The Ovidius B1 is a portable decoding headphone amplifier (DAC) priced at US$139. It comes equipped with an AKM high-performance DAC chip and independent amplifier architecture.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by HiFiGo for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
- Class-leading clarity and detail retrieval
- Natural, organic timbre
- Massive output power
- Good EMF shielding
- Device stays cool during use
- No lightning cable or adapter
- Noticeable hiss and electrical buzzing on IEMs and low impedance headphones if not using the impedance adapter
- Proprietary connector
- DAC: AKM 24-bit/192kHz Stereo
- Sampling rate: 44.1kHz-96kHz (PCM), 2.8mHz (DSD64)-DoP
- Output: 3.5mm stereo/32~600Ω impedance adaptive
- SNR: -108dB
- Power draw: 0.12W
Packaging & Accessories
The Ovidius B1 comes in a small colourful box with an image of the B1 on the front. Inside the box, you get the Ovidius B1 dongle DAC, a proprietary USB Type-C connector and an L-shaped impedance adapter.
Like most dongle DACs, the Ovidius B1 has a small rectangular chassis. The body is made from a CNC all-metal case that provides a high level of EMF shielding. With its matte black finish and brushed aluminium faceplate, the B1 looks and feels nicely built, although mine did come with some small scratches on the front.
On the top of the unit is a 2.5mm jack for the proprietary data cable and on the bottom is a 3.5mm single-ended headphone output. When the B1 is plugged into an audio source, a small white LED blinks intermittently.
The Ovidius B1 is a plug and play device, meaning you simply plug it into your phone or computer and it starts working. There’s no need to install additional drivers or mess around with any settings. However, despite having a 24-bit DAC chip, the device is restricted to only 16-bit 96,000 Hz when plugged into a PC. JRiver Media Center refused to play any of my music files until I forced it to convert playback to 96,000kHz.
Without using the included impedance adapter, the B1 emits a very loud and noticeable hiss when plugged into my PC or DAPs. It didn’t happen with harder to drive or high impedance headphones such as the Hifiman Sundara. But was very noticeable with efficient headphones like the Meze 99 Classics and all of the IEMs I tested.
My understanding was that the B1 is supposed to adjust its output power automatically using its impedance adaptive feature. But it seems as though my unit outputs at full power at all times. Could it be that my unit is faulty? I reached out to Ovidius but did not get any response. I will add an update here if anything gets resolved.
Gear used for testing includes:
- Sources used for testing include PC (Windows 10), Shanling M5s, FiiO M5.
- IEMs and headphones tested include DUNU DK-3001 Pro, FiiO FH3, Whizzer HE01, Hifiman Sundara, Meze 99 Classics.
*All testing was done with the included impedance adapter except when using the Hifiman Sundara.
Once connected to your (Android) smartphone or laptop, the white LED starts blinking and remains white regardless of the sampling rate. It’s evident right away that the Ovidius B1 produces a cleaner and more detailed sound than my laptop’s built-in audio.
I would describe the B1’s sound as neutral and uncoloured. The internal AKM DAC chip has a transparent character with the famous “velvet sound” that these chips are known for. So I went ahead and played some high-res FLAC files along with some Premium Spotify and (assuming the impedance adapter was in place) I liked what I heard.
Listening to “Schubert Symphony No. 9 in C Major, D.944: II. Andante con moto“, the Ovidius B1 shows excellent depth in its stage, along with an impressive level of clarity and dynamic range. Instrument timbre sounds natural and the B1’s sense of timing and fluidity makes the piece ebb and flow with a sense of grandeur.
The bass is slightly leaner compared to other dongle DACs and this might account for some of the perceived extra clarity I’m hearing in the midrange. Having said that, some of the airiness I hear without the impedance adapter is missing but the massive background buzzing I hear without the adapter is a deal-breaker.
The Ovidius B1 is an interesting device with a lot of potential. It’s clearly capable of producing good sound but the need (at least for me) to use the impedance adapter with every IEM makes it cumbersome and a bother to carry around. It’s one of the pricier options and there are plenty of alternatives out there that have an included balanced output as well. However, if you’re looking for a dongle DAC with greater than average power output, few can match it in that regard.