iFi Journal, Reviews

Perfect little high quality in-line attenuator



Transparent attenuation in a compact form factor with nice build quality.

I finally gave up on my Shure in-line volume control for it’s I love my fancy earphones and their exceptional sound performance, but I struggle with the sensitivity in “normal” use environments. Plugged into phones and iPods the background hiss emerges. Plugged into airplanes entertainment systems the leveling blows your head off during announcements.

For years I’ve been carrying around a Shure in-line volume contro (from their travel kit) with mixed results. They have mediocre build quality, unpredictable operation, and noisy pass-through when paired with top-end in-ears. I wanted a fixed level of attentuation with more attention to sound quality. (Bonus: this thing comes with a two-prong airplane adapter with the best build quality I’ve ever seen!)

Well here it is, this is my new go-to. The iFi Ear-Buddy has been great in initial testing. It feels great, it looks nice, it’s compact, it’s got no controls to screw up. Perfect. Perfect level of attenuation too, I drive my phone at full volume and it’s just barely too loud for casual listening.

The advertised intention is to allow your DACs to drive at higher output, pulling more bits from the data stream and improving sound quality. This has been evident on lower quality systems in testing, though I don’t honestly notice the purported jump from 14 to 16 bit sound in most of my setups.
Mostly I notice that the SPL is now way above the DAC noise floor, so there’s less background hiss in quiet sections.

Overall a very reasonable buy for improved experience over any comparable competition for in-line attenuation.

Thank you D. Evans for your excellent review.

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