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The TRN BT20 2-pin 0.78mm IEM Bluetooth Adapter

The TRN BT20 2-pin 0.78mm IEM Bluetooth Adapter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll be reviewing the TRN BT20 Bluetooth adapter for 2-pin In-Ear Monitors (IEM):

TRN BT20 1
TRN BT20 1

The TRN BT20 is a Bluetooth 5.0 adapter that is available in 3 different versions:

  • 2-pin 0.75mm
  • 2-pin 0.78mm
  • MMCX

The version I purchased is the 2-pin 0.78mm for my KZ ZS7 IEM’s.

The adapter syncs together to bring you stereo sound. It uses a Realtek Bluetooth 5.0 SoC that while it is not specified which specific chipset it’s being used, I suspect it may be using the Realtek RTL8763B.

Because of it using a Realtek chipset, it doesn’t support the aptX audio codec, but it does support AAC along with SBC. This means that when paired with an iPhone or Android device, it should use AAC instead of SBC, and for backward compatibility, the SBC codec will be chosen if a device lacks the AAC codec.

Packaging

The packaging is very simple, as can be seen in the following images:

Here, you can see the sides:

And here you can see the back:

TRN BT20 3
TRN BT20 3

To open it, you have to slide the box outside:

TRN BT20 5
TRN BT20 5

Opening the box, both pieces of the TRN BT20 are revealed:

TRN BT20 6
TRN BT20 6

As you can see, they are very well protected and can be easily taken out:

TRN BT20 11
TRN BT20 11

Continuing unboxing the box, we need to take out the cable and manuals which are after taking out the following:

TRN BT20 7
TRN BT20 7

There’s a Micro USB Y-Cable that allows us to charge both Bluetooth pieces at the same time:

TRN BT20 8
TRN BT20 8
TRN BT20 18
TRN BT20 18
TRN BT20 19
TRN BT20 19

Finally, we have the manual, warranty card, and the card that says it passed quality checks:

TRN BT20 9
TRN BT20 9
TRN BT20 10
TRN BT20 10

Using the TRN BT20 with the KZ ZS7

I was using my KZ ZS7 IEMs with a Revonext 3.5mm 3-button cable before using this TRN BT20 Bluetooth adapter.

TRN BT20 12
TRN BT20 12

I removed the IEM from the cable so that I can plug them in the adapters:

TRN BT20 13
TRN BT20 13

Plugging them was straightforward and they are tightly attached:

TRN BT20 14
TRN BT20 14

Fitting

This is a part where these don’t work well with my ears and the KZ ZS7.

This adapter is supposed to be hanged behind the ears:

TRN BT20 15
TRN BT20 15

Unfortunately, My KZ ZS7 doesn’t get sealed in my ear and the TRN BT20 pushes them out, so I’m using them without hanging them behind my ears:

They are not heavy and now my KZ ZS7 seals fine in my ears. I think if TRN releases a version of the BT20 with a larger ear hook, then they may fit better. Otherwise, I don’t have a problem using them this way.

Pairing

Pairing the TRN BT20 with my phone was extremely easy. You just turn it on and it will enter in pairing mode automatically. From there, you can choose it in your phone and it will pair:

TRN BT20 Pairing
TRN BT20 Pairing

Charging

I haven’t yet discharged the TRN BT20 battery entirely, as I don’t listen to music at loud volumes. My Android phone reports 50% of battery left after about 3 hours of continuous usage. The volume is set around 1/4 of the slider and that produces a comfortable audio level to my liking. Past it, and it’s too loud. As mentioned above, the TRN BT20 supports the AAC audio codec which my phone is using. Because of this, charging normally takes around 45 minutes (Remember I have not discharged this completely). I’m not using the supplied cable to charge them. Rather, I’m using the UGREEN Micro USB Y cable:

TRN BT20 20
TRN BT20 20

There’s one side that will always charge faster because one side acts as a receiver while the other is receiving and transmitting the audio to the other BT20 side. I have paired the left adapter to my phone so that one takes a couple of more minutes to finish charging.

Audio Quality

I’m actually surprised by the quality of these. I think, personally, that the TRN BT20 has an advantage given that it uses a Realtek SoC on both sides. This means each side is decoding its own audio channel. This is similar to how balanced DACs work, in that each DAC decodes a specific channel. This has the advantage of improving the sound stage and channel separation. That’s exactly what I’m experiencing with the TRN BT20. The tonality is just awesome.

Because each side is decoding their own corresponding audio channel, I feel this improves the sound separation much like how balanced DACs work, except that there are no cables around.

It’s true that the TRN BT20 doesn’t support aptX nor LDAC, but given its ability to decode AAC, the audio quality is of very good quality. Even using the SBC codec, I find the quality to be amazing.

TRN BT20 AAC codec
TRN BT20 AAC codec with my Samsung Galaxy S9+

There’s a bit of a hiss when used with sensitive IEM’s, but it’s way less than other Bluetooth adapters, especially those that are not using dedicated audio DAC’s in their implementations. The sound quality is not degraded because of this, but I’m sure some may not like the hissing.

Overall, I’m pleased with the sound quality, and I’m using this Bluetooth adapter rather than my USB DACs with their cables.

Compatibility

I’ve been using the TRN BT20 with my Samsung Galaxy S9+, where it uses the AAC audio codec. The sound quality is excellent.

I also tested this with my HiBy R3 and Hidizs AP80 which I use as a DAC and Bluetooth transmitter to transmit my PC audio to the BT20. In this case, the SBC codec is used, as Hiby OS does not support transmitting AAC audio yet, although HiBy replied to a comment saying they may add this in a future firmware.

TRN BT20 21
Hidizs AP80 using in DAC mode and transmitting audio via Bluetooth

I normally set the volume between 7 to 13. Going up, it is too loud.

The only problem I found is that when using some Qualcomm transmitters with Windows, the volume will be extremely loud.

Conclusion

At around $33-34 on Amazon, you can’t go wrong with the TRN BT20. They do not have aptX, but their ability to decode AAC means the audio quality is not compromised.

The use of Realtek on both sides means each side decodes their own channel audio, which can improve the sound separation and sound stage.

There’s a bit of hissing which could be distracting for some, but it’s not very noticeable compared to other adapters.

The battery life is great and will last some hours. Charging should take at maximum 2 hours, but it charges in way less than that, having a 70mAh battery on each side, and charging at about 50mAh, it should take about an hour and a few minutes.

Unfortunately, it’s the fitting that didn’t work for me, but this part is one that depends on the IEM’s being used and your ears.

I’d rate this 4 out of 5, that last star being because of it not playing nice with my ears.

You can get the TRN BT20 on Amazon. Select the version that is compatible with your IEMs:

Unboxing and Review: Jack by Podo Labs

Unboxing and Review: Jack by Podo Labs

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I finally received the Jack by Podo Labs, after 2 years of waiting for this Kickstarter project:

Jack by Podo Labs 1
Jack by Podo Labs 1

The project was funded on February 25, 2017, and yesterday was April 8, 2019, the day I received it.

The Jack is a bluetooth receiver that turns standard 3.5mm headphones into bluetooth. The receiver supports Qualcomm’s aptX and uses a CSR8670 chip. It also uses a Maxim MAX97220 amplifier, and it’s stated to handle 2 Vrm up to 600Ohms, according to the project FAQ. The battery size is 300mAh, stated to last up to 12 hours per charge.

The Jack is also one of the few bluetooth adapters that supports headphone inline controls, so you’ll be able to control the volume and play/pause the music using the headphone cable inline remote and also use the Jack’s buttons, whichever method you prefer to use.

Going back to the pictures, the box was a bit crushed when I took it out of the package:

Jack by Podo Labs 2
Jack by Podo Labs 2

Kickstarter Edition! It includes the Jack (Obviously) and a USB charging cable, which where both protected by this bubble wrap:

Jack by Podo Labs 3
Jack by Podo Labs 3

Taking them out of the bubble wrap, here’s the Jack and the cable:

Jack by Podo Labs 4
Jack by Podo Labs 4

I turned it on and connected my headphones, then I paired it with my phone, which was very simple to do:

Jack by Podo Labs - Pairing
Jack by Podo Labs – Pairing

As soon as I started playing back music, the LED turned from blue to green:

Jack by Podo Labs 5
Jack by Podo Labs 5

I’m using my KZ ZS7 IEM’s with the Jack:

Jack by Podo Labs 6
Jack by Podo Labs 6

Unfortunately, the gold clip isn’t in good conditions, but this is purely cosmetic, and of course, does not affect the sound quality:

Jack by Podo Labs 7
Jack by Podo Labs 7

The Jack also came with a simple rubber case:

And that’s it with the pictures. Now, let’s talk about the sound quality.

Sound Quality

The Jack can provide a loud volume, so the amplifier is doing its job. The sound quality is good, thanks to the aptX audio codec. Unfortunately, there’s a noticeable noise that can be heard and can be annoying on quiet tracks. This is pretty common with bluetooth adapters that doesn’t use a dedicated DAC, and is noticeable on sensitive headphones and IEM’s, like the KZ ZS7 that I’m using. Other than that, the sound quality is very good but that noise is annoying. Here’s a place where Podo Labs can improve if they every decide to do another iteration of the Jack.

Music playback showed a flaw, where sometimes the blue LED will not change to green and there will be no audio at all. Sometimes, pausing a music track and resuming it will activate the Jack again and the led will change to Green. Unfortunately, this didn’t worked when I played back music files using my Hidizs AP80 portable audio player, which also supports aptX adapters and headphones.

The best way I’ve found to prevent above’s problem is to use an aptX bluetooth transmitter like the Tunai Wand or the GENKI, where it is continually transmitting the source audio. This way, the Jack is always active and receiving audio and will not have this problem.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think what stands out the Jack is its ability to handle headphone’s inline control and its battery life. Most other adapters have some 3 to 5 or 6 hours, but I haven’t seen any other reaching 12 hours like the Jack.

The Jack does not have a dedicated audio DAC so the audio quality is comparable to other standard adapters that use a CSR chip, which is acceptable and will satisfy most of the croud, unless you’re using sensitive IEM’s like the KZ ZS7.

The pind StickPad

The pind StickPad

Hi everyone,

Today, I got the pind StickPad:

pind 1
pind 1

Inside that envelope, is a sticky pad that we can use to stick things like portable hard disks to a laptop, among other things.

The packaging is very simple. It’s a simple envelope, and inside, we can find the pind StickPad:

pind 2
pind 2

I took it out of the envelope:

pind 3
pind 3

And separated both ends. There was a card inside:

pind 4
pind 4

That’s the content of it. On the other side of the card, there are useful instructions to handle the pad:

pind 5
pind 5

I stuck one part to my Lenovo Laptop. Here’s how it looks:

pind 6
pind 6

I’m also going to stick the other part to my UGREEN 2.5″ Hard Disk Drive Enclosure. Here’s how the other part of the pad looks:

pind 7
pind 7

And now, here it is stuck to the hard drive enclosure and the laptop:

pind 8
pind 8

I then opened the laptop where you can see the enclosure hanging on the back of the display without issues:

pind 9
pind 9

I feel this pad will be useful for me to better organize myself. It can be removed and used on other machines, so it’s portable. The glue is pretty sticky, and to remove it, you have to apply some force. This also means it will hold whatever item we have stuck pretty well.

This is a produce I backed on Kickstarter.

Received Yoshi’s Crafted World!

Received Yoshi’s Crafted World!

Hi everyone,

Today, I received my physical copy of the brand new Yoshi’s Crafted World game for the Nintendo Switch, which got released today, March 29, 2019.

Here, I’ll just show some photos of the box and the game cart. Let’s get started!

This is the box front:

Yoshi's Crafted World 1
Front of the Yoshi’s Crafted World Box

And the back:

Yoshi's Crafted World 2
Back of the Yoshi’s Crafted World Box

When we open the box, there’s a helpful background showing what each button does, and of course, we have the game cart:

Yoshi's Crafted World 3
Opening the box of Yoshi’s Crafted World

A closer look at the game cart:

Yoshi's Crafted World 4
Yoshi’s Crafted World Game Cart in the box

And finally, the game cart out of the box:

Yoshi's Crafted World 5
Yoshi’s Crafted World Game Cart out of the box

I’ll play this game later, at some point, and share gameplay footage with all.

Shucking the Western Digital WD Elements 10TB External Hard Disk Drive

Shucking the Western Digital WD Elements 10TB External Hard Disk Drive

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the process of shucking the WD Elements 10TB External Hard Drive that I got the last 2 weeks.

WD Elements 10TB 1
The WD Elements 10TB HDD

We need to use a sharp object and slide it toward the edges to take off the clips from the case. Then, we’ll slide it to the right carefully:

WD Elements 10TB 2
Sliding the WD Elements 10TB HDD to the right

We’ll keep sliding it right until it gets out:

WD Elements 10TB 3
The WD Elements 10TB HDD

The drive inside my WD Elements is a WD100EMAZ:

WD Elements 10TB 4
WD Elements 10TB 4

Now, we need to take out the Hard Disk Drive from the case. This is easy, because it is attached to the case using some rubbers. We just need to carefully push the hard drive to get it out:

WD Elements 10TB 5
WD Elements 10TB 5

Now, we need to take out the SATA to USB controller screw:

WD Elements 10TB 7
WD Elements 10TB 7
WD Elements 10TB 8
WD Elements 10TB 8

And here we finally have the shucked drive:

WD Elements 10TB 9
WD Elements 10TB 9

This drive didn’t required any hack to install it in my desktop machine, unlike my 8TB drive which needed to be plugged with a MOLEX to SATA adapter so that it doesn’t receive the 3.3V. I plugged this 10TB drive directly using a SATA power cable from my EVGA 600W PSU:

WD Elements 10TB 10
WD Elements 10TB 10

Windows recognized the drive immediately:

Shucked WD 10TB EMAZ Drive in Windows Task Manager
Shucked WD 10TB EMAZ Drive in Windows Task Manager

10TB of space! (Actually, 9.1TB)

Shucked WD 10TB EMAZ Drive Properties
Shucked WD 10TB EMAZ Drive Properties

I ran CrystalDiskMark and this is the result:

Shucked WD 10TB EMAZ CrystalDiskMark benchmark
Shucked WD 10TB EMAZ CrystalDiskMark benchmark

It’s fast, and it’s working awesome in my machine.

With this I conclude this quick and simple post.

The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus

The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I received the Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 1
The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus Box

This is a DAC and AMP all in one device. It has Dual ES9018K2M, Dual ES9601K amplifiers, as well as a Balanced 2.5mm headphone jack as well as the regular 3.5mm jack.

The device is very similar to the Hidizs DH1000. In fact, it is a rebranded Tempotec product. Today, I’ll take a look at a newer Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus revision.

The Tempotec unit I received should have some problems that the Hidizs DH1000 had. In particular, this unit should have the Blue LED problem fixed, where it would be permanently turned on at some point of the Hidizs DH1000 lifetime. I’ll also be comparing this version to the Hidizs DAC.

As seen in the picture above, the box look very similar. Let’s take the wrapping off:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 2
The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus Box without the wrap

Now, it’s time to open the box:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 3
The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus inside the box

We find the Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus inside the box. It is the first thing we see. Below the box, we find some more items:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 4
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus cables

We find a USB-A to Micro USB, a Micro USB to Micro USB OTG cable, and a USB-C to Micro USB cable. We also have the manual and other stuff.

Let’s take a look at the Sonata iDSD Plus:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 5
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus

It came well protected. The bag keeps the iDSD free from scratches, since it uses glass on both sides.

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 6
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus

Not a single scratch in the bag. That’s great. Now, let’s take out our Sonata iDSD Plus:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 7
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus Front

This is the front. While we can’t see the charging LED, it is in the bottom left corner. It is blue, just like the Hidizs DH1000, and will turn on while charging. Also, on the upper left, we can see the volume buttons. We’ll see them later in details.

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 8
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus Back

The back has the Tempotec branding, just like the Hidizs DH1000 also had the Hidizs branding.

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 9
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus USB ports

The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus has 3 USB ports. The USB-A is the so called “Private” port. This allows you to connect your compatible DAPs like the Hidizs AP80 and HiBy R3 when the USB mode is set to “Dock”. It also should work on Android and iOS devices when using the HibyMusic app.

The other ports are Micro USB. The middle port is for data transmission while the right port is for charging. The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus charges at 5V/1A, usually drawing 800 mA but it can draw 940 mA if it is also turned on while listening to music and it is charging.

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 10
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus audio jacks and power button

On the other side, we can see the standard 3.5mm audio jack on the left, the 2.5mm balanced jack in the middle, and the power button on the right. Between the power button and 2.5mm audio jack, we see the power LED, which will be green if it’s turned on, and will turn red when the battery is low.

Next, we’ll take a look at the cables:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 11
USB-A to Micro USB cable

Above, we have the USB-A to Micro USB cable. This is the cable that you’ll be using to use the Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus in your computer, unless yours have a USB-C port, in which case you can use the included USB-C to Micro USB cable:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 14
The USB-C to Micro USB cable

The USB-C to Micro USB cable also works with compatible Android devices. It works really well in my Samsung Galaxy S9+.

If your device has a Micro USB port, you’ll probably need this OTG cable, which is also included:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 13
The Micro USB to Micro USB OTG cable

However, not all Micro USB phones support the OTG connection, so please be sure to check if your phone is compatible with USB Audio Class 2 audio devices.

The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus manual comes in 2 languages:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 15
The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus manual in Chinese

In Chinese.

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 16
The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus manual in English

And in English.

It also came with the Hi-Res Audio stickers:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 17
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus Hi-Res stickers

Here’s how it looks when it has both USB ports plugged in:

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 18
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus with both Micro USB ports plugged

Comparison with the Hidizs DH1000

Let’s compare the device with the Hidizs DH1000. Please note that due to hardware problems, I tried to repair the Hidizs DH1000, and while it works, I have it covered differently than how it used to look.

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 19
The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus with the Hidizs DH1000 side by side (1)

We can see they look similar.

Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus 20
The Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus with the Hidizs DH1000 side by side (2)

The back also look similar. However, here is where we’ll see the main difference:

The Hidizs DH1000 has the volume buttons marked with paint, while the Tempotec iDSD Plus has the actual marks deep in the buttons.

Finally, both the USB ports and audio jacks look the same:

Sound

Tempotec iDSD Plus in Windows Sound Settings
Tempotec iDSD Plus in Windows Sound Settings

The device is detected on Windows a USB HD AUDIO as soon as it is plugged in.

The sound quality of the Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus is the same as the Hidizs DH1000. I seem to find it more pleasant, but I tried switching between the Hidizs and Tempotec to see if I could find any difference. I may prefer the Tempotec sound, but the Hidizs one sounds quite similar, if not, identical. They both use the same ES9018K2M chips and ES9601K amplifiers. Theoretically, even the printed circuit board should be the same, or almost identical, except for the charging circuit, where it should be different to prevent possible charging issues.

I’m using the KZ ZS7 IEMs with a 2.5mm balanced cable. The bass feels powerful. This is especially true when listening to Twenty One Pilots “Trench” album. The mids are balanced, vocals are very well presented, and the treble, that’s the part where this DAC shines. The frequency response, I would say, is neutral. Other DACs would prefer to focus on providing forward vocals, and other instruments would sound recessed, but this is not the case with this DAC. Instrument separation is also pretty good. The sound feels open and wide, and the overal sound presentation is just as good and even relaxing. I can confortably listen to music in Tidal and enjoy every note in the song.

For around $130, this DAC does not dissapoint. The Hidizs DH1000 was my favorite, but now I have this Tempotec which will be with me at all times, and I’ll be attaching it to my HiBy R3 and Hidizs AP80 DAPs. Really, I haven’t found a DAC that outperforms this one.

The Western Digital 10TB WD Elements External Hard Drive

The Western Digital 10TB WD Elements External Hard Drive

Hi everyone,

Last week, I got a new Western Digital 10TB Essentials External Drive, which was on sale at $160 on Amazon:

WD Elements 10TB 1
The WD Elements 10TB in the Amazon Box

The reason for getting this drive is that in today’s world, digital content is growing by a lot, and files are taking more space than ever. Video resolutions are growing and so are the quality of music, which takes a lot of space. Recent development on newer audio and video codecs may keep the audio file size small, but then, there’s those who store raw or compressed lossless media files, like FLACs or lossless H264/H265 videos.

I myself sometimes record my gameplay when I play Nintendo Switch games, and then I further encode this lossless recording to another HEVC using my NVidia GTX 1060 video card. This saves me between 2 to 5GB of file size. I’m also doing tests encoding my gameplay videos to the newer AV1 codec, that significantly reduces the video size while having a great quality at lower bitrates.

My 8TB drive will soon get full with so many content, encodings, data compression tests, server backups, and so on, hence my reason to add another drive (In reality, half of the disk is full). I found the $160 price very reasonable, considering my 8TB drive was also priced at $160 at Best Buy a few months ago.

When I purchased this drive on Amazon, it was actually not in stock, so I had to wait a few weeks, but it made it home. Here’s the drive box:

WD Elements 10TB 2
WD Elements External Hard Drive Box

Here are the sides:

And the back:

WD Elements 10TB 5
The WD Elements 10TB Back of the box

Opening the box, we find the drive well protected:

WD Elements 10TB 7
Opening the WD Elements 10TB box

In the side, we can see the Power Supply and USB 3.0 cable, along with the user manual:

WD Elements 10TB 8
WD Elements 10TB cables

Here’s the drive out of the box in its protected plastic pads:

WD Elements 10TB 9
WD Elements 10TB Hard Drive out of the box

Here, we can see the drive with the plastic wrap in place:

Here, we can see the drive USB 3.0 and power supply jack, and the power button:

WD Elements 10TB 13
WD Elements 10TB connectors

Here are the photos with the wrap taken off:

Here’s the power supply in its bag:

WD Elements 10TB 17
The WD Elements 10 TB power supply

And outside the bag:

WD Elements 10TB 18
The WD Elements Power Supply outside the bag

The Power Supply has a barrel-type plug:

WD Elements 10TB 19
The barrel plug

Next, we have the USB 3.0 cable:

WD Elements 10TB 20
The USB 3.0 Cable

Finally, we have the user manual:

WD Elements 10TB 21
The WD Elements manual

And that concludes this photo session. Later, I’ll do a post shucking this drive and also share the benchmark to you.

See ya next time!

The UGREEN 2.5-inch HDD and SSD to USB-C 3.1 Enclosure Unboxing and Testing Video

The UGREEN 2.5-inch HDD and SSD to USB-C 3.1 Enclosure Unboxing and Testing Video

Hi everyone,

As I promised in the original post of the UGREEN 2.5-inch Hard Disk Drive and Solid State Disk to USB-C 3.1 Enclosure post, here I share with you my unboxing and testing video.

In the video, you’ll first see me as I go through the unboxing process and then I’ll be using CrystalDiskMark to test how the enclosure handles a 1TB Hard Disk Drive.

Watch the video below:

Video: Unboxing and testing the UGREEN 2.5 inch USB-C Hard Drive Enclosure
The HyperDrive: USB-C 2018 iPad Pro Edition

The HyperDrive: USB-C 2018 iPad Pro Edition

Hi everyone,

Today, I received my HyperDrive USB-C iPad Pro 2018 edition which ran on Kickstarter from December 10, 2018 to January 15 of this year.

Hyper Drive 1
The HyperDrive case.

The HyperDrive 2018 iPad Pro Edition is a USB-C Hub designed mainly for the 2018 iPad Pro, but it is also compatible with other USB-C devices. It has a USB-A 3.0 port, SD and MicroSD Card Reader, 3.5mm TRRS connector, compatible with headsets including inline buttons, USB-C Charging passthrough, and an HDMI output.

Because I backed it on Kickstarter, it was nice to have received it in a Kickstarted-branded case.

Hyper Drive 3
The HyperDrive case opened.

Immediately after opening it, we can see the HyperDrive along with another grip, USB-C extender cable, a screwdriver and some additional screws.

The HyperDrive features a grip that is removable, to make it compatible with other devices. It is attached using screws, so it makes sense to include the screwdriver. Also, since the screws are small, it comes with additional screws in case we lose the originals.

Let’s take a closer look at the HyperDrive:

Hyper Drive 4
The HyperDrive Front.

The HyperDrive Front does not have any branding in it. That’s on the back. It looks beautiful in the Space Grey color, which I chose when the project survey was sent so that we could choose our HyperDrive color.

Hyper Drive 5
The HyperDrive Back.

As I stated above, here we can see the HyperDrive branding and other regulation logos. We can see the USB-C port better since the grip didn’t allowed us to see it in the previous image.

Hyper Drive 6
One of the side.

On one of the sides of the HyperDrive, there’s nothing. However, that changes in the other side, where we can see the HDMI connector:

Hyper Drive 8
The HDMI connector.

We can plug our HDMI cable into it to duplicate or extend our screen (If we are using the HyperDrive in the PC). Now, let’s take a look at the other connectors

Hyper Drive 7
The connectors.

From Left to Right, we can see an LED, followed by the passthrough USB-C charging port, which we would use to charge our devices. We then have the SD Card slot on the top and the MicroSD Card slot on the bottom, followed by the USB-A 3.0 port and a 3.5mm TRRS jack. This is compatible with headsets and is also compatible with in-line controls.

Hyper Drive 9
The USB-C connector.

The USB-C port is pretty standard, and is centered in this Hub.

This is the other Grip that came with my HyperDrive:

Hyper Drive 10
The other Grip that came with the HyperDrive.

Altough we cannot see it in the above picture, it says that it is for use with covers. The grip that initially came with it was for use WITHOUT screen protectors. I myself don’t have any use for these grips, so I removed it from my HyperDrive.

Hyper Drive 12
The USB-C extender.

The HyperDrive came with a USB-C extender cable and grip that you can use if you’d like to connect your HyperDrive without it having direct contact with your devices.

Hyper Drive 13
The USB-C port of the USB-C Extender cable.

This way, we can simply attach the USB-C cable to our devices and the HyperDrive will fit perfectly, because when we use it without any grip or the extender, our HyperDrive will have a little gap in between.

Hyper Drive 15
The Screwdriver.

To remove the grip from the HyperDrive, we’ll use the included screwdriver.

Hyper Drive 16
The screws.

Be sure to keep the screws in a safe place! They are so tiny that they may get lost.

Hyper Drive 18
The HyperDrive with the USB-C Extension cable attached

In the above picture, I have attached the USB-C Extension cable to my HyperDrive so that you can see how it look.

Hyper Drive 17
The HyperDrive without the grip.

I have removed the grip in the above photo. The reason is so that I can use it directly connected to my laptop. I do not have the iPad and my main reason to get this is to use it in my Windows machines and other devices:

HyperDrive connected in my laptop
The HyperDrive connected to my laptop.

I attached the HyperDrive to my Lenovo Y720 laptop I purchased as my birthday gift. This laptop has a USB-C connector and you can see that the HyperDrive fits into it. You can also see there’s a bit of a gap, as I explained above. We could have solved this by using the extender USB-C cable, but I prefer to just have the HyperDrive in direct contact with it.

HyperDrive connected in my laptop with headphones connected
IEM attached to the HyperDrive.

I attached my KZ ZS7 IEM to the HyperDrive. The PC does not detect the USB Audio if there’s no headphone connected to it. Once we connect them, the laptop recognizes the audio adapter as USB PnP Audio Device.

The volume is very loud!! I always turn it down before playing back anything, and having it at just 1 or 2% was just enough.

Hyper Drive DAC 1
The Windows Audio Settings.

As seen in the above image, I have the audio at just 2%. Let’s take a look at the device settings itself:

Hyper Drive DAC 2
The HyperDrive in the Sound Control Panel.

We can see the HyperDrive audio listed as USB PnP Audio Device above. We’ll double click it and then go to the Advanced tab to see the device bit deph and sample rate:

Hyper Drive DAC 3
The HyperDrive Bit Depth and Sample Rate.

The DAC (Digital-Analog Converter) used in the HyperDrive only has a bit depth of 16-bit and a sample rate of 48 Khz. This is enough for some, but audiophiles would have preferred it to have a depth of 24 or 32 bits and a sample rate way above the 48 Khz. However, we must remember that Audio CD has a depth of 16 bit and a sample rate of 44.1Khz. Since the HyperDrive supports 48Khz, that means that Windows needs to resample the audio to 48Khz. Still, the audio quality is good.

I’m using Tidal to stream CD-Quality tracks and I’m not noticing any quality degradation. In fact, it sounds excellent, altough I do need to turn down the volume further down. Also, there’s a little background noise, but it’s barely noticeable when there’s audio playing.

Tidal using Hyper Drive
Tidal using the HyperDrive and with the volume turned down.

So, the HyperDrive does a great job handing audio. It even works in my Nintendo Switch!

Hyper Drive connected to the Nintendo Switch
HyperDrive connected to the Nintendo Switch

What does the HyperDrive looks like with its ports being used? It looks like this:

HDMI, SD Card, USB, and 3.5mm connected to the HyperDrive
HDMI, SD Card, USB, and 3.5mm connected to the HyperDrive.

It’s been less than a day using this USB-C Hub, and so far it is handling everything great. I have experienced some problems, but it’s most likely problems related to the operating system rather than the HyperDrive. My laptop sometimes would not detect the HyperDrive or would not show any image in my external monitor, but now it’s all working fine. Also, it’s worth noting that the HyperDrive heats a little. You’ll not get burned while touching it, but I would also not have my hand at it. Even with it being warm, I wouldn’t say it overheats. It’s also working fine and haven’t experienced any disconnection issues with it.

The Kickstarter experience with this project was great. It is usual of the start of the year to get some delays due to China celebrating the Chinese New Year holiday, but this was a project where the holiday didn’t affected them so much. We are just starting March, and today I received it. Delivery was quick and they sent the tracking number very fast. It was also working at the moment they sent it to me.

I’ll definitely consider backing another of their projects, supporting them while having another gadget to play with.