Category Archives: Audio

Audio-GD NFB 11.28 TXCO Amanero USB DAC & Headphone AMP – Review – Connect your MAC, iPhone or LG V30

Welcome to my review of the Audio-GD NFB 11.28 TXCO Amanero USB DAC & Headphone AMP.

This is no ordinary headphone amp. This is handmade meticulously in China. Audio-GD is considered one of the best manufacturers are high end audio. The Audio-GD NFB 11.28 is their cheapest offering coming in at under £400.

Single Ended Headphone & pre- amplifier equipted with hyper-modern Sabre ES9028Pro dac chip. All parts and components are selected based on excellent sonic and measurements performance. Components are e.g. from WIMA capacitors (Germany) and NOVER parts (UK) . The used components but also the technical design (e.g. discrete analogue section) of this system were being selected after many years of experience and practices and are considered to perform and provide very good sonic results. Up to date with the latest technology, and ensuring peak performance.

This version includes the low jitter TCXO clocks & Amanero USB options. Amanero is currently the best compatible USB interface and sound in world according to Audio-GD.

Key Features

– Discrete DAC single ended headphone- and preamplifier
– DSD , DXD support from USB
– Sabre ES9028 – 32bit / 384K
– Low jitter precision 100MHz TCXO upgrade
– USB Amanero
– Volume controlled ALPS 27
– Upgraded the digital power supplies to double stages PSUs with ultra high speed ultra low noise parts, for remove the power interrupt and made the back stage darker, better transparency .
– The DSD and PCM switch upgrade to MCU control, remove the switch noise.
– Digital filter settings can selectable the different sound flavors for better suite different sound headphones and user’s personal taste.

Inputs

– USB input.
– Toslink optical SPDIF
– RCA coaxial SPDIF

Outputs

– RCA single ended (Output is configurable: fixed or variable)
– Headphone 6,3mm jack

Key Specifications

– Weight: 2.5 kg
– Width: 180 mm x Length: 220 mm x Height: 55 mm
– DAC Type Sabre ES9028Pro
– Signal to Noise Ratio – SNR (dB) 118dB
– Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) 0.002% (0dBV output level )
– Output Level (V) 2.5V (RCA)
– Output impedance (Ω) 2 ohm / Headphone output 2 ohm / DAC output
– Coaxial Input Sensitivity 0.5 Vp-p
– Optical Input Sensitivity 19 dBm
– Sample Rate USB: 44.1 – 384kHz | Coax: 44.1 – 192kHz | Optical: 44.1 – 96kHz
– Frequency Response (kHz) 20Hz – 20KHz (-0.2dB) | 3Hz – 350KHz (Analogue)
– USB Audio Class 1.0, 1.1, 2.0 & 3.0
– USB Operating Systems Windows, iOS, Linux
– Preamp Variable Output (V) 5.0V Max
– Preamp Fixed Output (V) 2.5V Max
– Headphone Output Level (V) 10V RMS
– Headphone Output Power (Watt) 3500mW/25 ohm 1800mW/50 ohm 900mW/100 ohm 300mW/300 ohm 150mW/600 ohm
– Power Consumption (Watt) 12
– Accessories -USB Cable, IEC Power Cord

Review

The Audio-GD 11.28 is something you won’t find on Amazon Prime for next day delivery. This particular model is popular and often has a wait time of over 30 days. There is a reason for that. You get an extreme amount of bang for your buck.

Lifting the top off the device reveals a work of art. It also gives you access to the digital filters which allows you to tweak the sound marginally. See more info on the options at Magna HiFi. Adjusting the digital filters can warm the sound up a fraction.

You will also notice from the specifications the amp section delivers oodles of power. I have tested the device using Sennheiser HD598, Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro 250 ohm, Beyer Dynamic DT990 Pro 250 ohm, Sony MDR-100AAP, Optoma NuForce NE8’s and Sennhesier In Ear Momentums. I connected a MacBook Pro, LG V20 and iPhone 7 Plus to the Audio-GD as well. Irrespective of headphone used, the Audio-GD pushed the headphone to its maximum abilities and they all sounded superb through it.

Describing the sound – its fairly dark and neutral but with reserves of energy that scales as the music demands. The sound does warm up slightly after the device has been left on for a good hour. The amp does get slightly warm, but this is normal.So don’t cover up the vents.

Vocals and instruments have excellent clarity. Soundstage is excellent too. Going back to the digital filters. I did try the warmer option but at the moment cannot decide whether I prefer the default setting or the warmer one. I imagine in the end I will opt for the warmer setting.

Video Review

Conclusion

A cracking piece of kit that delivers exactly what it set out to be. Recommended.

Available from Magna HiFi

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Aukey Outdoor Bluetooth Water Resistant Speaker Review 


Welcome to my review of the Aukey Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker that costs less than £30. Before I get to the meat of the review, let’s highlight the key features – 

– Rugged & water resistant. 

– 24 hour playtime/talk time, enhanced bass mode. 6 hour recharge time. 

– Dual 5W drivers produce deep lows, textured mids, and clear highs

– Bluetooth 4.1 which automatically reconnects to the last device used, 33ft wireless range

– A2DP Bluetooth or use the AUX input with included 3.5mm audio cable.

– Audio playback/calls and volume controls, and built-in microphone. 

– Choose your sound signature with the Mode switch. Built-in 1/4″-20 standard tripod screw mount for outdoor use. 

– Package Contents: AUKEY SK-M12 Bluetooth 4.1 Speaker, Micro-USB Cable, 3.5mm Audio Cable, User Manual, 24 Month Warranty

– Weight 650g. 

– Dimensions 20.9 x 8.3 x 7.3cm. 

Video Review and Unboxing 

Conclusion 

The Aukey Outdoor Bluetooth Speaker is recommended as is my speaker of choice when walking on Dartmoor National Park. Available from Amazon UK.

HTC U11 – Audio Review + Best Headphones To Use + vs LG V20, DFR & more

HTC U11 in Solar Red with 6gb ram and 128gb storage. The best version of the HTC U11. It is also dual sim.

But for this review, I am going to look at the following –

– HTC U11 Audio Review including the HTC uSonic Noise Cancellation Headset

– The Best Headphones to use with the HTC U11

– Bluetooth Quality

– HTC U11 vs LG V20

– HTC U11 vs Dragonfly Red and other DACS

– And my overall conclusion.

The Audio Review


I also have two additional posts on the HTC U11 –

HTC U11 solar red vs iPhone 7 Plus Product Red

HTC U11 Review incl Camera Review
If you’re buying anything on Amazon UK please head over by this LINK . It won’t cost you anything extra either but will helps towards the running costs of Gavin’s Gadgets.

LG V20 vs ZTE Axon 7 – Audio Comparison – With guest Steve Litchfield 


Earlier today, Steve Litchfield from The Phones Show compared the audio quality from the ZTE Axon 7 and LG V20. 

So without further ado, see what we both had to say about the audio centric phones. 

Video Review

You can find links to all of Steve’s websites and , podcasts and YouTube channel, by clicking HERE.

Audio-GD NFB 11.28 TXCO Amanero USB DAC & Headphone AMP Unboxing – Epic Pro Audio – Great with a MacBook Pro or Windows 10 PC


Audio-GD NFB 11.28 TXCO Single ended Pre & Headphones Amp Amanero USB DAC. 

The gold standard of audio from China. Hand built. Incredible components for the price. 

Just look at the unit with the top removed and the key features!



The Key Features 

– S/N Ratio 118db 

– Output Level Headphone output : 10V RMS  / Variable output : 5V Max /Fixed output: 2.5V RMS

– Output power (Only for headphone) 

     3500mW/25 ohm
     1800mW/50 ohm

      900mW/100 ohm

      300mW/300 ohm
      150mW/600 ohm

The specifications noted above are pretty epic!! In terms of sound quality and performance this device only reaches its full potential after using it for 150 hours. Now that may sound crazy but for this type of product it does make a difference. 

So I literally unboxed the Audio-gd, connected it and had an immediate listen. Since the unboxing the next change up in sound quality came at around 10 hours usage. Before I write my final review, I will have used it for 150 hours and tested it with as many varieties of headphones as feasibly possible, across as many different genres. 

For now I’m nicknaming mine “The Beast”. And I’m sure I’m going to get asked this, so let’s kill this question off now. “Is this better than the LG V20 or LG G6 Quad DAC?”  ANSWER. Do pigs fly! Output power with a pair of 25 ohm headphones is 3,500mW. 1,800 mW at 50 ohms. So most portable headphones are either 16 ohms or 32 ohms which equates to around 4,000 mW and 3,000 mW respectively. 

As a comparison, the gorgeous Oppo HA-2 SE portable headphone amp dac that I reviewed knocks out 300 mW at 16 ohms, 220 mW at 32 ohms and 30 mW at 300 ohms. If you happen to have a LG V20 you can connect it to the Audio-gd via USB and use the V20 as a digital transport device. You can also use the digital out options on the iPhone.  Connecting the Audio-gd to your mac or windows pc will provide the best experience.  In my final review I will report back on the pros and cons of each option. 

The Beast will set you back  around £400. 

Unboxing & First Impressions

Available from Magna HiFi.


VE Monk Plus Headphones Review – Audiophile Grade for less than £10

Welcome to my review of the VE Monk Plus Headphones. The Monk Plus headphones cost currently on Amazon just £8.49. 

Yet these are causing a stir amongst audiophiles due to their incredible audio quality versus unbelievable price. They are 64 ohms and have a sensitivity of 116db. So these will work well from an iPhone, Samsung or other android phone to a dedicated DAP. 

So are these truly unbelievable or is this a load of nonsense. Find out below in my review. 

Video Review 


The Best Headphones to use with the LG V30, LG V20 & LG G6 Quad DAC Smartphones 

So what are the best headphones  to use with the LG V20 and LG G6 Quad DAC that don’t cost a fortune?

Well check out my video below for more insights. 

Video Review 




More information on all the headphones discussed along with the latest deals –

Sennheiser Momentum In Ear – http://amzn.to/2wcj56O

Sony MDR-100 AAP – http://amzn.to/2vcpHot

Sennheiser HD598 – http://amzn.to/2uOBDuc

Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250 ohm – http://amzn.to/2wchLk2

Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 250 ohm – http://amzn.to/2wc7JQb

Aukey Portable Pocket Bluetooth Speaker Review – for iPhone, Samsung, iPad & Tablets


The Aukey Portable Pocket Bluetooth Speaker Review. 

Key Features 

– Compact, easy-to-grip aluminum Bluetooth speaker bar with dual 3W drivers and subwoofer. Small enough to fit in your pocket. 
– Minimalist small sized design with one button to turn on the speaker and instantly initiate pairing. 

– One piece of carefully crafted aluminum with crisscross-cut speaker grill and soft rubber ends. 

– Looks cool. 

– Technology: BT 3.0, A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP

– Charging Time: 2 hours
– Play Time: 4 hours

– Standby Time: Up to 80 hours

– Operating Range: Up to 10m / 33ft

– Battery Type: Li-Polymer (600mAh)

– Package Contents: AUKEY SK-M29 Pocket Wireless Speaker, Micro-USB Cable, User Manual, 24-Month Warranty Card

Available from Amazon UK.

Video Review 

Beats Studio Wireless Headphones Review 2017


The Beats Studio Wireless Headphones are the flagship headphone from Beats and Apple. 

Key Features 

– Beats Acoustic Engine uses precision sound to deliver music the way artists want it to be heard.

– Rechargeable battery lasts 12 hours whilst connected through Bluetooth and up to 20 hours when plugged into your device.

– Adaptive Noise Cancelling blocks out the world in two modes.

– Battery fuel gauge lets you know how much power is left.

– Available in 8 colours. 

– Mic and controls built into ear cup gives you solid playback control, plus crystal-clear hands-free calling on your iPhone.

– Folds to a compact size and then fits in hard case which is included. 

Available from Amazon UK.

Video Review 

Even E1 – In Ear Headphones Review – The headphone with a hearing test built in for the bespoke sound EQ


Even E1 in ear headphones review. Welcome to my review of the unique Even E1 in ear headphones. The headphones perform a short hearing test to create a bespoke EarPrint sound EQ just for your ears. 
Key Features 

– EarPrint Technology – quick and easy hearing test that tunes music to fit your hearing, so you never skip a beat or miss a note again. Stored on your device, you can enjoy music from any source – any time. 
– Beautifully Made and Comfortable Enough to Wear All Day, Anytime. 
– Interchangeable earphone tips for a perfect fit; Two-toned cables to easily differentiate left from right; Tangle-resistant, lightweight nylon cords.
– 10mm dynamic drivers and a unique acoustic shell design
– Headphone Jack: 3.5mm
– Impedance: 32 Ohms
– Microphone
– Battery: Lithium Ion
– 12 hours continuous play
– Weight: 22g
– Frequency Range: 20-20,000 Hz
– Total Harmonic Distortion: <3%
– Sound Pressure Level: 110+/-2db
– Controls: Volume, Play, Pause, Call Controls
– Remote: Inline

Video Review 

Main Review 

When you first turn in the headphones, a voice assistant takes you through a hearing test to create your own EarPrint. This bespoke sound EQ can be turned in or off. It also means the module needs charging but this does provide over 10 hours usage. The EarPrint EQ created for my ears provided more bass, clear vocals and midrange. The difference was dramatic but it was noticeable. 

Conclusion 

The Even E1 are a unique pair of headphones. The bespoke sound EQ will ensure you get the best sound for your ears. Available from Selfridges.

Aukey Bluetooth Wireless Headphones – £25 budget – My Review

Aukey Bluetooth Wireless Headphones review. Just under £25 and a pair of wireless headphones. So just how good are these. Well let’s take a look at the key features.

Key Features 

– Comfortable, noise-isolating in-ear headphones with APT-X technology. 3 EQ sound settings. – Magnetically clip together for convenient and secure carry around your neck.
– Bluetooth 4.1, two devices simultaneous connections
– Built in remote for managing audio playback & calls, volume controls, multi-function button, and built-in 6th generation cVc noise-cancelling microphone
– Comfortable ear-tips (in three sizes) provide a smooth seal for your ears, isolating you from external noise
– Package Contents: AUKEY EP-B40 Magnetic Wireless Earbuds, Micro-USB Cable, Three Pairs of Ear-Tips, Three Pairs of In-Ear Ear-hooks, Carrying Pouch, User Manual, 24-Month Warranty Card
– BT 4.1, A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP, aptX
– Charging Time: 1.5 hours
– Up to 8 hours playback
– Battery Type: Li-Polymer (2 x 60mAh)
– Operating Range: Up to 10m / 33ft
– Weight: 13g

Video Review 

Main Review 

£25, yes £25 for these headphones. Surely they won’t sound good. Well actually they punch above their price easily and have a reasonable bass punch, with clear mids and vocals. With the included ear clips these also become ideal for using while moving around. Personally, I was happy wearing them without ear clips.  These are really enjoyable to use. They are not the ultimate in audio quality but definitely as good as many headphones costing twice as much.

They also feature an EQ Switch gives you a choice of three sound signatures- treble, bass, and vocals. So if you want to listen to a podcast the vocal mode is ideal.

As these are bluetooth Headphones you don’t need to worry about a headphone jack. So whether you have an Echo Dot, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Android Phone or Tablet, a Samsung S8, HTC U11, LG G6  or if you’re really unlucky a Windows Phone, these will work just fine.
For iOS users, these also have a Siri Wakeup option.  All you have to do is short press both volume buttons + & – while the earphone is in the standby mode, and siri is activated when a prompt tone is heard. Cool.

Conclusion 

One of the best budget Bluetooth headphones available.

Useful Links

Aukey Bluetooth headphones latest pricing on Amazon

OnePlus 5 – How to activate USB Audio, Dual Bluetooth, Audio Tuner and APT-X HD?

OnePlus 5. So how do you activate the advanced audio options including USB Audio, APT-X HD and the Audio Tuner?

Audio Tuner

To activate the audio tuner go to the settings app. Scroll down to sound and vibration. Go to the last option Audio Tuner, turn on and tweak to your hearts content. This doesn’t work on Bluetooth audio. 

USB Audio

To enable USB Audio so you can plug in an external DAC, go to the settings app, advanced. Half way down toggle the OTG Storage setting to on. 

APT-X HD

To enable the hi res APT-X HD, go to the settings app, advanced, and right at the bottom is an option for Bluetooth Audio Codec. Tap on this and choose between APT-X, APT-X HD and SBC. SBC is the default. The photo above shows the Astell & Kern XB10 Bluetooth Adapter that outputs the APT-X HD. You can read my review of the Astell & Kern XB10 by clicking HERE.

Dual Bluetooth 

So how do you connect to two Bluetooth devices at the same time on the Oneplus 5. You have to wait for Android O update to arrive on the Oneplus 5. It is not possible yet. 

If you have any questions on the Oneplus 5 don’t hesitate to ask. 

If you are shopping on Amazon UK and would like to help Gavin’s Gadgets towards the running costs, by clicking the Amazon link, it takes you to the Amazon store and you can shop away and purchase whatever you need, but without any additional cost to yourself. 

Amazon UK Shopping

USB Audio on the new iPad Pro 10.5 & iPhone 7 – Tips


Sometimes it just works when using Apple devices. Other times Apple makes it difficult and adds a layer of cost to make it work when you want to try and do something different. 

Case in question is with USB Audio. iOS 10 broke the usual method many had been using to get USB Audio outputted from an iPad or iPhone to a third party DAC to create a better sound. 

Apple’s preferred method is clearly to use Bluetooth headphones, AirPods or one of their Beats headphones. Unfortunately, whilst the AirPods work extremely well, that’s an extra cost of £169. Also, neither Apple or Beats have an over the ear headphone currently that has the new W1 chip for faultless Bluetooth connection playback. Another option is the emergence of lightning headphones that connect via the lightning port. 

Many people are having issues with many DACS and iOS devices (iPads and iPhones). Previously, everyone would either be using an official MFI Approved DAC by Apple or the USB adapter v2. You might not realise that Apple updated the USB to lightning adapter to a USB3 to lightning adapter as shown above. It’s bigger because it allows you to plug a lightning cable into to charge the iPad or iPhone whilst using it. This means more USB peripherals will work as they can have their own power source. I’ve tested this as well. The one other advantage of the USB2 over the new USB3 adapter is better audio. 

Unfortunately, the old USB2 camera adapter isn’t working and you will need to buy the new USB3 adapter which also costs more than the older version! The setup shown in the photo is a Audioquest Dragonfly Red DAC, Audioquest Jitterbug and the Apple USB3 to lightning adapter. I have used this with my iPhone 7 Plus and iPad Pro 10.5, both of which are running iOS 10.3.2. 

With this setup and using the new USB3 Apple lightning to camera adapter,  USB Audio is once again working smoothly. 

However, anyone with approved MFI DACs could still be having issues and this should hopefully be fixed when iOS 11 arrives. 

Useful Links

Apple lighting to USB3 Camera adapter on Amazon UK

Audioquest Dragonfly Red on Amazon UK
Audioquest Jitterbug on Amazon UK


Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT – Review – Best Bluetooth Headphone of 2017

Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT Review. £499 of world class technology providing hi-res bluetooth and USB Audio sound. These are pure digital headphones meaning there is no headphone jack. Actually there isn’t a DAC either.

The ATH-DSR9BT feature an exclusive “Pure Digital Drive” system keeps audio signal completely digital from source to driver for exceptionally pure sound. This is a first. A Dnote chipset controls driver amplitude directly with digital signals – no DAC converter required.

The Key Features / Specification

– Features Qualcomm aptX HD, aptX, AAC and SBC codecs, enabling wireless transmission with a resolution up to 24-bit/48kHz.
– 45mm True Motion Driver, with 4-core twisted OFC-7N voice coil and diaphragm with diamond-like carbon coating.
– Mic and volume/control switch are built into the earcup for convenient control of smartphones and other Bluetooth wireless devices / NFC touch pairing.
– Save up to “eight” Bluetooth wireless devices paired.
– LED indicators display pairing, charging status, battery level, and the codec currently in use.
– Heat-reactive soft foam earpads and an easily adjustable leather headband provide a comfortable fit with outstanding sound isolation
– Internal battery provides approximately 15 hours of continuous use (1000 hours on standby) on a full charge
– Includes a 2.0 m (6.6′) USB cable, for charging and Hi-Res Audio playback, and hard carrying case
Frequency Response – 5 to 45,000 Hz / Sensitivity – 97 ohms / Impedance – 38 ohms / Weight – 310g
– Microphone -condenser/Sensitivity -44 dB (1V/Pa a 1 kHz)/Frequency Response 50 – 4,000Hz /omnidirectional
– Input Jack: Micro USB Type B
– Communication System: Bluetooth Version 4.2 / Bluetooth Specification Power Class 2
– Maximum Communication Range: Line of sight – approx. 10 m (33′) / Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP

As you can see from the key features and specifications noted above, these ATH-DSR9BT are certainly something special and in terms of absolute sound quality are the best so far in 2017. However, I personally did not like them, so check out my review below to find out the incredible highs and disappointing lows.

The headphones were tested using an iPhone 7 Plus (bluetooth AAC), LG G6 (APT-X HD, USB Audio using USB Audio Player Pro & Tidal), MacBook Pro (USB Audio and APT-X).

The Audio Review

Useful Links

More information on the Audio Technica DSR9BT Headphone and latest deals on Amazon UK
More information and the latest deals on Audio Technica headphones on Amazon UK.
Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT – First Impressions and Unboxing

Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT – 24bit Hi-Res Bluetooth & USB Headphones – First Impressions


Audio Technica ATH-DSR9BT First Impressions and Unboxing. The ATH-DSR9BT are over-ear wireless headphones that feature a lot of crazy bluetooth technology to deliver 24bit hi resolution sound. Plus they connect via USB for a true digital connection. No headphone jack required! Actually there isn’t a headphone jack. These are true digital headphones through and through.

So as an example with my Mac or PC they connect via a USB cable with a huge frequency range as shown below. With my LG G6 they can also connect via the USB connection or via Bluetooth APT-X HD (24bit/96) Hi Resolution bluetooth.

The Key Features / Specification

– The ATH-DSR9BT feature an exclusive “Pure Digital Drive” system keeps audio signal completely digital from source to driver for exceptionally pure sound. This is a first.

– Dnote chipset controls driver amplitude directly with digital signals – no D/A converter required.

– Features Qualcomm aptX HD, aptX, AAC and SBC codecs, enabling wireless transmission with a resolution up to 24-bit/48kHz.

– 45mm True Motion Driver, with 4-core twisted OFC-7N voice coil and diaphragm with diamond-like carbon coating.

– Mic and volume/control switch are built into the earcup for convenient control of smartphones and other Bluetooth wireless devices / NFC touch pairing.

– Save up to “eight” Bluetooth wireless devices paired.

– LED indicators display pairing, charging status, battery level, and the codec currently in use.

– Heat-reactive soft foam earpads and an easily adjustable leather headband provide a comfortable fit with outstanding sound isolation

– Internal battery provides approximately 15 hours of continuous use (1000 hours on standby) on a full charge

– Includes a 2.0 m (6.6′) USB cable, for charging and Hi-Res Audio playback, and hard carrying case

Frequency Response – 5 to 45,000 Hz / Sensitivity – 97 ohms / Impedance – 38 ohms / Weight – 310g

– Microphone -condenser/Sensitivity -44 dB (1V/Pa a 1 kHz)/Frequency Response 50 – 4,000Hz /omnidirectional

– Input Jack: Micro USB Type B

– Communication System: Bluetooth Version 4.2 / Bluetooth Specification Power Class 2

– Maximum Communication Range: Line of sight – approx. 10 m (33′) / Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP

First Impressions and Unboxing

As you can see from the key features and specifications noted above, these ATH-DSR9BT are certainly something special and I can’t wait to spend more time with these and share my findings both negative and positive. And there are both.

Useful Links

More information on the Audio Technica DSR9BT Headphone and latest deals on Amazon UK
More information and the latest deals on Audio Technica headphones on Amazon UK.