Essentially, after three years of going through various IEMs and cans and amps and DACs, I found I'd inadvertently begun to ruin the experience of listening to music on headphones. I fell into the classic (but initially almost unavoidable) audiophile trap of listening to the gear, not the music. I developed a kind of ADD whereby I would skip to the next song seconds after the 'best bit' of the previous song, I'd listen to the intro of Prefar Sprout's When Love Breaks Down again and again, instead of listening to my favourite tunes. I was just listening for dynamics and decay and soundstage and so on and I felt quite disconnected from music, except when I was listening in the car. I'd got the 650s and was hoping this would somehow solve my problem but alas, they were probably the worst culprits because listening to them without proper amplification (E9) was such a 'nearly' experience. They sounded good but it wasn't all I'd hoped for, to be honest.
Enter the Bottlehead Crack. Now I almost never skip anything. I can listen to pretty much any song I have and I'm almost compelled to listen right through - or rather, more accurately, I don't want to turn it off. I've no desire to skip because it all sounds great. There's detail, there's decay and dynamics and and so on but I take it in as part of the whole. I'm not sure whether this is the much-fabled 'tube sound', whether it's the synergy of Crack and 650 or whether something else has clicked into place but they have me excited about listening to music again. I want to listen to them now and I know that when I get in from work, I'll head up to my listening den and slip them on and have a dance round before my missus gets home. I look forward to listening to pretty much any song I can think of because I know it will just sound great, not too much of anything, nothing to take me out of the experience, just the feeling of listening to music as it was before I knew about audiophile gear. I've been down the rabbit hole but I think I'm cured...
...just as soon as I've got that Speedball upgrade.
Same path travelled here, I was just staggered at how good the crack sounds in its standard form with some nice tubes. Improvements made to the 650's performance was very noticeable in my system. My speedball kit which I brought with the Crack is still in its box unassembled I have not felt the need to rush off and build it perhaps over xmas I will fit it. What is very noticeable is how the sound scales when you add some good tubes like 5998 or the GEC brown base.
I was really happy with my solid state amp prior which was reported by a head-fier who owned both to be on par or slightly preferred to his Valhalla. Going back to my ss now it sounds flat and linear and soulless against the Cracks dynamics and speed. I was surprised at just how fast it is. It's not that laid back tube sound at all yet still retains that rich involving sound that is full of texture and body.
The biggest drawback of my Crack ownership is I made the mistake of letting my other half listen to my new toy, she has never had much interest in headphones before, she sat there with this big grin mouthing wow at me and now its hard to get her off of them and a turn myself!
Edited by JamieMcC - 12/5/13 at 2:47am