When In Manila, finding a fitting DAC and amp to match your system has been a long journey for each audiophile. Even the casual listener takes time to find the right headphone or earphone that suits his taste. For the audiophile that seeks for a DAC and amp combo that can cater to most his needs, from inputs to outputs and performance, this is a long journey as well. Multi-award winning Miniwatt has created a very portable DAC and amp combo that has some tricks up it’s sleeve and we’re here to check ’em all out.
Build/Packaging: The Miniwatt N4 comes in a packaging fairly similar to iBasso products. A very minimalist white box that houses the Miniwatt N4 along with the usb cable. The N4 itself is a very basic slim designed amp and DAC combo that has a leather like coating on the body. It has a digital volume, I honestly preferred an analog volume knob, but let’s talk about that later on. The face and the rear-end of the N4 is plain straight-forward with a nice and simple design.
I tried connecting a DAC to the SPDIF output and it did pretty well, more than what I honestly expected.
Performance: Here’s where it creates a totally different character from the packaging and simplistic design, the Miniwatt N4 caters a smooth sounds in DAC and amp mode that although not as sharp and detailed as iFi audio’s iDAC, has a very sweet smooth tonality to it that ads a little butter to the sound quality. Soundstage is fairly impressive that it goes past beyond walls in perspective and has great center focus and layering. Bass is fast and punchy, overall sound is pretty much balanced. Midrange is on the warm side of neutral and very smooth, making them very musical One key with the Miniwatt N4 that gave me a thumbs-up is with how silent it was, it boasts electrical immunity through USB which is often a disturbance for me on multiple DACs when I plug them onto the desktop PC.
From what I mentioned a while ago about using the Miniwatt N4 as an SPDIF converter which allows DACs without USB sockets to utilize the signal from PC or Mac by using the Miniwatt N4. I hooked it up to another DAC and through coaxial RCA. It had a deeper capability of sound that is more clear in tone, bass is deep and elegant mids!
Overall: The Miniwatt N4 could be your jack-of-all-trades amp and DAC. It has the capability, as well as having the option to be used as an SPDIF converter, even small and slim enought to easily be carried around. The Miniwatt N4 is very smooth, controlled and musical. It easily justifies its price tag which is $348 from www.Miniwatt.com.hk Order one now!
Miniwatt N4: Portable headphone DAC and amp for the all-around audiophile