Review: Neoteck NTK059 Mobile Headphone Amplifier

It’s time for more audio hardware! This is the Neoteck NTK059 portable headphone amplifier. I picked this little guy up on Amazon for $22, though it appears to be around $30 now (https://www.amazon.com/Neoteck-Headphone-Amplifier-Rechargeble-Computers-x/dp/B01MS22YWV). The 059 is pretty straightforward with one 3.5 mm auxiliary input…

It’s time for more audio hardware! This is the Neoteck NTK059 portable headphone amplifier. I picked this little guy up on Amazon for $22, though it appears to be around $30 now (https://www.amazon.com/Neoteck-Headphone-Amplifier-Rechargeble-Computers-x/dp/B01MS22YWV).

The 059 is pretty straightforward with one 3.5 mm auxiliary input (shown on the right with the gold connector) and one 3.5 mm headphone output (shown left with the white connector). The front also features the power switch, power indicator LED, and the gain knob labeled 1-9, but with smooth change all the way between each level. The rear, not shown, has a single micro-USB port which can charge the internal battery or power the device for long periods of time.

Top View

In the week that I have had the NTK059, I have sound it to be satisfactory to my needs. It has a solid, metal construction that feels good in your hand. Despite the metal, it is quite light and comfortable to throw in a pocket. It is also small enough that I can put it in the little pocket inside my jeans pocket.

Power-wise, I have run into absolutely no issues. This amp drives every set of IEMs, earbuds, and headphones that I own (though that is a limited collection).

The battery has run out on me once, but that was after 6 hours of listening. It only took me an hour or so to charge it back up.

Regarding volume, I’ve yet to have to turn it up past about 2/9. It’s got a lot of juice in it, and it will handle quiet signals nicely.

My only complaint with this device is that the included 3.5 mm auxiliary cable is absolute garbage. While this is to be expected from an ‘included’ cable on a $22 amp, it is still a bit disappointing. I would recommend picking up some better cable if you are going to be using this regularly. Because of the design and jack placement, I recommend the normal straight cables–not the elbow connectors.

Overall, this is a great device at a low price. If you are looking to smooth out the sound of your music, improve silence in music, and clean up that bass a bit, on a budget, then this might just be the pick for you!

Have an amp you love and want to share? Let us know in the comments! We’ll see each other next time!

Happy listening,

~ Griff

Review: KZ ZST In-ear Monitors

“They’re only $18.99?!” Yep. They are really that affordable. With a price point like that, I felt comfortable dipping my toes into high-fidelity audio and something a bit better than your run-of-the-mill earbuds. Knowledge Zenith (KZ) is an affordable Chinese audio manufacturer…

 

Ah, jeez. Where to start? I subscribe to r/headphones over at reddit.com–a site where I spend a significant amount of time–and this hardware came up in a discussion a week or two ago. Intrigued, I took a moment to look the ZST’s up on Amazon.

“They’re only $18.99?!” Yep. They are really that affordable. With a price point like that, I felt comfortable dipping my toes into high-fidelity audio and something a bit better than your run-of-the-mill earbuds.

Knowledge Zenith (KZ) is an affordable Chinese audio manufacturer that I had never heard of, but quickly learned of their reputation. Going in, expectations were low. Most things that I had previously ordered from across the water with non-popular names were of a lesser quality and ended up disappointing me. But let me tell you: these did not disappoint. Let’s look at a couple of things…

Style | I personally got the purple/blue set, as those are two of my favorite colors. The pair comes with a braided, copper, detachable MMCX cable that is roughly four feet long. Overall they look fantastic. KZ sells a silver version of the same cable that I ordered afterward, wanting to see what it looked like with the monitors themselves. The detachable element is nice as it allows you to switch cords on the go to match clothing, or to replace a cable should you do something foolhardy and ruin it.

Sound | While the ZST’s will not offer you the best sound available in the high-fidelity market, their trueness and clarity for $19 is absolutely flooring. I nuzzled these into my ears, hit play, and my jaw dropped. Within only a couple of seconds, there were sounds within songs I know well that I had never heard before. I’ve been taking the time to listen to most of my music library over again with these IEMs (in-ear monitors) as everything sounds so much better. Harmonies are extremely defined and differentiated. With robust, but clear midtones and crisp treble, as well as just-enough-bass, the ZST’s are wonderfully balanced and easy to work with in an equalizer (EQ). They are not heavy on the lower end, so if you are a basshead then these are probably not for you. That said, if you are a basshead you probably want to pick up a good set of over-ear cans anyway. Otherwise, these are a fantastic set of in-ear monitors to suit many needs.

Price | Okay. $18.99. Need I say more? Well, I will. There is better sound on the market, but you will not find comparable sound without spending significantly more money. The next-best in-ear monitors are supposedly the SE215-CL’s from Shure audio and run about $100 on Amazon. I’d recommend saving the eighty or so dollars and picking up the ZST’s.

So what do I listen to using these monitors? A wide array of music is the most accurate answer. A small sampling of genres includes; various electronic genres, pop rock, rock, metal, alternative, soundtrack, and choir/choral, as well as others.

Do you need anything else for these? The short answer is no, not really. I picked up a cheap headphone amplifier that I have been testing as well, but it is not required with most devices. I also grabbed various sizes of memory foam tips to ensure I get the best possible seal in the ear (which provides the best sound). Overall these are crisp and full monitors that have proven to be worth more than their purchase price within the first week of listening. I rated them at 4.5/5 on Amazon and highly recommend them. If you want to know more about my experience with the KST’s, send me a message! Otherwise, I’d love to hear about what hardware you use to listen to your music in the comments below. We’ll see each other next time! Happy listening,

~ Griff


Knowledge Zenith is the ”largest American retailer of KZ earphones and accessories,” according to their Facebook page. They manufacture and sell dynamic driver, hybrid technology, and balanced armature in-ear monitors. More information about Knowledge Zenith can be found on their website: https://knowledgezenith.com/ 

Morvius, the Tiefling Paladin (a D&D 5e Character Roll)

Morvius was born in Waterdeep; childhood did not treat him well. A brutal beating was taken at the hands of a local noble. His father and mother did little about it, as they were more often than not absent, being slumped over a barstool at the tavern. At an early age he traveled a far distance to live a life of solitude, healing, and understanding away from the corruption and temporal desires of the world by taking up residence in the mountains to the north…

For those of you who haven’t heard of the timeless tabletop role-playing game, Dungeouns & Dragons is a fantastic adventure designed by Wizards of the Coast. In this game, players create an adventurer by rolling dice to determine certain stats and proficiencies. Pick a race, class, and some other information, roll for your stats, come up with a back story for your character, and the game can begin!

In the coming weeks, some friends and myself will be playing a campaign wherein we find our selves in Waterdeep, with tensions reaching a break point between mercenary and crime groups within the City–all over the Dragon’s Cache which contains millions of gold pieces.

Below is the character that a friend helped me roll for the upcoming campaign. Morvius is a Tiefling Paladin with the Chaotic Good alignment. I’ve linked the complete character sheet below;

Potentially the part of creating a character that is the most fun is writing the back story.

Backstory | Morvius was born in Waterdeep; childhood did not treat him well. A brutal beating was taken at the hands of a local noble. His father and mother did little about it, as they were more often than not absent, being slumped over a barstool at the tavern. At an early age he traveled a far distance to live a life of solitude, healing, and understanding away from the corruption and temporal desires of the world by taking up residence in the mountains to the north. The solitude brought a holy understanding of higher purposes in life as well as a love and respect for the order of the law and service to others. Little interrupted his life of solitude but for his quarterly trek to Waterdeep to replenish his liquor supplies and play a single game of dice at the tavern before returning home; these were his only vices. The past several journeys to Waterdeep revealed brooding tensions between mercenaries and crime organizations in the City. Out of liquor, Morvius took up his pack and journeyed to the City as usual—only to find that tensions had reached a breaking point, and many found themselves above the law in their hunt for a Dragon’s Cache containing millions of gold pieces. “Typical of society,” he thought, “to disregard the order of the law in greed for material things…” Unable to stand idly by, Morvius extends his stay in the City in an effort to affect the unfolding of the hunt for the Cache money–despite the effect of society which he already felt creeping over him.

I’m not done with Morvius’ backstory yet, but I do have some time before we begin our campaign. Working on characters is something I love to do. Have you played before? Let me know about your favorite characters you’ve rolled! New to the game? Send me a message and we can point you in the right direction to get started! We’ll see each other again next time.

Happy rolling,

~Griff

Achievement Get!

It appears you have stumbled upon my humble blog. What do we do here? Well, it is a bit of a mash-up between the serious and the less-as-such. There are several things which I am passionate about and interested–all of which are posted about here ony my blog. Let’s take a quick peek behind the digital curtain!

Greetings, internet traveler!

It appears you have stumbled upon my humble blog. What do we do here? Well, it is a bit of a mash-up between the serious and the less-as-such. This is where I dump my brain and review and discuss things related to my favorite hobbies:

  • Audio | I love all things music and audio. From a young age, music was a fascination. In years 8-18 I took piano lessons, participated in multiple choirs, quartets, barbershop groups, et cetera. Additionally, listening to music has always been a favorite pasttime. With the purchase of my first set of in-ear monitors years ago, I fell in love with music all over again. In my audio posts, you’ll find what I’m currently listening to, reviews on gear/hardware, and more.
  • Games | Did someone say games?! Yep, sure did! But what kind? Any kind. Video games, board games, card games, dice games, nearly anything else is of interest to me. I am an avid gamer on PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch. Beyond the digital, my friends and I play things such as Zombicide, Dungeons & Dragons, Pandemic, Eldritch Horror, Catan, Magic the Gathering, and more. In my game posts, you can read about what we are playing, reviews of games, and more.
  • Business & Management | Uh…management? Yeah, you read it right! Those of you who know me know that I love all things organizational, leadership, and management; last year I wrapped up a second degree focusing in management and I like to continue my research and discussion! The theory and science behind business, management, organizational behavior/development, et cetera fascinates me, and you can find my musings, learnings, and more here.
  • Information Technology | I work as an IT professional for a living, but it’s not just a career–it’s also an interest and passion of mine! Here you’ll find some stuff from me about different technologies, administration, scripting, and more importantly, what I’m doing in my Home Lab and reviews on that hardware.
  • Photography | One of my longest-time hobbies is photography. For some time, I ran a portrait photography service over at Griffeth Barker | Elko, NV Photographer on Facebook, but I’ve since dismantled the service and now focus more on enjoying my craft, rather than making it profitable.
  • Mechanical Keyboards | Yep, that’s right. This is really a thing, and the community of enthusiasts out there building and collecting mechanical keyboards is growing! Here I’ll share photos and information about builds I’m working on, boards I’ve collected, and the typing experience on that hardware.

Well look at that…you’ve made it through my pinned post! It can’t have been all bad, right? Hey, listen. Comment down below with things you’d like to see on this blog or your interests! You stick with me and I’ll stick with you. Everything is better with friends. With that, we’ll see each other back next time! Cheers,

~ Griff