I almost gave up on the Pico Slim due to the seemingly never ending delays. Then, one day, the Pico Slim appeared. The box is surprisingly large, and the Pico Slim is surprisingly small. It’s a beautiful looking amp, as you can see from the pictures.
I wasn’t expecting much with the Pico Slim’s sound quality, to be frank. To me, amplifiers have always been about power, and Justin specifically mentioned that the Pico Slim is designed only to driver some small portables and mostly IEMs. With all the hype surrounding balanced amplifiers, what can you expect from a simple and low power amplifier like the Pico Slim? After all, I already have the RSA Protector, and together with the Whiplash TWAg cable and the JH16, bass is as awesome as it gets in portable.
When I finally plugged in the JH5Pro to the Pico Slim, my first impression was a solid nod for Justin. Truly, this guy knows what it meant to build an amplifier. Even, without the bells and whistles of balanced drive, the Pico Slim sounded good right out of the box. True, the difference is not going to be as big as if you were driving the JH16 balanced from the Protector, and the fact that I’m using Whiplash’s TWAg terminated in Rhodium plated Oyaide plug all added to the final sonic quality. The Pico doesn’t create a wide soundstage that you get from the Protector in balanced, but every aspect of the JH16 gets a nice boost with the Pico.
Unlike the older Pico amplifier, the new Pico slim is very neutral and free of any color. The sound really opens up with the Pico driving the JH16. I can hear the treble opening up, the transition from the midrange to bass becoming smoother. The soundstage gets bigger and clearer, there is a better sense of individuality in the instruments, bass getting more definition and better textured. The Protector and the Pico does different things to the JH16′s bass. With the Protector in balanced, the JH16′s bass becomes more seismic in magnitude while simultaneously improving the bass control. With the Pico Slim, the bass gets a new level of definition and texture, and the realism of each bass beat is scary real. Truly, the Pico Slim enhances the refinement level of the JH16, making it sound much more like a full size cans while still retaining its solid and full bass performance.