Firestone Fireeye HDB Review - PREFACE
Firestone have been on a bit of a roll recently. The inclusion of the Bobby and DAB products have been met with some high praise. The original Fireeye HD was a good amp in its own right but lack from a few finishing touches that truly made it stand out from the pack. We are happy to say that having used the HDB+ for some time now that these issues have been more than ironed out. The new model is more that just a refinement, its now world class.
THE MEAT OF THE REVIEW
Firestone Fireeye HDB - Packaging (8/10)
Great packaging for the Fireeye with bold and unique design it comes across as classy and well thought out whilst at the same time both protecting and presenting the amp well.
Firestone Fireeye HDB - Accessories – (8/10)
Theres not much in the way of accessories for amps that is really necessary but in this case Firestone supplies both a charger and a balanced cable to set itself apart. The balanced cable is a beauty with a nice braid and excellent 3.5mm jack further adding to the overall class of the package. As always it would have been nice to have seen the inclusion of some sort of case but this is certainly not a deal breaker.
Firestone Fireeye HDB - - Looks and Build Quality – (10/10)
Stunning. Simply stunning. This amp not only looks incredible but is build and finished to a very high standard. In the hand it feels steady and never creaks or rattles, it feels dare I say, indestructible. The anodised black brush finish on the metal case looks lovely and it is really set off with the inclusion of the Gold coloured metal volume pot that operates so buttery smooth whilst retaining just enough tension so that it won't come out of position whilst in transit. The input and output points have been upgraded from the original HD and now sit flush rather that recessed which will please people who are using more chunky than average jacking points. Finally the light is actually a pin sized white led. This is far preferred for use in the bedroom as traditional blue LED's can disrupt sleep patterns. On a whole there is absolutely nothing I would change on either the looks, size or build quality of the HDB
Firestone Fireeye HDB - Sound Quality (9.5/10)
Were going to have to go 10/10 here yet again because it really does fall into that world class category. The sound is clean balanced open and powerful, managing to drive any of our Electrostatic headphones such as the LCD2 and Fostex T50tp (modded) with ease. We had the unit hooked up to a number of different sources and it played well with any of them. The ipod set up through LOD cable saw the most improvement with some real gains in soundstage detail and clarity over the HP out. Of course the Ipod gains no benefit from the using the balanced cables as the signal from the DAC is not balanced itself, regardless it still sounded great out of the single line inputs and outputs.
The HDB also must be applauded for its ability to keep up in almost any genre. Every one of our test songs sounded better through the HDB as opposed to when using the source headphone out. It did so in a way that the music came across as if it was being correctly reproduced and then purely amplified as opposed to adding its own coloration as is the folly of so many of its competitors. All in we have to say that the new HDB amp is now one of our favourite sounding amps we have ever had the pleasure to test.
Firestone Fireeye HDB Review - CONCLUSION
Firestone are beginning to take the higher end audio game very seriously nowadays and the new HDB+ shows just how the company are willing to listen to what the community has to say. They got rid of the recessed sockets and some other niggles that we had about the previous HDB and they now have a truly wonderful portable amp that is both a joy to both use and own. Build quality is nothing short of stellar; the design beautiful/classy and the the sound is right up there with the best of other top of the line amps from other companies whilst even throwing in the ability to go balanced at a great price. It does exactly what a portable amp should do which is amplify the signal cleanly providing oodles of power for harder to drive cans and compensating for DAP amp deficiencies it is very very hard to fault this at all.
As a complete package I can't think of something else I would rather have whilst on the go and as such my own personal rig will now be a combination of the HDB+ in conjunction with the Ibasso DX50 and Minerva Mi-Artist pro. I guess that means we all kind of like it here. Happy listening.