I got my C&C BH2 off eBay for about $100, and it came way earlier than I expected. Hence, I ordered my FiiO L9 low profile LOD a bit later, and due to the delay on Nocturnal Audio’s side, I ended up not using my brand-spanking-new headphone amplifier for weeks.
But now that I have my L9, I can fully appreciate the amp. It’s a tiny thing, smaller than my iPod Classic, which is an awesome form factor. The battery allegedly lasts 70-80 hours, which means it could be months before I charge it again. The volume knob is pretty secure, but due to the power it has and the sensitivity of my Westone UM Pro 30s, I can’t get it past even 4 o’clock on the knob without going deaf. And that’s with the output that has an added 70ohm impedance, which should reduce the volume…
Anyway, the amp really helped with clarity. It’s not like my iPod was incapable of good sound quality, but the amp brought out some minor details that I missed previously. Of course, that’s with my UM Pro 30s, which have superb clarity and separation, so it probably scales with the IEMs.
I couldn’t use the gain switch without blowing my brains out, so I gave the LF switch a go. It’s a bit of a V-shaped boost, where it adds a touch to the bass and treble. Needless to say, it sounds great given I’m a lover of bass and the UM Pro 30s are a bit treble-shy. And it doesn’t bleed into the mids, which is incredibly important to me, since I’m a mid-head now.
Finally, there’s the SF switch. On Head-Fi.org, the reviewers of C&C BH2 claimed it was a super switch that expanded the soundstage and made everything even more epic. What it does is shift the positions of certain frequencies forward or back, and while it sounds nice in theory, it blew chunks for me. The UM Pro 30s are a very forward IEM, with vocals smack in front. It’s a stage monitor after all, and musicians need to be able to hear themselves. I love that sort of forward mids presentation, and I never really cared for soundstage. Hard to get it in IEMs anyway.
So the SF switch pushed the vocals further forward, until even I felt uncomfortable. That switch shall sadly remain off until I get myself a pair of IEMs that don’t have forward mids (unlikely, given my sonic preferences).
Overall, I found it a decent purchase. I mean, there’s a point of diminishing returns, and even $100 is a lot of some people just to buy IEMs. And here I am using that sort of money to buy an amp that maybe adds 5% to the overall sound I hear. Which is affected by movement, traffic noises, etc. But hey, I got hooked by the audio game, so it’s worth it to me now. It’s all about value to the individual 😉