Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mayflower CMOY Portable Review

CMOY portable
The Mayflower Electronics CMOY portable headphone amplifier brings Objective 2 sound quality to a small and portable package.  Housed in a similar (but significantly smaller) nondescript brushed aluminum enclosure to the Objective 2, the CMOY portable is a no frills mini headphone amplifier for use on the go and everywhere in between.

According to Mayflower's website, the CMOY portable was designed in accordance with many of the audio philosophies used in the Objective 2.  The CMOY portable uses the same 4556 OP-amp found in the Objective 2, an OP-amp that is designed for driving headphones and also has the added benefit of not draining too much power for a portable device.  The CMOY is equipped with a 280mAh battery which allows for 8 to 10 hours of battery life off of a single charge.  Using 32 and 64 Ohm impedance headphones, I verified the 8 to 10 hour battery life claim in testing, typically averaging around nine hours of playtime before a recharge was required (at sustained loud volume levels).

Rear I/O
In terms of build quality, the CMOY portable is as solid as they come.  As I mentioned earlier, the enclosure is constructed entirely from thick aluminum, with brushed aluminum on the back and the front.  The rear of the unit provides a standard 3.5mm input and 15v power input. The volume knob, green power LED, and 3.5mm headphone output are located on the front of the unit.  There is an internal two-stage gain switch located on the inside of the device, configured for 2x and 4x gain respectively.  According to Mayflowers website, an adjustable gain switch will be made available on the CMOY at a later date.  Either way, being such as simple device, it's not too difficult to open up the amplifier to adjust the gain.  On-the-fly gain switching is not really an option yet, however.  The CMOY portable ships with a spare 9v rechargeable battery, as well as four rubber feet that can be affixed to the bottom of the amplifier, which is definitely a nice addition.  You will have to buy the 15v DC power adapter separately for an additional $10 if you don't have one lying around already.

While switching between listening to the new CMOY portable and my Objective 2, I found it nearly impossible to discern a difference in sound quality between the two with both plugged into power.  Despite a less complex, and different internal design, the CMOY portable really does sound just like an Objective 2 but in a smaller and more portable package.  While the Objective 2 does provide considerably more power, and can subsequently drive higher impedance headphones with more ease, most of my headphones are relatively low impedance making the power difference between the two amps almost imperceptible.  Either way, the CMOY portable dishes out far more power than any standard MP3 player, smartphone or tablet can produce.  There are certain advantages to having this extra power, even in $100 to $150 dollar low-impedance headphones such as the Audio- Technica ATH-M50X's, Sony MDR-7506's and Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's that I used extensively in my testing.  Some of the standard outputs on smartphones and tablets can be surprisingly bad.  When switching from these standard mobile device outputs to a quality amplifier like the Mayflower CMOY portable, you may notice an overall increase in resolution and detail as well as tighter, more accurate, and overall cleaner bass response.  I did notice a slight but perceptible improvement in overall sound quality when using the CMOY portable with my headphones, as opposed to directly plugging into my iPhone 5's output.  The CMOY portable obviously also provides the added benefit of driving low to medium impedance range headphones to earsplitting volumes.  You will never find yourself complaining about your music not being loud enough ever again!  In short, the CMOY portable cleaned up the audio from my mobile devices and helped more prominently display details in my music that were either unnoticeable or greatly subdued when using just purely my iPhone or Nexus 7's onboard amplifier circuit.  While I am sure that the CMOY portable provides a greater benefit to higher impedance and less modestly priced headphones, it did provide a tangible benefit to my (relatively) inexpensive sets of headphones.

In short, it is ultimately up to you to decide if a portable amplifier is worth it for your specific listening needs and for the headphones that you plan on using with the amplifier.  I can however certify that the CMOY portable does everything a portable amplifier should, increase the overall quality of the sound being sent to your headphones and providing a substantial power boost over the standard output of your mobile device.  The CMOY portable is built as solid as they come, and is a simplistic and full-proof way to get a better and more powerful sound out of your mobile device.

CLICK HERE for Mayflower Electronics CMOY Portable Product Page

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