Category Archives: Audio

BenQ treVolo S – Portable Electrostatic Bluetooth Speaker REVIEW – Redefining sound!

Welcome to my review of the BenQ treVolo S Portable Electrostatic Bluetooth Speaker. The BenQ treVolo S retails for £149 / $199.

It is the world’s smallest portable Bluetooth speaker featuring Electrostatic Speaker Technology. Electrostatic speakers deliver superb clarity and accuracy. The vertical dispersion of the entire thin-film diaphragm offers bi-directional sound projection for a more detailed audio performance and accurate delivery of natural, crisp and clear sounds. The dual amplifiers and dual woofers finish the sound off.

Key Features / Specs

– Unique electrostatic speaker technology
– Dual 12w woofers and dual amplifiers
– Lossless music playback via USB connection
– Several playback modes – duo mode (pair two treVolo S for stereo sound), standard and non distorted 3D sound
– NFC
– USB DAC/charging
– Batteries last up to 18 hours on a charge
– Bluetooth 4.2 with AAC codec support
– Input Types‎ – 3.5 mm stereo input / USB audio‎
– Key Definition‎s – Power, BT pairing, Volume +, Volume -,3D (mode), play/pause‎
– LED Indicator‎ Power key : Red LED x1; Green x1 ,BT Pairing Key : Blue LED x1‎
– Dimension‎s 96.3x 157.5 x 63.2mm (Closed)‎
– Weight 1kg‎

After removing the treVolo S from its packaging, I was pleasantly surprised at the solid construction. The electrostatic speakers open out from the sides of the speaker (watch video to fully appreciate the design, operation and sound)

There are a few ways to connect to the speaker. NFC for quick pairing, standard bluetooth or via USB for the highest quality sound. There is an android and iOS app available to assist with linking another speaker together and well as quickly toggling between standard and non distorted 3D sound.

As the treVolo S uses electrostatic speaker technology, (this is normally found in high-end speaker systems), this means it has a really low distortion rate that is only one-tenth of the rate of conventional speakers. There is also no cabinet resonance. One of the key sound characteristics of electrostatic speakers, is the natural and spacious sound. Listening to a variety of genres with the treVolo S and this sound quality is obvious from the get go and a joy to listen to.

Genres auditioned. Classical, jazz, blues, rock and pop. Listening to some of my favourite classical pieces, the treVolo S has an wonderful transparency and emotion. Clear vocals and mid range with just the right amount of bass. Female jazz singers sounded superb. With rock and pop, once gain great clarity with just the right amount of bass. These do not have a V shaped sound with over compensated bass. The treVolo S is designed to play high quality lossless music, yet even via bluetooth its reproduction is beautiful.

As a tip for placement, do not push these back against a wall. Electrostatic speakers emit sound from both sides, so leave some space behind and place speakers at ear level when listening.

Video Review

Conclusion

Gorgeous sound and design. Highly recommended. 9.5/10.

Useful Links

BenQ treVolo S on Amazon UK – Click HERE
BenQ treVolo S on Amazon US – Click HERE.
BenQ website

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Fiio BTR3 Review – Bluetooth Headphone Amp for converting wired into wireless headphones!

Welcome to my review of the Fiio BTR3 Bluetooth Headphone Amp adapter and USB DAC. The Fiio BTR3 retails for £61.99.

The Key Features

– integrated clip

– small size

– upgradeable firmware

– all available Bluetooth codecs supported

– good sound

– mic for calls

– voice assistant support

Video Review

Latest pricing on Amazon UK and more info click HERE.

iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label DAC Review – A Power Beast

Welcome to my review of the iFi Audio micro iDSD Black Label DAC. The iFi Audio micro iDSD BL labels retails for £599.

Key Features

– Burr Brown chipset plays high resolution music files natively, including Octa-DSD512, PCM768, and Double DXD
– Up to 10V, 4000mW of power
– Built-in iEMatch for sensitive in-ear monitors and Bit Perfect sound
– Portable with up to 12 hours of playback
– 1.5A SmartPower USB to charge your smart device
– 3D+ and XBass+
– AMR Global Master Timing femto-precision clock system upgraded for ‘super low’ phase-noise and jitter
– MQA support

Video Review

Conclusion

The iFi Audio micro iDSD BL is one hell of a DAC and amp that is able to drive any headphone to decent levels. As a desktop device it works extremely well, yet it can be used as a portable device that lasts 12 hours on battery. Highly recommended.

For more info and the latest pricing on Amazon UK, click HERE.

Meze Empyrean Headphones Review – One of the Best Headphones in the World!

Welcome to my review of the $2,999 Meze Empyrean Headphones.

Key Specifications & Features

– Drivers – Rinaro Isodynamic Hybrid Array
– Style – Open Circumaural
– Frequeny range – 4 – 110,000 Hz
– Impedance Ohms 31.6
– Nominal SPL 100 dB (1 mW/1kHz)
– Max SPL 130db

Some background behind the Meze Empyrean headphones and what makes them special. Meze Audio collaborated with Rinaro, and in doing so created lightest and most advanced planar magnetic drivers in the world.

The Empyrean Driver combines individual switchback and spiral-shaped voice coils. This unique shape allows sound to be targeted with more accuracy around the natural form of the ear. The frame is fiberglass infused ABS. The driver is a hybrid magnetic array, symmetrically placed on each side of the diaphragm, with neodymium magnets specifically arranged into a hybrid array to create efficient isodynamic magnetic field required for a uniform activation across the whole diaphragm surface.

The diaphragm is manufactured from a custom developed isotropic thermally stabilised polymer with a conductive layer. End result is an ultralight yet rigid diaphragm has been achieved. The switchback coil is more efficient at reproducing lower frequencies and is positioned in the upper part of the driver. The spiral coil is more efficient at reproducing middle-high frequencies and is positioned directly over the ear canal enabling more direct sound waves to enter the ear without any time delays. Total harmonic distortion (THD) measures under 0.1% in the whole frequency range. Upper-frequency limit of audio reproduction is a massive 110,000 Hz. They are also ultra efficient at 100db@1mw/1kHz , meaning you get the high performance without needing amplification.

They are also a patent pending isodynamic hybrid array driver, which is a world’s first in planar magnetic headphones.

The rest of the headphone comprises of anatomically designed ovate earcups and an anthropometric earpad design. The Isomagnetic ear cup attachment utilises the demagnetising field generated by the driver to hold the ear cup in place whilst also redirecting the magnetic field back into the driver and improving driver efficiency. Patented ferromagnetic plates channel the magnetic field back into the driver, increasing output.

The pressure distribution wings consist of a carbon fibre headband and leather headrest and is the most comfortable headphone I have ever worn. The main skeleton of the headphone is made from a single piece of sculpted aluminium, that takes 20 hours in a CNC machine. The entire headphone is hand assembled.

The testing process used amps from Audio GD, iFi Audio, Fiio BTR3 and a Honor View 20 smartphone. Tidal and tracks on my computer covering every genres were listened to. The main focus was with the following music –

– Orff Carmina Burana – Live from the Forbidden City – Shanghai Symphony Orchesta
– Diana Krall – Various
– Norah Jones – Varios
– Badflower – Ok I’n sick
– Bruce Springsteen – The Live Series
– Gary Clark – This Land

As mentioned before, the comfort of these headphones is off the charts. The most comfortable pair of headphones I have ever worn.

The sound experience. I am calling it an experience because that is exactly what the Meze Empyrean create. You sit back, forget you are wearing headphones and get absorbed into the music. Timing is phenomenal, fast, quick. The soundstage is large, precision placement of voices and instruments. Vocals sound inviting, dynamic and expressive. It didn’t matter what I chose, everything was a delight to hear. Mids and treble were delicate, not too forward either. There was no harshness in the treble. Bass was deep and dynamic and quick.

Opera is not a genre I listen to a lot, but the Carmina Burana was wondeful to listen to. In fact I had only planned to listen to the first track, but ended up listening to the entire album.

Another aspect of these headphones is just how easy they are to drive. Obviously, better amplification improves the overall performance, but with modest amps these still sounded excellent.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Meze Empyrean are in a class of their own. Not only are they one of the best headphones in the world, they are easy to drive, look magnificent, but they are so comfortable you could wear them for as long as you wanted. Verdict – just buy them!!

Useful Links

Meze Empyrean on Amazon UK
Meze Audio Website

Honor View 20 – Audio Review – Bluetooth, Loudspeaker and 3.5mm Headphones all tested

Welcome to my audio review of the Honor View 20.

My audio review will focus on the following aspects –

– Bluetooth quality and codecs

– Loudspeaker quality

– System Audio options

– 3.5mm headphone jack and recommended headphones to use

Don’t forget to check out my dedicated camera review and future posts on the Honor View 20.

Audio Review

Useful Links

Honor View 20 is currently on offer at Amazon, the 6gb and 8gb version, with a Honor Magic Watch included free of charge Amazon UK.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless In-Ear Headphones – THE REVIEW – AirPods finally de-throned! + Comparisons with Bose, Jabra & Sony

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Welcome to my review of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless In-Ear Headphones. It has taken Sennheiser a while to release true wireless earphones, but finally they have and blown ALL the competition out of the water. The retail price is £279.

The earphones feature a brand new 7mm driver. The key focus on the earphones is the sound quality. And this is where Sennheiser have hit gold. But there is more to earphones than just the sound quality, so let’s take a look at the key features.

The Key Features/Specs

– Control your music, calls, volume and voice assistant simply through the touchpad technology built into both earbuds
– Transparent hearing mode keeps you aware of your surroundings, allowing you to easily listen and chat without having to remove your earbuds
– 4 hours of listening becomes 12 with the compact charging case that gives you two full extra charges
– durable, tough, splash resistant materials, IPX4 rated
– AAC and APT-X codecs, and APT-X Low Latency, SBC
– Bluetooth 5, class 1
– USB C for Charging
– 4 Hours battery plus 2 further charges via the case
– iOS and android Smart App
– MEMS microphones

The Sennheiser Momentum are also smart in ear headphones. Music pauses the second you remove an earbud, then starts again the second you put them back in. They also feature auto on/off. Place them back in the case, and they start charging. Sennheiser have clearly looked at how easy AirPods are to use and copied everything they did, and then added even more options. They also looked at all the other earphones from Bose, Sony, Jabra and more.

Another feature is transparent hearing mode keeps you aware of your surroundings, allowing you to easily listen and chat without having to remove your earbuds. High-quality noise pick up even in the noisiest environments, thanks to the two-mic beam technology and the MEMS microphones.

You can fine-tune your audio just the way you want to hear it through the integrated internal equaliser, by using the Sennheiser Smart Control App. The app also controls firmware updates.

So now let’s take a closer look at the earphones, talk more about the sound quality,pro and some of the cons,usability, comfort, noise cancellation, call quality and comparisons with other competitors including AirPods, Bose, Jabra and others.

Main Review

Conclusion

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless in-ear headphones are simply the best true wireless earphones available. Period. Grab a pair on Amazon UK.

Lindy NC-60 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Review – A Budget King

Welcome to my review of the Lindy NC-60 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones review. What makes these headphones stand out is the budget pricing of around £53, along with all the accessories included.

Key Features

– Active Noise Cancellation technology delivers up to 85% reduction of ambient noise
– 40mm high output drivers with neodymium magnets
– Adjustable headband and soft cushioned earpads
– Rotatable earpieces for safe storage in the supplied, hard durable vinyl carry case
– Flexible 1.5m audio cable with 3.5mm jack, adapters for connecting to dual plug in-flight entertainment systems and hi-fi are also included
– Lindy’s 2 year warranty

Main Review

Conclusion

At this price point, Lindy have produced a good noise cancelling headphone that is comfortable to wear.

Latest pricing on Amazon UK

Focal Spark Wireless Earphones Review

Welcome to my review of the Focal Spark Wireless earphones. The Focal Spark Wireless earphones retail for £89.99.

Key Features

– Lightweight and comfortable
– Fastening system for sports use
– Available in Black, Silver & Rose Gold
– Exceptional performance / price ratio
– 3-button remote control with omnidirectional microphone – works with windows, android & iOS
– Bluetooth 4.1
– Impedance 16 ohms
– Sensitivity 103db
– Battery – up to 8 hours

Main Review

Conclusion

Focal have produced a lovely wireless earphone, using their hi-end audio pedigree.

Latest pricing on Amazon UK

iFi Audio xDSD Review – Bluetooth Hi-Res DAC & Amplifier with MQA

Welcome to my review of the iFi Audio xDSD. The iFi Audio xDSD retails for £299.

Key Features/Specifications

– Wirelessly connect any smartphone or digital audio player to wired headphones.
– APT-X and AAC Bluetooth streaming receiver.
– USB type A OTG/CCK connector.
– 3.5mm coaxial/TOSLINK combo S/PDIF input.
– Sensitive IEMs are super quiet using iFi Audio Cyberdrive circuit design (incorporates the iFi exclusive OV4627 ultra low noise FET input Op-Amp and W990VST digitally controlled stepped attenuator) which puts the analogue volume under digital control.
– Natively playback Hi-Res audio with iFi Audio signature Burr Brown digital to analog converter chip. Supports native PCM 384, quad DSD 256, and MQA.
– 3.5mm balanced output works with single ended connections and cuts crosstalk in half.
– XBass – cleans up and restore a rich, deeper bass line.
– 3D Matrix- recreates the recording’s original sound field.
– Two modes – speakers or headphones.
– Up to 10 hours battery life.
– MQA included. Stream Tidal with ease.
– True Native® playback of all music formats from MP3 to DSD512, PCM768 and 2xDXD.
– Separate power input (micro USB) to charge its own internal battery, it does not draw from your smartphone
– Dynamic Range > 113dB (A)
– Output power – 2.82V/500 mW @ 16 Ohm, 3.7V/270 mW @ 50 Ohm, 3.8V/48 mW @ 300 Ohm, 3.8V/24 mW @ 600 Ohm
– Line out Level – 2.1V @ 0dBFS
– Dimensions 95(l) x 67(w) x 19(h) mm
– Weight 127g

Main Review

Conclusion

The iFi Audio xDSD is a cracking versatile piece of kit and highly recommended.

iFi Audio xDSD on Amazon UK

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Audio Review – Bluetooth, Loudspeaker, USB C Earphones, DACs & Dongles

Welcome to my Huawei Mate 20 Pro Audio review. This review looks at the audio quality covering bluetooth, loudspeaker, the included USB C earphones and USB C to 3.5mm dongle, using other USB C dongles and DACs and which headphones are best.

Key Audio Features

– 32-bit/384kHz audio
– Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic
– Bluetooth 5.0, BLE, SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC and HWA Audio
– USB 3.1, Type-C 1.0 reversible connector, USB On-The-Go
– DivX/XviD/MP4/H.265/WMV player
– MP3/eAAC+/WMA/WAV/FLAC player

So how does all the above specs translate into audio quality. Lets take a close up look now.

If you wish to get a Huawei Mate 20 Pro and all accessories, check out the options on Amazon UK