Hi-Fi+

  1. Questyle Audio Engineering CMA600i headphone amp/preamp/DAC

    More than many manufacturers of high-end audio electronics, Questyle is an engineering-driven firm led by the talented audio technologist Wang Fengshuo (whose anglicised name is Jason Wang). Thus far, Mr Wang’s greatest single contribution to music arguably involves his evolutionary development and refinement of ‘Current Mode Amplification’ (as opposed to the far more commonly seen voltage mode amplification)—a circuit topology that Questyle applies in personal audio devices and other audio components both large and small. Two good examples would be the firm’s excellent QP1r digital audio player reviewed in Hi‑Fi+ issue 129 and the spectacular, award-winning, four-chassis Gold Series reference...

  2. Copland DAC215 headphone DAC/amplifier

    There are two distinct avenues for headphone amplification today – either buying a product from a brand with a well-established reputation for making headphone-based products, or from a brand that makes traditional two-channel audio that has ‘branched out’. Until recently, the former option was the more alluring, because it almost seemed as if long-standing audiophile companies were paying lip service to headphones. However, some of the more switched on traditional audio brands (pun – but not oxymoron – intended) have started producing products in the headphone ‘space’ every bit as well designed and fit for purpose as they do for...

  3. Base Audio Reflex G7 headphones

    The headphone market is in a constant state of flux. The old-school ‘big guns’ (Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Sony) have been challenged, first by Beats, and more recently by smaller start-ups with maybe just one or two products targeted at a very specific market. So it is with Base Audio and its Reflex G7 headphones, one of just two designs (the other being a set of extremely affordable G8 earphones) in the comparatively new brand’s line-up. Reflex G7 was designed from the outset to be an affordable, well-made, semi-open-backed headphone design, using a lot of polished aluminium in the ear cup and...

  4. Music First Audio Classic Headphone Preamplifier

    Music First Audio is a British company best known for making a range of high-performance passive magnetic preamplifiers. It has recently branched out to make phono stages with active gain stages. The new Classic Headphone Preamplifier shows the company is adding more powered devices to its line. The name says it all. This is Music First Audio’s popular Classic Preamplifier (which has been in production for the last 14 years) with the addition of a small, externally powered headphone amplifier. In fact, it’s essentially that long-standing Classic with the addition of Music First Audio’s dinky little Phone Box (available in...

  5. HiFiMAN HE1000 V2 and Edition X V2 planar magnetic headphones

    Long term Hi-Fi+ readers know that we hold several of the top-tier planar magnetic headphones from the Chinese firm HiFiMAN in very high regard—most notably the flagship HE 1000 (reviewed in issue 126 and recipient of last year’s Hi-Fi+ Cost-no-Object Headphone of the Year award) and the second-from-the-top Edition X model (reviewed in issue 137). But great though both models were and are, the fact is that development never ceases in the fast-paced world of high-end headphones so that new and improved ‘V2’ models have now come along to replace the original HE1000 and Edition X headphones. Naturally, these developments...

  6. Arcam rHead headphone amplifier

    The audio business is a bit creepy: it suffers from mission creep and price creep. Brands start out with good intent and a fine product at a fair price, but then slowly begin to add more devices to the basic design, and the price begins to rise accordingly. In its 40 years, Arcam has resisted these temptations better than most, and its rSeries components typify this pared-down, no-nonsense approach to audio design. The rHead (pronounced ‘arhead’, not ‘aah… head’, as the latter can get you into trouble in the wrong places) is a standalone headphone amplifier, and an obvious visual...

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