This is paired to a Focal Clear headphones and is simply wonderful.
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IN GENERAL A VERY GOOD UNIT, CLEAN, DETAIL SOUND. AT ITS PRICE IT SHOULD BE ABLE TO DECODE MQA FILES, OFFER MORE SOUND POWER AND A DEDICATED APP TO PLAYBACK DSD FILES. WHY NOT HI-FI WI-FI OR BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY.
Pros: SEE ABOVE
Cons: SEE ABOVE
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This thing made me sad, because I half-expected to hear so little difference from my prior amp that I'd be tempted to send it back, but that is absolutely not the case. With every pair of earphones, this is the clear winner over the Marantz HD-DAC1. The clearest difference is in the crisp-ness of the high frequencies. "Bubbles" by Yosi Horikawa is a great reference here - the ping pong ball sounds are almost concussive in their sharpness. In terms of bass frequencies I saw little difference. Likewise switching between amp types in the settings - they clearly sound different, but I couldn't convince myself the differences were objectively better or worse. I didn't expect that having two outputs on the front would be such a great thing, but it makes it easy to swap between open- and closed-back headphones quickly, though I realize the manual tells me the best performance is with only one plug in at a time. I notice a bit of volume difference, but not a super-obvious quality difference. Maybe slightly more crispness with only a single set. The display, menus, and multifunction button make a user experience that is just the right trade-off between complexity and simplicity. For video games - this thing in combination with Focal Stellias is hands-down the best system I've ever encountered, including Focal Utopias. The stereo imaging is clear and consistent. It's made me look over my shoulder to see if somebody was really there - really remarkable.
Pros: * Considerable step up from amps that are half the price - not always the case with audio gear * Very very clear in the high frequencies * Great user interaction * Best set up for video games I've ever encountered
Cons: * Sometimes the multifunction button seemed to register a 'click' I didn't intend, or wouldn't respond when I did try to 'click' it. Didn't happen often; minor problem * At 2.5x the price of the Marantz HD-DAC1, which I was using before, it was a genuinely tough call whether the cost was worth the benefit upgrading. I went with the upgrade, but I think this would be much better positioned in the market if they simplified it and sold it at $1.5k-2k
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