Category Archives: Audio

iFi Audio hip dac review – a fantastic portable headphone amp dac with MQA support

Welcome to my review of the iFi Audio hip dac . The iFi Audio hip dac retails for £149.

The Key Features and Specifications

– Portable, slim design with up to 12 hrs of battery life and a slim.
– Hi resolution audio support including Spotify, Tidal MQA to MP3. Play any high res audio format with native digital to analogue conversion so you can listen to any song the way the original recording was intended.
– Powerful amp ideal for in ear monitors or over the ear headphones with 400 mW max power output from the on-board amplifier via the 3.5mm headphone socket or 700mW via the 4.4mm balanced.
– Connects via USB, works with iPhone with Apple Camera Kit
– Power Match and XBass offer adjustable analogue enhancements to customise your listening experience without compromising the digital conversion
– USB C and USB Type A

Review

iFi Audio history. iFi Audio was born in 2012 to produce ultra-fidelity audio products that push the sonic envelope whilst still priced within the mainstream. iFi audio is now under parent company AMR (Abbingdon Music Research), which designs and produces top-end luxurious audio products. AMR saw in 2010 that customer demand for wireless and portable headphones was expanding as the whole audio dynamic was changing. Thus, iFi Audio was launched.

The iFi Audio hip dac smart stuff. The DAC section is based around a Burr-Brown DAC chip that provides a lovely fluid, highly musical sound quality and also true native architecture. iFi Audio have then desgined their own circuitry. This means you get bit perfect PCM, native DSD and MQA. Hi-res PCM and DXD audio data is supported at sampling rates up to 384kHz, alongside DSD from 2.8MHz to 12.4MHz (DSD64, 128 and 256). Thanks to the Burr Brown chip’s True Native design, PCM and DSD take separate pathways – this enables both PCM and DSD to remain bit perfect in their native form right through to analogue conversion.

There are two USB ports – USB Type A for audio data and USB-C for charging. The USB Type A input features a male connector, rather than a typical female port. This provides greater mechanical integrity than USB/Micro USB ports.. This is an advantage for iPhone and iPad users, because it accepts Apple’s Lightning to USB Camera Adaptor directly without requiring an additional female-to-male USB adaptor, as shown in my video review. The optional bass boost enhances low frequencies without muddying the mid range, and is particularly useful with earphones and open-back headphones that may lack deep bass. It operates entirely in the analogue domain rather than messing with the digital signal via DSP.

Sound quality. For this review I used a range of headphones including the Focal Elear, Sennheiser HD599, AKG K371 and Fiio FA7. I also tested the 4.4mm balanced using the Fiio FA7 with the Fiio 4.4mm headphone cable. iFi Audio recommend activating the PowerMatch for over ear headphones. So for this review all my over the ear headphones had this activated. When using my Fiio FA7 IEMs this was turned off.

Genres. All genres were tested from electronic, jazz, blues, classical, pop, rock and alternative. I spent hours and hours testing the hip dac including a 10 hour burn in before listening to it. All the over ear headphones were driven with ease, scale and presence. The XBass feature is great to use, but there is already IMO enough drama without having to use it. However, my AKG K371 headphones just loved the XBass being on and transformed from being a fairly accurate sounding headphone to a Tyrannosaurus Rex. OMG what a chalk and cheese difference and for the better. The Burr Brown chipset provides a lovely musical presentation, slightly warm, but with plenty of scale, drama, soundstage across all genres. And speed too. The 4,4mm balanced output added a little hiss with my Fiio FA7. This hiss was not present using the 3.5mm option. So ultra sensitive IEMs are best used with the 3.5mm jack which is extremely powerful in its own right.

Video Review

Conclusion

The iFi Audio is a fantastic compact headphone amp dac and highly recommended and one of my favourite amp/dacs!

Useful Links

Latest pricing & more info on iFi Audio hip dac on Amazon

Jabra Elite 75t review vs AirPods Pro

Welcome to my review of the Jabra Elite 75t.

The Key Features

– Compact new shape, tested for secure fit
– 4-Mic call technology for superior call quality wherever you are, even in noisy and windy environments
– More power, more freedom, with more than 7.5 hours of battery and a total of 28 with charging case
– Make your music sound exactly the way you want it to, with a customisable equaliser, available in the Jabra Sound+ app
– Durability guaranteed, with IP55-rated protection and a 2-year warranty against dust and water
– 7.5 hours battery life extended to 28 hours with case
– USB C charging on case
– Full range of controls on earbuds

Review

Conclusion

The Jabra Elite 75t are the best true wireless earbuds I have tested. 9.5/10. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

Latest pricing on Jabra Elite 75t on Amazon

Beats Solo Pro Review by an Audiophile

Welcome to my review of the Beats Solo Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling headphones.

Key Features

– Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) blocks external noise
– Beats’ Pure ANC adjusts to external noise and fit while preserving sound quality
– Transparency helps you stay aware of your surroundings while listening
– Up to 22 hours of listening time (up to 40 hours with ANC and Transparency turned off)
– With Fast Fuel, a 10-minute charge gives 3 hours of playback when the battery is low
– Intuitively designed to power on and off when you unfold and fold them
– Ergonomically designed for optimal comfort and extended wear

Review

Conclusion

8.0/10 scoring. The Beats Solo Pro improve upon the previous versions in almost every way to end up with a solid offering available in many colours. You are paying for the brand within the pricing but then you do get tight integration into the iOS and Apple ecosystem.

Useful Links

Latest info & pricing on the Beats Solo Pro on Amazon

AirPods Pro Review vs Sony WF-1000XM3

Welcome to my review of Apple’s AirPods Pro.

Key Features & Specifications

– Active Noise cancellation for immersive sound
– Transparency mode for hearing and connecting with the world around you
– Three sizes of soft, tapered silicone tips for a customisable fit
– Sweat and water resistant
– Adaptive EQ automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear
– Easy setup for all your Apple devices
– Quick access to Siri by saying “Hey Siri”
– The wireless charging case delivers more than 24 hours of battery life

Review & Comparison

Conclusion

9/10 for the AirPods Pro. Apple have delivered noise cancelling true wireless earphones in a really tiny package which when coupled with the software integration into the iOS eco system make these a great product. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

Latest info & pricing on AirPods Pro on Amazon

Huawei FreeBuds 3 – The Ultimate Wireless Earphones Review & Comparison vs AirPods v2

Welcome to my review on the Huawei FreeBuds 3.

The Huawei FreeBuds 3 are a True Wireless Stereo Earbuds powered by Huawei’s proprietary Kirin A1 chip. FreeBuds 3 are the world’s 1st open-fit active noise cancellation wireless earphone.

They also are the world’s first BT 5.1 & BLE 5.1 wearable chip, Kirin A1 ensures that FreeBuds 3 is unmatched for stability and ease of connectivity.

My review includes the following –

– a 16 min detailed review and comparison with the AirPods v2
– wind mic audio test and comparison with the AirPods v2
– a look at the companion app
– ALL the high tech explained simply

Conclusion

Incredible tech in such a tiny package. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

Huawei FreeBuds 3 on Amazon

Dali iO-6 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Review – new headphones from high end audio company Dali

The Dali iO is luxurious wireless headphones – designed and developed in Denmark. With class-leading battery time, audio comfort and sound performance.

DALI, Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, grew out of Scandinavia’s leading audio retail chain in 1983. Dalie strive to create loudspeakers with outstanding performance and “natural sound” at competitive prices.

In 2019, DALI offers an exciting range of speakers to suit every taste from the cost-conscious SPEKTOR series to the high-performance speaker EPICON 8. Dali has over one million satisfied customers in more than 70 countries.

A key contributing factor to DALI’s superiority is exclusive DALI driver units designed and developed from scratch by their Danish engineers and produced in their own controlled facilities. With their unique driver technologies they are able to design and build speaker systems that makes it possible for listeners to hear their favourite music exactly as the artists intended.

So the Dali iO continues its tradition with a wireless headphone that is built for extended listening with a comfortable, durable design and a natural transparent sound that never tires.

Dali have released the i04 and i06. The i06 have active noise cancellation and retail for around 399 euros. I have already reviewed the Dali iO-4 headphones. Clickhere.

What is really interesting about the new headphones, is that Dali didn’t go and re badge a Chinese headphone, they designed, built and manufactured everything from scratch. The headphones are in essence a Dali loudspeaker, miniaturised on the ear. What they did do, was buy Sony’s noise cancellation tech for the i06. So you actually have the best of both worlds with this version.

So what is my verdict on these new headphones? Go take a look now!

Dali i-O4 on Amazon https://amzn.to/2MFeapP

Dali i-06 on Amazon https://amzn.to/2W80Qxk

Belkin RockStar iPhone Headphones with Lightning Connector Review – also in USB C

Welcome to my review of the Belkin RockStar iPhone Headphones with Lightning Connector. These are also available with a USB C termination. The Belkin Rockstar retail for around £40 and are available in white and black finishes.

The Key Features and Specifications

– Listen to music and take calls from your iPhone without an adapter
– Designed for Apple LIGHTNING devices without audio port, including iPhone XS, XS max, XR, x, 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus/ iPad Pro 10. 5-Inch, 9. 7-Inch and more
– Mfi-certified for compatibility with iOS devices
– Tangle-free, flat, lightweight cable keep headphones from bunching up
– Sweat and Splash-Resistant

Review

Conclusion

An upgrade to the in the box earphones. A pleasant sound with a slight V shape. Recommended.

Useful Links

More info and the latest pricing on Amazon – Belkin Rockstar Earphones.

Jabra Elite 85h Over Ear Wireless Headphones with ANC Review & Comparison

Welcome to my review of the Jabra Elite 85h Over Ear Headphones with automatic noise cancellation and SmartSound Technology. The headphones retail for around £279.

The Key Features and Specification

– SmartSound: Audio that automatically adapts to your surroundings
– Block unwanted background noise with Smart Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
– 36 hours battery life with ANC on
– On-ear detection; Elite 85h will recognise when you remove them from your ears, auto-playing when you put them on and auto-pausing when you take them off
– Access your voice assistant with one touch for instant, Amazon Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant
– Rain-resistant with a 2 years water and dust warranty
– Personalise the headphones with the Jabra Sound+ app-access SmartSound features, customise music profiles, choose your voice assistant, track battery usage, firmware and more
– Enhanced 8-microphone technology for a superior call experience

Review

Conclusion

The Jabra Elite 85h are a comfortable pair of headphones with superb mics for calls and more. The noise cancellation is flexible, enabling you to listen to music while conducting a conversation with someone in the office! Highly recommended.

Useful Links

More info and latest pricing on Amazon – Jabra Elite 85h

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancellation Earphones Long Term Review & Comparison

Welcome to my long term review of the Sony WF-1000XM3 true wireless earphones with noise cancellation. The earphones retail for around £219.

The Key Features and Specifications

– Digital Noise Cancelling with HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1e and Dual Noise Sensor Technology
– AAC and SBC codecs
– Up to 24 hours battery life
– USB C for the case
– DSEE HX
– Firmware upgradeable with Sony Headphone app
– Bluetooth 5, NFC

Review

Conclusion

Overall an unbelievable set of wireless earphones. If you travel and need noise cancelling, these are the earphones to get. Highly recommended.

Useful Links

More info and latest pricing on Amazon – Sony WF-1000XM3.