Ovidius B1

DAC Chip: Undisclosed AKM (Custom Quad Channels, IAA)
PCM 24bit – 192khz, SNR: -108dB, Power: Adaptive up to 600Ω, 2.5mm DATA to USB Type-C Male, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: No), Aluminum Chassis


Listening Equipment: Etymotic ER4SR, Etymotic ER2XR, Shure KSE1500, TIN HiFi P1, Monolith M565C & FOSTEX T40RP MK3

LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING


💚PROS

  • Ethereal neutral and natural airy smooth timbre, uncolored tonality
  • Realistic dynamics with well controlled vibrancy
  • Reference grade coherence with pristine clarity all over, super transparent
  • Intimate Mids with rich textures and definition, vivid Male/Female vocals
  • Silky smooth Treble with matured finesse, depth, extension, and textures
  • Richly textured Mid-Bass with commanding vibe and smooth decay
  • Deep, richly textured Sub-Bass with realistic decay
  • Excellent details retrieval, Macro and Micro. Realistically nuanced
  • Lifelike guitar, piano, cello, and bass guitar tones, vivid yet smooth
  • Sweet sounding percussions (chimes, bells) and realistic drums and taps
  • Massive soundstage with great depth and spacing.
  • Reference grade imaging, razor sharp precision with spacious spatial staging
  • Reference grade speed and transients handling, no chance for congestion
  • Zero signs of coarseness or grainy edges, at any frequency
  • Great sibilance resistance
  • Immensely powerful SE output with commanding drive
  • Absolutely gorgeous sounding paired with Etymotic ER4SR, DT990, Monolith M565c
  • Drives FOSTEX T40RP MK3 91db Magnetic Planar at 65/100 Volume with ease. Desktop fidelity

💔CONS

  • Need to use the included Impedance Adapter for sensitive IEMs
  • Sub-Bass seismic impact could be a little bit stronger
  • Smooth dynamics could be regarded as a bit laid-back (vs PEE51 & DC04)
  • Being super transparent it exposes bad recording artifacts audibly
  • No hardware volume adjuster
  • Proprietary 2.5mm to USB-C cable (DON’T lose it!)
  • Available only in 3.5mm Single Ended Audio Out
  • Does not synergize well with Electrostatic (as Line-In AUX in general)
  • Best paired with later model Android phones (2019 and above) preferably with USB 3.0. Some weaker USB powered devices may induce distortions due to bigger power demand for the B1 Quad DAC circuitry and IAA amplifiers
  • Will NOT work properly with UAPP
  • Exhibit floor noises when paired with super sensitive IEMs, need to use an Impedance Adapter to eliminate the noise
  • WILL NOT WORK ON iOS. Forcing B1 to pair with iOS will result in MAX volume all the time

VERDICT

Ovidius B1. Realistic, that’s how I would describe this mysterious DAC/Amp. The overall sound reproduction meticulously focused on presenting transparent and natural sound. It is properly organic as it is competently technical. This B1 will reveal the true nature of the recordings, any imperfections will be audibly heard. There’s no hint of attempts to overdo anything. This thing is totally uncolored. The smoothness and crispiness level is just about right, the highs extended naturally, the lows oozes matured finesse, Mids naturally vivid – it doesn’t feel out of place. What surprised me the most is how spacious and airy the sound is, the soundstage is wide as it is with proper depth – definitely among the best. The airy dynamic presentation is as meaty is it gets even driving natively thin sounding IEMs/Headphones.

The greatest appeal for this Ovidius B1, is for those seeking perfectly balanced source – totally neutral and uncolored. In my book that’s a massive plus and I personally loved it. Because it synergize so exceedingly great with my Etymotic ER4SR, ER2XR, VE Monk GO, TIN HiFi P1, Monolith M565c, FOSTEX T40RP MK3 and AKG K52, this B1 is definitely is my personal favorite now. Especially with my all time favorite the ER4SR, with the B1 that venerable BA sounded almost like an Electrostatic IEM. (Worth to mention that does not synergize well with my Shure KSE1500, both being ultra resolving so it is somewhat unnaturally sterile sounding).

PS: Would have received 100/100 score from me however I must factor in the cons as noted in Weaknesses – well nothing is perfect.

High Sensitivity IEMs

With each Ovidius B1 unit, there’s an L shaped 3.5mm adapter included, which is actually an Impedance regulator (adds 16Ω resistance) for highly sensitive IEMs that are ranged between 8 to 16Ω. B1 is an utterly powerful unit and have power enough even to drive 600Ω full sized headphones, it is necessary to use the included adapter for anything which is below 32Ω or sensitivity over 100db. Failing to do so will likely introduce unwanted hissing or noise due to overwhelmingly powerful feed.

UPDATE 20 July 2021: Ultra-Critical Tests #donglemadness Top Performers

IEM: ETYMOTIC ER4SR (98db, 45Ω )
Source: Windows 10, Native Windows USB Drivers
Ovidius B1: (Single Ended 3.5mm) Adaptive Gain
L&P W2: (Balanced 4.4mm) High Gain
ZOOAUX: (Single Ended 3.5mm) Fixed Gain
EQ: Always Off

ZOOAUX vs L&P W2 vs Ovidius B1 (6 passes for each Dongles)


DIANA KRALL – “CALIFORNIA DREAMING” (24BIT/48KHZ) FLAC

  • W2 (Vol 52/100), ZOOAUX (Vol 32/100), B1 (Vol 14/100)
  • Micro Details W2 equal ZOOAUX. B1 slightly more pronounced
  • Crisper Piano tone on B1, W2 and ZOOAUX equal
  • Shorter decays on ZOOAUX, Slightly longer on W2 and B1
  • Intimate Mids on ZOOAUX & B1, W2 slightly spaced back
  • Overall timbre: W2 & B1 slightly warmer, ZOOAUX neutral
  • Timbre coherence equal on all three
  • Background on silent passages equal for all three

ALISON KRAUSS “GOODBYE IS ALL WE HAVE” (16BIT/44KHZ)

  • W2 (Vol 56/100), ZOOAUX (Vol 32/100), B1 (Vol 14/100)
  • Overall timbre W2 and B1 equal, ZOOAUX very slightly brighter
  • W2 Mids spaced back 1 step, B1 & ZOOAUX equally intimate
  • Timbre coherence equal on all three
  • Everything else performed equally (timbre, transparency, details, speed, soundstage, imaging & extensions)

In addition to my own tests, I decided to extend it further and asked the help of two members from ChiFi Audio Reviews FB group. Edmund Chan and Syazwan. Edmund being a seasoned Audiophile highly respected in the Malaysian Audio scene, He is a crew of AudioMonsta Malaysia. Syazwan on the other hand, is a freshly made Audiophile and I opted to ask him to share his impressions as well. This way I am able to gauge the perspective from both end of the spectrum = seasoned and fresh perspective.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ ($149.00)

Best Pairing: Best synergy with technically competent IEMs and Headphones.

LOL, Home Automation Kits, Small Nuclear Section, Google says so! not me!

45 Comments

  1. Without this website, the Ovidius B1 probably would’ve been completely overlooked by virtue of its poor measurements.

    Goes to show that there’s more to it than that 🙂

    Thanks for all your effort!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Measurement are good, no doubt. But to completely judge a device purely on numbers perhaps not the best of way to ascertain their values and actual qualities that apply to human senses. We are not FR measuring devices anyway. We human are much more complex. I have come across devices with over -120db of SNR and yet they can’t even make it to my 4 Stars rating.

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  2. So, overall your goto recommendation would be the Ovidius B1? How do these dongles compare to the sound on a dedicated dac or a “portable” dac/amp combo? Also, between the B1 and S9 Pro what would be better for Midwest emo/math rock, hip hop, and vocal heavy (think Daniel Caesar) songs. Also, if it’s not too much of a hassle, which performs better on the song IMPERIAL SMOKE TOWN by Ichiko Aoba?

    Thanks a huge in advance

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    1. First of all, this is not a recommendation. #donglemadness is my adventure trying out as many Dongles I can and I ranked them based on my personal preference and taste and what I believe is quality sonic performance. I choose B1 over any other Dongles and in fact any DAPs that I have ever owned and used including Cayin N6ii E02, Cayin N3 Pro or desktop rig of Topping D10s/A50s. I am not familiar with the music that you mentioned so it will not be possible for me to imagine if B1 or S9 Pro will suit them, also not knowing what IEM/Headphone you will be using. On top of that I have no idea what is your sound preference (warm? smooth? euphonic? bright?). So I would not be able to suggest anything, sorry.

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      1. Oh, I was generally asking for your subjective opinion vs an objective one, I like your transparency, I personally haven’t had the highest level of audio equipment, safe for my Topping E30 I run speakers through.

        Other notable equipment includes BTR5, Shanling UP4, AK JR and Acoustic Research M2, I’m generally looking for a better way of listening to stuff and stumbled across your comprehensive collection of dongle reviews. My preferences lend itself towards a slightly warmer neutral or a closer to harman neutral but generally anything in the realm of neutrality and resolution is where I’d place how I listen to music.

        Headphones/Iems include: AKG K371, AKG K612, Ety ER4PT, Moondrop Blessing 2 Dusk, Koss KSC75 (modded, yaxi and headband), Ikko OH10, HD 6XX and the Campfire Cascades.

        Generally the music is vocal heavy with higher pitched (falsetto?) singing alongside plenty of RnB, Math rock in general is best described as complicated riffs and instrumentation, very instrument heavy and fun, and finally the best way I’d describe Ichiko Aoba’s music is vocals married to a guitar in the middle of a large resonant room, very Soundstage-y.

        Again, thanks for taking your time out to read and/or respond!

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      2. No worries. Alright I see that you have ER4PT in your inventory and I am very familiar with that Ety unit. Since you mentioned warm neutral then perhaps I could suggest you try VE Odyssey HD SE which will cost you peanuts at $10. If you read my review on Odyssey HD you would find how silly shocked out of my skin I was with the performance of that stupid looking Dongle. But I chose to keep my perspective purely on performance and in the end VE Odyssey HD won my heart for the versatility it offered. I am still using my Odyssey HD as frequent as possible especially when driving my Shure KSE1500 and VE Asura. For my ER4SR, I get the best results with Ovidius B1. Both B1 and Odyssey HD are highly musical and technical at the same time. My favorites are Diana Krall, Alison Krauss, Morrissey and Madonna for Hi-Fi side, but equally I listen a lot to Lo-Fi Black Metal and Shoegazing

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      3. Thanks for the prompt replies! I was wondering, have you tried the ibasso dx160 at all as I’m debating between dongle + a big battery android phone (moto g9 power) or a dedicated dap.

        I’m still on the fence as to weather dongles can replace DAPs in terms of amplification and sound quality.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I don’t have DX160 so I can’t compare. But I do have a $1300 Cayin N6ii E02 (Dual Discrete E9038Q2M Permanently Balanced) and a $400 Cayin N3 Pro (Dual Discrete AK4493EQ Balanced). All of the 5 stars performers in my #donglemadness list are either equal or superior in terms of SQ. As for driving power, the likes of Ovidius B1, Hidizs S9, S9 PRO, A&K PEE51 easily perform as efficiently as the two dedicated DAPs. Even the likes of E1DA 9038D can make that N6ii E02 blush. Try it for yourself and keep an open mind and you will understand what I mean. I started this #donglemadness because I wanted to find out how far the Dongle revolution has evolved. A Dongle is basically external DAC/Amp which is modular/swappable as opposed to fixed/permanent internal DAC/Amp you would find in the DAPs. The setback being those external DAC/Amp will not have their own battery and they are designed as minimal as possible to just do the single important role, to play audio. That’s good enough reasons for me as the rest of the features can be done by the host (Phone/iPhone)

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  3. Hi Andy, Hope you’re doing well. What you’re doing here is amazing and very helpful to those in need of information and don’t have the luxury of even hearing some of these dongles in person. Thanks for your hard work, bro! I need your help. I am torn between getting the S9 Pro or the B1. I have them both in the cart and ready to checkout one of them anytime. I got enticed by your donglemadness and started some buying spree recently. I tried the cheaper dongles first (I now have the Odyssey HD, CX-Pro 31993, JSaux, X1 and the ZooAux is still in transit) and now that I have the fund, I’m ready to try the top rankers. I only use earbuds. My current daily driver is a Seahf AWK F150C. Quite surprising for me to like this cheapo earbuds after owning a bunch of them like the VE Zen 1.0 and 2.0, Moondrop Liebesleid, Shozy Cygnus, DQSM Turandot, some Blox earphones and many more (just recently I got a Blur 64ohm but it lacks bass for my liking). Maybe because I like the signature – big bass and soundstage and tamed but present treble. I’m very sensitive to spikey treble. However, the mids is a little recessed for some music. Actually, I like it that way so as to avoid fatigue for long listening sessions but sometimes, there are vocal-centric music that can sound farther away. Can the B1 or S9 Pro help if I want to put the mids a little forward but not too forward and shouty? If I could get more bass slam and impact, that would be also great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you have the budget then Ovidius B1 what I would pick all the time over anything. B1 is my No.1 because it has all the refined features to smooth things up especially for my bright and highly resolving Etymotic ER4SR and FOSTEX T40RPMK3. And it is equally stellar with earbuds. Your Seahf AWK F150C is a stubborn 85db sensitivity unit and the insane power of B1 will be perfect to drive things up without making them shouty

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  4. Hai Andy, really great review. Is the B1 can be use as amp only, use line in from other DAC? Currently am using Dragonfly Red with TRN V80 and & Philip SHP9500. I think I like the sound but could use a little bit less peak on the treble (both the IEM & headphone can be harsh sometime depending on the track) and more instrument separation. I also looking for life like in term of tonality of instrument. The B1 looks like could give what I´m looking for.

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    1. Thanks. No B1 or any of the Dongles you see on my page cannot work as amp only. They all have DAC stage with just Digital in. B1 2.5mm port is purely digital feed from transport

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  5. Hi Andy
    Purchased the Ovidius B1 from redape after reading your personal experience
    Noticed the output from b1 is fixed at 96k 16bit always no matter the original file
    Tried using usb player pro and hiby music app and neutron app with exclusive usb mode made no difference
    All these from samsung s21 ultra phone
    Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks

    Like

    1. Hi. I never use HiBy App or UAPP. I use Bandcamp, Deezer and Tidal native app all the time. Even on PC it will always show 16/96. This is consistent as reported by other B1 owners. Honestly the numbers never bothered me as the sound the only thing I am interested in. I am using S20 as well for my primary usage. Cheers

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  6. Hey Andy, the B1 finally arrived today. I was so excited like a child opening a birthday present. But I have a big issue. After I plugged it on my phone, I made sure that the volume is lower than 50%. I’m worried that the nuclear thingy is real. 🙂 Then I launched Tidal via USB Player Pro and pressed Play. The volume is so loud like it’s 100% and I can even hear the music even after removing the earphone (Seahf F150C) from my ears. I tried it again but I really cannot control the volume. I have several dongles already and this is the first time I’m having issues with volume adjustment. I wonder if you have experienced this or have any suggestion how to fix it. Thanks.

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    1. What phone are you using? It sounds like you are plugging it to an iPhone? if yes B1 will not work with iPhones, the volume will always be 100 on iPhones. On Android and PC mine works perfectly. Have you tried it on PC?

      Like

      1. It’s an Android Phone, Google Pixel 4a 5g. It works with all the dongles I have used so far – CX-Pro 31993, Odyssey HD, ZOOAUX, Jsaux and sadly except the B1. Maybe there is a workaround. I’ll try to uninstall and reinstall USB Player Pro and see if it works. I’ll report back.

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      2. There’s your problem, I never use UAPP with any of my Dongles, check my Foreword on this. UAPP is more problematic than anything else I know

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  7. The problem is ovidius volume control is software driven not hardware
    In UAAP settings go to USB Audio and under bit perfect make sure its off
    Then go to volume setting under USB volume control switch to software control
    You might want to change volume steps to 250 sa B1 is very powerful
    Then you are good to go

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I gave up trying the B1 with UAPP last night. I tried the native Tidal app and played some songs with the B1 still attached. And just WOOOOW! This USB DAC makes everything sounds real like music is breathing. Sorry I was so happy I cannot properly describe what I’m hearing and comparing it with the CX-PRO 31993 which pairs nicely with my F150C, the B1 is just next level. I started with 60/100 volume on my Pixel and it feels very sufficient despite of the low volume (I usually listen at high volume level 70-85%) while hearing everything like they have their own space in my head. The soundstage and imaging is spot on while timbre and overall tonality is just perfect for me. You are correct Andy even with high volume, it does not tend to be shouty or too much in your face and I LIKE IT. Thanks Andy for discovering and introducing the Ovidius B1 to us. It’s indeed a gem. Still I want to be able to try it with UAPP. Comparing the Tidal native app with UAPP using my other dongles, the UAPP is just way better. Tidal sounds subdued, tamed and less lively compared to UAPP.

    Hi Kang, I will try your suggestion and report back here. Hope it works. I’m very thrilled to hear how the B1 will sound with UAPP. Fingers crossed…

    Like

    1. I am glad you discovered the true nature of B1 without the need to use UAPP. For myself I am perfectly satisfied with Samsung S20 USB 3.0 power to deliver the best B1 and Apogee Groove capable of. And I am always on traditional FLAC 16/44 or Deezer HiFi so really I don’t need UAPP. Perhaps the suggestion from Kang can help you with that. Cheers

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  9. UAPP is now working with the suggestion from Kang. Thank you so much Kang! Now I don’t need to inform the developer about this B1 specific bug and wait if they will respond. Now that UAPP works, I’m hearing some little differences between the native Tidal app and UAPP with volume matched and using the B1. The B1 is so powerful that the volume on UAPP is only around 20% while on Tidal it’s 60%. It’s still early to decide which one sounds better over the other but I’m amazed how Tidal now sounds good with the B1. Hope I like the Tidal app better sound wise because the UAPP interface is like half-baked and there is no Discovery feature.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem guys
        We are all fellow appreciators of this awesome nifty B1
        Btw you can also try hiby music app which is free and has Tidal integration in the app
        Seems to auto adjust volume nicely for the B1 once you enable the Usb Dac exclusive mode in it

        Like

  10. Hey Kang. I’m fairly new with MQA and I’m curious about this Bit-Perfect feature in UAPP. Now that I am forced to turn it off so i can use UAPP with B1, am I missing something with the app? How does this feature affect the overall audio quality. Unfortunately, I cannot validate the difference using the B1. Kindly provide your insights if any. I will check the Hiby Music app also. Thanks!

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    1. Unfortunately B1 does not support MQA so it does not matter much if you turn off bit perfect
      Normally bit perfect mode ensures that the original digital file is passed unprocessed and unaltered by any dsp , eq or software alterations before reaching the external dac amp in this case the b1
      With app like UAPP or hiby it allows the digital data to avoid being resampled by the android stack so the signal reaching the external dac is in its original format
      But in practice as pointed out by Andy and i agree its the music that counts in the end
      To be honest its difficult to discern between the different sampling rates or even MQA nor not
      Trust your ears more than the numbers

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  11. Well said Kang. Got the idea now. I downloaded the Hiby Music app but it sounds dull for me and for some reasons the volume is fixed. I have not seen yet the volume adjuster in-app and the physical buttons on my phone are not working as well. Anyways, good thing it’s free so I just uninstalled. I’m pretty happy with the UAPP or the native Tidal app for now. Both sounds fantastic with the B1. There are instances where I felt that the non-MQA songs never sounded differently than the MQA files or maybe better. I agree, in the end, it’s what we hear that matters.

    P.S. Andy, is there any way to turn off the white led light??? I’m planning to put a black sticker on it since it’s very annoying at night or when in the dark. I don’t think there’s a real use for it.

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  12. I taped it then after a few minutes, I played one of my favorite tracks and the soundstage became wider, deeper and it sounded more realistic than ever before. I think that this is the most overlooked feature of the B1. hahaha. Thanks Andy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I already mentioned that clearly in my review, B1 does not pair well with KSE1500 due to Amp stage of B1 being very powerful. KSE1500 better be served with dongles on low power like ASUS ROG Clavis or Avani

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  13. Hi,Andy. As per today is there amy workaround to use B1 with Iphone (max volume issue)?
    I have both Android (Pixel 3) and Iphone (XR) and would like to try this B1 if it can be used on both phone

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  14. I placed the order before I read the information that the volume control does not work with the iPhone.

    In this regard, there are a couple of questions.

    1. What is the difference between the SQ b1 in direct comparison to the hidizs s9 pro? As far as I understand they are both pitch neutral, but what is the difference? I currently have the LPW2 and am interested in trying something different.

    2. Does the developer of b1 warn customers about the incompatibility with iPhone? Is there any work being done on this by the manufacturer?

    Like

    1. Every B1 owner that I have talked to complained about two things. iOS dont work and floor noises on super sensitive IEMs. And yes I have contacted Ovidius on the iOS issue and they are still working on it. No updates yet. I believe I have made comparison between B1 to S9 Pro in my S9 Pro review, please check that

      Like

  15. Got the B1, but with the Tin P1 I can not achieve high volume. More precisely, the unacceptable audible distortion begins.
    I was sure that the power would be enough for these IEMs, could you check this for yourself?
    I like the sound on the more sensitive ones, but I can hear the background noise.

    Have the developers said anything about working with iPhones?

    Like

    1. I use my B1 on daily basis and never had issues with distortion for P1 or any of my Magnetic Planars. The sound is driven at great fidelity. Background noise for anything sensitive is now a known issue for B1

      Like

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