The EB-50 In Ear Monitors (IEMs) are British hifi manufacturer Musical Fidelity’s first venture into the world of headphones and they have created them in house from scratch, with a flat frequency response being crucial to the design remit… the manufacturing of the EB-50s is done in China. The concept is to offer a studio quality monitor with the classic Musical Fidelity signature sound. The driver capsules themselves employ neodymium magnets and are enclosed in a multi-layer, anti-resonant material to help minimise internal vibrations and then this is itself encased in a milled aluminium case which is said to further improve damping.
The IEMs arrive in a well presented box containing 3 extra pairs of colour coded tips, presumably so they can be shared amongst your friends and family, seven pairs of differently shaped tips to get the fit you feel most comfortable with, over ear clips to keep the headphones in the right position (or to stop them falling out during physical activity), a tie clip, a mini to quarter inch adapter, a carry pouch and the headphones themselves.
The headphones come with a cable of about 1.2 metres, a 3.5mm gold-plated plug and a mic’ mute button for users of smart-phones… and a handy cable tie attached to the cable which helps when packing them away into the supplied pouch. They look well constructed and solid, but surprisingly they do not feel heavy, in fact they feel unexpectedly light – 28g apparently. More »
When I was asked to review this little headphone amp I was a little hesitant as to what to expect, but I was assured by the UK distributor that it was a goodie.
Let’s get the technical spec out of the way first. This is headphone amplifier and USB DAC in one compact little unit with a power output rated at a healthy 1 Watt per channel in Class A. It has a switch on the back to switch between 32, 120 and 300 Ohm headphones, two stereo line inputs, a stereo minijack input, a USB input and a stereo line output. It can also be used as a preamplifier…more of which later.
In the packaging you get a small instruction manual, a pair of white gloves, the amp and its hefty separate power supply. Valves fitted are 1x6N2X1, 1 x 61X1 and 1x 12AX7X1 and the whole caboodle weighs in at 5Kg.
It’s an attractive little unit being matt black aluminium with the valves being kept from harm behind individual transparent ‘cages’. On the front of the DARED is a large input selector knob where you can switch between Line 1, Line 2, Aux and USB, a volume control dial, the headphone output socket and a round, illuminated VU meter which lends the amplifier a somewhat retro feel. It’s a nice looking bit of kit measuring 180 x 220 x 150mm (LWH).
You may not have heard of DARED but the Shenzhen Danyigao Audio Equipment Limited was founded in 1995 with the “sole purpose of designing and manufacturing vacuum tube audio equipment” and DARED is the company’s registered trading name. The name DARED derives from the Chinese pronunciation of ‘Dan yi gao’ which means “high-end tube amplifier and artistry” – In English the company use “Daring, Artistic, Reliable, Elegant and Definitive” as their mantra. DARED kit is designed and manufactured in Shenzen, China, the company say that all their products are thoroughly tested electronically and by ear before leaving the manufacturing plant and that every unit is properly “run in”. The units all bear the CE mark and letters of authentication can be found on the company’s website. There is a wide range of amplifiers in the company’s portfolio with the T300P monoblocs being their flagship product – a pair of these amplifiers boasts no less than 16 x 300B valves and weigh in at 95Kg for the two!
For the purposes of this review I’ll be using the DARED with a Wilson Benesch Circle turntable fitted with a modified Rega RB250 arm with an Audio Technica AT33EV moving coil cartridge, through an Electrocompaniet ECP 1 phono stage. For Redbook CD I’ll be using the Unison Research CD Primo and I’ll be using the Hi Sound Audio Studio digital audio player into the auxiliary input to test that out too. The USB DAC input will be fed by a netbook computer with FLAC files. Headphones will be primarily Grado 325i. More »
This is another bit of kit that I’ve had for a good while (it was payment from Epiphany for some website work I did for them) and thought I really ought to write something about it. Epiphany are a small UK based company with a handful of products to their name but a growing reputation for great compact kit at reasonable prices if the comments on their website and forums are anything to go by.
The EHP-O2 is a compact little unit (8 x 11 x 3cm) but feels pretty substantial in your hand – it’s not an ultra lightweight item by any stretch of the imagination. It comes with a wall wart power supply to recharge the batteries that can be used as a power supply if you want to use it as a desktop amplifier. Epiphany say that it is perfectly safe to leave the EHP-O2 plugged in continuously and this is down to a clever in built power management system. If I was to have anything to say about the power supply it would be that the input is pretty inconveniently placed on the front of the headphone amplifier which is a bit of a pain. The circuit used in the EHP-O2 is the same as designed by the blogger NwAvGuy. More »
Custom HiFi Cables Ltd. (CHC for short in this review) was established in 2010 in the fine old English city of Leeds. It produces a wide range of hi-fi and home cinema accessories, including cables, power supplies and mains conditioners. Recently they have ventured into the area of dedicated headphone amplifiers and their 2 models are the subject of this review, along with two DC power supplies .
The HA10 (£234.99) headphone amplifier is based on a hybrid design, using a high quality E88CC dual triode valve for the first stage of amplification and then a pair of audiophile-grade MOSFETS for the second stage of amplification, which work in a class A configuration.
For the higher spec HA10SE (£269.99), improvements include an ALPS Blue volume pot, audiophile grade resistors in the signal path, and for the input audio signal capacitors high-end film input caps from Solen.
The DC1 (£139.99) and DC2 (£249.99) PSUs are both linear, not switched mode designs. For the DC2, improvements include a larger toroidal transformer (more than twice the power rating of the one in the DC1), larger reservoir capacitors (almost twice the capacity of the DC1), and mains surge and filtering. The DC2 is about twice the size and weight of the DC1. More »
In the main I like to listen to my music through real speakers, but, being the henpecked member of the farmyard, Hifi Pig sometimes has to either turn things off or resort to the use of headphones. Now I have my own listening space (to call it a listening “room” would be wholly inappropriate as its just one end of a large living area) I’m listening to lots more music and, let’s face it, sometimes the drivel on the television is just too much to take and a retreat to the sty and some soothing tunes is all there is for it.
It’s with the above in mind that I recently took the bull by the horns and decided to invest in a pair of decent quality headphones. The choice is bewildering, but I had certain criteria I needed to meet and so a short list was made: They needed to be comfortable, they needed to be open back ( I find that closed backs actually sound a little closed in and less airy than their open back counterparts) and they needed to sound good.
Now I’ve owned Grados in the past and liked the presentation and, despite many calling them uncomfortable, I’ve had no problems with them in this respect at all. So it was with a certain degree of piggy trepidation I ordered a pair of the company’s 325is headphones. More »