Most helpful critical review
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2012
Let me preface this review by stating that I am not an audiophile. So that means a lot of what I will be talking about here will not have any fancy buzzwords because that's not what I think about when listening to music. I will just be thinking about what sounds good or bad from a laymen's point of view.
The Qinpu Q-2 was brought to my attention after searching for "entry-level" amplifiers. A user at Head-Fi writing a review recommended the product since it delivered good sound at a good price.
The set-up I am temporarily running at the moment is the stock audio on a Gigabyte P55-USB3 motherboard with the volume out set to 75% and inputted into the Qinpu Q-2's line-in jack. The headphones I am driving are Sony MDR-XB1000s. But I also tried out my Sony Marqii, Sony MDR-V-6, Sony MDR XB700s, and SkullCandy Aviators.
What I noticed straight away while using this amp is how much more alive my music sounds when driven through this amplifier. The left and right channels seem to separate much more clean, and differing frequencies are able to find a place in the left and right earcups of all the headphones I've tried.
My musical taste, while spanning many East Asian countries (Japan, Philippines, South Korea, China, etc.) including the U.S., mainly settles around R&B and rap. I feel like having this amp really made the bass thumps, snare snaps, and vocals shine very well. I also have a few several alternative rock tracks that I've run through the amplifier and think that they equally sound exquisite. For the music that I want to run through the amp and how it drives my headphones, I am totally satisfied with what I have bought in terms of audio quality.
However, there are a couple of things about this amp that I am none too pleased about.
Firstly, I wasn't pleased with the packaging of the amp. It's not so much Amazon (or whoever I bought it from), but whoever actually handles packing the unit into its box. A foam shroud covered the amp with two cell-foams flanking it. That's fine, but after I removed the shroud, I saw that the tube was out of its socket and leaning left considerably. I imagine this could have been damaged with a really negligent service carrier. But it ended up working in the end, and maybe my experience was a fluke.
Secondly, I have gripes with the build quality. When you look at the amp superficially with a passing glance, it looks fine. But if you take the time to look at it a bit, there are little things that can be bothersome. The most egregious problem is the audio jacks (in and out). They can be moved around a bit and actually causes sound distortion and audio cutting in my line-in. Another one is the tube socket; it's leaning a little to the left so the pre-amp tube is not perfectly centered. Maybe this was caused by the tube coming loose during shipping.
Obviously, the problems I have with the build quality may not be representative of all units. But, I think presentation is a big part of buying a product, even for nutjobs who want to take the time to examine it real close. I will say (just to not be a total downer on build quality) that the volume knob feels quite nice and the look of the amp itself is better than average.
So overall, I think I can give this amp a cautionary recommendation to someone who wants to take a little step towards better audio quality. At its attractive pricing, I feel this amp allows someone to get their feet wet in the sea of higher end audio and see if they want to go into the ocean. Possibly, units on average don't have the couple of build quality issues that I have. And, I think the sound I get out of these, the most important part of course of an amp, is very good for my non-audiophile ears.