The last Shozy Zero I have to gift. 

I bought about five of them a year ago to give as presents to friends as I liked them very much, and thought they were perfect to share with budding audiophiles or just as a gift and a sonic surprise to the casual listener.

 am gifting this set to a friend who does a lot of volunteer work in his community and requires some earphones.

The selection process has been quite strict. :)

 I still have my pair of course.


The iBasso CB02 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter sits very flush at both ends. 

(iBasso DX200 and Amp 5 module, and the 2.5mm balanced cable).

Nice, clear, transparent and without coloration. 












FiiO X7ii - low gain. 

Red/blue earbud covers.

Very balanced sound overall, no particular region seems over emphasized.
Vocals are rich and full bodied. Slightly forward.
Bass is deep, fast and tight.
Mids are syrupy and smooth.
Highs are clear, but aren’t a main focus. Guitars and cymbals sound realistic.

The Kinera earbuds respond well to volume and stay controlled.

Instrument separation is satisfying.

Soundstage is wide, deep and with some height.

There is naturalness and liquidity to them.


iBasso DX200, Amp module 5.

Low gain. 

Red/Blue earbud covers.

Overall quite natural and smooth as with the FiiO X7ii.

They have fairly fast response with a tad of sub bass lingering at times (need more burn in perhaps).

Mids are lusciously lush.

Highs are more ethereal with the Amp 5 in particular. And afford the sense of more separation and space between the various instruments.

High gain.

I could definitely hear more improvement straight away. More control and definition especially in the sub bass and bass regions. More tighter and responsive.

Once again the sound stage is wide with depth, some height (less than the depth) bass at the back of the head and vocals mainly central.

Instrument placement is presented well.


Very enjoyable, I would like to swap to Amp 1 for another test, or move onto the Opus#2 but I am quite enjoying listening to the Led Zeppelin III album.

Exquisite. 

As a recent earbud convert I still do prefer IEMs for various reasons, especially for my commute where music leakage isn’t approved of by my fellow travelers.


Opus#2

Gain high. The earbuds require the power.

Red/Blue earbud covers.

Overall a little thicker in sound in  comparison to the previous DX200 with the natural and sweet highs of Amp 5. 

Adjusting my ears...

Once again the sound stage and vocals are similar as on the other daps as expected.

The Opus#2 pairing isn’t my favorite so far.
I think perhaps the Opus#3 might be a better match.

A little too thick in the bass and mixing with the lower mids at times.


The buds are generally quite uniform across the different daps which is a good sign to me.
Being dynamic drivers they are relativity impervious to various changes of output impedance.
The daps used are from under 1ohm to 2ohm OI.

Luckily I am am sick in bed and have a box of daps next to my bed....

Opus#3

Gain High.

Red/Blue earbud covers.

Similar to the afore mentioned Opus#2 but closer to the FiiO X7ii with a general clarity, fast response and excellent separation overall.

The Burr Brown dac is a great match for these If one likes that transparent, airy sound.

Sound stage still wider than depth, but with a bit more head room than the other daps. 

Bear in mind I am shuffling, casually listening and not applying the usual SPL meter or headphone switch box.

Switching back to the DX200 briefly on the same track and now using a SPL meter to match volumes there is definite improvement and upwards scalability with the Kinera earbuds.

There is more control and clarity at higher volumes with the DX200. 



Echobox Explorer X1.

Red/Blue earbud covers.

UAPP app

A delicious pairing.
Seems to be a sweet spot in terms of matchability. Enough power without maxing the volume and maintaining control overall.

A nice spacious, holographic sound.
Rich without over doing it.
Separation is excellent.
Imaging is great. Placement of instruments is fairly accurate.
Sound stage is large and satisfying as in the other daps, not as extended as with say the Campfire Audio Andromeda but that is to be expected.


Shanling M3s 

Red/Blue earbud covers.

(I just got this dap and since I had been using all touchscreens so far I tried to do the same, M3s is not that kind of UI).  :)

Similar to the Opus#2 in that certain thickness to the low end.

But the M3s have just enough clarity and separation where needed, such as Radioheads ‘Paranoid Android’. 

Best paired at lower volumes.


Overall I found the Kinera Limited Edition and experimental earbud to be pleasing to my ears.

Comfort is excellent, speaking as one who usually has the earbuds not properly fitted unless I attach some inner ear hooks.

I do hope Kinera continue to pursue this line of development as someone at Kinera has a good ear for what makes a decent earbud.

Kinera Ltd Edition: Natural, smooth, deep and rich with a detailed clarity, good imaging and a decent satisfying sound stage.


Thank you to Kinera for sending their earbuds to Head pie for feedback and impressions.








iBasso DX200 and the five amp modules so far. Plus iBasso adapter cables.

HiFace by M2tech - A juicy Italian DAC
-review by Ta-ke


My experience with M2tech products are from the audio shows, where their larger builds always look elegant in style and there is a feeling the brand always design gears in pico size, which actually fits the local lifestyle here in Asia.
Located in Pisa, Italy - it makes me curious what their other products do, and that's why I messaged our admin expatinjapan and had him loan me the formerly reviewed HiFace Dac- a DAC that packs in high specs in a very compact housing.

Hi-Face was originally reviewed on Head pie here:
https://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/06/m2tech-hiface-24384-usb-dac-review.html


The first glance at the HiFace DAC: is it..... the same as the Head pie color scheme? Yes it is! The refreshing orange color definitely adds some marks to our impression ratings. 
The casing, as you can see, is quite a bit longer than any thumb drive you have seen. However the overall weight is very light and it isn't fragile at all. 
According to some online info the DAC is packed with dual clocks and a PCM5102 chipset from Burrbrown which supports 32/384 decoding, definitely not an outdated spec till now.


The packaging is very simple, the unit fits in a small paper box and additional info can be found on web. 
A driver is required for hi-res replay on PC and i have it pre installed, it could be easily found on the official site and allows tweaks on buffer size, for Macs it requires no driver, simply plug and play. 
If you are new to such controls, smaller buffer size is always preferable and you have to adjust it till you hear no distortion.

My sound impressions are based on my Macbook pro and desktop PC.

Not surprisingly the unit sounds quite clean and neutral alike its bigger brothers,
treble is controlled and the bass is dynamic and not shy, the output is strong and you could feel the power. 
There is little hiss on both my systems and if you bring it out to work and pair with small cans/ IEMs that are not too sensitive, the noise level should be forgiven. 
Driving power is definitely higher than expected from a USB powered device however the highs seems a bit harsh to me on the Ocharaku, it sounds better on my old GR07 with a more neutral presentation and more treble control. 
I have been switching between tracks and the unit does sound better on higher resolution recordings, some 32bit well mastered samples sound very airy and dynamic and there are no glitches playing back.


Moving on to headphone test, I have the JVC mx10 to test.
The output seems to feed the headphone pretty well, it would definitely be better to have a higher driving power but the dac plus a small amp could be the solution. 
Sound is clean and bass quantity is acceptable but there is a little bit too much treble for me, perhaps bassy headphones or smaller headphones will work better. 
I would definitely prefer adding an amplifier to the system but the clarity and quantity of bass is acceptable with the HiFace DAC alone


Overall the HiFace DAC is a fun device to use, it packs in quite a bit of power and would be able to handle high resolution files. The mobility is good and the device with high output is usable at home where you could simply plug it into your home system and link up hifi/small speakers.

The HiFace DAC is currently available for (roughly $200 - $250 USD) and you should try it out shall you be looking for the missing link between your laptops and earphones on the go!


-Ta-ke

About Author: Ta-ke
Loves to find the best pairings for his gear to make them shine, loves photography and tea


General specs (more information to be found on their website).

Hi-End Async 2.0 Audio Class USB 384/32 DAC

Connections
Input 1 x USB A type male
Output 1 x 3.5mm stereo jack socket
I/O

Standard:
Input USB 2.0 Audio Format,

Output stereo analog
Sampling Frequency
44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4khZ, 192kHz, 352.8kHz, 384kHz

Resolution
16 up to 32 bit

Output voltage:
2.0Vrms @10kOhms
Frequency response:
5-22kHz (fs=44.1kHz)
5-150kHz (fs=384kHz)
THD+N:
112dB (@ 1kHz, A-weighted)

Dimensions:
8.8(d) x 1.4(h) x 2(w)


Power Supply:
5V DC from USB bus

Temperature:
0°C to 70°C

Weight:
20gr approx.

DETAILS
Highest quality stereo analog audio up to 384kHz/32bit available on your PC, Mac, Linux computer, iPad or Android tablet.
2.0Vrms line output level, 112dB THD+N.
Very low jitter oscillators, asynchronous 2.0 Audio Class USB.
Also drives most medium- or high-impedance headphones.
Highest value-for-money.

Compact size (2x1.4x8.8cm) with hi-end performance hiFace DAC has been conceived to make hi-end equipment performance at hand to budget-conscious audiophiles, without any compromise. One hiFace DAC and a laptop, Mac Mini or even an iPad make for a hi-end music file source at the cost of a middle range digital interconnect.

The hiFace DAC includes all necessary features to be the perfect DAC for all kind of hi-fi systems: asynchronous data transfer mode on USB 2.0, compliancy to USB 2.0 Audio Class (no drivers needed for MacOS, IOS, Linux and Android), very low phase noise oscillators and last-generation conversion IC capable of 384kHz and 32 bits.

Windows users will enjoy it in Direct Sound, Kernel Streaming, WASAPI and ASIO (depending on the OS version), while Mac users will be able to take advantage from Integer mode and Direct mode.
While the hiFace DAC output is purposely designed to give its best with amplifiers’ and preamplifiers’ line level inputs, it may also be used to drive medium- and high-impedance headphones: try it with iPhone’s in-ear headphones.