In the recent months, the local DIY scene have been somehow very active with many new experimental products surfacing over Facebook. This particular 2 piece headphone amplifier hails from a state all the way from north of Malaysia, Kedah Darul Aman. The DIY-er named Azrul passed the unit to another fellow headphone enthusiast, Shaiful here in KL. After Shaiful had his fun, Azrul and Shaiful offered me to have a review on this unit. While I have been taking a back seat on the commercial hifi scene due to work and personal commitment and also slandering from self proclaimed 'gurus', I just cant say no to a local brew. Its good to know there are still people who appreciate this free of charge hifi community effort and send their stuff for reviews.
THE SPECIFICATION and BUILT
The unit offers the following:
- Impedance - 8 to 600 ohms
- Output power - 2.2 W (32 ohm)
- Frequency response - 10 Hz to 30 kHz
- Preamp stage - LM49720
It comes in a 2 box package, one being the power supply unit. The PSU is equipped with standard IEC plug pin which is a preference of mine over the typical 12 V plugs. The PSU is connected to the volume pot box via an XLR pin. The main unit offers only a pair of RCA stereo input.
Happy to report that the volume pot does not carry any noise when being operated. There is also no humming in the back ground at all even at zero volume.
The fascia is simple with cool green LED to indicate power is on. The On/Off switch is very industrial and the overall chassis, I believe is made of light wood.
Both of the unit are quite light and and does not run hot, hence why I decided to just place it on my phono stage and Oppo headphone amp. Cute little units they are. Reminded me of Tivoli Audio designs.
The headphone out however only comes in the mini jack size in whic I had to use an adaptor to connect my Beyerdynamic T1 headphones.
THE TRACK LISTS
- Somewhere Only We Know - Keane (LP)
- Embun - Seach (WAV 44.1)
- Sujud - Ella (WAV 44.1)
- Take Five - Dave Brubeck (DSD 2.8 MHz)
- Way Down Deep - Jennifer Wearnes (DSD 2.8 MHz)
With Keane's Somewhere Only We Know, those micro details in the vinyl playback can be heard quite distinctly. It gives out quite an honest and clean sound. No emphasis on particular frequency. At times, I do feel that it could benefit with a little bit more of bass. The overall mellowness of the track was delivered with high emotions involved. One of the more engaging experience with the Solid 1.
This track by Search latest album, Embun is my favourite track of the album. So I thought of testing this track with the Solid 1 to see whether I get more enjoyment with the sound quality. The Solid 1 did exactly what it does best.... Deliver an honest sound. It just further confirmed that somehow, the production of this album emphasis more on the lower frequency. Amy's vocal remained to drown into the ferocious play of guitar and drums. Pae's drum is quite dominant and the ferocious guitar of Kid and Din sounds very raw. This defines the album identity which the Solid 1 embraces it.
Another new album by the local was by Ella, Ratu Rock of Malaysia. entitled Peace.Love.Rindu. The track Sujud gave me another perspective how beautiful a rock song can sound. Through the Solid 1, Ella's vocal was clear and the clarity of each of the instrument was quite engaging. Again, I could do with a little bit more bass kick for that additional rock adrenalin. But I must say this was definitely the highlight of my session.
I still yearn to get a little bit more bass from the Solid 1, so I put on Dave Brubeck's Take Five with the hope to experience that slamming double bass. While the wind instrument was delivered with lots of liveliness, the bass somehow is still a little bit tame. The percussion sounded quite sharp on the snare with not much slamming on the tom toms. Its not easy I guess to deliver the this Hi-Res track with the dynamics that is expected.
I had no choice but to bring out the big gun.... Way Down Deep by Jennifer Wearnes. Now this is what we are talking about. The bass that I want is there. The Solid 1 delivered this track to almost perfection to my ears. Even the little background voices sounded deep with emotion and still maintain the clarity that I adore from the is unit. No sign of bloating nor fatigue. I LIKE.
The term Solid in Solid 1 is more referring to how solid the sound quality can be, given the right headphones and the right source. Its not really referring to the physical built of the unit. Its strength lies in delivering an honest, no frill, high clarity sound. Good source, good headphones and you will be set. Having more bass is just a personal preference of mine but as shown with the last track above, given the right source, voila I still get to enjoy the bass. All and all, it is quite an all rounder performer. It can belt out rock, jazz and vocal with no sign of struggle on my Beyerdynamic T1.
However, while its constructed neatly, there could be some improvement. I do not know the plan for the Azrul whether this is for personal use only or to be commercialised, but if its for the latter, the Solid 1 is recommended to include a 635 mm output jack. I also not very fond of these mini footers to only be on the front side of the unit.I prefer it to be levelled on all four footers.
All the best to Azrul and thanks for sending me the unit via Shaiful.