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Portaphile V2 Owners Thread

post #1 of 456
Thread Starter 
I know there's at least a few Head-fi folks getting one from the first batch, so I decided to start a little thread where we can post impressions.

Mine just arrived - took me a bit by surprise, expected it no earlier than Monday. It really is a tiny little guy, weighs next to nothing. Unfortunately I don't have an IC and in fact no DAP at this moment, so I'll jet back to work once traffic dies down (just 8 miles away) and plug it into my EMU 0404 to have it burn in over the weekend.

Someone let me know if it's heresay to post pre-burn in impressions, otherwise expect some initial thoughts from a complete amp noob within a few hours.
post #2 of 456
Thread Starter 
I just got around to reading the note included with the amp, which states -

"I took the liberty of shipping the first batch of amplifiers through Express Mail Shipping, at my expense. I wanted all my new customers to avoid having to wait the whole weekend before getting a chance to hear their new amplifier. I am also very excited to hear what everyone's first impressions are.... I have found that the new Black Gate capacitors are going to require a lot of burn in. Please be patient and allow your new amplifier to develop into its full potential."

Apparently Cesar is quite proud of his new creation
post #3 of 456
Thread Starter 
Wow, everything is so much more. Granted this is compared to straight ouf of the EMU 0404, heavily eq'ed. With Foobar I'm still eq'ing in 8 db in the low end, but otherwise the sound is quite balanced. The midrange has filled in very nicely, the top end has incredible sparkle, fullness, and complexity (listened to tracks off Jellyfish's Spilt Milk, Brian Wilson's Smile, and Bjork's Medulla so far). Not detecting any shrillness or sibilance at a volume level near my threshold of comfort, definitely less fatiguing at significantly more volume - not toppy like I was expecting a non-burnt-in 8610 amp to be with Etys. To that end who knows if my Etys are even burnt in yet, maybe 100 hours at this point but this is their first amped source.

I assume bass will increase as burn-in progresses. I flattened the eq and increased volume maybe 10 dbs or so over what I would comfortably listen at. If this is a bad approach let me know; I'll come back in tomorrow and fix it, otherwise I'm out for the weekend, or at least until late Sunday afternoon.
post #4 of 456
I'm very jealous of your Friday night date by the way, keep the impressions coming over the weekend. Also please post some pictures when you get a chance.
post #5 of 456
Just picked up mine from the post office. Breaking in as we speak.
post #6 of 456
Thread Starter 
Oski,

It wasn't a bad date, but tonight I'd rather be with your significant other (SR-71) I lost the cable to my digital camera, though tomorrow I'm visiting a friend right by work, so I'll pick it up and take photos using his.

Nexus6,

Please share your impressions when you get the chance. Do you have other amps to compare with? Due to the note about the caps, I assume proper burn-in is more like 200 hours rather than 50?
post #7 of 456
Quote:
Apparently Cesar is quite proud of his new creation

He should. The first thing I did when I got mine was plugged in my 16 ohms er6i and listened for hiss. There was none. yay! I slowly turn up the volume to look for imbalances between left and right channels... it leans slightly towards the right but insignificant enough to notice (my ears can tell a +/-1db difference in volume between left and right). Note, my sr-71 leans towards the left. The supermacro was perfectly balanced! (I said 'was' because I no longer have it).

The second thing I noticed was how light it is compared to the supermacro. The SM feels like a small brick that you could throw for self defense if someone tried to mug you. The portaphile doesn't feel like a brick at all.

I think I like the construction slightly better than the supermacro. The volume knob is very tight, so you don't have to worry about accidentally turning the volume if you put it in your pocket. I'm relieved to see that the volume knob is now at the right, not at the center in-between the jacks which looked ugly to me. The only negative thing I can think of is the 9V battery straps. I hate straps.

So, what better way to compare sound than with the sr71? I played "Stuck" from Stacie Orrico's Live in Japan. I chose this song because the first time I listened to the SR71, I was struck (more like knocked out) by the punchiness and detail that the sr71 provided straight out of the box. It's like those drumsticks are hitting my eardrums directly!

Rather than describing what the Portaphile adds to the unamped source, let me describe what the Portaphile lacks from the SR-71's sound. The sr71 has more "air," and is slightly brighter. The bass is punchy, but not quite as refined nor as sharp as the sr71-- but not that far off. I can see why the review of the beta version mentions that it sounds closest to the sr71. The sound signature is very close-- quite neutral, and the Portaphile sounds very good with my HD580, SR225, and Ety er6i. I hate ety's for their shrillness and it seems that the portaphile reduces the shrillness-- I can't say for sure without more extensive listening.

I would've liked to compared this with the SM with 8610. As I remember it, I wasn't at all impressed with the 8610s in the supermacro. It sounded so flat and boring with almost no soundstage. Not so in the portaphile. This amp is definitely a keeper and at half the cost of the sr71, it gives other amps near its price range a run for its money. I can't wait to hear how the amp improves as it's broken in.
post #8 of 456
AD8610 has very nice soundstage in SM, if it's not the case that I have unique ears

I had my SM with AD8610 for four months and its soundstage really impressed me. From last month, I got my SM reconfigured to be a socketed issue and rolled in some OPAMPs like (AD8610, AD825, OPA227/604/627/637, NE5534 and LM6171).

When using HD600, AD8610 did has the widest soundstage, though not the deepest, but still deep enough to articulate the layers of music. It's more forward and brighter than other OPAMPs I tried. I think that's why I feel a closer soundstage with AD8610. LM6171 has the deepest soundstage but kind of narrow. OPA627 has a 3D soundstage in a pretty good shape, but neither the deepest nor the widest. AD825 has a very similar sound sigature as AD8610 but not as relaxing. So far, AD8610s are still my favorite to cope with HD600 that's kind of dark.

Probably Xin implemented some different designs for SMs that make AD8610s sound diferent. But it's worthwhile to give AD8610 another trial.
post #9 of 456
Quote:
AD8610 has very nice soundstage in SM, if it's not the case that I have unique ears .... Probably Xin implemented some different designs for SMs that make AD8610s sound diferent. But it's worthwhile to give AD8610 another trial.
I'm too broke to buy yet another amp. I think I didn't give the SM/8610 a fair amount of chance. I listened to it for 30 minutes and went, 'bah!' and quickly switched to the 637.

Xin is quick with modifications.. too quick for my taste. I think I'll let the supermacro V2 soak and see what the public has to say. But man, these capacitors in the portaphile are huge!! The SM's capacitors are puny and weak compared to the portaphile. Maybe they make the difference.

Comparing my 'first impressions', the list would be 1) sr71, 2) portaphile, 3) SM. The supermacro is a technical marvel, but I just didn't find the sound as engaging and addictive. Xin seems to like tubey sound so maybe that's why. I don't care much for warm tubey sound.
post #10 of 456
Thread Starter 
My gut feeling on the SM is Xin has made so many minor tweaks to it that by now it's a significantly different amp than it was a few months ago. Maybe the one Romanee has been using isn't defective, just far removed from current.

At this point with both moving to a triple op-amp topology, could the Black Gate caps make the difference? How important are top caps anyway, as significant as opamp selection? It seems Cesar decided to make the switch virtually at the last moment, not getting the sound he was after. Maybe he got wind of Xin's next move, lol.
post #11 of 456
Quote:
At this point with both moving to a triple op-amp topology, could the Black Gate caps make the difference?
I asked Xin if there would be a price increase for the additional opamp. Xin said, "No opamp added, just a new opamp is used and used in a different way."

He's a little vague, but it looks like even the Supermacro V2 uses 2 opamps, not 3 as I assumed.
post #12 of 456
Thread Starter 
Ahh, I see. I guess triple mono does not necessarily mean an opamp for each channel? I wish I knew more about amp design...

Atx, why did you buy a Portaphile if you already have an SR-71? Is it the size or just looking for something different?
post #13 of 456
Quote:
Atx, why did you buy a Portaphile if you already have an SR-71? Is it the size or just looking for something different?
I wanted something more suitable for daily abuse. I don't feel comfortable carrying a $400 amp everywhere I go. I'm liable to drop and break it, lose it, or just be unlucky enough to get robbed on the streets.

I initially bought a MINT just for this purpose, but the hiss on low-impedance earphones is quite annoying and makes music listening unenjoyable. So the one requirement I have is that the amp must be dead silent on low impedance phones, and the quality must be comparable to a supermacro. Before you ask, yes, the supermacro produced a hiss on my ety er6i, and also the one I had had a "humming" problem when I take it on the train. I'm too lazy to diagnose and pay for shipping back and forth to Xin, so I just returned it.

Btw, the sr71 is now my home amp (why not get a dedicated home amp? I believe a headphone amp should be portable. The phrase "non-portable headphone amp" is an oxymoron ). The mint sounds darn good, and doesn't have much resale value, so I'll keep it anyway.
post #14 of 456
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau
Oski,

It wasn't a bad date, but tonight I'd rather be with your significant other (SR-71).
LoL, the grass is always greener on the other side I guess...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau
Atx, why did you buy a Portaphile if you already have an SR-71? Is it the size or just looking for something different?
While that was directed to atx, I'm also looking to either buy the Portaphile, Super Mini Moy, or the SuperMacro, even though I have an SR-71. Don't get me wrong, I love the SR-71, it's one seriously beautiful amp both in terms of build and sound. However, (1) it's still a bit bulky and heavy for me in a portable application (I have an iPod Mini, I want the portable to be as small as possible), (2) I really don't want to scratch it up or damage it while on the go, and (3) I don't want to worry about the cost of replacement if it gets lost or stolen (making me paranoid about having it out). So the SR-71 will be more of a desktop amp for me.

Initially I was going to just get the the SM because it is considered the next best amp after the SR-71. But it's still expensive and based on what atx said above, the SM is heavy like a brick...which is not what I want from a portable. While the Super Mini Moy is extremely well priced (I really won't worry about damaging it or losing it), the improvement in sound may not be as great...then it may not makes sense for me to carry all the extra bulk. That leaves the Portaphile...which is why I'm following the feedback in this thread very closely. So keep the impressions coming and PLEASE someone post some pictures. Thanks!
post #15 of 456
Quote:
But it's still expensive and based on what atx said above, the SM is heavy like a brick...
That expression is more figurative than literal. The sr71 weighs just about the same as the SM, but the SM "seems" to weigh more because it's smaller and your expectation is different for smaller objects. The portaphile is about half the weight of the sr71/sm (probably less but I don't have a scale).
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