Category Archives: Reviews

iFi xDSD Gryphon review

Welcome to my review of the iFi xDSD Gryphon which retails for £599.

The Key Features

  • Full MQA decoding – Native DSD (up to DSD512) and full MQA decoding up to 384kHZ on a powerful 16 – core XMOS processor
  • Hi-Res Audio – PCM up to 32- bit / 768kHz via USB or 192kHz via optical or coaxial and Advanced 96kHz Bluetooth 5.1 + module with QCC5100 chipset supports various HD formats including aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, LDAC and HWA / LHDC.
  • Balanced (4.4mm Pentaconn) and S – Balanced (3.5mm) analogue inputs and outputs. Built – in iEmatch and auto – gain technology automatically adjusts output to suit headphones / IEM sensitivity.
  • Extras including XBass and xSpace settings, balanced circuit design with OptimaLoop multi – path feedback and an ultra-low noise, 1000mW high power amplifier
  • Military Grade Aluminum with an OLED display finishes

Audio Tracks used for Testing

-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 iFi xDSD Gryphon is by far my favourite amp/DAC with every option I would have ever asked for. Plus it sounds incredible. Gold star award. 9.9/10.

Useful Links

Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/xDSD-Gryphon-Portable-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B09H39DBY6

iFi Audio website – https://ifi-audio.com/products/xdsd-gryphon/

iFi hip-dac2 review

Welcome to my review of the ifi hip-dac2 which retails for £189.

Key Features / Specs

  • 6-8 hrs of battery life
  • Hi-Res Certified – From Spotify to Tidal MQA to MP3 and more,
  • Powerful Amplifier – 400 mW max power output from the on-board amplifier
  • Connectivity – Connects directly to your smartphone with the USB Input, and works with balanced 4.4mm or S-Balanced 3.5mm headphone plugs
  • Upgraded – The hip-dac2 has been upgraded to give you an even more pleasurable portable audio experience, it now is a full MQA decoder and has an upgraded GMT Clock.

Video Review

My review below includes a full comparison of the hip-dac vs hip-dac2, comparisons with other DACs including the ifi go blu and ZEN DAC v2, sound quality with a variety of headphones and much more.

Conclusion

The new ifi hip-dac2 is a dynamite piece of kit. Highly recommended 9.1/10.

Useful Links

More info on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/iFi-hip-dac2-Headphone-Amplifier-Unbalanced/dp/B09H39FCTH

More info on ifi Audio https://ifi-audio.com/products/hip-dac2/

Google Pixel 6 Pro – What a disaster!

The Google Pixel 6 Pro was probably the most anticipated and hyped phone in a while. This was the first phone from Google that finally used new camera hardware. The previous Pixels phones had been using for the last 4 years the same camera hardware, with the reliance on its computational software.

So let’s start at the beginning. Above photo is the setup process where it is transferring all my data from my iPhone 13 Pro. This is a pretty good solution as its moves most of the core data across including SMS, photos and even WhatsApp chats. So a good start.

Then there’s the fingerprint sensor, which sits behind the front screen about one third up from the bottom. The Pixel also downloaded apps that were cross platform, that is available on iOS and android, so within a few hours I had a fully setup Pixel 6 Pro, complete with a out of the box firmware update as well. So what could possibly go wrong?

Well the first thing to test would have to be the camera.

Above, this is a Pixel 6 Pro night mode shot, edited by myself for a more dramatic shot. And with this one particular shot, it produced a better quality shot than my iPhone 13 Pro using its night mode. Except for two things. One the iPhone shot looked more realistic and more like what my eyes were seeing and secondly the iPhone 13 Pro only needed 23 seconds. For context, both phones were on a tripod to get the best night exposure times. The Pixel 6 Pro need 4 mins and 12 secs.

Above, another Pixel 6 Pro, using its fancy motion mode.

All was going well with the Pixel 6 Pro until I took it out during the daytime for some shots vs the iPhone 13 Pro.

This is when I began to swear at the frustration of unlocking the Pixel 6 Pro with its fingerprint sensor. It was so hit and miss and so slow. Face ID on the iPhone was instant. Switching between the two phones to snap each shot, I also began to appreciate the smaller physical size of the iPhone 13 Pro versus the large slab size of the Pixel 6 Pro. Just one more point on the fingerprint sensor, if you hands are even slightly wet, you’ll struggle even more to unlock it.

Have no fear I thought. The frustration of using the Pixel 6 Pro fingerprint sensor will be worth it as the photos will be so good vs the iPhone 13 Pro. IMO the iPhone did better in 8 out of 10 pics. The Pixel just goes overboard too much with the HDR processing to the point the photos look fake. When it comes to video, the iPhone is better, but that wasn’t unexpected. The other point I noticed was the battery drain. The iPhone barely broke a sweat, whereas the Pixel had lost a 20% more battery.

Just going back to the camera. With the Pixel 6 Pro it has the fancy long exposure modes. I took a shot of a waterfall. It took 4 to 5 seconds to take the shot. The iPhone 13 Pro was a split second using Live Photo mode. With the iPhone once you have snapped the shot, go to the Photo gallery, and toggle the Live Photo into long exposure. The end results. Not only did the iPhone take under a second to take the shot, but the silky water effect was miles better than the Pixel.

Android 12 had a number of positives but also wasn’t without its frustrations and bugs. Ultimately the inconsistency of unlocking the Pixel 6 Pro and my views of the camera not being blown away, have killed my love affair of this new phone from Google.

Now some context. I believe the December 2021 update is meant to improve the responsiveness of the fingerprint sensor. We shall see if this pans out, I have looked at photos from many other people who have shared their Pixel 6 shots. From what I have seen, pets and people work reasonably well, are punchy and sharp and instantly shareable on social media. Other photos even though they are heavy in the HDR processing do look ok on social media, just not my cup of tea at all.

Sabaj A10h Headphone Amp review

Welcome to my review of the Sabaj A10h headphone amp which retails for £129.

Key Features / Specs

  • Input: RCA
  • Outputs: RCA, 6.35mm
  • Output Power: 2W(16Ω), 1W(32Ω), 500mW(300Ω), 250mW(600Ω)
  • SNR: 130dB
  • Output Noise: 2.1uV
  • THD+N: -121dB, 0.00005%(1kHz, 32Ω)
  • THD+N: -117dB, 0.0001%(20Hz-20kHz, 32Ω, -1dB)
  • THD: <-125dB, 0.00006%
  • Input Impendance: 47kΩ
  • Output Impendance: Near 0Ω
  • Pre out Impendance: 47Ω
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-500kHz(-3dB)
  • Gain: Low(-6dB), Middle(0dB), High(+9dB)
  • Power supply voltage: DC 15V
  • Power consumption: <18W. Standby power: <0.1W

Video Review

Conclusion

The Sabaj A10h is a fantastic headphone amp that works well with IEMs and demanding over the ear headphones. Highly Recommended 8.9/10.

Useful Links

1MORE ComfoBuds2 review

Welcome to my review of the 1MORE ComfoBuds2 true wireless earphones that retail for around £62.99.

Key Features / Specs

  • Comfortable & Compact Design: Engineered with a semi in-ear design and replaceable soft silicone ear tips, comfortable, secure and less intrusive fit
  • Weight 4.3g each
  • Deep Bass . An ultra-large 13.4mm dynamic driver produces powerful thumping bass, infusing your audio with captivating passion. AAC codec support enables you to enjoy your favourite songs in high quality on both Android and Apple devices.
  • 12 Professional EQ Presets: Tuned by a 4-time Grammy Award-winning sound engineer with Sonarworks (A professional, award-winning audio technology company), these EQs allow you to completely immerse yourself no matter your taste, whether you prefer lyrical music, electronic music or thrilling beats, you’ll find an EQ to make your music shine.
  • Seamless Bluetooth Connectivity: The latest Bluetooth 5.2 technology delivers a seamless and highly stable connection for hours of wireless listening. No Bluetooth disconnection even when in the crowded subways, buses or trains.
  • Superb Call Performance: The ComfoBuds 2 employ 4 ENC microphones with an advanced algorithm to suppress the ambient noise and amplify your voice, providing you a premium calling experience as clear as a face-to-face conversation.

Video Review

Conclusion

A great pair of true wireless earphones from 1MORE especially if you like strong bass with your music. Their lightweight comfy fit is notable too. Recommended 8.7/10.

1MORE have an offer. Up to the 10th November, via Amazon, if you use code COMFOBUDS2 at the checkout, it should hopefully take 15% off the cost.

Useful Links

Edifier TWS330 NB review

Welcome to my review of the Edifier TWS330 NB with retail for around £30.

Key Features / Specs

  • Active Noise Cancelling – Built-in dual-MIC provides better noise cancellation which enables up to -38dB. ANC works even no songs are playing
  • IP54 Dust and Water Proof
  • AAC Audio decoding – supported for high-quality audio
  • APP control & Tap control – download Edifier Connect APP and get more control. Customise and adjust tap sensitivity, adjust ambient sound more
  • 20 Hours Total Battery + Fast Charging

Video Review

Conclusion

A superb pair of true wireless earphones and at a budget price. Recommended 8.9/10.

Useful Links

iFi Audio GO Blu vs Shanling UP5 review & comparison

Welcome to my review of the iFi Audio GO Blu and Shanling UP5. Both are reviewed and compared with all eleven differences highlighted.

The iFi Audio GO Blue retails for £199 and the Shanling UP5 for £179.

The video review is over 20 minutes long, but don’t worry, there are chapters and an index in the YouTube video description box that enable you to skip back and forth between the different sections. However, I do recommend watching the whole video and there is a ton of detail covered.

Video Review

Conclusion

Both devices have a lot of differences, but for me the winner is the iFi Audio GO Blu. Very highly recommended 9.1/10.

Useful Links

Shanling UP5 – https://en.shanling.com/article-IntroUP5.html

Edifier NeoBuds Pro Hi-Res Wireless TWS earphones review

Welcome to my review of the Edifier NeoBuds Pro that retail for £109. The NeoBuds Pro feature Hi-Res Wireless Audio which is remarkable for TWS earphones.

Key Features

  • Hi-Res Audio with LHDC (Low-latency High-definition Audio Codec)
  • Knowles Balanced Armature driver + dynamic driver + electronic crossover technology for natural and balanced sound
  • Hybrid ANC technology reduces noise by up to 42dB
  • Three-microphone noise cancellation ensures clear phone calls. Low-latency game mode supported
  • 6+18 hours of continuous playback. Both earbuds and charging case support quick charge

Video Review

Conclusion

An exceptional pair of TWS earphones that sound stunning. Highly recommended 9.8/10.

Useful Links

Edifier X3 TWS Wireless Earphones review

Welcome to my review of the Edifier X3 TWS wireless earphones that retail for a budget price of just £29.99.

Key Features

  • Apt-X Codec included
  • Includes Qualcomm Chipset with Bluetooth 5.0 delivering a faster, more stable signal transmission, and lower power consumption for 6 hours playback time and extra 18 hours with charge case.
  • CVC 8.0 noise canceling technology automatically reduces background noise and pick up your voice accurately to ensure high-clarity audio transmission with rich details.
  • One-Step Paring – Picking up 2 earbuds out of charge case, they will automatically pair with each other and connect with the last paired device except the first-time using, also offer easy access to various functions with touch control.
  • Lightweight and compact design. IP55 dust & waterproof technology, ideal for any outdoor activity.

Video Review

Conclusion

The Edifier X3 are a superb budget priced pair of TWS earphones. Recommended 8.3/10

Useful Links

iFi ZEN Blue V2 review

Welcome to my review of the iFi ZEN Blue V2 which retails for £159.

The Key Features

The ZEN Blue V2 features easy Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity using the latest Qualcomm 5100 series Bluetooth. Codecs supported are SBC, AAC, LDAC, HWA, LHDC, apt X and apt X HD. That’s CD quality up to 24bits/192kHz from AAC and apt X HD.

Analogue outputs are either RCA or 4.4mm, digital is either coaxial or optical. Or even SPDIF.

So what’s new with V2. Upgraded jitter clock with over 20db performance, improved aerial with 80% more reach and lots more.

To learn more, watch the video covering all aspects of the ZEN Blue V2.

Video Review

Conclusion

The ZEN Blue V2 is a simple to operate, yet highly effective high quality device. Highly recommended. 9.3/10

Useful Links