Original article: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/aune-b1s.22856/reviews#review-20255
It’s funny how coincidences happen. Almost 2 years to the day I reviewed the original portable amp from Aune, the B1. And if you’ve seen or even read my review, I’m pretty sure I got across that I rather enjoyed the little guy. So to be able to try out its successor made me, needless to say, very excited. But of course I must give my humble thanks and appreciation to both Aune for providing a unit for me to review, and fellow head-fi’er/reviewer MShenay for organising the tour and for allowing me to take part. So to you my friends, again, I give you my sincerest thanks. But with the pleasantries aside, please allow me to now share my thoughts on Aune’s portable headphone amp, the B1s.
Spoiler: A little about me
Spoiler: Equipment used
The Opening Experience
Spoiler: Why the unboxing's important
The handshake that Aune gave me with their B1s was, overall, satisfactory. The box that came with my review unit was exactly what I personally like seeing. It was just a very simple box that only have Aune’s name on the front and some very generalized writing on the back. As I said in the unboxing video I’m not sure if the full retail version of this will have like a cover to the box that has anything else on it but I personally think this is exactly what you get as a consumer. When you open the box you’re greeted with 2 separate compartments that don’t focus a lot on looks over simple delivery functionality. The first compartment holds the beautiful Aune B1s and the warranty & owners manual, while the other holding the micro USB charging cable and a 3.5mm to 3.5mm aux interconnect cable.
So nothing really set the Aune B1s apart from any other portable amp’s or combi’s that I’ve tried and I’ll very likely forget about this unboxing, but I will say that I wasn’t disappointed at all either, it’s just a normal unboxing experience.
Aune continues to deliver quality build products within a very reasonable price. Their newest B1s portable amp. is made almost entirely out of aluminum minus some faux leather accents on the back. But the top of the B1s contains a 3.5mm headphone input, the really smooth and linear volume control knob, and the 3.5mm aux input. The right side of the B1s (if you’re looking at the front has the battery indicator light (simple enough) that I personally don’t like how Aune does it, but I’ll discuss that more in depth in the features section.
The left side of the unit (going from top to bottom) has the gain switch, current switch, and power switch. The bottom of the B1s has the micro USB charging port. The front and back of the B1s is super simple with only 2 panes of class showing the viewer the inner workings of the amp and the back, as mentioned earlier, has 2 faux leather accents.
I really don’t have any complaints but rather nothing but satisfaction and joy with the build of the B1s. It’s constructed very well and, though I haven’t personally tested this, I’m quite confident that it’ll survive a respectable fall and not skip a beat. Aune also paid mind to the size and I was very easily able to carry this without trouble in my laptop bag I took to work or in my pocket with my phone (I did need to use bigger pockets for this though, i.e. shorts or sweatpants) and wanted to jam as I shopped for groceries. So well done Aune
For the most part the Aune B1s is a very straightforward portable amp. But there are two features that I would like to give special mind to. The first is the current switch. Aune implements a current switch that’s separate from the gain switch. This allows the B1s to be much more versatile in the products it can drive and, what I believe, gives it the ability to play so quietly with hyper sensitive c/iems. Now, please keep in mind that if you’re rocking high gain AND high current then the battery of the B1s will die quite rapidly. The 5 hours Aune claims on their site is quite close with ME PERSONALLY getting roughly 4.5ish hours when driving my higher impedance cans. And this little booger does live up to the class A name for it will also get a little toasty, nothing to cause worry or honestly even discomfort if being held, but certainly warmer than any portable amp I’ve personally held.
The second feature the B1s has is its battery indicator light, that I’ll be right up front in saying I really don’t like. Call me old fashioned or what have you but when I see a single indicator light that determines how much battery a product has left I like seeing it change from green to yellow and then to red. But in the case of the B1s they chose to go with blinks. As I was writing this review the battery of the B1s went out and when I clicked the indicator light expecting to see a red light I was greeted with a green blink. Quite perplexed I looked into the manual and it states that there’s 5 patterns the Aune B1s shows in relation to battery life.
1 flash indicates the B1s is at 10% of its battery or less
2 flashes indicate it’s between 10 and 20%
3 flashes indicate it’s between 20 and 60%
4 flashes indicate it’s between 60 and 80%
5 flashes indicate it’s between 80 and 100%
Now granted, I did not look through the manual before I played this product and if I did I would’ve known that it does this, but I still don’t personally like it.
To jump right into my thoughts on how the Aune B1s sounds, I really liked it. The B1s, to my ears, added a very nice touch of warmth and vocal forwardness that didn’t alter the overall sound of the headphones very much but it just added that little bit of sauce to add a touch more musicality to the notes. The most impressive results of this I got was on the Meze 99 Classics. My goodness did these two pair beautifully together and similar results were had with the Sennheiser HD660 S. Being completely honest, the B1s didn’t “open up” any of the headphones I listened to or make any sort of drastic improvement but that touch of warmth and musicality it gives the headphone is something that I really, and let me stress, really relished in during my short time with it. If I had to put my finger on a description of the B1s’ sound, it would be like adding tube like sound to a solid state amp.
The power to drive headphones is fairly respectable so long as nothing you’re not wanting to power anything too difficult. The B1s, on high gain and high current can drive, from my headphones I tried listed above, headphones from the HD660 S and below really nicely and with impressive results. However, when you move into more difficult headphones (in relation to the rest of what I was using) you definitely reach the upper ends of what the B1s can do. The website specifically mentions the Sennheiser HD650 in its product page so I made it a point to test mine with it to hear the results. So, yeah, it powers the HD650 with respectable vigor, but to my ears there’s definitely a lot more than the HD650 can put out and I won’t even start on the HD800 S. In terms of volume the B1s gave each of the two aforementioned headphones plenty of that for my ears to be able to listen to comfortable but there was most certainly more potential to be had in both headphones.
To my BIGGEST surprise and enjoyment, the Aune B1s played DEAD SILENT to my hyper sensitive Empire Ears Hermes VI ciems. I heard nothing remotely close to a buzz or jitter through them which is a major testament to the B1s because I’ve listened to combi’s and DAP’s that costs considerably more than this $230ish and there’s only a VERY small select few of them that have a background and noise floor as silent as the B1s presents. So Aune, you all have done a very nice job with your B1s.
My final thoughts on the Aune B1s is that I really enjoy the ‘tube like sound’ they give their solid state portable amp. The touch of warmth is something I personally greatly enjoyed and will miss having this really attractive piece strapped to my phone and laying back in my chair on in my bed just finding new enjoyment in music. It’s built very well and I’m conifdent that whoever purchases one of these, so long as they take reasonable care of it, will last them indefinitely. I do wish however, that the B1s had more power so that it really could drive more difficult headphones other than my reasonably portable ones, but for the majority of my collection it definitely sufficed.
Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
Original article: https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/aune-b1s.22856/reviews#review-20255