Ears to Wuhan

what did I want?

  • A pair of “In Ear Monitors” that sound exceptional
  • A solid Headphone DAC that would last at least 2-3 years
  • Amplifier that would give higher than phone levels of playback
  • Something that could give at least 5hrs continuous playback
  • Something that wasn’t a plastic bundle of bits
  • A premium finish which was durable

I have the apple dongle, and an iPhone XS Max, I found that the volume was just not loud enough for my tastes.

I also had a set of Audeze LCD-3’s which I have since rehomed as I never used the things. Too big, too noisy (open backed), Too heavy, Not suitable for mobile use. Sounded amazing though.

I was looking for a better solution and based upon the DAC which I’m using in my hifi set up (Aune S8 Reference DAC). I figured I’d give the Aune BU1 a try.

I also wanted some IEM’s as I was looking for something I could use that wouldn’t disturb the Italian when she’d had enough of me playing the hifi all day.

I figured as I was thinking of the Aune dac/amp I’d pair it with their IEM’s on the basis that they’d probably have been designed to work together.

Aune, from Wuhan in China have been making audio kit for 17 years, they know what they’re doing, they also work with the likes of Titan Labs etc and through personal experience I’ve seen they out perform kit that is priced substantially higher. It’s an exciting company that tend to often be in the front segment of the market on the use of DAC chips and technologies. They also tend to take a different approach on many things, which I appreciate.

So I took the plunge and dropped a not insignificant amount of cash on what I knew was going to be a non refundable purchase, I work bloody hard for anything I get and subsequently want it to be worth the efforts. Looks lovely, screw the packaging I’m not interested in that, I loathe “unboxing videos” I’m only interested in if it works and if it works well. But it does come in a nice box, oh and the headphones come with a leather pot, all supplied cables are of a good quality.

Fiirst issue, micro USB, why? It’s an bloody awful connection, the only reason I could think of that they opted to use it is to avoid paying USB C licensing fees. Do not like.

Then I realised that I was out of luck if I wanted to use it with my iPhone as that’s got a lightening connection, so there goes another £20 on an additional cable required. (To be fair it does say that on the box and the newer iPhone has a USB C port.

However my iPad Pro and MacBook Pro both are USB C so all was not lost. Plugged it into the MacBook, nothing, not charged. So on it goes to charge for 4 hours. Makes sense, air freight don’t like shipping charged batteries.

Ok, so It’s charged, plug it into the MacBook, nothing, doesn’t appear in the MIDI controller. Is it broken? So I try it with the iPad, it works but not well, volume does nothing. I had it plugged into the line out. My fault.

Switched the output over and… awful noise, horrendous, tinny raspy unlistenable shit. Horrified. That’s a weeks wages. What the hell? I couldn’t believe it. I remembered the chap (Adam, lovely bloke) at the store saying that they sounded terrible when new but never in my life have I experienced such shockingly bad noise from something so expensive straight out of the box.
I’m also not a believer in “burn in” so I was looking at the boxes thinking that’s all going back, may as well get ready for the hour and a half trip to the shop. But I figured I’d give them a chance.

Now I wanted to use the iPad so I figured I’d try and get it all working on the MacBook, plugged it in, nothing. WTF, it must be broken. Tried unplugging the USB C and plugging it back in, nothing.
Tried switching it off and on, nothing.

Tried to search online but there’s sod all about the Jaspers and even less about the BU1. I don’t know why I did it, but I unplugged the micro-USB and plugged it back in, the bloody thing appeared!

So, if you’ve got a BU1 be aware that it only appears to speak to your computer if you unplug and plug back in the Micro-USB connector. God knows why. But there it is. Problem solved.

So I figure I’ll try and burn the things in, skeptical that this will make any difference but I didn’t feel like jumping in the car for an hour so I figured I had nothing to lose.
I used Red Snappers We Aim To Satisfy at 2/3 volume (.wav) and left it playing whilst I stuck the HiFi on and had some more coffee and cigarettes.

So about two hours had passed and I figured I’d give them another go.

Completely different!

Gone was the horrific harsh unlistenable shitshow and instead they sounded good, obviously incomparable to the HiFi as it’s a completely different method of sound reproduction but they sounded good. Really good. Well I’ll be damned!

I used the smallest ear tips but felt like they weren’t really doing a good job, I should mention that the shape of the Jaspers is confusing, I mean confusing in a “have I got dementia?” kind of way, this is probably just me but I still find myself staring at them wondering if this is the left or right, does that go in that way up or the other way, does that go forwards or backwards over my ear? Probably just an age thing. More an issue with my brain than the headphones.

But once I had worked out which way up and which side of my head my ears were on I settled into some listening, What struck me is the sound stage and the separation, it’s excellent.
Far better than any previous in ear headphones I’ve had in the past (Apple wired & wireless buds, B&O earset and a few others which I forget).

And I mean really good, a joy to listen to, addictive even. I actually now find myself listening to music for a couple of hours every night as the wife sleeps soundly next to me. I actually look forwards to that now. They really are a joy to use.

I figured I’d address the ear tip concerns that I had, read a couple of different articles and opted to try the MandarinEs Symbio W Eartips from audio sanctuary for £16 (half what Amazon charge!). They’re much better, Any overly sharp highs have gone (maybe helped by prolonged use?) and the bass is much better. I’d advise that you swap these over straight away.

I would recommend the combination of the Jaspers & the BU1?

They’re not without the odd issues (the micro-usb unplugging to get it to be recognised and the WTF way do these bloody things go in problem I have repeatedly).

But It’s a great combo, I’m just waiting on the lightening to usb-mini lead to arrive but when it does I’ll be even happier as I won’t need to have the thing hanging off my iPad in bed.

They work, and they work beautifully. Not right out of the box and they do benefit from changing the ear tips.
As a DAC the BU1 is very nice and should remain current given its rate support for at least the next three years. It does get warm when in use but that’s to be expected, I think that it’s a class-A amp running balanced power which is a good thing.

I’ll probably buy a couple more Micro-USB cables though as they’re a pain in the ass to get hold of now let alone further on down the road.

in short, I’m very happy with the Aune Jasper & BU1 set up, I won’t be buying anymore headphones/mobile DAC/Amplifiers for the foreseeable future. I recommend these things. They are worth buying.

manufacturers website: http://en.auneaudio.com

store I bought them from: https://eden-audio.com/

This review was not subsidised, I was not paid to write this, I bought these. I recommend them.


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