On the back panel, notice that the input for the charger says “Specified Charger Only”. The Protector utilizes Lithium-Ion batteries, and you don’t want to plug in a regular NiMH charger into it.
I was actually surprised at how small the Protector is. While it’s still larger than the P-51 Mustang or the RSA Shadow, I expected the Protector to be roughly the size of the SR-71a amplifier. Why? Because being a balanced amplifier, it needs to have 2x the circuitry of a regular single ended amplifier. Turns out that it’s actually fairly small. Perhaps just a little longer than a Hornet, but still much smaller than most portable amplifier out there, especially considering the power that the Protector holds.
Another real treat of the Protector is how light this amplifier is. Again, it’s not as light as Ray’s ultra lightweights, yet similarly sized amplifiers from iBasso, Meier, and even from RSA are significantly heavier than the Protector, so I was surprised to hold the Protector in my hand. It’s very light, and carrying one inside your pocket, the weight addition is almost negligible. The footprint is not very ideal for pairing with an Ipod Classic. I’ll probably be using my Ipod Nano more with the Protector, or, as soon as ALO’s Sony LOD arrives, I can pair the Protector with the Sony A818, as they share a closer footprint dimension.
The real purpose of this amp is not to drive desktop headphones. Rather, paired with the latest multi-drivers customs, we want to see how far we can take portable hi-fi to. For instance, while the UM Mage is easy to drive out of a DAP, yet it scales very well with powerful desktop amplifiers, and balanced drive should be an ideal upgrade path for this IEM. Since the balanced cable for the Unique Melody Mage hasn’t arrived, I can only test it with the full size HD800 and the HD650 — the two balanced headphones I have in my possession. Also, if you’re looking for a killer portable cans set-up, the HD25-1 is looking very good, as we have tested it driven balanced before, and the soundstage and imaging improves tremendously.