I'm an audio junkie. I love it, I love music and movies, I LOVE Surround sound. I was a musician for years playing Drums in a metal band. I consider myself a connoisseur of music. I have an iPod and I listen to it all the time, I listen to music on my Dell PDA, on my MPx220, all over, all the time. So, when Boostaroo asked me to look at their headphone amp, I jumped at the opportunity.
The Boostaroo Revolution (we'll call it the BR from here on out so I don't have to get carpel tunnel) is a small device that you plug into your portable audio/video player and then plug your headphones into the other end. The object of the device is to boost the audio signal and if you so choose, split it into two channels of HiFi audio.
The unit is simple in design on the outside, a single 1/8" audio jack input (that doubles as the power switch, plug in and it turns on), two 1/8" audio jack outputs, a power on LED, and a battery door for the two AAAA batteries required for operation. It comes with two input cords, one 4" long and one 7" and two AAAA batteries.
Does it work?
You bet, it is hard for me to quantify the result other than to say that your headset sounds better when Boostarooed. The sound is louder at a lower device volume level for sure (this will save device battery levels BTW), the bass has more punch, and the highs are a bit crisper and the sound is much more CD like than MP3 like. I checked this device out under a pile of different configurations, here is what I found:Source - iPod Nano >
EQ set to OffSound file >
U2 Vertigo ripped using the iTunes MP3 encoder at 192kbps (great reference tune with lots of range and killer low end)Listening Device - Koss "The Plug" >
These are my toss in the bag headphones of choice because of their bass response. With the BR in line, there was surly more bass kick but the most noticeable difference was purely in volume. Boostaroo does say on their packaging "Headphones rated under 32 ohms may be overdriven by the power of Revolution and are not recommended for use with this unit."
Basically, you can easily blow your little ear drums out just as quick as you can blow out the tiny cheap speakers in your standard Kmart $15 set of headphones. Don't take this caution lightly unless you just like to buy new headphones all the time.Listening Device - iPod stock white headset >
About the same as the Koss, a bit more bass, fuller sound and for sure more volume.Listening Device - Phipps noise canceling headset (HN060) >
These are a much higher quality headset than the first two on the list (rated at 72 ohm as I recall) and this is where you really start to hear a difference. The sound with the noise canceling amp (built in to the lanyard cord) and the BR in line is fantastic! Huge range of sound, thundering bass, super crisp high end. Very pleasing. With the noise canceling amp on as well, I found them to be a bit over-driven but acceptable lower NC amp volume. Better without both amps running for sure.Listening Device - Sony MDR-SA1000 Pro Headset >
I borrowed this pair from a friend for the test. They sound fantastic without the amp for sure but with I found a richer fuller sound with again, better low end and volume levels on the Nano down by a third.Listening Device - Monster Cable RadioPlay™ Car Stereo Wireless FM Transmitter >
This one is very exciting. In order to get good sound out of the FM modulator, I have always had to run the Nano at full or at least 90% volume to drive the unit. This is awful for the battery life, the 12 hour rated life on the Nano would only be about 6-7 hours cranked up like this. With the Boostaroo in line, I was able to run the iPod at 1/2 volume and get better sound to boot increasing my range greatly.
Another advantage of the BR is that you can drive two headsets off the unit with no loss in audio quality. The same can not be said about a $2.99 splitter from Radio Shack.
Overall, I am very pleased with this product. It claims to "expand and image the compressed audio of MP3s into vibrant, high definition three channel surround sound"
and I would say for sure that it does this. Along with providing more punch on the low end and crisper highs, the sound from the player is more CD like than any of the above combinations without the boost. The audio quality of the output, especially on high end headsets, is extremely good.
It is not all rosy though, like any product, there is always some downfall. In this case, what do I not like? The batteries. AAAA batteries are not something that I keep on hand and in fact, they can be downright hard to find. Item two, while it amplifies your audio source, it can also amplify the flaws of your source, when plugged into my POS desktop computer at work, I get the standard hiss of the port (created by electrical noise in the box) at a boosted level. And the last point of contention is the price. $80 is steep for sure. Now is it worth it? I would say that if you are an MP3 junkie or you use an FM modulator a lot, you will be able to justify the funds but for the standard occasional user, you may be better suited with the standard Boostaroo inline amplifiers which are more in the $30 price range and give you the loud but not the richness of sound you find the the BR.
Overall, I am very happy with this product and it has earned a spot in my gadget bag.Check it out...