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HeadAmp Pico Power Portable Headphone Amplifier Review

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The UE6000 portable headphone took a step up with the Pico in the chain. The custom UE18 became my custom in-ear monitor of choice to listen to the Pico. The UE18 is a top tier custom in-ear monitor that let me hear what the Pico was capable of doing. The UE18 has terrific bass with one of the best midranges that I have experienced in portable audio with a superb extended and almost flawless treble. The Pico and the UE18 made terrific music together with the iPod Touch as the source. The bass was smooth and very deep. I could feel the drums crashing on Terry Evan’s excellent track, “Down in Mississippi.” The sheer force of the sticks hitting the drum skin and the thumping bass pedal were reproduced easily. The drum cymbals were crisp and very sparkly.

Listening to Jane Monheit sing “Honeysuckle Rose,” I could hear how dynamic the Pico was and also how realistic the vocal was being reproduced. Listening to Marcus Mumford on the new Babel album had my toes tapping. The excellent Mumford and Son’s second album has many upbeat numbers on it and the album kept me moving from the first track until the album ended. The Pico kept me focused on the music and I forgot I was listening to recorded music. Cassandra Wilson’s excellent album, Blue Night Till Dawn, is a terrific album musically and also for listening to the treble extension of some very unique percussion. Listening to the track “Come in to My Kitchen,” I could hear the treble extension on the Pico and it was very clean and extended. “Tupelo Honey,” another track on the album, also highlighted Cassandra’s vocal. It sounded warm and inviting and very seductive.

The Pico Power has a warm sound signature. There is no nasty glare and it is grain free. The amplifier has a very dynamic personality. The presentation is balanced but not extremely neutral as it does have a warmer sound. The warm sound is not a negative, as it is more in tune with the signature I find enjoyable in good solid-state products. The little portable kept rocking the tunes for me with whatever I decided to listen to on my iPod touch.

The Pico had a very quiet presentation. I could hear no noise at normal listening levels. I did hear some noise when I was using the IEM UE18 at insanely loud levels. There was some hissing in the Pico Power with the sensitive IEM 18 at levels no one would listen to anyway. Justin Wilson told me to disconnect the iPod as the amplifier was amplifying the iPod’s noise floor. The amplifier was silent when I did that, but I could not duplicate the noise level with the iPod touch turned all the way up without the Pico. (Per Justin of HeadAmp, if the audible hiss in the Pico Power vanishes when you remove the iPod, then the hiss is coming from the iPod and simply being amplified by the Pico Power. He recommends setting the Pico Power’s gain on LOW to minimize the amplification of source noise. – Pub.) In any event it was really a minor issue, as I could never listen to music at those levels without serious hearing damage.

Removing the iPod from the HeadAmp Pico left me wanting to reinsert the amplifier as I was missing the dynamic sound of the Pico. Music was so much more dynamic with the Pico than without. The only other issue I had with the Pico is that connecting both the Pico and the iPod for portable use was kind of bulky. The Pico Power is built like a tank, and this not very light for a portable amp. There is some weight and beef to the amplifier but I still managed to carry it with me and use it in the gym while I was working out. I still prefer listening to the iPod with the Pico Power than without. Once the amplifier is removed the music is not as dynamic and has less life. The issues are minor and are the only things that I could find not to my liking.

HeadAmp Pico Power Portable Headphone Amplifier

4 Responses to HeadAmp Pico Power Portable Headphone Amplifier Review

  1. baka1969 says:

    Another good review. Keep it up.

  2. MacedonianHero says:

    Great write up Frank! Looking forward to hearing this beauty soon.


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