Category Archives: Audio

Burson Audio Playmate 2 review – Musical Magic

Welcome to my review of the Burson Audio Playmate 2 which retails for £599. The Burson Audio Playmate 2 is a headphone AMP/DAC and Pre-AMP.

Key Features/Specs

  • 3W Class A SE.
  • Upgradeable Opamps with four detachable DIP sockets
  • ESS 9038QTM DAC.
  • XMOS DSD 512.
  • Precision machined aluminium for a sumptuous finish.
  • Unified aluminium enclose also acts as a heat sink.
  • Class-A and 3W per channel
  • Two levels of power control, each with 100 volume steps. 110db IEM, no worries. 70db planar magnetic, no problem either.
  • USB-C input
  • MCPS charges the Playmate at 170 thousand times per second to enhance the power, dynamics and micro-details.

A decade ago, Burson Audio argued against using IC opamps on the audio signal path. Today, their discrete audio opamps are industry benchmarks. They focus on building great products that speak for themselves. Based on my experience so far, not only do they look stunning but they also sound terrific too! Plus with the added bonus of being able to easily upgrade the op amps, what more could you ask for!

Menu Options

The Playmate 2 has an easy to access and use menu system, that provides access to the following options.

  • Headphone level – High or Low, this is your headphone gain setting
  • FirFilter – you can select a digital filter that are built-in directly in the ESS Sabre DAC chip, there are 7 filters to play with
  • DPLL (DSD) – OFF, Low, Mid and High (default) – the higher this setting is the higher the jitter rejection will be for DSD files
  • DPLL (PCM) – Off, Low, Mid (default) or High – the same but for PCM files
  • Emphasis – Off (default), On – ON position rolls-off the treble by about 5db at 10 kHz and by about 8 db at 20 khz. Best to leave this setting to the OFF position. Only turn on if using a cassette tape player.
  • OLED Level – Low (default) or High – changes the brightness of the OLED screen
  • Reset Set: No or Yes – resets to factory settings.

Audio Tracks used for the Review

  • Roxy Music – True to Life (Remastered)
  • Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life
  • Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (2012 Mix Master)
  • Eric Clapton – Layla (Acoustic Live at MTV Unplugged)
  • Axel F – From Beverly Hills Cop
  • Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
  • CeeLo Green – Bright Lights Bigger City
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tin Pan Alley
  • K.D. Lang – Constant Craving 
  • Nigel Kennedy – The New Four Seasons
  • Hans Zimmer – Mountains 

Video Review

Conclusion

A beautifully engineering amp dac that sounds as good as it looks. Highly recommended 9.2/10.

Useful Links

1MORE EVO review – True Wireless Earphones with ANC – A Class Act!

Welcome to my review of the 1MORE EVO true wireless earphones that retail for £159.

Key Features/Specs

  • High-Res Audio Wireless Certified.
  • 10mm dynamic driver + balanced armature.
  • Low distortion, 3x details, 40 kHz frequency response – LDAC/AAC/SBC.
  • SoundID from Sonarworks: sound tailored to your taste via 1MORE MUSIC App.
  • Grammy Master Tuning.
  • QuietMax Intelligent Noise Cancellation Technology.
  • Multiple ANC modes – ANC Strong/ANC Mild/WNR/Adaptive ANC.
  • Dual transparency modes – Pass-through/Voice Enhancement.
  • Exceptional Call Clarity – total 6 mics with Ai-powered DNN to intelligently remove ambient noise
  • Dual-Device Connection, Bluetooth 5.2 technology: seamlessly switch between your devices
  • Unique 3D ceramic panel; less electromagnetic signal interference
  • Long-lasting comfort: improved ergonomics; antibacterial ear tips
  • Long battery life: up to 28 hours playtime
  • Qi wireless charging & fast charge (15mins = 4hrs)
  • IPX4 rated water resistance
  • Customizable touch control (including voice assistant)

Video Review

Conclusion

The 1MORE EVO true wireless earbuds are an incredible wireless earphone. Gold recommendation. 9.5/10.

During the first 30 days of release, 1MORE are running an offer of that reduces the price by £25 on either Amazon or their US website.

Useful Links

iFi ZEN Air Blue review – Incredible performance at a budget price!

Welcome to my review of the iFi ZEN Air Blue which is part of iFi Audio’s budget range. The iFi Zen Air Blue retails for £99. The iFi ZEN Air Blue is a Bluetooth receiver.

Key Features/Specs

  • Codecs – SBC, AAC, APT-X, APT-X Adaptive, APT-X LL, APT-X HD, LDAC & LHDC
  • ESS Sabre DAC, Qualcomm QCC 5100 Bluetooth Chip
  • 295g weight
  • TDK COG Capacitors
  • Texas Instruments ICs
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • RCA Outputs

Video Review

Conclusion

iFi Audio have created a fantastic bluetooth receiver at a very affordable price. Highly recommended. 9.1/10.

Useful Links

iFi ZEN Air DAC review – budget king!

Welcome to my review of the iFi ZEN Air DAC which retails for £99. The iFi ZEN Air DAC is a desktop DAC/AMP. It functions as either a DAC or headphone amp. You can connect it to a separate amp or speakers too.

Key Features/Specs

  •  PCM 32bit/384kHz, fully native DSD256 and MQA.
  • PowerMatch adjusts the gain of the ZEN DAC Air so it functions at the right level for your headphones. 
  • XBass+ allows you to tailor the bass to suit your headphones and your personal taste.
  • New low latency 16 core XMOS IC.
  • Burr Brown Chip – Bit-Perfect DSD & DXD DAC by Burr Brown.
  • Weight 315g.
  • Headphone output 280mW at 32ohms, 36mW at 300 ohms, 1V/3.3V max (variable).

Video Review

Conclusion

The iFi ZEN Air DAC is a superb budget DAC/Amp. Highly recommended. 9.2/10.

Useful Links

1MORE ComfoBuds Mini review – 13 Winning Reasons!

Welcome to my review of the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini that retail for £92.99. The ComfoBuds Mini are the World’s smallest true wireless earphones with ANC. But there’s so much more too.

Key Features

  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • 3.7g weight of each buds
  • World’s smallest TWS with ANC
  • 6 hours playback plus 3 additional charges with case (ANC off)
  • 5 hours playback plus 3 additional charges with case (ANC on)
  • 10mins quick charge 90 mins playback
  • USB C & Qi charging
  • AAC/SBC
  • SoundID
  • Multiple Noise Cancellation modes (Strong/Mild/Wind Noise Reduction), Transparency, off
  • Up to 40db ANC
  • Four mics with DNN
  • 30 soothing sounds to help you relax with 5 auto off times from 30-150 mins
  • IPX5

Watch my video review, that details thirteen reasons that make the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini such a compelling true wireless earphone.

Video Review

Conclusion

1MORE have produced an incredible true wireless earphone. Excellent noise reduction options, great sound and fit, all in a tiny package. Highly recommended 9.6/10.

Useful Links

SoundPEATS Mini Pro review – Budget Champions!

Welcome to my review of the SoundPEATS Mini Pro TWS earphones that retail for £59.99.

Key Specs / Features

  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • Qualcomn QCC3040 processor
  • AptX-Adaptive, AAC and SBC
  • 10m range
  • Hybrid Active Noise cancellation & Transparency Mode
  • Low latency gaming mode down to 60ms
  • 7 hours battery and 21 hours with case
  • USB C but no Qi charging
  • Clear call guaranteed by CVC 8.0 noise detection tech
  • IPX5
  • Weight single earbud 4.7g
  • 1.5 hours recharge for earbuds and case

Audio Music Tracks

Audio Music Test Tracks List

– Roxy Music – True to Life (Remastered)
– Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life
– Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (2012 Mix Master)
– Eric Clapton – Layla (Acoustic Live at MTV Unplugged)
– Axel F – From Beverly Hills Cop
– Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
– CeeLo Green – Bright Lights Bigger City
– Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tin Pan Alley
– K.D. Lang – Constant Craving
– Nigel Kennedy – The New Four Seasons
– Hans Zimmer – Mountains

Video Review

Conclusion

A superb pair of TWS earphones at a stunning low price. Highly recommended 9/10.

Useful Links

Sony Linkbuds review – wireless earphones with a hole in the middle!

The Sony Linkbuds retail for £149 and are without a doubt the weirdest wireless earphone I have ever reviewed.

I waited before I released my review so that I got the new firmware that also allowed the Sony Linkbuds to connect to the Sony headphone app. The new firmware is vital! It makes such a big difference to these wireless earphones.

Key Specs

  • Codecs SBC , AAC
  • IPX4
  • 10 mins quick charge – 90 mins usage
  • Battery life 5.5 hours plus 12 hours extra from case
  • No Qi charging
  • USB C

Video Index

00:00 Intro plus firmware
00:40 In the box
01:03 Fitment
01:18 Shake Test
01:34 Gym & Codecs
01:48 Battery test
02:15 Sony Headphone app & recommended settings
02:51 Sound Concept & Feedback
06:12 Comfort
06:56 Mic Quality
07:20 Latency
07:48 Sound Quality

Video Review

Conclusion

Recommended providing you need the USP of these wireless earphones that I discussed at length in my review. I personally really like them.

HiFiMan Edition XS review – Redefining the £500 threshold!

Welcome to my review of the HiFiMan Edition XS which retails for around $459.

Key Features

  • NEO Supernano Diaphragm – the new NSD is 75% thinner than previous designs , more detail and more sonics
  • Stealth Magnets – enables the waves to pass through the magnets without generating interference
  • Natural, wide soundstage puts you in the best seat in the house
  • Headband – designed for max comfort , filled with high grade memory foam
  • HiFiman 3.5mm sockets standard audio size , changeable and replaceable
  • Frequency response 8hz – 50kHz
  • Impedance 18 ohms
  • Sensitivity 92dB
  • Weight 405g

Audio Music Test Tracks

Below are the key music tracks that I use in every audio review. Many other songs are listened to as well.

– Roxy Music – True to Life (Remastered)
– Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life
– Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (2012 Mix Master)
– Eric Clapton – Layla (Acoustic Live at MTV Unplugged)
– Axel F – From Beverly Hills Cop
– Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
– CeeLo Green – Bright Lights Bigger City
– Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tin Pan Alley
– K.D. Lang – Constant Craving
– Nigel Kennedy – The New Four Seasons
– Hans Zimmer – Mountains

Video Review & Comparisons

Conclusion

The HiFiMan Edition XS redefine what is possible at the $500 mark. Truly exceptional sounding. Highly recommended 9.5/10.

Useful Links

HiFiMan – https://store.hifiman.com/index.php/edition-xs.html

Fiio (Jade Audio) JD3 IEMs review – 🔥magical bass!🔥

Welcome to my review of the Fiio (Jade Audio) JD3 IEMs which retail for around £24.

Key Features

  • Unibody stainless steel construction
  • Dual cavity dynamic driver
  • Sound reflection absorbing design
  • Powerful neodymium driver
  • Semi-open acoustic design
  • HD microphone and volume controls, play/pause and accept/hang up calls
  • Aluminium alloy audio plugs
  • Sensitivity 107db
  • 9.2mm dynamic driver
  • 16 ohms
  • Hi-Res Certified 10-40kHz

Audio Music Test Tracks List

  • Roxy Music – True to Life (Remastered)
  • Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life
  • Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (2012 Mix Master)
  • Eric Clapton – Layla (Acoustic Live at MTV Unplugged)
  • Axel F – From Beverly Hills Cop
  • Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
  • CeeLo Green – Bright Lights Bigger City
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tin Pan Alley
  • K.D. Lang – Constant Craving
  • Nigel Kennedy – The New Four Seasons
  • Hans Zimmer – Mountains

Video Review

Conclusion

The Fiio (Jade Audio) JD3 are an excellent fun IEM. If you love epic proportions of bass, you will love these, and around £24 are superb value. Recommended 8.9/10.

Useful Links

Fiio – https://www.fiio.com/jd3

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/FiiO-JadeAudio-Earphone-Headphone-JD3-Silver/dp/B09MH3345X/

iFi ZEN Signature Set HFM review

Welcome to my review of the iFi ZEN Signature Set HFM which retails for £599.

The set consists of the ZEN Signature DAC v2 and Signature Can HFM. In addition a high quality 4.4mm balanced cable is included. Other quality accessories are included, all shown in the video review. iFi Audio provided combo sets for Sennheiser HD 6XX and Meze headphones as well.

Key Features

– iFi ZEN DAC Signature V2 + iFi ZEN CAN Signature HFM + 4.4mm Balanced Cable
– HFM Combo package has an unique Active EQ curve that brings out the best in the HIFIMAN range of headphones.
– ZEN Signature DAC V2 is a true-differential balanced circuit design, upgraded circuit components and short, direct signal paths for optimal signal purity.
– Bit-perfect PCM (up to 32-bit/384kHz), native DSD (up to DSD256) and DXD.
– 16-core XMOS chip, rather than the original 8-core, means it is now a full MQA decoder rather than a renderer.
– Pair of RCA sockets for single-ended connection to an amp, plus a Balanced 4.4mm output.
– Switch for variable or fixed outputs.
– ActivEQ setting combines active and passive components to create a specific EQ curve to suit HIFIMAN planar headphones. Active EQ can be switched off so other headphones can be used.
– Xpace included
– PowerMatch – four gain options in six dB steps – 0dB, 6dB, 12dB and 18db.
– 1600mW (7.2V) into 32 ohms from the single-ended output, with 15V+ available to loads of 600 ohms or more through the balanced output.
– iFi 4.4mm to 4.4mm cable employs heavy OFHC continuous cast copper and silver matrix conductors with a total thickness of 14AWG for the best signal transfer.
– The 4.4mm to 4.4mm cable construction is a custom helix design, minimised both in capacitance and inductance. Intrinsic shielding is provided by minZ™ helix construction. This protects the cable from RFI and EMI noise.

Audio Music Test Tracks List

– Roxy Music – True to Life (Remastered)
– Leonard Cohen – In My Secret Life
– Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy (2012 Mix Master)
– Eric Clapton – Layla (Acoustic Live at MTV Unplugged)
– Axel F – From Beverly Hills Cop
– Natalie Merchant – Ophelia
– CeeLo Green – Bright Lights Bigger City
– Stevie Ray Vaughan – Tin Pan Alley
– K.D. Lang – Constant Craving
– Nigel Kennedy – The New Four Seasons
– Hans Zimmer – Mountains

Video Review

Conclusion

Fantastic sound quality and dynamics, make this combo set a winner. Highly Recommended. 9.3/10.

Useful Links

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09BCQL7YC

iFi Audio – https://ifi-audio.com/products/zen-signature-set-hfm/