Campfire Audio Vega IEM Review

Twister6 posted a review of the Vega single dynamic driver (DD) IEM over on Head-Fi.  Not surprising, the bass is great.  Delivering bass with small number of balanced armature (BA) drivers appears to be a challenge which is likely why we have seen the rise of DD/BA IEMs over the past couple of years.  The DD delivers the bass and lower mids while the BA drivers take care of the mids on up.  Twister6 has comparisons of the Vega with various other IEMs.  A very nice review.

Unfortunately, the Vega retail for $1,299 with used going for around $700-800.  These price ranges open up a number of other IEM solutions.

Pros: BASS, resolving detailed organic sound, unique shell material, premium ALO cable, leather case, accessories.
Cons: the sound is eartip depended, the bass quality could be source dependent.

Review of Vega

iBasso Audio DX200 DAP Review

Twister6 posted a review of the $1,000 dual DAC DX200  digital audio player over on Head-Fi.

Pros: neutral revealing signature, dual ES9028Pro DACs, DSD512 support, Android 6.0/WiFi/Bluetooth, 2GB of RAM, leather case
Cons: single microSD and 64GB of internal storage, battery life due to high power AMP module, firmware is almost there.

Review of DX200

Focal Utopia Headphone Review

Currawong has posted a review of the Utopia on Head-Fi.  As with comments from other reviews of the Utopia, you must have a TOTL ecosystem to support these headphones.  Poorly mastered recordings or average amping will make the Utopia miss its mark as a true top-end headphone i.e. Stax SR009.  What this means is that you will need $4,000 for the Utopia plus a chunk more change on your amp/DAC/cables/power purifier/turntable/Hi-Res (and well mastered) media.  My ears are no longer capable of supporting this sort of expenditure.

The review includes comparisons with the Sony MDR-Z1R, HD-800, MrSpeakers’ Ether Flow and the HiFiMan HE1000 V2.

Pros: Incredibly resolving of music and upstream components. Incredible driver speed and ability to perceive width, depth and the movements of sounds.

Cons: Incredibly resolving of music and upstream components. Sound a bit closed-in if not used with a top system. Bass a bit weak and has phase issues.

Review of Utopia

Noble Audio Dulce Bass IEM Review

EZE99 posted a review of Noble’s Dulce Bass IEM over on Head-Fi.  This is the replacement for the original 5 BA driver.  Included in the review are comparisons with the Dunu DK-3001 and Earsonics SM64 IEMs.

Pros: Amazing Bass, clear audio quality.
Cons: Fit, Slight compromising of treble and mids

Review of the Dulce Bass

Brainwavz B200 IEM Review

Zelda provided us with a review with the dual BA driver $199 IEM from Brainwavz.   From the review the B200 is a better IEM than the single BA B150 but Zelda believes the B150 is a better value as it is half the price.  Personally, I would look into the 1MORE, Easy LZ or even the Echobox Finder IEMs.

Review of the B200

Beware of MQA!

A press release from Highresaudio announced that they are stopping their streaming of MQA encoded music due to the fact that MQA inherently does not reproduce the original signal and therefore isn’t lossless.  Further, the folks behind MQA state that their solution retains only those aspects of the ultrasonic signal that were significant to audible sound quality. So by default the resulting MQA encoded music will not match the original.  Others in the music industry have voiced similar complaints.  Further, it is unclear to me on whether you can apply any quality control to the data stream being sent.  I am holding to my original position that MQA is an approach to attempt to coerce hardware, software and streaming vendors to license this new proprietary solution rather than using the existing open standards.

is an article publishing on Hi-Fi+ related to this topic.
HIGHRESAUDIO TO STOP OFFERING MQA

Rose Technology Mini2 IEM Review

HiFiChris posted a review on Head-Fi of the Mini2 IEMs.  Priced at around $100 for the dual balanced armature drive IEM these gems are really small.  They might be ideal for folks with narrow ear canals as the Mini2 only has small silicone tubes which insert into your canals ( with tips of course).  Take a look at the review by clicking the link below.

Pros: detailed, coherent, tonally well-balanced, precise, inexpensive for what it is and delivers
Cons: nozzles are basically flexible silicone tubes

Review of the Mini2

Empire Ears Athena VIII IEM Review

PokerFaze posted a review on Head-Fi of the 8-BA driver Empire Ears Athena VIII IEM.  PokerFaze includes numerous comparisons to other similar IEMs in the review.

Pros: Amazing accessories, well balanced, rich and engaging sound, crystal clear and extended treble, silky smooth mids, punchy and well defined bass
Cons: Isolation is subpar, mids might be too warm for classical music, ADEL module might flex for some, distant sound due to ADEL causes loss in resolution

Review of the Athena VIII

FiiO X5 3rd Gen Audio Player Review

Bhazard posted a review of the new FiiO X5 3rd generation digital audio player over on Head-Fi.  FiiO has dropped the click wheel and replaced it with a large LCD screen.  This is a plus in my book.  The new X5 is a dual mono DAC configuration and supports balanced output.  All good things and with a $399 list price you can’t go wrong.

Pros: Sound Quality, Android OS, Wifi, USB DAC

Cons: Older android OS, Slow transfers.

 

Review of X5 3rd Gen

Audioquest NightOwl Carbon Review

Cinder posted a review on Head-Fi of the new NightOwl from Audioquest.  This ostensibly is a closed version of the NightHawk.  However, the NightOwl is priced significantly more than the NightHawk at $699.  Unfortunately, this review had no comparisons with other headphones.  I’ll hunt down other reviews which have comparisons and link them below.

Pros: Very good 3D-audio placement, lots of detail retrieval, great extension on both ends, eco-friendly packaging, great case, comfortable, classy look
Cons: Expensive, only comes with one cable

Review of NightOwl