Aune B1 – Vincent

Disclaimer: Aune provided the B1 for the purposes of this review, free of charge. It goes for just south of 250$ USD. You can find out more about it here.

Finish and Design

Talk about cleaning up: especially under single light sources, the Aune B1’s bold lines border on sexy. It is a symmetrical box, ins and outs arrayed evenly either side of the half-a-flying-saucer volume pot, dual windows down the front, dual brake pads down the back. Sexy, and yet almost Sony-esque in its reliance on branding and other graffiti. It doesn’t need massive FCC, recycling, and other passed-test icons. I say hide them along the B1’s, ass; they take away from what otherwise, is a perfectly modern version of Vincent, from Disney’s The Black Hole. The Made in China text, not to mention the website, should be much smaller, if not hidden. What really counts are the model name, the brand, and important interface labels.

Interestingly The B1 is the second China-made amp I’ve tested clad at least partially in ‘leather’. The other one being the Oppo HA-02 . The B1 splits faux animal skin along its bum, with enough space between cheek for yet another duo of Aune and B1 trademarks. And once you’ve got headphones and source plugged in, and its circuits switched on, its green eyes light up. Vincent. My Fujifilm X-T1 even detected a face in the photo taken on my kitchen table. Go figure.

I should point out that the B1’s metal chassis is rock solid. And while I’m no Rock, I’m no 50kg weakling either. And, twisting hard left, and wringing hard right, I’ve tried to bend it. There is no flex anywhere. Its volume pot is part of that: while it may look like Vincent’s cap, it glides from its lowest to its highest setting with Leica ease. Sexy. And, impressive.

Just as impressive is the work that went into the B1 commercial photos (not mine). They are well shot, and comely. Good job.

In Use

And then there are the parts that show that Aune could have used a real interface designer. Symmetrical lines and stuff are not enough. Case #1: the B1’s interface buttons appear to float in metal wells, but they do not. They are just improperly aligned. Not a one perfectly lines up with the case, and each cants right-wise. The B1 Manual does little to illuminate what the middle one is for. But reading between the lines, I reckon it doubles the amount of wattage to which the B1’s battery has access. And then, there’s the self-destruct function. Here’s what the manual says (verbatim):

Never flip this button under B1 is working.

-which I translate like this: never, under any circumstances, move that easily-moved switch, or you’ll blow up.

WTF? Can someone say Tree of The Knowledge of Good & Evil, for me? If there’s an easy to press button somewhere and I shouldn’t press it, sure as shit, I will press it. It’s Murphy’s Law. Aune, let’s look at this seriously: if engaging the CLASS A button hurts the B1, it shouldn’t be so easy to press, nor so starkly out there. Well, I took the warning as a challenge, though not necessarily on purpose. Several times, whilst prying the B1 out of my front pocket, I moved the CLASS A to the ‘up’ position. Whilst putting it back in, I moved it into the ‘down’ position. Ditto the gain gain switch. Of course the amp was on. Thankfully, the mostly innocuous power button is far enough removed from prying fingers. I’ve never accidentally bumped it off or on. And fortunately, the self-destruct function appears to be faulty. This is a bad design.

You may have defter fingers than me. You may never accidentally switch on the self-destruct button. But I guarantee that you will accidentally nudge the ‘ear self-destruct’ button, aka the gain switch, which adds about 12dB to the signal. If you’ve got earphones in, it may be the last time you use them.

Finally, while the battery seems to last well (I kept recharging it so I have no idea how much farther past 7 hours the 20mW setting (the lower of the two CLASS A settings). I assume that 8 to 9 hours is the most anyone would realistically get out of it. That isn’t bad. It’s actually sort of a recent trend. Battery life is getting worse. But Aune is biased for Class A operation, so it should tear through batteries. I’m surprised by how long its battery life lasts.

It continues after the click

Aune B1 – Vincent
4.2 (83.33%) 36 votes

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Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.

17 Comments

  • Reply April 9, 2015

    dalethorn

    This is good. Massdrop has been featuring Aune amps lately, and hopefully they will pick this one soon.

    • Reply April 10, 2015

      ohm image

      Massdrop would be interesting, but according the to B1 site, it is out of stock at the maker, so I have a feeling bulk deals won’t happen soon. Again, fix the issues I stated and BAM! amazing amp.

      • Reply April 10, 2015

        Colton

        Great review. If this were to be used primarily on a desktop fed from an E07K as a DAC, would it be worth picking up? At least I wouldn’t have the switch issue since I wouldn’t be pulling it out of a pocket.

        • Reply April 10, 2015

          ohm image

          Colton, thanks for the comment. What headphones would you be using? If you can control the output of the DAC losslessly to something lower than the voltage going out from an iPod line out, then yes, amazing. Even for earphones, rock on. But if not, I would suggest using only headphones, or insensitive earphones.

          Again, amazing-sounding amp.

          • Reply April 10, 2015

            Colton

            Thanks for the quick reply! Right now I have some DT770 80ohm, and I’m looking to get either the HD600 or Fidelio X2 as my first open set. I was thinking of running the E07K from my computer’s usb, then line out to an Aune B1. Does that make sense?

            • Reply April 10, 2015

              ohm image

              Then light it up: those are perfect for the B1.

              • Reply April 10, 2015

                Colton

                Awesome, thank you!

  • Reply May 1, 2015

    Nathanael Vega

    How you compared b1 with oppo ha2, just in amp mode??

    • Reply May 2, 2015

      dalethorn

      There was no comparison, besides the faux leather skin.

  • Reply July 24, 2015

    José Julio Cuairán

    Between the FiiO E12A Mont Blanc and Aune B1, what is best choice for IEMs?

    • Reply July 25, 2015

      dalethorn

      (In case Nathan doesn’t respond right away) – I don’t have the Aune, but reading Nathan’s comments about IEMs it seems clear that it’s a case-by-case thing – you have to know which IEM and how it performs with the Aune. OTOH, I’d use the E12A with just about anything.

  • Reply September 23, 2015

    Langlang

    Great review. I’m currently deciding between this and the Cayin C5 which was also reviewed here. What would be the differences in sound to expect?

  • Reply September 25, 2015

    .nozomi.

    So, I guess this is a no go for the Shure SE846? I also own the JVC HA-FX850 and the HD650. But since the SE846 is my main driver, looks like I’m gonna have to pass on this one.

    Is there really nothing that is actually suitable for the SE846?

    • Reply April 25, 2016

      ohm image

      Unfortunately, the SE846 is really sensitive and prone to hiss and channel imbalance. As such, a good DAP (iPod nano 7G, iPhone 4s, AK380, Plenue D, etc.) is probably better than a DAP and an amp. The SE846 heavily loads up weak outputs. A Mojo would batten down the SE846 perfectly. So would the Grace M9xx.

  • Reply September 8, 2016

    Sebastian

    Hello,

    I have just entered the world of better audio. I currently own q-JAYS earphones, Sennhesier Momentum M2 headphones and Cowon Plenue D DAP. I travel a lot so I look for devices I can take with me to hotels/planes/trains, etc. I was thinking about higher quality AMP which I could use with my Plenue D or MacBook Air (Cirrus Logic 4208-CRZ sounds really really good). Would you recommend this AMP? Would it bring any positive results to my systems?

    I also plan to buy Beyers DT150 and I guess B1 would help to drive them properly.

    Many thanks for all your work.

    • Reply January 15, 2017

      Bharat

      Hi,

      i don’t think any of your phones need amping, regarding the MacBook you will be double amping the signal so thats again a no go in terms of SQ, best bet is to get a dac-amp combo and use it as an amp with the Cowon and a amp only with the mac.

      better phones will be a better option though.

  • Reply January 15, 2017

    Bharat

    B1 is on its way , though i am really scared about the self and ear destruct buttons, don’t want to destroy my 1 grand ciem’s and my ears or the unit.
    please some detailed info on that?

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