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Tomahawk vs. Hornet M

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
I'm a little surprised no one has yet started or asked about this comparison. I know we're still burning our new Tomahawks in, but it seems time to begin!

I've had my Horner M since August 2006 and have put the requisite 450+ hours of burn in on it. I got my Tomahawk on December 26th and have probably close to 200 hours at this point. With both amps I have a 30gb iPod (ALAC), Cryo Jumbo and Westone ES2's. I listen to electric and acoustic blues, classic rock. some country and pop. I use this rig for the most part only at the gym, 2 to 3 hours per day.

My initial conclusion, to this point, is that the Hornet is very slightly "better" than the Tomahawk. I find the ES2's to be a warm sounding IEM. The Hornet is a bit more transparent, is slightly more detailed and seems to go deeper into the music than the Tomahawk, making this a better match with the ES2's. The TH is wider, a bit warmer, not quite as detailed and less fatiguing than the Hornet. Electric guitars, drums and cymbals are ever so slightly clearer on the Hornet. As I alluded to above, this can make the Hornet a bit more fatiguing after long listening sessions, edges are a little sharper with the Hornet. The bass on the TH might be a bit lower weight, which is a good thing with the ES2's, sometimes the Hornet can be a bit bass heavy.

Now, I really like the size and convenience of the TH, it really is a much better amp for my gym type situation.

Over the last day I've taken both amps to the gym and tried playing the same song through both amps and also tried switching amps mid-song. In this A/B setting I can maybe hear a difference between the two if I listen real, real close. If I just put one amp in the chain and forget about it I'm hard pressed to say there is really much difference.

When all is said and done I'm going to keep only one of these amps. If I had to chose today I would pick the Hornet for a very slight difference in sound quality, but would easily pick the TH for convenience. Truth is, I really can't say which one I will keep. I'm going to get the TH to 450 hours then make a final call.
post #2 of 45
I find the Hornet "M" (over 700 hours of burn-in and use) has a more impactful bass with a bit more soundstage than my Tomahawk (300 hours of burn in). I will wait untill at least the 450 hours of burn in have gone before making a final decission.
post #3 of 45
Anyone waiting for T'hawk ?

I smell opportunities...
post #4 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeBlues View Post
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Over the last day I've taken both amps to the gym and tried playing the same song through both amps and also tried switching amps mid-song.
How many dirty looks from everyone at the gym did you get while switching amps and how productive was the workout.
post #5 of 45
Beautiful little components you have, FreeBlues.

As you've discovered, it's a tough call. It is certainly up to you to ultimately flip a coin in your head at some point -- after you're sure the TH is optimal and stable … that is, if you really must choose just one (I can't).

My TH is a little past 220 hours. I'd guess different units may follow slightly different pattern along the way. The highs on mine haven't yet cleaned up and are still a bit edgier than the sweeter, more liquid highs of my Hornet -- with my ES2s, and also HD650/Equinox.

Though the TH's highs may (hopefully) get a tad cleaner around the finest edges, I just did one of my micro-detail and micro-dynamic acid tests and the TH is closer to SR-71 than the Hornet is in this area.

The SR-71 is still the master of ultrafine detail and microdynamics. Maxim Vengerov's "Virtuoso Vengerov" (violin & piano) disk has Sarasate's "Caprice Basque", track 9 of 10, and has a passage between 5:49 and 6:17 that consists of a melodic line of very quiet, very high, delicate, subtle and complex reed flute or piccolo-like harmonics.

The SR-71 captures it perfectly. The Hornet is very good and very sweet, but softens the subtlest dynamic and timbral nuances, while the TH is very close to the SR-71 in all areas, though a tiny bit less lucid. I'll revisit this test through the break-in period.

It'll take a lot more hours 'til I know if the TH can develop some more muscle for music like Junior Wells or Buddy Guy. I see what you mean about the Hornet having very big bass with the ES2s, but I love it. The TH does well with Junior Welsl via the HD600/Equinox on "Tough Enough", with great PRAT and just missing some weight to the toms and kick drum.

I couldn't choose between the Hornet and Toma at this point. Toma is quicker a and more defined, and Hornet is gutsier down low and sweeter up top.
post #6 of 45
I've just ordered the Hornet M and have the TH. My question is, who has used the TH with high impedence cans? How does it compare to the performance to the Hornet with the same cans? I'm looking for something that can handle all sorts of different headphones...with a nice battery life.
post #7 of 45
Yesterday I got together with Vorlon1 and compared the Hornet "M" versus the Tomahawk. Vorlon1 prefers the Tomahawk and I the Hornet "M". Both can drive just about anything you throw at them.

Vorlon1 and I differ in that I love my music to have punch behind its presentation. The Hornet "M" does it while the Tomahawk does not. Vorlon1 on the other hand prefers the more mellow presentation of the Tomahawk.

BTW the Tomahawk had over 410 hours of burn in while the Hornet "M" had over 700 hours of burn in and use. Regardless of which one you get either is built like a tank, and Ray's customer service is top notch.
post #8 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
Yesterday I got together with Vorlon1 and compared the Hornet "M" versus the Tomahawk. Vorlon1 prefers the Tomahawk and I the Hornet "M". Both can drive just about anything you throw at them.

Vorlon1 and I differ in that I love my music to have punch behind its presentation. The Hornet "M" does it while the Tomahawk does not. Vorlon1 on the other hand prefers the more mellow presentation of the Tomahawk.

BTW the Tomahawk had over 410 hours of burn in while the Hornet "M" had over 700 hours of burn in and use. Regardless of which one you get either is built like a tank, and Ray's customer service is top notch.
So, if I like my music to sound "fun", the Hornet is the way to go? Was the Hornet yours? If so, what batteries do you use and how long do they typically last?
Thanks!
post #9 of 45
My TH is not broken in yet, but its hard to pass on the smallness of the TH for portable use. Ultimately I think the Hornet will retain an advantage with mid and high impedence cans for bass punch. On my UE-10pros, I think it will remain hard to tell much difference, other than the fact that I can put the volume dial almost to 12 o'clock on the TH, and am stuck at the first or second mark on the dial of the Hornet using the UE-10pros.
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by deej View Post
How many dirty looks from everyone at the gym did you get while switching amps and how productive was the workout.
I was thinking this too...
post #11 of 45
All I know is, I'm basically switching from a LDM+ to a Tomahawk. I think I'm gonna be happy even if I don't get to hear the "better" Hornet.

-The Grinman
post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dregur View Post

-The Girnman
You're no longer grinning ?
post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3x331m View Post
You're no longer grinning ?
I'm so happy I'm getting the Tomahawk, I had to invent a new feeling. :P

-The Grinman
post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickknutson View Post
I've just ordered the Hornet M and have the TH. My question is, who has used the TH with high impedence cans? How does it compare to the performance to the Hornet with the same cans? I'm looking for something that can handle all sorts of different headphones...with a nice battery life.
i was wondering about this too, and made a topic: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=218690

apparently someone runs them with DT880 @ 250ohm... which is pretty high for that little amp. i doubt it'll handle 600 ohm monsters, but 250 is impressive
post #15 of 45
I have no trouble with TH and HD650 @ 300ohms, DT880-250/2005, and K501 which is 120ohms but notoriously difficult to drive well.

My TH is still only around 270 hours or so, so I've got roughly a week to go -- before I can be sure of the optimal/stable sound, if I can keep it playing most of 24/7.

I post notes when I've done serious comparisons.
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