Thanks to Kerry Ko again for this review sample of Firestone Audio Fireye Mini Plus/Also nickname as Chio Tian (60USD) (Which I will just named it as FMP in below entry).
How to feel impressed for a 99USD headphone amplifier when I have already plenty of hundreds and thousands item sitting on my desktop table? I am not saying that I have a lot of expensive audio device, but going from a low end stuff to high end stuffs is a natural upgrading path, but when you owned something that is higher end, usually people will feel reluctant to listen at the lower end stuffs.
Same goes to me, when Kerry told me that there is a new product coming out from Firestone Audio, naturally I am hoping that it will be a successor to the Firestone Audio Bobby or headphone amplifier that will be sitting above the Bobby, but I am not that anticipated when I knew that it was a Fireye Mini Plus, but out from my curiosity and look at the naming also the design, I am interested to give it a test.
Upon unboxing this little thing the packaging and design is really nice, the faceplate is interchangeable and quality is very good as well. In fact it came with 4 stickers which some kind of faces which I personally like, honestly though, without listening to FMP I plugged in the music file and headphone for burning in.
It was until a night after doing some review, I am already tired and going up to my bedroom for getting some rest, I think of the FMP suddenly and take it up together with my Hippo Biscuit music player (which I have reviewed but lately really think that the bass is on the light side and sound dry) and Shure Se425 (Needless to say much, one of my favourite IEM), of course together with the FMP and interconnects from Charleston Cable Company, I listened to some of the track while laying down and quite surprised that I connected to the music without I even know, I enjoy how it really sound.
How is the sound?
First thing I noticed Is how FMP brought out the midrange, overall sound signature is quite full and appealing, something that is rarely happened for a small amp, looking at the spec in their official website, they are using the max 9722 Op amp which is really not anything expensive, my friend told me that this is a quite low end and common op amp in some of the portable device which is although simple, but usually cannot link to good sound quality. Audio quality of FMP definitely is not top-tier or anything very high quality, but it is really quite enjoyable and musical. Bass is acceptable in depth but not quite big in the impact or anything, however turning in the bass boost feature on can improve this problem.
I have actually lugged out some of my similar products to make this comparison, all connected through the 3.5mm cable, and Hippo Biscuit music player as source. I bring in Govibe Minibox (Old), TCG Audio Uskin and T-Box+ to make this simple comparison, played through Soundmagic HP-100 and Red Giant A03, to be honest I prefer the performance of Fireye Mini Plus here, midrange is better and bring up the background closer as well. I like the Govibe Minibox very much previously, but int erm of audio quality, FMP has the edge over here, worth to mention as well FMP has bass boost feature that surely can add more fun to the music listening session. Power wise, it can let my German-Maestro has listening volume but not satisfied the dynamic or any headroom.
I might be too positive on my verdict on FMP, however do keep in mind that FMP is still not anything that has high resolution, or anything really good in the sound quality/remarkable. But for the asking price and some competitors, the performance is respectable in some factor.
I like the fact that FMP is way more simple to function as a headphone amplifier to the portable device such as mobile phones and DAP that are now more lean toward the crowd. Just connect the amp and you are good to go, Firestone Audio claimed that FMP can worked with your earphone remote feature as well, so there should be no problem if you have the earphone for your IOS and Android devices. Would I recommended this simple portable headphone amplifier to you? No if you are looking for a definite audiophile gear but Yes, if you want a good on the go portable headphone amplifier.