I’m actually liking the JH16 driven single ended from the Pico Slim than I do balanced from the RSA Protector. Yes, it is impressive to hear what the Protector does, and the difference is far more audible, where the Pico only improves on the subtle things. For me, however, the subtle things does more to the music than the balanced drive of the Protector does. This is purely a personal preference though, and it’s something that you have to decide for yourself to know. The point that I want to make is that, don’t take the Pico Slim lightly simply because it cannot do a balanced amplification.
I don’t normally like to talk about cables, but given the Pico Slim’s more subtle improvements, I find a high quality LOD to be very important in this application. With the RSA Protector, my DIY LODs do a very fine job of transmitting the signal. But with the Pico Slim, my DIY LODs sound very lacking and congested, and I find myself constantly using Whiplash’s TWAg LOD. Another fine LOD that I would recommend is Jaben’s Crystal Piccollino LOD, although it’s much pricier than Whiplash’s TWAg.
One of the strong point of the Pico Slim is the 255 steps digital volume control. With so many steps, the attenuation feels very smooth and just like an analog pot. Like the rest of the amplifier, the beautifully crafted volume knob has dips to give a better grip when adjusting the volume. The Pico Slim doesn’t have a lot of gain though, and its maximum volume is roughly just as loud as the headphone out from the Ipod Nano, so you are not buying this amplifier for its loudness.
The Pico Slim has a very impressive dimension. It’s a great match with the Ipod Nano, and finally I can have an ultra-portable system that includes an amplifier in it. Stacked together, the Ipod Nano and the Pico Slim is roughly as big as the RSA Protector, and just slightly heavier. Also included with the Pico Slim is a very stylish leather case, which is designed to protect the Pico’s delicate glossy finish. My Pico Slim arrived with some small scratches on the enclosure, although I’m sure that metal polish will take care of those. I used to hesitate taking an Ipod with a portable amplifier to the Gym, but not so with the Pico Slim because it’s so small and light. I think this amplifier is here to stay.
System used for review:
IEM: JHAudio JH16Pro, Whiplash TWAg Cable terminated in 3.5mm Viablue, Whiplash TWAg Cable terminated in RSA Protector connector
Amplifier: RSA Protector, HeadAmp Pico Slim
Source: Ipod Nano 5th Gen, Whiplash TWAg LOD terminated in Rhodium plated Oyaide connector.ht