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New Innards For HeadRoom Amps  

post #1 of 202
Thread Starter 
I'm in Toledo, half way back to Bozeman after the National Meet, so I can't really make a long post here, but I know if I don't post soon TheSloth will explode, so I thought I'd announce now and give him some space to post his thoughts.

We did, in a rather low key way, announce the new amplifier electronics at the Nat'l meet. After all my posts defending the various compromises that make an integrated chip solution for output power stages, I am now happy to announce that ALL HeadRoom amps are now shipping a descrete output power amp stage design. Our new modules output is a Diamond Buffer design with our own mix of adjustments to suit. I will soon post the details of the differences between the modules, but suffice it to say we are very pleased with the results. Basically, the modules are the same input and crossfeed stage as previous with the new output stage. One of the nice things about the Diamond buffer design is that you can just "dial in" how much bias current you want (how far into class-A you want to force the output stage) so the Micro module has a lower current draw than the Desktop. The Home forces all the pre-amp stages into class-A. The Max uses 627s, of course, with some SWEET output transistors. (I'll fill in with tranny numbers when I get back.)

Additionally, we have LOWERED the price of the module upgrades; our birthing management systems have allowed us to understand our costs better and we found we could lower the cost of this service.

Well, Andrew is jumping up and down to get going and start the next leg of the drive so I have to go (Fargo must have a strange attraction for him) so I'll let The Sloth fill in a few blanks on the sound for a couple of days.
post #2 of 202
Excellent. Thanks for the update Tyll. Safe rest of the trip to you and Andrew.
post #3 of 202
As I mentioned on the meet impressions post, very noticeable difference when I compared Tyll's Micro Amp/Desktop Module to mine. I noticed the difference before he explained the upgrades to me. I thought it was because he was feeding it off a Desktop Power Supply, but then I was using batteries which should have been pretty close. I didn't understand why his was sounding so much better than mine until he filled me in.....
post #4 of 202
The Micro Stack will be mine any day now...
post #5 of 202
How much will it cost to upgrade one that is 3 months old? Thanks.
post #6 of 202
I believe it's going to be $149.

Remember, it's just the amp that you're upgrading, not the DAC.
post #7 of 202
Right, I only have the amp, not the DAC. Thanks.
post #8 of 202
You will find the now up to date HeadRoom Module Archive here with sonic impressions and comparisons galore: http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...10#post2079610

It is currently missing sonic impressions/comparisons of the Home '06, Max '06 and Max '05 Modules which are due to arrive here this Thursday, along with the convertible which is back from the dead after a power surge.

Please post any questions you have regarding the new modules in this paid-for thread, as I prefer to keep the Module Archive as lean as possible for clarity's sake.

Thank you Tyll for allowing me to release that mega update. I was indeed about to explode - come on, I've had to keep my big mouth shut for 3 months now! Special thanks to Mike for working on a Saturday to make special Max Modules to fit into the convertible - when I buy a DPS, he better get a comission on it!
post #9 of 202
I'm officially going to have to get one of these now
post #10 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyll Hertsens
I am now happy to announce that ALL HeadRoom amps are now shipping a descrete output power amp stage design.
Tyll, there is no discrete output stage on the Total Airhead and Bithead, is there? You recently mentioned that both of those now exclusively use the AD8397 opamp, and with the current output ability of that opamp, and its already current hungry nature, a discrete output stage would seem a bit excessive to me.
post #11 of 202
[QUOTE=Tyll Hertsens]After all my posts defending the various compromises that make an integrated chip solution for output power stages, I am now happy to announce that ALL HeadRoom amps are now shipping a descrete output power amp stage design.QUOTE]

I've been wandering for a while as to why Headroom's products don't enjoy that much popularity around here, considering their experience and economies of scale. This could well explain why, aside from all the tube loving that's going on.
post #12 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by cetoole
Tyll, there is no discrete output stage on the Total Airhead and Bithead, is there? You recently mentioned that both of those now exclusively use the AD8397 opamp, and with the current output ability of that opamp, and its already current hungry nature, a discrete output stage would seem a bit excessive to me.
That's correct, the Airhead and Bithead have never used the modules so they don't get anything new in this round of upgrades.
post #13 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luco
I've been wandering for a while as to why Headroom's products don't enjoy that much popularity around here, considering their experience and economies of scale. This could well explain why, aside from all the tube loving that's going on.
You are partly right, but then again, the Micro amp with Desktop Module is one of the most popular and commonly owned amps on Head-Fi.

HeadRoom has the problem of being the oldest, most established company in today's business, and therefore doesn't carry the excitement of something new and undiscovered. If you look at the impressions from the national meet, you'll notice there's almost nothing about the HeadRoom stuff there. Is that because it doesn't sound as good as the other stuff? Of course not - in fact, even with the older HA-5002 output stage it still didn't sound worse than the competition. But it's apparently not new, hip and exciting. HeadRoom is also seem by some for no good reason as an example of the great big American corporation, when in reality it couldn't really be further from it.

HeadRoom's circuit design to me has always been a great case for 'it's what you do with it that counts'. It's not techincally at the bleeding edge of audio design - it takes established technologies and through intelligent design makes it sound better than the sum of its parts.

Though, the past is the past. These new modules sound pretty damn good, and at the very worst are sonically on par with the competition at each price point. There are those who will disagree on technical grounds - an OPA627 can't possibly sound as good as an all discrete design, my dynahi is better than yours, yadda yadda, however I think HeadRoom offer up a great case for the fact that if you use them right, they certainly can and do.
post #14 of 202
Well, for what it's worth, after leaning heavily towards the GS-X, I'm now leaning heavily towards something with balanced max modules.
post #15 of 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by cetoole
Tyll, there is no discrete output stage on the Total Airhead and Bithead, is there? You recently mentioned that both of those now exclusively use the AD8397 opamp, and with the current output ability of that opamp, and its already current hungry nature, a discrete output stage would seem a bit excessive to me.
That's an interesting example of a case where a discrete transistor output on the '05 model was replaced with an IC output stage, resulting in improved sound quality. Many would have you believe that what I just said is an oxymoron.
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