Super Best Audio Friends
The evolution of the original irreverent and irrelevant and non-authoritative site for headphone measurements, i.e. frequency response graphs, CSD waterfall plots, subjective gear reviews. Too objective for subjectivists; too subjective for objectivists
Yes, the iFi Go blu is tiny.
The sound of the iFi GO reminds me of the first A&K players which used the Wolfson DA chips. This was before A&K went to Cirrus which IMO were more boring sounding in units at x4-10 the price. Despite Wolfson based DACs having the most varied sound signature compared to DAC using other chips, I've always liked the Wolfson. I've owned the AMB Gamma 2 and PS Audio Perfectwave 1 and 2. Except here's the problem: the Go blu uses a Cirrus logic. This left me puzzled, until I realized that Cirrus had purchased Wolfson many years ago. I'm betting the Cirrus chip used in this thing is based on a older Wolfson design if not recycled outright. I'll leave the rest of you to do the investigation. I have no idea what part is used in the GO blu.
I have a big head. Note maximum extension. I do like to wear the LCD-R low and forward.
While the LCD-R is super sensitive to voltage, requiring barely any potential to move that ribbon, the LCD-R loves that massive firehouse sized stream of electrons. Unfortunately your amp is more than likely a garden hose. At best we'll get increased distortion. At worst, the output devices will catch on fire. Word of warning: if you want to try it on your regular heads amps, monitor temperatures with with a FLIR. You will also need to re-terminate because the LCD-R uses the SR1A's style of termination (female 4-pin XLR). Another option I think could work would be to add a resistor in series because of the LCD-R's sensitivity. That would result in effectively higher output impedance and also throw most of the power from the amp away into heat.
- Pervasive high 3rd order distortion, regardless of sound level. It sticks our like a sort thumb and never goes away, even at the softest levels. The BA sound is likely killing you softly with this song.
- At moderate higher levels, we see an increase in all harmonics which is typical, but it's the odd order harmonics that really rise. That's the 3rd and the 5th.
TLDR: Just go buy the Kato and don’t look back; my new defacto recommendation
The IEM world is a constantly evolving, new model dropping, never-ending carousel that seems to move faster and faster. If one wants to stay relevant, it seems one must keep up with the Joneses, so don’t blink! Moondrop is back with a new model named Kato. Kato is an acronym which stands for KXXS Advanced Technology Optimized. Moondrop, in its marketing, has used the word ‘flagship’ in conjunction with Kato. Since $190 is a far cry from their TOTL models, I’m going to take this to mean this model is meant to be serious step up from the previous models this one replaces in the Kanas Pro, KXXS and KXXX.
Sources used: Micro iDSD (as a DAC) and Bifrost Multibit A1
Other amps: Massdrop/Eddie Current ZDT Jr (RIP), Garage1217 Sunrise III.
Headphones paired: Klipsch HP-3, Fostex TH-X00 Ebony, Beyerdynamic DT880 w/ felt disc mod, Sennheiser HD600/HD650/HD800 (w/ Anax mods), HiFiMAN HE-4XX, Meze 99 Classics.
Full disclosure, this amp was loaned to me by the same friend that got me back into audio about half a decade ago, back when I was under the blissful assumption I'd be happy stuck in entry-fi, which was the AKG K550 straight out of whatever phone I had at the time. He didn't mind letting me keep it indefinitely since he has a Senn HDVD800 that he prefers to the discrete amp, which probably says a lot about the G109A, really, price of the Sennheiser AIO notwithstanding.
Personally, I don't hate the G109A; I just think it's pricey for what you get. I use this amp for measurements since it's leagues quieter than the Sunrise III even with the benefit of running it through a LPS, and the channel separation somehow seems much better than on the Sunrise or (from my notes) ZDT Jr.— hard-panned items seem angled further to the side, and sonic images are reasonably large, almost as much so as on the ZDT Jr. Hell, someone on a far more measurements-oriented site gave this amp a glowing review. This makes me feel kinda icky about it but affirms that it's good for measurements and pretty typical of solid state performance.... kinda.
Laboratory work requires well specified, calibrated devices. Fluke 62 max plus is an example for non contact infrared thermometers. However, for DIY and hobbyist use lower cost devices allow those on a budget to make thermal measurements over a qualified operating range. This led to pondering the differences between standards such as Fluke and less expensive, less well known IR thermometers.
Ice bath calibration
One thing which I have been curious about are the EQ profiles which Audeze provides for their high tier headphones at a modest fee. Roon actually includes these profiles; so naturally, this was the first thing I wanted to test.
GRN = no EQ, YEL = Audeze LCD-XC DSP preset on
WARNING: Oh, if your religion is dogmatic and based on AmirNADS, then get a JDS Atom, Geshelli, or Schiit IEMagni and go away. (We do not recommend the L30 because of some issues with it exploding headphones and fixes which we do not feel will fix the problem, especially with the ESD prone OPA1612). DO NOT SPEND MORE MONEY THAN $149 and certainly stop here and do not read further.
Electroharmonix 6922EH standard (new production, barely used) #1
Surprisingly resolving and dynamic. It really grabs iem drivers by the balls and slams hard. Dynamics sound tighter than my desktop rig (see above) but that could be because of the tonal balance (a bit bass lite). Resolution is behind but surprisingly not by that much. The tonality is a bit brittle sounding if I’m nitpicking, my desktop setup sounds more natural and organic while not loosing any control or having any bloom. The FR feels slightly thin and tipped upwards but the M6 Pro not bright at all. It’s just not a warm sounding DAP. Just slightly on the thin side of neutral and slightly bass lite. Most people will probably perceive this as "neutral". Those who like solid state amps will not notice this at all, it’s much warmer and has more body than most solid state amps but my desktop rig has noticeably more body, weight and bass than the M6 Pro. When switching back to my desktop rig I kind of breath a sigh of relief from the more natural tone and more balanced presentation. Great soundstage for such a small device, it’s not close to my desktop rig but it’s still good.
I actually did not know that these utilized electrostatic drivers. I guess this is a DD, BA, EST hybrid. Integration of the different drivers types sounded pretty good in the crossover areas. However in the end, I felt the sound of the drivers was simply too different. The DD lows carried heft and physicality, were well textured, but were a bit plodding and thick. The balance of the midrange was good, maybe just nick more volume with the pinna gain spot pushed just a slightly higher in frequency than I would like - but close enough. The timbre of the mids and upper mids sounded very stereotypical BA, which tended to dominate over the electret drivers in the highs. I kind of wished I could have heard the sound of the electrets more to themselves without the BA drivers getting in the way.
Everything else in terms of technicalities is raised quite a bit from the development idea. Proper bass slam is now restored - as good as the rest of the Schiit DAC lineup > $700. Bass articulation is better than Yggdrasil. Clarity is better than Yggdrasil and Gungnir. The macro-dynamics are on another level to earlier Schiit DACs. I think the 8812 chip has been unleashed by the Yggdrasil motherboard (which really is the power supply for all the components). The SE and BAL outputs sounded more or less the same (trying to take into account other unavoidables which makes a true apples-apples comparison impossible). Retrieval of low level information is behind Yggdrasil OG, maybe on par with the current Gungnir (maybe even somewhere in between Gungnir A1 and A2 - still no slouch). If you are a microdetail whore, you may miss this. I consider myself a resolution whore; and TBH, I didn't miss it that much because it was a matter of the totality of the parts. This is why I have to say that my preference for the LIM must be caveated with other considerations. (BTW, most people need not worry about the microdetail / plankton thing - they don't have systems resolving enough - this goes for many https://www.ORFAS.org audiophiles I know.)