved the highest possible level of quality it is premature to begin considering external DACs or amplifier DAC combinations.

Choosing a DAC

Assuming you have all your lossless files in line, decent set of headphones or speakers, and (in necessary cases) an amplifier, a DAC is something to consider as final step in improving you system. Like adding the finishing touches to a carefully crafted work of art, adding a

FiiO-E17, described as having a "neutral" signature

DAC to you system should feel like polishing an already impressive composition. An effective way to select a suitable DAC is to test one with the music it will be used to play. Because DACs feed decoded information to other systems within the unit that eventually travel to the listening device in an analog form, all DACs will have a unique sound signature. The sound signature is basically the amount of coloration, or sound imposed on the analog signal not inherent to the mix or engineering. While the most neutral reproduction is the most desirable, some individuals may find that DACs with “warmer” coloration are more suited to their tastes. At this point in the process, it is just a mater of selecting a DAC with a sound signature that suits your individual tastes and that most heightens your musical enjoyment.

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FiiO E5 vs. FiiO E6: No Wrong Answers

The FiiO E5 and E6 are twins but this does not mean they are identical. Although they share particular similarities, it would be a mistake to consider them interchangeable or to overlook the distinct characteristics of each. Each amp offers particular qualities that make them unique and better suited for different tastes and demands. In the following, the E5 and E6 will be compared and contrasted on various points including construction, user interface, and most importantly, sound.

Construction

FiiO E5

At first glance, the E6 shares one obvious quality with its younger predecessor: portability. Like the E5, the E6 is remarkably compact and easy to take anywhere. Both units are designed to seamlessly integrate with portable music devices for powerful headphone amplification in virtually any setting.

FiiO E6

Where the E6 begins to differ from the E5 is in its construction materials and design. Unlike the E5 which featured an aluminum housing with matte black finish and a fixed clip of the same material, the E6 is constructed entirely out of plastic and finished with a glossy black coat. While the plastic construction of the E6 is may initially taken to be a shortcoming of the E6, it is sturdy and can reliably withstand the regular jostling that portable devices must be able to endure. Unfortunately, the glossy finish of the E6 is prone to unsightly scratches and smudging in a way that is absent from the E5. Moreover, the fixed clip of the E5 has been replaced by a removable plastic clip on the E6. A removable clip offers users the advantage of opting out of using a clip, but has effectively sacrificed the structural integrity of the clip. The E6 plastic clip is not as sturdy as the E5’s fixed clip. Perhaps in an effort to address the strength of the clip, FiiO includes two clips with the E6.

Features and Interface

Beyond their appearance, the user interface of the E6 has been completely redesigned from that of the E5 and includes new features not found on the E5. A single sliding switch allows

FiiO E6, Sliding Switch

users to toggle between three EQ setting and holding the switch in position for 3 seconds turns the E6 off. EQ settings and charging status are indicated by a color changing LED that reflects through a plastic edge on the cut-away corner of the E6 for a sleek and attractive look. Unlike the E5 which featured a flat or  bass boost selection, the E6 features more options in the way of EQ settings. Users have the option to select from flat, EQ1, and EQ2 bass boost settings each applying a noticeable change in sound character. Unfortunately, more does not mean better.

In this case, the bass boost settings of the E6 are notably overwhelming. In particular, the EQ1 setting might be exactly what bass-heads are looking for but poses a noticeable problem for individuals seeking a complex and detailed bass response.  The EQ2 setting delivers a palatable alternative to the gushing bass, but does not offer the type of clear and balanced bass of the E5’s single bass boost setting.

FiiO E5 Controls

Nonetheless, one aspect in which the E6 does carry a clear advantage is in volume adjustment. While the volume adjustment button has remained the same, the E6 offers a 64 step volume gradient compared to the E5’s 32 step volume gradient. The expanded volume gradient allows users to personally define the volume level. On the other hand, the E6 and E5 are both silent in their adjustment, allowing users to change the volume levels without interfering with the quality of the reproduction–a reproduction which is impressively clean and neutral.

Sound Quality

Like any good amp, the signal should not be tainted by the amp’s circuitry. On this count, the E6 delivers surprisingly well. Unlike the E5 which is slightly colored by hiss, the E6 features reduced hiss and does not have perceptible coloration on its default flat setting. Even at high volume levels, the hiss remains low. Moreover, the E6 does not produce a loud pop when turned on and prevents damage to the drivers from the sudden spike in voltage. The absence of a loud pop is also a quality that the E5 proudly shares with many FiiO amps including the E6.

Conclusion

Both the E6 and E5 are excellent portable amps. Both headphone amps deliver a neutral response with low distortion levels across the frequency response. Each have the ability to drive high impedance headphones with reliably powerful output. Whether you choose to the E5 or E6, neither will be a sacrifice in quality. It is really a matter of what preference. I personally own the E5 and it suits my purposes especially well– nothing is quite as thrilling as listening to Richard Wagner’s “Der Fliegende Hollander” with a bass response that really makes the instruments breathe. Either way you go, FiiO E6 or E5 will both deliver high quality.

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