The Usual Suspects: 12 Portable Amps Compared

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SLIM AMPS: TTVJ SLIM, ALO RX, HEADSTAGE ARROW

Moving up from the tiny amps gives us the slim amps, which come in larger footprints, but still remain quite practical due to their thinness. The tiny amps are excellent pairing if you really want to keep things super-compact, as the tiny amps make for a beautiful match with the Ipod Nano or Sansa Clip players.  But since the majority of people prefer the fuller screen Ipod Touch or the bigger capacity Ipod Classic, then the larger footprint of the slim amps actually fit better. The Headstage Arrow has a smaller footprint than the ALO or the TTVJ, but it happens to match beautifully with the Hifiman HM-602/HM-601 players.

All three amplifiers here are the result of years of design improvements, from the days of altoid-cased CMOYs to the current super-slim, digital volume control, rechargeable batteries, and high power outputs. Portability, features, power output level, and sound quality are top notch and are definitely among the best. The implementation of a digital volume control to the TTVJ and the ALO Rx gives these amps the same clear-cut articulation that I’m hearing on the Shadow and the Pico Slim, but with higher power output levels. Given the high quality sound of the three amplifiers, the first question that you need to ask is how each amplifiers are voiced, as I think their sound signature is first and foremost the most important factor when evaluating an amplifier.

The usual suspects for slim amps: (top to bottom) TTVJ Slim, ALO Rx MkII, Headstage Arrow.

 

Front and back views. That Headstage Arrow is the slimmest amp in this shootout, beating even the Pico Slim.

 

TTVJ “SLIM” ($349 standard, $449 with DAC)
The easy way to describe the sound of the three amplifiers is that the TTVJ comes with a good and full midrange, the ALO Rx has a spacious open soundstage with a clear treble and bass, and the Headstage is somewhat “in between” the two with its flatter tonal balance with a slight tint to a dark signature.

Personally, I enjoy the TTVJ the most out of the three as it has a full midrange to bass body while still having a good treble sparkle. Some people call it tube amp-like, and though real tube amps come with their own distinct signatures, I think the main point with the TTVJ is that you will never feel the amp to sound digital, as Todd is a heavy analog-gear junkie and it’s quite proper that he tunes his amp to give the sound that he likes. In fact, when I did a comparison of the TTVJ Slim with the older TTVJ Portable Hybrid Tube (that uses actual tubes), I find the sound signature between the two to be very identical.

The sound of the TTVJ Slim is indeed very analog. The midrange is full bodied, without making the sound overly thick or drowning the instruments. With the TTVJ Slim, the sound remains agile and lively, as it’s able to keep up with most fast-paced rock. You get a lively presentation of the instruments through what I hear to be a slight boost on the lower treble, and it follows down with a full bodied mids and down to the bass. The bass is more focused in the upper-mid bass, and although you don’t feel it to be rolled off in the lows, the ALO Rx noticeably hits deeper bass notes than the TTVJ. The soundstage is very good and deep, though not as wide and as open sounding as the ALO Rx. If there is any complaint I have, is that the lower mids and bass section can sometime sound a bit muddy and not as well articulated as the ALO Rx. Still, given the superb overall voicing, I think it’s not going to be a big issue for most people.

ALO RX MK2 ($449)
I think amplifier choices ultimately come down to your music preference, personal taste, and the headphones that you happen to be using. I enjoy the TTVJ very much, but my friend Sem happens to choose the ALO Rx as his favorite. The very clean, grainless sound of the ALO Rx, is probably one thing that got him hooked to it. Sem is also a big fan of strong bass impact, and while the TTVJ has more of the bass in the upper-mid, the ALO delivers more low bass impact than the TTVJ. The soundstage of the ALO Rx is also wider and very open sounding, and indeed it is one of its signature sound. Personally I feel the ALO’s midrange to be too flat and not as full as the TTVJ, and this is the deal-breaker for me. But at other times, I also wish that the TTVJ can be more ALO Rx like in delivering a clean bass frequency.

Although the previous paragraph sounds like a lot of points in comparison to the TTVJ, but ultimately amplifiers are not about collecting points, and so it boils down to a synergy game. I would consider both amplifiers roughly at the same level of “sonics quality”, and the choice would boil down to the sound signature. The ALO has a lively and open soundstage, with clean highs and more impactful lows. The TTVJ has a fuller midrange, and a different emphasis in the treble than on the ALO. Both amps are very fast and dynamic sounding, though the ALO is a bit faster in pace. The TTVJ comes with an option for a built-in DAC, which makes it a fun sounding portable DAC/amp box, for roughly the same price of the ALO Rx Mk II. The DAC resolution is quite decent, but the selling point is how you get a portable amp that also doubles as a DAC/Amp simple desktop set up. I think that’s quite a deal!

Some of you may also know that ALO has currently stopped production on the original ALO Rx and is now selling the Mark II version of the Rx. Both versions have pretty much the same sound signature, and it’s safe to say that the Mark II version is a good upgrade over the original while still retaining all the good things you find on the original. For a more complete comparison, please refer to my ALO Rx Mk2 article, HERE.

HEADSTAGE ARROW ($299)
The third amplifier on this category is the even slimmer and smaller Headstage Arrow. A very, very impressive amplifier from Robert at Headstage (aka Headphonia, with a “ph”. For the record, Robert used the name before I did, and I think he deserves to be acknowledged for that fact.). The Headstage arrow is an amplifier that never fails to impress people at the first look. The super slim build and smaller footprint make the TTVJ and ALO look vastly overweight. Not only content at beating the two amps in the size category, Robert also implemented some very kickass features, some of them a first in the portable amplifier scene. The notable features are auto ON/OFF feature that turns the amp on when it detects an input signal, and automatically turns it off after one minute of inactivity (You ROCK, Robert!), automatic voltage adaptation (switches the amp between 4V and 12V depending on needs, to conserve battery life), two steps bass boost (my friend Peter is in love with the Headstage due to this switch), impedance matching switch, crossfeed switch, and three selectable gains. Robert brought all of these goodies at an incredible $299 pricetag, which directly cuts into the TTVJ ($349) and ALO Rx ($449) price.

The use of the AD8397 in the output stage is highly favored by owners of the AMB Labs Mini 3 amplifier, which naturally gives it a bit of similarity to the Mini 3’s sound. The tonal balance leans toward the “dark side” (by the way, the adjective dark is used purely to describe tonal balance, and absolutely no negative bias meant. ), similar to the RSA sound but with better presence on the upper mids. In a way the Arrow is also closer to the sound of the TTVJ, while quite different from the sound of the ALO Rx. The Arrow’s sound, is just a tad darker, mostly due to the difference in low-mid treble, where the TTVJ is more sparkly in those regions.

The treble of the Arrow is not as sparkly and not as present as on the TTVJ or the ALO, one reason why my friend Sem passed on the offer to buy a near mint Arrow at a great price, when he was offered one. If midrange and low body is important to you, but equally well you want to hear a sparkly treble, I would recommend the TTVJ sound, as it is still more lively than the Arrow. Generally the Arrow sound is quite pleasant, but the use of an analog potentiometer makes the Arrow not as good as the TTVJ or the ALO in instrument separation and articulation. Generally I would recommend the TTVJ more than the Arrow because of this factor, but if you’re considering to keep the size down while still packing serious power, then the Arrow is highly recommended as it makes the TTVJ looks rather big.

Ideally, you should base your decision primarily on the sound signature, while features and size should come second. I choose the TTVJ, but that doesn’t make it the best amp from the three. My friend Sem enjoys the ALO Rx very much, and Peter happens to be loving the Arrow a great deal lately due to the Bass boost and super-slim build. The bass boost switch is quite fun to use, as it boost bass levels up, though making the bass slightly boomier.

As I’d like to stand by that “sound signature synergy” statement, I know that in the real world, the $299 pricetag of the Arrow is a very strong point for potential buyers, and especially if you’re considering between the Arrow and the ALO Rx, which comes in at a full $150 price difference. Still, Sem is willing to dig deep into his pockets as he finds the ALO Rx to be most satisfying for him.


The Usual Suspects: 12 Portable Amps Compared
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271 Comments

  • Reply March 18, 2011

    CccC

    Mike! Can’t believe I am the first to comment. 😛 I haven’t logged in yet, but this oughta be one of the more comprehensive recent portable amp reviews I’ve seen! 🙂 Will give it a good read.

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, C!

  • Reply March 18, 2011

    Adam

    Beautiful and comprehensive review. Thank you, Mike!

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, Adam.

  • Reply March 18, 2011

    Lewis Leong

    Thanks for the great write up, Mike. Reading this and Skylab’s 56 portable amps compared thread on Head-fi is really eye opening. It shows just how subjective picking a sound signature is going to be for people.

    Do you have any plans to review cheaper portable amps?

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Lewis,
      Yea, there are a lot of cheaper amps out there. One of the reason I am limiting this article to the more premium models is so that the number won’t go out of proportions. Not that I am against cheaper stuff though.

      Let’s see if anything interesting comes up in the future. Just because something is more affordable doesn’t mean that it’s going to be worth buying, and I don’t want to do an article on crappy products.

      Cheers.

    • Reply March 24, 2011

      Anonymous

      I’m talking to JDSLabs about reviewing their Cmoys. I think that should be a good article.

    • Reply March 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      JDSLabs Cmoy is on the way.

      A lot of my friends build Cmoys and I can always review those, but no point since they aren’t available to purchase commercially. On the other hand, the JDSLabs Cmoy can be bought fully assembled, and good build quality too!

      Actually, I’ve listened to so many different Cmoys, and I have yet to find one that sounds bad. Resolution is a bit limited, but for mainstream music you probably won’t be too bothered by it.

  • Reply March 18, 2011

    Mod33

    Just a quick comment, it would really help if you had a metric scale reference in your pictures.

    Good stuff as always.

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      It would, wouldn’t it?

      I will try to update the pictures.

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks for the excellent suggestion. The pictures are now updated with 1cm x 1cm grids. It won’t tell you to the last millimeters how big the amps are, but it’ll help you get a rough sense of how they size.

  • Reply March 18, 2011

    Andrew Prasetyo Jo

    i’m baffled to see your 8006 words. Impressive roundups.

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, Andrew.

      • Reply March 24, 2011

        Andrew Prasetyo Jo

        I’m planning on getting HD600 soon. What would be the best option ? I don’t need the slimness/tiniest feature of the amp. I need a good solid either amp or DAC-amp. I’m using mac.

        So far, you suggest me with yulong u100, but i’m a bit worried with the MAC incompatibility. Other than that, i’m looking at either ibasso PB2/DB1 or ALO Rx MkII/HRT MS2 to start with.

        any comments on that?

        • Reply March 24, 2011

          Anonymous

          Simple answer, I would get the TTVJ with DAC option. You plug it into
          the Mac and you’re done. When you want to take it out, you unplug the
          USB cable and you have a great portable amp.

        • Reply March 24, 2011

          Anonymous

          Of course if you prefer to go with the DB-1/PB-2 or HRT MS-2/ALO rx,
          you’re welcome to do so. But then you need to keep the portable amps
          charged since they run on batteries — and you need to run an
          interconnect from the DACs to the Amps. I prefer simpler set ups.

          Source quality wise, the DB-1 and the HRT MS-2 is going to be a better
          DAC than the PCM270X based DAC of the TTVJ.

          • Reply March 26, 2011

            Guest

            i’ve finally settled on the amp/dac. I went with DB-2/PB-2 combo.

            DB-2 is expected to be released early april. I also use this chance to donate for Japan charity if i made it to the top 10 pre-orders to make my purchase more reasonable :p

            • Reply March 28, 2011

              Anonymous

              Awesome. What headphones will you be using it with?

              • Reply March 28, 2011

                Andrew Prasetyo Jo

                I’ll be using this with ATH AD700, HD555 and HD280pro for now.

                i’ll be gunning for the HD600 soon. currently i’m saving up for it. Unless you have better suggestion. AKG 702 perhaps? or maybe HD 25-1? I need something dark that can also be all rounder to counter the treble happy ibasso i think. Another thing i’m worried about is comfort. I’m really happy with my HD555 comfort level since the cups didn’t touch my ear too much unlike the ATH AD700. HD280pro is clamping on my head so i need to rest once in a while from using it.

          • Reply March 26, 2011

            Andrew Prasetyo Jo

            this is weird. i replied using twitter, but marked as guest…

  • Reply March 18, 2011

    Andrew Uroskie

    Great review, but I was surprised not to see the iBasso T3D, which is 1) much less expensive, 2) very highly regarded, 3) incorporates the digital volume control and 4) is even smaller and easier to use with a portable device. Especially since you review other iBasso products.

    I’ve compared the RSA Shadow and the T3D, and I preferred the shadow with JH13s. Nevertheless, I found the differences to be very minute, and the $200 savings was used towards a small desktop unit that’s far better than both.

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Andrew,
      I heard the Ibasso T3 non D version and was very lukewarm about it. My friend then told me that the D version is just a hair better, and so I didn’t quite have the interest to include it here. However, after what you have said, I will find a T3D to listen to.

      Cheers.

      • Reply March 20, 2011

        jendol

        It’s scary to find out that I have 10 amps out of the 12 that you reviewed. I can lend you my T3D tomorrow if you want to

        • Reply March 21, 2011

          Anonymous

          You are quite a monster indeed!

      • Reply April 5, 2011

        Andrew Uroskie

        Cool, thanks – I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’d imagine the T3D wouldn’t be up to the picoslim, but I’d wonder how far off it’d be. The interesting thing is that on Head-fi, it seems like a lot of people think the PicoSlim has too much bass for the JH16. But since the JH13 has a bit less to begin with, it might make a perfect match.

  • Reply March 19, 2011

    Zuqi

    I’ve been waiting for this article for so long, great job!

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, Zuqi.

  • Reply March 19, 2011

    eugenius

    I’m just going to assume the DACport beats all of those.

    • Reply March 19, 2011

      Anonymous

      Good one.

  • Reply March 19, 2011

    Abcd

    you dont make those portable balanced amps sound very appealing. are they worth it? if imaging is off wouldnt that ruin the entire musical presentation?

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Abcd,
      It depends on the music and the recording. If I am listening to say Prodigy, Coldplay, Kanye, or even John Mayer, most of these mainstream music are recorded in the studio anyway and there is never a proper imaging in the recordings to begin with. Then for these music, I would say that the innacurate imaging is not a big deal. But wih the balanced amps, you do get more bass, bigger soundstage and those are audible improvements.

      If you are listening to live jazz, classical, then the imaging aspect is going to be more important.

      Cheers.

  • Reply March 19, 2011

    SoulSyde

    Mike, Epic-epic review! You’ve hit every amp that I have considered buying over the years. Well done.

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, SoulSyde

  • Reply March 19, 2011

    Iamidaho

    Great review! I’m curious on where you would put the Fiio e7 with klipsch custom-3 and ath-m50. I’m not a bassbead but do like punchy lows but not at the expense of mids and highs. My musical leanings are toward rock ranging from Pink Floyd and Linkin Park.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      The E7’s amp probably can’t be compared to the line up here. But if you want punchy lows, go for the HD25-1, or wait for my Pro700 Mk2 review. The M-50 has decent bass, but it doesnt punch hard enough.

      • Reply March 25, 2011

        Nikki_girl

        For the lack of budget for these great amps, my set up is also with E7/E9 and ATH-M50S. Music range from Classical/Jazz to Rock.

        • Reply March 25, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yeah, the E7/E9 is great. what matters is that you’re enjoying the music.

  • Reply March 20, 2011

    bb

    It is not included here and for some reason does not have any reviews but it is one of the VERY BEST amps out there – Leckerton UHA-4, PLUS it is also a DAC!!! Easily matches if not bests the TTVJ Slim and slaughters it on price and betters it on size (its shorter) PLUS it has Low and High Gain, Cross-feed AND DIGITAL VOLUME CONTROL! Fantastic amp! LECKERTON UHA-4!

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks, man.. I will look into the Leckerton. Gosh there are just too many amps these days.

  • Reply March 20, 2011

    bb

    Excellent review though!!!

  • Reply March 20, 2011

    jnewbbie4

    Hi Mike, it’s me again. First of all I want to say I greatly appreciate your recommendation about the HD25-1. I’ve never thought that my listening habit would change just because of that phones. Nowadays, I’m more into Rap, Hiphop, RnB and while the HD25-1 is very at representing the music, I still think that it does not hit as low and the bass texture is not as clear as I would like. So which portable amps you would recommend for the HD25-1? I like the slimness of the Arrow but I’m just wonder if it’s powerful enough for bigger phones like the HD650 as I’m planning to get one.

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      The Arrow is good, but if you are looking for bottom end impact I think the ALO Rx does it better. Both amps have plenty of power for the HD650.

      Regarding bass texture, I think you may need to change headphones. I find the Pro700 Mk2 and Meier Stepdance combo to give a very impressive bass punch, kick, impact, slam, and still great texture.

      I am in the process of writing a review on the Pro700. Wait until it is published and see if whay you need is a new cans. The Pro700 doesn’t do so well unamped tho.

  • Reply March 21, 2011

    Burma Jones

    Hi Mike, thanks for the nice review. I just have one question. Which version of the Headstage Arrow did you use for this review? As far as I know there are three versions of the Arrow amps and I think there were some changes affecting the treble of the amp.

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think it’s the 2.2G Version.

  • Reply March 21, 2011

    .Sup

    wow this is gotta be the best review of portable amplifiers overall. The quality images raise the bar of this review even more. It would be nice however if you would photograph and compare amp size against an iPhone for example so you get the feeling how big it is or put measurements next to the amps on the photos.

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks for the compliments.

      You are so right. I probably should’ve put an Iphone 4 in there so that people can get a good comparison of the look. Anyway, I’m updating the images to have metric grids in there so you can get a rough measurement of how big the amps are. Images should be up soon.

  • Reply March 21, 2011

    Elgonzalovs

    i’m between pico slim and meier stepdance for westone umx3, but also for travel akg 701 or denon’s 5000. Music rock, pop, little classic
    Help ¡¡

    • Reply March 21, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think the Stepdance would cover the range better. You won’t get enough voltage swing with the Pico Slim and K701 with Classical music.

      • Reply April 27, 2011

        Elgonzalovs

        i just received the stepdance and i’m really really happy, best amp ever, for me of course.
        Thanks Mike ¡¡¡

        • Reply April 28, 2011

          Anonymous

          Superb! Glad to hear that!

  • Reply March 21, 2011

    shadowz

    Wow excellent round up, after reading this and many other portable amp guides I’m still stuck between the RSA P-51 MUSTANG and the newly released Meier StepDance, I’ll be using an iMod 5.5gen 250gb rockboxed through ALO jumbo cyro dock as the source and with Vsonic GR07s and sometimes DT990 (600). I really do enjoy my mid ranges and I hear the RSA is much better on that regard however the Meier StepDance is ranked higher in general purely based on sound quality although your review does not seem to reflect that standpoint. I mostly listen to classic instrumentals, pop and ballads.

    • Reply March 22, 2011

      Anonymous

      The DT990 and the Stepdance is going to be one bright and dry combination. I personally won’t recommend that.

      The Mustang will be better, or even more, go for the TTVJ Slim, RSA SR-71A, or Headstage Arrow. Those all will be a better pairing for the DT990.

      The Stepdance is a good amp with good detail and articulation. But the sound is quite dry with no mid and low body.

  • Reply March 21, 2011

    Elgonzalovs

    thanks for your quick response and your excellents reviews, gonzalo

  • Reply March 23, 2011

    Earfonia

    Indeed a great and comprehensive review! Thanks for the effort!

    • Reply March 23, 2011

      Anonymous

      Thanks Bram.

      Trying to learn a bit from you, you know? 🙂

  • Reply March 23, 2011

    mike_dice

    wow this is a great great review, one of the best, informative and detailed review of amps ive read online. great job.

  • Reply March 23, 2011

    Aob Max

    Hi Mike, I’m really interested in the Arrow amp. Do you think it would work well with two different headphones with different impedance(obviously)? like…dt880 pro and jh5-pro? Thanks in advance.

    • Reply March 24, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think it shouldn’t have any problem with the DT880 and the JH5.

      Cheers.

      • Reply March 24, 2011

        Aob Max

        uh…my bad…i mean can I plug in the two simultaneously for something like A-B…would that work?

        • Reply March 25, 2011

          Anonymous

          Hi,
          Yes you can plug both in simultaneously without a problem. Here is what
          I wrote on the Headstage Arrow review:

          ——————————-

          The best demonstration of the Headstage’s power is when I plugged in
          both the HD650 and the HD800 simultaneously and heard no drop in the
          sound quality or impact level. Now, when you plug in two headphones with
          different impedance ratings (say a HD650 with a ATH M-50), there will be
          a change in the sound output. I suspect that this is because the
          headphone outputs are connected in parallel without a separate buffer
          for each output. Hence the effective impedance of the headphone changes,
          and you will feel a difference when you plug in two headphones of a
          different impedance at the same time. However, with the same impedance
          ratings (in this case I’m using a HD650 and HD800, both at 300 Ohms), I
          don’t notice any changes in the sound.

          ——————————-

          http://www.headfonia.com/headstage-the-arrow-amplifier/

          Cheers.

          • Reply April 15, 2011

            Jpperez11

            Hi, John nice review. I’m thinking about getting the SR71A or the TTVJ, but before I commit I was wondering if you could do a review on the Zenhead from Decware. I been hearing a lot of good things about this portable amplifier but I haven’t seen any good reviews on it.
            Thanks,
            JP

            • Reply April 15, 2011

              Jpperez11

              Sorry, I meant to say Mike not John.

            • Reply April 15, 2011

              Anonymous

              Hi JP,
              The Zenhead looks like a good amp, but I can’t promise you a review of it.

  • Reply March 26, 2011

    Jon

    Hey Mike,

    Could you briefly describe how these portable amps provide an advantage over using the headphone out straight from the HM-602? Dying to know, thanks!

    • Reply March 26, 2011

      Anonymous

      Jon, the first and most important thing you will notice is that adding a separate amp will improve the bass impact simply due to the more powerful amplifier section compared to the built-in HM601/2 amp. This will often raise the PRaT level as well, making the music more fun, engaging, and more toe-tapping.

      The amps will also bring their own sound signatures into the game. Often they also improve things like soundstage and instrument separation.

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Anaxilus

    Hey Mike, great work. I was wondering what happened to the Warbler? Is that incoming?

    • Reply March 29, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hey dude, I was deciding if I should wait a little longer and try to get
      a Warbler. But at the end of the day, I decided against it.. been
      postponing the article for a little too long.

      Besides, frankly speaking, if someone is going to get a new portable amp
      these days, I think most would go for the slim amps. I could be wrong
      though.

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Anaxilus

    Hey Mike, great work. I was wondering what happened to the Warbler? Is that incoming?

  • Reply March 29, 2011

    Dan Z

    Haha well that answers my PS from the email I sent you, thanks for the review!

  • Reply April 3, 2011

    Mampus

    Mike, how about Graham Slee Voyager? 😀

    • Reply April 4, 2011

      Anonymous

      Ah. It’s an old, old, amp. Slightly mellow, warm, smooth, but not very
      impactful and lacking PRaT.

  • Reply April 9, 2011

    shrisha das

    Thanks so much Mike for a wonderful review! Was really enjoyable reading. I own a Stepdance Amp and you very exact describe my feelings about it. This dryness bothering me quite a lot not giving me to enjoy my listening. Since I trust your ears, I’d like to ask you what you would recommend for me to get with a same great clarity but with nice lush mids? You really make me think about TTVJ amp but I’m a bit afraid to have too tubie sound then. For example my friend have a Sen.600 and he pairing it with a RSA Predator which is good match since Ray designing all his amps around them. 600s being neutral gets more musicality from Predator. But when I plug my Beyers 880 in Predy the sound I’m getting is too dark and bright for my ears. So it’s no go for me. But I didn’t try other RSA amps. May be they are different for Predator. So I’m looking for something with balanced sound, nice sound stage and instrument separation, portable enough but still able to drive at list 300 ohm cans. Stepdance with a TTVJ mids in one body 🙂 Sounds utopic? 🙂 Please recommend me something. There is some nice amps around too, like Pico Amp, not Slim, which you probably tried but I’m not. I will consider them too.
    Eager to hear your opinion.
    Thanks so much.
    Shrisha.

    • Reply April 9, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Srisha,
      I was thinking about an amp that would suit you, but I didn’t quite get
      what you were talking about. Especially on the part where you plug the
      DT880 on the Predator, you are hearing it to be too dark and bright?
      Dark is the opposite of bright, and I don’t know how the sound can be
      too dark and too bright at the same time.

      If you try to explain it better, then I might be able to get a better idea.

      • Reply April 9, 2011

        shrisha das

        Hi Make,
        Sorry my bad English here. I’m speaking Russian most of the day, please be lenient to me 🙂
        I thing here is my bad understanding of what is dark, bright sound is. But I meant they goes bright in mids toward to lows (lowmids) range, if I can say like that. Not in mids and mid-highs section.
        Anyway, my point is that Predator coloring headphones in a way that it’s nicely suit 600s but not Beyers since 880s not neutral to my ears like Sehns. So Predator overcoloring them to my taste. Stepdance is really great Amp but recessed mids and midhighs even with 880s known as bright cans makes me thing for alternatives.
        Sorry for my mumbling. 🙂

        • Reply April 11, 2011

          Anonymous

          Shrisha,
          I still have difficulties understanding what you say, but I’m not trying
          to blame you for it, rather please understand ME if I can’t seem to give
          you a good advice.

          If you don’t like the Predator, then a safe suggestion is definitely to
          stay away from RSA amps, as they carry mostly the same signature.

          The TTVJ slim doesn’t have an over-lush mids in my opinion. It will give
          a good boost in the midrange body which will benefit the DT880, but
          since I haven’t tried that combination personally, I really can’t tell
          how good the pairing will be.

          You can also try the ALO Rx, it’s a great amp with no mid and low
          coloration, but again, with the Beyer I fear that the overall sound will
          be too thin.

          I personally think the RSA SR71a would be one of the best amps for the
          DT880. But seeing how you find the Predator to be unpleasant, and since
          I can’t quite understand what you’re trying to communicate really makes
          it hard to make that recommendation.

        • Reply April 11, 2011

          Anonymous

          Perhaps you can try the Ibasso PB-2. It has a great build quality,
          overall good sound, and opamp rolling capability to get the sound
          tailored precisely to what you want.

          Yes, I think that would be a good recommendation for you.

          • Reply April 11, 2011

            shrisha das

            Hello Mike.
            Thanks so much for your answer. Really appreciate your recommendation. One more question if you don’t mind.
            I got Stepdance with an idea to have it as portable and desktop amp. Might be that was my mistake. Should I just get nice desktop amp which will suit my big headphones (Beyers 880s 250 and 600 Ohm., Koss 4x) and for IEMs portable one?
            As I said you very well describe Stepdance. I’m looking for sound signature which is will looks like Stepdance but TTVJ Slimslike midrange. My preferences in music mostly jazz, classical, blues, hard rock, some metal and alternative rock. I think PB-2 will drive big cans and IEMs with no problem but I just don’t know what sound signature it have. I had D2 Boa from iBasso. Is their amps share the same signature as well, like RSA amps?

            • Reply April 12, 2011

              Anonymous

              Hi Shrisha,
              Again I am having a difficulty in understanding here. Stepdance like
              soundstage, but TTVJ Slim midrange?

              I really can’t comment on the D2 BOA, but if you get the PB-2 you can do
              op-amp rolling, so that will help you to get the signature that you want.

  • Reply April 13, 2011

    Vladimer Nachkebia

    Why did you miss out UHA-4?

    • Reply April 13, 2011

      Anonymous

      Sorry Vladimer, no particular reason. There are a lot of portable amps these days and I can’t possibly cover them all.

      I will do a review on the AHA12 perhaphs next month.

      • Reply May 23, 2011

        lee730

         The UHA 4 would definitly be worth looking into ;). Love the sound signature. Very smooth, beautiful mids. A hint of warmness yet it retains it retains neutrality. Seems people are enjoying even the HD650 with this amp, and I bet with the UHA 6 would be a dream as it supply much more power with the same sound signature.

  • Reply April 16, 2011

    Eagle1776

    Awesome article! This has quickly become one of my favorite sites.

    I’ve got a broadly related question: How much does the HD25-1 ii benefit from amping? I guess I don’t want to throw more money in the form of an amp at them than they would benefit from. I know with everything there is a law of diminishing returns…what is practical for the budget conscious? Is a cmoy/E7/T3D close to maxing out its potential or is it a good enough headphone to justify a more expensive amp, like those listed here. (I’m listening to mostly lossless from an ipod classic so I’m not up to a dac yet, if that helps)

    • Reply April 16, 2011

      Anonymous

      I probably would not bother with amping the Hd25-1. It benefits very little, it seems, from portable amps, and it is good just as it is from an Ipod.

      • Reply April 16, 2011

        Eagle1776

        Thanks for the advice!

        • Reply April 16, 2011

          Anonymous

          Well, let me know if you still find the HD25 to be lacking after you listen to it.

  • Reply April 16, 2011

    Andrew Uroskie

    Ok, so I decided to do some testing myself, and I’m trying my JH13s with the iBasso PB1, the RSA Shadow, and the HeadAmp Pico Slim (along with my desktop unit, the Audio-gd Sparrow 8471). My conclusions so far agree with yours, except I would rate the Slim much higher than the Shadow across the board.

    My question is this: for JH13 ALONE, impedance of 28 Ohms, no other headphones — is the Pico Slim actually going to be better than a decent desktop amp? Say, that of the NuForce HDP or something comparable? Obviously, the desktop would have lots more power, but would it be any better? In at least one respect – the digital volume pot – I’m guessing it would usually be worse. Any thoughts?

    • Reply April 16, 2011

      Anonymous

      I think it does. I hsve tried the JH16 from the Gilmore lite, comparing it with the picoslim, and i think the pico slim still gives better articulation on the bass. The Gilmore had more bass quantity though.

  • Reply April 28, 2011

    Kunlun

    Wow, this has been a very helpful article and you’ve been great answering people’s questions, too!

    I’d like your advice, too, if you have a moment. I’m looking to upgrade my slim amp up from the ibasso T3 for my Future Sonics MG6Pro customs and FS MG7 Atrio universals. For the customs, I just want something that has a bit of warmth in the mids and excellent extension below and above to make the most out of their abilities. The universals need a bit more helps as they have a bit of a hump in the lower treble. They need an amp which has a treble that doesn’t focus on the lower treble and lose prominence in the higher treble range.

    I was thinking of the ttvj slim, but I’m concerned based on your review. It sounds like they don’t really extend very well in the bass (focusing in the upper/mid bass and lacking in the sub-bass) or in the treble (with emphasis in the lower-treble). Plus the bass is muddy. Have I gotten the right impression?

    I’m trying to avoid carrying around something larger than about ttvj slim-size, but is there a better option?

    Thanks so much,
    Kunlun

    • Reply April 28, 2011

      Anonymous

      Yep, I think you got my impressions on the TTVJ slim correctly.

      I am thinking about the particular amp you should go for.. how do you
      find the Ibasso T3 to sound? I think the ALO Rx has good low bass and no
      lower treble hump. But the mids are not exactly warm. The SR-71A fits
      the bill very well. Great low bass, excellent impact, no lower treble
      hump, warm mids. Not sure if you’re willing to live with the
      non-rechargeable dual 9V batteries though. Oh, and it’s also dark sounding.

      I don’t know man, you’re asking for a specific solution here. I think
      you may have to go with an EQ to get things precisely like you want it.
      How do you find the T3 sounds in terms of frequency balance?

      • Reply April 28, 2011

        Kunlun

        Okay, well, I’m glad I’m reading your impressions correctly.

        Thanks for the help. I find that the T3 is warm in the mids, not so clear and doesn’t do so well at extension of either bass or treble. It was okay with an older iem that had great treble extension but was a bit harsh in the highs, but didn’t pair well at all with the aforementioned Atrios–the lower treble sounded bloated without much above it. I don’t want a repeat of that!

        A little bit of extra lower treble and mid-bass is okay, but there needs to be something substantial above and below to balance it. Instead of warm mids, let’s go with something that has great PRaT, clarity and spaciousness. So, we can forget the warm mids (but nothing too boring, please!) and go with clarity, space and extension above and below.

        Maybe the ALO Rx is the way to go. What do you think? It’s a solid $100 over the ttvj slim, of course.
        I’m using this amp for a commute, so I think rechargeable batteries are a must.

        I’ve heard great things about the Just Audio uHA-120 in terms of a balanced mid and very good bass and treble extension. Even though a 1″ tall (a bit big compared to the slim amps), maybe I should go for it. Or, if there’s something else, please let me know.

        Any comments are welcome, thanks again.

        • Reply April 28, 2011

          Anonymous

          I think the ALO Rx is the one you should go for as well, ignoring the
          need for the warm mids. The mids are not cold or thin or anything, it’s
          just they are not the typical warm-mid sounding amp.

          I have the AHA-120, which I believe is the class-A version of the
          uHA-120. It’s nothing like what you want. The sound is great, but it’s
          mid-centric.

  • Reply May 9, 2011

    Sean

    Hey Mike,

    Interesting article. I’m just about to look around for a cheaper portable headphone amp + DAC combo. Keywords, cheaper as this is going to be used daily and will not be babied. I have always wanted to try the Headroom’s Total Bithead and recently, the price has dropped quite a bit to around $150. Good deal when compared to some of the amps that you have reviewed here. Was just wondering what your thoughts are on this amp?

    My headphone collection (you already know some of it):
    Alessandro MS1
    Sennheiser HD650
    AKG K701
    Beyerdynamic DT880 (2003 version)
    Sony MDR-SA1000
    Shure SCL3
    Ultimate Ears 5pro
    Audio Technica ATH-CM700Ti

    Musical genre: Classical (Symphonies, Piano and Violin Concertos, Piano Solo), Jazz vocal. Acoustic instruments.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated!
    Sean

    • Reply May 10, 2011

      Sean

      Sorry..one more point to my above question, I’m not married to Headroom. Please feel free to suggest any other amps (and it doesn’t have to be that portable) that is great bang for the buck, great sound for a reasonable price. Many thanks in advance!

      Sean

    • Reply May 10, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Sean,
      For now if you want a sub $150 amp for your headphones, I can only
      recommend the JDSLabs Cmoy for ~$60.
      http://www.headfonia.com/60-pack-of-awesome-jdslabs-cmoy/

      I haven’t had any experience with the Headroom Total Bithead (though now
      that you’ve asked for it, I’m sending them an email to review it).

      Anyway I think the JDSLabs would pair well with a lot of the headphones
      in your collection: MS1, HD650, DT880-2003, SA1000. It’ll also do very
      well for Classical, Jazz vocal and acoustic instruments.

      • Reply May 10, 2011

        Sean

        Many thanks Mike! I will definitely check out the Cmoy. The only problem is, it doesn’t contain a DAC as well. Going through your site more, I’m getting intrigued by the Yulong U100 as well as the UberMuzik’s tube DAC/amp. Any thoughts on either for my collection of headphones as well as my musical tastes?

        Sean

        • Reply May 10, 2011

          Anonymous

          The Uber Muzik has a sweeter midrange (good for Jazz, Vocals) but the Yulong is more detailed and has a better bass impact (good for symphonies). The Yulong is glitchy on OSX though, so unless you’re using Windows I wouldn’t recommend it.

    • Reply May 23, 2011

      lee730

       People seem to be enjoying the Hd650 with the UHA 4 and that pretty amazing considering it’s Leckertons mini amp. You could opt for the UHA 6 which would supply you with a lot more power and still have that amazing sound people seem to be enjoying with the HD650. I love my IE7/IE8 combo with the UHA 4, very smooth and dynamic.

      • Reply May 24, 2011

        Anonymous

        Hi, Lee
        Thanks for the input. I really should give this Leckerton amp a try.

        • Reply May 24, 2011

          lee730

          If you do try it out let me know what you think. I’m also on headfi if you care to drop by the UHA 4 thread. Thanks.

          • Reply May 24, 2011

            Anonymous

            Yes,
            I will send them an email and see if they’ll send me a sample.

  • Reply May 10, 2011

    Carlo

    Hi Mike,

    Great article. May I ask for impressions of the JH5 paired with a RSA Mustang or TTVJ Slim? And which of the amps would benefit the JH5 more?

    Thanks!

    • Reply May 11, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Carlo,
      My favorite amp for the JH customs is the Pico Slim, and that includes the JH5. The TTVJ and the Mustang are good, but I think the Pico Slim works best with the JHs.

      • Reply May 31, 2011

        Guest

        I have HM-801, do you prefer to pair it with pico slim or buy a GAME amp for JH16?

        • Reply May 31, 2011

          Anonymous

          I would just drive it direct from the player. The impressions on the GAME amp was not that good, so I’ll just use the standard amp, unless you are having serious gain problems, then I would get the GAME amp. One box solution is always more practical for mobile set ups.

  • Reply May 16, 2011

    zerocool

    hi Mike,
     i am very love music, an for my birthday  i decided to to upgrade my portable setup.
    so what i think to do is to buy a portable player that be able to play FLAC an hi rez file 24bit/96Khz like hm-602, Teclast T51 or Fiio x3  http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/528916/the-fiio-x3-thread-upcoming-fiio-dap
     and from the  line out connect to portable amp 
    the  earphone will be or 1964-t http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/530185/review-1964ears-1964-t or Etymotic ER-4S

    then my question is whate amp will be god choice for me ibasso D12 or RSA 71A and how they can handle 24bit/96Khz 

    • Reply May 18, 2011

      Anonymous

      I will get the HM-602, out to the ER4P, and be done. It doesn’t do true
      24/96kHz though.

      If you need an amp, the SR71A is far better than the D12. But personally
      I’ll just hook it direct to the HM-602.

  • Reply June 3, 2011

    James McProgger

    would be awesome to see the uHA4 included, one can only dream…

    • Reply June 6, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi James,
      Sorry I am still nowhere close to getting an uHA4. Especially now that
      I’m working on another amplifier shootout.

      • Reply June 10, 2011

        James McProgger

        The “Under 100$ shotout” i guess. that will be interesting as well

        • Reply June 10, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes, the under $100 shootout. I think the amps in this price range can
          be just as musical as the more expensive amps.

    • Reply August 13, 2011

      Swbf2cheater

      Amen brotha’

  • Reply August 13, 2011

    Swbf2cheater

    I would have to agree in regards to the SR71A.  It was the most musical amp out of the entire crop but was the poorest performer when comboed with a portable source and great headphones like my Edition 8.  The TTVJ slim was a noticeably better experience with the colorfly ck4 and edition 8.  The sr71a sounded lacking and did almost nothing for it over just using my fuze or CK4 alone.  However, the SR71A was much better for desktop amping than the TTVJ slim was via my computer as a source with the edition 8….SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER than pretty much any portable amp I have ever used outside of the SR71B lol! Both are great amps in their own area of expertise.

  • Reply August 17, 2011

    DodgersKings323

    This site cleared up tons of questions i had as a headphile noob 🙂

    • Reply August 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      That sounds good. Thanks 🙂

  • Reply August 20, 2011

    Reckoncile

    Great job! I really enjoyed reading this. Looking forward to the rest of the article.

    • Reply August 20, 2011

      Reckoncile

      Opps, wrong review.

  • Reply September 2, 2011

    Jason

    Hi,

    I have already asked you for some recommendations previously and you recommended the Fostex Hpp1 as it’s a good match for Es10. But after I thought about it for a while, the price tag is a bit steep. So now I’m looking for some cheaper amps. I’m wondering if the shadow is a good match to the es10 or you have some other recommendations? Thanks

    • Reply September 2, 2011

      Jason

      How about the P51 and uha120 as well? You probably haven’t heard of the uha120, but I guess it’s a downgraded version of the aha120?

    • Reply September 3, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Jason,
      Last month I listened to the ES10 with the Stepdance Meier and the synergy is very good. I’d recommend that over the warmer sounding RSA or UHA amps.

  • Reply September 23, 2011

    emong

    Nice review :). What’s better to partner with a shure se535, pico or rsa in terms of sq and balance? Thanks!

    • Reply September 23, 2011

      Anonymous

      I personally think the Shadow but here is what it boils down to: 

      If you feel the SE535 has a midrange that is too forward, too glaring, then yes get the Shadow. (this is what I feel about the SE535).
      If you feel that the SE535 is too warm and needs to be a little livelier, a little lighter, then get the Pico Slim. 

  • Reply September 23, 2011

    mula766hi

    Hi Mike…hope you are fine well. Your review is very clear & helpful for my reference

    As you was used UM Mage, please advise me what’s your the best portable amply to pair UM Mage. I am very love vocal & detail.

    • Reply October 6, 2011

      Anonymous

      Try the RSA Mustang. The vocal is amazing on that amp.

  • Reply October 6, 2011

    Andrew V. Uroskie

    hope you’re doing ibasso in the new shootout.  Having tried several of these here with JH13s, and the best is undeniably the Pico Slim, by a margin, I still find the ibasso T3D quite a contender, esp at the price.

    • Reply October 6, 2011

      Anonymous

      Honestly Andrew, when I did this article I already had the T3D in possession but I didn’t include it because I thought it was really bad. It had a nice black background due to the digital volume control but the soundstage was very narrow and somewhat collapsed, and the tonal balance was a bit odd though, though it pushes the treble out more than the others so that may be why it sounds good with the JH13.

      • Reply November 23, 2011

        Andrew Uroskie

        Thanks for the reply.  I agree it’s not really comparable to the Pico Slim or the RSA Shadow, both of which I A/B’d (finding the Slim much preferable.)  I also agreed with your assessment of the Balanced Amps on IEMs – I tried the PB-1 and was not impressed.  

        iBasso has a brand new model out that looks very promising though – the t5 – at least one respected member of head-fi claims he likes it better than the pico slim, so I’m going to have a look.  You might want to do the same.

        • Reply November 23, 2011

          Anonymous

          Yes, thanks Andrew.

  • Reply November 16, 2011

    Brian Schadenfreude Ip

    Hi Mike. I’m looking for an amp for my IE8 that’ll sound great with the genres of music I listen to, namely pop, rock and metal. I’m currently looking at the TTVJ slim, RSA Predator and the Pico DAC/Amp. I prefer a somewhat dark, yet refined sound, that has impressive instrumentals, good mids and great bass. I would really appreciate if you could help me out here. Thanks!

    • Reply November 17, 2011

      Anonymous

      Hi Brian,
      Sounds like the RSA sound is for you. I don’t know why you shortlisted it to the Predator though. Something smaller like the Shadow would be good, and the digital volume control on the Shadow would give you better bass articulation for your rock and metal stuff.
      You can also go with the Headstage Arrow.

      • Reply November 24, 2011

        Brian Schadenfreude Ip

        Thanks Mike. The rationale behind shortlisting the Predator was that I have this old friend of mine that has had his Predator for a while. He’s looking to move on to greater things so he was willing to offload it to me at a lower price. So I thought that perhaps I could do my friend a favour and save some money at the same time. Once again, I thank you Mike for your invaluable opinions, and for helping so many misguided and indecisive audiophiles like me with their purchases. =)

  • Reply November 22, 2011

    Angel (Gelocks)

    Hi Mike.
    Here I am again looking for counseling lol 😉
    Just purchased a Denon D5000 and connected it to my JDSLabs Cmoy and… I hear distortion!! It seems that the Cmoy cannot actually drive these cans well. At first I thought it was the headphones since I bought them used… But I connected them to my NuForce Icon HDP and they sound great.

    so questions, have you tried the Denon Dxxxx series and do you think any one of these portable amps go perfect with them???

    Thanks

  • Reply November 23, 2011

    Sljm

    Hi Mike,
    Great review there.

    I am looking to spend this Christmas for a Amplifier / DAC?(not important) to go with a new headphone which I have not finalized yet.

    So basically, my personal preference is:
    1) Buget USD$100>
    2) I’m a rocker(Avenged Sevenfold) / metal(Bullet For My Valentine) / punk rock(My Chemical Romance) / slow rock(The All-Americans Rejects) / once in a while, trance(Alesso, Le Grande) though very seldom.
    3) For a rocker, I enjoy it when blazing fast guitars and thumping drums solos come at me. Screams to be controlled and every instruments to be heard(e.g. Separations between guitar 1 / guitar 2 / drum / lead vocal / back-up vocal to be heard clearly.
    4) Portable for outdoor use.

    I do know I’m asking for too much, but I’m just trying to make it clearer so that you can help me better. 🙂 I actually got sick reading up reviews for 1 month now, there are definitely not 100% foolproof headphones at the moment but it is really hard to find 1 just for my taste.

    Lastly, if these headphones will help:
    1) Alessandro MS1i (Rocker Style, in your face, better bass)
    2) Grado SR80i (Rocker Style, in your face)
    3) Superlux HD660 (Cheapest)
    4) Audio Technical M50S (Isolation from closed cupped)
    Leaning towards MS1i for having better base now.

    • Reply November 23, 2011

      Anonymous

      Okay, the budget is $100 or greater.

      I think you should get the SR-71A. It would rock for the music that you listen to. And it would really rock with the MS1, SR80i, and the HD660 as well. The M50 you can sell as I don’t think it plays your music well. 😉 If you still need a closed headphone then get the HD25-1.
      Hope the SR-71A fits your budget — but since you’re asking for a lot of things in the sound quality I just had to propose that one. 😉
      Trust me though, the SR71A is still among the best out there.

      • Reply November 23, 2011

        Sljm

        Great information. Thank you. Always trust a professional advice.

  • Reply December 7, 2011

    Irawan Johan

    Hi Mike, will Pico slim sinergized the ACS T1? Thank you.

  • Reply December 7, 2011

    Irawan Johan

    One more question Mike, if I were to choose ttvj slim and headstage arrow for my ACS T1 which one will be? Thank you.

    • Reply December 7, 2011

      Mike

      The headstage is smaller, I probably would go for the headstage because of that. 🙂
      But as for sound, hard to say.. the TTVJ is better and bigger sounding.

      • Reply December 7, 2011

        Irawan Johan

        Headstage Arrow or Pico Slim for the ACS T1? Thanks again Mike.

        • Reply December 7, 2011

          Mike

          Pico Slim was best with the JHs. Not sure about the T1.

          • Reply December 7, 2011

            Irawan Johan

            Thank you very much, it’s very helpful!

  • Reply December 13, 2011

    Tsgillette

    I am getting the Sony mdr xb1000 for Christmas I hear ppl say the bass in them is less punchier than the 500s so I’m trying to find a good amp for under $100 to increase bass I listen to mostly hip hop any suggestions?

    • Reply December 14, 2011

      Mike

      Hi,
      Try the Fiio E11 or the Digizoid Zo (I have a review on the Zo coming up).

  • Reply December 14, 2011

    Soyabean

    where does the Audinst AMP-HP place?

  • Reply December 25, 2011

    Dan Herman

    I’d like something single ended that will drive the HE500.  I currently have the SR-71A, will this be sufficient or will I need the SR-71B or PB2 or possibly the warbler?  

    • Reply December 26, 2011

      Mike

      Dan,
      Still best to go with a desktop amp for the HE-500.

      • Reply January 10, 2012

        Dan Herman

        Thanks and appreciate your educated feedback but I’d like to be all portable.  I am about to pull the trigger on the Continental V2 to pair with the HE-500.  I’ve been using the HE-500 with the SR-71A and though I like the sound and it drives it just fine, I feel that I am not getting what the HE-500 is capable of.  I know that the Continental or I am also considering the MK-II might not bring it to its potential either but I assume it will do a better job than the SR-71A.  Any thoughts you can provide would be greatly appreciated.  

        • Reply January 10, 2012

          Mike

          Dan,
          Amps like the SR71-B and Ibasso PB-2 have higher level power output, but I don’t think they make a terribly good pairing with the HE-500 either. Sometimes you just have to go desktop, or find another headphone for your portable set up.

          • Reply January 11, 2012

            Dan Herman

            Got it.  Looks like I’ll sell the HE-500 and hope the HE-400 will work with what I have.  Thanks again Mike.  

  • Reply December 27, 2011

    Paul

    Mike,

    Great article as usual.  What do you think of Musical Fidelity V-Can or V-Can ii ?  Paul.

    • Reply December 28, 2011

      Mike

      Paul,
      No experience with the V-Cans, sorry.

  • Reply January 2, 2012

    james74

    Hi Mike, Just found this site and thoroughly enjoyed the amp review due to it’s relevance to my situation, so here is a poser for you Mike!

    Q: I have the JH16’s with Twag V2 cable with a iBasso PB1 and basically you wrote what I have been thinking about for a while now with the balanced traits and want to go back with a single ended amp (still porta size) and the ALO or TTVJ sounds promising from what I have read but now I have a Sony Z1000 headphone (an efficient 24ohm’s) which is a slight contrast to the JH16’s low bass reproduction and need an amp that will serve both with out over cooking the JH16’s any further or make the Z1000’s any brighter or bass lighter than they are? I like mids to still be prevalent with a good prat. Not sure if the Pico slim can cover both there or maybe the RX/TTVJ or some thing else? 

    p.s my genres really span across the board; Rock/pop/dance/blues/jazz/OST’s/female vocal.

    • Reply January 2, 2012

      Mike

      Hi James,
      So an amplifier to cover both the Z1000 and the JH16. You don’t want the Z1000 to be brighter or bass lighter. First thing that comes to mind is RSA amps, which are dark sounding and always come with plenty of bass. The Mustang should have plenty of power for your Z1000 and JH16, and it comes with a three level gain switch — so that sounds like a good combo. The Shadow would’ve been more precise sounding for your JH16 but I’m not sure if it has enough impact for the Z1000. The mids on the Mustang is one of the best among all portable amps. The Pico Slim, somehow like the Shadow, very precise but I’m not sure about pairing it to the Z1000.

      • Reply January 2, 2012

        james74

        Thanks Mike,

        Irony there as before I decided to go balanced it was going to be the Mustang.

        Just to follow up quickly the only thing I had heard with the JH16’s was maybe the RSA was maybe a bit to dark with it and not the best for getting the treble from the JH16’s, do you see any issues with the 16’s and RSA relationship? 

        The only thing I did like the sound of  with say the Shadow (noted shadow might not power Z1000 well enough), Rx or TTVJ was the digital volume control for the benefits that brings, is this such a biggie not having this with say the P51?

        ….lastly (I know I mentioned about the mids been prevalent) but just out of curiosity how would the RX or TTVJ be with both JH16 and Z1000, would they be good suiter’s for both headphones.  And if say the TTVJ was a viable option could I kill two birds with one stone with the built in dac or would the DB1 still be the better option to keep, just would need to get my cables re-terminated to work with the SE amp. 
         
        To be honest even though smaller the better if possible I will not be using the amp in a pocket on the move, solely for static listening use at home, or when travelling, hotel rooms etc so would not rule out a slightly bigger size for  a amp/dac combo if there is one worth considering . 

        Forgot to mention if it makes a difference my portable source currently is the Sony X1060  which is fairly warm sounding even though it has a digital amp powering it.

        Thanks again Mike, this final round should make things clearer in my head!

        • Reply January 3, 2012

          Mike

          True on the JH, that’s why I still think that the Pico Slim makes for the best match. However, since you want one amp for both the JH and the Z1000, I tried my best to find a compromise. The Mustang is the least dark sounding amp in RSA’s line up.
          Yes the digital volume control is good to have, and again you’ll have better articulation with those amps with a digital volume control.
          I suppose you can get either the TTVJ or the Rx. And yes with the TTVJ you can get the built in DAC option as well, though it’s not going to be as good as the DB1’s DAC.

          • Reply January 4, 2012

            james74

            Thank you Mike for the direction in making things a lot clearer, if it was just the JH16’s I would purely try the Pico slim (maybe still will @ a later date!) but from what you have said and taking into account SQ firstly I think I will be torn between the P51 Mustang and the TTVJ if it can power the Sony Z1000’s just as well. (amp only on your observation vs the DB1 dac).  

            (things like the P51’s batt life vs the TTVJ’s can play on the mind also! – recap:SQ first!)

            Thank’s again ; )

            • Reply January 4, 2012

              Mike

              Well the TTVJ is clearly the bigger sounding amp compared to the Mustang, if that would make decision making any easier.

  • Reply January 2, 2012

    james74

    Sorry Mike, 

    Forgot to add I have the iBAsso DB1 dac also and wondering will I need to look at a all in one like the TTVJ with built in dac or can I still incorporate any of those other SE amps well with theDB1 without having to worry about getting another dac? 

    • Reply January 2, 2012

      Mike

      I think the DAC is fine, James.

  • Reply January 6, 2012

    james74

    Mike  1 day ago in reply to james74
    Well the TTVJ is clearly the bigger sounding amp compared to the Mustang, if that would make decision making any easier.——————————————————————————————————————————Thanks Mike, that does make it  easier somewhat, in my mind the TTVJ is edging it to be the one.  Only trade with the TTVJ is general is the conservative battery life (especially when  compared to the Mustang!)Still feel the urge I need to check out the P51 also at some point out of curiosity with everything that has been said about this little amp.

    • Reply January 6, 2012

      Mike

      Alright James, let me know which amp you finally end up getting.

      Personally I like the Mustang better due to the small size. But again, the sound is smaller than the TTVJ.

      • Reply January 6, 2012

        Gio

        Hi Mike, such a great, balanced and gifted reviewer you are. I really enjoy your acute competence And clarity. I go to the point: I have the (ushush) beats Pro and I’d like to buy a Portable dac/amp (300-500$) for these cans. I’m amazed by the ttvj slim (based on reviews) but I surely need your suggestion. I own too a pair of In Ear Sehneiser (cant find the model…I paid these 300€, they are detachable and your can regulate the bass trough a small plastic included screwdriver) and klipsh (similarly hi end, for my wife) so maybe I’ll use the amp with these too. Portability is important but sound comes first. The source is iphone ipad2, mainly. Last tip: will an integrated DAC make a difference (for example ttvj slim + dac ?). Thank you anyway for the “sound culture” you allowed me to gain :). gio

        • Reply January 7, 2012

          Mike

          Hi Gio,
          Thanks for the compliments. The TTVJ should be great. It’s slim, fairly portable, and the sound is great. As for the USB DAC option, get it if you gonna be listening to music on your computer.

          • Reply January 7, 2012

            Gio

            Thank you Mike for your answer. Of course I just ordered TTVJ slim + USB DAC + Cablepro earcandy lite idoc (i trusted the constructor.. i bought everything from ttvjaudio online). I hope I did not mess dough because I didi not order the Alo low rider..no idea what it is but I hope it’s not a vital part of the DAC). This is a “new beginning” into the hi-fi music; all thank to your passion and that of other audiophiles posting on this wensite; all this  contributed in “turn on, again, my passion for the Music”. So long..thankyou again and…I bet I’ll be back ;-).
            Gio

            • Reply January 7, 2012

              Mike

              Awesome, Gio. Let me know if you have other questions.

      • Reply January 7, 2012

        james74

        Will sure do, might not be for a month or so, but once I do I will post here………

  • Reply January 23, 2012

    Andy

    Hey Mike,
    What do you think would be a better match for the HD25-1 II, the RSA Shadow, the RSA Mustang, or the TTVJ Slim? I’ll be feeding it with an iPod Classic (160gb model).

    Thanks.

    • Reply January 23, 2012

      Mike

      Andy,
      Either the TTVJ or the Mustang. I think the output level on the Shadow would be a little limited for a headphone.

      • Reply January 27, 2012

        Andy

        Mike,
        Which do you think would be best for mainly electronic music and hip-hop?

        Thanks.

  • Reply January 26, 2012

    Jason Brown

    Mike,

    Which of the tiny amps to match with ACS T1’s?

    Thanks

    • Reply January 26, 2012

      Mike

      Jason, 
      I’ve only had a brief time with the T1, but you can try the RSA Shadow. 

  • Reply January 26, 2012

    Jason Brown

    Sorry Mike, it’s one of the slim amps that I’m interested in matching with my T1’s, not the tiny!Which is the best match of these?

    Thanks,
    Jason

    • Reply January 26, 2012

      Mike

      Either the TTVJ or the ALO.

      I’m leaning towards the ALO since I think the T1’s bass can be improved.

      • Reply January 26, 2012

        Jason Brown

        Thanks Mike,

        I’ve also been eyeing the JDS Labs C421. Is that almost in the same league as the ALO & TTVJ, for much less outlay, as I’ve read?

        I wish that I could try these products for myself, except that I live in London & am not aware of any retailers that stock the product range that you so expertly review (I wish there was such a retail outlet!)

        Thanks again,
        Jason

        • Reply January 26, 2012

          Mike

          Ah, yes the C421 is very good too and currently is my favorite. I just wasn’t thinking about that since I thought you were asking within the context of this article.

          • Reply January 26, 2012

            Scottie

            Damn, can’t wait to get mine!!  (c421)

  • Reply March 5, 2012

    Kenny

    Hey Mike, which amp do you think will be a gd match to improve the W4R? I’ll be using it with an iPhone 4S, and “pocket-a-bility” is important. I’ve shortlisted the pico slim and alo RX. Do you recommend those or anything else? I’m slightly concerned with the RF interfences reports with the alos, or will one of those RF stickers fix that?

    • Reply March 5, 2012

      Mike

      Sorry I’m not too familiar with the W4R, last Westone I listened to was the W4. 

      • Reply March 5, 2012

        Kenny

        I think the W4 and W4R are pretty much the same. But thx anyway 🙂

  • Reply March 9, 2012

    justin biliran

    Hi! Which of these amps sir do you recommend to pair with the HD25-1 and/or Marshall Major? Thanks!

    • Reply March 9, 2012

      Mike

      Try the RSA Mustang. It’s small and it got plenty of power for both headphones. 

      • Reply March 10, 2012

        justin biliran

        All right thanks! Another question. Regardless of the price, would you still recommend it over the Fostex HP-P1?

        • Reply March 10, 2012

          Mike

          Well the Fostex comes with a DAC so that’s gotta be a plus point, right?
          The amp section, however is quite weak.. I haven’t quite compared the Fostex built in amp to the Mustang, so I can’t be totally sure, but my feeling is that the stand alone amp would win to the Fostex amp.

          • Reply March 10, 2012

            justin biliran

            All right sir thanks. I am in no rush to buy as of now. I am happy so far with my current setup. I’m still thinking if I need a new headphone or a new amp. 

  • Reply March 11, 2012

    MSKrishnan

    Hi

    I currently use an iPod classic + Algorhythm Solo + FiiO E11 + Westone 4. All music is in Apple Lossless format.

    I seek suggestions on how I could improve upon the above setup.

    Thanks
    Krishnan

  • Reply March 11, 2012

    MSKrishnan

    Hi

    My current setup is iPod classic + algo solo + FiiO E11 + Westone 4 with regular cables.
    All music on iPod is in apple lossless format.

    I seek advice on how to improve the the above.
    Thanks
    Krishnan

    • Reply March 12, 2012

      Mike

      Improve the amp section. There are plenty of amps to choose from, Krishnan.

      • Reply March 29, 2012

        MSKrishnan

        Hi Mike,

        Wanted to put in an update. I bought a ALO RX MK2 to replace the FiiO E11.

        The sound now is a whole lot cleaner and crisper. 

        Thank you for your advice. 
        Krishnan

        • Reply March 29, 2012

          Mike

          Yes for sure the two amps shouldn’t even be compared, the Mk2 is a much better amp. 🙂

  • Reply March 14, 2012

    pat carlson

    Hi I have se 535 iem and was thinking of getting the cypher algorhythm solo what amp would you recommend for portability

  • Reply March 19, 2012

    addsa sadasdas

    Hi I have the JH11 Pro and thinking of getting HP-P1/Algorhythm solo, which amps would you recommend to go with this set up? Preferably, also able to drive the HD 700s too because I have pre-ordered them..

  • Reply March 23, 2012

    pat carlson

    will the RSA Shadow power a set of Swnnheiser HD800

    • Reply March 23, 2012

      Mike

      Not sufficiently.

  • Reply March 25, 2012

    Empty Void

    Hi Mike, my current setup is teclast t51>headstage 3g>westone4 and I’m not satisfied… how can I improve my music…sud i change amp…or dap? or wat is a better setup? thank you for your suggestion.

    • Reply March 27, 2012

      Mike

      What do you feel is lacking?

  • Reply April 4, 2012

    saeed zolfaghari

    hi mike, I recieve my arrow 4G recently, but I found it some dark to my taste
    I want to upgrade my IEM.
    personally I think about westone 4, do you think that I will be satisfied ?
    (I think that I will be satisfied with a natural sound ,clarity and instrument seperations .)
    thanks

    • Reply April 4, 2012

      Mike

      If the amp is too dark, why not change the amp?

      What IEM are you using now?

      • Reply April 4, 2012

        saeed zolfaghari

        it’s dark to me, I think that ipod touch 3g is better.

        I’m using shure se315

        I put the amp in my pocket, so the size of amp is very important to me

        do you think that I need to change the amp?
        ttvj is not so big?

        thanks

        • Reply April 4, 2012

          Mike

          It’s probably easier to get a brighter sounding IEM. Say the Fischer DBA-02.

          • Reply April 4, 2012

            saeed zolfaghari

            yes I think about the bright IEMs

            do you think that DBA-02 is on of the best choice?
            what’s about grado gr10 or ath-ck100? ( I can afford about 400$)

            thanks

            • Reply April 4, 2012

              Mike

              The DBA-02 is more popular than the Grado GR10 and the CK100 so I think it’s a safer recommendation. The GR10 is good but somehow lacking any special aspect. the CK100 is quite polarizing, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you can get an audition.

  • Reply April 23, 2012

    Ryan Sim

    Hi Mike-

    First off- great article! Really apreciates such insights being available for reference for confused people like myself. 🙂

    Question: I have a Shure se535 + a Grado sr325is headphone and am recently taken interest in the RSA amp line-up to get a better music experience from them.

    With portability in mind- can you help advice if RSA Shadow or Mustang will be able to drive both output with high efficiency and result?

    Thanks and looking forward for your advice! 🙂

    • Reply April 23, 2012

      Mike

      Ryan,
      The Mustang if you’re gonna use the Grado. The Shadow is quite limited, afraid you can’t get enough loudness.

  • Reply May 23, 2012

    Steve Wiser

    Time to update since so many great amps have been released or updated.

    • Reply May 23, 2012

      Mike

      Yes for sure, Steve… I will do that when the opportunity comes up.

  • Reply May 24, 2012

    Jordan Ingram

    I’m using the JH11s and I’d really like to audition the Pico Slim, but I have no idea how to make that happen. There aren’t any portable amp retailers in my area, so are there other way to audition things (i.e. a “test drive”)?

    • Reply May 24, 2012

      Mike

      Nothing that I can think of. Find a head-fi meet?

      • Reply May 24, 2012

        Jordan Ingram

        Yeah ok, I figured as much. Guess I’ll have to take my chances on something!

  • Reply June 13, 2012

    Chaga Jayasuriya

    Hey Mike,

    I’m looking for a portable amp with DAC to power my westone 4’s. I’m looking to add a tubish quality (warmth) to my music as well as enhance instrument separation and soundstage. Tighter bass is always welcome. I’m quite happy with the mid-high range i get right out of my iPhone or macbook (although it just doesn’t feel analog enough for my taste, if that makes sense). I’d appreciate any recommendations.

  • Reply June 18, 2012

    james74

    HI Mike,

    Just to update you on some advice you gave me 6 months ago on amps to use with Sony X walkman – JH16’s & Sony MDR-Z1000’s. Been bit of a delay but have finally picked up the TTVJ Slim from someone I know and is is the non dac version but have to say it was worth the wait as I am currently still without a desktop rig this is the best I have heard my MDR-Z1000’s since I have had them and despite those cans meant to be efficient to drive @ 24ohms they sounded as if they was lacking sonically even with my new Z series Walkman and now the TTVJ Slim has defined to me the Z1000’s are a keeper. The Slim is just what I was looking for and is a tad more fun to listen to than my old PB1/DB1 set up.

    So thank you for the past advice/ direction in making an informed decision that has been worth the wait but now I have the Slim (non dac version) I just have to ask one final piece of advice; What external portable dac would suit the TTVJ Slim as a good partnership?

    I had the DB1 Boomslang originally and was impressed with that when it was in conjunction with the PB1 but am not sure what other alternatives there are other than the DB2 that have the ability also with both optical & Coax digital input as well as usb for use with my laptop. I am not on a budget as such so just want a dac that has the above digital inputs that can pair well with the TTVJ Slim.

    Thanks again Mike ; )

    • Reply June 18, 2012

      Mike

      Hi James,
      I’m glad to hear that you are enjoying the TTVJ!

      On the topic of portable DACs, what player are you using? You know that the Sony X can’t be plugged in to a separate DAC.

      • Reply June 19, 2012

        james74

        HI Mike,

        I should of clarified a bit more clearer, the dac will be for use with my HP Envy laptop which has the el-crappo Beats audio installed and then I will use my Arcam FMJ cd player via Coax which could be a Meridian 24bit G08 player later on. Then you never in the future could go down a Hi-fi Man/ DX100 route….

        • Reply June 19, 2012

          Mike

          James,
          A bit confusing there. If you are going to use a Meridian G08, why are you even considering these Ibasso DACs?

          • Reply June 19, 2012

            james74

            Sorry Mike, long day @ work yesterday!, was meant to say I will use it with my cd player (arcam FMJ) until I get a Meridian G08 (not sure when that could be though) but ideally need the dac to have coax/optical as well anyway for if I go for a premium dap later.

            But other than the Ibasso DB2 dac I was not sure what else there was to consider that was as good with the same input options in portable form which would go well with the TTVJ Slim as a pairing. Sorry for confusion there ; )

            • Reply June 20, 2012

              Mike

              So this is for a desktop set up yes?

              If it’s so I would recommend you to look into something desktop-based like the Cambridge Audio Dacmagic.
              http://www.headfonia.com/cambridge-dacmagic-review/

              I’ve never tried the DB2 DAC, but from my previous experience with Ibasso portable DACs, I don’t think they are good enough to take on the $300 level desktop DACs.

              • Reply June 24, 2012

                james74

                Hi Mike,

                I ideally needed a portable dac for when I take my laptop on my travels but yes I was looking at also getting a nice desktop dac later on with a budget up to £1K. So portable dac wise there is not much to choose from then?. Desktop – Dac magic looks intriguing, have you had experience with the Audiolab M-dac which also has a built in headphone amp also?

                • Reply June 25, 2012

                  Mike

                  Hi James,
                  Sorry I haven’t auditioned the M-DAC til now..

                  • Reply June 25, 2012

                    james74

                    Ok, Thanks Mike, I will audition the Dacmagic in the near future anyway along side the M-Dac.

                    For portable dac I might just have to get a usb only dac to widen the choice that is currently out there. Just need to find one that pairs well with the TTVJ slim. Thanks again for your advice ; )

                    • June 26, 2012

                      Mike

                      You’re welcome James. 🙂

  • Reply June 22, 2012

    Stephen Loke

    Hey Mike,

    Which one would you recommend for the Cowon J3 and the Sennheiser
    HD25-1 II?

    • Reply June 23, 2012

      Mike

      There’s a lot to choose from, Stephen. I think something small like the RSA Mustang.

      • Reply June 23, 2012

        Stephen Loke

        How about the Sennheiser HD25-1 II with an Ipod Classic? Would that change your opinion on ‘somthing small like the RSA Mustang’? Will the Alo Audio National be better than the Mustang?

        I listen to mostly: Pop, Rock & Alternative.

        Thanks Mike.

  • Reply June 27, 2012

    Stephen Loke

    Hey Mike,

    Which of these would you recommend for the JH5 custom Pro In-ear monitors?

    Thanks.

    • Reply June 27, 2012

      Mike

      Stephen,
      I like the JHs best with the Pico Slim.

      • Reply June 29, 2012

        Stephen Loke

        Hey Mike,

        How about Universal fit IEMs? Would you still recommend the Pico Slim?

        • Reply June 30, 2012

          Mike

          It would depend on the IEM. Some people pair bright IEMs with dark amps and so on.

  • Reply July 4, 2012

    boonh

    Hi Mike,

    Now I have the HRT Music Streamer II, which amp would you recommend for the Ultrasone Pro 900?

    Thanks!

    • Reply July 4, 2012

      Mike

      Budget? Desktop/Portable?

      • Reply July 5, 2012

        boonh

        Under $500 would be ok. Since I will use it at home, either desktop or portable one would be accepted. From this article, I think SR-71A, P-51 and TTVJ slim are good for pro900 but I’m not sure. So I wanna ask for your recommendation.

        • Reply July 6, 2012

          Mike

          Boonh,
          SR71A is best, but no rechargeable batteries if you can live with it. P51 I think doesn’t have enough impact power for the Pro900.
          The TTVJ Slim can be a good pairing.

          • Reply July 6, 2012

            boonh

            Thanks Mike!
            I will have a chance to try both SR71a and P51 soon. Hope I can also try TTVJ slim in the future.

  • Reply July 16, 2012

    Stephen Loke

    Hi Mike,

    Which one would you recommend for the Westone 4R? I listen to mostly: Pop, Rock & Alternative.

    • Reply July 18, 2012

      Mike

      You need bass impact with the 4R right? I’ve only listened to the Westone 4 and I think the main problem is bass impact.
      Try the RSA Shadow. Small, precise volume control for IEM, good bass.

      • Reply July 18, 2012

        Stephen Loke

        Hi,

        Thanks for reply. Just wondering, are there any other cheaper portable amplifiers that would help the Westone 4R for Pop, Rock & Alternative? Yes, the bass is lacking.

        • Reply July 18, 2012

          Mike

          The Shadow should help, but I doubt it can add that much bass.

          What I am talking about here is the bass punch. I find the W4 to have very weak bass punch.

          • Reply July 19, 2012

            Stephen Loke

            Hi,

            Are there any other cheaper portable amplifiers that can suit the Westone 4R?

  • Reply July 19, 2012

    thethirty3rd

    Hey,

    Which tiny amp would you recommend for the HD25s, the Shadow or the Slim?

    • Reply July 21, 2012

      Mike

      I would use a bigger amp, I’m afraid the Shadow and the Slim won’t have enough gain for the HD25

  • Reply August 13, 2012

    James Huynh

    Hi there Mike,
    I’m deciding between the ttvj slim and the pico slim to go with my JH16’s and the Iphone 4s.
    I miss the lush mids of the sm3 when i changed to the JH16’s
    Do you think the TTVJ slim amp is a better choice?
    Cheers
    James

    • Reply August 13, 2012

      Mike

      James,
      I think you should look into the RSA Mustang. It has a really smooth and lush mids.

  • Reply September 3, 2012

    Jessie Stevens

    Digging up an old article but …..I have a Denon D7000 that I’m happy w/ on my home rig, but I’ve been spending more time away and would like to go portable. Any suggestions on what portable amp that would match up nicely w/ them? I would like to stay under $200 unless there’s something that is just out of that range that would be a good match. They would also be used w/ FS Atrio M5’s if that matters. Music variety is electronic, hip hop and acoustic being paired to an (gasp) iPhone. Thanks 🙂

  • Reply September 8, 2012

    George Lai

    Hi Mike, Your website is truly amazing though my credit card would disagree. From a technical viewpoint, why can’t someone build a USD100 portable DAC that can take a signal from an iDevice’s LOD and feed it into a portable amp? Right now I use a HRT iStreamer with my headphone amps but I can’t venture too far from the wall wart!

    • Reply September 8, 2012

      L.

      Maybe Fiio one day will, but I think it’s mostly related to the costing price of the apple Certification

      • Reply September 8, 2012

        George Lai

        I’m sure you’re right and if HRT can build that into the cost of their iStreamer, I agree that Fiio can do it for less.

        • Reply September 8, 2012

          Nick Tam

          Go Android. USB Audio support with all Jelly Bean updated devices.

          And down goes the pricey CLAS and Fostex HP…

    • Reply September 10, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, George.

      I really don’t know if that can be done. One thing we don’t have an idea on is the amount of money Apple demands from manufacturers before they get access to tap the iDevices’ digital data. As time goes and manufacturers come out with more affordable solutions, I think we’ll be able to see how low you can build one for.

  • Reply September 9, 2012

    Mark Edmondson

    Hey mike, just wondering your preferences for portable amplifiers for the T70 250 ohm?

    • Reply September 10, 2012

      Mike

      Mark,
      I didn’t spend too much time with the T70 250 ohm, but it would probably be something with a good bass weight like the ALO national.

      • Reply September 10, 2012

        Mark Edmondson

        Thanks 🙂 ill have to think about it

        • Reply September 11, 2012

          Mike

          Alright, Mark. 🙂

  • Reply September 11, 2012

    Alfani Gunawan

    still confusing which amp is the best for my HD6500? headstage arrow, RSA 71A, alo rx MKii, Ibasso PB2. can you recommend me with the exception of price and size of the amp.

  • Reply October 3, 2012

    Justin Q.

    How does the DACport feeding 2Stepdance (sonically similar to stepdance) compare against the DACport feeding Leckerton UHA6s MKII?

  • Reply January 6, 2013

    Kenneth Ong

    Which amp would you pair with the JH16 Pro?

  • Reply March 18, 2013

    Michael

    Hello Mike,
    Would you please be so kind to recommend anything for Sony MDR-MA900?

    • Reply March 19, 2013

      Mike

      I would go with the RSA or the ALO amps. The portaphile is also good. If you’re on a budget try JDsLabs.

  • Reply April 26, 2013

    Eli Segal

    If I listen at a low to moderate volume, will the mustang be enough for the hd600 or the sr-71a is better on lower volumes as well

    Thanks

    • Reply April 26, 2013

      Mike

      The SR71a will still be better.

  • Reply May 8, 2013

    Marco Cavazzana

    Great article Mike! I have a pair of Shure SE535’s, not overly pleased by the fullness / warmth of the bass. What gear would you recommend?

    Cheers

    M.

  • Reply October 16, 2014

    Robert Madison

    Here is an extremely creditable review about the Creative Sound Blaster E3. Check it out!

    Review: http://www.toptengamer.com/creative-sound-blaster-e3-dac-review/

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