Sunday, 24 November 2013

Firestone Audio BlackKey Quick Review

Firestone Audio BlackKey Quick Review

Thanks to Firestone Audio for the sample.

Brief:  A dinky, bouncy DAC/Amp to play with.

Price:  Normally 69 Euro but at present 55 Euro or about £46

Specifications:  Size: High 80.15mm x Width 20.4mm x Depth 18.1mm, Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz): +0.04dB, -0.32dB, Noise level: -94.0dB, Dynamic range: 93.7 dB, THD %: 0.0070%, Stereo crosstalk: -90.6 dB, Support to 96kHz/24Bit, USB Interface: (A type) to USB Interface, System required: Windows XP/Vista/7, MAC OSX and Linux, Connectivity: USB interface (A type), Analog output: 3.5mm headphone jack, Dimensions : 8 x 2 x 1,8 cm, Weight : 23 gram

Accessories:  Erm a lid, if that counts.

Aesthetics:  It looks just like the other Key’s but this one sort of dark grey.  Shame it’s the least attractive colour of them all as I think it’s one that will be the biggest seller and hence most seen.

Build:  Yeah, it’s fine.  Looks accurately put together.

Power:  Loads actually.  Seemed happy driving even the big cans and the volume can go make you deaf loud with ease.  Remember that or you’ll hurt yourself!

Sound:  Rather unflat.  These have a bit of a V shaped sound and they are more than a touch exuberantly dynamic in the attitude to music.  They love to fly all over the place and thrill you.  Soaring and sweeping, descending to nothing then to come crashing out of nowhere.  These like to party and have a playfully gay old time.  I can’t say it’s what I’d suggest if you’re after some frightfully carful and precise monitor but I suspect most people aren’t.  These then are a fabulous option to sidestep that crappy laptop headphone out socket and to give you some cheap acoustic thrills.  The detail levels are great but most of all it’s a dynamic thrill ride and while I might not want it to be all I ever heard again its very entertaining.  However this meant for me that mole relaxing music lacked that languid hint where notes seem to linger if not just halt for that briefest instant, where it wants to slow things and melt together.  The BlackKey wants everything to be open and dynamic.  One negative there is that it’s not subtle in the highs and if you pair with hard or gritty treble it’s not forgiving in the least

Value:  Super fun to use and for the sound quality / entertainment value it’s a steel.  It’s got a pretty narrow use case scenario, I mean it’s clearly meant to go in the side of a laptop but I think that’s a pretty big user base isn’t it?  That’s got to be a very large chunk of the world’s student population for a start.  Not sure its sound sig is study inducing but it’s certainly oodles of fun.

Pro’s:  Super dynamic and entertaining.  Prodigious bass impact.

Con’s:  It’s very excitable.  Treble takes no prisoners.

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