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Three-Part Review: HeadAmp Gilmore Lite v2 w/ DPS

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

This is loaner #3 (of 6) of my Loaner Program, for the HeadAmp Gilmore Lite v2 w/ DPS! HeadAmp's Gilmore Lite is already a great popular entry-level home-based solid-state, but few around here have one with the accompanying Dedicated Power Supply. The knowledge on the forum of the Gilmore Lite v2 w/ DPS must be increased so 3 people were subjectively selected to review this for the community at large!

This thread is the repository for reviews (and pictures) of the component by each person.

The 4 participants:
1 - Absorbine_Sr (IN)
2 - a1rocketpilot (GA)
3 - Skylab (IL)

This loaner program will start on 5-7-07! Reviews to follow below!

Edited by Asr - 4/25/11 at 10:39pm
post #2 of 9
So, it looks like I’m first. Before starting up, let me give a big thanks to Asr for giving us the opportunity to try some of his stuff. Besides meets, there are not a lot of opportunities to hear different equipment, and especially not in our own homes, with our own rigs. This makes a big difference when evaluating a piece of equipment, and having the Gilmore Lite to test opened my ears a bit.

To start off, let me post a couple of pics. Shown are the amp and its dedicated power supply. I also threw a CD in there to give a little sense of size.

The other equipment used for my listening was an EMU 0404 optical out via Stuart Cobb Glass Toslink to a stock DAC-AH, then to the Gilmore Lite. I also used the analog outs on my Musical Fidelity Xray V3 to the Lite. Interconnects were a pair of DiMarzio M-Path’s. Headphones were AKG K701’s and Senn HD650’s for the most part, with K81DJ’s thrown in for good measure.

I listened to a ton of music but for the most part concentrated on things I am pretty familiar with – A Japanese copy of the Original Master Edition “In the Court of the Crimson King”, Jane Monheit’s “Come Dream With Me” (thanks Ryan), Genesis’ “Selling England By The Pound” and Neko Case’s “Fox Confessor”. Another CD that got a lot of play is the “King Crimson Songbook Vol. 1” by the Crimson Jazz Trio – KC music interpreted into jazz piano, bass & drums that sounds very good.

And let me add that I also did some informal comparing to my first generation Eddie Current EC/SS. It’s the amp I have the most SS experience with, and it was there, so there you go.

First, looks – as can be seen in the pictures, this is an attractive little bugger. The mini-stack effect of pairing it with the power supply looks very nice, and still takes up only a tiny amount of rack space. Also, Asr’s pair have a wonderful matte black finish that is almost blacker than black. I think it looks very cool.

I didn’t know what to expect regarding the sound of this amp. I’ve been an Eddie Current fanboy for about as long as I’ve been on Head-Fi, so I’m very used to a certain sound that Craig seems to do so well. And upon first listening, the Gilmore Lite didn’t give me that sound. Out of the DAC-AH it seemed quite a bit more clinical, less visceral in its approach. Bass was there, but it didn’t whack me upside the head. Mids and highs were better but still it didn’t seem real involving to me. Switching to the Xray CDP, it was mostly the same. It especially seemed to not like the K701’s. The Senns sounded better with this amp, so I spent a lot of time listening to them via the Lite. And that I think was the key – not the Senns so much as the listening to the Lite for a long time, getting away from the EC/SS. As I did that, I started to feel that what was originally thought to be clinical was actually just presenting the music to me in a fashion that was clean all across the range – bass, mids, treble – none were overbearing. As for bass, it wasn’t missing. It was strong well down to the bottom, just not in your face. And because of that I feel I hear a bit more detail down low than I do with the EC/SS. Where the EC/SS seems to go for the warmth + detail that Craig does so well in his tube amps, it seems the Lite just serves your music up to you as it receives it. With the EC/SS I hardly use my HD650’s, but they really came into their own with the Lite. And going back to the K701’s, I found that it was better than what I had first thought. Listening to the bass, instead of feeling the bass, made me appreciate the detail of this amp. Cymbal sizzle and decay were excellent, and the drums on the Crimson Jazz Trio CD sounded very real, very detailed. Vocals were clean and strong, especially female voices. Jane Monheit sounded very real and close from the Lite. And to me, soundstage seemed a little less compressed up-and-down compared to the EC/SS, but maybe a touch less wide. I felt that the Gilmore really lends itself well to acoustic music and jazz, less so with things that rock hard. Don’t get me wrong, it had no problem with rock, but to me it doesn’t ROCK.

I may not be saying this too well, but I think that if you are looking for a pure sound, to truly hear what is in your music, the Gilmore Lite seems to be an excellent amp. I can’t say what it would sound like without the Dedicated Power Supply, but another thing I did notice is that sound across all frequencies seemed better when I swapped the stock power cord for an Iron Lung Jelly Fish. Not a lot, but enough to hear.

Would I swap the Gilmore Lite for my EC/SS? Probably not. Music tends to be an emotional thing for me, so the warmth and coloring that the EC/SS adds is something I tend to like. But in a lot of ways I think this amp does things better than the EC/SS. If you have a lot of very good recordings, this would be an excellent choice to let you hear as much as possible for a very good price. Regardless, I don’t think you could go wrong in buying the Gilmore Lite. I’m curious to see just how much I miss it when I send it off to Febs. I’m betting, with certain music, I will miss it a bunch.

Thanks again to Asr for letting me listen. I enjoyed it!

post #3 of 9
I am actually last on the list for this amp, but I see some people before me are lagging in their remarks

On opening the box, my first thought was how incredibly small the Gilmore Lite is for a home amp! Here it is on top of my Yarland tube amp:

It's not much bigger than a portable amp! The DPS adds a second chassis, but still, this would be a great choice for a home amp for someone with space constraints.

Solidly build little amp though, and attractive enough. It has plenty of oomph - it was able to drive my 600 ohm Beyers without difficulty. In fact, it did a fine job of that. The GL has a kind of "midrangy" sound. It's somewhat lush/forward in the mids, or looking at it another way, it lacks very deep bass and the last little bit of treble extension and air. That made is a pretty good match with mt DT990's, but less so with my Denon D5000, although they still sounded quite good. Female vocals like Bjork and Alison Krauss were wonderful - very smooth and warm and inviting. Midrange detail was very good. Bass was tight and tuneful, if a little lean. But the amp does not sound lean overall. It's a very enjoyable listen.

Soundstaging was good but not superlative - it was less wide with my DT990's that I am used to, and certainly much less than with the Meier Opera. Since I listened to the GL in my office, I did some comparisons to the Opera, which wasn't really fair, since the Opera is more than twice the price. But the Opera was much better - more bass, , better soundstaging, more treble extension, more transparent sounding.

I also compared it to the very similarly priced Meier Aria, and this was a bit tougher. I preferred the Aria, and by quite a bit still. It's more neutral sounding. But the GL has a more tube-like midband, and that will tip the balance the other way for some people. Also, the GL has a lot more gain than the Aria, which can just barely drive the 600 ohm Beyers to enough level, which the GL does with ease. With low impedance/high sensitivity cans the Aria is likely the better choice, but for someone using 600 ohm Beyers or AKGs or whatever, the GL is a better choice.

So all in all, I really liked the little Gilmore Lite. Cute as a button in it's mini-chassis, and very good sounding. At it's price of $500 it's very competitive. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a small, powerful home amp that won't break the bank. Big thanks to ASR for letting me try it out!
post #4 of 9
All right, time for me to throw in my $.02. I've been backed up with schoolwork and theatrical stuff so I really haven't had much time for other things. This is my first formal review, so bear with me if it isn't very polished.

First off, lets start with the build quality. The GLite was much smaller than I expected. I unfortunately was not able to get pics of it with my system, as my camera was out of commission at the time. Despite its small size, the amp felt very solid in its construction. I was particularly impressed with the thick front fascia. My only qualm with the build was the black finish. It seemed to attract small marks and what not and in that respect, I prefer the semi-gloss finish on my HA-2 MKII SE.

The GLite didn't have any problems driving my DT-770/80's or my HF-1's. However, when it came to the K340's, things weren't so peachy. I would have preferred a slightly higher gain (my HA-2 has a custom gain of 7, and that is just enough to provide the volts that the K340's need, and of course, more V is always appreciated for those phones). Even with the pot turned all the way to full, the volume wasn't quite enough for my tastes, and I do not listen to my music that loudly.

As far as the sound quality, my assessment closely matches Skylab's. The GLite has a lush lower-midrange. I found that it sounded great for female vocals like Frou Frou or Rilo Kiley. The bass was fast and detailed, though a little light in the deepest parts. The highs were a bit soft for my tastes, and it didn't quite have the sparkle that I like in my HA-2. The soundstage was nice and wide, but didn't quite have the same depth to it that I found with the HA-2. When crossfeed was enabled, the HA-2 was much superior in that regard. However, since the GLite doesn't have the crossfeed, I left it disabled during most of the comparison.

Compared to the more expensive HA-2, the GLite performs admirably, but falls short in my opinion. I prefer the more neutral sound signature of the HA-2, and its synergy in my system. I love the combination of the DT-770's and the HA-2, it is an ideal match for me. Then again, an amp that was almost $1K when new ought to perform better than a $500 amp. This shouldn't detract in any way from the GLite. As long as you don't have K340's, the GLite is a very capable amp and doesn't take up much real estate on your desk. And finally, I would like to thank Asr for arranging this set of peer reviews. Thanks for this opportunity to try this wonderful piece of kit!

post #5 of 9
Interesting info from everyone. Yea, I bumped this old thread, but someone linked to it and I just read it.
post #6 of 9
People keep talking about the flat soundstage of the lite. Is there any truth to this?
post #7 of 9
Originally Posted by donunus View Post
People keep talking about the flat soundstage of the lite. Is there any truth to this?
I can say that the GS-1 does have a more expansive soundstage than the G-Lite did. For me, that was the biggest difference when I upgraded from the G-Lite to the GS-1.
I can't compare the G-Lite in absolute terms though.
post #8 of 9
So, all in all would the glite be a great companion to hd650s?
post #9 of 9
I find the headamp amps match up very nicely with the HD650 with my source (for my personal preference).

I'm enjoying my GS-1, which isn't so different in terms of sonic signature from the G-lite.
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