Airpulse A200 Active Speakers and ST200 Stands.

In my first review for Airpulse I get to experience these active speakers designed by the legendary Phil Jones.

Disclaimer:
This review is sponsored by Airpulse.
This is my unbiased view on the A200 active speaker system.
Audrey, Kay & Airpulse have been very kind and gifted me this set of monitors.
The A200 is originally priced at £878 but it is on discount now for a limited time only at £699
The Airpulse ST200 matching stands were purchased by myself at a discount and normally retail at £109.99.
The stands are filled with Atacama “Atabites” which can be found on Amazon.

You can find the A200s and more on the Airpulse website:
https://gb.airpulsepro.com/collections/frontpage/products/active-speaker-system-1

Readers can enjoy 40% off when they use code: A200FORU

Review equipment and software:
Airpulse A200 active speaker system.
Airpulse ST200 matching stands.
Burson Audio Conductor 3X Performance balanced DAC.
iPad Pro 2019 10.5″.
Qobuz Studio Premier.
Technics SL-1200 MK2 turntable.
Ortofon Quintet Red MC & Nagaoka MP10 MM cartridges.
KECES Audio ePhono MM/MC balanced phono stage.
KECES Audio ePhono Power low noise linear power supply.
Van-Damme & EDGE Analogue cables & interconnects.
Not pictured in this review:
iBasso DX80 and Apple TV 4K were used to test the coaxial and optical channels.

Music:
https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/3785941
https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/3784071

The Audiophile Cafe readers can now receive 1 month’s free subscription to Studio, which allows you to listen to Qobuz’s entire music library in Hi-Res and CD quality. 
Note: Existing Studio subscribers need to unsubscribe first before activating the gift. 
Please click the following link for more:
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What’s in the box:

A200:
1x Active speaker.
1x Passive speaker.
1x IR remote.
1x RCA to RCA audio cable. (1.5M / 5ft)
1x 5-pin din speaker cable by TRANSPARENT cable. (5M / 16ft)
1x Toslink cable (1.5M / 5ft)
1x RCA to 3.5mm jack plug.
1x Instruction manual.

ST200:
2x Bottom plates.
2x Stands.
2x Top plates.
1x Pack of mounting hardware and tool.
1x Alignment template for rubber feet.
10x Rubber feet.
1x Pair of white cotton gloves.
1x Instruction manual.

Airpulse haven’t skimped here. Each speaker comes in its own cloth sack which in turn is in another bag. The peripherals all come neatly packaged in a separate box.
Everything is neatly and securely enveloped in polystyrene then boxed up. That box then gets packed inside another box.
The ST200 matching stands come in the same style of packaging and include all the required hardware, tools and an alignment template for the rubber feet..
Airpulse have included a pair of white cotton gloves to ensure careful handling of the stands and speakers.


Specification:
Power Output: L/R Ribbon Tweeter: 10W+10W
L/R Mid-Range: 55W + 55W
Signal-Noise Ratio dB(A): ≥90dB(A)
Input Interface: AUX, Balance Input, Optical, Coaxial, Bluetooth
Input Sensitivity:-
Balance Input: 1300±50mV
Aux Input: 550±50mV
Bluetooth Input: 500±50mFFs
Optical Input: 350±50mFFs
Coaxial Input: 350±50mFFs
Noise Level: ≤25dB(A)
Frequency Response: 46Hz~20KHz
Tweeter: Phase Correction Horn Loaded Ribbon Tweeter
Mid-Woofer: 5.5″ Aluminium Cone Neo Power Mid-Woofer
Cabinet Size (WxHxD): 203 x 355 x 295 (mm)
Net Weight: 19 Kg (42 Pounds ) / Set


Build Quality:
Airpulse have pulled out all the stops.
From the inside out these speakers exude cutting edge technology, fine tuning, robust build quality and a premium fit & finish to round it all off.
The same can be said for the matching stands.
The finish of the A200 is a high gloss cherry wood veneer over a 25mm rigid MDF housing with a satin black finish on the front bezels, which contrasts the cherry veneer really well.
The stands are equally refined and match the speakers perfectly.
When the speakers are either on their provided feet or *secured to the stands they are a hefty pair weighing in at 19kg. Include the stands without being filled and they aren’t going anywhere. Fill the stands if you buy them, with Atabites or sand and you will not be disappointed. I loaded mine with Atabites and it has well and truly anchored them to my floor.
*The stands and speakers are securely attached with included bolts which thread up into where the A200 feet were attached using the existing threads. There are small gaskets that sit between where the feet were and the top plates of the ST200 stands.
TRANSPARENT Audio provide the A200s with their internal wiring and the included 5 pin DIN cable that connects both speakers. These are audiophile grade cables which are robustly made with the speaker cable being a decent copper/coffee finish and sporting 5 meters of length allowing for optimal positioning.
The remote is a plastic and simple device but it works well and up to this point seems sturdy enough.

Setup:
I initially thought setup may be a little complicated but it was soon apparent that this would not be so.
Although you can use the input/volume knob at the rear of the powered unit, I have barely touched it due to the remote working really well and doing everything that the selector knob does. Next to the volume/selector you will find the bass and treble controls. I found these to not make a vast change in sound, rather a subtle tweak in the low and high frequencies.
The A200s have 5 inputs altogether. Bluetooth, balanced, AUX ( single ended ), coax and optical.
At the time of this review I had the Burson DAC connected via the balanced input, The phono stage on the single ended channel, Apple TV 4K via optical and I tried the iBasso DX80 player with the coaxial input.
An iPad Pro was paired to the A200s over the bluetooth connection.
Pairing over bluetooth is very easy. You only need to select the bluetooth input and your source device will pick it up straight way.
The handshake is fast and once paired the connection is stable.
I would like to add here that I noticed no difference between the bluetooth signal when compared with either the coaxial or optical.

Sound:
I’ve heard and read some reviewers label these as dark sounding or that there isn’t a lot of sub bass.
I would call them neither dark nor lacking in the low frequency department.
In the first few days the low end sounded restricted and my first impression was I may not enjoy these as much as I had hoped, luckily after just a week of breaking them in the bass has evolved into something far more pleasing to my ears.
If there was an option to buy a sub to compliment these speakers, I wouldn’t want it.
The bass they produce now is one that is extended and accurate with a lot of punch and low end grunt. They hit the lowest tones really well, even when punishing them with the hardest of techno tracks. Sub bass is present and they sweep sublimely low. I have experienced zero distortion across the board on any of the sources. In my opinion a sub would be an overkill addition to a pair of monitors that fill my living room with tight, at times jaw dropping bass that lends itself to most genres.
The mids that the A200 produce have officially broken me. I’m well known for not enjoying a lot of midrange and if I use EQ I tend to use a V shape. Heavy on the bass and highs, easy on the mids.
When I say these have broken me I mean it in the most complimentary sense. What I hear is a smooth rich tapestry of vocals, strings and woodwind that resolves my music collection in a manner with which I am not accustomed. Paired with a soundstage that fills my listening space I have found a new fondness for midrange, realising if it’s done right, it can sound sublime. Airpulse have got this dialled in just right.
The high frequencies produced by the horn loaded ribbon tweeters are simply beautiful.
They are resolute in their delivery. Razor sharp precision complements an airy full bodied high end that does not miss a note.

Airpulse have created an active speaker with a super quiet background, a soundstage that is spacious, full of depth and headroom that commands respect.
Separation is phenomenal and makes live concerts especially enjoyable to listen to.

Hugh Masekela’s “The Coal Train” on Qobuz in Redbook quality hits like a freight train and I can almost imagine him on stage meters away from me .
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon and Wish You Were Here both on vinyl were both newly discovered for me with sounds being heard that I realise I had missed in the past. It would be remiss of me to not listen to some form of electronic music in this review.
Juan Atkins “Track Ten” from the Back To Basics Ep hits hard and with the heft and fast pace that Techno truly deserves. Orbital, Aphex Twin, LFO and Kevin Saunderson have all been played hard and loud and the A200s just keep giving.
I don’t know where this idea of being too dark sounding comes from. The A200s in my experience are dynamic and full bodied with a good balance across the frequency range.


Summary and recommendation:
Airpulse have created a weapon. The A200 hits like a freight train with pin point accuracy and depth that will fill your listening space with great ease.
I am using these in a “Hifi” environment, yet as a DJ I am very tempted to eventually get another pair, maybe their bigger brother the A300 as I feel they would be ideal as a near field monitor in a DJ studio/system.
They’re not the cheapest pair of active speakers especially if bought with the stands and adding filling material into the over all cost. Do I think they are worth the £878 price tag?
Yes. I’ve used lot of monitors over the years, in the studio, in the clubs and at home and I can’t think of one pair I would swap out for these.
The power delivery, build and sound quality are justification alone, The premium finish that make them a pleasure to have in the living room just emphasis this. The ST200 stands are a steal coming in below £200.
The A200 are a great all rounder and would fit right in whether in your listening room or studio. With the added bonus of not requiring a sub to fill in the gaps, bluetooth connectivity and the convenience of a remote control they really are a worthwhile investment.

Thank you to all of my readers for your continued support.
Please remember to follow, like, subscribe and share.
And a huge thank you to Audrey and Kay for arranging this for me and the blog.

All my very best. Hoping you are all safe and well. Paul.

The Audiophile Cafe is sponsored by Airpulse. Enabling the blog to improve content for you the readers.

Burson Audio Conductor 3X Performance Headphone amp, pre amp and DAC.

On the box Burson Audio exclaim “A LAVISH MUSICAL EXPERIENCE,” will the Conductor 3X Performance live up to expectations? Read on to find out.

Disclaimer:
This is my unbiased view of the Burson Audio Conductor 3X Performance.
Charles and the team at Burson have kindly send this out for review.
Retail price at the time of this review is $1,344.

You can find the Conductor 3X Performance and other Burson Audio products here:-
https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/conductor-3x-performance/

Review equipment and software:
iPad Pro. ( Bluetooth )
Macbook Air. ( USB )
Qobuz Studio Premier.
Burson Audio Conductor 3X Performance Headphone amp, pre amp and DAC.
Airpulse A200 Active speaker system.
Sennheiser HD600. ( Balanced & Single ended. )
Sony MDR SA5000. ( Balanced & Single ended. )
Custom Cans balanced cable for the HD600s.
Bespoke balanced re-cable on the SA5Ks with matching pigtail.
Tacima 6 way mains conditioner.

Music:
A collection of high res & Redbook tracks that I use for demo purposes.
You can find the playlist here:-
https://open.qobuz.com/playlist/3785941

What’s in the box:
Burson Audio use no frills solid packaging. The DAC and accessories are all safely and securely shipped to you.
The accessories come in a separate box inside the main package.

Included accessories:
1x Premium RCA to RCA line cable.
1x Spare fuse.
4x Op-amps for Op-amp rolling.
1x Hex key to open the unit.
1x USB C to USB A cable.
1x Gaming headset adaptor.
1x Bluetooth antenna.
1x Extremely well made remote.

Build quality:
There are times when you can tell how well something is made within the first few moments.
This is one of those times.
The craftsmanship and finish is flawless with an exceptionally clean and modern design.
Almost every little detail I look for in a product at this price range is here.
Buttons have a solid sharp click with a short throw, the volume and selection knob is finely crafted with the knurling being a really nice touch. It’s an incremental volume knob, however the movement is smooth and the increments feel more akin to a tactile bump than a click.
The display is sharp and bright with info being displayed clearly.
RCA, quarter inch, 3.5mm and balanced terminals are all a good fit and the same applies to the USB C, coaxial and toslink inputs.
The body has a premium finish and the front IO is laid out well.
The rear panel is again, well laid out. However I think markers on the connections wouldn’t have been difficult to include so consumers know which terminal is which.
Burson Audio have made a high quality remote to go with the Conductor and it follows the main units style and simplicity.
All of the accessories have a premium feel and finish.
The Conductor 3X Performance is one of the more exquisite looking and feeling review samples I have had the pleasure of spending time with.

Setup:
Setting the Conductor up is relatively simple.
The bluetooth pairing is stable and the initial handshake is quick & easy, switch the Conductor over to the BT channel, select “BURSON BT” in your sources bluetooth menu and pair it.
Connecting to a Mac or Windows PC/Laptop is made through a USB type C cable which Burson supply, it’s straight forward and there is no need to install drivers or third party software on a Mac.
I have read up on the process of connecting a windows PC or laptop and apart from installing drivers it is again a straight forward activity.
Aside from this you will find toslink and coaxial inputs on the back panel for your choice of digital source.
The pairing of Macbook & Conductor over USB type C is flawlessly clean with zero noise or latency and the same can be said for toslink.
The Conductor can be used as a DAC*, Pre amplifier or headphone amp and at a touch of a button you can select which you would like to use using the volume knob then click on your choice.
Please note: *DAC selection disables the volume control providing a stable line out signal through the balanced or single ended outputs on the back panel.
On the back panel you will find the two 3 pole XLR balanced outputs and the unbalanced RCA output jacks.
Around the front you will see three outputs. One 4 pole XLR balanced headphone jack, one quarter inch stereo jack and a 3.5mm jack which is the gaming headset out/mic in.
I haven’t used this function yet as I am waiting on a few gaming headsets to review. Once they’re in I will update this review with my conclusions.
For those who like to tweak their electronics further Burson have made the Conductor 3X Performance Op amp rollable and supply 4 Op amps in the box. You can also purchase other Op amps on Burson Audios website.
There is also a selection of FIR filters in the menu which will make either a large or small difference, this is subjective as everyones hearing is different and one significant change to one person can be a mild difference to another.
Personally I found the FIR filters made a subtle change in what I could hear in the higher frequency range.
The best DAC/Pre/Headphone amp I’ve heard to date is Schiit Audios powerhouse, The Jotunheim. Paired with an Audioengine B1 Bluetooth/AptX receiver this has been my daily driver for the past few years.
The bluetooth connection from Audioengines B1 is good, however it is not comparable in any sense to the Conductor 3X Performance. The contrast between the two is stark. The B1 has a tendency to drop its signal now and again and I’ve never been overly excited by its sound quality. I’ve always felt it was letting the Jotunheim down. The Conductor will maintain its connection for 12 hours straight, probably far longer. And the sound… Well we’ll get to that soon.

Specification:

MeasurementPackage Content
Input impedance:39 KOhmsConductor 3X Ref.
Model # M180X
USB Cable
Frequency response:± 1 dB 0 – 58KhzRemote ControlOTG Adoptor
THD:<0.0015%Power Cable24V Power Unit
Output impedance (Headphone Amp):0.5 Ohm
Output impedance (Pre Out / DAC Out):1 Ohm / 25 Ohm
General
Inputs:USB, Optical Toslink, BlueTooth 5.0, microphoneWeight:app. 3 kg
Outputs:1 x XLR Preamp/DAC
1 x RCA Preamp/DAC
1 x 6.3mm Headphone
1 x XLR Headphone
Dimensions:200 X 250 X 60mm
Impedance (Headphone Jack)Power XLR / SESignal to Noise RatioSeparation
16 Ohm6 / 3W96db99%
32 Ohm3 / 1.5W98db99%
100 Ohm1 / 0.5W95db99%
150 Ohm660/330mW96db99%
300 Ohm330/115mW96db99.5%
DAC SpecAsynchronous Isochronous USB Spec
Channel Separation:142 dB @ 1KHz, 135 dB @ 20KHzDesktop OS:Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 Mac OSX
THD+N:0.0005% @ 1KHz, 0dBFSDesktop OS:iOS* , Android (OTG support)
COAX & Toslink / SPDIF :up to 24bit 192KPCM Support:PCM ? 768kHz @ 16, 24 or 32bits
Native DSD:Native DSD 64 / 128 / 256 / 512
Bluetooth InputBluetooth 5.0 aptX HD (Qualcomm CSR8675)DSD over PCM:DoP64 / DoP128 / DoP256/Dop512

Menu options:
Input:
USB – PCM 32bit 786K / DSD512.
Toslink – PCM 24bit 192K.
Coaxial – PCM 24bit 192K.
Bluetooth – PCM 24bit 96K.

Output:
Headphone
Pre Out Pre Amp output with volume control.
DAC Out 2V RMS line-level no volume control.
Gain Level High* / Low High / Low.
FIR Filter Brickwall, CMFR, Reserved, AP Fast, MP Slow, MP Fast, LP Slow, LP Fast DPLL (DSD) DPLL Off / Low / Mid / High.
DPLL (PCM) DPLL Off / Low / Mid / High*.
DE-EMPHASIS On / Off* Only turn on if your source is a cassette tape player.
Restore Settings – YES / NO.

*Default settings marked with an *.

FIR Filters are part of the digital process built in the DAC chip. These filter settings only affect
high-frequency roll-offs.
For details on the various filter settings please refer to the official data sheet of the ESS9038.

Sound:
The soundstage is big. It is generously spacious with plenty of headroom and depth.
Live recordings weave a rich deep tapestry with superb definition & separation.
Studio recordings are focused and ultra accurate with surgical detail and clarity.
I am going back to albums I have heard many times before and I’m hearing sounds that haven’t been there before, a hand moving up a guitar neck, a musician in an orchestra shifting in their seat or an instrument playing a soft note in the background. The Conductor brings it all into play. Coupled with a very low noise floor Burson Audio have the final performance perfectly balanced.
As a DAC I have the Conductor paired with my Airpulse Audio A200 active monitors over a balanced connection. I have the tonal controls on the monitors zero’d in for a flat and neutral sound that will allow the Conductor to be heard to its fullest.

One detail that stands out with the Conductor is the bluetooth.
I cannot differentiate between a wired connection or bluetooth.
Burson have taken what is sometimes a subjectively ok signal and made it a phenomenal one.

Switching to Pre out mode does nothing to change the sound but now gives you control over volume output. As my monitors are active I found using the volume control on both a touch confusing, however I did notice how smooth the volume control was from the Conductor and how the volume doesn’t jump a mile on each bump of the volume wheel. In my case however I prefer to have the DAC mode enabled. At some point if I get hold of a power amp or some mono blocks I can then use the Pre out.

When switching to headphone output mode, the soundstage remains much the same.
Sonys MDR SA5000 headphones have always been well renowned for being a very unforgiving pair of headphones with a slightly rolled off bass and a tendency to “Name and shame” any or all poor recordings, yet there is a community of owners in the world who cherish these headphones like no other. I happen to be one of the lucky few to own a pair in mint condition and I love them in every way.
When paired with the Conductor 3X Performance they sing and are still my one pair of headphones that defy challenge. The two together are enough to induce tears of joy.
Over the years I have been looking for the “Perfect” DAC/Amp for the SA5Ks and I think I may have just found it in the Conductor 3X Performance.
Out of fairness I also tried my Sennheiser HD600s out on the Conductor and the experience was one of sonic depth and a hard hitting delivery. Unlike the SA5Ks the HD600s have a fatter bass and an all together warmer sound. The Conductor recognises these qualities and emphasises them.
Bass, mids and highs all come together in a perfect balance of a fast paced, exciting delivery that carries heft and accuracy in its low end. Middle frequencies that are airy and full of presence and definition. And a high frequency range that is super crisp, with a sense of immediacy and detail that hits you like fresh water in the face in the morning.

The Conductor 3X Performance then, in my conclusion is a DAC, a Pre amp and a headphone amplifier that awakens recordings and brings vitality and resolution to whatever you decide to listen to and in whatever way you chose to use it.

Its going to be hard letting go of this one!

Summary and recommendation:
The Conductor is a thing of beauty, It is energetic in its delivery and resolving with pinpoint accuracy.
Looks are modern yet subtle with a high premium finish.
There is no app for the Conductor 3X Performance and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. I haven’t felt like something is missing when I’m listening to it, however I think a properly developed app could make the experience that much better with deeper control within the settings, remotely.
Would I recommend buying at this price? Absolutely. I actually thought it was worth more until I saw the catalogue.
The Conductor 3X Performance is worth every pound, euro, dollar or whatever your currency is. And more!
Most definitely a “LAVISH MUSICAL EXPERIENCE!”

Despite the lack of an app or a power toggle on the remote ( Burson! )
I am awarding Burson Audios Conductor 3X Performance The Audiophile Cafes 5 star Award.
It ticks all the boxes that matter most and has left me wanting more. MUCH MORE.

Thank you Charles and team at Burson Audio for allowing me to review this.

And thanks as always to you, my readers for your ongoing support.
Please remember to follow, subscribe and share as not only will you be kept up to date with new content but the blog will grow and stats will improve.

The Audiophile Cafe is partnered with Qobuz and I am happy to reveal that I can offer my readers one free month of subscription to Qobuz Studio Premier along with an album in high res.

Please click on the following link for more details.

https://try.qobuz.com/tqs_fr/?qbzs=society&qbzc=THE_AUDIOPHILE_CAFE&utm_source=society&utm_medium=partner_page&utm_campaign=THE_AUDIOPHILE_CAFE

HIFIMAN RE400 Waterline IEM review.

Disclaimer:

HIFIMAN have not paid or sponsored me for this review.
The views and opinions in this publication are unbiased and my own.

Mark & the team at HIFIMAN have been very kind and sent out two of their IEM’s to review. The RE400 Waterlines are the first of those two reviews.

The RE400 Waterline are priced at $79 at the time of this publication.

You can find them on HIFIMANs website by following this link –
https://hifiman.com/products/detail/113

Review equipment and software used:

iBasso DX80.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10+.
Qobuz Studio Premier.
Spotify Premium.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black V1.5.
Audioquest Dragontail.
HIFIMAN RE400.

Music used:

Gregory Porter – “All Rise” ( 24-bit Hi-Res / up to 192 kHz )
Norah Jones – “Pick Me Up Off The Floor” ( 24-bit Hi-Res / up to 192 kHz )
Von Meyer – “Once Upon A Dime” ( Hi-Res 48.0 kHz )
Brendon Moeller – “Dub Caravan” ( 16-bits / 44,1 kHz )
Marantz Hi-Res demo playlist on the DX80 ( FLAC )

Packaging & accessories:

The packaging these come in is basic but generous with a good quality zip up pouch with plenty of room for the IEMs, spare tips and a 1/4″ adaptor.

7 silicone ear tips.
10 spare filters. ( helps protect the earphone’s inner components from dust )
1 shirt clip.
1 carry pouch.

Quality of build and ease of use:

The HIFIMAN RE400 Waterline are one of three models in the RE400 range.
In addition to the RE400 Waterline there is also an RE400i and an RE400a, both offering an inline solution for iDevices & Android respectively.
The RE400 Waterline that I am reviewing today sports a regular cable with no inline mic.

For a sub $100 IEM I am impressed with the quality of materials and finish.
The body is a matte silver metal which has a very high grade finish, is pleasant to look at and lightweight.
The cable is something I noticed straight away as being very well made with a premium feel.
It’s non detachable with a nylon sleeve, robust silicone y-splitter, metal cable cinch & a solid and beefy right angled 3.5mm jack HIFIMAN are off to a very good start. I wish that other brands with similarly priced IEMs with non detachable cables would take note and make a more robust cable like HIFIMAN have done with the RE400.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Specifications:

Diaphragm: Titanium Diaphragm.
Magnet: Neodymium magnet.
Frequency Response: 15~22 kHz.
Sensitivity: 102dB.
Impedance: 32 Ohms.
Cable Type: OFC copper cable.
Cable Length: 1.33m.
Plug: 3.5mm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Comfort:

The RE400s are, once you find the best fitting ear tip very comfortable.
Due to their compact and lightweight design they sit in your ear canal without feeling intrusive. I could listen up to a few hours with no discomfort or fatigue.
I noticed no microphonics from the cable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sound:

The soundstage I get from the RE400 is not wide but focused with depth.
It is a forward sounding IEM with immediacy and detail.
The RE400 has a sharp extended midrange which compliments vocals and brings them to the fore with a sense of clarity and precision.
Highs are crisp and clear. They are an organic sounding in-ear yet with exceptional precision at this price range.
The bass is hefty in the mid bass range packing a decent punch. Bottom end sweeps low and fast, especially when listening to electronic music.
I would conclude that the HIFIMAN RE400 is a lively, punchy sounding IEM with emphasis in the midrange and mid-highs that works well with electronica and EDM. They also sound excellent with jazz, acoustic and classical music.

Summary & recommendation.

A high quality, lively IEM that is a great all-rounder.
The RE400 is very good at reproducing a respectable level of accuracy and weight when considering it is in the sub $100 price range.
I noticed that these perform especially well when listening to any digital music. From techno, through drum & bass to synth pop and electonica the RE400 is relentless in it’s hefty mid bass, lows and crisp highs.

If you’re looking for an affordable pair of IEMs to suit most genres that are both comfortable and robust then the RE400 is for you.
Whether it’s the RE400 Waterline, RE400i or RE400a, give them a look and follow the link at the beginning of this review.

Thanks for reading and your continuing support of The Audiophile Cafe.
All my best, Paul.

The Audiophile Cafe is sponsored by a number of brands, enabling me to improve content.

Thanks to Custom Cans for your ongoing support!

Periodic Audio Nickel ( Ni ) headphone amp review.

Disclaimer:

Periodic Audio have not paid or sponsored me for this review.
The views and opinions in this piece are unbiased and my own.

Dan and the team at Periodic were kind enough to send me out three review samples and the Ni is the final out of three reviews.

The Nickel is priced at $299 as of this publication.

https://periodicaudio.com/

Review equipment and software used:

iPod touch.
Qobuz Studio Premier.
Periodic Audio Ni.
Periodic Audio trrs interconnect.
Sennheiser HD25.1 ( 70 ohms )
Grado SR125e ( 32 ohms )
iBasso iT01 ( 16 ohms )*
Shure SE-425 ( 22 ohms )*

I deliberately tested the Ni with non-Periodic Audio IEM’s as not all buyers will have IEM’s from the same brand.

Music used:

Antoine Defour – “Sound Pictures” ( 16-bits / 44,1 kHz )
Orbital – “Snivilization” ( 16-bits / 44,1 kHz )
Collin Walcott – “Dawn Dance” ( 16-bits / 44,1 kHz )

Packaging & accessories:

The Ni comes in the same packaging that the IEM’s do so there’s nothing new to tell here.
The amp is held in place well and kept safe during transit.
Inside you will find the Ni, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm trrs interconnect and a micro to A USB charging cable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Quality of build & ease of use:

It’s a solid little amplifier!
This is good quality craftsmanship. The Ni is stylish yet subtle in its design.
It’s constructed from two solid pieces of polycarbonate giving it a rugged and robust shell.
The 3.5mm trrs input and output jacks are a firm fit and the USB micro-B port around the back is the same.
The LED indicator is flush mounted and is bright so it’s not difficult to see what it’s doing.
The battery has exceptional life at 8 hours. I can confirm this is the case after four 2 hour sessions without needing to charge. The Ni will display a green LED when fully charged, a yellow LED when it’s at half charge and red when very low.
When charging the LED will flash and takes 30 minutes to fully charge once drained.
The Nickel also allows you to charge during use with a low noise floor and no audible interference.
Power on and off couldn’t be more simple. The amp will only power on if it detects both jacks are plugged in. To power off, just unplug.
Setup is a breeze. Plug the supplied trrs interconnect from your headphone out on your phone or other device and the other end into the Ni’s input, clearly marked with an inward pointing arrow. Now plug your IEMs or headphones into the other jack with the outward pointing arrow and start listening.
For those unaware of what a trrs jack is, it’s simply a jack with three rings instead of two and it will allow passthrough of a mic signal. So if you’re using the Nickel with your smartphone and want to use a pair of IEMs or headphones with an inline mic, Periodic Audio have you covered. I plan to test if this will work on an Xbox One or Ps4 controller. When I do I will update this review.
Please note that the volume is controlled by your device and not the Nickel. This works well and I think helps to keep the size and weight down, not only that but it makes the Ni a very simple and straight forward amp to set up and use.
Due to its size and weight, the Nickel is easily pocketed and doesn’t weigh your shorts, jeans, skirt or leggings down.

Specifications:

PERFORMANCE
Frequency Response8 Hz to 80 kHz
THD+N< 0.005%, 20 Hz to 20 kHz
Gain6.5 dB
Power Output250 mW Continuous, 32 Ohms
Damping Factor> 100 @ 32 Ohms
Run Time8 Hours, typical
Charge Time30 minutes from full discharge
PHYSICAL PROPERTIES
Length50mm
Width30mm
Height18mm
Weight20 grams
Audio Jack3.5mm TRRS (mic pass through)
Charging JackMicro USB
Power IndicatorRed/Yellow/Green
Body MaterialPolycarbonate
MATERIAL PROPERTIES
Melting Point1728 Kelvin
Speed of Sound4900 meters per second
Young’s Modulus200 Gigapascals
Brinell Hardness1600 Megapascals
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Sound:

The Nickel delivers and performs in a way that you wouldn’t expect from an amplifier this size.
With a low noise floor, zero interference and plenty of power the Ni surprises with an impressive level of punch, deep impactful bass that is both tight and accurate.
Mids are clear and airy offering clarity and detail that allow vocals and instruments to flow organically.
The Ni does not disappoint in the higher frequency range with a fast pace and sparkle, adding detail and precision.

Out of the headphones and IEMs that I tried out, the Sennheiser HD25.1s and iBasso iT01s came out on top with a wide soundstage, exceptional imaging and a perfect balance between bass, mids and highs that presents you with a fast paced, precise and punchy performance.
Both were easy to drive, even considering the HD25’s are rated at 70 ohms.

The Grado’s were graceful and a delight to listen to through the Ni but lacked the warmth I’m used to and were a bit more forward in the middle frequencies than I would like. Which surprised me as I really believed they would come out on top here.
I think the case here is I listen to my Grado’s almost always on a tube amp and have become accustomed to that specific tonal characteristic.

The Shure SE-425s sounded amazing on the Nickel, and were easy to drive. However the iT01s just sounded better in every way. Otherwise I can’t fault the Shures.

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Summary & recommendation:

Overall the Ni is a formidable amplifier for its size. Sonically it is perfect in almost every way, as long as you stay around the 32 ohms range you’ll find it performs extremely well, even when put up against larger portable amps.

It suits various genres of music and it presented all three albums listed above amazingly well.

I sincerely recommend the Ni to anyone looking for a lightweight, stylish but compact amp to beef up the power output of their smart phone or portable devices headphone out.
I believe the Nickel is worth every $ of its price tag.

Thank you to all of my readers for your continuing support and faith in me.

Periodic Audio Beryllium ( Be ) IEM review.



Disclaimer:

Periodic Audio have not paid or sponsored me for this review.
The views and opinions in this piece are unbiased and my own.

Dan and the team at Periodic were kind enough to send me out three review samples and the Be’s are the second out of three reviews.

They are priced at $299 as of this publication.

https://periodicaudio.com/

Review equipment and software used:

Samsung Galaxy Note Ten+.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black V1.5.
Qobuz Studio.

Packaging and accessories:

These are the second pair of iem’s I have tried out from Periodic Audio and the thing that stood out immediately was the theme around their product and packaging. The name Periodic Audio is a play on words and is a nod to the periodic table. As you will learn with Periodic Audio’s products, they’re all named in relation to the materials used. I think this is a brilliant approach.
The boxes themselves when opened up display a graph. We all know by now at The Audiophile Cafe that I don’t do measurements. However I do appreciate this touch and this will be something other reviewers or customers will no doubt enjoy.
The IEM’s themselves come securely packaged in the cardboard cutout alongside a smart round tin that can be easily pocketed.
Inside said tin are the accessories which include a flight adaptor, a generous selection of ear tips including some high quality foam tips and a 1/4 inch stereo adaptor.

Spec:

Mechanical Elements

Transducer Diaphragm: Beryllium

Transducer Surround: Bonded PEEK

Transducer Basket: Aluminum

Transducer Magnet: N48H Grade Neodymium

Enclosure Body: Polycarbonate

Protective Grille: 316 Stainless Steel

Bonding Compound: Cyanoacrylate Adhesive

Sealant Compound: Polyvinyl Acetate

Mounting Tips: Medical Grade Silicone and Urethanes

All components are finite element analyzed for stress, strain, and durability.

Frequency Response – 12 Hz to 45 kHz.
Impedance – 32 Ohms nominal.
Sensitivity – 100 dB SPL at 1mW in ear.
Power Handling – 200 mW continuous.
Peak – SPL123 dB.
THD – Less than 1% THD at 1mW.

PHYSICAL PROPERTIES:

Cable Length – 1.5 m.
Mass – 2.8 / 9.3 g (IEM/Set).
Operational Temperature – -20 to +50°C.
Operational Humidity – 0-95% Relative Humidity.
NRR – 31.3 dB (foam eartrip).
Overall Length – 21 mm.
Body Diameter – 12 mm.
Nozzle Diameter – 6 mm.

MATERIAL PROPERTIES:

Melting Point – 1560 Kelvin.
Speed of Sound – 12890 meters per second.
Young’s Modulus – 287 Gigapascals.
Brinell Hardness – 1320 Megapascals.

Build:

As I stated in my first review of the Periodic Audio Ti’s, the brand is fast becoming a favourite of mine when it comes to design, style, quality, sound and comfort. The Be’s may only be my second pair from Periodic Audio but they are a deal closer. Two Similar yet very different IEM’s built to the highest quality. They are simply a nod to some of the finest craftsmanship I’ve come across in my time as an audiophile and reviewer.
Unlike the Ti’s the Be’s have Beryllium transducer diaphragms. And it shows. But we’ll get into that in a moment.
The cable again is something I would like to see being looked at in following models. But I won’t get into that again as I have mentioned this in a previous review.

Comfort:

The Berylliums are a very comfortable pair of in ears.
They are lightweight and a good fit. The foam tips supplied have an excellent seal and grip my ears with no discomfort.
I could wear these for up to two hours with no pain or fatigue.
I will note here that although they won’t offer as good a seal as the foam tips, the silicone tips are comfier and allow me to listen for a touch longer.

Soundstage & Imaging:

Here’s where the Berylliums show their vast difference to the Titaniums that I previously reviewed.

A wider soundstage with a depth that surprised me. The Be’s put me in the middle of a large arena or stadium with ease. I found the foam tips narrowed the soundstage a touch but not by any great margin.
Instrument separation is excellent.

Bass:

I won’t lie, I was expecting the bass to be far less present in the Berylliums in comparison to the Titaniums. However, taking a peek at the spec sheet had me anticipating something interesting. The Ti’s are capable of 16hz on paper where the Be’s are capable of 12hz…
The Berylliums go lower yet without the force of the Ti’s.
It’s a more refined tight bass with far more accuracy but still managing to hit hard when required and go deeper than you expect them to.

Mids:

A smooth airy midrange with ultra fine clarity making the Berylliums really REALLY good with vocals, sax, cello…
It’s not harsh or overwhelming, more a forward, perfectly tuned midrange that sounds oh so good.

Highs:

Fast, accurate highs that bring out all those little details that a lot of in ears struggle to reproduce. At times I felt like I was sat right next to the drummer and could hear even the softest of brush strokes.
In a word, breathtaking.

Summery and recommendations:

The Berylliums get The Audiophile Cafe 5 star award for their astounding level of clarity and comfort with premium craftsmanship and a fantastic design.

Where the Titaniums brought me that hard hitting punch that brought my electronic music alive, The Berylliums make jazz, classical, folk and Spanish guitar an utter pleasure to listen to with clarity, depth and sparkle that captures you.
Precision and premium are the keywords of the day here.
Worth every dollar of their $299 price tag.

All my thanks and best wishes to all of my readers.
Please don’t forget to leave any thoughts in the comments.
If you would like to join the facebook group I’ll leave a link just below.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/516367948761119/?ref=share

The Audiophile Cafe is sponsored by a small group of brands. Helping me to gradually bring better content to you.

Thank you to Airpulse for their ongoing support and sponsorship.


The Audiophile Cafe needs your help.

Some of you who follow me, the blog, page and group on social media will know that I recently started a fundraiser on facebook to attempt to raise funds to help me provide better content here on the blog.

If any of you wish to help please know that I am eternally grateful for anything that you donate. No matter how big or small.

I will state for the record that I will never ask my readers for a subscription to read this blog. Not now, not in the future.

I will leave a link at the end of this article for anyone who wishes to help out.

Thank you for your continuing views and support.
Without you there would be no blog!

All my best. Paul.

https://www.facebook.com/donate/604136980294451/?fundraiser_source=external_url

Periodic Audio Titanium ( Ti ) IEM review.

Disclaimer:

Periodic Audio have not paid or sponsored me for this review.
The views and opinions in this piece are unbiased and my own.

Dan and the team at Periodic were kind enough to send me out three review samples and the Ti’s are the first in three reviews.

They are priced at $199 as of this publication.

https://periodicaudio.com/

Review equipment and software used:

Samsung Galaxy Note Ten+.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black V1.5.
Spotify Premium.
Astell & Kern AK70.
iBasso DX80.

Packaging and accessories:

These are the first items I have tried out from Periodic Audio and the thing that stood out immediately was the theme around their product and packaging.
The boxes themselves when opened up display a graph. We all know by now at The Audiophile Cafe that I don’t do measurements. However I do appreciate this touch and this will be something other reviewers or customers will no doubt enjoy.
The IEM’s themselves come securely packaged in the cardboard cutout alongside a smart looking little tin.
Inside said tin are the accessories which include a flight adaptor, a generous selection of ear tips and 1/4 inch stereo adaptor.



Spec:

Frequency Response – 16 Hz to 30 kHz
Impedance – 32 Ohms nominal
Sensitivity – 96 dB SPL at 1mW in ear
Power Handling – 200 mW continuous
Peak SPL – 117.5 dB
THD – Less than 1.5% THD at 1mW
Cable Length – 1.5 m
Mass – 2.8 / 9.3 g (IEM/Set)
Operational Temperature – -20 to +50° C
Operational Humidity – 0-95% Relative Humidity
NRR – 31.3 dB (foam eartrip)
Overall Length – 21 mm
Body Diameter – 12 mm
Nozzle Diameter – 6 mm
Melting Point – 1941 Kelvin
Speed of Sound – 5090 meters per second
Young’s Modulus – 116 Gigapascals
Brinell Hardness – 2770 Megapascals

Build:

Periodic Audio are another brand rapidly gaining my respect for sheer attention to detail and a premium level of craftsmanship.
I will note that I believe at this price point the cable could have been a little more substantial, however it is well made and does not impede on the quality of the product or reproduction of sound. I do though feel like I need to be very careful with it when I’m out and about or winding it up to pack away. Then again I am very picky about cables so this could be my ocd rearing it’s ugly head just a touch.
Otherwise they are a joy to behold and handle. Very lightweight and I like the subtle design that Periodic have gone with.
The tin that comes with them has a lovely foam lining and a buttery smooth thread in the lid to fasten it in place. I only wish they made the tin slightly larger to easily accommodate the IEM’s, adaptor and eartips.
But this is only a side thought on my part. I don’t tend to carry a lot of ear tips on me.


Comfort:

The Titanium’s are very lightweight and fit in the ear very comfortably.
The silicone and urethane tips are silky soft but stay in my ears well without being dislodged with any ease.
I managed to get a good 2 hours listening time out of them, experiencing no discomfort or fatigue.

Soundstage & Imaging:

I will start here by mentioning a fantastic little “tool” on Periodic Audio’s website named the “Select-A-Tron” ( I just love that name! ).
They have a section that takes information from you about your listening preferences and preferred sound then scores each IEM out of ten, identifying which model is best suited to your requirements by means of highest score. I also found this tool to work independently from price. In other words they’re not trying to fool you into buying their most expensive IEM’s.
This is a great touch and I think something other brands could learn from!

The Titanium’s do not boast the widest soundstage. If I were to try to put the “stage” into words I would liken it to somewhere in between a large nightclub and a concert hall.
Instrument separation is good but it’s not the best.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing once you figure out what these particular IEM’s are all about.
They are extremely easy to drive straight off your phone or audio players headphone jack.

Bass:

Oh my! Periodic aren’t lying when they state that low of 16hz in the spec sheet. These babies go low in all the right ways! Death Metal, Ska, Dubstep, Drum N Bass, Trance and Techno all get the large sweeping one second and pounding the next moment bass that they rightfully deserve.
I have other IEM’s that deliver damn good bass extension and performance but the Titanium’s are in another league.
They’re not the most accurate IEM’s but they sure do deliver the kind of lows and thump every bass head yearns for. Beats fans should really, No, seriously give these IEM’s a whirl.

Mids:

Midrange is good, airy and carries vocals forward with decent pace and precision. Which is needed to compliment the sheer weight of bass the Titanium’s bring with them.

Highs:

Forward. Highs are crisp and clear. Slightly lacking in precision but by no means in speed.



Summary and recommendation:

So you’ve heard me point out a few times that these aren’t the most detailed IEM’s. They’re not and Periodic Audio hold no pretence about this in their description of the Titanium’s.
They’re not going to make that jazz or classical album sing. They won’t make your favourite guitarist sound like they’re in an otherwise utterly silent room right next to you. It’s not what the Titanium’s are about.

I am in no way slating on or being negative about this pair of in ears.
What I’ve told you so far is what I believe and what Periodic state that these aren’t suited to.

What the Titanium’s are and what they utterly excel in is all the bass and raw punch you desire and then some. And when you think you have enough, they offer you more! They are one of the most lively pair of IEM’s I’ve heard to date. They are exciting and bring my EDM collection alive in a way few IEM’s can!
They have enough clarity and pace to keep up with the speed and volume that this kind of music delivers. Something my other headphones and IEM’s struggle with.

Most of my readers will know I’m an ex EDM DJ and these days that I’m a bit of a metal head.
Most of my headphones and IEM’s are better suited to my usual listening collection of Jazz, Classical, Spanish Guitar and so on. But when I brush off my old 12”’s from when I played in the clubs or dig out a favourite DJ/Producer set, whether it be Carl Cox, Sven Vath, Orbital, Altern-8 or LTJ-Bukem I only have a few IEM’s or headphones that I can turn to. The Titanium’s just got added to that small list and worked their way up to the top 3 of that EDM/Metal list.
They truly kick you where it counts. Close your eyes and you’re in your favourite nightclub. Your favourite set will pound and pound you like you want it to.
In a sentence? Raw, untamed and relentless in their delivery.

So if you’re a metal head, DJ, raver or bass junkie and looking for a pair of affordable IEM’s that will give you that bass delivery you’re looking for, look no further!!!
As an over all IEM they’re good so please don’t dismiss them entirely.
If you have the opportunity to give them a listen I strongly suggest that you do.

Add a headphone amplifier into the mix and brace yourself. But that’s another topic for another review. Coming very soon…

Thank you to Dan and the team at Periodic Audio for sending me out these very fine review samples.

As always, Thank you to my readers for taking the time in your day to read another publication from the Audiophile Cafe.
Stay well. Stay Safe. Make your favourite brew and go listen to some great music!
All my very best regards. Paul 🙂

The Audiophile Cafe Blog is now supported by a small group of sponsors so I can work to bring you better quality content as time goes on.

Thank you to the following in enabling me to bring better quality content and reviews to my readers.

Custom Cans.




Dekoni Audio Ear-pads Review.

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Disclaimer:

Dekoni Audio have not paid or sponsored me for this review.
The views and opinions in this publication are unbiased and my own.

Dylan & Josh at Dekoni Audio kindly sent these samples out and they retail at $49.99 For the Sennheiser HD600 Choice Leather and $59.99 For the HifiMan HE400 Elite Velour.

https://dekoniaudio.com/

Review equipment and software used:

MacBook Air running Spotify Premium.
Burson Audio Conductor 3X Performance.
Sennheiser HD600 with Custom Cans balanced cable.
HifiMan HE400 with Custom Cans balanced cable.

Packaging and Accessories:

The Dekoni ear pads come in simple but sturdy boxes.
The boxes have solid magnetic lids that snap into place and stay there.
No accessories are included and the ear pads come with the appropriate fittings already installed.

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Build:

The Choice Leather pads are made from a luxurious soft and supple synthetic leather.

The Elite Velour are made from a premium feeling velour that is very soft but firm to the touch.

Both pairs have high quality stitching and the materials used are high grade. Both in appearance and texture.

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Fitting:

Both sets of ear pads come with the required mounting plates already fitted so that fitting them is a breeze.
The HD600 pads just snap in with a firm careful push.
The HE400 pads are a little fiddly but still snap into place pretty easily once you’ve figured it out. And that’s it, you’re good to go.

Comfort:

I found both the velour and synthetic leather pads extremely comfy.
Both sets are deeper than the stock ear pads so give an extra level of padding and comfort, however didn’t increase the clamping force on either pair of headphones, if anything giving some relief. I wore both pairs for just over 3 hours with my glasses on with each and suffered no discomfort or fatigue. I found the Choice Leather to be particularly comfortable and had no issues with hot sticky ears.

Sound:

The HE400 Elite Velour pads opened up the soundstage without losing any bass response. Highs are still accurate, however maybe a little dialled back. But we’re talking by a very small hardly noticeable level. Imaging is untouched.

The HD600 Choice Leather pads also opened up the soundstage and help to improve isolation with a good seal.
Bass is still punchy and accurate with added depth. Mids and highs are still crisp and precise. Highs are maybe a touch rolled off, but again only by a nearly noticeable amount.

In general I found both sets of pads tightened up the sound with a more open soundstage. Improving isolation and seal adding more depth of bass without losing any clarity. With just a very slight roll off in the higher frequencies.



Recommendation and summary:

I’ve tried other replacement pads in the past from other brands at around a similar price point.

In my experience I would say that Dekoni Audio have the edge in quality control and use of premium materials.

When I look at comfort, build quality and improvement in sound I believe they are worth their respective price tags.
I also look at the bigger picture here and like the improvements they add to two already fantastic pairs of headphones nudging them higher in my appreciation for them.

I would recommend Dekoni Audio ear pads to anyone who is looking for higher levels of comfort with the added bonus off a slight increase in sound quality.

I would like to thank Dylan and Josh at Dekoni Audio for sending out these review samples and being patient waiting for me to publish this review.

And of course thank you to my readers for taking time out of your day to have a read.
Please, if you like what you see, pass word to your friends.
Stay safe, Take care and see you all again very soon.

All my best. Paul.

RHA T20 Wireless IEM’s.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid or sponsored by RHA for this review.
The views in this publication are unbiased and my own.

Lorna and RHA kindly sent these IEM’s in for review and they currently sell for £199.95.

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Review equipment and software used:

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black V1.5.
Spotify Premium.
Single ended output.

Astell & Kern AK70.
Balanced and single ended outputs.

iBasso Pelican PB2 balanced portable headphone amplifier.

Custom Forza AudioWorks balanced hybrid mmcx cable.

Packaging and accessories:

Where do I start? The RHA T20’s come boxed up in a lovely well presented package seen more in higher end products.
The box is packed with lots of accessories including some very premium “Attachments” which I will list below.

3 pairs of stainless steel tuning filters. Each pair has a different sound characteristic. These are screwed into and presented on a stainless steel holder which has a colour coded guide that clearly informs you which filter is which.
The holder itself is very well made with no sharp edges and a smooth black finish.

1 stainless steel card holding 10 pairs of ear tips.
6 pairs of dual density silicone ear tips. ( S, M & L )
2 pairs of dual flange silicone ear tips. ( S & L )
2 pairs of Comply Foam Comfort Tsx-400 ear tips. ( M )

Again this is very well made and presented and there are a good selection of tips to choose from as you can see.
This is also supplied in a smooth black finish.

1 single ended ( unbalanced ) OFC mmcx audio cable terminated in a 3.5mm jack.
Although the cable is shielded in rubber it feels and looks high end.
Made well and doesn’t feel delicate or fragile in any way.

1 SecureFlex Bluetooth Neckband with mmcx connectors.

1 USB A to USB type C charging cable.

1 Clothing clip.

1 Neoprene carrying pouch.

1 pair of T20 In-ear monitors.

Spec:

RHA DualCoil drivers.
Swappable tuning filters.
12 hour SecureFlex Bluetooth neckband with High-Fidelity AptX.
3.5mm OFC unbalanced audio cable for wired High-Resolution listening.
Comfortable and ergonomic design for optimal noise cancelling.
Included assortment of accessories as seen above.
Detachable stainless steel housings.

Build:

The T20’s astonished me the moment I unboxed them.
For a sub £300 pair of IEM’s they ooze premium craftsmanship.
The IEM’s alone are made of a high grade stainless steel and finished in a smooth satin black.
Although they have stainless steel housings they’re not heavy. But we’ll get into that more when we speak about comfort.
The tuning filters are a great touch, really well made and are easy to screw and unscrew into place. The holder for the spare tuning filters is made of a high grade stainless steel and again finished in a really nice satin black. It has markings that are colour coded to the filters so you know which filter has what sound characteristics.
The ear tips supplied are of a high quality, extensive and yet again are housed in a stainless steel card in that superb satin black.
The unbalanced 3.5mm audio cable supplied has a rubber shielding but is of a thick, strong quality. The mmcx connectors are snappy and secure and the 3.5mm jack and Y-Splitter are again made of high grade materials.
This is my first pair of IEM’s with a neckband and it was an initial concern as I’ve never been keen on the design. However I was pleasantly impressed with both the build and the stable Bluetooth connection. It’s flexible but doesn’t give me any concerns of weak points or poor quality switches. The band is a soft silicone/rubber material but I have no worries of it wearing away any time soon.
The supplied carry case is made from neoprene and is just the right size and shape to house the T20’s, all three cables, the ear tips in their card and the tuning filters and holder without putting any strain on any of the items. I was even able to place a custom made FAW balanced cable with pigtail adaptor in the case securely along with everything else and it’s still a good fit.

You really couldn’t ask for more from a premium pair of IEM’s at this price point, and that’s before we get to the sound quality!

Getting set up:

RHA have made a Bluetooth neckband that is easy to pair with both Android & iOS.
There is no dedicated app which at first I was a bit disappointed about, however after using and listening to these IEM’s heavily for a few weeks I believe it would just complicate matters and the built in “EQ” settings on Spotify or other streaming apps are more than sufficient to make any tweaks if required.
So just pair the neckband and start listening.
On a side note, before fiddling around with EQ’s, try out the different tuning filters first. In my opinion they are the only tweak you’ll need to think about aside from finding the right ear tips for you.

Comfort:

I’ll cut to the chase here.
These are by far not my most expensive pair of IEM’s.
However they have rapidly become my “Go-To” in ears.
I get a near perfect fit in my ear canal , both cables supplied are comfy over the tops of my ears and don’t dig in or rub.
Of the ear tips I’ve so far tried they are all made of premium silicone and foam and are silky smooth in my ears.
Although the housings are made from stainless steel they don’t feel heavy, hard or cold. Against most of my lighter plastic IEM’s these are comfier by a mile.
Also, the housings are relatively small as you’ll see in some of the comparison images.
The neck band is light and soft and after a short while I can almost forget it’s there, similar to a necklace you constantly wear and get used to.
I’ve worn the T20’s in their various iterations and can say that I can happily wear them for well into three hours without any discomfort.

Mic/ANC:

The RHA T20’s don’t have built in active noise cancelling, however they create a very good seal with the correct ear tips fitted. So they passively cancel noise very well.

When speaking to my wife over the phone and FaceTime we found the mic to be clear. Background noise can be heard but at ambient levels.

Soundstage/Imaging:

Soundstage isn’t narrow but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was wide either. I imagine myself in a decent sized studio as I find the soundstage “focused”, almost like listening to a pair of near field monitors.

Imaging is exceedingly good with great instrument separation and positioning. I can make out each instrument with no fatigue or noise.

Noise floor is really low so I can listen to the T20’s at lower volumes and get fantastic results which is something most of my other IEM’s struggle with. Get a good seal and paired with the low noise floor and you’re golden!

Bass:

Deep, rich, low, clinically precise bass.
I really can’t put it any better. It’s not often that I hear a pair of IEM’s or headphones for that matter that go low and deep while keeping control and sounding accurate.
The T20’s maintain good separation and pace even at the low end of the spectrum.

Mids:

Luxurious, airy, smooth, extended.
The T20’s boast a lovely midrange that isn’t over extended or harsh.
I don’t like a lot of midrange but I’m beginning to find with certain IEM’s or headphones that I like a fair bit of midrange if it’s delivered perfectly. Yeh I’m a touch OCD about these things sometimes. And oh do the T20’s deliver!

Highs:

Razor sharp, accurate, fast and agile.
The highs take point. Every high hat hit, even the softest brush,
Percussion instruments, strings and brass all come at you with a fast and accurate energy that is quite simply the tip of the sword of the T20’s sonic abilities.

Wired VS Wireless:

I didn’t notice much of a difference between wired or wireless use of the T20’s.
Obviously using them wirelessly you’re limited in power output. However saying that, the SecureFlex neckband delivers a solid connection and sound. I don’t find the need to crank the volume right up when using it.
As an extra I tried these IEM’s out with one of my custom balanced cables on both my AK70 and powered from my iBasso Pelican PB2 balanced amplifier and I heard a significant tightening up and boost in all areas of their sound quality.

Recommendations and summery:

Go out and buy these now! Whether you’re a veteran and have a fortune to throw around or you’re new to high end audio and are looking for a nice pair of entry level IEM’s.

RHA have knocked it out of the ball park.
The T20’s have astonished me with their level of craftsmanship, tuning, design and bang for your buck.
I expected them to be good and sound decent.
I did not expect them to blow me away the way in which they have.
Until something else comes along, out of all the IEM’s I have owned or sampled in this price range the T20’s have taken the top spot in my sub £300 list of favourites.

I have tried and I mean tried really hard to find something about the T20’s to dislike or be annoyed at. And I can’t.
There is no pros & cons list to see here.

At £199.95, quite simply, they are a steal.

Thank you Lorna & RHA for sending me out such a magnificent product and for your patience.
This was my first experience with an RHA product and I will most definitely be returning to them in the future!

As always, thanks for reading folks.

Paul.




Meze Audio 99 Classic Review.

Disclaimer:

I have not been paid or sponsored by Meze Audio for this review.
The views in this publication are unbiased and my own.

Alexandra and Meze kindly sent these in for review and the currently sell for £278.30.

Review gear:

Samsung Galaxy Note Ten+ running Spotify premium & foobar2000.
Audioquest Dragonfly Black V1.5.
Astell & Kern AK70. ( Single ended )
Macbook Air running Spotify premium & Audirvana Pro.
Teac HA-P50 DAC/Amp.

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Packaging:

These came in the same packaging as the 99 Neo’s did, All be it with different imagery for the Classics. The packaging is basic but well done and protective. The box has a magnetic lid that stays shut in place for easy storage.

What’s in the box & Accessories:

Inside the box you will find the Classics encased in a decent hard-case. Inside said hard-case you will find a zip up pouch that houses the cables.
You will also find any documentation and a Meze Audio sticker to add to your collection. I stick mine to my fridge!


Specs:

  • Transducer size: 40mm
  • Frequency response: 15Hz – 25KHz
  • Sensitivity: 103dB at 1KHz, 1mW
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm
  • Rated input power: 30mW
  • Maximum input power: 50mW
  • Detachable Kevlar OFC cable
  • Plug: 3.5mm gold plated
  • Weight: 260 gr (9.2 ounces) without cables
  • Ear-cups: walnut wood
  • Ear-pads: PU Leather

Build:

As I have come to expect from Meze Audio the 99 Classic’s are build with the most exquisite craftsmanship and premium materials.
CNC carved walnut ear cups, cast zinc alloy hardware with electroplated coating, stamped manganese spring steel headband.
Ear-pads and headband cover made from a very soft and luxurious feeling PU Leather.
The cables are high quality and as well as being made to last and sound great, they look great too!
One of my pet peeves when it comes to headphones is a brand making a stunning headphone then making a cable that feels and looks like an afterthought. A lot can be learned here from Meze.
And Meze Audio state that the 99 Classics are serviceable and built to last. A comforting thought and an example of their fantastic customer care.
The Classics exude premium quality and a solid build that I have sometimes not experienced with more expensive items. Meze have their eye on the ball when it comes to design and quality control and I applaud them for it.

Setup:

Not much to see here.
Meze headphones come with detachable cables which are clearly labeled left and right.
Just plug them in and start listening.

Comfort:

As a result of the love and care that goes into the design of Meze’s products I have so far found that they are some of the more comfortable headphones and in-ears that I have worn.
The ear pads don’t get all sticky after hours of use, even on a hot day like today.
Clamping force is just in that sweet spot of not being too strong or too weak. Once they’re on and you’ve settled into a good two hour long listening session, you’ll hardly notice they’re there. I wore these up to 4 hours with no discomfort or chaffing of any kind. Not that I expected any to begin with.
The cables although strong and well made are very light so don’t pull on the headphones in any way which just adds to the already great comfort levels.
I will add for the record that the Neos are exactly the same in this regard so if you’re looking at them then be reassured the build quality and comfort levels will be the same as the Classics. Please note I do like to tweak my gear so I have a different pair of ear pads on the Neo’s and not the stock items.
Also you can see Meze Audio balanced cable upgrades. These will be in an upcoming review!

Soundstage and imaging:

In my opinion the soundstage is spacious. Instrument separation is excellent with positioning being clear and concise.

Bass:

The Classics surprised me with the weight and depth of bass they produce.
They present you with a fast but deep bass that works well with various genres, however I found EDM and Metal stood out here receiving the largest benefits.

Mids:

I noticed a dip in the mids. Not so much a V shape in my mind but a slight recession of midrange. However the midrange still manages to sound airy and good with vocals.
I feel with a little tweak in EQ settings and listeners will have no issue getting it dialled in.

Highs:

Beautiful highs with a crisp and speedy accuracy.

Recommendation and summary:

I have a few other headphones that sit around this price point and I will say that the Classics are on par with all of them in sound characteristics and performance. They do have one edge over the others in the bass department with more depth and punch.
As for build and cosmetics the Classics are in a league of their own against the other cans I have in that budget range.
They are quite simply a beauty upon the eyes, with an elegance that so far I have only experienced with Meze Audio products.
These are a stunning pair of headphones in sound, comfort, looks and build and they are a testament to Meze Audio’s excellence in design.
If you want to feel like a customer that is being thought of every step of the way from the drawing pad through to customer care you can’t go wrong here.
They suit almost every genre of music I played through them and perform especially well when listening to Dance music or Metal.
I am giving the Meze Audio 99 Classics The Audiophile Cafe’s 5 star rating and couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

You can follow the link here to take a look for yourself.
https://mezeaudio.eu/collections/all/products/meze-99-classics-walnut-gold-wood-headphones

Thank you Alexandra and Meze yet again for sending me out this review item. As always, It’s been a pleasure.

And thank you to my readers for taking a look at my latest review!

Thanks and as always folks, Stay safe.

Paul.

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