With the Sharps amplifier, GoVibe has successfully created a portable amp that manages to go head to head with the venerable Ray Samuels SR-71a. People wanting to get a powerful portable amplifier can rejoice now, as the Sharps manages to offer just as much power and punch as the SR-71a at a significantly lower price of $350.
The GoVibe Sharps is packaged at nearly identical size to the SR-71a, roughly 1mm wider and 2mm longer than the SR-71a. The panel layout is very similar to the SR-71a. The Sharps is also powered by two 9V batteries, and like the SR-71a are accessible through the back panel. The SR-71a does have a 3 gain position switch, where the Sharps only have a low/high gain switch. I personally think the 2 gain switch works as well as the 3 gain switch for most purposes. You use low gain for IEMs, and high gain for full size cans.
For all practical purposes, the sound is nearly identical. Sure, during a critical listening session, you might perceive a difference between the Sharps and the SR-71a, but during day to day listening, both will sound very identical. Through one of the most difficult blind tests that ever come our way, our review team did manage to find out the sound difference between the SR-71a and the Sharps. The SR71a has a slightly thicker mids, where the Sharps have a more sparkly treble. But again, in a day to day listening session, especially when you’re being mobile, both amps can be considered identical sounding.
The Sharps is just as powerful as SR-71a, both of which, next to the LISA 3, still remains the best portable amplifier for driving hard to drive cans like the AKG K701 or the Sennheiser HD650.
Of course we have to be fair and give credit to the build quality of Ray’s amps. The finishing, the silkscreening, the precision of the knobs, the quality of the switches of the SR-71a is among the best in the industry, and the GoVibe still has yet to catch up to that. But what is there to complain about? A $100 difference in price, and only slightly less precise housing?
GoVibe really has a winner with the Sharps!