Audiophilleo 1 with PurePower – Review
I’ve heard a lot about audiophilleo 1 and 2 from a lot of people, including a friend of mine who liked it very much.
After doing the review on AudioByte Hydra-X I’ve got a lot of questions about how it compares to Audiophilleo 1 and 2, and I was curious on the subject too.
Recently, avstore managed to get Audiophilleo in Romania and I am really glad they did, as with their courtesy, I am looking at a new Audiophilleo 1 on my table, and not the simple version, the PurePower version.
Looks and Build quality
First thing I noticed was the really nice package it came in, a shiny and well finished aluminium box. It is marketed as the top product from audiophilleo and it sure looks like that way.
Let’s look inside and see what it holds:
In the box
- USB S/PDIF converter
- USB A-B Cable (generic cable for Audiophilleo2, Wireworld Ultraviolet cable for Audiophilleo1).
- PurePower equipped models come with additional 12 inch power cable and 12 inch USB cable
- S/PDIF BNC adapters: BNC 75 Ohm, for connection to BNC female on DAC; RCA male, for connection to RCA female on DAC; RCA female, for use with RCA SPDIF cable
- 12V Trigger international power supply (Audiophilleo1 only)
So, as you can see it has all it needs, including a very good usb cable that I am going to describe later.
As you can see, the packaging and presentation are quite impressive. This being the head of Audiophilleo’s line of products, I think they wanted to give a good image about the company in both presentation and performance, and they did a good job at that.
The adapters makes it possible to use the ap1 without any spdif cable, as you can plug it directly into your DAC unit.
However, you should remember that you must have some space behind the DAC, so the AP1 can fit :
15cm of space is required behind the DAC BNC/RCA tip. Right angle adapters can be used to reduce this space.
Don’t forget that if you don’t want all the features or you are just interested in the sound performance, you can get the cheaper AP2 version which has the same sound quality, but lacks some of the cool features from Ap1, starting from the menu.
Technical Presentation and Specifications
Here is the schematic of ap1/2:
You can find all the specifications here and here.
Some features that got my attention:
- Whenever there’s a pause in the music, the PurePower automatically starts recharging itself—a PurePower exclusive feature.
- Given the extraordinary capacity of the onboard power cells—enough for over 15 hours of continuous operation—in normal use, your Audiophilleo will always be running on PurePower.
- During recharging—usually done automatically only when music isn’t playing—the PurePower relays “close”, connecting it to the USB power, data and ground. The USB data signal connection is available to the onboard microprocessor controller for system management and firmware upgrades.
- The PurePower’s unique ergonomic orange and black display shows the power (voltage and current) being supplied to the Audiophilleo, along with how many hours of PurePower are remaining: There’s even a graph of power consumption over time.
- 2.6 ps RMS phase jitter integrated from 10 Hz to 100 kHz. This is measured using a TSC 5120A phase noise analyzer.
- 8 ps RMS phase jitter integrated from 1 Hz to 100 kHz. This is measured using a TSC 5120A phase noise analyzer.
- < 5 ps RMS period jitter (< 15 ps peak-peak) This is measured using a WaveCrest DTS with a sample size of 8000.
- Volume attenuation from -72 dB to 0 dB with a 0.5 dB accuracy
- SPDIF output of 75 Ohm female BNC, +/- 300 mV amplitude, minimal overshoot, galvanically isolated
- Edge Transition of < 700 ps (Audiophilleo1 has programmable rise-times up to 15 ns)
- Always-on S/PDIF output eliminates clicks between tracks
- Jitter simulator
- Remote control receiver port
- Bitperfect test
- Virtual Cable – Simulation the effects of adding a cable with a length from 1 to 5 m
The tests have been done with Decware Taboo MK3, Audeze LCD-X with Toxic Silver Widow, Burson Conductor, Audiobyte Hydra-X, Sennheiser HD800 and AG500 Power Regenerator .
The first thing I noticed was that the Wireworld Ultraviolet was not only good with Ap1, but did an excellent job with Hydra-X too as it improved the details, transients, attack and reduced the grain.
Some time ago, a friend of mine that had an Audiophilleo 2 told me that he first used it without a spdif cable, inserting it directly into his DAC, only to be surprised to see that it performs better with a spdif cable afterwards.
I wanted to test this for myself, so I used it with and without a spdif cable. My tests showed me opposite results, as the sound was more detailed and clear, followed by a deeper and punchier bass, when the Ap1 was inserted directly into the DAC.
Maybe with different spdif cables the results may differ, but in my case it worked better without one.
Don’t get me wrong, it performed ok with the spdif cable as well, as the differences weren’t so big.
PurePower is a great addition to Audiophilleo 1, but it doesn’t come cheap at all. I’ve heard people using Ap1 / 2 with a linear power supply and having great results. As you know, Hydra-X comes with an external power supply that charges it’s battery. I was curious to see if it works with Ap1 and how it performed. The power supply from Hydra was already inserted in my power regenerator for clean power, so I just plugged it into Ap1 and I was surprised to see that it works. I noticed that it brought a deeper bass but lacked the details, imaging and attack it had with purepower.
However, the supply from hydra-x is not the best quality as it is just meant to charge hydra’s battery, and is not linear regulated. Don’t get me wrong, It does it job great, but I am not sure how good it is to use as direct power supply.
I am quite confident that if you can get a good linear regulated power supply ( a friend of mine bought a good one for 40 Eur ) you can get very good results with Ap1, maybe not like with PurePower but excellent for the money spent. So, if you don’t have the money or don’t wish to spend them on PurePower, this could be a good alternative.
I also noticed a very interesting and cool feature in the menu : the “burn in” feature. This helps you at the burn in period of the unit or of any DAC with an spdif input.
Let’s get into the sound of the situation. I used Hydra-X as reference for the Ap1 impressions.
Vivaldi – Concerto No. 3 in F major, “L’Autunno” (Autumn), RV 293. 3. Allegro. La Caccia
The first thing I heard was a larger soundstage and a more extended treble. The sound was a little faster and a little more detailed especially on the upper midrange and treble. However, on Hydra the instruments had more body and were more detailed in the bass and lower midrange area.
Again the sound opened up with Audiophilleo 1 showing a larger concert hall with excellent positioning holographic scene. The higher voices in chorus had better extension , while with Hydra, the lower voices had better presence. Mercedes’s voice was very well presented on both interfaces but a more natural and emotional with Hydra-X . The drum had a little more punch with Ap1 but more body and presence with Hydra-X.
Both presentations were very good but differing in tonality. On Hydra the voice was warmer and more natural, the drum had more body and presence while on Ap1 the soundstage was larger and a little more holographic. If I would have to pick a winner, I would go with Hydra as It was more natural and emotional.
Hugh Laurie – Battle of Jericho
Again, the performance was very good for both interfaces, with a larger scene on ap1, better treble extension and slightly more apparent guitar plucks. However, the voices and overall sound was more natural and emotional on Hydra again.
This is a song that made the Ap1 shine, as this is where I could hear quite clearly the sound being faster with a more exploding attack and faster decays. The bass wasn’t so deep as with Hydra but showed excellent speed and exploding attack. Also the soundstage and positioning were excellent, the instruments being separated with ease on a lot of layers throughout the scene. Also the instruments tickled my ears with more details.
Infected Mushroom – Project 100
Both interfaces were excellent. Hydra had very fun sound with full bodied drums and guitars, while Audiophilleo had a faster, more engaging and detailed sound with very punchy and fast drums and better imaging. Actually, while I loved both presentations, I think i liked Ap1 here more.
Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells – Finale
While the instruments around the base guitars were more detailed and better positioned on Ap1, the body and presence of the main guitar are just amazing on Hydra. The mandolin and bells were superb on Ap1 with an excellent sparkle attached and extension attached to them.
Leonard’s voice had more presence and body on Hydra but it had a very pleasant, detailed texture and tonality on Ap1 as well. The instruments and the whole scene was more airy on ap1. While the guitars had more body on Hydra, they had a more present pluck and extension on the Ap1.
Leonard Cohen – Hey, That’s no Way To Say Goodbye
Leonard’s voice was a little thinner, not so present but cleaner. The guitars were more detailed and present overall. The female voices were very well extended and pleasant. Even though Hydra, overall has the upper hand with voices, AP1 is very good as well, especially with high female voices.
While it may not have the deep bass from Hydra-X, it still has an excellent presentation as it’s very fast and very punchy and has decent depth.
The mids are excellent and very detailed, especially the upper ones. The instruments are very present and detailed while the voices have a pleasant tonality, especially the female ones. Actually all the voices are very good with AP1 as well. Even if not as full toned and emotional as on Hydra, sometimes they have a more detailed texture.
The treble here is very good as it has excellent extension and spark without being harsh. Actually, the treble is the frequency that bounces off the most in the scene and helps create an image of the size of the room they originated in.
Soundstage, Imaging and instrument separation
This is an area AP1 excelles at, as it opened the sound almost every time showing an accurate presentation of the room, with very good layering and instrument separation.
Transients, Attack and Decay
The transients are excellent on Ap1 with exploding attack and fast decay. This leads to a fast and energetic sound. The plucks of the guitars or any chord, the hit of the drums show a very energetic explosion of energy.
Ap1 brings a lot of details into play, especially on from the upper midrange and treble. Also the extension of the instruments is very well detailed. You can hear the vibration of the chords very well with Ap1.
Comparison to Hydra-X
Is it better than Hydra-X? I am sure some will find it better and some won’t. Both are very good and it may be just a matter of taste as they have different sound signatures. Yes, they do sound quite different.
Audiophilleo has overall a faster and more detailed sound with better transients, attack and decay while Hydra has a smoother, more natural – analog sound with excellent bass extension and lower midrange.
Strong points for Audiophilleo 1 + PurePower:
- Punchier and faster bass
- Larger soundstage, better imaging and positioning
- Good with voices, especially high female voices, giving them a very detailed texture, but overall not as emotional or present as with Hydra
- Better, faster transients with exploding attack, very good instrument extension. For example the pluck of a chord is very detailed as you can hear the extension better, with the exception of the instruments that have a lower tonality that are better extended on Hydra
- It is overall more detailed, especially from upper midrange and treble
Strong points for Audiobyte Hydra-X :
- More present and deeper bass
- More natural – analog sound
- Overall more present, fuller and more emotional voices
- More details on bass and lower midrange.
- Multiple outputs and Hydra is quite better on I2S than on SPDIF
I loved them both and I found myself in a lot of situations where I liked one more than the other. I guess I could be happy with either of the two, but, I guess that Ap1 is slightly superior on spdif output, even though, overall, I prefer the more natural/analog presentation of Hydra. Don’t get me wrong, Hydra isn’t slow, as it can be fast too when needed, but not as fast as Ap1.
Technically, AP1 seems to have an slight upper hand on spdif , but Hydra has some important features that Audiophilleo doesn’t. It has more outputs and supports up to 24 bit / 384 Khz and DSD too. Besides SPDIF, Hydra also has AES/EBU and I2S outputs. One thing to be remembered here is that in my tests, Hydra was better on I2S than on SPDIF. On I2S, Hydra had more details, better imaging, better attack and faster decays with a punchier bass. So, even if Hydra has very good performance on spdif output, it gets even better on I2S.
Audiophilleo 1 + PurePower proved to be an excellent product and a very strong competition for Audiobyte Hydra-X, technically besting it on some aspects on the SPDIF output.
Besides it’s excellent sound performance, it also has some very cool features like the menus on both PurePower and main unit, including some very interesting options in the menus as well, like bitperfect test, jitter simulator, burn in, the possibility of direct connect into a DAC, etc.
Considering all the aspects above, Audiophilleo 1 + PurePower is a very good product that deserves your attention if you want one of the best USB interfaces out there.
- Large holographic soundstage
- Good imaging, instrument separation and layering
- Very good details
- Fast & punchy bass
- Very good with high female voices
- Excellent dynamics & microdynamics
- Well extended instruments
- Transparent, clean sound
- Good attack and fast decays leading to a very energetic sound
- Very good treble with excellent extension and sparkle
- Some very interesting features in the menu
- Both PurePower and main unit have easy to use menus
- Direct DAC connection possibility
- Excellent packaging and build quality
- Good usb cable included
- Neutral sound
- Quite expensive
- Only spdif output
- The spdif adaptor can be wobbly in the direct dac connection
Theres a mistake here.
If you buy Audiophileo 1/2 without the purepower upgrade it takes power ONLY from the usb cable.
You cant use an external power supply with it as it has no power connector and also needs a firmware upgrade in order to run on purepower.
So buying a 40 euro ps wont help you save money on purepower. And if you already have purepower upgrade why bother with a 40 euro ps anyway ?
Thank you Adrian. If you have the purepower upgrade, indeed you don’t need to bother with any other external power supplies.
And if you buy it without the purepower upgrade, indeed you don’t have the power connector. However you can buy a cable that has the signal and power split into 2 different cables, and the power could be taken from an external power supply with usb output.
Great review. I have the Ap2 with PurePower and feel it is good value, very solidly built, and brought a whole new level of performance to my system. I feel your review confirms the AP as the low-jitter winner here as the sound characteristics described point to a more precise sound. Warmer and fuller are the characteristics to describe slightly more distortion which could be introduced by jitter. I’m curious to try I2S though and may audition the Hydra-X one day.
You should now try the Hydra-Z with ZPM power module. It’s considerably better than Xydra-X :).