With IEMs, absolute number-crunching-performance probably would go to Cypher Labs’s Picollo (reviewed here at headfonia, here at ohm image), but the race would be close. The differences between them are small, but measurable.
Picollo isn’t quite as lush, nor is it as smooth. It pushes greater stereo separation, but a less 3D-sounding image. That said, PURE II and PURE II+ push a more involved, atmospheric sound stage. Their sound is a little less staged, artificial, or what have you– not that Picollo sounds sterile. No. But next to PURE II and PURE II+, it’s just that much less complementary to detail-oriented earphones, and jives a bit less well with stark U and V shaped sound signatures. PURE II, + or -, tend to smooth the worst edges just a bit more.
I’d swear by Picollo’s paint-by-numbers absolute performance, but if I had to choose just one amp to enjoy, it would be a PURE II variant. And of course, the edge that PURE II+ brings makes it part and parcel to my desert island survival kit. And most definitely Ginger.
If you’re in the market for a portable amp and you’ve got the dosh to hit up a premium brand, I wholeheartedly suggest Vorzüge. And while I love Picollo’s hard-on for raw performance, PURE II+ is just a better, more addictive long-time listen.
PURE II+ incorporates all the goodies that made PURE II THE VorzAMP to get. But it nabs an extra hour or so of real-world battery life, boasts reduced background noise levels, has added battery indicator LEDs, and isn’t that much more expensive. Springing for II+ should be a no-brainer.
That said, if you own PURE II, you already own, what in my opinion, is the best-sounding premium portable amp on the planet. PURE II+ is more refined. But it isn’t the massive jump that PURE II was above the original PURE.
The bad news is that used PURE II units probably won’t be flooding the market any time soon. The good news is that they shouldn’t be. Vorüge have done their homework. They know their customer. They continue to push out top-performing portable amps whose brand, whose build quality, whose audio engine, constantly iterate upward. The other good news is that, at least for now, you have two PURE IIs to choose from: the original, and its iterative update. And both are godlike- but PURE II+ is that much more Ginger.