Hifiman, a brand that arguably begun the hi-res portable movement. Producing audiophile classics such as Jade, HM-801. It is a brand I first got to know when I was looking for a good amp for my ER4S. The minibox+ was THE amp everyone recommend for my ER4S. I ended up getting the HM-801, God how good times were. I had a brick for a DAP, and my most loved IEM was an intrusive IEM that required to be inserted deep in my ear canal, only milimeters away from my ear-drum. Sure it was not comfortable, but the entire setup cost me less than what some cables cost now days, 1300 AUD is what I paid for that setup. 
Those days were indeed good as I had to face a minor discomfort to afford a good sound, I did not required to sell off my kidneys to get an idea of what "high-end" good sounds cost.

Entered Astell and Kern. As much good they did to the market regarding creating a demand for a product that easy to function, sound good and have GUI that applies to the current decade, they also realised the market is thirsty for what they are offering and they asked for more money with each new release. It begun with AK100 $799, AK120 $1200, AK240 for AUD 2400, you get the idea right?

Slowly the trend spread like wildfire across all other part of our hobby and low and behold it is rare to see a product not costing below 1000 USD. 
I better stop here and make another post about this topic later on. Back to R2R2000 impressions!
R2R2000 is basically what made hm-801 so famous, the infamous PCM-1704. A DAC chip released back in 1998 and remains as one of the all time best sounding chip to date.

Having owned the hm-801 and hm901, I can say R2R2K is nothing like hm-801 sonically and closer to hm-901 but it is much more than them sonically.
What attracted me to R2R2K is its form factor. It is portable; I don't need a bag to carry it around! When I first listen to, I knew there is something special about the sound. Slowly it won me over. R2R2K is my new sonic reference, however not it is not my reference DAP. As a DAP it still has a lot of work to do. For instance, the lack of physical button to change track is annoying. 
I know Hifiman at one point was thinking of marketing the R2R2000 as a pure bluetooth HD streamer, which in my opinion is the best Bluetooth streamer I've ever tried, but if you have a micro-SD slot, we expect it to work.
What stands out the most about R2R2K is its transparency and the most natural bass decay I've ever come across. Lately I've become very sensitive to harshness and how digital delta-sigma DAC chip can sound. With R2R2K I can listen to music for 3-4 hours and never get sound fatigued. Only other source that allows me to have such a long session are my HUGO sources. But they too sound dull in bass compared to R2R2K. Bad recording sound bad on 2K and good recording sound amazing. 

Regarding noise-floor, well 2K has the settings to accommodate for all sort of IEM, but to me there is a sonic difference between the balance 3.5mm TRRS and 4.4mm TRRS out that makes the 3.5mm balance out sound more musical. I find 3.5mm jack blacker in background. 
Battery life for me is no issue, I get 4-5 hours playing mostly 24/96 FLAC. However, the eco-power feature is nowhere to be found. It was removed on the latest FW released. For me 4 hours is plenty, more than enough for my daily commute.

Overall I'm happy with my purchase. It is not a DAP for everyone, but for me sonically it has replaced my LPG and Quloss QA361. QA361 is still my reference DAP, WM1A my DSD DAP and for PCM R2R2K is my sonic reference. It brings me so much joy to have such a sound in such a size format, and despite how arrogant Hifiman is about this DAP, its insane price tag of 2400 USD for a dap that offers so very little features, ignoring all that, and focusing on sound, it is a DAP worthy of reference level status. I hope to see a day where R2R chip come back. Until then I will cherish this dap, and ignore all that it doesn't offer.


















Last year August Sony Japan uncovered 5 new items, two of which belong to the Sony Signature series.
I spare you the marketing jargon of what that family is this is the sub-heading Sony likes to group their expensive "flagship" lineup. 
For more reading about what Signature series sound is please read this article: https://www.sony.co.uk/electronics/audio-signature-series

I always have my eye on Sony IEM lineup. This is because Sony MDR-EX-1000 was my first flagship dynamic IEM and my second most cherished purchased right after my beloved Etymotics ER4S. 
I've owned all the IEM ever since. From the amazing EX-1000, to the head-scratching XBA-4, to the okay sounding A3/N5, to promising XBA-N3, I kept my hopes up. 
I also own the WM1A which I feel worth every cent Sony is asking for. Tried the WM1Z and wanted but couldn't justify the price difference compared to 1A. Tried the DMP-Z1, wanted to take a small bank loan, but sanity own me over. 

How I ended up getting the IER-Z1R is a long story. Maybe not that long, basically I first tried it last year in an audio-show, loved it. Went to Singapore for a holiday and tried to audition it again after rumours that Sony is still trying to fine-tune its sound. I tried it and dislike what I heard; it sounded nothing like what I first heard. Some dude told me he wanted me to buy him a Z1R, I did, he changed his mind and here I'm now an owner of a Z1R. Am I sad, no, as deep inside I wanted to buy it. But I know you are reading this article Mr Dude, not cool dude, not cool and no I will never let you borrow MY Z1R, go get your own.
What do I think of this beast? I don't think they are overpriced! Sadly now days 2400 AUD for a flagship places it on the low end of high-end IEM market. What a crazy world we are in as a hobbyist, 2400 AUD (2000 USD) gets you an entry tier high end IEM!

It is too soon to say how I feel about the Z1R. If you are a Sony collector, like I once was, this is just a natural purchase. But having owned the M9 for a good 4 months I struggle to gravitate towards the Z1R as much as I like to be. 
The accessory set, while looks comparatively more comprehensive than M9, the cable technology is basically the same. Z1R cable feels thicker, but they both have Silver-coated OFC, and silk braided cable. They both fit well in ear, but M9 fits slightly better because of its smaller housing. 







I was in Singapore last year when I first saw Oslo. It was not in its current format, but it was pretty much a product mature enough for stand along release. I say that as it was paired with the now truly sold out a limited edition P71 IEM.

As captivating and engaging P71 is both sonically and aesthetically, I couldn't wonder but ask whether the cable will be released as standalone, and the answer from Ken, the head of Dita Global market was "Yes".
At the moment I put Oslo around my ear I knew this is a cable I must get my hands on. For those who don't know, Dita Truth cable is my current reference IEM. That cable is all for resolution and transparency. But it isn't an ideal match for most thing. For instance, it is a rigid cable that requires a lot of power and ergonomic is nowhere near what Oslo is.

So what makes Oslo so special? From the moment you open the box, it speaks of high quality. In box you get a small velvet pouch containing the cable unit, wrapped neatly in a plastic type wrapper, and at the bottom two balance plug for your AK and Walkman with a small contact enhancing oil, more about that later.

Oslo uses new age high purity copper and use an old age method of shielding of cable by soaking them in oil. My secret obsession is Duelund cable which have been using the same way of producing cable for a very long time. It improves current delivery in cable it provides a thinner blacker background due it its better insulation property compared to wanting to achieving a similar result by traditional me of insulation sheets, the way Brise audio shields.

The cable comes in 2-pin style suitable for Dita IEM line, Fitear, traditional 2-pin and mmcx that fits even my AKG N5005. For this impression I've used that IEM as I'm familiar with its sound. But I know eventually I will need two new pairs for my JVC HA-FW10000 and Sony IER-Z1R.
The first thing I noticed everything became cleaner, fuller and more lively. No hint of brightness was present, yet treble detail was not sacrificed to achieve musicality. I remember of a high end cable super thick cable I tried ages ago, costing 2-3 USD. Something I like to own for its sound, but did not for its price and impracticality.
The cable is still undergoing burnin and I'm told more good times are head of me so for now please enjoy this early impressions.

Regards
audionewbi