Chord Electronics – Hugo2
The Hugo2 is one of the very finest portable DAC/amps. It fires tons of information into the Aeon 2 and has absolutely no issue getting this headphone to blasting volumes.
You get a well controlled and punchy low end, that’s more on the neutral side of things. There is good extension into the lowest registers. Sub bass has good rumble and drive. Bass has decent speed and is tightly bound.
Midrange is on the lighter side, where notes don’t seem as weighty as with the Element M for example. Mids are well resolved with good resolution. Instruments seem realistic, but miss some meat on their bones for my taste. There is good upper midrange energy, that gives certain E-Guitar solos are very thrilling sound. With this pairing I find vocals to transport good emotions, but they are a bit too light and thin for my liking.
The Hugo2 is sometimes criticized for a too bright top end, and with the Aeon 2 that’s also the case for me. Lower treble a bit hard and harsh at times. Cymbal crashes and hi-hat hits can sound rather forward and even piercing.
On a technical level this pairing is doing really good. There’s high resolution, good layering and the stage is well spread. The background is very black, instruments are separated cleanly and imaging is nice. But what good is it, if the signature is not delivering?
Schiit Audio – Ragnarok 2
With its 24W into 32 Ohms the Ragnarok 2 definitely has no problem driving the Aeon 2. The Ragnarok 2 gives the Aeon a smoother and more organic presentation. You get a good dose of body and weight throughout the entire signature.
Bass has nice control and deep extension. Body is good with high density. Lows have a nice punchy sound, that delivers on impact and grunt alike. The Aeon has a nice organic and natural low end, with physicality and flesh.
Mids are organic, smooth and full. Instruments sound life-like and convincing. They are not as well separated as with other sources, but they do sound the nicest to me still. The midrange has a nice and rich tonality, with very good timbral accuracy. There is some noise going on in the background, so you don’t get a pitch black one here.
Treble is inoffensive and very enjoyable. It’s not very forward or energetic, but at the same time also guarantees a fatigue-free listen. Treble is a bit lighter in body though. It shimmers bright, but with low amplitude.
On a technical level there are definitely better options. The sound stage is a bit narrower with mediocre measures in width and depth. As mentioned before, the instrumental separation could be better. The same goes for layering, air and extension into highs.
Lotoo – PAW 6000
Lotoo has only just launched the PAW 6000 and I’ve had my hands on mine for six weeks or so. Thus far it has been leaving a good impression on me.
With the PAW 6000 you get a tighter bass, that reaches deep into sub-bass. There is good body and weight in the lows, but it’s missing a bit of meat to sound truly organic to me. Bass is on the calmer side and misses some speed. Mid and upper bass puts some warmth into the lower midrange.
Mids overall are smoother and more organic. There is good richness and density in the notes. Instruments have a natural sound, that manages to attract my attention. Instruments are well separated, but could enjoy some extra sharpness for a cleaner cut.
Where the Lotoo fails compared to desktop sources is sheer technical performance. You don’t get an expanded sound stage as with the Element M for example. You get a narrower stage, where depth is better than width to me.
Highs are well extended and definitely not harsh or hard-edged. You get a softer treble response, where brighter instruments sound inoffensive and relaxed. Still, treble has great levels of richness and is far from sounding dry, bright or sibilant.
I have been a big fan of the Ether C since I first heard it. For a closed back headphone it had such an open signature that it was hard to forget. The Aeon 2 does share a similar experience, given you have the right source paired with it. To me, it does really enjoy a high quality desktop DAC/AMP that unleashes its full potential.
The Aeon 2 has a nice slightly warm sound, that makes a lot of tunes very enjoyable. It puts realism first and gives a very strong impression of naturalness. It does sound good with portable players, but certainly enjoys higher quality desktop gear and scales very well with them. On top it comes with a very clever folding mechanism that transforms them into a very small and compact package. It’s a portable package through and through.