Disclaimer: Aune graciously provided the X7s sample for the purposes of this review. The X7s goes for about 250$ USD. You can find out all about it here: Aune X7s Class-A balanced output headphone amplifier.
Aune’s X7s’s attenuator knob is mostly naff. Its sharp edges are of no utilitarian value. Neither does it pivot equally between MIN and MAX values, my unit favoring MAX by about thirty degrees. And, it sits off kilter, wobbling slowly with every nudge up or down. The good news is that it turns smoothly.
For 249$, just about everything else is groovy. Purists may decry its use of a phase splitter rather than an IN-OUT dedicated balanced circuit. They’d have a point. And yet, despite its few faults, the X7s is a powerful, sensible amp.
Another insensible thing is the X7s’s electronic manual. Aune have buried it in a plastic USB sliver. At least it’s not on a CD or DVD. It can’t have been done for environmental reasons. I mean, gee whiz: if you’re going to thrust it in a plastic blister inside another plastic blister alongside a business card, why not just first print out a simple manual and forgo the plastic? Why make it that much harder for users like me, like Thom, like Gracie, and Kuko, to find use?
Isn’t it time to away with electronic user manuals.
Let’s get back to the volume attenuator. I understand that Aune added a top plate to help suss its position when in a dark room. I get that, I really do. But nowhere else in the X7s is such stylistic flourish used. And, as I said above, it’s not properly aligned between stops. Shame that.
But let’s be done with design criticism.
Everything else about the X7s can be judged against its feature set and price- not a tack I like to take. Price is price. Branding, build, quality of after-sales support do fit into that. But it’s complicated. Things simplify a bit when a product offers so much for so little. Which almost perfectly describes the X7s.
Two pair of RCAs run the amp’s IN/OUT array, including the pre-amp output. The volume attenuator governs the voltage spat therefrom. It’s a dead-simple, tried and true method. It’s problem is cross-talk. Plugging an output line into the pre-out results in a minute portion of the music turning back into the headphone output section where it shouldn’t be fed back into the input at all. The other problem is that the last 15% of the attenuator’s travel is dead, with no perceptible rise in volume. Of course, that travel is beyond its MAX label.
At least for its ostensible targets, the latter issue is of little import. Crossfeed between the IN and OUT ports, however, could present problems and should be looked into.
Sound and more after the jump or the click below: