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Shipping will resume Feb 7th for all orders placed from Jan 28th to Feb 6th. Customer service will still be available in case you ever need help.
Luxury & Precision W2 Portable USB DAC/AMP Headphone AMP

Luxury & Precision W2 Portable USB DAC/AMP Headphone AMP

Author:Andy.EF

DAC Chip: Cirrus Logic CS43198 (Dual)
PCM 32bit – 384kHz DSD256, SNR: -131db, Power: 230 mW, USB Type-C Female, 4.4mm BAL & 3.5mm SE (Microphone: NO), Metal Chassis & 2 USB Cables

Listening Equipment: Etymotic ER4SR, HZSOUND Heart Mirror, Moondrop Aria, FOSTEX T40RP MK3, VE Asura 2.0. Source: USB 3.2 Samsung S20

LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE ON SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING

PROS

  • Reference grade, pristine balanced neutral flat timbre
  • Vibrant, coherent dynamics, full bodied, very smooth airy presentation
  • Exceedingly well nuanced Micro and Macro details, very transparent
  • Balanced Mids with detailed textures and definition, naturally toned Male/Female vocals
  • Rich sparkly Treble with smooth decays, great extensions
  • Smooth impactful Mid-Bass, tight, fast with crisp decays
  • Sub-Bass with deep seismic response, natural decays.
  • Crisp and realistic guitars, piano, percussions (chimes, bells) and drums and taps
  • Great holographic spatial imaging with sharp precise placement/layers
  • Amazing speed and dexterity on complex passages and transients
  • Super clean background, zero floor noises
  • Super clean layers, razor edged separation lines
  • Drives Magnetic Planars and BA at 75/100 volume, great fidelity
  • Does not heat up easily
  • Superb EQ, SPDIF, Filters and User Selectable Gain
  • Very useful and refined volume adjustments

CONS

  • Driving power for great fidelity maxed out at 91db sensitivity.
  • Not forgiving on Lo-Fi sources or recordings, super revealing
  • Officially the heaviest Dongle tested so far
  • A bit tricky to get it work properly on iPhones, may distort
  • Single Ended output not on par with the 4.4mm performance

 

VERDICT

Luxury & Precision W2. This is a flagship DAC/Amp Dongle designed from the ground up destined to be a fine bespoke specimen. Everything about it shouts quality and precision. Simply beautiful. There’s a wealth of options that will make any mid-tiered DAP blush. SPDIF, EQ, Filters, Gain Selection etc. Not forgetting the intricate power circuitry that individually serve the dual CS DACs and Amp stage. This is a micro-DAP any which way I looked at it. The sound is utterly natural and neutral with great fidelity that is definitely reference grade. W2 is an upgrade over Lotoo PAW S1 assuredly, PAW S1 losing it by being a bit more laid back and lean sounding in contrast. Compared to Astell & Kern PEE51, W2 made PEE51 seemingly coloured with that super euphonic signature and energetic timbre. But then I don’t really see this as being a negative as they are meant to cater for different tastes and varying synergies. There’s no right or wrong.

 

W2 passed the FOSTEX T40RP MK3 91db Magnetic Planar brutal test (Balanced, High Gain) . It does need the volume to be cranked all the way to 75-80/100. But once desired loudness has been set, the output is great. However, it is not as meaty and wholesome as how it was with Ovidius B1, Hidizs S9, S9 Pro and hiliDAC Audirect BEAM 2S. While fidelity is great and refined, vibrancy was mildly laid back compared to the other 4 top performers. Timbre coherence and stability is top notch, devoid of any signs of distortion or jitters even subjected to very heavy load. This is a great option for those preferring smooth neutral output from their planars.

Etymotic ER4SR (Balanced, High Gain). My favourite BA sounded truly Hi-Fi with W2. That polished smoothness complementing ER4SR technical characteristics exceedingly well. The best part, despite being highly resolving, both the source and IEM does not sound sterile and dry as how I heard it when paired with some ESS or Cirrus based DACs (HiBy FC3, Hidizs S3 Pro, Zorloo Ztella, JM20, Cayin N6ii E02, Topping D10s). W2 was able to strike a true neutral output with ER4SR to make any Diffused Field Sound fans proud.

 

VE Asura 2.0 (Balanced, High Gain) on the other hand is almost like a contrast to the performance exhibited by ER4SR. While both being highly technical and fast, audibly the overall tone is warmer on the Asura especially with very lush and rich Mids. I can literally feel Diana Krall’s sexy voice engulfing me with velvety sensation. This is a super combo to enjoy Mids focused presentation. It is just breath taking, silky smooth yet still very technical and with agility. W2 and Asura does seem to be a match made in heaven.

Moondrop Aria & HZSOUND Heart Mirror (Single Ended, High Gain, FAST Filter). I was taken aback by what I heard from Aria. Bass responses were audibly slow despite being well controlled and textured. This may appeal to those who prefer their Bass indulgence slow-cooked, but not me. The rest of the spectrum are just okay-ish, I have heard the best performance of Aria when paired with Zorloo Ztella. Similarly, the normally fast and sparkly Heart Mirror exhibited mildly subdued output. There’s smoothness and refinement but I have heard better from Heart Mirror paired with a dozen other Dongles. If I am to draw conclusions on this, I think W2 is not as highly optimized for Single Ended use because the Balanced Port definitely sounds a lot better to my ears. And all these were done with the fastest filter profile available for W2.

 

Luxury & Precision W2 is undoubtedly a stellar performer. The sound is well within reference grade quality. However, to fully enjoy W2, it is a must to use the Balanced 4.4mm port. I am not impressed with the subdued performance of the Single Ended option.

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Best Pairing: Flexible for anything with no less than 91db of sensitivity.

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