The Fighter and The Dreamer unboxing.

ubsound The Dreamer and The Fighter. Getting some hours on them before starting the review.

ibasso DX80 and Chord Hugo - Ren Lazibal.
And CCPH custom cable 

After a burn in of about 40 hours I would like to share my short impressions of the 
 Cowon Plenue D.

Cowon Plenue
Ocharaku Kaede II.
V Moda M 100.
It has rich detail and clarity
But i feel the high is not so free.
Maybe I need some more burn in time.
Is sweet but lacks clarity
Is not so tight and I need an Equiliser to make better Bass detail and clarity.
Good separation
Is wide and has good depth.

Cowon Plenue D can drive a headphone like the V Moda M100.

For best sound quality I need to use Equalizer for headphone and iems are different.
You can adjust follow your preference.

I need more burn in to open up the Cowon Plenue D.


nano iUSB3.0

Flagship technology in the US$200 sector
Southport, UK – 11th February 2016

Total Audiophile USB Solution: nano only in price & size

For $500 to $5000 usb devices, the nano iUSB3.0 is the one-stop, future-proofed solution. It is the sibling of the flagship micro iUSB3.0. It operates in all USB modes to 5 Gigabit USB3.0, supplies pure, clean power and reconditions the USB data. The USB3.0 active chipset at the heart is backwards compatible with USB2.0 so all USB devices - DACs, Mixers and DJ Controllers benefit.

Using the flagship micro platform, the nano iUSB3.0 is the class-leader in the sub US$200 segment:
1.       Audiophile USB3.0 Ultra-speed (5.0Gbps) and USB2.0 active USB repeater.
2.       Signal REgen®/REbalance®/REclock®. 
3.       Active Noise Cancellation® military-grade circuit, ultra-silent 0.5uV (0.0000005V) noise floor.

The retail price of the nano iUSB3.0 is US$199 (ex-tax) or Euro225/£175 (incl VAT).

For the first 199 customers worldwide, we are also offering a special launch bundle of nano iUSB3.0 & Mercury (0.5m); at US$249 (ex-tax) or Euro275/£225 (incl VAT).

The Ibasso DX80. 
Review by Ren Lazibal (r3n88).

A worthy successor of the DX90?

Ibasso has been a pillar in the portable audio world. They have been producing several consumer products that helped shape the hobby and has always been an advocate of well priced equipments.

This is the 4th DX DAP from the Ibasso house.

•Si TIme MEMS Oscillator X2•XMOS USB receiver with Thesycon USB Audio driver. Easy to use USB DAC. •Line out has a set voltage. •Dual CS4398 dacs and native DSD.•Dual micro SD slots.•3600mah battery.•Optical and coax digital output. •3.2 inch screen with a resolution of 480*800 IPS screen.•Native DSD64 and 128 from SD card or USB input.•Headphone out: Output Level: 2.9Vrms(32ohm Load).••260mW into a 32 ohm load. •FrequencyResponse: 17Hz~20KHz +/-0.1dB •S/N: -114dB +/-1dB (32ohm Load) •THD+N: 0.002% (32ohm load)•Output Impedance: <0.1ohm•Size: 120mm*63.2mm*16.8mm•Weight: 178g
•Retail price: $359.00.

The build.
It's made out of aluminum, glass & hard plastic composite. The body is about 60% CNC aluminum and 40% plastic. I wish the edges felt smoother but the rubber sleeve it comes with does the job. I hope Ibasso considers on using a leather case on future models. That would give it a more elegant look and feel. Compared to the DX90, this is more sharp looking.
I would prefer its size than the DX90 as it offers more grip.
The buttons feel solid and well made. The power button is at the left side & volume is at the right side. The 3 buttons below the screen is for play/pause, skip and back. It does not have a removable backplate like the DX90 as the battery is fixed. BTW, this has a bigger and better battery inside.
At the top would be your 3.5mm optical/coaxial out, micro usb jacks and 2 micro SD slots. The line out and phone out is at the bottom.

The ff. for me are the most significant improvements from the DX90.
* optical out
* line out
* USB dac via pc/laptop (you need to download the software though)
Ibasso made a huge improvement from the old DX90 line out. This thing will automatically activate the line out once you plug your interconnect to the amp. In the DX90, you need to be careful to lower the volume otherwise you're in for a treat. Well done Ibasso!
The optical out is another good addition from the old DX90.
The new interface needs getting used to. You need to swipe it to the right if you want to view your directory & music menu. Swipe from right to left and you'll see the settings.
The only thing that disappoints me is the DOP thru optical/coaxial as I mainly pair the DX80 to Hugo. You cannot play DSD thru coaxial/optical. So all Mojo and Hugo users has to settle with 24/192.

How does it sound?

How does it sound?
Based on FW 1.4 as the previous three firmware had many issues.
The in-ear monitors I used during this review are:
Lear BD4.2, Jomo 6r,
Westone W60 (Lear reshelled)
Noble K10
Zero Audio Doppio (modded)

Track: Dire Straits - Your Latest Trick (DSD 2822.4khz)

IEM: UE TF10, K10, Jomo 6r & Westone w60
- Treble generally appeared slightly rolled off and lacking in palpable body. Layering is variedly good but fell a tad short of being something to write home about. Bass is relatively well-controlledbut at times, appeared a little loose. In stage width and depth are where the DX80 strutted its stuff. Instruments sounded well-spaced and has a slightly better image compared to the DX90. Its midrange comes off slightly warmer than the DX90’s.

Track: Josh Groban - All I Ask of You (FLAC 24/88)

IEM: Lear BD 4.2, Jomo 6r & UE TF10
- Soundstage is both wide and holographic. Instruments sound grand, almost larger than life. It falls shy of glorious on male vocals for lack of sub-harmonics weight. Josh's voice should have that deeper than tenor but not quite baritone weight to it. Female vocals are generally well presented. Kelly's voice is emotional, robust and is never shrill.

Track: Ed Sheeran - Tenerife Sea (16/44)

IEM: Noble K10, UE TF10 & Zero Audio Doppio
- Background is noticeably blacker than the DX90’s. Each guitar pluck is perceptibly more vivid, owing to that deep black noise floor. Bass has sufficient body with an ever so slightly longer decay. Imaging is solid and clearly defined. Ed's voice, seemingly drawn from a deeper source and engagingly romantic. Whilst it could use some more air and top end extension, it was on the whole quite enjoyable.

Sound&Tonality: 8.5/10

Final words:
For the price it commands, the DX80 is a very good value DAP. Paired with a capable portable amp this thing can be made to outperform daps at or above its price range. If only it outputs DSD through coaxial, this would probably be unbeatable. On the whole, it is clean sounding, musical & articulate. It may not be as delicate nor as detailed compared to higher end DAPs but for those who do not fancy much beyond a playable device for the most basic on-the-go needs, the DX80 fits the bill perfectly while leaving some change for you in the bank.

It has 2 micro SD slots, slightly better UI and a more improved line-level output than the earlier DX90, additional optical out, also has longer battery life, a slightly wider soundstaging and a warmer presentation than the 90. Is it better than the DX90?

Review by Ren Lazibal (r3n88)

An interview with ifi

HP: Welcome to Head pie.
-ifi Thank you. We are very pleased to have been invited to this interview at Head-Pie.

HP:First of all tell us a little about yourself and the company, present and historical.
- iFi audio is a baby-brand of Abbingdon Music Research (AMR).
- AMR launched its first products in 2006 with the 77 Reference Class of ultra-fidelity products that comprised of a CD player, an amplifier and speakers. This range quickly grew to the 777 Premier Class of CD players, amplifiers and digital-to-analogue converters.

Photo: AMR CD-77.

- In 2012, after seeing the trend for listening to music change from a static (speakers) system to mobile (headphones) system, AMR decided to spin-off a new company and called it ‘i-Fi’ which is based upon ‘interactive’ and ‘fidelity.’
- Fast-forward to now and with 23 products and more new products in the pipeline, we think 2016 is going to be a record year for us.
- Our ethos is firmly based in a blend of the best classic and cutting-edge technologies. Take for example the micro iDSD which has a classic ‘Burr-Brown’ chipset that plays DSD and PCM natively which combines with the latest battery technology to put out 4W.

Micro iDSD

HP: Please tell us about your current product line up. Ifi has several lines of products, probably most appealing to our readers is the Micro and Nano lines.
- The current range starts at the nano series going to the micro series. Over and above this is the Retro line. All supported by a very serious accessory range that improves the transmission of the USB signal or cleans up the input power.
- The nano series is like the BMW 3 series where it is compact and flexible.

Nano iDSD

- The micro series is like the BMW 5 series where it is larger and more powerful and even more flexible.

Micro - iTube

- The Retro is a different line aimed at the serious, all-in-one market, where anything from a turntable to a smart device can connect and play audio through a 100% valve amplifier.

 HP: ifi products have their own signature shape, please tell us more about the history of that particular design which makes them so striking.
- As with the previous car analogy, these days, car manufacturers use the same platform and scale-up/scale-down to suit. We have done this with the nano and micro lines as they are the core of our product range.

- Looks and economics are both advantageous if one takes this route. It is initially more expensive because of the upfront investment in tooling etc. but once the sales volumes come through, then the return in goodwill with a corporate look/feel is worth it.

 HP: If you have several products up and coming. Could you tell us a little about them.
- At the end of February 2016, we shall see the first of the Professional series, the iCAN Pro. This is both a professional headphone amplifier AND an audiophile linestage. We have some studios awaiting the Pro iCAN so we are excited.

Pro iCan

- The next product from the flagship Pro range is the Pro iDSD which is due out in May/June. With the rapid advancement in technologies, we prefer to keep quiet until closer to the launch.

- Outside these two flagship products are new additions to the nano series including the iUSB3.0 (asychronous audio+power USB repeater) and the micro iPHONO2.

 Nano iUSB 3.0

- In the Accessories line, there will also be several eye-catching headphone cables and power purification products. We have become quite fixated with improving the audio quality playback and the Accessories and USB Power range form the core of this area.
This is the latest, the DC iPurifier:

DC iPurifier

HP: Can you share any specs with us?
- For the Pro iCAN (as we are very close to going to the presses) we can divulge the User Manual for your readers to have the scoop on the first from the flagship line:
- We let the Specifications to explain more.
(User manual to follow).

HP: Ifi has held several generous giveaways/competitions of ifi products on I was one of the lucky winners once - I won an ifi ipurifier.
What brought the idea about to do a giveaway? You don`t just giveaway one product at a time, but several which makes the odds more in our favor.
- Around the world, all companies engage in marketing activities. For iFi, we developed our own approach which some may find unusual but we get a kick out of it.
- Instead of just advertising with the largest banners etc.. we prefer to use a slower but more solid approach. That is, to let customers engage in the iFi community to make it a fun place and with the chance to win iFi products. Music is about enjoyment, and for us, we actually have a lot of fun brainstorming internally about different ways to host competitions – as we like to add a bit of spice to proceedings.
- We have found that using this approach, we tend to attract a core of customers that engage and help others; be it simple headphone audio or iFi audio related questions. From what we have seen on Head-Fi, people on our threads are always nice and helpful. This is probably much the same across the board at Head-Fi but we seem to have a growing core contingent of the most helpful and friendly people.

HP: How would you describe the ifi sound signature?
- As outlined earlier, iFi is the sister company of Abbingdon Music Research and customers who have auditioned the CD-77 AMR flagship have consistently described the ‘analogue’ characteristic over and above everything else. So we would say iFi, which benefits from trickle-down technology from AMR, has a life-like, analogue-sound as its core sonic signature.
- AMR’s background is vinyl, Single-Ended Triode amplifiers and full-range speakers. All iFi products are auditioned against our in-house cost-no-object US$100,000 system. We have 4 turntables alone from the classic Garrard 301 to the latest Dr. Feickert turntable.
PICTURE of AMR System at HQ:

As an side, an Interesting read ‘God is in the Nuances’ by Stereophile.

- So unusually, for all the digital audio products  we actually compare them to a reference vinyl system with tubes in the signal path. And where we don’t have tubes, we have unusual circuitry such as TubeState®.

- We only ask customers one question, ‘Do you find yourself listening to music longer with iFi components in the system?’  The answer is usually a resounding ‘yes.’ We don’t ask them to listen for deeper bass or a smoother mid-range. The fact that your brain’s auditory system is saying ‘I like this and I want more’ is the ultimate standard.

HP: Tell us a little about any future plans for your company.
- There are several fronts we are pushing ahead on.
- First, is to continue to break through new technological barriers like the micro iDSD which was the first DAC to achieve native DSD512/PCM768 at any price point.
- Second, we have a real hunger to improve computer audio playback and with the micro iUSB3.0 and the iPurifier2, our R&D team is focused on the search for the latest technologies whilst still drawing from the best of classic technologies.
- Third, we have seen more inquiries from the recording sector and with the USB power improvement line, there are more ‘cross-sector’ products in the works.

HP: Anything else you`d like to add?
- When we developed the Pro iCAN, we totaled-up some 20 different headphone connection options in the market place from 3.5mm to XLR-4 pin and a whole bunch more. This is just plain crazy.
- We would love to see a more common standard as the different connections just do not make sense on any level.
- Watch this space. ☺

HP: Thank you for your time.
- Thank you for having us! We enjoyed shedding a little bit more light on how and why we do what we do. We really enjoy the interaction that comes along with iFi audio.