Jump to content

Firestone Audio Fireye 1 - a tiny review

Monitored Thread

You have reached the maximum limit for the number of replies allowed at this time. Please check back later.

Recommended Posts

Gidday Folks,




For ages I'd lamented one thing about my little mp3 player. Sure it sounded alright, sure the battery life was ok, but when coupled with my big little cans and their 55ohm load it was always going to struggle.




The along came this.




A tiny little unassuming box that on that first brief listen had me going "oh yeah there we go".




In those few minutes I could already pick this amp's strengths - low bass had more weight, the staging was more open and the top end possesed a little more sparkle.




I was intrigued enough to pick one up, and when an opportunity to do just that presented itself, that was what I did.




The size and weight of this is around that of a small mobile phone, so it's certainly portable. The instruction manual is sparse and a little confusing in parts, so you have to figure out a few things.




Aside from a few minor niggles, (more on this later), the unit has settled in nicely. One thing you notice right from the start is the ease at which you can listen to (and into) the mix. The presentation varies depending on the recording, and if you feed a low bitrate mp3 into this, it will bite you hard.




Listening so far has predominantly been done with mp3's at various rates, across a range of genres.




Its strengths are also its weaknesses audibly, whereas with female vocalists it will lend an air and grace which will draw you right in, that works against male rock - the more agressive, the more the power seems to be robbed from their voices. This is also apparent on the leading edge of low snare hits - on the big system at home there is a visceral whumph when they strike, on the phones through the amp that raw power simply isn't there.




Luckily, it makes this up in spades in the lower registers, especially when dealing with the likes of dubstep or D&B - the power and slam in the low end (sub 50 Hz) are phenomenal. You have to be careful though - even with the hard to drive phones it was still capable of some very loud volumes especially with dynamic passages.




All in all I'm very happy with the way it sounds, sure it has a lean quality to the upper bass (which incidentally you can tune internally via jumpers - albiet to the detriment of the sound quality) but it has an openness that would be hard to rival at this price. Time after time I would find myself hearing parts of a track that were either muddled or simply mising prior when listening without it.




I've not tested it yet with a standalone full resolution source, but would imagine it would be a capable little amp (just don't forget that inline vulme control).




Right, onto the workings.




It comes packaged in a neat little cardboard box, about the size of a watch one, with internal packaging that big companies could learn a thing or two from.




Supplied are a mini USB to USB (for charging the internal li-ion battery), and instruction manual (a little helpful) and a mini TRS to mini TRS lead a few cm long (mini TRS = 3.5mm stereo plug AKA headphone plug), and a little bag to pop it in as not to scar the mp3 player it will be near.




On the facia is a single LED with PLAY underneath, a metal 3.5mm stereo socket with OUT that also acts as the on / off switch when you plug phones / an output into, a plastic socket next to that labelled IN and a mini USB socket that acts as the charging dock. You can charge wether using the unit or not, and the state of the LED reflects this. It also has no volume control, so using it as a headphone amp for a CD player or the like is out of the question - volume is goverened from the source.




Now, the charge is an interesting beast. You plug it in, the LED goes red. And that's all it does. No indicator of when it's charged, but the manual does state that you can get an 80% charge in 1 1/2 hours and around 3 for a full charge. It also states it has overcharge protection but an auto off would have been nice, or at least a blinking LED.




The unit's LED glows green when anything is plugged into the OUT socket and is meant to go orange when in a low state, but I've yet to notice if it does. It simply stops when flat, no warning, no noise, no degredation, just halts instantly. This can be a bit disconcerting athe first time.




Another minor issue that has happened with my unit it one channel will suddenly drop out (it's only happened a couple of times) and will sound like you've blown a driver in your headphones. A quick disconnect and reconnect with the headphones and you're away again. I have no idea what caused it, but will be keeping an eye on it. It may be linked to the internal switch (one thing I would have liked to have had seperate) or it may be an issue with the headphone plug I'm using.




A minor caveat - if you're using this in a low signal area with an FM radio, ditch the lead that comes with it - it's the lead that's needed as the aerial and simply isn't long enough to pull a signal in. Mine got replaced quick smart.




Battery life is nothing short of brilliant. The inital use was over 12 hours, and with a decent charge, it's been well in excess of 20 hours in subsequent weeks.




Aside from a few minor reservations I don't think I could live without mine now. It's given the weakling mp3 player a big enough boost to listen to most music at reasonably loud volumes (excepting that which has been recorded far too low) and has opened the sound better than I would have expected. It will be a hard task to top this little pup for all round portablity - and bragging rights - who do you know has a fully portable 2 box system?




The Fireye 1 is available at your local friendly dealer for $199.






- Shane Hanify.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

what cans do you use with it? Full size audio cans? My ask is because i travel a fair bit and use my ipod and am looking at how to easily upgrade sound without buying headphones that cost more than the ipod! Maybe I go mad and use proper home audio cans with this beauty in motels at night!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gidday Tamarillo,


I use AKG's k171s (mk1). 55ohms as the only phones for the mp3 player. And yes they are full sized. Be aware that the mkII version retails for $350.


Apparently the firestone has been set up for a 32 ohm load but will work to 600 so it claims.


Cheers, Shane.


[edit] Just for fun I pluuged the amp into the headphone out socket on the volume control from my desktop speakers and are listening to FLAC tunes through cplay and the quality is nothing short of staggering.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice work Shane. Your comments about how the amp handles vocals gave me a fresh perspective to chew over.


I think the one thing that could improve the sound further would be a custom or better mini cable than the moulded wire that is provided in the box. I wonder if our friend Cloth_Ears could cook something up?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I might make a couple of comments right now about another firestone product I have on demo at present - the Spitfire 24/96 DAC.


I am going to write up a full review in time, but having only had it in the system a few days want more time to gain a good impression of the wee beast.


First impressions, within a few minutes of inserting it between my Squeezebox Duet ( SBD ) and my valve preamp were that it images very well. I feel that I need to seek improvements in imaging via room treatments to get much better. However, the sub bass - and I am meaning more toward, and well into the inaudible range - I feel that it attenuates somewhat. Is this a problem? For most, I would imagine not. I am talking sub 30Hz here. For me, however, I have the ability to reproduce well into that range, and I am lacking a bit of the "kick in the guts". Time will tell though, maybe its there but different. Vocals are clean, highs are crisp.


If anyone wants more info before I post a review, feel free to ask ( pm me if you want ) otherwise I will type out a review over the next week or so. It has shunted the CA dacmagic well off the radar if anyone is interested.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It has shunted the CA dacmagic well off the radar if anyone is interested.



Hey too tall,


your comment about the Spitfire being better than the Cambridge Dac Magic is an interesting one. Can you go into any more detail as to the difference in sound between the two as the CA is not a cheapie at over $700 or around that.


Many thanks:eek:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Best Drummer, My experience with the CA Dacmagic was that in comparison with the Spitfire, it sounded a little dry and most certainly did not image as well in my system as the Spitfire. This is based on mostly FLACs via the Squeezebox duet ( wired network connection ). I did also feed a coax digital signal to both from my Pioneer DVD969Avi dvd player and my old Rotel 5 disc cd player. My findings were mirrored here. I have returned the DM so no further comparisons can be made, but I just found that I wanted to listen to the music more with the Spitfire - the synergy of the entire system felt better.


I will be posting a much more in-depth review of the Spitfire in the next week or so. But feel free to ask any specifics.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Monitored Thread

You have reached the maximum limit for the number of replies allowed at this time. Please check back later.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...
To Top