Ok, my second impression of the Portaphile v2.
I've been interested in headphone amps for only a few months, and since then, I've learned two things: 1) Everything is subjective. 2) Enjoyment and satisfaction are two completely different things.
Having a better amp increases your enjoyment, but not necessarily your satisfaction. With every sound, there's always a "sweet spot" where you reach a sufficient level of satisfaction such that any other sound with higher fidelity will increase your enjoyment, but not your satisfaction. Bass is a good example. If your sound is lacking bass, having an increase in bass will increase your satisfaction, but there's a point where the level of bass reaches an optimum level such that any more addition will do nothing to your satisfaction. Sure, you can use more bass, and it's better, but you're just as satisfied
even without the addition. In other words, if an amp increases your satisfaction, it's complementary because it adds something essential
to the sound. If an amp increases your enjoyment, but your satisfaction level remains the same, it's supplementary-- it's good to have, but you're just as satisfied without it (e.g. extra bass).
After 30+ hours of burn-in or so, I've come to conclude that the Portaphile V2 is complementary, because it adds something so essential to the sound that listening to music with it is utterly a satisfying experience. What I'm noticing now that I didn't notice before was the wide and deep soundstage. The amp has really opened up in a surprising way. While not as detailed nor airy as the SR71, the Portaphile does have a unique trait that makes it, in some ways, as good as the SR71.
If you can picture a live band playing on the moon in infinite space, this is what the SR71 sounds like. Every notes that gets generated literally disappears into a black void, making the sound "dry" because in the blackness of space, you never hear any reverb or echoes. The notes never hit anything. With the Portaphile, the notes do
hit *something*. It doesn't disappear into a void, but instead, there is an emphasis underlying every note that makes it come alive
in a 3-dimensional way. Listening to the vocals of Pink Martini's 'The Garden of Sampson and Beasly,' I'm just amazed as to how 'lively' the sound is compared to the SR71. I think this is what Romanee referred to as 'fun.' The SR71 has air and space between you and the singer, but while the Portaphile has less air, it adds a layer of depth that the SR71 does not
. Yes, the SR71 sounds clearer and more detailed, but the Portaphile sounds more dimensional !
It's hard to describe what I'm trying to say into words, but even as I'm writing these things, I just remembered Xin's slogan for the Supermacro: "From this tiny beauty, you'll hear macro hall sound
with the kind of detail, accuracy and passion you've never experienced yet!" It's extremely ironic that this description for the supermacro fits the Portaphile perfectly
!! It's like you're listening to music through a giant hallway, and every musical notes hit those walls and reverberates through your ears-- and mind you, not the kind of reverb that you'll find in cheap DSP effects. It's completely natural
Listening to Garnet Crow's "Yume o mita atode," I really felt the emotion of the song that I've never experienced before. Every piano key is felt, and the melancholy mood of her voice just seems to reverberate across the room with all the sad weight it can carry. I switched to a live, acoustic version of Stacie Orrico's "Stuck," and for the first time
I heard the audience clapping rhythmically along! That is way
Now, I've heard the supermacro with 637s loaded. It sounds great! smooth and silky! but back to what I said about complementary and supplementary. While the supermacro makes the sound better, it does so in a supplementary way, not
in a complementary way. When all is said and done, the supermacro produces a re-interpretation of the sound, but it doesn't add anything essential
to it-- at least, not the way the Portaphile does. Garnet Crow never sounded better than when I heard it through the Portaphile.
Now comes the SR71. Is it a better amp? In the fact that it has more detail and air, most definitely it's a better amp! Does it bring me additional satisfaction? Well, yes, but honestly, not that much ! Without the sr71, I'll miss that extra air and detail, but really, I won't lose any sleep over it. Then why am I not sending this blackbird back for a full refund? That's a very good question indeed!
|atx, what kind of plugs are you using in that picture for the headphones and the mini-mini?
The mini-to-mini is the cable that came with the PocketDock. It's great looking but thin, and I'm afraid the sound quality might be compromised, so I ordered a canare interconnect for comparison. I'm a hard skeptic of the idea that cables make a difference. I was using SR225 in that picture. The plug you saw is a monster Y splitter because the Grado's plugs require a 1/4" to mini converter, which is huge and adds pressure to the amp's jacks.