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post #16711 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post

Hi Skeptic, how are you these days?:beerchug:

 

There's much to discuss, but since this is a 650 thread let's investigate why some amps sound better with your 650s and not your 880s. Is this just with the O2 or does it apply to other amps as well? 

 

I think I understand what you're saying about the crack.  Maybe it boils down to having more resolution than the Woo3, which might translate into descriptors like, faster, more detailed and more dynamic.

 

The problem I have is understanding what about a zana would make it sound better than a wire with gain amp like the GS-1 I have.  Is it the coloration and harmonic distortion added by the tubes?

 

Sounding different I can understand, relative coloration and resolution, but I seem to be under the impression that the only thing a good amplifier does is amplify the signal without changing it.

 

In any event, we are on the same page. :beyersmile:

 

It is a great question you pose, and I wish I had a great answer.  I actually really like how my 250ohm dt880's sound with my crack, albeit slightly less than I like the pairing with my hd650's.  What I find so puzzling is that I also really like the dt880's with my O2, but I don't like my hd650's with my O2 much at all.  The O2 clearly and understandably excels with high sensitivity orthos like my AD's (and at unity gain, with my Westone 4's), but the dt880's and hd650's are both high impedance phones of similar sensitivities that one would tend to assume would behave similarly.  Aside from the extra 50 ohms, which is going to mean the hd650's are getting a little less power than the dt880's, my best guess is that it comes down to sound stage and spatial cues.  

 

The dt880's are a little more spacious but less coherent sounding to start with, and I think the O2 brings that under control and focuses the sound.  The hd650's, by contrast, are really coherent and focused sounding straight out of the box, and a little less spacious in terms of sound stage.  The crack, and other good tube amps I've heard, make the hd650's sound a little more expansive and involving in a very good way (at least to my ears) - presumably something to do with the impact of even order tube distortion.  When I plug them into the O2, their already very coherent focused sound is left as is, and I don't perceive them as sounding much better, if at all, than out of the jack on my Marantz receiver.  As 300 ohm headphones, they also don't really benefit from the superb noise floor on the O2 to the same extent as lower impedance headphones.

 

I still haven't heard the GS-1, and I would love to be able to AB it with something like my mainline or a zana.  My understanding is that KG's designs don't really fall within the "wire with gain" philosophy and actually add a hint of warmth to the sound of my headphones.  Unlike the O2, my impression was that the GS1 and other dynalo derivatives don't rely on the same degree of global feedback as "measurement first" amps - which I have also read can cause interesting disproportionate impacts on very high order distortion.  Although extremely low in magnitude, I wonder if the global feedback issue isn't tied into the reports of subtle "glare" that some listeners seem to perceive with the O2.  Obviously, this is well above the threshold of fundamental frequencies, but high order harmonics are the controlling factor in our perception of timbre... 

 

Also - thanks for your comments regarding benchmark and the significant downsides of going balanced.  I had read Elias Gwinn's debate with AMB on the balanced issue a while back and found Gwinn's position very persuasive.  (http://www.amb.org/forum/benchmark-engineer-on-balanced-v-unbalanced-headphone-amps-t326.html).  (I think you also raised a very interesting point regarding benchmark's lack of specificity as to the amp modules included in their products.  In a sense, you have to wonder if they are looking to avoid the sort of scrutiny that they are directing towards competitor's products.)

 

That said, with the exception of Pass Lab's recently expired SuSy patent, it seems like there is a lot of truth backing up the argument that balanced amps have more cons than pros. To recap: unless you need the extra power to drive an inefficient transducer, push-pull or, alternatively, bridged amps generally add noise and distortion (excluding, in push-pulls, common mode distortion - which is really only relevant to long cable runs).  They also raise output impedance/reducing damping (theoretically bad but which may or may not be to the tastes of the user at issue).  Most notably, they cost about twice as much to build.  On the flip side, you get double the voltage and double the slew rate, but the latter is believed by most to be inaudible in the context of any competent amplifier.   

 

I don't have the technical background necessary to fully appreciate the why of it, but if you look at Pass Lab's technical summary article, you will note that Pass essentially agrees with the Benchmark guys in so far as suggesting that the 3 traditional balanced approaches either perform worse than, or at best, equal to, ordinary 2 channel single ended designs.  https://passlabs.com/articles/super-symmetric-amplification  SuSy amps, as discussed in the link, are evidently a different matter.  


Edited by skeptic - 4/9/14 at 1:16pm
post #16712 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by atraf View Post
 

You guys really surprised me, saying that the O2 is in the same league as Valhalla so why the hack people spend 350$ when they can spend so much less? 

I really thought about investing 400$ in a dac/amp combo but now your telling me its a waste of money cause I can get the same sound with something that cost a lot less. 

my problem is that there is no place for me to listen to any amp/dac before I purchase them, so I can only trust your reviews :\

Well I got a few different Amps, and it sure sounds alot better on some. So I dunno about that.

post #16713 of 21422

I run it out of my PC via spdif optical to a v-dac and then into a project horizon (using a 6dj8 holland orange globe).

 

Dat bass....

post #16714 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
 

 

It is a great question you pose, and I wish I had a great answer.  I actually really like how my 250ohm dt880's sound with my crack, albeit slightly less than I like the pairing with my hd650's.  What I find so puzzling is that I also really like the dt880's with my O2, but I don't like my hd650's with my O2 much at all.  The O2 clearly and understandably excels with high sensitivity orthos like my AD's (and at unity gain, with my Westone 4's), but the dt880's and hd650's are both high impedance phones of similar sensitivities that one would tend to assume would behave similarly.  Aside from the extra 50 ohms, which is going to mean the hd650's are getting a little less power than the dt880's, my best guess is that it comes down to sound stage and spatial cues.  

 

The dt880's are a little more spacious but less coherent sounding to start with, and I think the O2 brings that under control and focuses the sound.  The hd650's, by contrast, are really coherent and focused sounding straight out of the box, and a little less spacious in terms of sound stage.  The crack, and other good tube amps I've heard, make the hd650's sound a little more expansive and involving in a very good way (at least to my ears) - presumably something to do with the impact of even order tube distortion.  When I plug them into the O2, their already very coherent focused sound is left as is, and I don't perceive them as sounding much better, if at all, than out of the jack on my Marantz receiver.  As 300 ohm headphones, they also don't really benefit from the superb noise floor on the O2 to the same extent as lower impedance headphones.

 

I still haven't heard the GS-1, and I would love to be able to AB it with something like my mainline or a zana.  My understanding is that KG's designs don't really fall within the "wire with gain" philosophy and actually add a hint of warmth to the sound of my headphones.  Unlike the O2, my impression was that the GS1 and other dynalo derivatives don't rely on the same degree of global feedback as "measurement first" amps - which I have also read can cause interesting disproportionate impacts on very high order distortion.  Although extremely low in magnitude, I wonder if the global feedback issue isn't tied into the reports of subtle "glare" that some listeners seem to perceive with the O2.  Obviously, this is well above the threshold of fundamental frequencies, but high order harmonics are the controlling factor in our perception of timbre... 

 

Also - thanks for your comments regarding benchmark and the significant downsides of going balanced.  I had read Elias Gwinn's debate with AMB on the balanced issue a while back and found Gwinn's position very persuasive.  (http://www.amb.org/forum/benchmark-engineer-on-balanced-v-unbalanced-headphone-amps-t326.html).  (I think you also raised a very interesting point regarding benchmark's lack of specificity as to the amp modules included in their products.  In a sense, you have to wonder if they are looking to avoid the sort of scrutiny that they are directing towards competitor's products.)

 

That said, with the exception of Pass Lab's recently expired SuSy patent, it seems like there is a lot of truth backing up the argument that balanced amps have more cons than pros. To recap: unless you need the extra power to drive an inefficient transducer, push-pull or, alternatively, bridged amps generally add noise and distortion (excluding, in push-pulls, common mode distortion - which is really only relevant to long cable runs).  They also raise output impedance/reducing damping (theoretically bad but which may or may not be to the tastes of the user at issue).  Most notably, they cost about twice as much to build.  On the flip side, you get double the voltage and double the slew rate, but the latter is believed by most to be inaudible in the context of any competent amplifier.   

 

I don't have the technical background necessary to fully appreciate the why of it, but if you look at Pass Lab's technical summary article, you will note that Pass essentially agrees with the Benchmark guys in so far as suggesting that the 3 traditional balanced approaches either perform worse than, or at best, equal to, ordinary 2 channel single ended designs.  https://passlabs.com/articles/super-symmetric-amplification  SuSy amps, as discussed in the link, are evidently a different matter.  

 

I have read that some people think the KG designs slightly warm, but I never heard the GS-1 that way.  The GS-1 has much more information in the upper registers and has a significantly higher resolution than either my M^3 with 637/627s or my Woo3 with a Cetron power tube .  I would classify both  the M^3 and Woo3 as having warmish presentations relative to the GS-1 but not the holographic effect the GS-1 has.  Curiously, the M^3 (637/627) and the Woo3 (Cetron) have extremely similar sound signatures and I have found my 650s sound almost the same from either one with maybe a hint more bass from the Woo's second order harmonic.... maybe.

 

Regarding the O2, the GS-1 can play louder than the O2 but I don't think I'd want to bet on my ability to distinguish between the O2 and the GS-1 at moderate listening levels with my T-1s (dac used was a North Star 192MKII with either a Blue Circle Thingee or a HiFace transport, ... the HiFace having more resolution and a hotter treble than the BCT and the Thingee having less resolution but a better tone ).  Unfortunately, once I discovered no apparent JND between the O2 and GS-1 with the T-1s, I never bothered to compare extensively or further with the 650s, '04/880s, or the 701s I almost never use. 

 

These days I use the O2 with a laptop, a Pico dac and 880s when I'm away.  When I am at home, I use the same laptop but with the HiFace/North Star/GS-1 and either the 650s or T-1s depending on mood and program material.

 

What I did notice recently was that when both the 600ohm T-1s and the 300ohm 650s were plugged into the GS-1 at the same time, the T-1 played louder than the 650s.

 

Now I'm thinking about another direction.... Harbeth P3ESR or KEF LS50 and some kind of compact dac-amp like a Peachtree Nova....  maybe

post #16715 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by atraf View Post
 

You guys really surprised me, saying that the O2 is in the same league as Valhalla so why the hack people spend 350$ when they can spend so much less? 

I really thought about investing 400$ in a dac/amp combo but now your telling me its a waste of money cause I can get the same sound with something that cost a lot less. 

my problem is that there is no place for me to listen to any amp/dac before I purchase them, so I can only trust your reviews :\

Dude, I am not saying the O2/ODAC combo is better than the Modi/Valhalla one - and very likely not. My answer is for the people who have already got their O/O combos. In this case, O/O to M/V is definitely not considered an upgrade. So I would save the money for BH Crack with Speedball or Bifrost/Lyr or other upgrades, which can significantly improve the sound.

 

The O/O cost about $300, and the M/V about $450. Really not a big difference in this weird hifi world. So I think it is pretty fair to say that the 2 combos are in the same league.

 

However, if you have never purchased either of the combos, definitely go for the Modi/Valhalla one. It would probably sound better, and most importantly feel better with a higher price tag.


Edited by cddc - 4/10/14 at 12:40am
post #16716 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by cddc View Post
 

Dude, I am not saying the O2/ODAC combo is better than the Modi/Valhalla one - and very likely not. My answer is for the people who have already got their O/O combos. In this case, O/O to M/V is definitely not considered an upgrade. So I would save the money for BH Crack with Speedball or Bifrost/Lyr or other upgrades, which can significantly improve the sound.

 

The O/O cost about $300, and the M/V about $450. Really not a big difference in this weird hifi world. So I think it is pretty fair to say that the 2 combos are in the same league.

 

However, if you have never purchased either of the combos, definitely go for the Modi/Valhalla one. It would probably sound better, and most importantly feel better with a higher price tag.

Thank you now I understand :) 

Just one more question will the Valhalla still be good with a cheap dac such as Hifimidy SABRE U2? 

post #16717 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by atraf View Post

Thank you now I understand smily_headphones1.gif 
Just one more question will the Valhalla still be good with a cheap dac such as Hifimidy SABRE U2? 

If you can DIY, I'd say buy the crack. Even without the speedball mod, it sounds fantastic with the HD650. Significantly better than the Valhalla IMO.
post #16718 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zojokkeli View Post
 

I recommend the Forza Audioworks cables. Reasonably prized, fantastic build quality and no fear of customs fees inside EU.

+1

post #16719 of 21422

Just finished reading an article on Tom's Hardware...http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/high-end-pc-audio,review-32894.html..If you take the time to read the entire section on making your pc into a HiFi audio platform you may find some to the things not to your liking about file types and the audio dacs and what not but it sure opened my eyes to what I have heard in the past about upgrading dacs and sound cards.

post #16720 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by vc1187 View Post


If you can DIY, I'd say buy the crack. Even without the speedball mod, it sounds fantastic with the HD650. Significantly better than the Valhalla IMO.

With the HD 650's does stock Crack sound significantly better than the Lyr?

Why I ask: for electronics assembly newb (me), cost outlay for a DIY Crack is probly north of ~$330 + time to build (time worth $50-$150/hr to me depending on how I apply it). A new assembled & warranted stock Crack costs $530 + shipping (kit + BH-referred assembly by hifibuilderguy). Crack + Speed assembled is $735 ! + ship.

For me Lyr is $449 + $16 ship, or $399 + ship for Schitt-warranted b-stock.

I get it there's more to this than a $80+ cost difference - but is stock Crack orders of magnitude "better" with HD 650's than a Lyr?
("better" = all the quantitative measures + subjective blah blah used to evaluate headphone amps).
post #16721 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by usery View Post


With the HD 650's does stock Crack sound significantly better than the Lyr?

Why I ask: for electronics assembly newb (me), cost outlay for a DIY Crack is probly north of ~$330 + time to build (time worth $50-$150/hr to me depending on how I apply it). A new assembled & warranted stock Crack costs $530 + shipping (kit + BH-referred assembly by hifibuilderguy). Crack + Speed assembled is $735 ! + ship.

For me Lyr is $449 + $16 ship, or $399 + ship for Schitt-warranted b-stock.

I get it there's more to this than a $80+ cost difference - but is stock Crack orders of magnitude "better" with HD 650's than a Lyr?
("better" = all the quantitative measures + subjective blah blah used to evaluate headphone amps).

 

One of the things worth bearing in mind with the Crack is while in standard form (with or without speedball) it really has great synergy with high impedance cans.

 

However if you have the desire to there is a established and well document upgrade path on the bh forum.  As little as $100 spent wisely on components and you might well find yourself in end game territory and not just with the HD650 but also if you use T1 or HD800 its seriously capable. 

post #16722 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieMcC View Post

 

One of the things worth bearing in mind with the Crack is while in standard form (with or without speedball) it really has great synergy with high impedance cans.

 

However if you have the desire to there is a established and well document upgrade path on the bh forum.  As little as $100 spent wisely on components and you might well find yourself in end game territory and not just with the HD650 but also if you use T1 or HD800 its seriously capable. 

 

 

then we have assembled stock Crack at >$530 + $100 wise component upgrade + ~$75 my time/labor/cost to upgrade = >$700

 

I have HD 650, no plan to upgrade my cans.  So a couple questions remain:

 

For HD 650's is upgraded Crack at $700+ orders of magnitude "better" than Lyr at $450+?

Is Lyr orders-magnitude-less synergistic w/ hi-impedance cans?

post #16723 of 21422
I tried HD800 with Shiit stack and with Crack with Speedball plus some tube rolling and found Crack much better regardless of tubes i have tried with Lyr
post #16724 of 21422

I have heard  both with the HD 650s and I don't think the crack + speedball is significantly better than the lyr. In fact I think they sound pretty close this was with stock tubes in both.  

post #16725 of 21422
Quote:
Originally Posted by olddtfan View Post

I have heard  both with the HD 650s and I don't think the crack + speedball is significantly better than the lyr. In fact I think they sound pretty close this was with stock tubes in both.  

That's the problem. You need to change tubes to get better sound
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