Review: DIY Amplifier by MIU, the MRC

MIU Audio | Headphone Amplifier |

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Headphone amplifiers are starting to really get pushed by some more mainstream companies nowadays, V-Moda being the main example with their Vamp line of portable amplifiers.  However, if you dig deeper into the amplifier world, you’ll find that there is a huge slew of amps that fall under just about every category.  The MIU MRC  is a DIY amplifier that doesn’t come assembled.  It requires some soldering skills and can become a very fun DIY project if you need something to keep your hands busy. 

Specifications

In the Box

MIU Audio MRC (Unassembled)

Assembly

The MIU Audio MRC amp does not come assembled, so before you can begin using this, you actually do have to make it yourself.  The assembly requires a few additional tools that isn’t included: solder, a soldering iron, and some sort of wire cutter.  All the parts come labeled and you place them in the appropriate areas and use the provided diagram to figure out were each part goes.  Although most things, like resistors, need not be in any certain orientation, some things, like the transistors, will need to have its poles aligned properly.  Once everything is assembled properly, the amplifier is ready to go.  Assembly isn’t too hard if you follow the diagram; it can be fun to do as well if you’re into DIY.

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Design

The MRC is available in two very beautiful colors, red and black.  Both colors feature a gorgeous brushed metal housing that is just beautiful to look at.  Like many portable amplifiers, the design is really just boxy, but the use of the brushed metal really does give the amp more of an industrial look to it.

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Design: ★★★★

Audio

The amplifier really doesn’t change too much when it comes to output sound.  There are a few things to note though.  The first is that the output with this amplifier is warmer in general compared to running the source, like an iPod, straight.  You’ll get a bit of a bass boost.  Otherwise, the rest is relatively flat and won’t change the sound too much.  The second thing to note is that the amp does put out a little too much gain, which results in static noise when nothing or something soft is playing.   I do wish that the MRC would include a gain switch, high or low, to do a better job in this area.

Audio: ★★★★

Build

The build quality of the MRC, especially its internals, depends almost entirely on how good your hands are at building these sorts of crafts.  Everything is already cut to measure, and with strong precision.  Placing the input/output 3.5mm jacks can result in the back panel not being able to close flush with the rest of the housing unfortunately.

HeadphoneJack

The rest of the housing is really well built and designed though.  The amp is designed to be able to open up and expose the insides, which is accessed through the back panel.  The housing is very strong and really well built out of a machined metal that doesn’t just look good, but also provides a good bit of protection as well.

Housing

Build: ★★★★½

Value

The MRC is MIU’s entry level DIY amplifier.  It’s pretty easy to assemble and use and does work.  The design and casing that’s included far surpasses any sort of Altoid’s container you can get; it’s actually quite stylish as well.  The build is pretty good overall, although its dependent on how good you are at building things.  The sound overall is OK, I do still wish there as an included gain switch.  The battery is run by a standard 9V battery; I do wish MIU included a rechargeable one though.

Battery

Value: ★★★★

Final Thoughts

A DIY project can always be a fun thing to work on.  It can be a bit time consuming, especially with anything that deals with electrical work.  In the end, you can really just say, I built this with my own two hands.  The design of the amp easily will match up well with the new iPod and iPhone line.  The sound doesn’t have too many negatives while the build is great.

I’d like to thank Charles for the product sample.

Overall Score

MIU Audio MRC DIY headphone amplifier

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Charles for the product sample.

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