A Headphones Reviews Blog
Prior to the review, I’d like to thank Wilson & Claire of Jaben for providing me with the review unit.
GoVibe is one of the in-house-brands of Jaben, the famous Singapore based audio store. The Mini-Box is GoVibe’s cheapest portable amplifier, currently retailing for around $60. After a long time in the market, Jaben decided to update and improve the Mini-Box mostly from the design aspect, though, according to Wilson, Jaben’s founder, also the performance was upgraded in ratio to the old Mini-Box.
Before we move on, to the review itself, here are the technical specifications of the new GoVibe Mini-Box:
Output power: 130mW (16 ohms loaded), 68mW (32 ohms loaded)
Signal to Noise Ratio: ≥ 95 dB (A Weight)
Distortion: <0.009% (10mW)
Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 100KHz
Suitable Headphone Impedance: 16 ohms – 300 ohms
Charge Time: ≤ 2 Hours
Play Time: ≥ 25 hours
Dimensions: 61mm x 23mm x 14.5mm
Packaging: Most of GoVibe’s amplifiers are packaged in a plain and simple cardboard packaging. The new Mini-Box has a well designed packaging, which is more attractive to the consumers and will most probably look better on the store’s shelf. Its front is white colored with 2 orange stripes and a plastic window, which the amp can be seen through, while the packaging’s rare side has the technical specifications and a nomenclature of the amp’s physical parts.
Accessories: The new Mini-Box comes with only 2 accessories: a short interconnect 3.5mm cable with one L-shaped plug and one I-shaped plug, and a charging cable (DC 5 Volts to USB 2.0). I wasn’t particularly impressed by the included accessories, as they’re only basic; I would’ve been glad to have a small carrying pouch for the amplifier included too.
Design & Building Quality: The Mini-Box utilizes a fully made of metal housing, with a glossy finish. The housing is quite strong and tough, but it is also a prone to scratches and fingerprints. From a design point, this amp is one of the best looking ones that I’ve seen. Its weight is 63 Grams, which is lighter than the Hippo Box + amp, but a lot heavier than the FiiO E6 and the Hippo Pipe, while it is very small, almost as small as the Hippo Pipe. The Mini-Box has no buttons at all; its power turns-on when a headphone or earphone is connected to the 3.5mm socket. When this happens, a blue LED lights up, and when the charging cable is connected to its socket, a red LED lights up. Because of the lack of buttons, the amp’s volume cannot be controlled, and it can only be changed through the device which the amp is connected to. Due to that, a LOD cable would be un-useful with this amp, unless you plan to listen to your music in your device’s full-volume, which could be quite hurtful. The Mini-Box has another problem, which could be quite annoying for the users who plan to connect this device to their cell-phone; whenever this amp is close to a cell-phone, it starts to make some electromagnetic interference noises, which can be quite tiresome. The amp has a small clip on its back, which is quite nice for who’d like to attach it to their shirt, for example.
Battery Performance: It isn’t stated which kind of rechargeable battery is inside the new Mini-Box, though, it’s probably a Lithium-made one. The specifications state that its playtime should be around 25 hours, which is very impressive, while the charging time from an empty battery is supposed to be around 2 hours. I didn’t test the amp for 25 hours, though, it needed no charging after the 5-6 hours of use that I had on it.
Sound, Hiss and Gain:
There’s only a slight hiss coming from this amp, only when it is connected to pretty sensitive IEMs (The FAD Heaven IVs and the Audiofly AF78s in my example), while, when IEMs which are less sensitive are connected to it (The GR07s for example), the hiss is pretty much gone. I also tested it with one pair of headphones (the SoundMagic HP100s), and there was only a slight hiss. Overall, its hiss level is similar to the one found in FiiO’s E6.
The gain of this amp is quite good for its size; it added a nice amount of volume and power to the SoundMagic HP100s, while my iPod Touch 4th Generation struggled a bit with them, mostly in the power department. The IEMs that I tested with it (FAD Heaven IV, Audiofly AF78 and Vsonic GR07) were all given a nice volume jump, but not lots more of power, since they’re quite easy to drive straight from an iPod.
I noticed that when using this amp, a bit of overall warmness was added to the headphones & IEMs, while some of them got a bit more bass impact (mostly noticeable on the GR07s). I also noticed that the sound-stage was improved a bit, though, this wasn’t as noticeable as the additions that I mentioned previously. The Heaven IVs were the least affected from the bunch of IEMs that I tested the Mini-Box with; perhaps, there might have even been a slight clarity and resolution reduction in its sound.
In Conclusion, the new, upgraded GoVibe Mini-Box is a very nice portable heaqdphones & earphones amplifier, both from the design and the performance points-of-view. It offers a better building-quality than most of the amps in its price-range, while its sound performance is quite good too, it is a bit stronger than FiiO’s E6 (though, the E6 is a lot cheaper than it). The battery performance is amazing; no amp in its price gets even close to it. It does have some disadvantages too, such as the electromagnetic interference from cell-phones and the lack of internal volume-control, so it might not be the best amp for everybody. The final rating is 8.5/10.