Review Work (Headphone Amplifier)

Firestone Audio Fubar HD : The Minibox Combo that Sings!

Firestone Audio Fubar HD arrived in Earmass!

Firestone Audio Fubar HD arrived in Earmass!

Thanks to Kerry Ko for arranging me this review sample of Firestone Audio Fubar HD (360USD).

Fubar HD is a DAC/Amp combo in Firecute series. It is a compact versatile little box that can do highest 24/96through USB input and 24/192 through coaxial input. Fubar HD is in the FireCute series so they will share the same small and cute form factor. If you have following Earmass long enough you will know that we over here are big fans of Amp/DAC box solution, because for us this can save space (One machine only and just use on power plug) and cost (You do not need to buy separate RCA cable ETC).

Description/Design/Ergonomic

As small as Firestone Audio CustomCute

As small as Firestone Audio CustomCute

Just like what other products in FireCute series offered, Fubar HD is small and simple. Fubar HD is a good entry level DAC/Headphone amplifier, input wise Fubar HD supported Coaxial, optical and USB input, also there is a RCA jack that is a input and output in the same jack, this is quite brilliant and space saving.

Rear panel is simple, as you can see, the RCA jack can act as input or output

Rear panel is simple, as you can see, the RCA jack can act as input or output

Firestone Audio

Firestone Audio

Ergonomic wise Fubar HD is very easy to use, you just have to plug in the USB cable and turn on the device, in another words just plug and play. The only problem is you will have to reselect your gain and source setting everytime you turned on the device because Fubar HD does not have memory effect that can memorise your last setting choice, this is not convenience.

6.25mm headphone jack

6.25mm headphone jack, I personally don’t like the purple light indicator, wished it to be in white. Nice volume control!

There is also some inconveniency because you will have to plugged in a PSU for Fubar HD, unlike some desktop DAC/Amp that you can easily power up them using just a USB cord, however it is always better that a better and stable PSU will give you better sound, but I just like the idea of simplicity.

Sound Quality

I have paired Fubar HD with Arce MDAC3/MUA1, Yulong Audio U18 and M2Tech HiFace DAC, tested using German-Maestro GMP400, Hifiman HE400/RE400, Hisound Living, Klipsch X7i/S4 ii/ Image One II, Creative Aurvana Live!, Soundmagic HP-100 and Dunu DN-19 Tai-Chi. Fubar HD have been burned in more than 150 hours.

with CAL!

Sound tuning might be one of the Firestone Audio strongest weapons. First of all, Fubar HD is quite balanced and neutral in audio presentation, it does not really push anything forward or pull anything backward, very slightly towards warm sound signature.

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Soundstage and transparency is very good in this price range, transparent and give good sense of clarity. Music have been blessed by good richness, I will rated Fubar HD is ahead of Audinst HUD-MX2, Yulong Audio U100 and JDS Labs ODAC/Objective 2 combo, also slightly better than the iFi Audio iDAC that I like very much. I personally think that Fubar HD is unique that settled everything (sound) backward, no, it will be more appropriate that I say Fubar HD tend NOT TO bring anything forward by much. This is a good approach, because you can ‘see’ music from a distance. ‘Seeing’ music from a distance (with clarity) is a good thing, this is a decisive factor that determine the timbre of an audio device, meaning that although pushing forward the sound will make you feel like ‘near to the music’ for a while, but after long session listening period, you will know that it will be tiring, but Fubar HD will give you sound that you will appreciate more after you spent more time on it.

1

Now, not pushing the sound forward will caused some issues as well, for example sometimes you will feel the sound is weak (not full nuanced or not clear), however Fubar HD has good sense of clarity and reasonable soundstage, so most of the time the sound is a little bit laid back and spacious, that is what making you stick to the music longer.

This making me thinking back Arce MDAC3 that I just reviewed not too long ago, obviously Fubar HD does not have the ‘Gentle’, Liveliness and wide soundscape of Arce MDAC3, but we are talking about a product that is few times more expensive and less versatile.

Not pushing everything forward.

Not pushing everything forward.

Vocal of Fubar HD is good and clear, treble is good, bass is fast and tight. However, sometimes I do think the sound is not true to life (I should not expect this though in this price range), for example, the song ‘My Love, live’ (Celine Dion) began with crowd clapping, when I played through Fubar HD, the clapping sound seems unreal, however, drums hit with good impact and body, vocal is clear and warm (Slightly). I have tested the Fireye HD with this song (Both using Arce MDAC3 as DAC), I think that Fireye HD headphone amplifier sounded more real than the Fubar HD headphone amp and sounded wider.

beside

Fubar HD is musical, powerful and good sounding little box. I don’t really have anything to complain against the sound, it sounded like a 360USD device and worth the money, for times, it might not sounded as true as the source means to be, it is not it has heavy coloration, just that this is really common for devices in this price range.

Conclusion

Fubar HD

For me, Fubar HD worth the price and performed as the price tag speak. But don’t expect any miracle happened though. If you found out that you get tiring with your headphones/music lately, or you think that you don’t like the way the music has been push forward, you might give Fubar HD a serious audition.

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Just before I forgot, Fubar HD is quite powerful even in the low gain settings, which can powered up the Hifiman HE400 and German-Maestro GMP400 easily.

8 thoughts on “Firestone Audio Fubar HD : The Minibox Combo that Sings!

  1. Pingback: Firestone Audio CustomCute : Cute and Capable DAC! | Earmass

  2. Hi I have been trying to figure this out between the Firestone audio products, and I wanted to ask if you believe as far as a DAC is concerned that the Custom Cute, Fubar HD, and or Fubar 4 Plus is the better when concerning these DACs?

  3. Thank you for that, and I wanted to ask about what you said up above were you saying to you preference and ear you prefer this the Fubar HD compared to the O2/Odac and the IFI ? is it on the some playing field? I am leaning towards the custom cute but the FUbar HD and 4 plus have a more powerful amp than I would have right now. I am wondering if it would be worth it or just buy the Cute and use it with my portable amp until I can afford it. The GoVibe magnum amp and DAC(AD1852) is being sold for about the same price as these so I am kind of indecisive. I need to make a choice though soon, no audio in my pc is awful.

  4. Also, i was reading some reviews on Amazon when looking at the CUstom Pro and I read that people could not get this DAC to work on any Windows past Windows XP… I have Windows 7 and I wanted to make sure I was in the clear. Thanks again.

  5. Hi there, I am looking for a simple DAC just like Custom Cute with only RCA and USB. I have a tube amplifier CAROT ONE and wonder it would be compatible? My laptop is Window XP. Can anyone kindly provide a suggestion. Thank you.

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