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Viva Amps ! Audeze Phones ! Ifi Nano & Micro !


The Nano-Micro duet.

The ACA club get together tonight was at AudioSoul, listening to Viva Audio amp for headphones and the Viva amp for speakers. There was also a very large selection of headphones, but the most important product of all was the ifi Nano, with the Micro usb dac set up, which to me was second ïn show” önly because of the infinitely surprising well balanced setup from Viva and the Audeze line headphones to accompany the system.






Yes, this is a system. No doubt, this is an entire system in and by itself. A statement if nothing else. This very large headphone amplifier was superb and crystal clear while the VIVA Egoista 845 as it is dubbed is also beautiful when seeing it live.

The Living voice speakers with the Viva amp also showed its potential as a single ended 18 watt integrated player which sounded indisputably amazing on such a small speaker. I could only wonder what it would sound like on a Duo or Trio, or for that matter any horn loaded speaker of high end stature.

That is all I will say about the outstanding Viva line set up.
I want to turn your attention to the ifi micro and nano usb dac set up. These two siblings, one smaller than the other play exceptionally well for a tempered headphone listener who has the knowledge and memory to know what a good headphone usb dac sounds like. The difference here is that the cost is 189 euro for the nano and the amazing micro for 499 euro. There is nothing that I have heard that can play as well or come close to it under the 1500 euro mark. Maybe even more. I have a Samsung S3 which I use as a test smart phone for music. I would like to add that I use this telephone only because it is a cheap, three year old model which does not have the abilities or dac of the Samsung note 3 or 4. It sounds very old, and in reality, is what you get with most phones when it comes to sound. Unless you get the Beats Audio setup software and chip included on some phones.






The test:

Despite the drawbacks of the phones ability to reproduce music at any high quality level, the transformation when using the nano is very impressive indeed. Sure, you have heard this before and you want to know if its worth the money and if it will be exceptional, well, let me cut to the chase and say clearly it is NOT. It is for 99% of the people who want to have a much better audio experience than that of anything like it in the market, but it simply isn’t a true high end experience. The Micro though, the bigger sibling though, IS!

If I were to describe the difference in abilities between the two it would be another two pages longer than what I am taking up now, so when you have the time you can check it on the site directly. The real question is, how they made such a high end usb dac play so well with so little money. Some will say that 499 euro is a lot, but not when they understand the technology behind it. It not only has a MUCH higher output which means it can play anything you throw at it but it can play it loud and gently, with techie numbers I dare not get into to.

Even when listening to the Sennheiser Momentums, which I had with me during the test, I could hear things which were simply very close to perfect. It is a machine to reckon with no matter the cost other usb dacs are. This micro is anything but micro, but only in size. It is battery operated and can even charge your phone while you’re at it.

Beware though. Your front end must also be good if you are to explore and use what the micro can do. It is not going to make a Samsung S3 sound like a different phone, but rather it kills the bad points and tries its best to make it sound average. So take that into mind when you get this piece of technology. If you have a good front end you are going to be in for a proper listening session which makes my Momentums, (a cost of 200 euro only) sound like you are listening to music played in a room. When compared to other similar products which sound like they are headphones and the speakers are on your ears. This distinction, of fooling you into thinking you are listening in a room was so evident in my test, that my son and wife were immediate to notice it and choose it over the nano.






To conclude.

Using a good front end, the micro is something that you will buy once in your lifetime and probably never need anything else. If you include using good headphones, you are set for an experience beyond what any essence a few words can describe.
Kudo’s to the micro and God bless the micro for those who are not as crazy as I am and want the ultimate in their everyday life and sound, but I am saving up for the micro.
We only live once, and for 499 euro, I won’t need to go through another lifetime searching for the absolute in the headphone usb dac territory.

By Dr.Tony Pothitos

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