Shanling M3s with Campfire Audio Vega and Astral Acoustics Taurus cable.

Audirect `Whistle` DAC/Amp review
A. 'Reddog' Jones

I recently had the pleasure to review AudioDirect’s Whistle, an amazing dac/ amp. 

The Whistle, is small, about one to one and a half inches or the size of my right pinky. 
The Whistle is made of aluminum and comes in a nice red color. One end of the Whistle has a micro USB port and the other end has a 3.5 mm port for ones headphones and car speakers. 
I really like the Whistle because it is so small and takes up little space in my headphone bag. 

This plucky little dac/ amp is fantastic, it allows my tablets and cell phone to play high definition PCM and DSD music files. There are times when I like to pace back and forth like a mad man and it is very nice to hook up the diminutive whistle to my tablet or cell phone and listen to great music. 

I do love My Questyle QP1R Dap and Chord Hugo 2 DAC/ Amp but sometimes its a drag to hook them up. I must turn the DAP on then hook it up to the Hugo 2 and then tuck them away into my bag. Sometimes its just too much hassle for a quick jaunt down the street. But with the whistle I simply hook it up to my iPad or cell phone, and get lost into the moment of musical bliss all the faster.

And the the best thing about AudioDirects - Whistle, is how bloody nice it sounds, especially compared to the DAC chip that comes with the iPad or cell phone. 
The sound is detailed and natural with good resolution. The bass is pretty balanced and does not muddy up the mids. And the mids are detailed, smooth, with a touch of edge. The treble is pretty good, with just a touch of sibilance, and only when I was listening to classical music. The sound stage is average. I was pleasantly surprised at how much better my iPad sounded, with just the Whistle. Furthermore the Whistle has a nice amp that compliments the DAP being used. I did not need to turn up the volume on my tablet/ cell phone as high to make my various IEM’s and cans sing.

I used the following IEM’s with the Whistle, the Audeze iSine 20 and Audeze LCD i4. Both of these IEM’s sounded nice driven by the Whistle, although I felt the iSine 20 sounded better. 
One must use a good amp to get the best performance out of the i4’s. 

I used following headphones with the Whistle: 1) Meze 99 Classic, 2) Oppo pm-3, 3) MrSpeakers Aeon closed back, 4) Audio-technica ath-m50x . 
And out of all these headphones, driven by the Whistle, I felt the Meze 99 Classics sounded the best. However MrSpeakers Aeon closed back came in real close. I feel the Aeon’s performance improves with a stronger amp. 
But all of these headphones sounded quite nice driven by the Whistle.

AudioDirect has created a great piece of audio equipment. The plucky Whistle is a very nice sounding DAC /AMP, that allows ones Ipad and Cell phone to play high resolution files. The small, unitarian design, makes it easy for anyone to turn their cell phone/ tables into a high resolution player. I loved how portable the Whistle is and how I could get caught up into the moment, easier, at times with the sweet Whistle, in my bag.

The Audio D

Some brief notes and impressions.

Hibiki SE is good. 
It has that Shozy house sound. 
Deep overall, solid bass, yet fairly even overall as typical of a single DD. Lows more present than the mids.
Fast response. 
Medium sound stage. 
Nice meaty textured sub bass. 
More opened up than the original Hibiki, has more extension.
If you have experienced the zero and original hibiki you will enjoy the refinement the special edition brings to the table.

Here are some of my basic findings from intermittently picking up and listening to the Cascade whilst I leave it to get the recommended hours.

They have certainly improved with time.

The unboxing photos were done last Friday and I gave them a brief listen.

With the iBasso DX200/amp 1.

Friday afternoon: A little rough around the edges soundwise. A bit rusty and crusty. Like they were trying to perform but were restricted.

Saturday morning: still a few rough edges but not as prevalent.

Saturday afternoon/24 hours: Got that Vega feeling.

Sunday/ 48 hours or so: Still got that Vega sense about them.

Monday, midday/ approaching 75 hours: Symphonic.

Tuesday morning: combination of Vega and Andromeda.

Tuesday afternoon/ 100 hours: Depth and width. Vocals and music more balanced. 
Great layering and sound stage.

With Opus#1S - because I thought I should break/burn both in.
(Combo breaker- shoulda stuck to DX200 for consistancy in my findings- apologies)

Wednesday evening/124 hours: Smoother, deeper, exquisite.
Earpads need breaking in also for a decent seal.
Lovely vocal representation.
Bass at times still a bit slow and lingering. 
Hits deep (whatever that means - I had a cold and fever that evening and today).

Back to iBasso DX200/amp1

Thursday/today/in bed with a cold/150 hours: Overall the Cascade has tightened up considerably. Bass is faster and tamed.
Track reproduction is accurate and leans towards a reference sound.
Sound stage is more noticably expansive and instruments well placed.
Vocals centered well within ones skull.
Even though the pads havent been properly broken in the fit is better.

Quite stunning.