I think we’ll jump straight in with this one.
My first foray into portable hi fi was a “Chu-Moy” headphone amp in an Altoids tin. We’ve all been there, Well most of us have. It makes your iPod or Walkman sound brilliant and brings your headphones to life!
But it never lasts long. That bug we all know and have takes hold and soon you find yourself wanting more.
I already had a pair of Sennheiser HD25’s which really don’t need an amp at all, But at the time I was young and naive and wanted all the portable hi fi shiney goodies.
So I scrimped and saved and soon after ordered a Graham Slee Voyager.
A simple looking amp in a plastic “project” style box, The only thing that hinted to anything special at this point was the print, The “just right” movement of the volume pot and the construction. It’s definitely not one of the sexier amps out there but you get a sense of good craftsmanship from the get go.
Now my only qualm with the Voyager is this. It takes a 9v battery which is fair enough, However, If there was one thing I would ask Mr Slee to change about this diamond of an amp would be to make it USB rechargeable. It would make my life so much easier. It does have the option of battery, USB or DC power and comes with the power adaptor needed. However as I use this primarily as a portable amp, It’s 99% of the time running on battery power. Graham, If you’re reading this and you ever think about building a Voyager 2, Please include rechargeable capability.
Now did I say Diamond of an amp? Only ONE qualm? Well I did say we were jumping straight in with this blog…
The Graham Slee Voyager is currently my Go-To amp and nothing else in my collection can knock it off it’s spot. Even the iBasso Pelican PB2, Paired with the Boomslang in fully balanced mode can’t get close. The Voyager doesn’t only feel robust but sounds robust to. If I want to listen to my HE400’s I simply switch the “Contour” switch to active & this amplifier drives them with little effort and doesn’t lose quality or power, Where the others just don’t cut it, EVEN in balanced configuration. Rock, EDM, Classical or Opera, It just rolls with it and delivers a clean powerful performance. Noise is not an issue, I can’t hear any hiss or uneven balance. As hard as I try, I just can’t fault this amp.
It is quite simply built like a tank. I have dropped it, Dropped objects on it, Knocked it and so on and I can’t find a scratch let alone a dent on it. If you shake it with no battery in there is no rattle of any form. The screws and switches haven’t worked their way lose over the years and the volume pot still has that “Just right” feel to it.
Simply put, It’s a trusty workhorse.
Who would I recommend it to?
Anyone who wants a rugged portable headphone amplifier that delivers as punchy a sound as the the thing feels in your hand.
I will say if you pair it with an iPod Classic or an iBasso DX80 like I have then as much as it will fit in your pocket, You’re probably going to prefer to have it in a bag of some sort.
Battery life is pretty good. I can get a couple of two to three hour listening sessions out of it before the sound begins to crackle and lose cohesion. Obviously running on USB or DC power is a different kettle of fish and of course there is now the option of using a portable battery pack…. I’m yet to try this.
Bottom Line, It’s a bloody brilliant headphone amp that punches above it’s weight and can take what life throws at it with a grin on it’s face. It’ll take something rather special to de-throne this beauty!