iAsus Concepts Mobile Amp

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iAsus Concepts Mobile Amp

With all the legitimate warnings about hearing damage induced by in-ear headphones, you might think a portable headphone amp is the last thing on-the-go music listeners need. But that’s not going to stop us from praising this tiny doodad. Don’t get us wrong: Listening to music played at high sound-pressure levels will absolutely damage your hearing over time.

But it’s also true that many people are dissatisfied with the volume levels they achieve with high-quality earbuds and headphones. The reason is twofold: First, most MP3 players are equipped with relatively low-powered amps in order to conserve battery life. Second, high-quality earbuds and headphones have relatively high impedance. Crank up the underpowered amp to overcome the high impedance and you get distortion and possible ear damage.

When you pair good headphones with a good amp, you don’t need to blast your eardrums to smithereens to achieve a satisfying listening experience, and that’s where the lithium-polymer Mobile Amp comes in

The amp’s house is primarily made of plastic, but the oversize volume control is machined aluminum and feels exquisite when rolled between the thumb and forefinger. A system of detents, on the other hand, would prevent the volume from changing while the device is jammed in your pocket. We also wish Asus had designed the amp with an input jack instead of the fixed cable, which is too short to reach a PC’s soundcard jacks (18 inches is too short for even front-mounted jacks). And we were disappointed with the cheap sliding power switch on the bottom of the amp. And a power-on LED would have been welcomed.

But these complaints melted away when we plugged in our Ultrasone ProLine 750 headphones (40-ohm impedance), switched on the amp, and heard the sizzling electric sitar on Paul Thorn’s gospel-infused “Sister Ruby’s House of Prayer.” We were just as happy listening with Shure’s E4g earphones (29-ohm impedance). With a maximum output of 70 milliwatts, this sucker gets loud! But we didn’t need to listen at high volume to get a highly satisfying listening experience.

Editor's Note, July 10, 2007: The original review incorrectly identified iAsus Concepts as being a division of Asus. The company is neither a subsidiary nor an affiliate of Asus. We regret the error.

Fender

Marry this amp with the perfect pair of quality earphones and you're set.

Fisher-Price

Where's the power-on LED?

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mooch

THX FOR ARTICLE DEAR

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deeptigarg

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yanassi

I use an external speaker on my motorcycle. When traveling above 50 mph, I cannot hear the music. My sportbike is not particularly loud, but even the buzz and wind overcomes the music on my mp3/speaker. So this may be my answer. My concern will be the speaker's tolerances.

I do wish it had volume control stops.

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deeptigarg

The amp’s house is primarily made of plastic, but the oversize volume control is machined aluminum and feels exquisite when rolled between the thumb and forefinger. A system of detents, on the other hand, would prevent the volume from changing while the device is jammed in your pocket. We also wish Asus had designed the amp with an input jack instead of the fixed cable, which is too short to reach a PC’s soundcard jacks (18 inches is too short for even front-mounted jacks). And we were disappointed with the cheap sliding power switch on the bottom of the amp. And a power-on LED would have been welcomed.

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I have had this little amp only for a few days but I'm very happy with the way it works.
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