In the unlikely event Boulder, Krell, or Mark Levinson decides to build a mini headphone amp, it’ll probably look something like the Mini Box Amplifier. GoVibe builds the MBA from anodized aluminum, held together with screws. The feel is so solid I even dared to try standing on it, and it seemed to survive unscathed. At 2.5 by 1 by 0.6 inches, it’s larger than the others tested here but still pocketable.
Like the Fireye Mini, the MBA has nothing but 3.5mm input and output jacks, plus a USB charging jack, and inserting a plug into the output powers it up.
If you’re a purist audiophile, the GoVibe MBA is the mini headphone amp for you. It has an extremely clear, clean sound. The best part is the treble, which sounded much clearer and more detailed than with the other mini amps. This characteristic lets the GoVibe convey a much greater sense of the ambience in a recording; you can hear the sounds echoing off walls (or the simulation of such echoes through electronic reverb) better than with the other amps tested here. I noticed this on lots of recordings; one example is Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days,” where the ambience and natural reverb of the space where John Bonham’s drums were recorded was much more evident. However, some might say the treble is a little too present; that’ll depend on personal taste and the headphones you use with the MBA. The bass is clean, tight, and dynamic, although it’s subjectively less beefy than what I heard from the competitors.
The MBA’s measured frequency response into a 32-ohm load at 1 mW is the best of this group. It’s essentially flat, dropping not at all in the bass and only -0.08 dB at 20 kHz. Most high-end power amps would be proud of numbers like that. Max output at 1 kHz into a 32-ohm load is the lowest, at 135.4 mW at 1% THD+N, but switching to a 250-ohm load shows a clear advantage for the MBA. You can also see from the THD+N vs. output chart that the MBA has the lowest THD+N at typical listening levels, typically just 0.01%. Maximum gain at 1 kHz is +4.6 dB, the lowest of the bunch. A-weighted signal-to-noise ratio at 1 kHz is -100.1dB, the best of the bunch. Output impedance is extremely low, at just 0.6 ohms
No question about it: If you want audiophile-grade performance (both subjective and measured) from a mini headphone amp, the GoVibe Mini Box Amplifier is the way to get it.
At the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, a representative from Jaben, the distributor of GoVibe, didn’t have price or availability information for the Mini Box Amplifier, but predicted it would sell for about $60. We received no reply to repeated requests for more information from Jaben, but we’ll update the review if and when the company responds.
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