Written by: JRA
The Aune has been playing music none stop since I got the unit. I feel like I can now post a quick review.
So I decided to sell my Musical Fidelity X-Can and decided to purchase one of a popular USB headphone amp from China thru Ebay. Here is what I got.
AUNE Mini Headphone USB DAC
*Headphone amplifier built-in.
*USB controller chip Burr-Brown PCM2707.
*Digital input receiver chip DIR9001 with
(This chip has better sound quality than the popular CS8412/4/6 commonly used in other DACs. It can play sound with much more detail and accuracy.)
*Main DAC chip is Burr-Brown PCM1793 with
24bit/192kHz Sampling Advanced Segment Audio Stereo DAC
*Dynamic Range: 113 dB and THD+N: 0.001%
*8x Oversampling Digital Filter
*OPAMP chip: Burr-Brown OPA2134
*Headphone AMP: Burr-Brown OPA2604+TIP41C*2+TIP42C*2 (Referencing the SOLO headphone amplifier)
*Digital Coaxial/USB input, RCAx2/6.35mm stereo analog output.
As far as internal components go, everything looked too good to be true. But I’d decided to pull the trigger anyway. What do I have to lose, really?
The unit arrived from China well packed and everything seem to be in place. No external abuse by the carriers. The only problem was the power supply it came with. The box came with a cheap step-down converter. The output was supposed to be 12V, but it had actually putout 20V instead. Couple of scary sparks and nothing more.
With a proper PS, everything sounds great so far.
It will be interesting to see if it’ll compete with a unit priced at 3 to 4 time more.
iTunes Apple Lossless=>USB (cheap 15′)=>Aune=>Tube integrated amp=> Tyler Acoustics Reference Monitor
I really like the combina\tion of this DAC and my setup. The Marantz SA8001 sounds sloppy in the current setup, but the added clarity and speed from the DAC really opens up the sound stage thru tube integrated amp. Not big or wide sound, just sounds effortless. When the signal is buffered thru my tube integrated, music is very enjoyable. I don’t even hear digital glare buffered or tamed thru my tube integrated. Currently my records are collecting dust…
iTunes Apple Lossless=>USB (cheap 15′)=>Aune=>ATH-AD1000
The digital glare is overwhelming for my 30 year old ears, and I don’t care to listen for more than 30 minutes. What I usually do now is to decrease the treble output on iTune’s equalizer setting by 2-3 decibles. Bass control and depth is very good. Midrange is okay but still shows a bit of digital glare. I’ve read reports on how OPA2604 can pierce ears, but have also read how 2604 sounds more analog than 2134. I’m not sure what to believe… except for my ears. I might try swapping out OPA2604 for OPA2134 and see what happens. I defintely need warmth of tubes from the headphone amp.
Marantz SA8001=> Digital Coax=>Aune=>EAR 834 integrated amp=>Tyler Acoustics Reference Monitor
The output level is fixed so the volume control is only good for heaphones when plugged in. This really helped me compare the RBCD capability between the Marantz and Aune MiniHeadamp DAC. When switched from the Marantz to the Aune, the overall sound became focused. Music is no longer sloppy and it truly reminds me of the importance of synergy. I’m sure the Marantz is a great unit and works great for others, but it just doesn’t work out in my setup. I didn’t feel the need to compare the Marantz as a transport. Currrently, the only reason why I have the Marantz is it’s SACD function…., but the Marantz offers slightly bigger sound stage.
The Aune performs well as a DAC.
Marantz SA8001=>Analog Interconnect=>Aune=>ATH-AD1000
Aune sounds much more authoritative than the Marantz’s headphone amp. Marantz sounds a tad bit warmer, but the sound is somewhat fuzzy. Does JRC 2114D Opamp inside of the Marantz has anything to do with it?
But as far as its listenability goes, I would still prefer the sound of Marantz’s headphone amp. Looks like I need to get a IC puller and a handful of Opamps. Overall sound is much warmer than the 2nd combination (iTunes=>iTunes=>Aune=>ATH AD1000) with a hit of digital glare.
TT=>VTL TP-2.5=>Analog Interconnect=>Aune=>ATH-AD1000
I can listen to this setup all Day and Night. If any of the Hybrid Integrated amp sounded this good, I wouldn’t regret to replace my EAR integrated amp. It has the warmth and forgiveness of vacuum tubes, but the overall sound has strong grip of SS amp.
* I just simply love tubes.
* As always, Synergy is important.
* The Aune is simply too cheap for what it offers, and I’m keeping the unit unless I make major changes to my setup. Again, Synergy is very important.
* Opamps need to be swapped for upcoming business trips.
*It’s amp may be better suited for other headphones such as the Sennheiser HD-650.
Where to buy? On ebay or google search “Aune Mini Headphone DAC”. You’ll find something