Sunday, January 18, 2009

Headphone Amplifier: Nu Force Mobile (Blue).

This is the first portable headphone amplifier from Nu force called the "Mobile" which incorporates a built in DAC and is available in 4 different colors to choose from. The one under review and in the photos is the blue version. The charging of the internal lithium ion battery is accomplished by connecting it to the supplied USB cable and connecting it to the USB port, charging takes a mere 2.5 hours of fast charging to accomplish for 13 hours of usage. Whilst 13 hours is acceptable, a long usage period would be much better.

Product Description
The Nuforce Icon Mobile, along with its accessories, allows the user to obtain better sound quality from mobile music players sources, smart phones and personal computers. The Icon Mobile also serves as a rechargeable, high-performance headphone amplifier with adjustable gain or stand-alone USB DAC with support for Skype, Messenger or similar microphones.

Desktop Applications:

1. Connected to a computer via USB, the Icon Mobile can drive a pair of active, i.e., powered, speakers.

2. The external 3.5mm stereo input, when inserted, takes precedence over the USB DAC. This function allows the user to listen to music from sources such as an iPod without having to disconnect the Icon Mobile from the computer.

Mobile Applications: Due to cost constrains or power consumption considerations, mobile devices such as an iPod or smart phone do not incorporate high-performance headphone amplifiers. The Icon Mobile's optional iPod connector permits the user to bypass the iPod's volume control. The compact, lightweight Icon Mobile, which can drive a variety of headphones, connects to these devices via 3.5mm stereo input.

Choice of 4 Colors

Product Features:
  • Two headphone/line outputs: a 3.5mm 4-pin mini stereo (with mic) jack and a 3.5mm 3-pin mini stereo jack for driving earphones and line-level sources such as active speakers.
  • A 3.5mm mini stereo external input.
  • A Gain Select switch provides compatibility for a wide range of headphones and earphones.
  • A high-quality rotary volume pot for maximizing USB and iPod signal-to-noise ratios.
  • A built-in, rechargeable Lithium Ion battery with USB featuring a 2.5 hour charge-time for 13 hours of continuous playback at maximum power.

Technical Details
  • Support for USB audio input and ouput
  • The Battery-Low indicator blinks when the battery requires recharging.

Headphone Amp:
  • Power output: 80mW x 2 @ 16-Ohm
  • THD+N: 0.054% @ 25 mW, 1 kHz
  • S/N: 98dB @ 40mW

  • USB 2.0 compatible
  • Supports 44.1kHz and 48kHz native sampling rates
  • Microphone input: 16-bit ADC 4-pin mini stereo compatible headsets


Bundled Accessories:

  • 3.5mm stereo cable
  • USB cable
  • Silicone band
  • Plastic tool for adjusting gain setting

Dimension: 88mm x 55mm x 12mm

Review Impressions:

Build Quality: A: It looks small, sleek and sexy but well designed and built. The size is a bit more conventional and suits other portable source devices well
Treble: B+: Top end is well presented.
Mid range: B+: Respectable.
Bass: B+: Respectable.
Neutrality: B+: Decent.
Sound staging: B+: good sound stage with good width.
Transparency: B+: above average transparency.

The Nu Force is well designed headphone amplifier, even the packaging has been given allot of thought to. The overall performance is good and it sports a trendy case design in 4 colors to choose from. I am not happy that Nu Force did not include a pouch with this amplier and a rubber band was included in the bundle for srtapping to other source products, not a good idea! A pouch would go along way to protecting the amplifier from getting scratched. The suggested retail price is US$99.00.

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